WGC Bridgestone – Betting Preview

Having nearly accepted the demise of Stenson, Poulter and Fowler at Birkdale I’m just about ready for a preview again after a week off. It’s still very annoying as The Open looked like being very profitable at the turn on Saturday with all three sitting inside the top 11 at one point. In the end it there were no returns at all which stopped a profitable run over the last few months.

This week just the WGC from Firestone CC, Ohio as I’m not going to look too much at the Barracuda.

Results as follow;

2017 pts advised= 345.5

2017 pts returned= 240.36

ROI = -30.4%

 


WGC Bridgestone

The WGC Bridgestone is back in its usual spot the week before the US PGA after some scheduling changes last year to accommodate the Olympics. While it isn’t always an identical challenge the one constant with Firestone and whichever course is hosting the US PGA is length. Firestone Country Club is a Robert Trent Jones design and it sits as a 7360 yards Par 70 with some monstrous Par 4s and the longest Par 5 on Tour. Next week’s US PGA is always set up to play as long as possible and subsequently it has become a tournament that has been dominated by the longer hitters.

That similarity coupled with the tournaments being back-to back has brought about a telling stat where the last 10 US PGA winners have finished in the Top 22 at Firestone. Those who aren’t getting too involved from a betting point of view this week should pay close attention their fancies for Quail Hollow next week.

Firestone has been the host of this event in some capacity since 1962 so there is an abundance of course form and over the years a typical sort of winner has been established. The fairways are of average width but unlike most courses there are no dog legs and they all play perfectly straight. This puts straight, accurate drivers at an advantage even before the lush green rough is considered. The last 5 winners have averaged 14th for driving accuracy and while you can get away with missing fairways,  you need to be a good long iron player from the rough to get anywhere near the greens. On the long par 4s a missed fairway results in an approach shot of 200 yards + for most of the field and that is something that not all players are comfortable with.

The greens are relatively big at an average of 7,600 metres sq. but they play as some of the fastest on Tour at around 13″ on the stimp. So with a field average GIR of 55% over the last 5 years then we can see how hard it is to hold the greens. That brings scrambling into the equation and while the likes of Mahan and Johnson don’t immediately stand out as excellent scramblers, they did very well around the greens during the week of their win.

My first pick is someone who I backed regularly in the big tournaments for about 18 months prior to his excellent run, when he began delivering on his world-class promise with nearly flawless golf from November to January. Hideki Matsuyama was the best golfer in the world for two months before he went off the boil a little in 2017 and his putter began to cool down. But there have been plenty of signs in recent weeks that he is getting back to his best and a venue where poorer putters can thrive has arrived at the perfect time for him. His recent results have been very steady if not spectacular and they have helped him to 1st in the all-round ranking over the last 3 months. That complete game will help him around Firestone which is always a difficult test and the long game will have to be firing on all cylinders to win this week. Luckily that is what his game is built on and we can still get 20/1 on a player who arguably has the most consistent tee-to-green game in the field. Matsuyama ranks 7th in bogey avoidance, 10th in strokes gained: off the tee, 27th in strokes gained: around the green and 27th in scoring relative to par from approaches over 200 yards in the rough.

His Firestone results to date aren’t terribly impressive but I’m not really sure why as the venue should suit him perfectly. Matsuyama’s results in the big events this year eclipse virtually everyone except maybe Brooks Koepka. He has finished 11th, 2nd and 14th in the three majors so far while he has also thrown in a 25th in the WGC Mexico and 22nd in The Players. It looks highly likely we will at least get a run for our money and the odds look very fair for a player who is close to his best, where in turn his best can be close to unbeatable on the right course.

Kevin Chappell may turn into the big twitter gamble yet this week as he looks quite an obvious pick and could well let everyone down as he will be expecting to play well having finished 3rd last year on his debut. Chappell has built a reputation as being a bit of a specialist on courses that represent a tough challenge from tee-to-green. He was 3rd on his Open debut in 2011 and he followed that with a 10th at the Robert Trent Jones designed Olympic Club in 2012. Chappell’s long game was back to its best last week as he ranked 6th for total driving and 21st in GIR while interestingly he ranked 4th in total putting which so often holds him back. The clincher for me though was that he sits T2nd in scoring relative to par from 200 yards + approaches from the rough. That explains why he thrives on these types of courses and the last two course winners currently rank T2nd and 7th in this stat. Chappell definitely has the class to win an event of this size and now that he is a winner on Tour he should arrive confident of playing well again on his 2nd look at the course.

Kevin Kisner looks very overpriced on a course that should suit him despite his relative lack of length. His two results so far have been 37th in 2015 and 16th last year where he sat 6th at the half-way stage. Kisner hits it very straight off the tee and should find himself in the fairway more than most of the field this week. His iron game is in good shape too as he ranks 31st in GIR for the last 3 months. Recent results have been average but that has largely been due to a cold putter and hopefully with par a good score this week those missed birdie putts won’t be too crucial.

I looked at various different side markets here for a bet and settled on Ross Fisher for a Top 10 at a very tempting 10/1. Fisher finished 5th and 3rd at the first two WGC tournaments of the year and while his recent form hasn’t been fantastic, he gets in the staking plan thanks to his solid record around Valderrama, another difficult Robert Trent Jones design. Fisher has played there 5 times without ever being outside the top 25 and his best result was last year where he finished 6th. On his day Fisher is one of the longest, straightest drivers around and while his 3 appearances at Firestone haven’t yielded a top 25 yet, he hasn’t played it since 2010 and will be relishing the test this week.

 


Summary of Bets

Hideki Matsuyama – 2pts ew @ 20/1

Kevin Chappell – 1pt ew @ 50/1

Kevin Kisner – 0.5pt ew @ 100/1

Ross Fisher – 1pt Top 10 @ 10/1

 

Weekly pts advised = 8pts

Total 2017 pts = 353.5pts

@theGreek82

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WGC Bridgestone and Open De France – Betting Preview

Unfortunately with missing most of the golf last week I’m still a little unprepared this week. But keen to get back into it I still have a few bits of advice although given my lack of preparation and the bad current run it’s maybe not a week for huge stakes!

The blog is still in profit as we approach the 1 year mark but only just……

Total pts advised – 675.50

Total pts returned – 728.79

ROI – 7.89%


WGC Bridgestone

The final US based World Golf Championship of the season takes place this week at its regular home of Firestone Country Club, Akron, Ohio. The tournament has been held there since 1999 in its current guise as a WGC but there has been a regular tournament held at Firestone dating back to 1962.

It’s now customary slot is the week before the USPGA Championship so normally the elite players see this as a perfect preparation for a usually similar challenge that awaits them the following week. But with the rescheduling due to the Olympic golf it now finds itself up against the French Open at La Golf National. With that being a future Ryder Cup venue and holding its 100th edition many of the top class Europeans have given this a miss so we have an even more restricted field than usual. The French course also plays quite like a links venue so is probably better preparation for The Open in two weeks’ time.

But there is still a stellar field led by the world’s top two players and we should be in for an exciting and fairly open looking tournament.

The South Course at Firestone sits at 7360 yards long and plays to every yard of it, earning itself the nickname “The Monster” from Arnold Palmer after he once took a treble bogey at its 16th. Originally designed in 1929 by Bert Way, it underwent a massive redesign at the hands of Robert Trent Jones in 1959 to prepare it as a Championship course.

It has several long Par 4s and the Par 5 16th is one of the longest on Tour at 667 yards. The fairways are around average in width but they aren’t to be missed with lush green rough awaiting the inaccurate and leaving a very long approach to the greens. The fairways are also mostly straight and tree-lined so any shot shaping off the tee has to be extremely accurate. The greens, while perceived by some to be small, average 7,600 ft in area so they are actually on the larger side. However many of them are elevated with steep slopes which make them harder to hold. They also run at 13″ on the stimpmeter so they should play very fast.

Most winners of the WGC at Firestone are world-class and usually a major winner already. Since 1999 only Shane Lowry (2015), Hunter Mahan (2010) and Craig Parry (2002) haven’t won one of the main 4 tournaments and even then Lowry showed how close he is to winning one two weeks ago and Mahan was one of the game’s best for a couple of years. To further make the point about class, since 2005 every winner bar 3 has finished that season in the Top 3 of the PGA Tour’s All Round Ranking.

Since 2009 the worst that any winner has finished in that season’s Total Driving rank is 17th. So they have to be long, accurate drivers to have any chance of winning at Firestone. You simply can’t consistently find greens from either the rough or 200+yards out for 4 days in the Ohio heat.

Firestone lover Keegan Bradley (15th, 1st, 2nd, 4th here) is one of the best drivers in the world game and the mind numbingly slow player is also a terrific ball striker when he finally does hit his irons. They are both high and long which helps him to hold the ball on the fast greens.

Another key attribute of Bradley’s is hitting Par 5’s in two or “Going for it” as the PGA Tour like to call it. While there are only 2 Par 5s at Firestone it does have some almighty Par 4s that may seem like Par 5s to the shorter hitters.

With a roll call of recent champions including McIlroy, Scott, Mahan and VJ Singh, it can be noted that you do not have to be one of the best putters to win at Firestone. So while I’m not going to ignore it completely, I’m going to focus more on scrambling given how hard the greens can be to hit.

Recent year’s stats suggest that a high finish in the Masters is a bonus, showing that your game is in good shape for a high-class test of golf. Further good performances at the other Majors and WGCs are obviously good pointers too so I’m looking for at least 2 Top 20s from the main stroke play tournaments so far in 2016.

Debutants don’t tend to take to Firestone immediately so unless they rank highly everywhere else, they should probably be avoided.

Scott Piercy looks to fit the perfect profile this week. Having performed brilliantly at the US Open two weeks ago his game is in ideal shape for Firestone. With Shane Lowry having won here last year and then finished alongside Lowry in 2nd place at Oakmont, I think it’s fair to think that Piercy should also be suited to Firestone. That was certainly the case on his debut when he finished T19th in 2012 even if his next effort was 59th when out of form a year later.

But gradually over the last few years Piercy has improved and his record in majors and WGC tournaments certainly isn’t to be sniffed at even if the US Open was his first in proper contention. He didn’t wilt under the pressure and there was one point on Sunday where he looked the most composed and the likely winner. His record in the big 7 stroke-play events is very solid with 8 top 25s from his last 18 starts since he became a winner on Tour.

One of the notable similarities between Firestone and Oakmont is the presence of poa on the greens. Oakmont’s are all poa annua while Firestone has a mix of bent-grass and poa annua. That may not seem all that important but time and time again we have seen golfers go well on the same surface and I don’t think it was a complete coincidence that it was at Oakmont where Lowry’s putting improved drastically.

While long, relatively straight driving is probably the most important aspect this week it is worth noting that last year Shane Lowry was the first winner since 2009 not to rank 1st in the all-round ranking. Firestone is definitely a course where you need everything working well as good shots are rewarded but bad shots are certainly punished. Piercy ranked 4th in the all-round at the US Open which is a further string to his bow this week.

He also has a habit of playing well in the summer heat with all three of his PGA Tour wins coming in either July or August. Despite this being a month ahead of its usual slot it will still be baking hot in Ohio and with Piercy hailing from the desert in Las Vegas he is more than familiar with those conditions.

His last win was at the inaugural Barbasol Championship in July of last year and that was on a Robert Trent Jones track which gives me further confidence that he can go well this week on a Trent Jones redesign.

Piercy drives the ball a long way but doesn’t always hit the most fairways. Although he ranked 19th in total driving at Oakmont which was an improvement on his ranking of 41st over the last 3 months. Everyone saw how nasty the rough was at Oakmont so he should handle the rough here when he does miss the fairways.

His price this week seems very fair given he is a 3-time winner who finished 2nd last time out in the US Open. There are a few obvious players with better chances but I’m not sure there is any better value around.

I backed Louis Oosthuizen here last year off the strength of his long game and despite him not having been in great form lately he did finish 23rd at the US Open. His stats are quite good and these days we generally need a long game test to get the best out of the purest swing in golf. I’m going to try him again here this week as he is just too big a price for a player of his class.

 


Open De France

I haven’t had a chance to write too much of the usual preview stuff but there are a couple of bets I like in France this week.

I’ve been tracking Pablo Larrazabal closely this season since I uncovered what I thought was a link between Golf Club Eichenried and Oakmont. He never made the US Open field but his golf has been improving of late and he finished 9th last week at the BMW International Open. The Spaniard is another who plays well in the summer with 3 of his 4 European Tour wins arriving at the end of June. The first of those was here in 2008 and while he hasn’t done too well here of late it is still a course that should suit an in-form Pablo.

On his way to that 9th place finish in Germany he did everything well and he ranked 4th in scrambling which is always important at La Golf National. Prior to that was a missed cut in Sweden but the week before he finished 12th at the European Tour’s flagship event at Wentworth where he ranked 4th in greens in regulation.

I think he looks set up to play well this week and the presence of Mcilroy in the field gives us a very attractive price of 80/1.

Ashun Wu won just two weeks ago and looks a ridiculous price here for a Top 20. He missed the cut last week and this is a deep field but he has two wins in the last couple of seasons. He currently ranks 7th in both GIR and scrambling for the last 3 months and they are usually the two key stats here so a top 20 doesn’t look out of the question.


Summary of bets

WGC Bridgestone

Scott Piercy – 1pt ew @ 80/1

Louis Oosthuizen – 0.5pt ew @ 66/1

Open De France

Pablo Larrazabal – 1pt ew @ 80/1

Ashun Wu – 1.5 pt Top 20 @ 8/1

Piercy + Larrazabal 0.25pt ew double @ 6560/1

Weekly outlay – 7pts

@theGreek82

WGC Bridgestone – Betting Preview

Bridgestone

Open Review

While it was a fantastic tournament, it was a particularly bad Open Championship for me from a betting point of view. The wind on Thursday/Friday seemed to ruin Stenson and Fowler’s chances and Snedeker never got going at all. Coetzee managed to get to -3 on his front 9 both days but was destroyed by a strong wind on both his back 9s and missed the cut. Kaymer had a solid enough week but finished a never closer 12th without ever really being able to strike a blow. Goosen looked set to give me a small return until a poor weekend left him down the field.

However I’m reasonably happy with how I saw the tournament playing out and putting certainly ended up as the most important factor. Length off the tee was important even if Zach Johnson winning suggests otherwise. Such is the quality of his short game when at his best, he can win on courses where length is favoured. Just look at his 2007 Masters win where he laid up at every Par 5 to wedge his way to victory.

But there is no getting away from the fact that it’s a 35pts loss for the first preview! Must do better in the next two or they may well be the last!


WGC Bridgestone

The final US based WGC of the season takes place this week at its regular home of Firestone Country Club, Akron, Ohio. The tournament has been held there since 1999 in its current guise as a World Golf Championship but there has been a regular tournament held at Firestone dating back to 1962.

Now in its customary slot the week before the USPGA Championship the elite players see this as a perfect preparation for a usually similar challenge that awaits them the following week. Both Tiger and Mcilroy have done the Firestone/USPGA double in recent years and most other USPGA winners post a Top 20 here prior to lifting the Wanamaker Trophy so it’s worth keeping an eye on next week’s market as the tournament goes on.

The Course

The South Course at Firestone sits at 7360 yards long and plays to every yard of it, earning itself the nickname “The Monster” from Arnold Palmer after he once took a treble bogey at its 16th. Originally designed in 1929 by Bert Way, it underwent a massive redesign at the hands of Robert Trent Jones in 1959 to prepare it as a Championship course.

It has several long Par 4s and the Par 5 16th is one of the longest on Tour at 667 yards. The fairways are around average in width but they aren’t to be missed with lush green rough awaiting the inaccurate and leaving a very long approach to the greens. The fairways are also mostly straight and tree-lined so any shot shaping off the tee has to be extremely accurate The greens while perceived by some to be small, average 7,600 ft in area so they are actually on the larger side. However many of them are elevated with steep slopes which make them harder to hold. They also run at 13″ on the stimpmeter so they should play very fast.

What is needed to win?

Most winners of the WGC at Firestone are world-class and usually a major winner already. Since 1999 only Hunter Mahan (2010) and Craig Parry (2002) haven’t won one of the main 4 tournaments. To further make this point ,since 2005 every winner bar 2 has finished that season in the Top 3 of the PGA Tour’s All Round Ranking.

Since 2009 the worst that any winner has finished in that season’s Total Driving rank is 17th. So they have to be long, accurate drivers to have any chance of winning at Firestone. You simply can’t consistently find greens from either the rough or 200+yards out for 4 days in the Ohio heat.

But of course everyone misses the odd fairway so I want a player that can still hit greens from well back in the rough. Looking at Approach shots from 225-250 yards, Firestone lover Keegan Bradley (15th, 1st, 2nd, 4th here) regularly performs well in this stat which backs up that theory. The mind numbingly slow Bradley is also a terrific ball striker and when he finally does hit his irons they are both high and long which helps him to hold the ball on the fast greens.

Another key attribute of Bradley’s is hitting Par 5’s in two or “Going for it” as the PGA Tour like to call it. While there are only 2 Par 5s at Firestone it does have some almighty Par 4s that may seem like Par 5s to the shorter hitters.

With a roll call of recent champions including Mcilroy, Scott, Mahan and VJ Singh, it can be noted that you do not have to be one of the best putters to win at Firestone. So while I’m not going to ignore it completely, I’m going to focus more on Scrambling given how hard the greens are to hit.

Recent year’s stats suggest that a high finish in the Masters is preferable, showing that your game is in good shape for high class test. Further good performances at the other Majors and WGC are obviously good pointers too so I’m looking for at least 2 Top 20s from these 6 stroke play tournaments in 2015.

Debutants don’t tend to take to Firestone immediately so unless they rank highly everywhere else, they should probably be avoided.


Players I’m backing

I have managed to get down to a shortlist of 8 given the skill set required (and including Spieth because he is Spieth) – long, accurate driver, great ball striker with high, accurate irons and a solid scrambler. But that is too many for a restricted field tournament so I have tried to whittle it down to 4 main bets.

The shortlist was – Spieth, Day, Fowler, Oosthuizen, Mastsuyama, Bradley, Koepka, Schwartzel, Haas. I’ve ruled out Spieth on price and not being the longest of drivers. I think Day may well win but I’m hoping he just ticks over with a Top 10/15 thus saving a better price for the USPGA next week. Fowler disappointed on Sunday, doesn’t have the highest of ball flights for these approach shots and is also a very short price. Bradley hasn’t been at his best this season so while he will probably play well on his favourite course I can’t see him winning.


Hideki Matsuyama

For me this week Matsuyama is an ideal fit. We know he is one of the best drivers of the ball in the world sitting 5th in Total Driving. He is 8th in Greens in Regulation (GIR) and ranks 10th in Approaches from 200-225yards so his long game is in fantastic shape. His short game is also in decent nick as he is 10th in Scrambling and 4th in the All Round Ranking. Matsuyama can be quite an inconsistent putter, holing everything on a Friday and then nothing on a Saturday but the test at Firestone suits with slightly lesser emphasis on the short stick. He also finished 21st here on his debut in 2013 and then 12th last year with his weekend 65-68 only being beaten by Mcilory. A confident main pick.


Louis Oosthuizen

One of the most in form golfers in the world he has Top 20 finishes in all 3 majors together with a Top 10 at the WGC Cadillac. Finally over the injuries that have plagued him the last few years he seems to be contending in every big tournament at the moment. There is no better swing in the game of golf than Louis’ and when on form he puts that to great use finding fairways and greens for fun. This is backed up by 32nd in Total Driving and 20th in GIR. Oosthuizen has no real weaknesses and looks sure to continue his form at a course where he already has 4th and 9th place finishes.


Brooks Koepka

Although Brooks is a debutant and a relatively short price I had to include him this week. While he may be inaccurate off the tee his length will suit and his fantastic iron game will set up plenty of chances on the greens. He has also shown a liking for hard and fast tests with some impressive finishes of late and he sits in 5th in the All Round Ranking. I don’t think a Top 5 is out of the question and if he manages to keep his errors to a minimum then he could contend over the weekend.


Billy Horschel

I originally thought I had found a decent left field pick but since then I have noticed he has been tipped in places. While known by most keen golf fans, Horschel really stormed into the mainstream in September last year winning back to back Fed Ex Playoff Events to win the $10m bonus. On his day Horschel strikes the ball as well as anyone but he has stuttered since then as his objectives have changed somewhat since setting himself up for life financially. However his long game stats still make good reading and the putting could be worse as he sits 5th in Putting >25 feet. Given that it was around this time last year that his putter got hot I don’t think it’s too much to expect that he kicks on again from here. His only Firestone appearance opened with 3 rounds in the 70s but closed with a 66 suggesting that he was beginning to get used to the course.

Other bets

I have included a Keegan Bradley Top 10 due to his great course record and Bill Haas Top 20 after a good showing last week at the Quicken Loans (also on a Robert Trent Jones course) suggesting he is maybe overpriced to go well again. Adam Scott likes the course and tends to start well in big tournaments. His long game was immense as usual at St Andrews so worth a go 1st Round Leader before his short putting/nerves get the better of him over the weekend.


Summary of Bets

Hideki Matsuyama – 3pts ew 30/1

Louis Oosthuizen – 1.5pts ew 25/1

Brooks Koepka – 1pt ew 50/1

Billy Horschel – 0.5pt ew 60/1

Keegan Bradley – 2pt Top 10 7/2

Bill Haas – 2pts Top 20 7/4

Adam Scott – 1st Round Leader 1pt ew 25/1

Total = 18pts