Presidents Cup and British Masters – Betting Preview

I’m not talking too much about last week after Rose crumbled over the weekend and Coetzee’s triple bogey 7 at the 72nd hole scuppered his place chances. Very annoying. Finau landed the top 10 money however and Berger and Woodland both played well enough for top 10s but both threw in one bad round.

2017 pts advised = 429pts

2017 pts returned = 345.09

ROI = -19.6%


Presidents Cup

On paper and form this looks like a landslide win for the US team with the bulk of the star players for the International team having had poor 2017 seasons. But does it always work that way? In golf team events, it usually does I’m afraid. While the match play format can certainly bring about a change in fortune for some it is hard to see enough of the Internationals finding sufficient improvement to allow the team to be competitive as a whole across the 4 days, especially on U.S. soil. Two years ago many of the International team were in great form and they played brilliantly and still couldn’t win. Luckily though there are plenty of markets available so I have had a look at the course and individual markets to see if I can find any value.

The venue is Liberty National and it gets its name from its location sitting right behind the Statue of Liberty in Jersey City. It is a Tom Kite design and it has hosted two PGA Tour events previously, the 2009 and 2013 Barclays Championship. However it must be noted that a massive $250m renovation was carried out prior to the 2013 event with a view to hosting this very event. It was won by Australian Adam Scott who returns this week and will be expected to use his course knowledge to help his team this week.

Branden Grace and Louis Oosthuizen teamed up brilliantly two years ago to win all four of their matches and that very much set the foundation for the International team’s challenge across the week. I don’t expect to see returning Captain Nick Price split them up but they will find it a lot harder in the U.S. with so much expected from them. Instead I’m going for Jason Day in the top International market because of his incredible record in both New Jersey and indeed the neighbouring New York area. His recent results in New Jersey read 2-1-2, which is really amazing and his New York record is similarly impressive; 6-4-8. Day struggled in 2015 only winning a 0.5pt from his 5 games but his opening partner was Steve Bowditch and I’m not sure he would have been too pleased about that. I’d expect Price to find a more suitable pairing for him this time around knowing how crucial it will be to get his main man winning points. Day showed in 2013 what he can do with the right partner when he and Graeme Delaet won 2.5pts from 4.

We shouldn’t forget that Day is an accomplished match play exponent having won the WGC World Matchplay title twice already in his career. He has shown enough form lately to suggest he will play well this week and he has also played Liberty National twice before recording 12th and 25th place finishes. His price isn’t great but I think he looks like a solid enough bet in the Top International market at 9/2 as he may not have too much to beat, especially if he gets off to a good start with whoever he is paired with on Thursday morning. Additionally he will surely play all five matches which gives him a big advantage over most of his team.

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The main player market bet I like though is Brooks Koepka to be the top scoring rookie in the competition. He is 2nd favourite in the market to Justin Thomas but there are two key factors at play here which makes him look like the more solid option. Thomas just won some $11m dollars on Sunday and that will have taken a bit of getting used to. He was already a rich man but we have seen plenty of Fed Ex winners struggle for form in the aftermath. While Thomas and Koepka are Presidents Cup rookies, Koepka played in last year’s Ryder Cup and played very well indeed taking 3 pts from 4. He relished the team format from the start and he has stated in interviews just how much he is looking forward to this week. Being new to professional team golf Thomas won’t be entirely sure of the atmosphere and given that he looks likely to play with his mate Rickie Fowler, its possible they might not be fully focussed from the word go.

There are nine others in the market but none of those can be expected to play in as many matches as Thomas and Koepka so they will have their work cut out to win this. Thomas will probably take to the event and win all 5 pts but from a betting angle it looks safer to side with the man proven in the elite team golf environment.

I’m also going to have two speculative plays on the correct score. Like everyone else I’m expecting a fairly comfortable U.S. win but it should stay competitive early on. With 30 pts up for grabs I like both the 17-13 and 16.5-13.5 scorelines so will have 0.5pt on both at 10/1.


British Masters

We have had the Ian Poulter hosted event at Woburn in 2015 and then the Luke Donald hosted event last year at The Grove, this year it falls on European Tour stalwart Lee Westwood to host at Close House. Bringing the British Masters back has been a stroke of genius from The European Tour and getting Sky Sports on board has also really helped to capture the imagination of the fans. With the first two editions in the south of England they are now venturing north to Northumbria and I’d expect the crowds to be massive as they support their first regular European Tour event in quite some time.

The course itself holds Lee Westwood’s name and is known as the Lee Westwood Colt Course although neither he nor Harry Colt actually designed it. It was the work of Scott Macpherson who created it in 2011 but he based it very much on the great Harry Colt’s work. Macpherson is a scholar of the great British courses, particularly Colt’s work and he is even a published author on the topic having written “Golf’s Royal Clubs” about the courses in the world that have been given Royal approval.

Close House is a rather short course playing under 7000 yards and it reminds me visually of a combination of Wentworth and Gleneagles. It has the winding tree-lined fairways of Wentworth but the rolling fairways and elevation changes of Gleneagles.

The course has been used on the 3rd tier Europro Tour from 2015-2017 and also hosted the Senior PGA in 2015. That Senior event was won by Peter Fowler and looking at the other four names who made up the places behind him, they are all golfers who play well on tree-lined UK courses with numerous top 5s around Woburn and Sunningdale.

Shane Lowry was on my radar for this given his form on Harry Colt designs and classic British tracks on the whole. Lowry has a very solid record at Colt’s Wentworth with a 2014 runner-up finish being the pick of four top 10 finishes. Lowry’s best Open finish was at Colt’s Hoylake in 2014 when he finished 9th and he actually equalled Faldo’s course record 62 around Colt’s redesigned Sunningdale layout on his way to qualifying for the 2010 Open. It’s very clear that Lowry enjoys the classic Colt layouts so it makes a lot of sense to me that he should take to Close House given it was designed with all those layouts in mind.

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That might have been enough to make Lowry a bet anyway but his iron play has been back to its best lately and in Portugal he hit a rather brilliant 91.6% of the greens which means he missed just 6 all week. Granted they are huge greens but the most important attribute to take to a new course is solid approach play. Confidently committing to a number and target on a new layout will give Lowry a big advantage over those who are struggling to control their ball. Lowry has also played well in this event before at Woburn which is another similar course. We know he can beat better fields than this as he showed when winning the WGC Bridgestone, at another tree-lined, classic design, so returning to form he looks a rock solid each way bet here.

Marc Warren played brilliantly last week and therefore I was surprised to see 100/1 about him this week on a course that would suit a peak Marc Warren perfectly. Warren is a Wentworth specialist with 7 top 30s and he is a winner around Gleneagles. His best major finish is at the classical, Donald Ross designed Oak Hill where he came 12th and his best Open finish was around Hoylake. The only downside to Warren this week is that he still isn’t driving the ball close to his best since his injury. The rest of his game was in great shape in Portugal though as he ranked 4th in GIR and 14th in putting. With Close House being a short course he should be able to leave the driver in the bag on plenty of tee shots and flourish again on another suitable course.

One of the main disadvantages that rookies face on Tour is that they are playing a course for the first time while most of the field have seen it before numerous times. Not only is that not the case this week but several of the rookies have actually played Close House before. This completely turns things on its head and while it is still a huge step up in class from the Challenge Tour, it’s fair to think those rookies who have already shown up well on the European Tour can take advantage of their superior course knowledge to outplay their odds this week.

Aaron Rai doesn’t exactly fly in under the radar having won three times on the Challenge Tour this year to gain his card but he is a decent price given the field strength here. His form has been up and down so far on the main Tour but his talent is very evident and I like his chances of playing well this week. He came 5th at Close House in the 2015 Euro Pro event so given this is the first course he will have played before I’m going to have a top 20 bet on him here.

Marcus Armitage was 20th last week in Portugal and that’s the same bet I’m having this week. Armitage won around Close House in 2015 and hasn’t looked out-of-place so far on the European Tour. He ranked 8th in total driving and 5th in scrambling last week and both those attributes should help him here.

Ashley Chesters is another who has seen the course before having finished 4th there last year. Chesters plays well on these shores as he showed when he arrived on the scene at St Andrews’ 2015 Open when he finished 12th as an amateur. A few weeks later he would go on to take 3.5pts out of 4 at the Walker Cup around Royal Lytham. Chesters has shown glimpses on the main Tour so far and currently ranks 3rd for total accuracy this year. He has managed 6 top 20s from 19 events so far and looks over priced for another.

 


Summary of Bets

Presidents Cup

Jason Day – Top International  – 1pt @ 5/1

Brooks Koepka – Top Overall Rookie – 2pts @ 9/2

US 17-13 Internationals Correct Score – 0.5pt @ 10/1

US 16.5-13.5 Internationals Correct Score – 0.5pt @ 10/1

British Masters

Shane Lowry – 2pts ew @ 25/1

Marc Warren – 0.75pts ew 100/1

Aaron Rai – 1.5pts Top 20 @ 11/2

Marcus Armitage – 1pt Top 20 @ 11/1

Ashley Chesters – 1pt Top 20 @ 7/1

 

Weekly pts advised = 13pts

2017 pts advised = 442pts

@theGreek82

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Dell Technologies Championship and D+D Real Czech Masters – Betting Preview

Chris Paisley finished 3rd in Denmark for another profitable week and Kuchar should have made things even better but for a very uncharacteristic shocker of a final round. I didn’t really expect him to ever trouble Johnson and Spieth on Sunday but I was surprised that he fell completely outside of the places. I can’t complain though as that is now 8 weeks out of the last 12 with returns and getting back into profit for 2017 is now firmly in the sights. With plenty high-class golf remaining hopefully another winner or two can be found yet.

Total 2017 pts advised = 388.50pts

Total 2017 pts returned = 329.84pts

ROI = -15%


Dell Technologies Championship

Fear not the brilliant TPC Boston is still in the Fed Ex Cup rotation, there has just been another change of name with Dell taking over sponsorship from Deutsche Bank. It means we still have 10 plus years of form around the modern Massachusetts course to look at. The original layout was an Arnold Palmer design in 2003 but Gil Hanse (Castle Stewart, Rio Olympic course) has been back twice since to renovate all 18 holes.

It’s of average length as a 7216 yard Par 71 and the one thing to focus on at TPC Boston year after year is ball-striking. Every year the course is all about hitting fairways and then difficult approach shots with water surrounding many of the greens. With tree-lined, dog-legged fairways the driving lines can be quite tight and  you need to be on the right side of the fairway to get close the flags. Despite all this its lack of length means it is highly scoreable with the average winning score being -18 over the 10 Fed Ex Cup events. But while that may suggest good putters can also thrive, they often do their scoring on the Par 5s so those with the best long games will be giving themselves short tap in birdie putts by over powering the three par 5s.

As I noted last week the Fed Ex events always have classy winners and if we look at the last five winners we have Rory McIlroy (x2), Rickie Fowler, Henrik Stenson and Chris Kirk (still a 4-timer PGA Tour winner). This tells us we need to look again to the elite players in the field in terms of a winner although there have been some more surprise players filling the places in recent times.

From a stats point of view, strokes gained: tee to green, GIR, par 5 scoring and birdie average all look to be good angles in this week.

Given their current run of form and the fact this is a ball-striking event, Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Hideki Matsuyama and Rickie Fowler are the four who immediately stand out. Throw in two-time course winner Rory McIlroy and you have a very powerful head of the market in Boston. But it is no easy task to decide which one to side with here this week. Dustin Johnson v Jordan Spieth ended up a bit of a coin toss down the stretch on Sunday and that is what I would expect more often than not when the world’s two best players are at the top of the leaderboard. If Matsuyama finds his best stuff from a few weeks ago then he will contend again regardless of what others do. Fowler struggled on the poa annua last week but back at TPC Boston I would expect him to flourish again. McIlroy makes a little less appeal given his recent form troubles but at 18/1 he is certainly worth consideration as he can surely be expected to find extra improvement on a course he loves.

But ultimately this week I can’t pick between them so I’m leaving them all out for a player who has shown time and time again he can mix it with the best on courses like this and after finally getting the major win he craved for so long, I think Sergio Garcia is the value in the field this week. With a lack of recent golf he is in no way guaranteed to play well but that is more than factored into the dismissive price of 55/1. Garcia got married the week after The Open and so can be forgiven his poor showing just a week later at the US PGA. He hasn’t played competitively since but make no mistake that we will see a very different Garcia over the next few years. He can now relax having won his major and the confidence gained from his Masters triumph means he is likely to add to that major tally over the next 4 or 5 years.

Sergio Garcia of Spain celebrates winning the 2017 Masters in Augusta

However beyond the general excellent value, Garcia also has a case on his course form. While he hasn’t yet won around TPC Boston his form figures read 24-4-31-26-5-17 but the most interesting angle was from comparing his career GIR and DA stats at the course with those around him in the market. Garcia has hit 74.77% of his greens around the course and 69.05% of his fairways. This is miles ahead of the market principles who can only boast the following; Dustin Johnson 70.04% GIR 64.80% DA, Jordan Spieth 65.28% GIR 66.96% DA, Hideki Matsuyama 64.81% GIR 63.10% DA, Rickie Fowler 65.48% GIR 67.09% DA, Rory McIlroy 69.91% GIR 64.29% DA. The only player who comes close to Garcia is Henrik Stenson who boasts equally impressive course clips of 74.17% GIR and 70.72% DA but he isn’t playing this week.

Basically what that tells me is that despite all the current hype about those players mentioned, we can’t afford to forget that Garcia belongs in that bracket when it comes to elite ball-striking, and he has been doing it for nearly 20 years!

He ranks 12th in strokes gained: tee to green, 10th in par 5 scoring and 15th in GIR this year so his game has been in right sort of shape for TPC Boston. The only question mark is whether he can shake off the rust but the price factors that in and Garcia looks a must bet at the disrespectful price of 55/1 (Betfred, Totesport) in what is only a 100 runner field. Anything down to 40/1 still looks a great price to be honest but hopefully the 55/1 or 50/1 with others holds firm. Unfortunately Betfred cut their 55/1 sometime this afternoon and rather pathetically went straight to 40/1. Quite a jump! He is now a best price general 40/1 and while it is quite a bit shorter I’m sticking with the bet.

I really don’t see a lot else that excites me in the outright market but at 300/1 I thought Luke List was worth a small play. He hasn’t had much of a year in truth but he has still snuck in to the top 100 to play here. List has been putting terribly for most of the year and that was the case again last week as he finished 34th on Long Island. But he ranked 4th in ball striking in a strong field and he currently sits 13th in strokes gained: tee to green and 3rd in par 5 scoring.  So at a course where putting usually takes a bit of a back seat I think List might go well at a huge price. Also adding a top 20 bet.

 


D+D Real Czech Masters

There have been three editions so far of the Czech Masters around the Albatross Course in Prague, so again we have a decent amount of course form to go on. Immediately a course where Thomas Pieters has finished 2nd and 1st the last two years tells us that power is important and if we look through the stats that is backed up to a degree but perhaps total driving is more important than just length alone as the three winners ranked 9th, 5th and 18th for the combined driving stat. However shorter hitters can still contend but they need the rest of their game to be firing on all cylinders. Paul Peterson came 2nd in the all-round ranking last year while Pieters and Donaldson were 2nd and 10th respectively when winning the first two editions.

Par 5 scoring is always important at the Albatross course and while there is more than one way to score on Par 5s, generally we associate that with length off the tee. The winning score has averaged -16 so just like in the US, birdie average will also be crucial in Prague.

Thomas Pieters is a very fair price to win again at around 8/1 but despite his suitability to the course and how poor the field is, he has missed his lat two cuts. I also tend to struggle to get the single figure odds favourites right so instead I have opted for two each way bets where just a place will pay out at better odds than a Pieters win.

I tipped Callum Shinkwin in this last year for his long, accurate tee-to green game but he didn’t fare too well. I’m not prepared to give up on him here though especially when we consider how much worse this field is compared to the one he so almost beat at the Scottish Open when he took a one shot lead down the last hole. It wasn’t to be as his short game unravelled a little but he didn’t do a great deal wrong losing to a surging Rafa Cabrera-Bello. A missed cut at Royal Birkdale followed but we can dismiss that and expect him to be all together more comfortable again at this level. Whether he can perform well enough on the greens to contend I don’t know but he will be fresher than most and high on confidence.

Dean Burmester isn’t a particularly confident pick but he has shown over the course of 2017 that he really shouldn’t be a 70/1 shot in this poor a European Tour field. The piece of form that gets him on the team this week is his 7th in Abu Dhabi in March. Jamie Donaldson is a winner there while Thomas Pieters has already finished 2nd and 4th at the course. There are several others who have gone well on both courses and the link might just be worth consideration.

Burmester ranks 7th in Par 5 scoring and hits it further than most, ranking 6th in driving distance over the last 3 months. While he is by no means as good a putter as Pieters he does fit a reasonably similar profile and he knows how to win having picked up the co-sanctioned Tshwane Open in March. That was on a winning score of -18 so he also knows how to go low when conditions suit. He played here last year and finished 35th so he should be looking to go well on his 2nd look at the course.

 


Summary of Bets

Dell Technologies Championship

Sergio Garcia – 1.5pts ew @ 40/1

Luke List – 0.5pt ew @ 300/1 and 1pt Top 20 @ 9/1

Czech Masters

Callum Shinkwin – 1pt ew @ 50/1

Dean Burmester – 0.5pt ew @ 70/1

 

Weekly pts advised = 8pts

Total 2017 pts advised = 396.50pts

@theGreek82

The Players Championship and Open De Portugal – Betting Preview

Yet again another disappointing Sunday as Scotland came up shy in their semi-finals against Australia and 200/1 shot Zac Blair had a nightmare front 9 after starting his final round T8th and 3 shots back.

Scotland played better golf than anyone en route to the semis but they were quite flat against the Aussies. Despite that they had more than enough chances to beat Scott Hend and Sam Brazel as they were playing even worse than the Scots. But ultimately a bit of rust about Warren’s game and Ramsay’s putter going cold meant they lost it at the 6th and final hole.

Blair would have had his work cut out to win the event but it’s a shame that he didn’t manage to contend at all on the Sunday even after an opening birdie. It is refreshing to see such a positive Twitter feed from Blair at a time when the likes of Grayson Murray are making all the social media headlines for the wrong reasons. The preparation Blair put into the week helped him to play well and if he continues in that vein then we may well see him on more leaderboards throughout the year.

Total 2017 pts advised = 197pts

Total 2017 pts returned = 130.97pts

ROI = -33.5%


The Players Championship

I’ve done a preview again for Matchbook this week so please see that below. I’m not going to bother repeating too much so just the picks and the staking plan.

https://insights.matchbook.com/players-championship-betting-guide/

I like Justin Thomas. Jon Rahm, Russell Henley, Kevin Chappell and Matt Kuchar this week each way.

Also going to include Matt Kuchar as a Top 10 bet as he really seems to enjoy playing well but only finishing 6th-10th!

David Lingmerth looks over priced for a top 20 here given his fondness for Pete Dye courses. He finished 2nd on his debut at TPC Sawgrass and he has a 6th and a 3rd on Dye’s Valley course at Sawgrass. Lingmerth was also beaten in a play-off last February by Dufner at the CareerBuilder Challenge which is played on two different Pete Dye designs. The tougher it plays the more he will enjoy the test and with recent finishes of 14th and 18th a 3rd top 20 in a row looks more likely than the 8/1 suggests.


Open De Portugal

This looks as poor a betting heat as The Players looks a good one. A new course and a co-sanctioned event with the Challenge Tour gives us a very poor field. The course is Morgado Golf Course in the Algarve and from the little I can find it is said to be a links style course in a parkland setting. A google search of images would back that up and it looks a lot like Gleneagles which I always think of as the archetypical inland links course. With little to go on I have found two speculative punts.

Mark Foster won the Alfred Dunhill Links way back in 2003 and he lost in a play-off at Gleaneagles in 2011. He hasn’t done a great deal recently but this is the sort of tournament that is usually won by someone with a historical piece of class or a hungry young maiden. At 50/1 he looks worth a small interest.

Jens Fahbring probably couldn’t be considered young any more but he is still just finding his feet on the main Tour. He arrives in Portugal following two 13th place finishes and also managed 12th in Portugal in October in a far better field than this. He is a proven winner on the Challenge Tour with two wins, both at courses that are  visually similar to Morgado. Also looks a fair price at 50/1.


Summary of Bets

The Players

Justin Thomas – 2pts ew @ 30/1

Jon Rahm – 2pts ew @ 22/1

Russell Henley – 0.5pt ew @ 80/1

Kevin Chappell – 0.5pt ew @ 50/1

Matt Kuchar – 0.5pt ew @ 60/1 & 2pts Top 10 @ 9/2

David Lingmerth – 1pt Top 20 @ 8/1

Open De Portugal

Mark Foster – 0.5pt ew @ 50/1

Jens Fahrbring – 0.5pt ew @ 50/1

Weekly pts advised = 16pts

@theGreek82

Phoenix Open and Dubai Desert Classic – Betting Preview

Gary Woodland got to within one shot of the lead on Sunday and got a lot of people quite excited as he was very well backed last week. Eventually though his horrendous week of driving (35% fairways hit) got the better of him and he fell away in dramatic fashion to finish down in 20th place.

Europe went a little more according to plan though and Chris Paisley obliged with the Top 20 after looking lke he would miss the cut on Friday. He closed his round with birdie-ace-birdie to make the cut and leave me wondering how well he might have fared with a better start on Thursday. Nobody took fewer shots than his 203 from from Friday to Sunday.

2017 totals are as follows;

Total points advised =43

Total points returned =38.54pts

ROI =-10.40%

This week the PGA Tour heads to Arizona for its usual raucous at TPC Scottsdale and the European Tour rounds off its Middle East Swing in Dubai.


Phoenix Open

On the biggest weekend of the year for US Sport it is perhaps fitting that Golf joins in the party and that is one way of describing the 16th hole at TPC Scottsdale. With its wraparound stadium seating the par 3 hole has a brilliant atmosphere and adds a little something different to the Tour. Some like it more than others but relaxing in the atmosphere can be crucial.

TPC Scottsdale has held this since 1987 and despite some renovations it has remained a ball-strikers course. The fairways are wider than last week so driving isn’t as crucial but Rickie Fowler found out to his cost that you still cant be too wreckless off the tee as he found water in the playoffs with an unkindly bounce. Contending in Phoenix usually comes down to getting the ball as close to the flag as possible on these large greens.

Jon Rahm was brilliant last week at Torrey Pines as he closed with a seven under par 65 to win by three shots. There can be an argument that he was playing more freely than those above him as he probably didn’t expect to win but his back 9 of 30 was simply incredible regardless and there was certainly pressure on his last few holes. It was a -6 back 9 and the next seven after him on the leaderboard only managed to play them in -9 combined.

Ever since he started making noises as an amateur he has been highly respected and when he finished 3rd on his first professional start his stock began to rise quickly. During the fall series he was tipped and bet regularly but over the Christmas period it seemed like people had forgotten about him as he went off at around 50/1 last week.

There have already been some different opinions regarding his price this week as he opened up at a general 25/1 which was much bigger than expected. While it is true that few players have gone back to back after their first win, it is becoming more and more common for players to win in consecutive weeks while they ride the high of the exceptional level of golf that they have discovered. Matsuyama did it towards the end of last year and Justin Thomas just the start of this year. Jason Day and Adam Scott both did it in the spring of 2016 and going back further Day also did it in 2015 and Billy Horschel before him to claim the 2014 Fed Ex Cup. While none of these were in fact their first wins, more crucially these consecutive wins seem to come after what could be called their break out win.

Both Thomas and Matsuyama had won previous Tournaments but their games hadn’t quite reached the heights that they have hit over the last few months. In order to try and gauge whether Rahm is a value price this week I guess it is important to think just what bracket of player you think he is going to become. If you think he falls into the Jason Day, Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy bracket then the 25/1 to go back to back must have looked very favourable. But if you think he falls more into the Justin Thomas category then you maybe think there are enough factors against him this week to leave him be just now.

I definitely think he is going to move towards the former group so there is no way I want to miss out on what looks like such an obvious play. There were still two important factors that forced my hand this week however. Firstly, Rahm was 5th in this tournament in 2015 as an amateur and he studied in Arizona so he knows the area well. Secondly, the nature of his comments after his round on Sunday. He said that something just clicked around the turn and he started feeling in complete control of his golf ball. He also said that he was finally getting to grips with the poa annua surfaces as he had been too cautious from Thursday-Saturday. That was his first appearance at Torrey Pines whereas this week he will know the TPC Scottsdale greens well.

Simply put if he manages to bring anything close to the level of golf he played on that back 9 he will be very hard to beat. That makes the 20/1 available still look like a brilliant each way price and one I would be very annoyed about missing if he were to win again unbacked.

There isn’t a great deal else that I like this week but given this is a ball-strikers paradise, there was one former tee-to-green machine that popped up last week on the leaderboard briefly. He fell away with an 80 on Sunday but it was only Hunter Mahan’s 2nd cut made in his last 14 tournaments. He has been in the doldrums now for the best part of 3 years but we have seen far poorer players than him come from nowhere to go well on their favourite courses. Mahan won here in 2010 and he also has a 4th place finish to his name.

He ranked 7th for total driving last week around the very difficult Torrey Pines. If he drives the ball that well again here then 300/1 might just look a little big come the weekend.


Dubai Desert Classic

It’s pretty much taking off from where we left off last week for the final stop on the Middle East Swing. The course in Dubai is another wide open course where the wind blows and links players prosper. It stands at 7319 yards with minimal rough but plenty of waste areas flanking the fairways. As I write the wind is forecast to be quite strong so solid ball-strikers will prosper and a tidy short game will help when inevitably greens will be missed.

You can make a case for many at the head of the market in Dubai but none of them look like much of a price. Instead I’m going to go with three bigger prices.

Anirban Lahiri looks a bet on price alone this week. He has been playing a lot lately on the PGA Tour and while he hasn’t done a great deal yet his first 5 events of the 2017 read 3-28-13-MC-25. As we know from the current high standard of the PGA Tour, that is well above what most of this field have done lately. As a two-time European Tour winner he surely should be more like a 50/1 shot in this field. The 90/1 looks like a great piece of value.

He has only played here once before in 2010 when he missed the cut but his excellent short game should help him this week where the greens will be hard to hit.

Lucas Bjerregaard struggled to push on in 2016 after looking like a winner in waiting through out 2015. But there were signs last week that he is maybe getting back to his best so the 125/1 looks very big indeed.

He finished last week in 11th after closing with a 66 on Sunday. The Dane apeears to have a great game for links golf but hasn’t done that much in the UK yet. Notably however he has 9th and 12th place finishes around the Oceanico Victoria course which hosts the Portugal Masters. There are many players who have gone well at both of these long, exposed courses; Lee Westwood, Stephen Gallagher, Andy Sullivan, Alvaro Quiros to name but four.

If he has found something with his long game again then he should outplay his price this week.

I can’t believe Chris Paisley’s price has gone up this week from a general 200/1 last week to 250/1! As I said earlier nobody played the last 3 rounds better than him in Qatar and he ranked 15th for GIR and 6th for scrambling. There is an argument that this course could play a little too long for him but after giving us some profit last week I think he looks worth reinvesting in this week.


Summary of Bets

Phoenix Open

Jon Rahm – 2.5pts ew @ 20/1

Hunter Mahan – 0.5pt ew @ 300/1 and 1pt Top 20 @ 10/1

Qatar Masters

Anirban Lahiri – 1pt ew @ 90/1

Lucas Bjerregaard – 0.5pt ew @ 125/1

Chris Paisley – 0.5pt ew @ 250/1 and 2pts Top 20 @ 9/1

Weekly pts advised = 13pts

Total pts advised = 56pts

@theGreek82

Farmers Insurance Open and Qatar Masters – Betting Preview

It was a victory for a tee-to-green prowess last week as two of the game’s better ball-strikers both got it done despite their usual struggles on the greens. Unfortunately both players were tipped on the blog a few times last year and in hindsight neither were particulalrly surprising winners.

In the US Hudson Swafford has been playing some brilliant golf tee-to-green but never seemed to make any putts when it counted. He certainly hadn’t thrown any Tournaments away to date and was actually quite impressive down the stretch on Sunday even if he did have a wobble on Saturday.

Tommy Fleetwood was perhaps even more impressive in Abu Dhabi as he held off a host of top-class challengers to finally get his 2nd win after collecting his maiden victory at Gleneagles in 2013. The Southport man hit 66 out of 72 greens in Abu Dhabi and was giving himself putt after putt. Fleetwood is very similar to Westwood at his peak in that their below average putting is accentuated by their relentless approach play. It can seem like every time you see them on the TV they are missing a putt from 15ft but on some courses that is ok. Others were struggling to find the greens so just hitting them in the correct number was enough to come out on top as others made mistakes around him.

There were no returns last week despite Hatton being the 3rd round leader in Abu Dhabi.

That removes the early profits and 2017 is as follows;

2017 pts advised = 31

2017 pts returned = 29.54

ROI = -4.7%

 


Farmers Insurance Open

Tiger makes his much anticipated return to the PGA Tour this week and there couldn’t be a more fitting place for him to return than Torrey Pines. He has won this Tournament 7 times along with a US Open in 2008 which was his last major win. It’s anyone’s guess where he will finish but the signs were good in December so hopefully he will go well as it would be great to get to see a fit Tiger Woods compete again in 2017.

They will play two courses this week, with one round on the easier North and one round on the South course prior to the cut. After that it is two more rounds on the South course. The North course has undergone a substantial renovation since last year but with only one round to play and the South course being so much tougher, I’m not going to guess how this will effect things.

The South course is a classic US championsip layout, playing long at some 7600 yards with narrow fairways and fairly slick greens for a non major. The greens are poa annua whereas the new greens on the North are now bentgrass.

Being a coastal track in California, form can tie in well with Pebble Beach and many players go well at both courses.

Last year the wind played a major part in proceedings on the Sunday as Snedeker shot an early 69 only to see all the leaders fall by the wayside. By the time they completed on Monday they had all gone backwards and he came out on top for the 2nd time.

The forecast isn’t for anything like that level of wind but it is usually a factor at some point over the four days.

Previous course form stacks up very well around Torrey Pines and as well as Tiger’s 8 wins there are many others who crop up on the leaderboard again and again.

Both Snedeker and Woods are two of the best at avoiding bogeys so they always fair well on tough courses. That can often be attributed to both strong scrambling skills and good putting.

I’d make bogey avoidance, scrambling, three-putt avoidance and driving distance the key stats this week but course form is perhaps more crucial than anything.

Gary Woodland looks to me like the standout bet this week. At the head of the market we have the old dilemma of whether we want to take single figure prices about Jason Day and Dustin Johnson and I think there are enough reasons to look beyond their class at a tough Championship venue like Torrey Pines. Day still hasn’t quite shown us that he is fully over his back injury and DJ doesn’t have the best of records there despite him normally enjoying tough, coastal layouts. He has also flown back from Abu Dhabi this week and that has to be another negative.

Woodland was in 2nd place there last year heading into the final round but along with 99% of the field he struggled as the wind got up and made the course extremely difficult.

He is an immense talent and has been with Butch Harmon for some time now. At his peak he doesn’t have any real weakness and given Harmon’s track record I would assume they will be leaving no stone unturned in trying to maximise Woodland’s unquestionable talent. His substantial length off the tee will always help him on tough Championship layouts and despite the fairways being narrow at Torrey Pines, history tells us that it pays to get as close to the green as possible. The last five winners have ranked 48th, 1st, 24th, 2nd and 1st for driving distance and that 48th was Snedeker last year which may be a little skewed by the brutal wind.

The greens are slick and it will certainly pay to attack them with as much loft as possible. Jimmy Walker proved this around another championship layout at Baltusrol when winning the US PGA Championship in August. He missed more fairways than most but such was his ability to find the greens with his short irons, he was still able to putt his way to victory.

Woodland is by no means anywhere near as good a putter as Walker but like Walker he generally goes better on Poa Annua greens. That is what he will face on 3 of his rounds this week and hopefully that will bring about the improvement needed on the greens. Last time out at the Sony his game was in fantastic shape as he finished in 6th place. He ranked 4th for GIR and 9th for scrambling which helped him finish 2nd in the all-round ranking.  All this was continuing where he left off in 2016 as he made it to the Tour Championship where he finished 10th and he rounded the year off with a 2nd place at the OHL Classic. He hit more greens than anyone that week and ranked 1st in the all-round. For the 2017 season he currently sits 18th in bogey avoidance and 22nd in scrambling.

It’s clear this is a player whose game has been firing on all cylinders for some time now and that was exactly the case with Hudson Swafford last week who finished up the 2016 season ranked 10th in the all-round ranking. Gary Woodland finished in 23rd and it can be a very good indication of future winners.  They have both maintained that into 2017 as they rank 16th and 29th respectively.

To me Gary Woodland’s game is in the perfect place to tackle Torrey Pines. There won’t be as many putts holed so he won’t have to all of a sudden start putting the lights out. A small improvement on a more suitable surface should see him go close.

There are a few other decent outright each way prices but I’ve sided with John Huh this week. He is a very solid player who enjoys tougher tests of golf. He finished 8th in this last year while ranking 2nd in total accuracy.

While he hasn’t exactly flown out of the blocks in 2017, prior to last week’s missed cut he did have back to back 27th place finishes. He currently ranks 15th in scrambling and 31st in bogey avoidance and at 150/1 I think he looks over priced thanks to last week’s missed cut.

Another player who I can’t leave out at 200/1 is Cameron Smith. He showed at the 2015 US Open at Chambers Bay how much enjoys a proper test of golf as he finished 4th in his very first Major. He has had some mixed results but always looks more comfortable where par is a good score. He also missed the cut last week but he should be suited far more to this test and before the Christmas break he signed off with a runner-up finish in the Australian Open and a 15th in the Australian PGA. He has missed the cut on both his appearances here but I’m still convinced it should suit him so he is worth a small play.
The final bet is a rather left field Top 20 bet on New Zealander Steve Alker. He is a bit of a journey man but has shown a liking for windy courses in the past when he finished 19th at The Open in 2012 around Royal Lytham. Having gained his 2017 Tour card he has performed ok so far and finished 25th last week at the CareerBuilder. It’s entirely possible that Torrey Pines will be too long for him but if conditions do become difficult he looks over priced for a Top 20 at 20/1 in places.

 


Qatar Masters

The Qatar Masters is played around Doha Golf Club and it is an exposed course that has historically been a course where good links players prosper. The course correlates well with Gleneagles, The Portugal Masters, Alfred Dunhill Links and The Open itself.

I don’t really like the front of the market with so many of the players that will probably play well all looking too short. So instead I’m going to play three longer prices to small stakes but include a bigger bet on a them in the place markets.

First up is the Challenge Tour graduate Alexander Bjork who finished 7th on the Road to Oman to gain his 2017 card. During that successful campaign the highlight was winning the Le Vaudreuil Golf Challenge in France in July.

He hasn’t played Qatar before, in fact he has only made 6 European Tour starts but that hasn’t held him back so far. He missed the cut on his first start when playing at the Madeira Open in 2014 but in his next 5 starts he didn’t finish worse than 45th. Indeed 4 of them have been this season and he arrives with form figures of 17-45-7-13 which stands up against most of this field.

He did visit the Emirates twice last year on Challenge Tour duty finishing 32nd in U.A.E before confirming his card by placing 7th in the NBO Golf Classic Grand Final in Oman.

Most Swedish players tend to enjoy links courses due to being familiar with playing on exposed, windy courses. I’m hoping that will be the case with Bjork and so far in his career he already has an 8th place finish in Scotland at Aviemore which is an exposed course not too dissimilar to Gleneagles.

In his four starts so far he has struggled to put all aspects of his game together in any one week but he led the field in South Africa in GIR and was 3rd in fairways hit. He followed that up by ranking 11th in scrambling and 29th in total putting last week in Abu Dhabi.

He is flying under the radar a little and I think subsequently we are getting quite a good price about someone with his form figures. He looks to have a great chance of another Top 20 even if he can’t contend.

A little low on time to cover the others here so it will be brief.

Benjamin Herbert has played well here twice before finishing 20th last year and 10th in 2015. He has a game very well suited to a links challenge and he also fisnished 10th at the Portugal Masters which ties in well with Doha Golf Course.

He has been threatening to win on The European Tour but hasn’t quite contended down the stretch yet. His prolific career on the Challenge Tour tells he isn’t afraid to win though and he remains a player worth watching through out 2017.

Chris Paisley finished his 2016 season very well with a 3rd place finish in Italy and a 5th place at the Portugal Masters.

He has missed both his Qatar Masters cuts to date but he looked a far more confident player last year and has a 12th place finish at the Alfred Dunhill Links which is another tournament that links well with Qatar. He warmed up nicely last week finishing 29th in Abu Dhabi where he putted very well. That well help him around the Doha course where putting is always crucial.

As a final little point, Paisley was part of the same Walker Cup team as Fleetwood in 2009 so hopefully he may take some extra motivation from Fleetwood’s win last week.

I’m also going to have a Top 10 double on last week’s two winners as they should both enjoy their respective tests and I don’t see winning as any sort of reason to halt their brilliant form.

 
                          Summary of Bets

Farmers Insurance Open

Gary Woodland – 1pt ew @ 40/1

John Huh – 0.5pt ew @ 150/1

Cameron Smith – 0.5pt ew @ 200/1

Steve Alker – Top 20 – 1pt @ 20/1

Qatar Masters

Alexander Bjork – 0.5pt ew @ 100/1 and 1pt Top 20 @ 3/1

Benjamin Hebert – 0.5pt ew @ 80/1 and 1pt Top 20 @ 3/1

Chris Paisley 0.5pt ew @ 200/1 and 1pt Top 20 @ 8/1

Hudson Swafford and Tommy Fleetwood – 1pt Top 10 double @ 19.25 


Weekly pts advised – 12pts

Total pts advised – 43

@theGreek82 

Hong Kong Open – Betting Preview

​Brooks Koepka never seems to perform with my money behind him and that was certainly the case last week as he played very poorly, particularly the Par 5s where he normally excels. In the end he finished well down the small field but it was still an exciting week with Tiger Woods performing so well. Granted there were a lot of errors too but the fact he made more birdies than anyone in the field after a 15 month lay-off has to be a massive positive and bodes well for his 2017 season especially if he can iron out some of the mistakes. They were undoubtedly with the driver on the whole though as he made very few unforced errors with his irons. We don’t know yet when he will be back but there is a strong chance that it will be around his beloved Torrey Pines course in January.

Just the one Tournament this week as the 2017 European Tour signs off for a Christmas break with the Hong Kong Open.

The overall results for the blog are as follows

Total pts advised = 867.50pts 

Total pts returned = 834.50pts

ROI =  -3.95%

In the new year I am going to focus on results for the calendar year but I will still be keeping track of the overall results.

            

                      Hong Kong Open

The last four titles at the Hong Kong Golf Club at Fanling have been won by Justin Rose, Scott Hend and Miguel Angel JImenez (2) and those three are very different players so there must be more than one way to score at the course. Looking further back we have the likes of McIlroy, Montgomerie and Harrington winning here so usually one of the classier players gets to the front by Sunday.

The 6699 yard course is very short and can be quite fiddly off the tee. The greens aren’t the easiest to hit as they can often be blocked out by trees and are slightly elevated while they usually firm up over the weekend with the hot conditions. The one common factor between Rose, Jimenez and Hend was their ability to find the greens at Fanling; Hend with his power off the tee allowing him lots of wedges, Jimenez with his excellent long iron game and Rose with his relentless tee-to-green ability. This is strengthened by Monty and McIlroy being former winners as their distance control with their approaches is as good as anyone to have played on the European Tour. Perhaps Jimenez’s greatest strength over the years however was his touch around the greens and that is crucial as getting up and down is a very fair test at Fanling.

Last year Patrick Reed was 4th favourite for this and looked to be the best piece of value in the field. While the course was unknown to him he still managed to finish 4th so it is no surprise to see him favourite here. But given how poorly he played last week in the Bahamas and all the promotional work he has done this week after travelling across the world, I think he can be left out at a single figure price. Second favourite Rose would normally appeal in a field like this but given his lack of golf and the back injury that forced him to withdraw after one round last week, he too can be dismissed at just 9/1. Those wanting to get with the Englishman should at least see how he fares in the opening round. If his back is ok he will be as honest as ever after his first round and unless he sits on top of the leaderboard I don’t think his odds will collapse too much.

Fanling has some course links with other tree-lined tracks and while Miguel Angel Jimenez throws up a couple of other courses where he has won like Wentworth and Crans, the course that interests me most is Lake Karrinyup in Perth, Australia. It is another tree-lined course where somehow bombers have prospered like Thorbjorn Olesen in 2014. Visually I would say it comes closest to resembling the Hong Kong Golf Club and they both tend to play hard and fast with hitting greens crucial to scoring. Last year’s runner-up in Hong Kong, Lucas Bjerregard finished 4th at the Perth International in 2015, Ernie Els won there in 2002 and he virtually owned Wentworth during the 90s and has also won around Crans. Good links players have prevailed at both Lake Karrinyup, Fanling, Wentworth and Crans and while I don’t think we can put Jason Scrivener in that bracket as he hasn’t played too much links golf, he interests me this week.

Scrivener finished 3rd at Lake Karrinyup earlier this year when playing well and there have been signs recently that the young Australian could be coming back to some form. Interestingly he also finished 3rd here last year which to me confirms a nice link between the courses. His last start was poor as he could only finish 62nd in the Australian PGA but prior to that he was 4th at the Australian Open at Royal Sydney, another tree-lined course.

He isn’t always the most accurate of drivers but the presence of trees seems to help him either straighten up or, around short courses like Fanling, take driver out of the equation. He ranked 15th for GIR last year and while he only ranks 60th in GIR over the last 3 months he sits 11th in Par 4 scoring. He also ranks 2nd in scrambling which is always crucial here. In a market dominated by the classy favourites he looks a good each way alternative this week.

Gregory Bourdy won around Hong Kong Golf Club in 2009 and is another who has gone well at Lake Karrinyup finishing one place behind Scrivener in February. He missed the cut in South Africa last week but his GIR numbers were good and prior to that he hadn’t missed a European Tour cut since July. He had a brilliant summer in fact as he finished 18th at both the US Open and US PGA Championship and his form had been ok with a 31st in Turkey, a 20th at the Nedbank and a 35th at the DP World Championship. All those courses are too long for the short hitting Frenchman however and he is far more suited to this week’s challenge as he proved in 2009 when he beat a very strong field including McIlroy, Poulter, McDowell and Westwood.

Bourdy is a 4 time winner on Tour and should be respected on courses like this where his accuracy and brilliant short game can help him contend. Currently ranking 17th in the all-round and 19th in GIR over the last 3 months he looks to have a good chance on a course he enjoys.

Siddikur Rahman is one of the shortest hitters on any Tour but he is extremely accurate and is also a brilliant scrambler. He finished 18th here last year and has popped up a few times in co-sanctioned events over the last few years, his best performance being a 2nd in Mauritius in May on the European Tour.

I think he has possibly been dismissed too easily at 250/1 in a field lacking any real depth. He looks worth a small each way play as well as a top 20 bet.

                       Summary of Bets


Gregory Bourdy – 1pt ew @ 40/1

Jason Scrivener – 1pt ew @ 90/1

Siddikur Rahman – 0.5pt ew @ 250/1 and 1pt Top 20 @ 9/1



Weekly pts advised – 6 pts

Total pts advised – 873.50pts 

Merry Christmas to all readers and I’ll be back with a preview of the Tournament of Champions in the New Year.

@theGreek82

RSM Classic and DP World Championship – Betting Preview 

Another week on the PGA Tour and yet another long odds surprise winner. This time Pat Perez obliged after some 7 years without a win and having missed the bulk of the 2016 season with a shoulder injury. In truth he had shown something having returned to Tour with a 33rd and 7th before Mexico but few could have predicted him winning in such fashion and it was another excellent PGA Tour week for the bookmakers. Bradley and Huh both played quite well without ever really threatening to do anything and finished inside the Top 25.
Events were a little more straight-forward in South Africa with Alexander Noren picking up his 4th win in his last 11 starts to fire himself to World No. 9 which is by some distance his career high. After Thursday I was actually feeling quite good about the Stenson bet as he was traded at a low of around 2.8 but that feeling was short lived as he struggled badly on Friday and was always just too far behind to mount a proper challenge to either his compatriot Noren or the impressive Wang while he was out in front.

The results are as follows;

Total pts advised =  846pts

Total pts returned = 825.56pts 

ROI = -2.5%

After 2016 is finished I plan to continue with the results over calendar years rather than ongoing. As ever though, I will make results available to anyone who might want them.

This week we have the final official PGA Tour event of the year with the RSM Classic and the 2016 European Tour season culminates with the DP World Championship in Dubai.
                     

                          RSM CLASSIC

We cross back over the border this week for The RSM Classic which will take place at Sea Island Golf Club, Georgia. It is in its seventh running and it was previously known as The Mcgladrey Classic until last year due to a change of sponsor. The resort itself is very picturesque and has resulted in many Tour pros setting up home in the Sea Island area. Indeed this tournament was actually initiated by Davis Love III and Zach Johnson who are two of the biggest names to live there. There are several other players who reside there and it is definitely worth paying close attention to those who will be able to sleep in their own beds this week while playing on a course they know intimately. As well as possibly living in the area we should also take note of those who regularly play well in the area and indeed those that attended The University of Georgia. Last year’s winner Kevin Kisner was a “Georgia Bulldog”, he was born and bred just over the border in South Carolina and he had a fairly solid bank of form around the East coast area. Those were the heady of days of 2015 however when there seemed to be a little bit of logic to golf betting and Kisner was indeed a very obvious winner.

This week there are two courses in play as they all have a round on the Plantation Course (7,058 yard Par 70) as well as the main Seaside Course (7,055 yard Par 70) before those that make the cut continue over the Seaside at the weekend. Both courses are fairly short with a good spread of trees and water in play. Length off the tee isn’t really a huge advantage around Sea Island and therefore it is another week where the shorter hitters usually contend. The fairways aren’t overly narrow but finding the correct landing areas is imperative to getting close to the flags on the Seaside Course. The greens on both courses are on the larger side and are bermuda.

The last 5 winners are a mix of accurate drivers, neat and tidy wedge games but above all strong putters; Kevin Kisner, Robert Streb, Chris Kirk, Tommy Gainey and Ben Crane being those five men. A look at the stats from recent renewals backs that idea up. Kevin Kisner ranked 9th for GIR, 3rd for scrambling and 2nd for total putting last year. Robert Streb ranked 1st in total putting and Chris Kirk, while not putting as well as usual, ranked 15th for GIR and 5th for scrambling. Tommy Gainey and Ben Crane both won their titles with a brilliant display on the greens, each ranking 2nd for total putting.

Having watched Kisner’s win very closely last year the one thing that caught my eye was how he peppered the flags and then appeared to hole everything in the 5ft-20ft range. The same could often be said about an in-form Chris Kirk or Robert Streb which got me thinking whether there was any one stat that might link the Sea Island winners. To me, “Scoring relative to par from approaches 125-150 yards” looks pretty much perfect. It is better than simply looking at proximity as it also takes into account whether a player is actually taking advantage of repeatedly hitting their wedges in close to the pin. Streb, Kirk and Kisner all ranked inside the Top 10 for this stat in either the season of their win or the season just finished. Beyond the normal stats I think this looks to be a very important one this week and we should also consider the 100-125 and 150-175 yard categories to allow for the longer and shorter hitters. Kisner had also shown a liking for bermuda greens earlier in the year when finishing 2nd at both Harbour Town and TPC Sawgrass.

With the way 2016 is going I should really know better than pick someone so obvious but I’ve been over this a few times and I simply can’t get away from Chris Kirk this week. I know he is probably too short a price but so too are most of the market leaders. Kirk is actually the slight favourite for this at around 18/1and while you could look at Jim Furyk at 35/1 and baulk at him being double the price, you could also look at Charles Howell III (35/1) and wonder how Kirk is only half of his price. Ultimately, the odds that someone is prepared to take on a player can be very personal and there will be many this week that will easily dismiss Kirk at the odds. But I have just about made peace with the fact that I’m going to back him as I actually think he might win. Kisner was similarly short last year and I still backed him and that worked out ok. It could just be that Sea Island is a good venue for those expected to go well and how badly we need one of those!

Chris Kirk has everything going for him this week and more. As the 2013 winner here we know he likes the course, he studied in Georgia, he lives nearby, and he followed up his win with a 4th place finish as defending champion. Another solid showing last year resulted in a T18th when he was in fairly poor form and still suffering from a slight President’s Cup hangover having made his U.S. team debut the previous month.

However this season he has three top 10s from just four tournaments with the pick of those a runner-up finish at The Sanderson Farms. When finishing 7th last week he ranked 5th for total driving and 2nd for GIR and when his long game is that strong he is a real danger, especially in this relatively week field. His putter actually let him down a little last week but there is no way he will let that happen again on these bermuda greens which he knows as well as anyone.

While I was keen on Kirk long before I saw his price, it was his stats that pushed me over the line and helped me to take the short price. After establishing that “Scoring – Approaches (RTP) from 125-150 yards” would be important I noticed that Kirk currently sits in 20th for that stat but also 31st for  the 100-25 yard category. We know he is keeping the ball in the fairway so with several short par 4s I’d expect to see him with plenty of birdie putts inside 20ft and there are normally very few better from that range, certainly in this field. Kirk currently ranks 10th for strokes gained: putting and a solid 45th for scrambling.

The shock winners can’t continue all season and while it didn’t work last week with Bradley, this method did work very well at the RSM Classic last year so with the only negative being his price, Kirk is a confident selection to win his 5th PGA Tour title playing in his own back yard.

As an alternative to the favourite, Jamie Lovemark looks an excellent each way bet at 80/1 off the back of his 9th place finish on his debut last year, but if we explore further then the value looks to be standout this week. He drove it further than everyone that week but he also hit more greens than anyone else which can normally be a very hard thing to do around Sea Island. His stats are looking good again this year for this test as he sits 39th in strokes gained: putting, 17th in scrambling and 23rd in “Scoring RTP from 100-125 yards”. That will be the range that he will find himself having left for his approach on a lot of these Par 4s given his length off the tee.

Lovemark is another player who was threatening to win last season but so far he has eased into the 2017 season. He is playing well though and with a 35th place finish last week I think he will arrive at Sea Island with fond memories of the course from last year and hopefully he can improve on his second look. 

Trey Mullinax is yet another in the long list of 2017 exciting young rookies and while he hasn’t performed as well as the likes of Cody Gribble or Seamus Power yet he is of interest this week at a course that suits. The best part of Mullinax’s game is his putting so he was on my shortlist before I discovered he was one of the many PGA Tour players that practice regularly at the Sea Island Performance Centre. This means he will be familiar with the course and might help explain how he finished 25th last year on just his 3rd PGA Tour start. Mullinax ranks 6th for birdie average over the last 3 months and 9th in Par 4 scoring over the same time so this probably looks the best course for him so far this season. He looks well worth an each way interest this week at 150/1.

             DP World Championship

The Final Series on The European Tour has taken a bit of a bashing lately but the Tour has definitely been helped out by the way events have panned out on the Race to Dubai. It’s still relatively open with Henrik Stenson, Danny Willet, Alex Noren and Rory McIlroy all still in with a mathematical chance of winning the 2016 title. This should make for an exciting tournament and hopefully the finale that the European Tour deserves.

The course is the Earth Course at the Jumeirah Estate in Dubai as has been the norm since 2009. It is an extremely long course at 7675 yards and subsequently over the years it has always been won by some of the best ball strikers the European Tour has to offer.

Two of those lead the way this week in Rory McIlroy and Henri Stenson and few could argue with that given we have to go back to 2011 to find a different name on the trophy. They are both very short prices and while either one of them could win by 10 strokes here it certainly looks worthwhile trying to find some each way alternatives in a market that they dominate.

With Victor Dubuisson hovering on the leaderboard in South Africa on Sunday I’m sure there were many waiting on his price on Monday morning given his strong form at the Earth Course here in Dubai. He has finished 9th, 2nd and 3rd on his three appearances to date so when some firms opened at 90/1 then people must have thought Christmas had come early and he was very quickly cut. Unfortunately I missed that and now there is only a little bit of 45/1 around but with his whole game looking sharp last week that still rates a bet for me.

His long game in particular was in fantastic shape last week as he ranked 2nd for total driving and 4th in GIR, which is generally the skillset that wins this. The brutally long course demands distance off the tee and accurate long irons into the heavily undulating greens which are well protected by bunkers and water. 

Away from McIlroy and Stenson, Dubuisson probably has the best course form and is a very obvious pick so even at 45/1 he looks a solid each way prospect. He has had a poor 2016 but at his best he is top class and we know he can win in this strong a field having twice won a Final Series tournament in Turkey. Hopefully last week was the enigmatic Frenchman returning to somewhere near his best and if that is the case he should contend again on a course that suits his eye.

Last year I was ruing not backing Andy Sullivan in the outright market at around 50/1. I fancied he would go well but only backed him in the Top 10 market. After chasing McIlroy home last year his price is nowhere near as fancy this time around but all the same logic applies. His long game has been back to its best over the last couple of months and despite appearing to have a poor Ryder Cup, Sullivan actually played as well as McIlroy in the opening session, if not better than, and was a little unlucky not to play again until the Sunday.

Last week in South Africa he ranked 4th in total driving and 21st in GIR which helped to 2nd in the all-round ranking and a 3rd place finish overall.

I didn’t love his price when he first opened on the Exchange but there is still some 25/1 around and that looks like a perfectly fair price. The same names always appear on the leaderboard in Dubai each year and after a brilliant debut last year I’m sure we will see the smiling Nuneaton man in contention again this year.

With Stenson and McIlroy no doubt set to fill two of the places I’m keeping my outright bets at two and instead having a small Top 10 bet on someone who is having an excellent year. I’ve had a little success with Tyrell Hatton this year despite missing out on his win. He started badly in the feature group last week alongside Stenson and Willet but away from the spotlight he rallied well to finish 25th and his driving was on point as he finished 11th for total driving. He is another player with a good record around the course despite his tee-to-green game not being anywhere close to this year’s standard in the past. He finished 6th on his debut immediately getting to grips with the greens and he then returned a 13th last year. Hatton is a far more accomplished player now and has his European Tour win to prove it. He plays his best stuff on links and desert tracks with an 8th place finish in the Dubai Desert Classic in February this year before his excellent Links performances this summer culminated in a St Andrews win at the Alfred Dunhill. At 3/1 he looks a rock solid Top 10 bet this week in a field of just 60.

                  SUMMARY OF BETS

RSM Classic

Chris Kirk – 1.5pt ew @ 18/1

Jamie Lovemark – 0.75pt ew @ 80/1

Trey Mullinax – 0.5pt ew @ 150/1

DP World Championship

Victor Dubuisson – 1pt ew @ 45/1

Andy Sullivan – 1pt ew @ 25/1

Tyrell Hatton – 1pt Top 10 @ 3/1


Weekly pts advised – 10.5pts

Total advised pts – 856.5pts

 
@theGreek82