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

Dean and Deluca Invitational and BMW PGA Championship – Betting Preview

While it wasn’t the worst of weeks last week there were still no returns and that leaves the profit at its lowest since before Jason Day’s USPGA win.

While i would have preferred Dustin Johnson to have kept his brilliant final round going and win, it was great to see Sergio Garcia finally win again in the US after a 4 year drought.

Over in Ireland firstly Ross Fisher and then Lee Westwood both looked like placing but it wasn’t to be as a mixture of poor golf and a bad draw did for them. Fisher played poorly over the weekend but he shot a brilliant -3 on Thursday in the wind and he can’t have been happy about facing the worst of the conditions again on Friday. But in Mcilroy we had another deserving winner I suppose although Scotland’s Russell Knox really made him work for it down the back 9 on Sunday.

No returns leaves the results as follows

Total pts advised – 621.5pts

Total pts returned – 722.80

ROI – 16.3%

This week we have two excellent tournaments as the PGA Tour heads to Colonial Country Club for the Dean and Deluca Invitational and The European Tour crosses the Irish Sea to England for the BMW PGA Championship.


Dean and Deluca Invitational

The PGA Tour continues on its Legends stretch of golf this week at Colonial Country Club, Fort Worth, Texas. After honouring one of the game’s greats last week in Byron Nelson, this week it’s Ben Hogan’s turn. While there is nothing official in the name, this Tournament will forever be associated with the great man such is the history he shares with the course. Hogan won around Colonial 5 times, 3 times more than any other player to date, and his exploits earned himself a statue on the grounds and Colonial CC the nickname “Hogan’s Alley”.

Indeed Hogan won the inaugural running of this Tournament in 1946 and it has been held at Colonial, in some guise or other, ever since. That makes it the longest running single venue Tournament on tour away from Major golf and subsequently there is an impressive roll of honour. Sam Snead, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Tom Weiskopf, Lee Trevino, Ben Crenshaw, Tom Watson and Phil Mickelson have all donned the red tartan jacket bestowed on the winner throughout its prestigious 70 year history.

The course itself is just over 7200 yards which on paper is pretty long for a Par 70 course, however such is the layout that only a few of the holes actually give any clear advantage to the longer hitters and that can be seen with a fairly diverse list of recent winners; Chris Kirk, Adam Scott, Boo Weekley, Zach Johnson and David Toms. It has narrow, tree-lined fairways with plenty of water in play, some 80 odd bunkers and fairly small, elevated bentgrass greens.

Ben Hogan famously said that “a straight ball will get you in more trouble at Colonial than any course I know”. But that was far from a criticism and this tough yet fair golf course is hugely popular amongst players and fans alike. This further backs up the fact that it can’t be overpowered as most players tend to still prefer traditional, classic layouts where they are required to shape their ball both ways and plot their way around the course.

With such a varied list of winners I expected to see no real correlation between the last 5 winners however that wasn’t the case at all. For all bar one of the main statistical attributes, the winners had averaged between 21st and 37th. The stand-out by a long way was total putting and that came as a bit of a shock considering Adam Scott and Boo Weekley are sandwiched in between 3 strong putters. Those 5 men actually averaged 7th for total putting during the week of their win and while a solid all-round game is definitely required there is no question that you must be putting well to conquer Colonial.

However total putting is not as complete an analysis for putting as strokes gained: putting so I tried to dig a little deeper into why they ranked so highly. When I began getting into PGA Tour golf more heavily a few years ago I remember that two-time winner Zach Johnson was spoken about as course specialist due to his ability with both wedge and short stick. That is something I remember each year at Colonial and so I had a look at proximity to hole from 125-150 yards, which is the normal range that most pros would be hitting a full wedge from. As I expected, in the years of their wins the same 5 winners all ranked highly for this stat. While proximity itself has no direct link to putting, it is perfectly fair to assume that while a player might not hole too many putts from 15ft, the more looks they have from that range the better their “Total putting” stats will be. On fast greens a poor putter will still make less 3-putts from 15ft away than a good putter from 30ft away. They will also probably hole a few more into the bargain.

So with 9 Par 4s measuring under 450 yards and 1 par 5 measuring some 630 yards, it is also fair to think that the key putting range will be from 10ft-25ft, or more specifically 10ft-15ft as that is where the pros would expect to leave their wedge from the hole. Luckily those helpful people at the PGA Tour site break all the putting ranges down for us.

In addition to those two main attributes, a handy 3rd would be driving accuracy. While maybe not highlighted by the stats, most of the winners are pretty handy off the tee and are comfortable around tree-lined fairways.

The winner’s rankings in birdie average were 1st, 3rd, 2nd, 3rd, 2nd so it is more about making lots of birdies than avoiding bogeys. They also performed well on the Par 4s as you would expect on a Par 70 course.

Wedge play and mid range putting? That’s surely custom designed for Jordan Spieth isn’t it? Well under normal circumstances, yes, but last weekend’s play from Jordan Spieth certainly wasn’t normal as he struggled with a bad case of the “rights” both off the tee and with his approach play. It was testament to his character that he was even in contention considering he said he felt uncomfortable over the ball the whole week. He certainly can’t be the bet at single figures given his disappointing 74 on Sunday.

Adam Scott demands respect as a former winner but he has been spraying the ball off the tee lately and he looks short enough at 13.5 having tailed off a little since his brilliant run of form earlier in the year.

Matt Kuchar is rounding nicely into form since his 3rd place at The Masters and he also finished 3rd last week. I’d expect him to go well again on a course that suits him but even at his best he struggled to get over the line and odds of 15.0 make very little appeal.

Kevin-Na-Michael-Weinstein-photo1

Kevin Na is a player that I said I would never back again after letting me down during the fall series. But after Garcia won again following a 4 year drought I have decided to re-evaluate given how much Na stands out this week. Of course he isn’t even close to the player that Garcia is but he certainly has a better game than many that have won this season. So while it is 6 years since he last won he has had numerous Top 5 finishes and his chances of at least playing well and contending look excellent this week.

If the attributes that I have highlighted stand up at all this week then Na has to go well. He is so far ahead that I had no choice but to make him the play. Na sits 2nd in proximity to the hole from 125-150 yards,9th in putting 10ft-15ft, 18th in birdie average, 3rd in Par 4 scoring and 43rd in driving accuracy. It looks a perfect match and the nervous American actually led here after 54 holes before falling to 10th on Sunday.

He has overcome far bigger mental issues than Sergio too having had a serious case of the driving yips 4 years ago. That seems to be behind him and he has even managed to speed up his pre-shot routine a little to make him less annoying to watch.

There are some courses on Tour where Na has no chance due to his lack of length off the tee. But put him on a shorter, classical layout where you are forced to plot your way around trees and hazards and he excels. As well as last year’s 10th he has two other Top 10s here and has only missed 1 cut from 9 efforts. At his best he is a classy operator with two 12th places at the Masters and three Top 10s at The Players Championship and in addition to being a stand out pick on stats he also arrives in decent form. Prior to a missed cut last time at Sawgrass he was seen finishing 4th at the similar Harbour Town course. He ranked 7th for GIR on those small greens and 16th for driving accuracy through the tree-lined fairways.

It will be hard to be confident should he find himself on top of the leaderboard on Sunday but with odds of 40/1 there is a bit of scope to trade out should he hit anywhere sub 4/1 Despite his lack of recent wins, he usually plays well on weeks that he is expected to. So with question marks about Spieth and restrictive prices about others ,Na looks like having a good chance of going well again and hopefully at least contending for us over the weekend.

Kevin Kisner isn’t quite enjoying the 2016 that his win in November suggested he might have and he arrives here off the back of two missed cuts and nothing very special prior to that. But before both his Web.com Tour wins he had some miserable form. He went MC-MC-MC-23rd-MC-54th before his first win and he had missed 5 straight cuts prior to his second trophy so he is capable of finding his form from nowhere and therefore I’m not overly worried by that.

When previously tipping Kisner on here I spoke of his love for short, classical courses that favour shot makers and that is why I like him this week. Colonial is right up his street and he showed that last year with a 5th place finish where he ranked 3rd in the all-round ranking.

Despite his poor run of form he still has excellent stats for this week as he ranks 6th in proximity to hole from 125-150 yards, 14th in driving accuracy, 13th in birdie average and 12th in Par 4 scoring. There might well be a time soon where I have to admit defeat on him for 2016 but at odds of 66/1 on a course that is perfect for him I think he is worth one more go.

Roberto Castro is another player who tends to go well on classical championship style courses and he very nearly won on the challenging Quail Hollow course two weeks when he lost out in a playoff. That course is probably a bit too long for Castro though so it was an extremely impressive result and he will arrive back home to the state he was born full of confidence.

I first noticed Castro at the 2013 US PGA Championship when he finished in 12th position behind a host of brilliant ball-strikers on another technical, Par 70 course at Oak Hill Country Club. Jason Dufner won that week with a wedge workshop and time after time he left the ball within 10ft of the flag. The leaderboard that week actually had 3 of the last 5 Colonial champions above Castro so Colonial looks like it should be a good match for him. He has played it three times so far with no great success (MC-46-19) but he is a player that has taken his time to properly feel comfortable on Tour. As well as his runner-up finish last week he has some strong stats this week as he ranks 12th in proximity to the hole from 125-150 yards, 18th for driving accuracy and 12th for Par 4 scoring. It is often putting that can hold him back but he ranked 1st for total putting at the Wells Fargo and 2nd the week before that at the Zurich Classic. If he brings that hot putter then he can make a mockery of his 100/1 odds.

 


BMW PGA Championship

After a good warm-up in Ireland the European Tour heads to Surrey for its flagship event the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth. While there is a stellar European Tour field assembled there is still a feeling of disappointment that some of the game’s bigger names have dodged it this year. That won’t detract at all for the proper golf fan though and it has all the makings of an excellent tournament and a very open one too with Mcilory having decided to stay away.

Wentworth is a 7308 yard parkland course and it has some fairly tight tree-lined, dog leg fairways, lots of water in play and slick, undulating greens. Lee Westwood famously spun a wedge back into the water on the 18th to lose a play-off to Luke Donald in 2011 and distance control is crucial in holding the flags as long as it stays dry. Wentworth can be heavily influenced by the weather and two years ago when Mcilroy won it was completely soaked with a deluge of rain to start the week. That obviously made it hard for the shorter hitters with very little run out but it also helped to equalize the ability on and around the greens as they were far more receptive.

wentworth

The course can also get very windy and it is famously tricky to judge the strength and direction on the greens from 150 yards back in the fairway. While the scoring can sometimes be low, all this does make it a tough venue to master and usually debutants don’t fare too well. That wasn’t the case last year with Benny An winning on his first go but that was certainly an anomaly with the five preceding him having their 7th, 4th, 10th, 9th and 8th looks at the course when they lifted the trophy.

From a stats point of view the real standouts amongst the last 5 winners were GIR and scrambling. They averaged 9th during the week of their win for greens hit and 12th for getting up and down.  All five also played the Par 4s well and they averaged a ranking of 3 on those holes during the week.

I was following Tyrell Hatton very closely last summer and I thought he was going to win the Paul Lawrie Matchplay at the tight Murcar Links course during August. But his driving was a bit too wayward in the end and he lost in the semi-final. He continued to play well for the rest of 2015 and he finished 13th around the similar Woburn track at the British Masters.

Hatton must have worked hard on his driving over the winter though as he has made a huge improvement with regards his accuracy this year. He currently sits 1st in total driving for the calendar year and also 6th in GIR. This looks a brilliant combination for Wentworth already but he also ranks 2nd in scrambling and arrives in good form. Hatton finished 5th last week after a really strong showing in Ireland.

He has played the last two seasons at Wentworth and I think he will be arriving full of confidence that he can go very well on his 3rd look. While not exactly ripping up the course he did make both cuts with a 38th on his debut followed by a 46th last year where he only just hit half his fairways. With his long game in brilliant shape this excellent putter looks to have a great chance this week. He will be able to sleep in his own bed as he lives just 45 mins away in Buckinghamshire and with the strong recent record of Englishman at Wentworth I think he could be the best piece of value in the field this week at 50/1

Rafa Cabrera-Bello has been on my mind for Wentworth for a few months now. His tee-to-green brilliance makes this an obvious stop for the Spaniard and I think he looks set to have a great week. While his early season form made him many people’s outsider for Augusta he strikes me more like the type of player what will build towards a contending performance at a Major. Without a win since 2012 he has been threatening this year with a very solid 2016 so far. I think this could be exactly the sort of tournament that he will be looking at to force his way into Darren Clarke’s Ryder Cup team and a win would all but book his ticket.

Rafa is another who has some solid stats this week as he ranks 17th in GIR, 7th in Par 4 scoring and 5th in birdie average for 2016 so far. While he is a player that used to be very frustrating to back he looks like a different golfer this year. He is playing with greater confidence around the greens and looks to have worked hard on his chipping resulting in a 28th place ranking for scrambling in 2016. That has taken the pressure off his approach play somewhat and he has thrived with 2016 form figures of 14-2-2-36-11-3-4-17-16-MC-8 with the only missed cut coming on his Players Championship debut.

I’m not suggesting that 25/1 is great value but sometimes players can find long-term improvement to their game that can turn their whole career around. It looks very possible that Cabrera-Bello could be having a career year and if that is the case then we might look back at this as the win that propelled him to Hazeltine for the Ryder Cup and we probably won’t be seeing 25s for him in Europe again for a little while.

Lee Westwood very nearly got in the mix last week for the blog as he threatened the leaderboard on Sunday. But he shot too poor a round on Thursday to ever look like winning the Irish Open. In the end he finished in a tie for 10th but what was interesting about that was his stats were actually quite poor. That isn’t something you normally associate with this fairways and greens machine so its interesting that perhaps his course knowledge alone may have helped him achieve a better position than his game actually did. He ranked a very poor 46th for GIR but that was the first time he had been seen since his runner-up finish at the Masters where incidentally he ranked 3rd for GIR. That is a far better gauge of his usual approach play and its likely that he was just getting rid of the rust for a crack at a venue he clearly enjoys.

Few in the field will have seen this course as many times as Westwood and in his 24 different tournaments there he has 6 top 5s with a win in the Volvo Matchplay back in 2000. He finished down in 38th last year but he was a very impressive 3rd in total putting. If he putts like that again and brings anything close to a decent long game with him this week then he is a very big price in this field at 28/1.

Francesco Molinari has made the Top 10 the last four years in a row and Wentworth just seems to be a perfect course for the accurate Italian. He looks overpriced at 2/1 to make it 5 in a row so he should be backed with confidence to play well again.

I’m not advising the 3×3 doubles this week instead I’m going to have a small saver double on two course specialists who are just a little short in the betting to consider for singles. I successfully backed the Zach Johnson + Luke Donald double this week in 2012 and have done it every year since when these two Tournaments were held on the same weekend. It’s probably nostalgia more than anything but as I’m backing it I thought I would post it too.


Summary of bets

Dean and Deluca Invitational

Kevin Na – 1pts ew @ 40/1

Kevin Kisner – 0.75pt ew @ 66/1

Roberto Castro – 0.5pt @ ew @ 100/1

David Toms Top 20 – 1pt @ 13/2

BMW PGA Championship

Tyrell Hatton – 1pt ew @ 50/1

Rafa Cabrera-Bello – 1pt ew @ 25/1

Lee Westwood – 1pt ew @ 28/1

Francesco Molinari Top 10 – 2.5pts @ 2/1

0.25ptw ew saver double Zach Johnson  25/1 + Luke Donald 25/1 double

No 3×3 doubles advised this week while we try to stop the rot.

Weekly outlay – 14.5pts

Total outlay – 636pts

@theGreek82