Alfred Dunhill Championship and Indonesian Masters – A few bets

A poor week last week with almost everyone proving a disappointment. Van Zyl again played well in spells but Champ and Kisner had an absolute shocker in the Shootout. Stakes were returned on Van Rooyen as he withdrew before the first tee on Thursday morning.

I was going to leave it this week as I was low on time but then I noticed that the blog was back in the negative by 5pts for 2018. So while I haven’t managed a full preview for either event, I have a couple of bets in a (desperate!?) attempt to get back in to the black for the year.

2018 pts advised =- 500.50

2018 pts returned = 495.74

ROI = -0.95%

Alfred Dunhill Championship

Louis and Charl head the betting here after winning and finishing 3rd last week respectively. Seems perfectly fair and I’d expect one of them to win, with preference probably for Schwartzel given his unrivalled course form (3 wins and several other top 10s). I think Louis will probably have peaked last week and having finally won the South African Open I’m sure he will be on auto-pilot this week. The reverse forecast is more than likely to give you a run through the weekend though and he played some excellent golf last week and they are a class above here.

David Drysdale looks a little over priced here given his course form. His results at Leopard Creek read 11-8-6-11-25-mc-8-mc-29-28-25. He withdrew last week after an opening 73 on the easy layout and then a double bogey on the 3rd hole of his 2nd round. I can’t find any information on his injury so I’m going to assume he was just saving himself for Leopard Creek. I’ll have a very small play each way on the outright as we know he has struggled to win his whole career. I’m also going to have a bet on a Top 20 finish, something that he has managed on his last 4 visits. I’m staking this with a view to finishing the year in profit should he oblige.

Indonesian Masters

Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson should really have this covered between them given the drop in class to the next best player. I did consider backing them both combined at 2.1 but there are probably just about enough young, unexposed talents in the field to put me off. I’d expect it to give you a run for your money all week at the absolute worst but I’m not going to put it up given it’s such a short price. I’m surprised it’s not odds on to be honest but the unknown potential in the field maybe make it just about right.

Instead I’m going to have a rock-solid each way double on Rose and Schwartzel. Rose has won on his only appearance at the course and Schwartzel has placed 9 times from 14 at Leopard Creek. If they both place then we still double our money taking 1/4 odds and 5 places with the best prices, 7/4 and 15/2 respectively. The win portion is 179/8 or 23.38 decimal.

Happy holidays to all readers and I’ll be back for the Tournament of Champions in the New Year. Hopefully we can find an early Christmas present in the meantime…..come on David!

Summary of bets

Alfred Dunhill Championship

David Drysdale – 0.5pts ew @ 100/1 (1/5 odds 7 places)

David Drysdale – 3pts Top 20 @ 7/2

Other bets

Justin Rose and Charl Schwartzel – 2pts ew double @ 4.13 place and 23.38 win



Weekly pts advised = 8pts




Hero World Challenge, Mauritius Open and Australian PGA – Betting Preview

Aaron Rai brilliantly led from start to finish in Hong Kong to give us a much-needed 66/1 winner. I couldn’t quite believe how well he played particularly over the weekend with such a quality chasing pack. It was an impressive way to get his first win in such a famous event with Fitzpatrick, Fleetwood, Garcia and Cabrera-Bello all in behind and each one with no excuses.

Denmark nabbed a share of 4th place in the World Cup to give us a very small return and the blog is back in profit for 2018! But only just. It gives us some money to play with this week though as again we have multiple tournaments from around the world. Looking at how many of the fancied runners placed last week and how close the treble came to landing the each way money, I’ll be considering similar bets again this week.

2018 pts advised= 483.50

2018 pts returned = 495.73

ROI = 2.53%

Hero World Challenge

With the whole field of 18 men ranging in price from just 8/1 to 40/1 this has the feeling of being an absolute minefield where any of the players could legitimately win. Even the very head of the market is extremely tight with 8 golfers sitting between 8/1 and 12/1. The sensible outcome of a quick look at the event would be “no bet” but that’s not a whole lot of fun and probably not what anyone wants to hear! So we may as well have a deeper look and see if we can find anything of interest.

The Albany Golf Course in the Bahamas hosts for the 4th year in a row now so we have 3 years of event form to pour over. Unfortunately another negative is that there are no stats for any of those given it isn’t an official PGA Tour event. So all we can really go on is the type of player that has won here and what makes the course suitable, together with having a look to see if there is a trend with motivation for all the event winners. An end of season December jolly to the Bahamas doesn’t stand out as one of the most important events to be winning so plenty of the field will be enjoying it for exactly what it is. Several of the field however will be looking to lay down a marker for 2019 having had a poor year on Tour by their standards.

If we look at the 3 winners at Albany, Hideki Matsuyama, Rickie Fowler and Bubba Watson, there appears to be some sort of link with TPC Scottsdale and the Phoenix Open. Matsuyama has won the Phoenix Open twice, Fowler lost in a play-off to Matsuyama and also finished runner-up in 2010 while Bubba finished runner-up in 2014 and 2015. The courses perhaps aren’t all that similar but on both courses the winner tends to have performed very well on the Par 5s. That makes sense at Albany with five of the longer holes but Scottsdale only has 3. Further similarities might be that both sets of greens have a tifeagle bermuda base and run rather fast for regular PGA Tour surfaces so they reward well struck approach shots, something that Fowler, Matsuyama and Bubba excel at when on their game. They are also both courses where driving distance is a big advantage.

This has thrown up my only bet in the event and that is this year’s Phoenix Open winner Gary Woodland. He is a big hitter having ranked 7th in driving distance last year and few play the Par 5s better on a regular basis. This year so far he ranks 14th in par 5 scoring average while his rankings the last 3 years read 9-24-7. Woodland also arrives in decent form with a run of 5-2-10 prior to a 41st at the Mayakoba last time out. He closed that with a 65 on Sunday however and he will be relishing his first start here in the Bahamas after a 2 week break. Woodland has already shown in his career that he is comfortable playing outside the US with a strong record in Malaysia’s CIMB Classic as well as a World Cup win in China alongside Matt Kuchar.  Both those events take place in the last quarter of the year too so he clearly still has motivation at this time of year. It won’t be easy to win in this field but at least we are getting a nice price about someone who should enjoy the test and can easily contend at this elite level.

While Fowler is a very short price and surely can’t be considered for singles, his record at the course makes him a very solid pick for accumulator bets this week.

Mauritius Open

This is the 4th edition of the Mauritius Open since it had European Tour status but with it moving every 2nd year it is just the 2nd at the Four Seasons Golf Club at Anahita. It is a long Ernie Els designed course that can play to some 7500 yards if required and the fairways are very wide. The challenge tends to be the greens as they are rather undulating with lots of run-offs, hillocks, bunkers and even stone dykes protecting them! Els always enjoyed the imagination required around links courses so it is to be expected that he would replicate that test around his greens. 2016 winner Wang and runner-up Rahman both got up and down brilliantly all week to rank 5th and 3rd in scrambling. The course is also right by the sea so if the wind blows as it did in 2016 there will be plenty greens being missed. Therefore solid approach play and a sharp short game look to be the route to success at the Four Season GC.

Last year’s winner Dylan Frittelli (Heritage GC) returns to defend as a 10/1 favourite and that tells you quite a lot about the calibre of the field. Frittelli is a very exciting prospect but he isn’t someone who deserves to be backed to win a golf tournament at those odds. To be honest the same could be said about most of those at the top of the market with Mattias Schwab the 3rd favourite at around 22/1. Not only has he not won on Tour but he hasn’t even really properly contended in an event despite his lofty reputation and a consistent season. Bernd Wiesberger returns after some 6 months out through injury so he can probably be left out on grounds of being a little rusty. George Coetzee would normally be included in the blog on a week like this especially at 25/1 but he hasn’t had the best of years and only finished 27th here in 2016 when in better form. Again this had me looking further down the market to find some each way interest where a place will pay more than a Frittelli win. That makes a lot of sense in an event like this and I have found three nice looking bets.

Jaco Van Zyl was one of the first names to jump out at me this week. Partly because he has hardly played this year due to a wrist injury but also due to his good record at both of the other courses which Wang has won at; the Trophee Hassan and the Qatar Masters. Van Zyl was 2nd in Qatar just this year while he also has a runner-up and a 3rd at the Trophee Hassan. At his best the South African journeyman is a supremely consistent ball-striker with an effortlessly smooth swing. But he seems to always get in the way of himself when it comes to winning, be it mentally or poor putting when it matters. However 2018 has very much been the year of both the overdue win and the comeback win. Van Zyl is a 14 time winner on the Sunshine Tour so he is definitely more comfortable in these parts and at exactly the same age as Charles Howell III and Richard McEvoy, he could well take inspiration from their success. He made his first start since wrist surgery in August but to limited success. However he stopped a run of missed cuts last time out when finished 10th on the Sunshine Tour. He has had another month off to rest his wrist further since then so I’m hoping he is ready to go this week. He was 12th here in 2016 and if he is anywhere close to full fitness then he looks a fantastic bet at 80/1.

Clement Sordet was another of the first names on the short list purely because he is listed on the European Tour website as being based at the other Mauritius host course the Heritage Club. So I figured he must spend a fair bit of time down on the island and has probably played this course quite a few times. But my confidence was boosted when I realised he finished 8th at Q-School to gain a full European Tour card last month. I figured he must be in decent form but then Ben Coley pointed out in his preview that Sordet and Langasque actually won a PR doubles event at this course over the weekend. So the Frenchman is clearly very comfortable down here and probably even has his own place. He isn’t a player I know a whole lot about just yet but he is a 4-time winner on the Challenge Tour and he came 16th at Walton Heath which was a very strong field on a tough layout.  Looking at his stats he is pretty capable in most departments but doesn’t always manage to put the whole game together on any given week. In a more relaxed environment without a Tour card to worry about this could be a big week for him.

Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano has been in the golfing wilderness for the last 4 or 5 years, losing his game at almost exactly the same time he left for the PGA Tour. It is what most golfers on the European Tour will dream of ultimately and it was a shame how things worked out for the likeable Spaniard. He had just begun to assert himself as a European Tour heavyweight when he upped sticks so having lost his playing rights in the US he will be keen to make a mark back on the European Tour. He has had mixed results so far in the 7 events since he returned but the pick of the bunch was his 5th at Valderrama last month. It is always a difficult course with a winning score in line with Wang’s -6 score here in 2016. Gonzo has always been a brilliant ball-striker and wind player but was sometimes let down by his short game. So it is particularly interesting that he leads the Tour in scrambling over the last 3 months. I’m expecting a decent week for a player who has never finished outside the top 26 on his four trips to Africa.

Australian PGA

We noticed last week just how much the cream rises to the top of the leaderboard in events at this time of the year and nobody needs me to tell them that Cameron Smith, Marc Leishman and Royal Pine course horse Harold Varner III are three solid favourites in Australia this week. I will probably look at including all 3 in some fun accumulators this week but they don’t really appeal as singles given it is quite hard to pick between them. Smith and Leishman both played brilliantly last week in Melbourne while Harold Varner III arrives in very solid form and boasts course figures of 2-1-6.

So it’s just the one each way bet and that is last year’s play-off loser Jordan Zunic. He is a young Aussie still based on the PGA of Australasia Tour but he showed what he is capable of in this company last year when he put his home Tour knowledge to good use. He led the field that week in putting so he obviously enjoys the greens here. Zunic also won along the road in Brisbane just three weeks ago so he looks a little bit over priced here at 66/1.

I wanted to have another go at an each way treble here and I’m liking Harold Varner III and Rickie Fowler given they both have rock solid course form and are both playing well. But there is no such pick at the top of the market in Mauritius. So instead I’m going to take a leap of faith that Bernd Wiesberger might just be fit enough to contend here. At his best he would probably be a 9/1 favourite in this field so I’m going take that potential value and cross my fingers.

Summary of bets

Hero World Challenge

Gary Woodland – 1pt ew @ 33/1 (1/5 odds 4 places)

Mauritius Open

Jaco Van Zyl – 0.75pt ew @ 80/1 (1/5 odds 6 places general)

Clement Sordet – 0.75pt ew @ 80/1 (1/5 odds 6 places Sky bet)

Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano – 0.75pt ew @ 66/1 (1/5 odds 6 places)

Australian PGA

Jordan Zunic – 0.75pt ew @ 66/1 (1/5 odds 6 places Sky bet)

Other bets

Rickie Fowler, Harold Varner III and Bernd Wiesberger – 0.5pts ew treble @ 2519/1

Weekly pts advised = 9pts



World Cup of Golf and Hong Kong Open – Betting Preview

Dean Burmester saved the day last week as he landed both the Top 10 and Top 20 bets to make up for some average outright picks, particularly on the PGA Tour. It takes its Christmas break now but there are still enough lower key events on the go to keep the more obsessive golf punters happy. The World Cup of Golf takes place down in Australia on the Melbourne sandbelt while the Hong Kong Open is being held as usual at Hong Kong Golf Club in Fanling. With just a few weeks left of the golfing year a winner is very much needed to finish the year in profit.

Total 2018 pts advised: 475.50

Total 2018 pts returned: 431.93

ROI = -9.16%

World Cup of Golf

The World Cup of Golf has never really lived up to what the name suggests it should be, but there is no question that moving it to the Melbourne sandbelt has boosted its draw for the pros. This week we are at the Metropolitan Golf Club and it is generally considered to be one of the best conditioned courses in Australia, which in itself is saying something. Thorbjorn Olesen and Soren Kjeldsen return to defend their title that they won 2 years ago at Kingston Heath. The format is the same with 28 two-man teams lining up for four rounds of team stroke-play. They will play two rounds of foursomes and two rounds of better ball.

The course is a typical sandbelt one with hard and fast conditions and large greens that are well protected by tightly mown run-offs and imaginative bunkering. It is exposed to any potential wind and the forecast for the week is for some rain and a moderate breeze. With these courses in Australia often playing like British links courses, scrambling is probably the most important aspect for me. You never see an Open winner who can’t chip and if we look at winners in Australia they all have tidy short games. Hitting greens is always important on difficult championsip courses and it will also be important here. With wide enough fairways I don’t think tee-shots will make or break the week here. With difficult fast greens I’m not sure how many birdie putts we will see so I’d be more interested in looking at those who hole out well rather than those who hole more than their share of 25 footers.

I was considering backing the defending champions here anyway but having just written down what it will take to win here I feel like I have just laid my case out. Olesen and Kjeldsen (Denmark) both have fantastic short games and as two British links winners they have shown they can handle playing the knock down approaches that windy, hard and fast conditions dictate. As well as the win here Olesen won the Perth International at Lake Karrinyup in 2014 and it has similar green complexes to the Metropolitan. Olesen won the GolfSixes this year with Luca Bjerregard further highlighting how much his laid back nature is suited to team golf. While Olesen has had a brilliant 2018 Kjeldsen’s hasn’t hit the same heights. His best finish was 6th at the KLM and he only managed two Top 10s in all. But over the last 3 months he sits 7th in driving accuracy and 5th in GIR so his reliable long game should compliment Olesen’s aggressive approach and we should see them dovetail nicely again. Given we know what they can do together I thought they were a tad over priced with Skybet at 14/1 and I’d definitely have them more in line with the firms who have them at 10/1.

South Africa’s team of Dylan Frittelli and Erik Van Rooyen looks very strong indeed on paper and if they gel together they could go well here. Both hit a very high number of greens on a consistent basis and while neither have been known for their short game, they have both been working hard on that aspect having realised that it was weak compared to their solid ball-striking. Frittelli’s record in Australia is brilliant having finished runner-up in the Australian PGA on his only visit in 2015. The winning score that year was level par and he showed that he can play tough championship layouts well. Van Rooyen had a brilliant first year on Tour even if he couldn’t quite bag the win when on his best run earlier in the year. He finished the year 22nd in stroke average and 38th in the Race To Dubai which is a very good starting point for his career. If we see that long-game assurance that has been present more often than not this year, they might make a pretty good team.

Hong Kong Open

Given the strength of the top 6 in the market it would be quite a surprise to see someone outwith that group lift the trophy in Hong Kong this week. But for the sake of singles I think we can take them on and try to find some each way alternatives. Motivation must be questionable in the likes of Garcia, Fleetwood and Reed while Cabrera-Bello and Fitpatrick simply don’t win enough to be backed at the prices despite their glaring suitability to the course. I will probably chuck the two Spaniards in some fun accas but I’ve found a couple of others that should be suited to the test and have more than enough ability to contend here.

The course is Hong Kong Golf Club and it has hosted since 1959, making it one of the longest running tournaments in the world. The course plays to that historical status as it remains one of the tighter, fiddliest courses in the world and it is very difficult to overpower. The tree-lined nature together with tricky doglegs make this a course where strategy is a must off the tee. Over run it and they will be blocked out from going directly at the green. Miss left or right and they will have very little option but to pitch back out. The plus point for the bigger hitters is that it is perhaps the shortest course used on either of the main Tours at just 6700 yards or so. That allowed the bomber Scott Hend to win here two years ago as he took on plenty of tee shots knowing the shorter holes would give him plenty of wedges. That is not the norm however and we usually see accurate types like last years winner Wade Ormsby or four time winner Miguel Angel Jiminez. Although with small, fast greens that are well protected even the most accurate players will be missing plenty of greens. That means year after year the leaderboard is full of excellent scramblers and that together with tee-to-green accuracy are probably the go to attributes this week.

Aaron Rai probably hasn’t quite had the 2018 season he hoped for coming off a 3-win Challenge Tour season in 2017 but he kept his card and made it to the Tour Championship. He is normally a very accurate operator from tee-to-green but he isn’t a big hitter at all. This course should play to his strengths even if he did miss the cut on his debut last year. That was his first start with a European Tour card so it may have been a daunting week for the young Englishman. With a season under his belt he should be a little more confident and we could see him flourish at the more strategic courses. He did have a bad run of form in the early autumn which threatended to curtail his season but he picked up with a 43rd in Turkey and then an 8th at the Nedbank to qualify for the DP World Tour Championship. He finished the 2018 season ranked 4th in driving accuracy and 7th in GIR so looks the type that should enjoy the test in Fanling and he is a very fair each way price at 66/1.

There was a time when Thomas Aiken was the straightest driver on Tour but he has struggled with the big stick the last couple of years which has had a knock on effect on the rest of his game. He remains a very capable player when everthing is working well however and a few weeks ago he played one of the best shots I have seen all season. He found himself directly behind a greenside lake on a 30 degree downward incline and he managed to pitch the ball out to some 8ft or so. It was quite brilliant and was typical of Aiken over the years who is as likely to fluff a chip shot as he is hole one such is his inconsistency. That 10th place finish in Turkey though definitely got my interest so I was very happy to see the 80/1 in this sort of field. He has only played here twice and we have a MC and a 31st which again highlights how streaky he can be. Two of his three wins have come on fiddly tree-lined tracks and having been playing better of late he looks a decent each way price in a field lacking any real depth.

Elsewhere Georgia Hall returns to the LET for her first regular Tour start since her Open win in August. This is a massive drop down in grade but that is reflected in her best price of 7/2. She has solid event form having finished 4th last year and 3rd the year before. The course has changed but that was the same last year and the last event here was won by Mel Reid who putted the lights out. So the course should suit Hall who putts brilliantly these days. It’s no single price but I’m going to throw her in a small stakes treble for a bit of fun. Garcia is surely the man to beat in Hong Kong having just made his debut there last year. With his recent form and suitability to the course he is the standout of the favourites even if he is hard to back at 15/2. Over in Japan the Casio World Open has attracted very little in the way of star names and that leaves two of the Tour’s bigger names at the head of the betting. Japanese star Imahira heads the market but it’s the 2nd favourite and defending champ Seung-Su Han that I prefer at a slightly sportier price. He signed off last week with a 67 for 10th place (1 shot ahead of Koepka) and prior to his win he was 4th in 2016. We should at least get a run out of an each way treble at a best price 496.5/1.

Summary of Bets

World Cup of Golf

Denmark – 1.25pt ew @ 14/1 (1/4 odds 4 places)

South Africa – 1pt ew @ 20/1 (1/4 odds 4 places)

Hong Kong Open

Aaron Rai – 0.75pt ew @ 66/1 (1/5 odds 7 places)

Thomas Aiken – 0.75pt ew @ 80/1 (1/5 odds 7 places)


Georgia Hall, Sergio Garcia and Seug-Su Han – 0.25pt ew treble @ 497.5

Weekly points = 8pts


RSM Classic and DP World Championship – Betting Preview

Having been on holiday for a couple of weeks in October I missed quite a bit of golf so I was keen to try to get a handle on what was happening again before advising any more bets. I think I’m back up to speed and we have good events on both Tours this week so it feels like a good time to jump back in. There are also a few other decent events as we hit that stretch of the year where it’s fun to play small stake trebles, four-folds and even five folds for the hopeful.

2018 pts advised = 461.50

2018 pts returned = 415.18

ROI = -10%

RSM Classic

The RSM Classic has long been a standing dish for the accurate plodders on the PGA Tour as it is one of the few remaining stops that isn’t over-powered. Both courses at Sea Island are fairly narrow and tree-lined with small, well protected bermuda greens. That combined with the excellent resort facilities make it a must stop for some of the older family orientated pros as they look to take advantage of an event that the young powerhouses normally stay away from. The last two events however have gone the way of young Tour maidens so you shouldn’t be put off if you fancy one of the new crop of graduates. Every year they come flying out of the blocks in the Fall Series and that has been no different this year with Cameron Champ already notching up his first win. But for my money this event will probably revert back to the norm and I definitely want to be with the more strategic, accurate sorts who have seen the course before in some capacity.

Jim Furyk received quite a hard time in the aftermath of the Ryder Cup, most of which was a little harsh. While it will have been a great privilege for the 2003 US Open winner to lead his country, there is no doubt that it will have been a long year with all the commitments involved. Coming off a decent rest it was interesting to see him play so well last week as he shot four rounds in the 60s to finish T6th. I think he will be looking to take advantage of another short, suitable course this week in Georgia. I’m surprised he never won here at his peak as Sea Island very much falls into Furyk’s wheelhouse, along with Harbour Town, East Lake and Copperhead where he has won. His course form is predictably solid though having finished 11th, 3rd and 6th on his only 3 appearances. He averaged 81% of fairways hit and 83% of greens in regulation on those 3 starts so the courses are clearly ones that fit his eye. Those same areas of his game were as strong as ever last week in Mexico where he ranked 1st in driving accuracy and 2nd in GIR. I’m expecting a strong performance and anything around 40/1 looks like a great bet to me.

Roberto Castro will be well worth following on these shorter courses this year. He confirmed that on just his 2nd start of the season where he overcame a poor start to post a 5th place finish at the Sanderson Farms. Castro gained his 2019 Tour card with a solid if unspectacular campaign but it was back in 2013 that he really announced himself with an opening 63 at Sawgrass to lead the Players Championship after day 1. He would finish down the field but it flagged him up as a player to watch on short courses where you have to keep the ball in play. In August of that year he also posted his best major finish of 12th at the US PGA around the ultimate plotters course at Oak Hill. (Jason Dufner, Jim Furyk, Zach Johnson and David Toms were 3 of those ahead of him!) I know there are plenty of people watching him closely this season and I’m expecting his price to be cut here so I tweeted this bet on Monday in the hope of people getting the best price possible. Castro’s event form isn’t great but his last start in Georgia was a 2nd place finish on the in April. He should be comfortable in the area given he studied at Georgia Tech and their former students have a good record in the state.

Chesson Hadley completes the PGA line-up this week as he remains a player that is hard to get away from when applying a stats based approach. It is surely just a matter of time before he wins again and last year he played the fall series brilliantly, doing everything but win. He has started similarly well again over the last month with a 2nd place in Kuala Lumpur and a 7th place at the Shriners. While his event form also isn’t fantastic he is another Georgia Tech alumni so should feel at home and his current stats match up perfectly for this test providing he is in control of his stock draw off the tee. He is 7th in ball striking and 1st in proximity to the hole and both should help him to another contending performance.

DP World Championship

For several years this was a benefit for the Tour’s best two players, Rory McIlroy and Henrik Stenson. From 2012 to 2015 nobody else got their hands on the trophy as McIlroy’s two wins sandwiched the Swede’s back to back triumphs. While that made it a difficult betting heat with strong single figure favourites, at least it helped to build a profile of what it takes to win around the Earth Course. Elite ball strikers who hit lots of greens and often miss plenty of putts. Despite neither being consistently great putters, they usually putted well here which tells me that perhaps the greens aren’t overly challenging. Matt Fitzpatrick was the next winner in 2016 and while he is normally a decent putter he is another brilliant tee-to-green player. Jon Rahm continued this mould again last year as another world-class iron player who isn’t always assured with the flat stick.

The Earth Course is one of the longer on Tour measuring nearly 7700 yards. It’s a Greg Norman design so perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised by that as he was consistently one of the longest and straightest drivers on Tour before technology changed the landscape.

Eight of the last nine winners had already won that season heading in but with only the top 60 players qualifying that perhaps shouldn’t be a big surprise.

Two of the last seven winners were doing the Dubai double having won the Desert Classic earlier in the year.

Rory McIlroy heads the market here at what would have been an unthinkable price (9/1) two years ago. That is gathering quite a bit of interest and there is no question it looks appealing on first look. However I can’t quite get his recent performances on suitable courses out of my mind. Yes he loves it here but he doesn’t appeal to me as a single bet. Those wishing to cover him could do worse than fire him in to some accumulators as the golfing world reaches silly season with multiple events.

A case could be made for the other 5 market principals but Rahm has only been seen once since an average Ryder Cup and he could only finish 22nd in the HSBC. Garcia is in brilliant form but at 10/1 I’d want to know that he wasn’t dwelling on last week’s loss. Fleetwood will probably play well but he just doesn’t win enough to side with at 11/1 at a course where he has never bettered 9th in 5 attempts. This all takes me down the market a little and to one of the most in form players in the European game.

Hao Tong Li will probably be quite popular this week despite not being the greatest of prices. Such is his level of current form and talent it would be no surprise to see him win a title this big. He has been knocking on the door heavily over the last month (5-2-11-9-5) and he has already shown his fondness of playing in Dubai when beating McIlroy head to head to win the Dubai Desert Classic. His event form is improving having finished 30th on his debut and then 13th last year. The Earth course should suit him perfectly with a bit of room off the tee for the sometimes erratic but powerful driver. His iron play has been excellent recently and that is usually what separates the field here. Li is so good that when he is putting well he should contend every week at this level and that explains the short odds as the bookmakers know what he is all about. His touch on and around the greens has been superb lately as he has been seen holing out lots of chips in recent weeks. On his last two starts he has ranked 2nd in the all-round ranking confirming just how well every part of his game is operating. With question marks about several around him in the market I see no reason why he can’t lift this title to cap off a career year for one of the most promising youngsters in the game.

Henrik Stenson hasn’t been seen since the Ryder Cup so there are both health and rust issues regarding his game. But they are more than factored into his price and to be frank that’s what has drawn me to the Swede this week. The fact that we can back him here at 25/1 is too good an opportunity to pass up for me. It’s not like he has played poorly this year either he has just suffered heavily from his elbow injury. He still ranked 1st on the PGA Tour in GIR, 4th in strokes gained: approaches and 8th in strokes gained: tee to green so his tee-to-green game has been as superb as ever when he has played. He laughed off those injury concerns at the Ryder Cup winning all 3 of his matches and he has had minor surgery since then which will hopefully have sorted the problem out. Lack of competitive golf is certainly a worry especially as he has to find his swing again after the surgery but this is one of his favourite courses and he will surely have been preparing to give it his best shot this week. I’d be annoyed at myself to miss out at this price so I must have a small bet on him.

Dean Burmester looks over priced in all the markets here this week given his course and current form. He was 11th last week where his whole game was in great shape bar his normally reliable putter. The powerful South African came 4th here last year on his debut and while I’d be surprised to see him come out on top this week I think he has a good chance of landing some place bets so I’ll play him in both the top 10 and top 20 markets.

Elsewhere I’ll be playing some fun small stakes accumulators across the 5 big events this week. The Dunlop Phoenix will surely be a shoot-out between Koepka and Matsuyama while Matt Kuchar looks the man to beat in the Australian Open. He said himself how well he was swinging it during last week’s win and there are few players in the world more suited to the hard and fast sandbelt courses in Australia. I’d be surprised if he doesn’t contend despite the jet-lag and emotions from last week.

Summary of Bets

RSM Classic

Jim Furyk – 1pt ew @ 40/1 (1/5 odds 7 places)

Roberto Castro – 0.75pt ew @ 100/1 (1/5 odds 7 places Betfair Sportsbook)

Chesson Hadley – 1pt ew @ 35/1 (1/5 odds 7 places Betfair Sportsbook)
DP World Championship

Hao Tong Li – 2pts ew @ 20/1 (1/5 odds 5 places Betfair Sportsbook)

Henrik Stenson – 1pt ew @ 25/1 (1/4 odds 5 places)

Dean Burmester – 1pt Top 10 @ 9/1 and 1.5pts Top 20 @ 7/2

Weekly points advised = 14pts

2018 pts advised = 475.50pts


Alfred Dunhill Championship – Betting Preview

Last week was a losing week but it could have been better as both Garcia and Hatton actually played very well. Garcia scored 3 out of 4 points but that was only good enough for a share of 3rd and 2pts of returns thanks to “Moliwood’s” exploits. Hatton and Casey played their 35 holes of 4balls in -17 but that was only good enough for 1pt before he ran into an angry Patrick Reed in the singles. The requestabet gave us a run until Sunday but Hatton and Rose both losing scuppered it at the death.

The Ryder Cup was as brilliant as usual and I’m a big fan of Le Golf National as a course and venue with its natural amphitheatres framing so many holes. But I must admit that I felt a little cheated with the lack of drama over the weekend. I’m sure I’m in the minority and it’s maybe just a case of comparing it to Medinah, which is unfair, but there just wasn’t a lot of tension. That was maybe compounded by the fact LGN isn’t really a course that you can chase on so we saw very few matches turned around across the 3 days. There was an inevitability about every match when someone got 2 or 3 up and that isn’t normally the case at the Ryder Cup. All that combined with the US team’s post event meltdown in the press makes me look forward to Whistling Straits even more in 2020 and that course could be truly spectacular as it suits both bombers yet has enough nuances that you have to think about what you’re doing at the same time. We’re getting ahead of ourselves though and it’s back to the regular Tours again this week as the 2019 PGA Tour season gets underway and the 2018 European Tour season picks up pace with a big purse in Scotland. I’ve not had a chance to write-up a proper preview for the Safeway Open but have included the one bet that I’ve had.

2018 pts advised =453

2018 pts returned = 415.18

ROI = – 8.4%

Alfred Dunhill Links Championship

The returning Ryder Cup players will lead the narrative this week as they make the short journey over from Paris. Brooks Koepka, Tommy Fleetwood, Tyrrell Hatton and Tony Fina head the market but with just 3 days to recover they all look vulnerable in the East Coast of Scotland. Koepka has the horrible spectator incident looming over him as well as the reported DJ fall-out and he will surely struggle to focus on the week’s golf. Fleetwood will do well to compose himself after the biggest weekend of his life while Hatton’s brain will surely be frazzled by Thursday as he arrives chasing a hat-trick of Dunhill titles. With his comfort levels in the format and his suitability to links courses he is undoubtedly the man to beat here but at 14/1 you would want everything to be in his favour and instead I’m looking further down the market. Finau has shown his links pedigree on both Open starts to date but without a win since 2016 he isn’t someone who finds it easy to get over the line. He too can be left out at the odds even if he does look nailed on to enjoy the test.

A test which really isn’t for everyone given the pro-am format and the slow, easy conditions that are in play which allow the celebrities and money men to enjoy their week of links golf. With the spot in the calendar being in October in Scotland we don’t see any of the hard and fast conditions that are prevalent at The Open. The pro-am nature means that 3 different links courses are in rotation and they play one round at each before a 3rd round cut and a final round at St. Andrews. The greens and fairways will be soft so trouble is even harder to find than usual at St Andrews and Kingsbarns with minimal run-out off the tee. Carnoustie is usually a little more difficult but even still it will need the wind to properly blow to prevent rounds in the 60s being the norm. It should be noted that there is a decent breeze forecast for most of the week though with gusts in the 30s on Thursday. The flags are very favourable too so with all that combined you can see why the winning score is usually in the 20s under par. St Andrews and Kingsbarns both have wide open fairways and plenty of drivable par 4s so power is very much a weapon this week. Ultimately though, it is all about making birdies however you can so aggressive iron play and a hot putter will be the order of the week in Fife and Angus. Proven ability in the wind and scrambling will also be of the utmost importance with the wind causing plenty of greens to be missed.


Paul Dunne pitching over the valley of sin on 18 at St. Andrews in 2017

I’ve gone with a couple of my favourites again this week as I’m adamant I don’t want to miss out on their win and they should both relish the challenge. Given the record of home players however I’ve also added an Englishman.

I backed Ryan Fox here last year and followed him through a few holes at St. Andrews. He looked relaxed and his approaches off the links turf were effortless. He drove pin high on the 18th and pitched it up close for a birdie an opening 68. I was pleased with his effort and expected him to push on. That didn’t happen as he struggled at Carnoustie and then shot what must have been nearly the worst round of the week at straight-forward Kingsbarns (75) to miss the cut. I’m going to give him a pass though as I don’t see Kingsbarns as anything but a perfect course for Fox. He has shown us his links pedigree the last two summers with top 10s at Gullane, Ballyliffin, Port Stewart and Dundonald Links. Dundonald in particular suggests his suitability to Kingsbarns as they are both Kyle Phillips designs and have some of the widest fairways you will see. St Andrews also sets up well for Fox’s power game and with the slower conditions he should be able to over power both the Old Course and Kingsbarns. He played four rounds at Carnoustie this summer and settled into it nicely shooting 74-71-71-70. While fairway conditions were very different that experience can only help for his second shot at the Dunhill. The forecast wind will be no problem for the New Zealander as he was brought up in such conditions and has shown his ball-striking capabilities. Indeed he actually sits 6th in strokes gained: tee to green this season with the only men above him being McIlroy, Molinari, Fleetwood, Rahm and Westwood. The slower greens should help someone who isn’t always the best of putters. He is an excellent scrambler though and the softer greens mean he can be aggressive with his chipping and hopefully leave himself more 4ft par saves than the 8ft that we have seen him with on summer links.

He is a massive 70/1 this week and for someone who keeps the company he does tee-to-green I think he has to be backed again. I expect him to win sooner or later and there is a good chance that when he does it will be on a links course.

My other regular pick this year has been Erik Van Rooyen and he has again slipped to a backable price as the bookies seem to have forgotten the links pedigree he showed in the summer. EVR finished 4th at Ballyliffin in July before a 64 around Gullane couldn’t quite help him make the -4 cut. He then contended for 3 rounds in his debut major at Carnoustie the following week. He is another excellent ball-striker who often appears to control his golf ball as well as anyone on the European Tour and he has shown that his swing stands up in the wind. EVR was brought up in Cape Town where the bulk of his formative golf will have been played in blustery conditions. Van Rooyen often lets himself down with the putter from inside 10ft but the slower greens that we see in the Dunhill should help him massively in that respect. He is a decent lag-putter and his scrambling has improved a lot as the year has gone on. It is hard to believe that this is his rookie season and I’m sure he will be looking to finish it strongly and consolidate his position inside the top 60. He is 34th at the moment and I honestly feel once he does get his win we won’t see prices like 60/1 around even in rather strong fields like this.

Ross Fisher has finished runner-up to Tyrrell Hatton the last two years in relatively benign conditions by Scotland’s standards. But Fisher has always been a great wind player so with the life-changing week Hatton has had I simply have to back Fisher here at 45/1 incase he is too good for the rest of the field again. He hasn’t been in great form but that was also the case last year. I followed him for the bulk of his round as he was paired with my man George Coetzee. Fisher was very poor and could only shoot a 71 but this was largely down to some terrible lag putting. He returned to St Andrews on Sunday and knowing the pace of the greens he went on to shoot a course record 61. Fisher loves this set-up where the slower greens allow him to contend as he can come unstuck on the slick summer surfaces at The Open. His ability in the wind could help him pull away from the pack even more this year and he has to be backed at a similar price to last year.

Marcus Kinhult hasn’t done much yet on a British links course on the European Tour but his best 3 finishes in his rookie year tell me that it is just a matter of time. He was 3rd at the Qatar Masters, 5th at Le Golf National and 4th last time out at the Portugal Masters. All 3 events have long been a good indicator of links form in particular Qatar and Portugal where there are a host of winners who have doubled up in Scotland. Both courses have plenty room off the tee and are exposed so that suggests Kinhult is a decent wind player. Hailing from Sweden that makes a lot of sense and he does have a little form in Scotland where he finished 5th on the Challenge Tour at the exposed inland links at Aviemore.

Arriving off the back of his 4th place finish in Portugal he will be relishing the chance to play again in conditions that should suit. A nice each way price at 100/1 with Betfair’s 7 places.

Safeway Open

I’ve not had a chance to look at this in any great detail but given that it is usually a tee to green test here I thought Kevin Streelman stood out at 80/1. Last year Brendan Steele ranked 64th out of 75 on the greens but he was practically faultless tee-to-green. Streelman ranked 23rd in strokes gained: tee to green last year on Tour with only Cantlay, Moore and List ahead of him in this field and they are all considerably shorter in price. Twelve of those 22 men won on Tour last year and the other 10 are mainly major winners. If he continues with that level of long game he will surely win again soon and this low quality field could be a great chance to kick off his season. He was 13th here last year putting modestly and with a bit of an improvement on the greens he can surely contend.

Summary of bets

Alfred Dunhill

Ryan Fox – 1pt ew @ 66/1 (1/5 odds 7 places)

Erik Van Rooyen – 1pt ew 60/1 (1/5 odds 8 places)

Ross Fisher – 0.75pt ew @ 50/1

Marcus Kinhult – 0.75pt @ 100/1 (1/5 odds 7 places)

Safeway Open

Kevin Streelman – 0.75pt ew @ 80/1 (1/5 odds 7 places)


Weekly points advised = 8.5pts



Ryder Cup Preview

Brooks Koepka started his first round well before having an absolute shocker from then on. I’m not sure what was up with him but the price was still wrong for me. His form looks a little worrying for the US team though as he was spraying it everywhere and he won’t get away with that at Le Golf National this week. Schauffele played well but came up 1 shot shy of the places.

In Europe all 4 picks took it in turn to get into contention on different days but all 4 also managed to finish at least one round with a double bogey. It was particularly annoying as they showed their suitability to the course the rest of the time but perhaps just got too greedy and aggressive at the wrong time.

On to Ryder Cup week though which isn’t always a fantastic betting event but you can normally find some fun bets to help add to the excitement of the best sporting event on the planet. Not a week for getting heavily involved stake wise.

2018 pts advised = 441

2018 pts returned = 413.18

ROI = – 6.3%

Ryder Cup

It’s always tricky to find an exciting or different betting angle for a Ryder Cup as there are only so many bets that can be had and lots of them are so obvious that nobody needs them pointed out! For starters Patrick Reed has played 2 Ryder Cups and he has top scored for the US team (3.5pts) on both occasions while coming 2nd in the overall points scoring. Ian Poulter has played 5 Ryder Cups and finished 1st (or 1st equal) in both the Europe and Overall markets on 3 of those. That’s quite a remarkable return even for a player who everyone knows to be a proper Ryder Cup legend. If we look at both their Ryder Cup win records then Poulter is 72.22% whereas Reed is on an even better mark of 77.78%. If we compare these with figures for other experienced Ryder Cuppers we can see how much they stand out. Excluding Koepka who has just played 1 event, the 13 players to have played in 2 or more events all post records between 16% and 63%. Even legends of the game like Woods (43.94%), Mickelson (47.78%) and McIlroy (57.89%) all teeter either side of the 50% mark. This can be taken lots of ways but to me it tells us what fine margins are involved in so many matches in this format and over time they can turn out to basically be a toss of a coin. But to put up numbers like Reed and Poulter it takes something a bit special and they are clearly at their best when lining up in this format. There is just something in their mentality that gives them that little bit extra when playing in match play. So despite Reed’s loss of form and Poulter’s advancing years we can still expect them to have good weeks, the only downside to perhaps betting on them is that they might not play enough matches. US have such an embarrassment of riches that should Reed not play well on Friday he might find himself only playing 3 matches whereas Poulter at 42 yrs old is unlikely to play more than 3 and certainly not 5. This means backing them in either the team market or overall market puts us potentially on the back foot from the word go.

Normally it would make sense to try to decide which players you think might feature in all 5 games. Looking back at the last 8 events, the top European points scorer has played 5 matches on 6 occasions with the other 2 having played 4 matches (one of those years was Celtic Manor where 4 was the maximum due to weather). The US top scorer has played in 5 matches on 4 occasions with the other 4 having played in just 4. Together that gives us 10/16 having played 5 matches but this improves to 12/16 having played the maximum number when we factor in Celtic Manor.

The top overall points scorer market is interesting as it has gone to a European in 7 of the last 8 events while the other one was a tie. You could look at that one of two ways; assume a US player is due the win or decide to stick with what looks to be a fairly solid trend.

With the overall quality improving almost every year and the 2018 event looking like the strongest ever on paper, it doesn’t look as necessary this year for the captains to have to play any of the big guns in 5 matches. However that is offset somewhat by the number of rookies playing; 5 in Team Europe and 3 in Team US. The picture is no less muddy!

This is basically all just a long-winded way of me saying that we want to be picking proven match play exponents who are highly likely to play a minimum of 4 matches. Again, this is quite obvious so a lot of the process in finding who that might be depends on who we think the captains will play together and who is suited to the fiddly Le Golf National course.

With Reed and Poulter looking up against it I’ve tried to think of a player who most fits their sort of determined mentality, has a good all-round game and can produce clutch short game magic when required. Tyrrell Hatton has a match play record of 71% and while all the team matches have been in low-grade events he has played in 2 WGC Match Play events and boasts a 57% record there. Thomas Pieters landed the spoils as a rookie at Hazeltine with 4 points from 5 and while Hatton isn’t as visually impressive as the Belgian you would be hard pushed to suggest he wasn’t as good a player. Hatton is a brutally good putter and if he can find the pace of the slower greens on Friday he might just hit the ground running like Reed did at Gleneagles on his debut. He has won the Alfred Dunhill Links the last two years and they always feature softer, slower links greens in October so despite him preferring slick, perfect greens I expect him to handle these without much fuss.

With him being a rookie there is a strong chance he will only play 3 or 4 matches but you would have said the same about Pieters until he forged his partnership with McIlroy. It looks like Hatton will probably be paired with Poulter and they could be a formidable pairing, thriving off each other’s energy. The other possibility for me is Tommy Fleetwood but it would be quite bold to stick 2 rookies together. Either way I think he looks over priced in both the Top European and Overall markets so I’m going to have a small interest on both. This could all come crumbling down early on Friday if he misses the morning session but I think his odds more than reflect that so I’m happy to take a chance that he is given enough matches to allow the bets to at least have a run.

While Sergio Garcia is undoubtedly a huge presence in the team off the course there is no way he was picked just for that. Garcia is a foursomes dream and especially on a course like Le Golf National where the fairway has to be found. Garcia shot the lowest round since 2010 there when he fired a Saturday 64 just 3 months ago. Garcia has a 70% foursomes record and his 61% in the fourballs isn’t too shabby either. With 5 rookies on the team I wouldn’t be surprised to see Garcia given the chance to play his way into the event on Friday morning in the first session. He will be a perfect partner for any rookie and boasts 3 1/2 points from 5 in RC team matches when playing with a rookie. If we are going on the practice groups then he may well play with Alex Noren and that could be a dream combo around LGN with Noren a former winner and his often deadly putting would compliment Garcia’s long game assurance. Of course he might play terribly on Friday and sit out Saturday completely but you can often throw the form book out the window at the Ryder Cup especially where a relentless ball striker like Garcia is concerned and I think he is a little over priced in the Top European market at 12/1.

I’m keen for a top US play but I’m struggling with anything beyond the obvious and there doesn’t appear to be any clear value to me. Rickie Fowler might just be about the best bet though when we consider all the factors. He keeps the ball in play more than many of his team mates and he has multiple pairing options given his popularity and all-round game. He played well enough at the Tour Championship and I think he will be looking to sign off a disappointing season in style. Fowler doesn’t have the best of records to date in the Ryder Cup (40.9%) but I think that could change this week. He should play 4 of the matches and that gives him a decent chance should he get off to a good start on Friday.

Looking at the Ryder Cup Outright market itself it’s not a market that I would want to get terribly involved in as you are working with very short prices on something that is almost a coin flip. That would definitely have me leaning to Europe at 2.38 on Betfair and I may yet get involved if they go north towards 2.50 but it’s not something to be particularly confident about. I think the course suitability for Europe negates the stronger US team and I’m expecting a very tight event again. While Europe have won 10 of the matches to US’ 8 matches (with 1 tie) they are usually tight affairs. In 10 of the 19 matches neither team has scored more than 15 points and if we total up the points since it became Europe v USA then the competitive nature of the event is only highlighted further as Europe lead by just 269 to 263. I’m definitely getting the draw onside and if last week had been a bit more succesful I’d maybe have had 3 or 4 attempts at the score but I don’t really want to be backing against Europe so I’ll take the 14.5-13.5 score line in Europe’s favour too. I’ll be backing both these on the exchange hoping that a tight affair allows some trading out options.

I’ll finish with a fun requestabet that looks like it could have some legs. Skybet priced the following up at 13/2 for me and there’s a lot to like about that price.

Europe +2.5, Hatton Over 1.5pts, Watson Under 1.5pts, Rose Over 2.5pts.

Europe will just need 13 pts for the handicap part to land while we have covered Hatton already. Everything about the combination Le Golf National and Bubba Watson looks uncomfortable and that was the case when he played there some 5 years ago as he missed the cut in angry fashion. With him arriving in poor form I’d expect him to play no more than 3 matches and with a miserable Ryder Cup singles record of 0 wins from 3 he will up against it to get more than 1 point. Conversely Rose arrives as the hottest player in world golf and will surely play 5 matches. Throw in his 63% RC record and he looks likely to pick up at least 3 points which he has done on 3 of his 4 Ryder Cup appearances to date.

There is definitely a case to be made for betting the top player markets win only to avoid having two bets go wrong on day one.  That is how I’ve done it in the past but this year I’ve swayed on the side of each way given they are all bigger than 10/1.

Summary of bets

Tyrrell Hatton – Top European – 1.25pt ew @ 28/1 (1/4 odds 3 places Skybet)

Tyrrell Hatton – Top Overall – 0.75pt ew @ 50/1 (1/4 odds 4 places)

Sergio Garcia – Top European – 1pt ew @ 12/1 (1/4 odds 3 places)

Rickie Fowler – Top US – 1.25pt ew @ 11/1 (1/4 odds 3 places)

Europe 14-14 US – 1pt @ 13.0 (Betfair Exchange)

Europe 14.5-13.5 – 1pt @ 12.5 (Betfair Exchange)

Above Requestabet – 1.5pt @ 13/2


Weekly points advised = 12pts



2018 Tour Championship and Portugal Masters – Betting Preview

I should be feeling refreshed after a week off the previews but I must admit I’m struggling to care too much about this week with the Ryder Cup looming and that might be the same for anyone finding themselves lagging behind off the pace at East lake this week. Despite my initial ambivalence though I’ve managed to get quite heavily involved!

Two weeks ago Nach Elvira grabbed us a place and that kept the blog creeping ever closer to being back in profit. One good week will turn it all around again…….

2018 pts advised = 424

2018 pts returned = 413.2

ROI = -2.55%

Tour Championship

I must admit despite my love of East Lake I really found it hard to get any excitement for this with Ryder Cup looming next week. To be honest I’m not sure why they have these back to back with the majority of players involved in both events. For some this will be a bit of a nuisance as those languishing down in 25th-30th can’t really have any significant impact on proceedings and would surely rather be in France preparing. For others towards the top of the Fed Ex rankings they will be dreaming of a $12m pay-day on Sunday but to be honest most of the guys wouldn’t even really notice it in their bank accounts. I’m struggling to find any sort of angle in from a motivational point of view and therefore this has all the makings of a damp squib of a tournament where the likes of Bryson, Rose and DJ could find themselves playing their own tournament over the weekend.

But we may as well look at the design as East Lake is a bit of a gem and one of designer Donald Ross’ finest efforts. It is a long and strategic par 70 with dog-legged fairways that wind their way through the trees and around the East Lake itself. The challenge is an all-round one as no aspect of the course is easy. The correct side of the fairways are required in order to again find the right area of the green and all this demands accuracy over power which is so often the case on Ross courses that stand the test of time better than most classical layouts. Rees Jones carried out a redesign in the late 90s to help bring it back to Ross’ original design while also allowing some future proofing. The result has been a course that has the held the Tour ending event ever since 2004 and it still presents a very fair challenge.

Greens in regulation is usually the name of the game at East Lake but as important is leaving the ball below the hole. Most of Ross’ courses have greens that slope back to front meaning that long is no use and distance control is paramount to ensure that you don’t short side yourself. Ball-strikers come to the fore which we can see not only from East Lake leaderboards but at most Donald Ross designs in general. The only other regular stop of his on the PGA Tour is Sedgefield and the form stacks up between the two, even more so now that they both have bermuda greens. Indeed the last two Wyndham winners have both won at East Lake. Other courses used recently include last week’s Aronimink GC, 2014 US Open venue Pinehurst No. 2 and 2013 US PGA host Oak Hill. Before Schauffele last year, the previous 8 Tour Championship winners were all inside the top 35 at Pinehurst while 4 of the top 10 at Oak Hill are now East Lake winners. As Justin Rose proved when he nearly doubled up at Aronimink, Donald Ross form nearly always repeats itself. Indeed that leaderboard wouldn’t be the worst starting place for research ahead of this week where 4 of the top 8 have won here before.

Brooks Koepka certainly has a point when he suggests he doesn’t get the credit he deserves and that looks to stand true with the bookmakers this week if nobody else. Koepka is 5th in the betting this week at 14/1 and behind Rose, McIlroy, DJ and JT. In the last two seasons those 4 men have 1 major between them while Brooks has 3. “But Koepka isn’t suited to East Lake!” I hear you shout. Well I’d maybe tend to agree with that but for someone who didn’t like it last year he did rather well by finishing 6th. The only one of those ahead of him here in the betting was JT who finished 2nd to lift the Fed Ex Cup. “But he’s in poor form!” Not really. Koepka signed off his first look at Aronimink with 65-66 over the weekend which followed a 12th and an 8th in the first two play-off events. Of course his previous event before the play-offs was the small matter of his US PGA win. On the season he ranks 10th in bogey avoidance which is always key here and he is 12th in strokes gained: tee to green.

Yet again Koepka is being massively under estimated and 14/1 looks a fantastic price. Koepka has stated himself that he often struggles to focus on some of the regular events, instead needing the intensity of a major to bring about the required concentration. I’d wager that lifting the Tour Championship, Fed Ex Cup and Player of the Year all in one swoop will have Koepka massively focussed heading to Atlanta. To me that makes him possibly the most dangerous player in the field and he really should be a lot closer to Rose in the betting. With it being the final event of the 2018 season I’m keen to secure a profitable season so I’m going in heavy on Brooks to try to take advantage of the value.

Francesco Molinari looks worth a bet here as the course could almost be custom-built for the tee-to-green machine. Find the fairway, hit the green and two-putt for par will do no harm at East Lake especially as things firm up over the weekend. Molinari has held his Open winning form over and was 8th last time out at Aronimink. He will arrive for his Tour Championship debut oozing confidence and decent week with the putter should see him go well. For good measure he was 23rd at Pinehurst in 2014 and 33rd at Oak Hill where he ranked 1st in GIR and 2nd in fairways hit!

Despite nobody having won the Tour Championship twice in a row and only Phil having even won twice at East Lake, I think Xander Schauffele looks to be a nice enough price to do just that. He arrives off the back of a 3rd place finish at Aronimink where he ranked 3rd in the all-round ranking. When all parts of his game are working he usually goes close and in theory winning here on his debut should be a lot harder than winning again this time. His best results this season have again been at difficult championship layouts with a runner-up finish at the Players being followed by another 2nd at Carnoustie. He seems to enjoy a tee to green test and I don’t imagine last year’s performance was a fluke.

Portugal Masters

The Portugal Masters heads to Vilamoura and the Dom Pedro Victoria Golf Course for the 12th time, which gives us a very nice bank of form to look at. The course is a wide open, exposed par 71 where its relative lack of length and minimal rough allow low scoring and very straight forward conditions. Everyone in the field will find themselves hitting in excess of 65% of these huge greens and more often than not that results in a bit of a putting competition. The bombers have the advantage that they can let rip and not be penalised but they will also be able to be more aggressive with their approaches and find the right area of the greens.

Last year’s winner certainly isn’t what you would call a good putter but Bjerregaard gave himself so many looks with his brilliant approaches that he found the pace early on and went on to rank 1st in the greens. He was chased home by Marc Warren who hit 82% of his greens despite ranking 3rd last in fairways hit from those that made the cut. In 2016 Harrington was similarly wayward with both his driving and approaches yet his short game display rolled back the years as he averaged just 25 putts per round. The 2015 winner Andy Sullivan did most things well but perhaps most striking was the fact that he got up and down for par on all 13 occasions where he missed a green.

This helps confirm what we know about the Dom Pedro course and it is the sort of skill set required at similar events like the Qatar Masters and the Alfred Dunhill Links. There are many repeat offenders on those leaderboards and they are worth a look at to potentially help with angles in this week.

With just 4 regular season events left many of the players will find themselves looking at the Race To Dubai rankings to see what is required of them. This will differ greatly across the field as some simply look to secure their 2019 card while others aim to break into or consolidate their position in the top 60. Then of course we have the top tier of players who will be looking to take advantage of 10 of the 12 Ryder Cup players being absent as they jostle for position at the top of the rankings. The whole narrative begins to make for an interesting event, even if eyes are already being drawn to France and Le Golf National. This motivation angle has helped me find some attractive looking bets as those trading under 20/1 all look short enough to me. With as many as 8 places being paid this week I think there is definitely some each way value to be had.

There is simply no way for me to avoid backing my main man George Coetzee here at 50/1. Putting an indifferent summer aside it looks a massive price when we consider he was 7th here last year. Last week in Holland Coetzee was back to letting rip off the tee as he ranked 1st in driving distance. This is an aspect of his game that has been up and down as he has tried to find a balance between accuracy and distance off the tee. That won’t matter too much in Vilamoura as you can pretty much hit it sideways off the tee and still have a chance of finding the green. Coetzee will then be aggressive enough with his short irons to go flag-hunting and very few in the field putt better on these grainy types of greens. Coetzee is currently outside the top 60 on the Race To Dubai so he knows he has to finish the season strongly. Despite that position of 66th though he still ranks 9th in putts per round and 42nd in scrambling. If he has a decent week with the approach play I’d expect another contending performance on a course where his results read 7-31-21-6-3.


My next bet is another repeat offender and one that I definitely want to be onboard for when he gets his first win. For Ryan Fox it is very much a matter of time and he fits a similar profile to last year’s winner Lucas Bjerregaard. Both had been posting plenty of top 10s and contending in very strong European Tour fields throughout the year. Fox was extremely unlucky not to win in Ireland when Knox scuppered him with consecutive 40ft putts on the 18th hole. The wider links fairways allowed Fox to let rip and he ranked 3rd in GIR for the week. Indeed Fox ranks 20th for the season in GIR and despite his missed cut here last year he should really be perfectly suited to the exposed course. I’m in danger of backing him at restrictive prices but I have to give him another go on a layout like this. Fox ranks 11th on the Race To Dubai rankings and the only man above him in this field is favourite Olesen. That suggests maybe 33/1 isn’t too bad at all with 8 places as he looks to break into the top 10.

I couldn’t decide between Jordan Smith and Nino Bertasio for a 3rd pick so instead I’ve added them both. Smith showed a glimpse of his 2017 form again last week as he ranked 10th at the KLM Open. That was another trending performance as he had been 36th in Czech Republic before a 20th place finish in Denmark. Smith ranked 1st in the all-round ranking last week and while this is his debut at the course he has a 6th at the Qatar Masters where form always ties in nicely with the Vilamoura course. He looks a very solid each way prospect at 50/1.

Bertasio was 12th here last year and that makes sense as you would expect him to enjoy the extra space off the tee. He was tipped to go well last week in KLM but he didn’t hit enough fairways or greens. Both of those will be considerably easier to hit this week with wide open fairways and big undulating greens. Bertasio is a deadly putter who will thrive on the well maintained grainy surfaces and enjoy the difficult lag-putting from distance. As ever he is in a lofty position in most of the short stick stats; 15th in putts per round, 12th in one putts and 29th in strokes gained: putting. He will be confident of improving on last year’s result and is worth a small each way play at 80/1.

Summary of Bets

Tour Championship

Brooks Koepka – 3pts ew @ 14/1 (1/5 odds 5 places general)

Francesco Molinari – 1pt ew @ 25/1 (1/5 odds 5 places)

Xander Schauffele – 1pt ew @ 33/1 (1/5 odd 5 places)

Portugal Masters

George Coetzee – 1.25pt ew @ 45/1 (1/5 odds 8 places Skybet)

Ryan Fox – 1pt ew @ 33/1 (Skybet)

Jordan Smith – 0.75 pt ew @ 45/1 (Skybet)

Nino Bertasio – 0.5pt ew @ 80/1 (Skybet)


Weekly points advised – 17pts