Jaco Van Zyl made his odds of 80/1 look very silly on Thursday morning and when he had the lead I thought we would be in for a contending performance but either his wrist flared up or his rustiness kicked in as his Friday and Saturday rounds took him completely out of the reckoning. Sordet got agonisingly close to a place as he finished 11th but I was still happy with the bet as I think he was over priced given his form and knowledge of the course.
Woodland did the opposite to Van Zyl in the Bahamas and improved through Friday and Saturday after a poor start. But after getting himself into the places prior to the final round he played very poorly on Sunday to fall down the leaderboard. So there were no returns for the week and in order to attempt to stay in profit I might add a couple of more solid place bets this week. Just the two events this week with another novelty team event in the US, the QBE Shootout while a mammoth field (200+) takes to the Sunshine Tour in the South African Open.
2018 pts advised = 491.50
2018 pts returned = 495.74
ROI = 0.86%
This was formerly known as the Franklin Templeton Shootout and has been an end of a season, unofficial event for quite some time with the first event taking place as far back as 1989. The host course is Tiburon GC in Naples, Florida and the field is only made up of twelve 2-man teams. Several of the players are repeat offenders lining up every year for an enjoyable, laid back birdie fest. Steve Stricker, Matt Kuchar, Harris English and Sean O’Hair have all had plenty of success in the event. It’s not an event that I would normally get too involved in but without any bigger events this week I’ve had a look and have found an angle that has given me two bets.
The course was designed by Greg Norman so I had a look at results at his two other regular stops on the schedule; TPC San Antonio (Valero Texas Open) and El Cameleon GC (Mayakoba/OHL Classic). The results were interesting and there seems to be quite a strong correlation with several of the same names popping up. Kuchar and English have won here twice and finished second twice and both men are Mayakoba winners. Charley Hoffman and Sean O’Hair are two with good records here and TPC San Antonio and there are several others.
Cameron Champ finished 10th at the Mayakoba after contending again two weeks after his win. He is yet to play TPC San Antonio but as both courses seem to reward long and straight driving, I’m sure he will take to it in April. The recipe for success is very much solid ball-striking with a red-hot putter. Last year Stricker and O’ Hair combined for a 57 in the first round scramble format and if you don’t go low you may as well go home! Champ’s putting has been immense so far in the 2019 season so he will enjoy the low-scoring nature while he was an amateur as recently as 2017, which means he will have plenty of recent experience playing team golf. Kevin Kisner has a very solid record playing on the South-east coast and he has experience of the course too having teed it up the last two years. He is also a deadly putter, especially on bermuda greens. Playing with the powerful Champ, Kisner will be able to put his accurate short to mid-irons to better use around here than he might playing off his own drives. Two of the three rounds will involve moving to the best tee-shot and I think that makes this combination potentially very useful indeed. Given Champ’s recent form they aren’t much of a price but we need to remember this is only a 12-runner event. I’ll play them win only I think in the hope they contend and then I can look at laying stakes back rather than betting each way.
Andrew Landry won around TPC San Antonio for the blog in April at a big price so doesn’t really owe me anything. Here he is playing with one of the best putters the PGA Tour has seen this century in Luke Donald. I’m going to overlook current form of the former World No. 1 and instead have a little nibble on one of the rank outsiders. Their combined lack of length might just do for them here in a format that should in theory reward aggressive power. However Steve Stricker won here last year while Kuchar is a two-time winner and Snedeker has also had his hands on the trophy. None of those three are the longest hitters and usually rely on short iron accuracy and putting, which this team should be all about. I’m going to have a small each way bet for an added interest.
South African Open
The Sunshine Tour have decided to merge the Joburg Open and the South Africa Open into one. As someone who enjoys all the events in SA I’m not really sure why they have done this. But the important thing for punters is the courses at Randpark GC have been used before in 1995, 2000 and last year in the Joburg Open. There is also some Sunshine Tour Pro-Am event form from 2009 and 2010. There are two courses, the Bushwillow and the Firethorn. Bushwillow is the shortest of the two and doesn’t appear too challenging while Firethorn is a bit tougher standing over 7500 yards. Both courses are fairly typical of the sorts we see in South Africa with tree-lined yet wide fairways and difficult green complexes and well placed bunkering. Despite last year’s low winning score of -23, it can be a challenging course and I’d expect them to have things set up a little tougher to keep the scoring below -20. The field consists of some 240 players across the two courses with loads of young South Africans dreaming of making their mark in their national Open.
Erik Van Rooyen is my main pick here, yet again, and having finished runner-up at the course last year it is rather an obvious one. He has been tipped several times this year on what has been a brilliantly consistent rookie season. He has racked up 5 top 10s, a major debut top 20 and has done almost everything but win. But we are in profit on EVR after two places despite putting him up 6 times (11pts advised with 25pts returned). His form has tailed off a little but his last 4 starts were very strong fields so a return home should sort that out. One of his two professional wins came in another Joburg suburb which tells us he is comfortable in the city. The low scoring nature might have been an issue for an average putter but it didn’t hold him back last year as he ranked 1st in GIR hitting a ridiculous 90%. When you are doing that there isn’t so much pressure on the putting and I don’t think I can leave him out here. Hopefully he can cap an impressive first year on Tour with that elusive win!
Jaco Van Zyl makes the team again despite those annoying middle rounds in Mauritius. He was coming off a decent lay-off and he still finished 23rd with an opening 65 and a closing 66. Only the winner fired two lower rounds in the week. It wasn’t enough to shift his odds though and we can get 80/1 again with a run under his belt. I’ve got to go in again despite everyone knowing how hard he is to get over the line. As we said last week though he is a 14-time winner in SA with 3 of those in the Joburg area. He also has some sneaky form at the course having finished 2nd and 6th in the two Pro-am events in 2009 and 2010. If it was just rust last week then 80/1 is a great price for a player of his talent in a fairly basic field even if it is a 240 man one.
I’m also going to have to give Clement Sordet another run out after playing so well last week. As well as finishing 11th he put up the 2nd best combined GIR and scrambling numbers in the field, ranking 3rd in GIR and 11th in scrambling. Missed the cut last year but is improving all the time and looks worth another go while he remains at a solid each way price of 80/1.
Herman Loubser is still just 19 and has very little experience of European Tour events. What he does have however is an abundance of experience of both courses this week. He won his first amateur title on the Bushwillow course in 2015 while he caddied for a friend who won a match play event at the Firethorn in 2016. He said himself that this gave him valuable knowledge of both courses and helped him feel comfortable there. We’re not done there yet though as he would go on to win the 2017 Sunshine Tour Q-School at Randpark to gain his full card. Unfortunately he would miss the cut here last year at the Joburg Open but that was his first ever European Tour start so he would have been nervous enough and yet he still shot an opening 68. I’m expecting a better performance this time around as he hasn’t missed a cut in his last 6 Sunshine Tour starts, returning 5 Top 25s. Whether he will prove good enough to nab a Top 20 I don’t know but I think the ew and top 20 odds could give us a little value given how well he knows the course. Very speculative but worth a go at the prices.
Summary of bets
Kisner + Champ = 3pts win @ 11/2
Landry + Donald – 0.75pt ew @ 28/1 (1/5 odds 4 places)
South Africa Open
Erik Van Rooyen – 1.25pts ew @ 28/1 (1/5 odds 7 places)
Jaco Van Zyl – 0.75pt ew @ 80/1 (1/5 odds 7 places Skybet)
Clement Sordet – 0.75pt ew @ 80/1 (1/5 odds 7 places Skybet)
Herman Loubser – 0.25pt ew @ 500/1 (1/5 odds 7 places) and 1pt Top 20 @ 20/1
Weekly pts advised = 11.5pts