Travelers Championship and BMW International Open – Betting Preview

As expected the U.S. Open became more of a U.S. PGA type test than the usual U.S. Open grind but the surprising thing was how many of the big names struggled. The course should have suited DJ, McIlroy, Day, Rahm and Pieters yet they all missed the cut convincingly. My main fancy Justin Rose played quite well in parts over Thursday and Friday but finished his rounds off poorly. Again the course should have suited but he wasn’t at his best and missed the cut by 1 shot.

It was an exciting week though elsewhere as Fowler, Henley and Steele all contended right up to the back 9 on Sunday. Even then it looked like Henley and Steele would both coast to top 20s but just what Henley was up to I have no idea. He managed to lose 9 shots across four holes to fall down to 27th and that cost us a third profitable week in a row. Steele obliged though and Fowler held on for a place so there were still 14.5pts returned.

Brooks Koepka was far and away the most solid player over the 4 days and there was no question he deserved to win but the one annoying thing from my point of view was how Fowler’s game deserted him after Thursday. He really wasn’t playing well and quite how he managed to shoot -4 on the weekend given how he was hitting it is testament to how good a player he has become. Some will consider it another poor performance in contention but if looked at Fowler’s body language it certainly didn’t appear that he was overcome by the occasion. He appeared far more to be someone who knew their game wasn’t at its best and that he was letting another major chance go. That is possibly a matter of opinion but I certainly won’t be giving up on him just yet and he will have a great chance again at Royal Birkdale next month.

It was the best major I have had since 2015’s US PGA and hopefully the next big win is just around the corner after three good weeks in a row.

2017 pts advised = 280pts

2017 pts returned = 202.17pts

ROI= -27.8%


Travelers Championship

The Travelers takes place at TPC River Highlands and it is one of the shorter courses on Tour at 6841yards. It can often be quite a fiddly course as you would expect being largely a Pete Dye design. Bobby Weed also has an influence having done another redesign in 1989 so a look at other courses which they have teamed up on might be helpful. They both worked together on Dye’s Valley course at Sawgrass which hosts the Web.com Tour Championship and TPC Summerlin in Las Vegas which hosts the Shriners Hospital for Children Open. There were some changes carried out to the course last year with a view to toughening the course up a little and they revolved around the repositioning of a number of bunkers to limit the advantage that the bigger hitters were enjoying. On paper that seemed to work with the accurate Russell Knox prevailing. One year’s worth of data isn’t much to go on and there were still plenty of big hitters on the leaderboard. It is still very much a second shot golf course where getting the ball close to the flag is the key for scoring purposes.

Jason Day, Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth head the market after a disappointing U.S. Open for all three. The trouble with 3 players as talented as they are is that they could easily turn up here and win by 7 but we have to go largely on what we saw last week and on a course that suited the former two perfectly, they can easily be left out at single figure prices. Of the three Spieth appeals the most but his putter wasn’t behaving normally last week and again is a little short considering he is making his course debut. Instead I’m going to dabble in an attractive looking each way market and try to find some value down the field.

From a stats point of view, proximity to the hole from the shorter iron range (125-150 yards and 150-175 yards) is key at TPC River Highlands as you would expect on any Dye course. With scoring usually fairly low and perfect bentgrass greens in play then creating chances isn’t enough as putts need to be holed to get towards the usual winning score in the high teens under par. Putting from 5ft to 15ft will be important this week. Strokes gained: approaches and par 4 scoring are other key stats to look at.

I can’t narrow it down this week so am going with 4 larger prices who are all capable of placing in this company if they play their best golf.

David Hearn is a player I always like on Pete Dye courses as he thrives when accuracy is favoured over distance, being particularly handy with his short irons. Hearn was last seen finishing 10th at the St. Jude Classic where he ranked 10th in GIR and 22nd in scrambling. The Canadian was 38th here on his only appearance and he looks over priced at 150/1.

David Lingmerth is my go to Pete Dye player at the moment and everything we saw from him last week at the U.S. Open suggested his next win isn’t too far away. The course was far too long for a player who favours accuracy over distance and the fact he finished 21st was a credit to his approach play and scrambling. Ranks 6th right now in putting from 5ft to 15ft so should enjoy this test.

Emiliano Grillo is making his debut this week but he gets in on some impressive Dye/Weed form as he won the Web.com Tour Championship on the Valley course at Sawgrass in 2015. He also finished 11th at The Players Championship just last month and he ranks 22nd in proximity to the hole from 125-150 yards. Grillo can sometimes struggle with the putter but on a course where getting close to the flag is at a premium he often comes into his own.

Adam Hadwin looks over priced here at 80/1 and he also gets in off the Web.com Tour Championship form as well as a top 30 at The Players Championship. Hadwin has a very neat and tidy short iron game and putts well. This should be right up his street and the fact he missed the last two cuts here doesn’t worry me at all. Before his Valspar win earlier this year his form there was 71-MC and he is a vastly improved player this year. He ranks 36th for strokes gained:putting and 30th in approach proximity from 125-150 yards. Played ok last week at the U.S. Open but again that course was too long form him and he should bounce back here.

 


BMW International Open

The BMW International Open now seems to be on a set rotation going back and forth between Golf Club Gut Larchenhof and this year’s Golf Club Eichenried. So there is some decent course form this week but it is important to note the years where it has been held at Eichenried. With the European Tour site being close to useless at the moment, information like that can be a little harder to find. The years we are looking at are 1997 right through to 2011 and then both 2013 and 2015. Two of the last three editions here were won by Pablo Larrazabal and other recent course winners include Ernie Els, David Horsey, Nick Dougherty, Martin Kaymer, Niclas Fasth and Henrik Stenson.

The course is situated to the north of Munich and it is around average length at 7235 yards. Visually the course looks identical to Wentworth and that might explain why so many good links players have won here. The wind can be tough to judge at Wentworth and together with the winding fairways, the course favours those who can shape their ball and control it in the wind. Those types of players generally play well on links layouts and it looks like a solid plan of attack this week. Of the 16 winners around Eichenried, 6 of them have won the Alfred Dunhill Championship and another 3 have won The Open. Another similarity are the greens as Eichenried has very fast poa annua greens which are often a feature of links courses in the summer and Wentworth also features some of the slickest on the European Tour.

Many of the European Tour’s biggest names have made the journey back from Wisconsin for this and subsequently they dominate the betting. It is hard to fancy them though at their prices and therefore it looks like an event for small plays on some of the resulting big each way prices.

David Horsey is the obvious course and current form play this week so I’m surprised his price has held at 50/1 but that is down to the big names in the field. It looks set up for him to probably bomb out and miss the cut but repeat winners are common at Eichenried with Larrazabal and Bjorn having both won twice. Several other palyers have performed well year after year at Eichenried too like Padraig Harrington and Bernard Langer. If he continues his form he should really go well again on a course he enjoys.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat holds a very good record in this event at both Eichenried and Gut Larchenoff so seems to be comfortable on German courses. He was 4th here in 2015 and when playing well he is someone who has proven themselves as an excellent ball-striker capable of shaping his ball-flight to suit. That coupled with his excellent touch around the greens makes him a solid alternative to those at the head of the betting. His form hasn’t been fantastic in 2017 but he does have some decent results on tracks that suit him; 4th in Abu Dhabi, 9th in Qatar and 14th at Wentworth. For a 3-time winner with strong event form he is a nice price here at 40/1.

I’m going to give Alexander Bjork another go here on account of how well he is scrambling and good showings at Wentworth and Diamond Country Club. He leads the Tour for scrambling and is also 41st in total putting over the last three months. He looks worth a small Top 20 bet.

Chris Paisley is another who has been tipped a few times lately but he is also one of the few players who is in profit for me. He was 3rd here in 2015 so looks massively overpriced at 200/1.

Mark Foster is a speculative punt here but he has two 3rd places at the course and has shown glimpses lately with two top 10s in May. At 200/1 it won’t cost much to get involved.

Reluctantly I can’t get involved with George Coetzee again this week after missing the cut at the U.S. Open following a 2nd round 79. Travelling over from the U.S he won’t be the best prepared for Thursday but he may be worth watching in-play as he was 3rd here back in 2011 and has been playing well on the European Tour lately.

 


Summary of Bets

Travelers

David Hearn – 0.5pt ew @ 200/1

Emiliano Grillo – 0.5pt ew @ 80/1

David Lingmerth – 0.5pt ew @ 80/1

Adam Hadwin – 0.5pt ew @ 80/1

BMW International Open

David Horsey – 1pt ew @ 50/1

Kiradech Aphibarnrat – 0.75pt ew @ 40/1

Alexander Bjork – 1pt Top 20 @ 4/1

Chris Paisley – 0.5pt ew @ 200/1

Mark Foster – 0.25pt ew @ 250/1

 

Weekly pts advised = 10

Total 2017 pts advised = 290

@theGreek82

Fed-Ex St. Jude Classic and Lyoness Open – Betting Preview

Finally there were some positive performances from my golfers on a Sunday and the result was a profitable week although things were almost a lot better.

George Coetzee flew through the field on Sunday getting to -9 and he gave himself a 15ft look at birdie on the 18th for a -10 clubhouse total. It slipped past agonisingly and had he set -10 I think, from what we saw the previous week with Alex Noren, he would have probably got himself into a play-off. He got a full place though at 50/1 and so did Kuchar on the PGA Tour. Kuch was in a far better position going into his final round but as ever he got in his own way a little but again he held on for 4th to give us both the place bet and the top 10.

Marcel Siem also finished strongly in Sweden to easily land the top 20 bet and on the whole there were 39.25 pts returned on the week. It was very welcome with the US Open nearly upon us and hopefully I can keep things going again this week.

2017 pts advised = 249pts

2017 pts returned = 170.22

ROI = -31.64%

WIth the US Open next week most of the big names aren’t in action which means there are two fairly low-key events; the Fed-Ex St. Jude Classic in the U.S. and the Lyoness Open in Europe.


St. Jude Classic

The final stop before the U.S. Open is TPC Southwind in Memphis, Tennessee. It’s a 7244 yard Par 70 and it usually plays quite tough so should be a fair test ahead of the U.S. Open for those in the field who are playing next week. There is a lot of water in play here but yet the fairways are still very wide and it mainly becomes a problem on approaches to the greens. They are small and slightly raised so the course is usually somewhat of a second shot course where high greens in regulation numbers are the order of the day together with good scrambling as inevitably the greens will be missed. There will be no complaints when on the putting surfaces though as Southwind’s bermuda greens are some of the smoothest bermuda greens the players will see all year.

Rickie Fowler and Brooks Koepka are the two market leaders this week and I think they will be very hard to beat given Fowler is in great form and Koepka loves the course here having finished 2nd and 3rd the last two years. But even in a poor field they are horribly short prices and despite their obvious talents, neither can be considered completely reliable and it would hard to back them at 8/1 and 12/1 respectively. Instead I’m going to keep stakes low and my powder reasonably dry for next week.

Harris English qualified for the US Open on Monday and there are two schools of thought as to how that can affect golfers playing just three days later. A long day of 36 holes can drain them and leave them tired and unprepared for the week ahead or, the conflicting argument, that the confidence and excitement about playing at Erin Hills will leave them freewheeling and they can continue to build on the good golf they played. I don’t think there is a hard and fast rule by any means but English really hasn’t had a lot to sing about lately without a top 10 since November. So having finished 29th on his last PGA Tour start it looked like he was maybe beginning to turn a corner and that looks even more likely after shooting 65-68 to comfortably qualify in T2nd. They were the lowest back-to-back rounds he had put together in over a year.

English also ranked 21st for GIR and 7th in scrambling at Colonial and that is exactly what is required when small, well protected greens come into play like we have this week at Southwind. English is a former winner around TPC Southwind and generally he performs well on courses with small greens. English plays with a towering fade which means his approach shots will generally land softly on smaller greens so it makes sense that he would have an advantage on such layouts. Both the courses that hosted his sectional qualifying have small, bermuda greens also so the preparation will have been ideal and they are also in the Memphis area so he won’t have had to travel far.

The wide fairways here won’t penalise the erratic driving we have seen from him this year and while the odds of 80/1 could be bigger, I’m willing to take a chance that this proven winner is rounding back into the form that saw him reach as high as No. 36 in the world.

I’m struggling to see any other interesting angles in this week so I’m going to go with another who qualified from the same courses as English and that is Chez Reavie. Reavie is a very accurate player who ranks 2nd in proximity to the hole and also scrambles with the best of them so this course should suit him on paper and his finishes here are fairly respectable. They are also trending in the right direction as he followed his missed cut in 2011 with a 27th in 2013 and then a 12th in 2015. If he keeps that two year progression going then he will contend this year!

Reavie is even more speculative than English as he really hasn’t done much at all for a few months but I’m hoping he can push on from Monday’s rounds of 67 and 66 which again are a huge improvement on what he has been doing lately. Luckily we are also getting a speculative price about Reavie though as he is a general 150/1 shot.

One other dart for me this week and that is Tom Hoge who is sitting 3rd in scrambling over the last 3 months. Hoge is actually in his 3rd year on Tour but so far things have been very low profile for him, seldom worrying too many leaderboards. But he does have some solid form at TPC Southwind (34th and 12th) and therefore I think there is a little bit of value in his odds of 250/1.


Lyoness Open

A miserable field became even more miserable with the withdrawal of Chris Wood but on the plus side we do have a solid bank of course form to look at with the Diamond Country Club having hosted since 2010.

A poor field would often be the chance for an up and coming maiden to get over the line but that hasn’t actually been the case at Diamond Country Club so far. All seven of the champions here had already tasted success on the European Tour before and the average time since their previous win was about 3 years.

The 7344 yard layout is one that immediately stands out against the other courses we see on European soil throughout the season. It has all the hallmarks of a PGA Tour course with lush green fairways and greens winding through lots of water hazards and white bunkers. This gives a suggestion of a typical target golf test and while that is maybe true to an extent, the course is quite exposed to the wind so links players have also thrived.

These have both been borne out in the results as most of the winners have been proven wind players that regularly hit a high number of greens. That will be my main plan of attack this week but given how well the course links worked out last week I will have a little look at that angle too. Bernd Wiesberger and Joost Luiten have both thrived on the layout in recent times and when on their game there aren’t many who hit more greens in Europe. They both tee it up again this year but Wiesberger does so as the very restrictive looking 9/2 favourite while Luiten hasn’t been having the best of seasons. Both can easily be left alone at the prices even if Wiesberger should really win comfortably if he plays anything close to his best.

Tom Lewis sits 3rd in GIR over the last 6 months and that immediately got me looking at him. He has struggled since his first win back in 2011 but it is important to remember he is still only 26. He isn’t the first Open Championship Leading Amateur to struggle a little as a pro and I’m sure he regularly takes inspiration from Justin Rose’s career. The 2013 US Open winner took 4 years to win after turning pro and struggled with missed cut after missed cut. Lewis managed to win on just his 3rd professional start but he has faced similar troubles since then.

However things have been slowly starting to look better for Lewis and he has made his last 5 cuts, also 8 out of his last 10. That is probably the most consistent period of his professional career and it is no coincidence that it has come along once he started hitting a high number of greens again. Lewis also fits in nicely to the profile of the previous winners at DCC as he is a European Tour winner with a bit of class who is rounding into some form and there isn’t too much to beat here. The price of 66/1 isn’t amazing for someone without a top 5 since Nov 2015 but he also has some strong course form of 26th-30th-10th and it feels like things have aligned nicely here for him this week.

As soon as I started my research this week I was keen to back Gregory Bourdy here but there wasn’t much to like about his opening price of 18/1. For a player of his talent he has often struggled to get over the line and really isn’t someone who makes a lot of appeal at such a low price, no matter how poor the opposition. But he is in great form and seems to play well at most courses where Wiesberger and Luiten also play well. Just 4 weeks ago at Genzon Club when Wiesberger was winning for the 4th time, Bourdy was 3rd and he is also a winner at Celtic Manor where Luiten has a win and a runner-up finish. But the main reason I can’t pass up the 18/1 is that he has finished 6th at this very course the last two years, confirming that it suits his accurate game. You certainly won’t ever get rich backing Bourdy at these prices but sometimes we have to move the goal posts a little to allow for field strength. Ultimately, in this field, only Joost Luiten and Jimenez have more European Tour titles to their name than Bourdy and he is in better form than both of them. I’m going to have a little 1pt ew interest. Bourdy has now been pushed out to 22/1 in places and that is a far more appealing price.

Zander Lombard finished 5th here last year and was seen losing in a play-off just three weeks ago in Sicily. There is nothing more complex to the pick than that and given how obvious he is I really thought he would be shorter than 50/1. I’m not complaining though as it gives us a nice bit of value for the up and coming South African on his 2nd look at the course.

With several very hard Par 3s that are tucked into the line of the water hazards, strong par 3 scoring will also be a huge advantage this week so I’m going to have a top 20 bet on Chris Hanson. He has a very accurate tee-to-green game and currently ranks 1st in Par 3 scoring over the last 6 months and 26th in total accuracy. Hanson was also 10th here last year.

Ben Evans also looks worthy of a top 20 bet this week as he is another accurate sort with form at a few key courses. Joost Luiten’s last win was the KLM Open around a new host course called The Dutch. Wiesberger was runner-up that week and just two places further back was Evans. He has made his last 5 cuts with the best finish in that period being a 6th place in Portugal. Evans has played the course twice before to little effect but there is no question he has improved a lot this year as he sits 14th in the all-round ranking over the last 3 months.


Summary of Bets

Fed-Ex St Jude

Harris English – 0.75pt ew @ 80/1

Chez Reavie – 0.5 pt ew @ 150/1 and 1pt Top 20 @ 5/1

Tom Hoge – 0.25 pt ew @ 250/1 and 1pt Top 20 @ 15/2

Lyoness Open

Gregory Bourdy – 1pt ew @ 22/1

Tom Lewis – 0.75 pts ew @ 66/1

Zander Lombard – 0.75pts ew @ 50/1

Chris Hanson – 1pt Top 20 @ 9/2

Ben Evans – 1pt Top 20 @ 9/2

 

Weekly pts advised = 12pts

Total 2017 pts advised = 261pts

@theGreek82

Memorial and Nordea Masters – Betting Preview

Another Sunday, another week of my picks tumbling down the leaderboard. Great fun.

What made matters worse was Kevin Kisner (tipped for Dean and Deluca last year and 11 times in total!) won in Texas in the evening albeit at the slightly restrictive price of 25/1. While his chance was obvious I still hadn’t forgiven him for his awful Sunday round at Harbour Town last month. But given that I had been waiting for his 2nd win it is annoying to miss out, especially as he is probably one of the few players who I’m still in profit on.

Total 2017 pts advised = 233 pts

Total 2017 pts returned = 130.97 pts

ROI =  -43.79pts

Two decent events this week and another chance to turn things around. The Memorial on the PGA and the Nordea Masters in Europe.


Memorial Tournament

Muirfield Village was opened in 1976 and has hosted The Memorial Tournament ever since producing an impressive roll call of winners. The course itself is 7337 Yards long and the fairways are of average width. There isn’t too much immediate trouble barring some lush green rough and it is very much a typical Nicklaus course as it is all about the approach shots and then what you do on and around the greens.

It has been a little while since I tipped top 10 money machine Matt Kuchar to win a tournament but lately he has looked like he is ready to win again and where better than Muirfield where he won in 2013. Accurate long iron approach play, good scrambling, par 4 scoring and steady putting are all hallmarks of Kuchar’s ultra consistent golf game. Without a win since 2014, Kuchar’s form took a little blip but so far in 2017 he has looked a lot like the Matty of old. He ranks 9th in scrambling, 14th in par 4 scoring and 41st in GIR.

The trouble with Kuchar isn’t trying to pick where he will play well, it is more so that it can be hard to get him inside the top 5 rather than the top 10. On his last 3 appearances on Jack Nicklaus designed courses he has finished 9th, 4th and 7th. After a back door 12th last week where only three men played the weekend lower he looks primed for a contending performance on one of his favourite courses.

I’m going to split stakes though so we still see a return should he finish in the all too familiar 6th-10th zone. I’m going 1pt ew and 2pts Top 10.

Brian Harman doesn’t have the greatest of records around Memorial but it should suit him and he looks over priced after winning just four weeks ago on a similar course at Eagle Point Golf Club. He won that with a solid approach game backed up by a brilliant short game display and that is what is required on a Jack Nicklaus layout. His course record isn’t a worry as his game has never been better and he got back to business nicely last week when finishing 7th at Colonial.

Harman ranks 25th for scrambling, 9th in Par 4 scoring, 30th in bogey avoidance and 21st in scoring relative to par on approaches from over 200 yards. The slight worry is that he doesn’t hit the sort of high numbers of greens that is usually required around Muirfield Village but given his short game form I think he is over priced here.

There are three others that I quite like this week, Patrick Cantlay, Sung-Hoon Kang and Ricky Barnes. I’m going to back Cantlay to win and the two others for a top 20.

Cantlay ranks 11th in GIR, 3rd in par 4 scoring and 7th in the all-round ranking. He is making his debut but I think he looks very well suited to Muirfield Village. Cantlay has been very impressive so far in 2017 having not finished outside the top 48 in his 6 appearances and returning a runner-up and 3rd place finish. He appears to have turned the corner following a tragic 2016 in which he witnessed his caddie and friend being killed in a hit and run. With a full PGA Tour  card secured again he is expected to go from strength to strength this year and hopefully he can contend here. The price isn’t fantastic for a non-winner but only Jon Rahm has spent longer as world amateur no. 1 and he looks to be able to play a bit!

Kang is a very solid stats pick this week and while he is making his debut he is having a brilliant 2017 so far finishing 6th at the Texas Open and 2nd at the Houston Open. Both those were a result of solid GIR and scrambling numbers which is the perfect combo here. He ranks 38th in GIR, 20th in scrambling, 9th in par 4 scoring and 12th in the all-round ranking. Surely over priced a little at 9/2 for a top 20.

Ricky Barnes is a bit of a phenomenon in that he can appear from nowhere on a leaderboard, usually in a rather high profile event on a proper golf course. Barnes is a former runner-up here and he goes well on Nicklaus courses in general having finished 5th and 11th on his last two efforts around Glen Abbey in Cananda. Barnes shot an opening 75 last week before going onto play the last three rounds better than everyone bar Spieth and Stricker. Odds of 11/1 for a top 20 look massive.


Nordea Masters

The Nordea Masters returns to Barseback Golf Club for the first time since 2009. It was a regular stop from the 1990s up to that point so there is a fair bit of course form albeit rather dated.

It is a fairly long course and can play up to 7729 yards with a combination of links style  and woodland holes. Visually that suggests it has similarities with Gleneagles, Celtic Manor and even last week’s Wentworth. I have written before about how form at Crans ties in well with Gleneagles and Celtic Manor while the Doha Golf Club, home of the Qatar Masters is another that looks relevant this week. Indeed the last winner here, Ricardo Gonzalez is a former winner at Crans, he also lost a play-off at Gleneagles, finished 4th at Celtic Manor and 4th at the Qatar Masters.

Marc Warren won the previous running in 2006 and he was won at Gleneagles, finished runner-up in Qatar, runner-up at Wentworth, 4th at Celtic Manor and 4th at Crans.

Luke Donald was the winner here in 2004 and he is a double winner at Wentworth, he has won around Crans and finished 3rd at Celtic Manor (as well as scoring 3pts there at the Ryder Cup).

2003 winner Adam Scott has won twice in Qatar and once at Gleneagles. Even going further back 2001 winner Colin Montgomerie has won around Crans and Wentworth, 1997 winner Joakim Haeggmann has won in Qatar, 1993 winner Jesper Parnevik at Gleneagles and 1992 winner Nick Faldo at Wentworth and Crans.

They all putted and scrambled very well during their win and those appear to be the standout attributes this week at Barseback. On exposed layouts, greens are very often missed and we see great scramblers thrive year after year on links layouts. They also all ranked very high on the par 3s which suggests they are maybe a fairly easy set of par 3s to hit with big greens where the better putters will prosper. The greens are also some of the faster on the European Tour which again will disadvantage those poorer with the flat stick.

Driving accuracy hasn’t been overly important in the past and despite several of the holes being tree-lined, the fairways are wide enough and the rough hasn’t been too penal in the past. Although we don’t know how it will be set up this week it is fair to assume they won’t venture too far from the set-up that saw the course prove very popular with players in the past.

Henrik Stenson and Alex Noren both have a very good record at most of the key courses listed especially the latter who has won at Celtic Manor, Crans and now Wentworth. I think they are both rightly single figure prices here and I think they will be hard to beat. Noren has proven in the last year just what he is capable of when he is fit and while the price of 8/1 is probably fair and we know he can go back to back, I think the enormity of winning the Tour’s flagship event may prevent us from seeing him at his best. As brilliant as Stenson is he has proven a costly player to follow at single figure prices and despite this being his home course I think he can be left out given his mixed course form.

The trouble with opposing two world-class, proven winners is that as well as finding someone suited to the course, we need to know they are capable of winning in what is a relatively strong field for the European Tour these days.

At his best Bradley Dredge was a multiple winner on Tour and he has a very solid bank of form at all the relevant courses this week. Dredge is a former winner around Crans, he was runner-up at Gleneagles, 4th in Qatar and he has also been 2nd twice at the visually similar Himmerland Golf Course where Marc Warren has won.

He played well for three rounds last week at Wentworth before a disappointing 4th round. Dredge has plenty length off the tee to cope with Barseback and despite not having played fantastically here before, he has played the course 4 times and made three cuts. The course should really suit this brilliant putter and he proved on Monday when qualifying for the US Open that his first three rounds at Wentworth were no fluke. With confidence high I’m expecting a good showing from the experienced Welshman.

George Coetzee is a favourite of the blog and I have mentioned several times what a great scrambler and putter he is on fast, links type courses. He hasn’t contended too much so far this year but he has been putting well as is to be expected. His driving has actually been a lot more consistent so far this year and it appears that he is trying to cut out the big numbers that we associate with the South African. Again he has some solid form at a couple of the key courses, he lost a play-off at Gleneagles in 2011 and has also been runner-up in Qatar. He currently ranks 2nd in birdie average and also 15th in driving distance so the long course will suit. Coetzee knows how to get over the winning line with three European Tour wins and he looks ready to add a 4th. This is a strong field but that is reflected in the odds of 50/1.

There were a few more that I could have included in the outright but with results having been poor lately I’m keen to try to persist with Top 20s as an alternative.

Marcel Siem has some of the best course form on show in this field as he finished 4th in 2006 and 8th in 2004. That was a long time ago but there have been recent signs that this 4 time winner may be finding his game again. He finished 8th two weeks ago in Italy but was let down by his putter. I’m not sure that he can contend if he is putting poorly but his course experience can help him continue along the comeback trail with another top 20.

Joakim Lagergren and Alexander Bjork are two young Swedes who both have brilliant short games. They will be looking to impress on home soil and this could be a good course for them. Lagergren finished runner-up this year at the Qatar Masters but went a little off the boil after that. He still sits 22nd in birdie average though and he can be expected to play well on any course that favours putters. His best results on Tour have all been on links type layouts with a 4th in the Alfred Dunhill Links last year and a 5th at the Made In Denmark on the Himmerland Course.

Alexander Bjork ranked 3rd for scrambling at Wentworth and 9th for putting along the way to finishing 14th. Only Tanihara and winner Noren had a better combination of short game stats and more of the same this week will surely see him crack the top 20 again.


Summary of Bets

Memorial

Matt Kuchar – 1pt ew @ 33/1 and 2pts Top 10 @ 3/1

Brian Harman – 0.5pt ew @ 75/1

Sung-Hoon Kang – 2pts Top 20 @ 9/2

Ricky Barnes – 1pt Top 20 @ 11/1

Patrick Cantlay – 0.5pt ew @ 50/1

Nordea Masters

Bradley Dredge – 1pt ew @ 80/1

George Coetzee – 1pt ew @ 50/1

Marcel Siem – 1pt Top 20 @ 15/2

Joakim Lagergren – 1pt Top 20 @ 8/1

Alexander Bjork – 1pt Top 20 @ 4/1

Weekly pts advised – 16pts

Total 2017 pts advised – 249pts

@theGreek82

Dean and Deluca Invitational and BMW PGA Championship – Betting Preview

With both players well positioned after round one in Europe, De La Riva and Paisley managed to be just two of 9 players in the top 91 not to shoot under par on Friday and that pretty much summed things up. They lost all momentum and they couldn’t get close enough to figure over the weekend.

In the US my bets were more speculative but I expected more from Jason Dufner on a track that he loves. After a great round on Saturday to get into contention he played poorly on Sunday when even par would have gained him a place.

Total 2017 pts advised = 223pts

Total 2017 pts returned = 130.97pts

ROI = -41%

This week we have the flagship event on the European Tour at Wentworth and the PGA Tour heads to Colonial for what is now known as the Dean and Deluca Invitational.


Dean and Deluca Invitational

This week the PGA Tour stays in Texas for one more week at the Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth. The course is a classic par 70 layout and plays just over 7200 yards. Mainly just the picks this week with a bit of course info included.

Wes Bryan won just three starts ago at Harbour Town, which has always correlated well with Colonial, yet he is available towards 80/1 this week and 100.0 on Betfair. This is his debut but he is a player full of promise. Apparently he told people earlier in the year that he was going to get his first win at Harbour Town and to deliver that shows he has a lot of confidence in his game. It is a course where historically a bit of course knowledge goes a long way but I can’t get away from him at that price and lets not forget that he was winning on his first look go at the RBC Heritage too. Harbour Town is tree-lined, windy and has small greens, three of the main features at Colonial so this should really suit him perfectly. The greens at Harbour Town are bermuda grass but all three of Bryan’s Web.com wins were on bentgrass so he won’t be troubled at all by the smoother surfaces at Colonial.

Bryan sits in 20th for proximity to the hole, 7th in one-putt percentage and 25th for scoring relative to par from approaches at 125-150 yards. All three of those combine to tell us that he gets the ball close to the pin with his wedge and makes a lot of  putts once on the green. That is why he thrived at Harbour Town and given that he flagged up that as a chance of his first win I’m convinced he will be seeing this as a great chance of following up quickly. He has missed his last two cuts but he has no doubt been enjoying his first PGA Tour win and he arrives off the back of a week off so he should arrive fresh and ready to push on.

Graeme McDowell is back to his best on the greens and he is continuing to hit his customary 70% of fairways so he really should take to the course on his first look. As a household European Tour member over recent years he has always played at Wentworth this week but his decision surely took into account how suitable this course is for him and he has only made the top 25 at Wentworth once in 13 attempts. McDowell is a former winner at Harbour Town and is always one to watch whenever there is wind forecast.

Currently ranking 10th in driving accuracy he will handle the tight fairways better than most and he also ranks 14th in scoring relative to par from 150-175 yards. With McDowell being one of the shorter hitters he will find himself in that sort of region on a lot of holes this week and we know he is making the most of those chances with his putter. Looks over priced for a player with 10 professional wins playing on a course that should play to his strengths.

Having picked two debutants so far, Ben Martin gets in on his strong course form and the fact he stopped a run of missed cuts with an 18th at Wells Fargo and then a 30th at the Players. Martin can be a force anywhere that involves plotting his way around the course off the tee and that explains his form figures of 29-10-21 the last three years here. With the last two winners on the PGA Tour arriving in far worse form it might just pay to take a punt again for the 3rd week in a row.

 


BMW PGA Championship

With £5 million of new modifications to the course at Wentworth I’m not going to write too much about it. I wrote more of a comprehensive course preview last year but suffice to say it is a tree-lined, difficult course with lots of water, links style bunkering and fairways and very fast greens. The wind is notoriously difficult to gauge as it whistles up and over the trees so distance control is always key on approach shots.

Tyrrell Hatton (a 50/1 tip for the blog) played in the final group with Scott Hend last year but both players had a day to forget. Hatton really went to school on that experience though and his upward curve could almost be attributed to that point in his career. He had a brilliant summer and then continued his rise this year on the PGA Tour, churning out top 20 after top 20 to reach a high of number 12 in the world.

He is half the price this year but he looks more than twice the player now as he is a winner on Tour with two major top 10s. To give a comparison to those around him in the market, Francesco Molinari also has two major top 10s but from 29 efforts whereas Hatton has only played 7 majors as a pro. Hatton is a player that is going places and but for one bad and slightly unlucky tee shot in Dubai, he would already have his 2nd win on Tour having driven into the water with an adrenaline fuelled tee-shot on the 72nd hole at the Tour Championship in November.

His immediate form hasn’t been fantastic but his 2017 stats are glowing and he is developing exactly the right sort of all-round game that is perfect for a test like Wentworth. For those who are thinking 25/1 is a little short we must remember that he is the 3rd highest ranked player in the field and he finished 7th last year. Again comparing his price to the 18/1 about Molinari, he begins to look like a value price.

Hatton lives a relatively short drive away and he has called this his favourite tournament of the year. I expect him to be fully prepared and ready to make up for last year’s disappointment.

I’ve long thought that Bernd Wiesberger should be perfectly suited to Wentworth and the fact that he is in great form this year makes him a must bet for me. He won just last month at another greens in regulation course with water in play (Genzon Golf Club) and the one weak part of his game probably won’t be that important at the tough Wentworth course. His putting has always been below average but not only will birdies be at a premium this week, the greens have also been largely relaid so most will be going in fairly blind. His short game in general used to let him down but he currently ranks 1st in scrambling on Tour which at least tells us that he is holing out with more assurance than in the past. Throw in 10th in GIR and 18th in total driving and it becomes clear why he is having such a good year.

Despite having four European Tour wins already he often finds a way of throwing in one bad round which costs him the win. At some point he is going to put four together and destroy a field with his ultra consistent iron play. Odds of 25/1 here for the world number 30 appealed to me even before considering his finishes of 15th and 12th at the course.

Annoyingly he has been cut today to 22/1 and while that is starting to feel skinny I had already made my mind up so he stays in at the restricted price. For those with a Betfair account hopefully his exchange price might push out again towards 26.0.

I also backed Lee Westwood here last year on the strength of his course form and again he looks a value play with a good recent showing in an elite field at the Masters. He finished here 15th last year after contending for the first three days and nobody hit more greens through the week. The year before he ranked 3rd for putting when finishing 38th and if he can combine those two facets of his game in any way then he is sure to go well again at a course where he has 6 top 5s to his name.

Gregory Bourdy should really like Wentworth and he does have a couple of decent finishes as he was 15th last year and 12th in 2013. But ultimately he just looks massively over priced to me at 125/1. Just two starts ago he was seen finishing 3rd behind Weisberger and Fleetwood in China at Genzon Golf Club where he ranked 10th in total accuracy and 5th in the all-round ranking. The accurate Frenchman is 10th in driving accuracy, 29th in GIR, and 7th in par 4 scoring for the year so he looks worth a go at a big price.


Summary of Bets

Dean and Deluca

Wes Bryan – 1pt ew @ 80/1

Graeme Mcdowell – 0.5pt ew @ 80/1

Ben Martin – 0.5pt ew @ 100/1

BMW PGA

Tyrrell Hatton – 1pt ew @ 25/1 (Skybet 7 places)

Bernd Wiesberger – 1pt ew @ 22/1 (Skybet 7 places)

Lee Westwood – 0.5pt ew @ 45/1

Gregory Bourdy – 0.5pte ew @ 125/1

Weekly pts advised – 10pts

Total 2017 pts = 233pts

@theGreek82

Byron Nelson and Rocce Forte Open – Betting Preview

Si-Woo Kim ran out a very deserving if very surprise winner at The Players Championsip. It was clear he had talent when he got his first win last summer at The Wyndham but his form this year had been nothing short of terrible. It transpired that he had been playing with an injury most of the year however which explains a lot. I guess in hindsight the 1000.0 that was matched on Betfair is far too high a price for such a talented young player but ultimately it throws the whole golf betting game into disarray if we start ignoring the fundamentals. For next year I think it is safe to look at it as a bit of an anomaly in terms of form and stats but as ever it probably pays to heed the often repeated line “beware the injured golfer!”.

Even in an awful tournament like the Open De Portugal I managed to find a way of picking 6th place and that was extremely annoying as he raced to his finishing score through just 6 holes. One shot better would have returned the place money.

Another tough week means the results aren’t looking any better.

Total 2017 pts advised – 213

Total 2017 pts returned – 130.97

ROI = -38.5%

I’m low on time and confidence this week so I’m not getting too involved with a long preview and I will keep stakes low.


Byron Nelson Championship

Last year I wrote about a suspected course link between the Atlanta Athletic Club, host of the 2011 US PGA, and the TPC Las Colinas course here in Irving, Texas. Four of the top 7 players on that PGA Leaderboard are winners of the Byron Nelson and last year’s winner Garcia was 12th at that same US PGA. I’m going to stick with that approach to have a few speculative punts on some outsiders.

The 2014 US Amateur Championship was also held at the Atlanta Athletic Club and I’m going with the two players who shot the joint lowest round of 68 in their qualifying round at the Highlands Course; C.T. Pan and Robby Shelton.

C.T. Pan finished 2nd around Torrey Pines on his debut which was somewhat overshadowed by Rahm winning on his debut. But that was some effort and while he has gone off the boil a little lately he actually hit a fan in the face with the ball at the Honda Classic. Incidents like that can affect a player and it may have taken a little time to get over it. He has missed his last few cuts but given such a strong course link he looks worth a little dabble at 250/1. After all he is ranked 150th in the world and he is priced up here with a group of players outside the top 300.

Robby Shelton is another young player finding his feet on Tour but he already has a 3rd place finish from when he was an amateur in 2015. But just last month he finished 16th in Texas and he looks a decent price at 175/1 given his lofty reputation.

D.A. Points returned to form when winning in Puerto Rico in March before missing a few cuts but he bounced back again two weeks ago with a 12th in the Wells Fargo. It’s easy to think of him as a bit of a journeyman but with 7 professional wins (3 PGA Tour) he knows how to get the job done. Points was 10th at the 2011 US PGA and at odds of 200/1 the bookmakers seem to have quickly forgotten about his win this year.

With three outsiders I’m also going to include a more favoured runner in Jason Dufner, who enjoys shorter Par 70 layouts and is a former winner here. He has been performing well on the par 4s all year and ranks 7th in Par 4 scoring. He actually somehow ranks 47th in strokes gained: putting too which suggests win number 5 might not be too far away.


Rocce Forte Open

The Sicilian Open returns in everything but name this week and it also sees the European Tour back at Verdura Golf Course in Sicily after it hosted the last running in 2012. Some changes have been made but it still looks a lot like it did 5 years ago when Thorbjorn Olesen claimed his maiden win. It is practically a links course which seems a little strange for Italy but some of the pictures show it running along the coast and most of the descriptions reference a links style layout. The designer was Kyle Phillips who is responsible for several of the modern links courses we see on Tour including Kingsbarns and PGA National in Sweden.

Chris Paisley doesn’t immediately strike me as a player favoured to Links golf but he looks a very good price here. His best finish of the season was a 13th in Qatar which is actually a course where Olesen has finished 2nd and Chris Wood, who chased Olesen home here in 2012, has won. Branden Grace is also a two-time winner there and he holds the course record at Kingsbarns which compounds the link. Paisley also has a 13th around PGA National in Sweden and while it may be a slightly tenuous link, Paisley hasn’t missed a cut since January and this isn’t the deepest of fields.

Eduardo De La Riva has some sneaky links form and he has been on my radar for links tests ever since his 15th around Muirfield in very tough conditions. Since then he has a 2nd around Kennemer Links in Holland and a 3rd at the windy Portugal Masters. He had been struggling this season until last time out in China when he finished 14th and he ranked 5th for driving accuracy and 9th for GIR. Very speculative but it looks like that sort of tournament.


Summary of Bets

Byron Nelson

Jason Dufner – 1pt ew @ 40/1

C.T. Pan – 0.5pt ew @ 250/1 and 1pt Top 20 @ 9/1

Robby Shelton – 0.5pt ew @ 175/1 and 1pt Top 20 @ 13/2

D.A. Points – 0.5pt ew @ 200/1 and 1pt Top 20 @ 7/1

Rocco Forte Open

Chris Paisley – 0.5pt ew @ 100/1

Eduardo De La Riva – 0.5pt ew @ 125/1

Weekly points advised = 10pts

Total 2017 pts advised = 223pts

@theGreek82

The Players Championship and Open De Portugal – Betting Preview

Yet again another disappointing Sunday as Scotland came up shy in their semi-finals against Australia and 200/1 shot Zac Blair had a nightmare front 9 after starting his final round T8th and 3 shots back.

Scotland played better golf than anyone en route to the semis but they were quite flat against the Aussies. Despite that they had more than enough chances to beat Scott Hend and Sam Brazel as they were playing even worse than the Scots. But ultimately a bit of rust about Warren’s game and Ramsay’s putter going cold meant they lost it at the 6th and final hole.

Blair would have had his work cut out to win the event but it’s a shame that he didn’t manage to contend at all on the Sunday even after an opening birdie. It is refreshing to see such a positive Twitter feed from Blair at a time when the likes of Grayson Murray are making all the social media headlines for the wrong reasons. The preparation Blair put into the week helped him to play well and if he continues in that vein then we may well see him on more leaderboards throughout the year.

Total 2017 pts advised = 197pts

Total 2017 pts returned = 130.97pts

ROI = -33.5%


The Players Championship

I’ve done a preview again for Matchbook this week so please see that below. I’m not going to bother repeating too much so just the picks and the staking plan.

https://insights.matchbook.com/players-championship-betting-guide/

I like Justin Thomas. Jon Rahm, Russell Henley, Kevin Chappell and Matt Kuchar this week each way.

Also going to include Matt Kuchar as a Top 10 bet as he really seems to enjoy playing well but only finishing 6th-10th!

David Lingmerth looks over priced for a top 20 here given his fondness for Pete Dye courses. He finished 2nd on his debut at TPC Sawgrass and he has a 6th and a 3rd on Dye’s Valley course at Sawgrass. Lingmerth was also beaten in a play-off last February by Dufner at the CareerBuilder Challenge which is played on two different Pete Dye designs. The tougher it plays the more he will enjoy the test and with recent finishes of 14th and 18th a 3rd top 20 in a row looks more likely than the 8/1 suggests.


Open De Portugal

This looks as poor a betting heat as The Players looks a good one. A new course and a co-sanctioned event with the Challenge Tour gives us a very poor field. The course is Morgado Golf Course in the Algarve and from the little I can find it is said to be a links style course in a parkland setting. A google search of images would back that up and it looks a lot like Gleneagles which I always think of as the archetypical inland links course. With little to go on I have found two speculative punts.

Mark Foster won the Alfred Dunhill Links way back in 2003 and he lost in a play-off at Gleaneagles in 2011. He hasn’t done a great deal recently but this is the sort of tournament that is usually won by someone with a historical piece of class or a hungry young maiden. At 50/1 he looks worth a small interest.

Jens Fahbring probably couldn’t be considered young any more but he is still just finding his feet on the main Tour. He arrives in Portugal following two 13th place finishes and also managed 12th in Portugal in October in a far better field than this. He is a proven winner on the Challenge Tour with two wins, both at courses that are  visually similar to Morgado. Also looks a fair price at 50/1.


Summary of Bets

The Players

Justin Thomas – 2pts ew @ 30/1

Jon Rahm – 2pts ew @ 22/1

Russell Henley – 0.5pt ew @ 80/1

Kevin Chappell – 0.5pt ew @ 50/1

Matt Kuchar – 0.5pt ew @ 60/1 & 2pts Top 10 @ 9/2

David Lingmerth – 1pt Top 20 @ 8/1

Open De Portugal

Mark Foster – 0.5pt ew @ 50/1

Jens Fahrbring – 0.5pt ew @ 50/1

Weekly pts advised = 16pts

@theGreek82

Wells Fargo Championship and GolfSixes – Betting Preview

There was a fairly obvious winner in Alexander Levy last week who had been playing well without quite contending over the last month or so. Julien Quesne played well and while he didn’t manage to get a full top 20 his finish of T18th did provide some small returns on the week.

On the PGA Tour while Cameron Smith has been playing well of late his partner Jonas Blixt hasn’t been doing much so they were a bit more of a surprise winner in the new team format at the Zurich Classic. I didn’t see a great deal so I’m not sure how much of a success it was but the players all seemed to enjoy it even if golf fans and punters struggled to get onboard.

This week it is another difficult one with a course change for the Wells Fargo due to Quail Hollow hosting the US PGA later in the year and another kooky format on the European Tour with the “Golf Sixes”. Neither look like fantastic betting heats so I may not get too involved.

Total 2017 pts advised = 191

Total 2017 pts returned = 130.97

ROI = -31.43%

 


Wells Fargo Championship

The new course this week is Eagle Point in North Carolina and like the normal host course Quail Hollow, it is a Tom Fazio design. Nobody knows a great deal about it with it being new to the Tour but PGA Tour pro Zac Blair was tweeting photos from the course over the weekend so his twitter is worth a follow for pictures of the course.

With very little to go on I have focussed on form on other Tom Fazio designed courses. One of his trademarks is difficult green complexes so with wide enough looking fairways and perfect bentgrass greens I think the better putters may be at a slight advantage this week.

Daniel Berger has been threatening to get his second win lately and I think this course should suit him. The fairways appear wide and forgiving so approach shots and short game will be more key than driving this week and that will suit Berger. He is currently 19th in strokes gained:putting for the season but as high as 3rd in total putting over the last three months. He also sits 24th in scrambling and has a runner-up finish at another Fazio design at the Honda Classic.

Berger has shown in the past that he can adapt quickly to new courses as his 10th place at Augusta on his Masters debut and his 16th place finish in the WGC Mexico testify. You could argue that 33/1 was a little on the skinny side but when you look at the depth of the field you can see it isn’t fantastic and he is the world number 38 with a win under his belt already at 24.

Zac Blair looks worth a small interest given how excited he appears by the course. Not all pros care as much about the appearance and details of every course but before Blair took so many photos of his rounds at Eagle Point he is obviously a scholar of golf course design. With very little to go on I think it is fair to assume the advantage that he will get from being so prepared will help him out play his odds of 250/1. Blair has been putting very well lately, ranks 2nd on Tour for scrambling and has played well on windy courses before.

I wasn’t sure about including Zach Johnson as he hasn’t played that well so far in 2017 but he does have a history of performing on Tom Fazio courses. Johnson won the BMW Championship at Fazio’s Conway Farms in 2013 and he finished 8th at Oakmont in last year’s US Open. Fazio reworked Oakmont prior to the 2007 edition and it famously has some of the toughest greens in the world. Even if Johnson’s long game isn’t quite where he wants it to be, this short game wizard looks over priced at 80/1.


Golf Sixes

This is another new venture from The European Tour and much like the new event in Perth earlier in the year it has had a fair amount of criticism already. I think it could be quite a fun event again however as I enjoyed the Perth Super 6 event.

Having said that though it really doesn’t look like an event to get very involved in from a betting point of view. Just 16 teams all priced between 8/1 and 33/1 with match-play greensomes over just 6 holes suggests utter carnage and an argument could be made for just backing the four outsiders win only in an attempt to get some value. I did consider that but instead I have plumped for just one pick for an interest and that is the Scottish team of Richie Ramsay and Marc Warren. They both have plenty of experience playing in the UK and also lots of positive match-play experience. Ramsay won the 2006 US Amateur Championship and Marc Warren has won around Gleneagles and made the sem-finals of the Paul Lawrie Match Play in 2015. Warren has a very good record around nearby Wentworth and visually they are quite similar courses. Ramsay has some decent finishes in the UK also with 8 top 10s over the years.

While the greensomes format (both players hit a drive and then alternate shot from their best effort) is new to Tour competitively, it seems like hitting fairways will be key, especially over just 6 holes where one mistake could lose the match. Ramsay has always been a very accurate driver of the ball whereas Warren usually does his best work on and around the greens but he does boast one of the best swings on Tour. They may just make a solid team this week and at 16/1 they look a fair price considering they are both proven winners on Tour with 6 titles between them. (Only the Thai and French teams combine for more)


Summary of Bets

Wells Fargo

Daniel Berger – 1pt ew @ 33/1

Zach Johnson – 0.5pt ew @ 80/1

Zac Blair – 0.5pt ew @ 250/1

Golf Sixes

Scotland (Ramsay and Warren) – 1pt ew @ 16/1

Weekly pts advised = 6pts

2017 pts advised = 197pts

@theGreek82