As Matsuyama shot up the leaderboard on Friday with a brilliant 64 to tie the lead I was starting to think maybe I knew what I was doing again and stupidly expected the Japanese star to push on and win comfortably. Unfortunately though his long game unravelled over the weekend and that allowed Thomas to catch up and win with an impressive, albeit a little lucky, back 9. I’m not sure how much of Matsuyama’s play could be attributed to nerves but considering he wasn’t playing well at all he actually did quite well to hang around and only play the weekend in +2. While he has many major top 10s already in his young career this was the first time where he found himself favourite heading into both the 3rd and final rounds. I’d expect him to be all the better for the experience in the same way that Thomas, and many others before him, said he had learned a lot from his U.S. Open final round 75 in June.
James Hahn managed to oblige with a Top 20 for us but annoyingly Tony Finau had a final round shocker after sitting in the Top 20 for the bulk of the tournament. It returned just 6.6 pts which leaves the results as follows.
Total 2017 pts advised = 374.5pts
Total 2017 pts returned = 300.96pts
ROI = – 19.6%
I was going to sit this week out again but then I noticed it was the Wyndham which is usually a good horses for courses type event with a lot of form to go on. The Paul Lawrie Match Play didn’t look that exciting but it takes place at Bad Griesbach in Germany which has hosted a few tournaments already so there may be an angle in. The preview will be relatively short but hopefully still some bets.
The Wyndham Championship takes place at its usual host course, Sedgefield Country Club and there is very much an established type of player that goes well here which often makes it a very good betting heat. The out of sorts Henrik Stenson is here chasing his quota of PGA Tour starts and his presence has thrown up a lot of very fair prices across the board.
Sedgefield is a fairly average length Par 70 designed by Donald Ross and repeatedly the same sort of attributes are required to go well. It is a tree-lined course with wide enough fairways but the bermuda greens are small so the more accurate drivers who can find the appropriate parts of the fairway tend to enjoy the lay-out as they give themselves the best chance of hitting the green. The last 5 winners have averaged 16th for driving accuracy while they have averaged 32nd for driving distance. The small bermuda greens generally slope from back to front as per the Donald Ross template but they also have lots of undulations and can be difficult to hold. The test around Ross’s courses is very much accuracy and that is the main attribute to consider this week. The greens are bermuda grass as per last week and we saw how uncomfortable many of the players were on the surface. The ball tends to break heavily at the death on bermuda and this can make the combination of pace and line difficult to deal with. Any picks should have shown a liking for bermuda greens in the past.
Form on Donald Ross courses also tends to stack up very well with Sedgefield correlating nicely with East Lake (Tour Championship), Oak Hill (2013 US PGA), Aronomink (2010 & 2011 AT & T National) and Pinehurst No. 2 (2014 US Open). There are lots of players who enjoy the test his layouts present and therefore have strong banks of form on several of these courses.
I really like Keegan Bradley for this as he should be suited to Sedgefield but yet he only played it for the first time last year when he finished 46th. Bradley currently sits in 5th position for Par 4 scoring and that combined with this 4th place finish at Pinehurst in 2014 are the two main points of interest for me but he also won his US PGA on bermuda greens in 2011. Despite struggling the last few years it really is just his putting that is letting him down since the anchoring ban. He has made his last six cuts, returning two top 10s in that time and I’m confident he can take advantage of the lack of depth this week. Bradley ranked 12th for total accuracy last week in the PGA and with other snippets of Donald Ross and bermuda form I expect a strong showing.
Trey Mullinax was one of the many players to congratulate Justin Thomas on twitter after his US PGA win but he is probably closer to the man who lifted the Wanamaker Trophy than most. Mullinax went to the University of Alabama with Thomas and played on the golf team with him for two years. It’s perfectly plausible that Mullinax gives himself a kick up the arse this week when he thinks of how well his mate is doing. However I’m not going to put him up on that alone, more so that he is a very talented golfer!
Mullinax currently ranks 11th in par 4 scoring and he finished 9th at the U.S. Open at Erin Hills, which was actually his first PGA Tour top 10. But it is some of his solid Web.com Tour form that interests me this week. His win came at the Rex Hospital Open last year some 80 miles to the east of Sedgefield at TPC Wakefield Plantation. Another of his best results in the second tier was when he was 4th behind Si Woo Kim at the Ellie Mae Classic in 2015. Kim would go on to win the Wyndham last year and with all these factors combined I think Mullinax is worth a play at a sporting 150/1. I’m also having a top 20 bet on him as I only have the 2 outright picks this week.
I wanted to back both Bill Haas and Jason Dufner here but neither of them have been quite at their best over the last 2 months so I’m reluctantly leaving them both out.
Paul Lawrie Match Play
Paul Lawrie takes his match play event outside the UK for the first time as the Bad Griesbach Resort in Germany hosts the 3rd edition of a tournament that has failed to capture the imagination of most golf fans so far. What it does do though is give the 2nd tier of European Tour players some valuable match play experience and while some criticise the need for it at all, it does at least stick to a simple knock-out draw which makes for a nice change from all the bracket nonsense we see at the WGC match play event. (I think, nobody really has a clue!!)
The Bad Griesbach course has hosted the 2015 and 2016 Porsche European Open as well as the Challenge Tour’s Aegean Airlines Open from 2013-2015 so while the format is different there is some course form to go on.
2016’s edition was a weather shorted one and Alex Levy powered his way to a win in three rounds on a soaking wet course. That is in direct contrast to 2015 Champion Thonghai Jaidee who has a more subtle approach to his game. Both players however have very accurate approach play when on their game and can be good putters if conditions are right, Levy thrives on slow greens whereas Jaidee is a proficient putter who excels on faster greens. This suggests that knowing the weather in advance could be important this week, at present it is a mix of rain and sun which doesn’t tell us too much.
With that said however if you can’t find fairways and greens in match play golf it can be very hard to apply any pressure so with relatively wide fairways I make accurate approach play the most important aspect here. Secondly I would say that a previous look at the course could be important as there is no chance to ease into the tournament as the straight knockout format means that all day 1 losers will be going home early. I’d also prefer to see at least some sort of match play pedigree in their careers to date.
I had a fairly big shortlist for this but annoyingly 5 of them have ended up in the same quarter of the draw. I thought Matthew Southgate, Max Kieffer, Johan Carlsson, Magnus Carlsson and Jamie Donaldson could go all go well but four of them are actually in the same 1/8th of the draw so I am leaving that minefield well alone!
Instead I have gone to the other half of the draw for my first pick and despite Robert Karlsson’s opening match against Edoardo Molinari, I think he looks a fair price at 50/1. That is a tough match but both those men have achieved more than pretty much anyone else in the field and despite Karlsson not having done much at all in recent years he makes some appeal. That was the same back in 2015 when he made the Semi-Final of the first edition of the tournament at the tricky Murcar Links course in Aberdeen. The match play format allowed him a nice change from his stroke-play struggles and I was thinking he might just have a good run again even before I saw his course form. Karlsson was 3rd at Bad Griesbach in 2016 and it’s a draw that could open up nicely for the winner of the first round match. With this format looking a bit of a lottery at this level I will just go small stakes and have 0.5pt ew @ 50/1.
I did like Richard Bland a lot for this but his price is short enough for someone yet to win on Tour and he also has a fairly tough draw that could see him face a couple of Ryder Cup players before even making the Quarter Finals. I also liked 2014 WGC Match Play finalist Victor Dubuisson but he is in the same quarter as Karlsson now and also has a tricky opener against Bradley Dredge. Marc Warren is a proven match play exponent and when fully fit he is a far better player than most of these so his odds certainly appeal. However he has missed most of the season through injury. I took a chance on him at the World Cup where he played quite well until the semi-finals when fatigue kicked in and his injury prevented him from swinging freely. Worth keeping an eye on should he appear fully fit.
In truth you could make a case for most of the 64-man field but I’ve decided to opt for a youngster in the hope that he takes to the format. Thomas Detry sits 20th on tour for total accuracy over the last three months and his best finish to date was runner-up in Germany earlier in the year at the BMW International Open. He ranked 2nd for putting that week and finished 2nd again in the flat stick ranks on his last outing. It seems like his whole game is in decent shape and he certainly has the talent to scare a few of these more exposed European Tour types. There are a few very good players in his quarter but on the whole it looks to be the weakest in terms of recent form. He looked like he was taking to the match play format in the Perth Super Sixes but eventually lost his first match at the 2nd play-off hole to eventual finalist Adam Bland. His odds of 33/1 aren’t fantastic but I’m hoping he will enjoy his return to the south-east of Germany and with the possibility of a relatively easy path should he win his first game, I think he looks worth the risk.
The draw looks a little bit too trappy to bother with a 3rd pick from the off but I will be paying close attention to who goes well in the competitive first quarter and I may add one more in play.
Summary of Bets
Keegan Bradley – 1pt ew @ 45/1
Trey Mullinax – 0.5pt ew @ 150/1 and 1pt Top 20 @ 13/2
Paul Lawrie Match Play
Robert Karlsson – 0.5pt ew @ 50/1
Thomas Detry – 0.5pt ew @ 33/1
Weekly pts advised = 6pts
Total 2017 pts advised = 380.5pts