The WGC HSBC was a massive washout early doors so I didn’t really end up watching much at all. I’m guessing it must have played very soft though as the shorter hitters really struggled to keep up with the bombers and that’s not always the case at Sheshan.
At the Sanderson Farms things went a little better as both Baddeley and Gay flirted with the leaderboard over the weekend but they throw in too many mistakes and rather uncharacteristically both missed several shortish putts.
2017 pts advised = 498
2017 pts returned = 381.21
ROI = -23.4%
Shriners Hospitals for Children Open
With the Fall Series having given chances to rookies since it was established back in 2013, many arrive in confident mood knowing that if they play well they will have a chance in these lower quality fields. But last week rather than a young Web.com graduate getting off the mark it was 41 yr old maiden Ryan Armour who showed no chinks as he easily converted his 5 shot final round lead. If we also look at last year’s Shriners winner, 47-year-old Rod Pampling, then we see further proof of how open these events can be. That makes it a nightmare from a betting point of view as realistically everyone in this field is capable of winning. What that means is we really have to err on the side of value even more so than normal this week and we can start by dismissing some of the incredibly short prices at the head of the market. Tony Finau no doubt has a long, successful career ahead of him and he has proven himself already in classy events but he hasn’t yet shown that he can be relied upon as a short price favourite. Webb Simpson at his best is the class act here but we haven’t seen 4 rounds of his best very often since the anchoring ban. Patrick Cantlay makes most appeal of those at the front but he is priced up on reputation as much as anything and while it looks only a matter of time before he wins, I’d prefer him at a price in a stronger field where the scoring isn’t as low.
The course is TPC Summerlin in the desert in Las Vegas. It sits at some 7255 yards but it’s altitude of 2600ft means it won’t play all of that. That has resulted in short hitters having plenty of success in this event over the years as they are able to compete on a fairly level playing field.
TPC Summerlin was designed by Pete Dye protegé Bobby Weed and he is also responsible for TPC River Highlands (Travelers Championship) and Dye’s Valley Course at Sawgrass which hosted the Web.com Tour Championships from 2013-2015. Weed worked closely with Dye for years and his influence was strong so Dye’s own TPC Sawgrass is also worth looking at this week as several players have strong records at both.
There are some trees around but I don’t think it could be classed as tree-lined in a classic sense and the main protection off the tee comes from thick rough which has been up in recent years. The fairways aren’t narrow however so the rough can certainly be avoided by the more accurate players while bombers should still be close enough to muscle the ball out of the rough. The main difficulty of the course however lies with the green complexes as we have come to expect with Dye’s own courses. They are undulating, fairly quick and have lots of runoff areas so only the most controlled, accurate approach shots will end up anywhere near the flag. Therefore being in the fairway is crucial to consistent low-scoring across the four days and with a winning score usually north of -20, low scoring will be required! Key stats include GIR, proximity to hole and par 3 scoring as the short holes are tough and the winner normally performs well on them.
The head of the market isn’t that appealing this week at all, there are certainly players who can be expected to play well but I’m taking the each way value given how this tournament has panned out recently. I wanted to compliment some larger prices with one towards the front of the betting but that is proving very hard indeed.
Brett Stegmaier very nearly won this two years ago so I’m a little surprised about his price this week. Stegmaier is another who is no young rookie and at the age of 34 he has been bouncing around the Web.com Tour since he turned professional back in 2006. Stegmaier also has form at TPC River Highlands where he shot an opening 64 to sit 2nd behind Spieth after the first round earlier this year. He would go on to finish a respectable 26th. Stegmaier also has two top 25s around the Dye Valley course but it his Florida Gator roots that made him a must back for me this week. The University of Florida’s golf course is the Mark Bostick Golf Course which was redesigned by Bobby Weed shortly before Stegmaier’s time there. The course appears very similar visually, especially the greens, and that might help explain why he was so comfortable here on just his 5th PGA Tour start. At 200/1 it won’t cost us much to see if he can go well on the course again.
Derek Fathauer is also a huge price this week after a 10th place finish last week in Jackson. That stopped the run of missed cuts and he played ok across the four days but he putted very well. Fathauer has played here three times before and he is improving after posting a 36th last year after two missed cuts. The reason I looked at him first this week was the location of his only professional win, the Dye Valley course at Sawgrass. He won the Tour Championship there in 2014 to earn his card for the 2015 season. He didn’t really make much of an impact but I think he looks a very fair each way price this week after his solid performance at the Sanderson last week.
My final pick is Patrick Rodgers who has stopped the rot of 4 missed cuts with a run of 33-23-43-73. Those 4 missed cuts came after the disappointment of losing out at the John Deere Classic where he was pipped to 2nd by Bryson Dechambeau. Rodgers only professional win was at a similar altitude to TPC Summerlin down in Bogota and he was also 3rd at last year’s Travelers Championship at Weed’s TPC River Highlands course. He missed the cut here last year but was 13th the year before and can get himself back into contention again now he is settled back in the US after the Asian swing.
Turkish Airlines Open
This event moved to a new course last year so we only have one year of course form to go on for the first of The Final Series events. Last year’s tournament was won in fairly convincing fashion by Thorbjorn Olesen.
The course is the Regnum Carya Golf Club and was designed by Thomson, Perrett & Lobb Golf Course Architects, which was founded by 5-time Open Champion Peter Thomson. It was said to have been based on the classic heathland courses around London and it is certainly very tree-lined. Last year that perhaps made me look too closely at driving accuracy which meant I was never going to find the usually wild Olesen. But it should be noted that he is a player who can go well on tree-lined courses and perhaps the narrow lines focus his mind and force him to keep the ball in play with irons and 3-woods. Additionally the punishment for finding the trees wasn’t as massive and the greens were still found from under the branches.
Interestingly George Coetzee was 5th here last year and he and Olesen contested a play-off in Mauritius at the tree-lined Heritage course in 2015. Again though that was the only running of that event at the course but they return there next month so it may well be worth keeping an eye on that link even if it cant help us this week.
With Peter Thompson having helped design the course and Olesen having won last year, I’m of the thinking that the course may well play like some of the tree-lined classic courses that I always associate with links players. One of those is Lake Karrinyup in Perth, Australia where Olesen won in 2014. That leads me to my main pick this week, Alexander Levy.
Levy was 2nd there in the final stroke-play event in early 2016 and his form has been simmering away nicely lately as he slowly gotten over the short putt he missed to win the European Open in the summer. An aggressive iron player, Levy’s week can often be dependent on his putter and usually when it performs we see him contend in this level of field. That has seen him become a relatively prolific winner and he already has 4 wins to his name. He has shown already he is happy to travel away from central Europe and he has won twice in China on two different courses. His record in Turkey is good too with top 20s in both the editions at Montgomerie Maxx while he ranked 1st on the greens here last year as he finished 25th. I think he represents a shade of value here at 50/1 given the number of less prolific winners that find themselves shorter in the betting.
The head of the market looks strong but it also looks hard to split them and find a bet so instead I will look for the each way value just like over in the US. My other picks are three talented players that are in no way guaranteed to play well but they should be suited by the course and they look over priced.
Romain Wattel has missed a couple of cuts since his KLM win last month but I don’t think either event would have suited him and he can be forgiven for still not being too focussed having finally obtained his first European Tour win. With this being the first in the Final Series he will be determined to make a good start here and he will be rejuvenated after a week off.
He was 6th at Lake Karrinyup in 2016 and also 6th last year at Wentworth. The course should suit his game and I think we are getting a little bit of value on the Frenchman now that he has the monkey off his back.
Jeung-hun Wang has impressed no end in the last two years but he also has a habit of falling rapidly out of form, only to find it again from nowhere. He is already a three-time winner on Tour and I think he is someone who can still be profitable following at bigger prices when the course suits. I originally looked at Wang because of his win in the Mauritius Open where Olesen won but I forgot that was played on a different course, albeit still a tree-lined one. That tempered my enthusiasm for him a little but then I saw his price. He arrives here after a poor showing in the CJ Cup which would have made him hard to back anywhere under 80/1 but there is still some 125/1 around and that looks big to me.
Wang’s other two wins came in the Qatar Masters and the Trophee Hassan. Olesen has an excellent record in the former and the Trophee Hassan win was around a fairly tight tree-lined course. He played here last year and finished 13th and the course really should suit him. The price more than factors in the chances of him playing poorly again.
Matthew Southgate is a little bit of an enigma, often popping up in elite company and looking like he belongs before promptly disappearing again for a few months. When he is playing well though he is someone you look at and wonder how he isn’t contending most weeks. Obviously he has had his health problems over the last few years but he retains a lot of talent, especially on the right courses. While travelling back from China isn’t ideal, he will have a lot of confidence after his 24th place finish there and the course should suit this accurate driver. He came 31st here last year and will be looking to improve on his 2nd look. Looks over priced to do so at 150/1.
Summary of Bets
Patrick Rodgers – 0.5pt ew @ 100/1
Brett Stegmaier – 0.5pt ew @ 200/1
Derek Fathauer – 0.5pt ew @ 200/1
Turkish Airlines Open
Alex Levy – 1pt ew @ 50/1
Romain Wattel – 0.5pt ew @ 125/1
Jeunghun Wang – 0.5pt ew @ 125/1
Matthew Southgate – 0.5pt ew @ 150/1
Weekly pts advised = 8pts
Total 2017 pts aadvised = 506pts