Phoenix Open and Maybank Championship – Betting Preview

We got off the mark last week as Tyrrell Hatton flew through the field on Sunday to land solo 3rd. It promised to be even better than that for a brief spell as he had a 10ft putt to get to -21 at the driveable Par 4 17th. He missed that and then found water on 18 to leave himself 2 shots shy but it was another brilliant desert performance and he rewarded the faith shown in him. Hatton’s consistent play in both desert and links conditions is second to none over the last 18 months and this has to be factored in when assessing his price going forward.

Over in California, Woodland was perfectly placed for a Sunday assault as he was 5th and just 3 shots back. The wind did for him again though just like 2015 and he really doesn’t look to be a great wind player at all. There is no doubt that he loves Torrey Pines South course as his Saturday 66 testified but he doesn’t seem to handle even one round of wind.

This week the PGA Tour moves inland to the desert and the Phoenix Open while the European Tour has a little break from its Middle East swing and heads down to Malaysia for the Maybank Championship.

Total 2018 pts advised = 35.5pts

Total 2018 returns = 9pts


Phoenix Open

In the normally more reserved sport of golf, TPC Scottsdale is the one course that comes closest to typifying U.S. Sports. The course is somewhat famous in the game for it’s stadium seating around the par 3 16th hole and it helps create an atmosphere unlike any seen in regular stroke-play events. That’s not to do the course an injustice however as it is a very serious layout, with pristine conditions and the Phoenix Open usually throws up a classy winner.

Hideki Matsuyama has won the last two events and never finished outside the Top 4. To be honest that tells us everything you need to know about the course. The fairways are wide enough and it pays to have some length off the tee. The greens are on the larger side and in order to fire at the flags, a degree of loft will be required and the control that the fairway allows is also beneficial. TPC Scottsdale is a ball-strikers dream and rewards accurate, aggressive iron play perhaps more than any course I can think of. The greens themselves don’t usually require any brilliance and it is usually all about the law of averages and having more putts inside 15ft than the rest of the field. That is something Matsuyama regularly does when his mid-irons are dialled in and he is as ruthless as anyone on Tour from between 150 and 200 yards out.

With a 12th place finish last week where the putter was behaving, Matsuyama is almost certainly the player to beat and at odds of 10/1 I wouldn’t put anyone off. However with Spieth,  Fowler and Thomas all alongside him in the betting it doesn’t look like a week for a big play on any of the favourites. Instead I’m happy to play some of the healthy each way prices that the strong head of the market has given us.

chappell

Kevin Chappell’s long game was sublime last time out at the CareerBuilder and it was his horrible putting that stopped him from winning. He still managed 6th place though and with the greens being a bit of an equaliser here at Scottsdale I think this pure ball-striker looks to have a great chance. His form at the course isn’t fantastic to date but I’m not really sure why. He plays well in desert conditions and this tee-to-green test should be just about perfect for him on paper. Chappell has three missed cuts from 6 appearances and hasn’t beaten 24th yet but there were positives from that best finish in 2013. He fired opening and closing 66s and there were also some good rounds two years later in 2015 where he shot Friday and Saturday 65s to sit in the top 10 going in to Sunday. That’s enough to confirm to me that he can play this course and if we delve a little further into his finishes we see that they were more about his form at the time. Chappell normally takes a little while to get going in the New Year and that 24th finish came on his only effort in Phoenix where he was arriving off a Top 10 already that calendar year. On a ball-strikers course sometimes you just have to pick ball-strikers and that’s exactly what Chappell is, currently ranking 6th in strokes gained: tee to green. The 66/1 looks a big each way price.

bradley-keegan-080512-640x360_0

Keegan Bradley is another tee-to-green machine and you could make a perfectly good case for him being the most consistently long and accurate driver of the ball in world golf. His approach play isn’t too shabby either and he currently ranks 7th for strokes gained: tee to green. Bradley is a 3 time winner on Tour and also a major winner so given he finished 6th last week and has four top 25s in Phoenix, I’m surprised that we can get 66/1 about him. He has suffered considerably since the anchored putter ban but over the last year or so there have been signs that he is finding a way to get competitive again. We shouldn’t forget that when you strike the ball as well as he does, an average putting week is often all he needs to contend. That will be even more prevalent at TPC Scottsdale and he looks to have a great chance here this week.

I was going to leave it at two bets here this week but then I noticed Chesson Hadley’s price. I watched him closely during the fall series and his form was very good without getting over the line for the win. He has kept that going in 2018 although he has done so a little under the radar as the world’s best players have ousted him from the spotlight. Hadley is currently 10th in strokes gained: tee to green, 6th in strokes gained: approach to green and 29th in strokes gained: putting. All those combined suggest he is on the verge of grabbing his 2nd PGA Tour title. His form at Scottsdale isn’t great but he has taken his game to a new level of consistency recently and he looks a great price at 100/1.


Maybank Championship

Link to The Golf Family preview below;

https://thegolffamily.com/maybank-championship-betting-preview/


Summary of Bets

Phoenix Open

Kevin Chappell – 1pt ew @ 66/1 (1/4 odds 5 places general)

Keegan Bradley – 1pt ew @ 66/1 (1/4 odds 5 places general)

Chesson Hadley – 0.5pt ew @ 100/1 (1/5 odds 6 places several)

Maybank Championship

Alex Levy – 2pt ew @ 16/1 (1/4 odds 5 places Ladbrokes)

Jason Scrivener – 0.75pts ew @ 70/1 (1/5 odds 6 places Boylesports)

David Horsey – 0.75 pts ew @ 70/1 (1/5 odds 6 places Skybet)

Weekly pts advised = 12pts

Total pts advised = 47.5pts

@theGreek82

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Farmers Insurance Open and Dubai Desert Classic – Betting Preview

It was a week for the obvious winners last week as Rahm and Fleetwood both obliged on the main Tours and Garcia romped home in the Singapore Open. Most of my picks were poor and we are still looking for the first returns of the new year. Hopefully they will come this week with a couple of high quality events on both Tours. The PGA Tour stays in California with the Farmers Insurance Open and the European Tour makes its second Middle East stop for the Omega Dubai Desert Classic.

2018 total pts advised = 20.5pts

2018 total pts returned = 0pts

 


Farmers Insurance Open

This time last year I wrote the following and there is a sense of deja vu in California this week.

“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 U.S. 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”

Somehow though Tiger has been cut into 25/1 which is surely the wrong price. It would be special to see him contend again around one of his favourite courses but ultimately he will surely just be looking to make the halfway cut.

Last week’s winner and 2017 Farmers Insurance Open winner Jon Rahm is back to defend as the 8/1 favourite and that is very hard to argue with. He looks to have a great chance but I’m just about happy to leave him out. Fowler, Rose, Matsuyama and Day are up next and they all have claims here given how well they are suited to a tough test of golf. But the bookmakers look like they have their number and barring 2015 winner Jason Day, they don’t have the greatest of records at Torrey.

As well as the South Course each player will have a knock around the easier North Course on Thursday or Friday before the South hosts those that survive the cut on the weekend. In addition to being suited to the tougher South course, if a player wants to contend this week it is important that they adapt also to the North course and record a low score. Historical form around the North may not count for as much as it used to however with the course undergoing a fairly substantial renovation prior to last year’s event.

Torrey has an element of Baltusrol about it where the rough is up and the fairways aren’t overly generous, yet the powerful players can still gouge their ball out and find the green from the rough. This will be easier from nearer the green though and the shorter hitters will definitely need to make sure they are finding the fairway more often than not.

With fast, undulating green complexes it will not only be hard to hold the greens but also to get the ball to stop near the flags. Accurate approach play will perhaps be the most important attribute this week closely followed by scrambling which is always more crucial on long, championship courses where greens will be missed. Unlike recent birdie-fests on Tour, make no mistake this will be a proper test and rather than holing putts this week, it will be more about making pars on the South course and trying to shoot a solid round on the easier North course. The greens at the South course are poa annua and they aren’t for everyone. Course form seems to sit nicely with both Riviera and Glen Abbey, the former also having poa greens.

A very strange thing happened after I decided on my picks this week, I looked at last year’s picks at Torrey Pines and I’d picked out the exact same three players again. So I guess I’m either doing something right or making the same stupid mistakes again! But I really like all of their chances despite them letting me down last year. Sometimes golf is  just like horse racing and you have to stick a line through the occasional piece of form.

Cameron Smith returns to Torrey Pines a far more accomplished player than last year having won twice since, once at the Zurich Classic team event and another back home in Australia where he won the PGA Championship at Royal Pines. That’s another long championship course and he has always looked like a player who prefers a difficult course to the normal target golf on the PGA Tour. That was evident at his first major where he finished 4th in the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay. Smith has an excellent short game and currently ranks 13th for bogey avoidance while he finished 2017 ranked 8th in strokes gained: around the green. So far in 2018 he has been playing rather well with two top 20s and having finished 33rd last year he will be looking to improve again with his confidence high.

Gary Woodland is putting very well this year again and currently ranks 14th in strokes gained: putting for 2018. When Woodland is putting well he is capable of winning anywhere but he is another who has the game for long, difficult courses like Torrey. At 50/1 he is similar odds to last year and his predicament is much the same. A player of his talent really has to start pushing on as several of his peers have overtaken him in recent years. Woodland is in fine form after opening his year with a 7th place finish in Hawaii where he did everything well. Another performance like that should see him get involved over the weekend in an event where he has three Top 20s and was sitting 2nd with a round to go before the wind took over in 2016. Woodland also enjoys poa annua greens and finished 4th on the surface in 2016 at Bethpage Black, which has long been considered one of the toughest courses in the U.S. Most things seem to be in Woodland’s favour this week which makes the 50/1 look like a very tempting each way price.

John Huh is the final pick after grabbing a back door 3rd place last week at the CareerBuilder. On paper he is probably a little short off the tee for Torrey but that hasn’t stopped him before as he has some solid course form having finished 6th and 8th previously and he is one of the best around at avoiding bogeys. At least he will be hitting most of his approaches from the fairway as he is usually deadly accurate with the driver. With his talent if he can add more consistency to his game then he could have a good 2018 and he looks worth following while he is in good form.

Cameron Davis announced himself on the scene when he beat a strong field at the Australian Open in December at just 22 yrs old. He is another tall, powerful hitter who thrives on long courses and I’d expect him to be suited to Torrey Pines and the Aussie won’t be phased if things firm up and the win blows over the weekend. I’m going to have a top 20 bet on him.

Given the way that Rahm and McIlroy performed last week without being at their best it is entirely possible that they blow these fields away so I’m going to have small 1pt win saver on the double as they will surely both contend.


Dubai Desert Classic

Link to The Golf Family Preview;

https://thegolffamily.com/omega-dubai-desert-classic-preview/


Summary of Bets

Farmers Insurance Open

Cameron Smith – 1pt ew @ 66/1  (1/5 odds 7 places several firms)

Gary Woodland – 1pt ew @ 40/1  (1/5 odds 7 places several firms)

John Huh – 0.5pt ew @ 125/1 (1/5 odds 7 places several firms)

Cameron Davis – 1pt Top 20 @ 9/1 (Betfred)

Dubai Desert Classic

Matt Fitzpatrick – 1.5pts ew @ 20/1

Tyrrell Hatton – 1.5 pts ew @ 25/1

Thorbjorn Olesen – 0.5pts ew @ 66/1

Connor Syme – 1pt Top 20 @ 16/1

 

Rahm + McIlroy win double – 1pt win @ 53/1

 

Weekly pts advised = 15pts

 

@theGreek82

 

 

CareerBuilder Challenge and Abu Dhabi Championship 2018 – Betting Preview

I’m still so annoyed at not backing him that I’m not even going to talk about Chris Paisley’s win. Straight on to this week.

In the U.S we have the CareerBuilder Challenge while the European Tour starts its Middle East Swing with the Abu Dhabi Championship.

2018 pts advised = 9 pts

2018 pts returned = 0 pts


CareerBuilder Challenge

The PGA Tour heads north to California this week for the multi-course, pro-am format of the CareerBuilder Challenge. In its 3rd edition since the name change from the Humana, the current courses on rotation are also in place for the 3rd time. They are the PGA West Stadium Course, PGA West Nicklaus Course and La Quinta Country Club. With everyone making the cut playing a final round at the PGA West Stadium course it is perhaps the most relevant course although the characteristics of all three are similar.

The Stadium course is a Pete Dye design and so far form on his courses has been the best pointer for the event. It found me David Lingmerth in 2016, who was one of the most unlucky runner-ups you will see in golf, and Dufner who beat him had already won at TPC Louisiana while also owning a 6th at Sawgrass. Last year’s winner Hudson Swafford had limited experience of Dye courses but he had shot 66 on his very first round at Sawgrass and proximity to the hole is his main strength.

Courses of Dye’s that are currently on rotation are TPC Sawgrass (The Players Championship), Harbour Town (RBC Heritage), TPC Louisiana (Zurich Classic), Crooked Stick (2012 & 2016 BMW Championship) and Whistling Straits (2010 & 2015 US PGA Championships).

All the greens are bermuda so those who putt well on the surface should be respected but ultimately any event that Dufner can win obviously can’t have the most difficult of greens. The short stuff at PGA West certainly doesn’t have the undulations we see at Dye’s Sawgrass so expect everyone to be holing putts. That is perhaps even more likely in the pro-am format where flags aren’t likely to be hidden away until perhaps Sunday. The greens are also on the larger side for a Dye course therefore this event is usually all about proximity to the hole and getting as many makeable birdie putts as possible.

The players at the front of the market all look to have a great chance of playing well but there isn’t a lot of value around with Reed and Harman looking short enough at sub 20/1. Chez Reavie has the game for the course and while he is a player that I like, you won’t see too many worse prices this season than his 40/1. Instead I’m happy to look a look a little further down the betting.

I’m probably going to continue to back David Lingmerth in this event every time he is 50/1+ providing he isn’t playing like an 18 handicapper at the time. His game is perfect for short Dye courses and when he is putting well he can be deadly from the all important 10ft-20ft range that we will see so much of this week. His scrambling skills are also impressive should the greens firm up and become less receptive over the weekend. He hasn’t been seen yet this season but he signed off 2017 in decent nick with a 17th at the RSM Classic where the test is similar. We know he likes the event having lost a play-off to Dufner two years ago and I’d expect him to arrive looking to make amends for that unlucky defeat where he did nothing wrong.

Scott Brown looks a little over priced here considering he was runner-up in the team event (Zurich Classic) at Dye’s TPC of Louisiana course in May last year. The rest of his season involved mixed results but that included a 5th and a 6th as well as his best ever Major result as he finished 13th at the US PGA in August. Brown missed the cut here two years ago but on that occasion he was making his first start of the season whereas this time he has already played in Hawaii. It wasn’t the best of performances but he did make the cut and I think he should be suited to this event as he thrives on shorter courses where accuracy is favoured over power. He isn’t a player that you can ever be too confident backing but I’d make him more of a 100/1 shot so I believe we are getting some value if nothing else.

Derek Fathauer is my stock outsider at Dye courses and while he will probably miss the cut I think his liking for the designer’s courses at least makes him a little bit of value at a huge 400/1. I’m not suggesting a big play by any means as he didn’t have the greatest of 2017s but there were two Top 10s in his last 8 events of the year. Fathauer won the Web.com Tour Championship around the Dye Valley course at Sawgrass in 2014 and also finished 9th the following year. He was also 17th on his only appearance at The Players Championship. Despite missing his last cut of the year at the RSM Classic he hit 72% of his greens which was a big improvement on his numbers before hand. Worth a small interest.


Abu Dhabi Championship

Link to Golf Family preview;

https://thegolffamily.com/abu-dhabi-hsbc-championsip-preview/

 


Summary of Bets

CareerBuilder

David Lingmerth – 1pt ew @ 66/1 (1-7 places 1/5 odds several places)

Scott Brown – 0.5pt ew @ 150/1 (1-7 places 1/5 odds Coral)

Derek Fathauer – 0.25pt ew @ 400/1 (1-7 places 1/5 odds Coral)

Abu Dhabi Championship

Matt Kuchar – 1.5pts ew @ 33/1 (1-7 places at 1/5 odds Coral)

Jordan Smith – 0.5pts ew @ 150/1 (1-6 places at 1/5 odds Skybet and William Hill)

Jordan Smith – 2pts Top 20 @ 9/2

Jamie Donaldson – 0.5pts ew @ 150/1 (1-7 places at 1/5 odds Coral)

Jamie Donaldson – 1pt Top 20 @ 5/1

 

Weekly pts advised = 11.5pts

Total 2018 pts advised = 20.5pts

@theGreek82

DP World Championship and RSM Classic – A Betting Preview

After a 4th week with no returns and Fitzpatrick finishing just outside the places I must admit I’m looking forward to the winter break on the two main Tours. It hasn’t been a great 2017 but it feels like I was very close with a host of players placing throughout the year but most of them failing to get over the line. I might post some small previews with just the tips for anyone still reading these but I’m largely going to take a break until the Tournament of Champions in Hawaii in January.

It’s easy to think you have all the answers after the success I had in the first year but things have been a lot tougher in the last 18 months. I will look to evaluate my process over the break and may alter things in the New Year, possibly reducing the number of bets and looking more closely at the place markets. Too often have my outsiders played well, missed out on the front 5 but made the Top 20, amounting to a loss for the blog.

We sign off with two great events though, the European Tour season ending DP World Championship from Dubai and the RSM Classic from Sea Island, Georgia.

2017 pts advised = 518pts

2017 pts returned = 381.21pts

ROI = -26.4%

 


DP World Championship

The main story this week will be the battle between Tommy Fleetwood, Justin Rose and to a lesser extent Setgio Garcia, for the Race To Dubai title. While that will be intriguing we also have an elite European Tour event to try and find the winner of and that looks like no mean feat. The top 60 players through the season line up at the Jumeirah Estate (Earth course) in Dubai and as ever the course that awaits them will be absolutely perfect.

The Greg Norman design is a monster but other than length nobody can have any complaints about the quality course laid out in front of them. Lush green, wide fairways, minimal rough, perfectly manicured bunkers and slick bentgrass greens make for a great event even if it is a very scorable one for those who bring their A game. The winning score often reaches -20 and a quick look through the winners tells us how that is usually acheived. Matt Fitzpatrick stopped the Stenson-McIlroy benefit that was in place since 2012 and while the young Englishman isn’t the longest, he is usually one of the more accurate. Stenson and McIlroy both ate up the Par 4s and 5s with their combination of power, approach accuracy and towering ball flight and on the whole that’s a fairly decent angle in. The greens are heavily undulating and loft will be required to get anywhere near the flags here, many of which are protected by water or sand.

Despite knowing what is required it is a very difficult event to attempt to find any value in, or to have a very strong opinion on who might win. Justin Rose is very tempting as I figured he would be nearer 5/1 in this small 60 runner field. He is 8.2 on the exchange and he is playing superior golf to everyone in the field and is also probably the best golfer in the field (Rahm?!). There is part of me that thinks he might still be the best value in the field as he surely wins this more like 1 in 6 times rather than 1 in 8. The only thing putting me off is personal as I always seem to to struggle to get Rose right. I was convinced he was going to win the US Open this year at Erin Hills but he missed the cut and that has certainly left me with some scar tissue. But given it is the last event of the season I’m going to attempt to go out with a winner here and he is unquestionably the man to beat so I’m having 4pts win on the Exchange.

Martin Kaymer has been a conundrum for many throughout the 2017 season as he often appears over priced given how classy a performer he is. Then once backed at 66/1 he would maybe show enough to get his backers excited only to fall away as he reminded everyone that he is somewhat of a different beast now since throwing away the Abu Dhabi Championship in February 2015. His whole game has really suffered and since then last week is one of the few weeks where has contended on Sunday. That is enough for me to feel he is over priced here at 40/1 however as deep down we know how much ability he has. He doesn’t have the best of records around the course and I’m not even that confident of his chances but everyone has their price and 40/1 for Kaymer coming off a 5th place in SA just looks too big. Kaymer loves the desert and he has 3 wins in Abu Dhabi as well as a solid record in the Dubai Desert Classic and Qatar Masters. Despite never bettering 10th here he closed with two 67s last year and 40/1 is a solid each way price.

Matt Fitzpatrick threw in one bad round last week which cost us an each way payout and possibly better. A Friday 77 left him playing catch up all weekend but he rallied for 8th place and his 7th consecutive Top 15. That is some serious form that has been overshadowed a little by Hatton and Rose both winning back to back during that run. I think I need to give him a chance to recoup last week’s money and given he won here last year, he looks fairly priced at 16/1. Normally defending might be an issue but I expect Rose and Fleetwood to take a considerable amount of the attention away from Fitzpatrick and he put up an excellent defence of the Nordea Masters in the summer when finding only an inspired Renato Paratore too good. He has absolutely no need to fear anyone in this field as this is firmly his level now. Looks sure to go close as long as he can avoid that one bad round.

Ryan Fox did very well for me through the summer and he spent the bulk of the autumn playing on courses that didn’t suit his game. The one exception was the Alfred Dunhill  where I went in again as I thought it would be ideal, he started well but a poor Friday combined with the slow 6hr rounds seemed to throw him and he ended up missing the 54 hole cut. This is right back in the bombers wheelhouse though and given all the courses he has gone well on this year I’m convinced he can outplay his price but maybe not quite threaten the places. So instead of an each way bet I’m going to play him in the top 10 market.

Despite not loving the tournament as a betting proposition I’ve managed to find 4 bets, this might be exactly where I’ve gone wrong in 2017. Finding a bet in each event just for the sake of it!

 


RSM Classic

The final PGA Tour event of the year takes us back over to the US and to the East coast of Georgia. This week there are two courses in play at Sea Island, the Seaside course and the Plantation course. Everyone will play one course on each before the Plantation takes a back seat over the weekend. Both courses are relatively short at around the 7000 yard mark and the test isn’t too dissimilar to last week as the Seaside course is another fiddly course where accuracy is at a premium. Finding the fairway is required in order to be able to fire approaches at the flags and after that a hot putter will be needed on the undulating bermuda greens. When Kisner racked up the record low score of -22 in 2015 he did so with this exact formula, every time the camera cut to him over the weekend he seemed to be sending a short iron inside 15ft from the middle of the fairway. If we look back at the last 3 editions, the winners have ranked 1st, 2nd 1st for putting.

2015 U.S. Open Sectional Qualifying

I backed Jamie Lovemark here last year at 80/1 and he fell one spot shy in the agonising 6th place. Unfortunately he is a lot shorter this week but I really like his chances here of getting his maiden win. The last three RSM winners were all winning for the first time on the PGA Tour. Lovemark missed the cut in Mexico last week but prior to that he was last seen finishing 5th in the CJ Cup where he ranked 5th for driving accuracy and 7th for GIR. Returning to Sea Island where he has played well I’m hoping he can find that level of long game to go with his always assured putting stroke (24th in Strokes Gained: Putting). His best two finishes last season were a 3rd at Greenbrier and 4th at the Sony Open, two courses which often correlate well with Sea Island. They were both partly designed by Seth Raynor who used classic British links characteristics on lots of his holes. Sea Island was designed by the great Harry Colt who is responsible for some of the best links courses in the world. There might just be something about these classic tracks that fit the eye for Lovemark and although the 40/1 isn’t a price to get excited about I do like his chances this week.

I’ve backed Si-Woo Kim a few times lately on price alone and I think he looks a must bet again here, especially as he arrives in good form this week. The bookmakers continue to forget that he has won The Players Championship and that piece of form places him way ahead of the majority of this field. But he has also won around the tree-lined Sedgefield and is still just 22 years old. Both those wins were on bermuda greens and this streaky putter clearly performs better on that surface. He missed the cut last year but was 18th on his debut the year before. Kim looks to me like the sort of player that has his price and almost needs to be followed in whenever he isn’t given the respect he deserves. He opened at various prices towards 80/1 which was really far too big, he is now 50/1 and to be honest that still feels very big coming in off a 3rd place in Mexico.

Blayne Barber was high on my list even before I looked at his course form which included a runner-up finish last year. That meant he had to be backed just as long as his price was ok and we are getting three figures across the board on the young Floridian. Barber hails from just over the border in Tallahassee and he has already won the South Georgian Classic on the Web.com Tour. He is clearly comfortable in these conditions and I think he looks a very solid bet to go contend here again. His best finish other than his 2nd here last year is a 3rd at the Honda Classic. That is another short, exposed course designed by Tom Fazio (Fazio redesigned the Seaside course) and they seem to be the sort of courses where it could pay to follow Barber in his early career. He is another strong putter who ranked 23rd in strokes gained: putting last year but it was actually his long game that clicked here last year as he hit 80% of the fairways and 87% of the greens. He missed his first cut of the season but finished 45th last week in Mexico which will set him up nicely for his return to Sea Island.


Summary of Bets

RSM Classic

Jamie Lovemark – 1pt ew @ 40/1

Si-Woo Kim – 1pt ew @ 50/1

Blayne Barber – 0.5pt ew @ 110/1

DP World Championship

Justin Rose – 4pts win @ 8.2

Matt Fitzpatrick – 1.5pt ew @ 16/1

Martin Kaymer – 1pt ew @ 40/1

Ryan Fox – 1pt Top 10 @ 16/1

 

Weekly pts advised = 15pts

2017 pts advised = 533pts

@theGreek82

WGC HSBC and Sanderson Farms – Betting Preview

Patrick Reed, Shane Lowry and Soren Kjeldsen all gave us a run for our money last week and while they never really looked like winning it was rather disappointing that none of them managed to place after spending the bulk of the week in and around the top 15 or so. The first week in six with no returns and it means I’m up against it now to get back into the black for 2017 with just 5 weeks left before the Christmas break.

Total 2017 pts advised =490

Total 2017 pts returned = 381.21

ROI = -22.2%


WGC HSBC

The 3 week Asian swing culminates with the final WGC of the season in Shanghai at Sheshan Golf Club. With the exception of the 2012 running, Sheshan has been the venue for the WGC HSBC Champions dating back to it’s inception in the 2005 season so there is no shortage of course form. It was designed by the renowned Asia based team of Nelson and Haworth and plays at 7266 yards long with undulating, tree-lined fairways, elevated bentgrass greens and plenty water in play. The design team are quoted as saying that they were influenced by Donald Ross’ Oak Hill course which has a lot of varied Par 4s with many elevation changes and puts a premium on distance control.

That is very much what is required around Sheshan and a look through the names on previous leaderboards shows up lots of players who regularly put up impressive proximity to the hole numbers with the full range of irons. While it isn’t always a great putter that wins, they generally perform rather well on the greens that week. Especially when it comes to lag putting from distance as the green complexes are undulating and tricky. Those looking at particular stats should focus on approach proximity, particularly the more difficult longer irons (175-200 and 200-225) which can often separate those who are swinging well and those who aren’t. Three putt avoidance will also be key with lots of difficult long-range putts to be found on the greens.

Ross Fisher will divide opinion this week as he is grouped together with some altogether bigger names in the betting market. But I’m not too fussed about that as Fisher is a classy player who is back to his very best and he has shown over his career he can contend in fields like this when swinging well and holing putts. That is exactly what he has been doing over the last few weeks.

He followed up his course record at St Andrews with another excellent performance when having to settle for 2nd behind Hatton again in Italy. Those two were playing on a different level to the rest of the Tour for two weeks and if Fisher has kept things ticking over since then he can be expected to go well on a course that suits his accurate game. He has finished 6th and 3rd in the last two editions but also has a runner-up finish from back in 2007. A test of accuracy from tee to green right through the bag is exactly what Fisher wants but he has also shown that he can putt well on these greens, ranking 9th on the greens last year and 8th in 2007. Furthermore he has been putting a lot better recently (ignoring his Thursday round at St Andrews where I felt like offering some help his lag putting was so bad!) so he will be confident returning to Sheshan.

Beyond just this course his general form in China has always been very strong since finishing 4th on his first appearance back in 2005, and he has done everything but pick up a win. Just this year he finished 3rd at the Sheshan International and followed up the week after with a 6th place at the Volvo China Open.

Some will scoff at the price but it’s a 78 man field, he has some of the best course form in the field and is swinging better than most of that field. Whether he can be relied upon to get over the line on Sunday in this company I’m not sure, but I think his each way chances are excellent and he looks very likely to play well again. Unfortunately even the 28/1 is gone now but for those that have a Betfair account there is still some 30.0 kicking about.

Chez Reavie has had three consecutive top 20s to start his 2018 season which is a level of consistency not always associated with him given how he often struggles on certain courses. Sheshan looks right up his street though, difficult approach shots across elevation changes and a premium on proximity to the hole is what his game is all about. Those are key at Riviera where he has solid form and also at Glen Abbey the scene of his only PGA Tour win. Reavie is also an excellent scrambler and I think he could surprise a few on a course where shorter hitters can thrive as long as they are accurate long iron players. He will have his work cut out to win this but then again nobody would have picked out Russell Knox 2 years ago so he could be worth a small play at a good each way price. Last time I picked him he agonisingly finished 7th at 250/1 so I’m also going to have a Top 10 bet given he is someone who can quite often come up just short on Sunday.

I’m going to have a saver on Hideki Matsuyama here after seeing his numbers for his last event at the CIMB Classic. He landed a backdoor 5th place but his long game was very much back to its best prior to his slight slump after the US PGA. He hit 95% of fairways and 86% GIR , good enough to rank 1st in both categories. Returning to the scene of his 7 stroke win last year I would expect him to go close if that level of ball-striking is maintained. No kind of each way price though and if he plays well enough to contend then he should really go on and win so I’ll go win only.


Sanderson Farms Championship

The tournament that now regularly goes up against the WGC HSBC is the Sanderson Farms Championship and it takes place in the deep south of Mississippi and Jackson Country Club. The course is a medium length Par 72 at 7284 yards with tree-lined fairways and small, tricky, champion bermuda greens that are said to resemble Donald Ross greens which tells us they are undulating and generally fall from back to front. This sets a precedent on distance control with irons and indeed approach putting. The three winners of this event to date are all very good putters and despite the course hardly being a cake walk from tee to green, this has largely been settled on the greens thus far.

Aaron Baddeley always jumps out whenever good putters are required and lately he has been putting best on bermuda greens. His best finish last season was at TPC San Antonio where he finished 5th, ranking 7th on the champion bermuda greens. In 2016 he won on the bermuda greens at the Barbasol, another alternate event played during The Open week. His 2nd best finish of 2016 was a 4th place finish in this every event. He’s not in the greatest of form coming off two missed cuts but he ranks 1st in proximity to hole so far for the 2018 season. It’s very much in its infancy but if he can the get the ball anywhere near the hole at Jackson CC then his putter can help him score and he looks a tasty each way price at 80/1 having excelled in similar events in recent times.

Brian Gay’s form has been up and down throughout 2017 but it’s interesting to note his last two placed efforts have been on champion bermuda at TPC San Antonio and the Barbasol. He hasn’t won since 2013, but while he is a bit of a journeyman he usually does ok in lower grade events like this and he is still a 4-time winner on Tour. Three of those have come on bermuda greens and one of those was around TPC Southwind which is very similar to this week’s course. Missed the cut on his first start of the season but he hadn’t played for 6 weeks so he should be better prepared this week having loosened off at the Safeway Open.

While there are many good Web.com graduates on show this week who will be eager to prove themselves early in the season, the bookies are onto most of those who have been playing well recently and subsequently there are a lot of poor prices around. Therefore I will just leave it at the two speculative plays on a couple of proven champion bermuda putters.


Summary of Bets

WGC HSBC

Ross Fisher – 1.5pts ew @ 25/1

Chez Reavie 0.5pt ew @ 100/1 and 1pt Top 10 @ 6/1

Hideki Matsuyama – 1pt win @ 12.5

Sanderson Farms

Aaron Baddeley – 0.5pt ew @ 80/1

Brian Gay – 0.5pt ew @ 150/1

Weekly pts advised = 8pts

Total 2017 pts advised = 498pts

 

@theGreek82

CIMB Classic and Italian Open – Betting Preview

There were returns last week on both Tours as Hadley and Warren both grabbed full places. That very nearly made for a profitable week but not quite (16.5pts) and we really need winners to get back into profit for 2017. Hadley looked like he was going to oblige as he started the final round as favourite but could only manage to shoot level par on a tricky day where Steele rallied with a few timely (and lucky!) birdies.

In Scotland we were in a great position early on but I’m not sure what happened to Coetzee and Fox after Thursday. I followed them around St Andrews and they were both playing very well on the whole. Warren did the opposite though finishing strongly after starting slowly on Carnoustie. Lagergren looked like he might have snagged a place again but a double bogey on the 14th did for his chances on Sunday.

2017 pts advised = 460

2017 pts returned = 376.35

ROI = -18.2%

I’m a little bit rushed for time this week having been away so will focus on the picks. Both tournaments are on the same course so a lot of last year’s info will still be key.


CIMB Classic

 

The CIMB Classic takes its usual position at the Kuala Lumpur Golf Club and we have a strong bank of form to look at with just two men having won the last four editions as both Ryan Moore and then Justin Thomas doubled up. That further confirms how important course form is this week as it’s played in serious humidity in Malaysia and there are quirky sea paspalum greens like those on Tour at El Cameleon and Puerto Rico. The course was designed by Nelson and Haworth who are responsible for several championship courses in Asia and the form often stacks up. It is an early start this week through the night in Malaysia and conditions are hot and humid. Both Thomas and Moore putted the lights out during their wins despite neither men being considered consistently great putters. Sea paspalum is a tricky surface and comfort levels need to be high in order to contend.

Rafa

Rafa Cabrera Bello had some excellent form at the course even before his 10th place finish on the PGA Tour in this event last year. In the Malaysian Open he was 3rd and 4th in 2011 and 2012. For years the Spaniard threatened to become a bit of a journeyman on Tour always failing to maximise his brilliant ball-striking by falling short on Sundays. Gradually over the last two years though he has moved his game to another level and he got his reward with a slightly back-door win at the Scottish Open as Shinkwin himself struggled to get over the line in July. Rafa has also recorded some strong results in elite company recently, making the semi-finals of the World Match Play in 2016 before his best ever Major finish at this year’s Birkdale Open where he was 4th. I think the market has under estimated him this week so he is largely getting backed on a value basis. His tee-to-green game is better than the majority of this field but as ever it’s his very average short game that can hold him back. Having said that it has improved significantly lately and therefore he contends more often than not now as he only needs to perform slightly above average on the greens to do so. The slight worry with regards to winning this week is how prevalent putting has been for the winner. But there is enough value in the each way price for that not to concern me and he has putted well on these sea paspalum greens before. A solid looking bet at 40/1.

Chris Stroud looks a little over priced here despite his run of poor form. Stroud finally got his first PGA Tour win this summer at the Barracuda Championship and chased that with his first Major Top 10 at Quail Hollow the week after. Having secured his card and had his best ever two results in the space of two weeks it’s easy to see why he lost a little intensity and missed his next three cuts in strong fields. He has had a month off since then and would have got rid of any rust last week in California so will be relishing his return to both Malaysia and sea paspalum greens. Stroud finished 3rd at Kuala Lumpur GC in 2013 and followed that up with another 3rd two weeks later on Mayakoba’s sea paspalum. He ranked 2nd and 10th for putting those two weeks and thrives on the different surface as two further Top 10s in Puerto Rico testify. Stroud has also finished runner-up in the Alfred Dunhill and 8th in the Dunlop Phoenix in Japan, showing he isn’t your typical PGA Tour pro who can struggle when playing on the other side of the world. May well miss the cut again but I think he has been a little bit too easily dismissed at the 200/1 available with Betfred. Top 20 too at 5/1

James Hahn’s claims are very obvious being the only man bar Thomas to finish inside the top 10 the last two years. He was the first name on the shortlist but his price is a bit of a joke now around the 40/1 mark. We know how good he can be in contention but he is so inconsistent that it is very hard to know when he will play well. There are a few other prices that I cannot get on board with this week. Yes, Lahiri loves the course but should he really only be 3 times the price of Matsuyama, or the same price as last week’s winner Brendan Steele? I don’t think so. In fact I’m going to leave it at just the two picks here as Thomas should really win this again but is completely unbackable at just 4/1.

 


Italian Open

The Italian Open returns to Golf Club De Milano for the third time in a row. Francesco Molinari returns to defend and Jon Rahm tees it up as favourite looking to get his quota in for Ryder Cup eligibility. His presence together with the always too short Molinari have set the tournament up as a strong looking betting heat.

The course is a very narrow one as I covered in greater detail last year. But unlike so many tree-lined narrow tracks, this is also fairly long and has some very small greens. So perhaps it’s a little surprising how low the scoring has been to date.

Anywhere that Molinari wins you would imagine can’t put much emphasis on putting and despite some of the stats conflicting with that a little (Moli ranked 18th for putting, Karlberg 17th in 2015),  I’m happy to assume it isn’t overly important this week despite the need for birdies as the greens aren’t too difficult. Many of the holes wind through the trees with dog-legs and as such it is an extremely strategic course off the tee. Not only will they have to be on the correct side of the fairway but more often than not they will only be able to take an iron off the tee, resulting in lots of long iron approaches, especially on the front 9. That sits very well with Molinari having won as he hits his long irons and hybrids as well as anyone on the European Tour.

It’s all about the tee-to-green at Golf Club De Milano and then trying to get the putter hot by giving themselves plenty of chances.

Tommy Fleetwood was the massive standout at the prices on Monday when they came out and subsequently everyone jumped on. I did tweet about the 25s along with many others so hopefully readers managed to get involved. The dilemma then for me was at what price I can still advise him in the blog. The 25s came and went and unfortunately so did most of the 22s about the new father this week but there is still a little bit around and 20/1 is still just about fair too.

We all know what a fantastic long game Fleetwood has and he showed that throughout the summer. An argument could be made for him being in the top 12 or so in the world in terms of ball-striking alone but I must admit I still don’t rate him as much of a putter which usually means I still struggle to back him at short prices. However, in this field, on a tight course with small greens, he probably won’t need to putt too well to get into contention. The fact that he is still a bigger price than Molinari and Tyrell Hatton is to ignore Fleetwood’s rise to the top golfing table in 2017. Therefore with a 7th place last year, where he ranked 1st in GIR, and having broken the Carnoustie course record last Friday, I’ve decided he is still a worthwhile play at 20/1 even if some of the early juice has gone.

Anyone following Martin Kaymer will have had an interesting time to say the least since his meltdown in Abu Dhabi in 2015. It has been very odd to see a double major winner’s form take such an abrupt downturn but even still there have been instances where he has looked backable due to course form and disrespectful prices. This looks like one of those opportunities but this week we also have the added bonus of the fact his long game is very much back to it’s best. He ranked 4th for total driving and 9th for total accuracy last week in Scotland.

So if we see more of the same from him this week he surely has to go well on a course that he was 2nd at in 2015, again throwing away a lead as he led by three at the turn on Sunday. The 40/1 might take into account the fact that hasn’t been able to close them out lately but for me it hasn’t factored in his combination of class, course form and current ball-striking level. Anything much over 28/1 looks generous for the German this week.

There are a host of outsiders I liked this week at the prices and I’ve decided to plump for three more. I’m backing them in the Top 20 market too.

Chris Hanson recorded a top 20 here last year on his first look and I think he is over priced here on his return. Hanson ranks 2nd in total accuracy over the last three months and that combination will be ideal this week on such a narrow course. He hit 79% of the greens at the course last year which ranked 10th for the week. His current form is good if we ignore his missed cut last week in Scotland in the pro-am slog. His results prior to that read 11-25-37-14 with the 11th coming at the tree-lined Close House layout. If his long game remains as sharp as it has been then he should play well again.

Ricardo Gouveia got my attention after last week as he actually ranked 3rd in total driving and 5th in total accuracy. Obviously that was playing three rounds on wide open fairways where comfort levels would have been high for the young Portuguese on the tee. So when I saw that he missed the cut here last year my enthusiasm was tempered a little. However when I delved a little further I noticed that one of his Challenge Tour wins was in Italy on an old-fashioned, tree-lined course with a premium on accuracy. He backed that up with a 6th place finish the year after when defending. I put him up a few weeks ago and he played well so I’m going to give him another go here but just a very small win bet and a bigger top 20 bet.

Jason Scrivener ranked 1st in total accuracy last week but still finished down the field in Scotland as he was let down by his putter. That’s not often the case so if he can improve on the greens he should go well. He was 5th on his last trip to Italy earlier this year at the Rocco Forte Open and has course form of 36-14 so he looks a little over priced.

 


Summary of Bets

CIMB Classic

Rafa Cabrera Bello – 1.5pt ew @ 40/1

Chris Stroud – 0.5pt ew @ 200/1 and 1pt Top 20 @ 5/1

Italian Open

Tommy Fleetwood – 1.5pt ew @ 22/1

Martin Kaymer – 1pt ew @ 40/1

Chris Hanson – 0.5pt ew @ 150/1 and 1pt Top 20 @ 6/1

Jason Scrivener – 0.25pt ew @ 175/1 and 1pt Top 20 @ 7/1

Ricardo Gouveia – 0.25pt ew @ 200/1 and 1pt Top 20 @ 8/1

 

Weekly pts advised = 15pts

Total 2017 pts advised = 475pts

@theGreek

Safeway Open and Alfred Dunhill Links Championship – Betting Preview

Shane Lowry just managed to snag a full place with most of the bookmakers offering 7 places for their home based event. He looked to be striping it most of the weekend but just couldn’t get the putts to drop. Paul Dunne was a very deserving winner but he wasn’t someone I fancied on a new course like Close House. Generally when shifting to a new venue you want to side with solid tee-to-green games but it was Dunne’s sublime short-game that won him the trophy. He has that very rare ability of chipping the ball almost stone dead from anywhere around the green and that masked a very average ball-striking round for him on Sunday where he hit just 6 fairways and 11 greens in reg. Should we return to Close House in the future it’s worth remembering how key scrambling can be there as some of the greens are small and very fiddly.

Ashley Chesters looked like bagging the Top 20 effortlessly but unfortunately the pressure of being in the final group on Saturday was a bit much and he had a horrible weekend as nerves took over.

The Presidents Cup was a little bit of a non-event and I really shouldn’t have got involved. I knew that from the start though and need to be more disciplined and just leave events like that alone.

Total 2017 pts advised = 442 pts

Total 2017 pts returned = 359.6 pts

ROI = -18.65%


Safeway Open

No sooner has the 2017 season finished but the 2018 season is underway and in all honesty it feels rather daft to have such a short break. That is even more apparent this year by the Monday finish of the Web.com Tour Championship which leaves the 25 players who have earned their card just two days to prepare for their assault at the main Tour.

The starting point is The Silverado Course at Napa in California and with it having hosted since 2014 we have a fair idea of what is required to win. The course is a par 72 and so stands fairly short at just 7200 yards meaning it isn’t usually over powered. It is tree-lined and although not overly narrow, positioning off the tee is crucial as the courses main defence are the slick, small greens. Approaches have to be from the fairway in order to hold the correct area to allow up hill putts as the greens become very difficult if out of position. The greens are poa annua so only those confident on the surface will fancy tricky 5ft downhill putts for par. Therefore proximity to the hole and poa annua putting will both be key this week. While the stats don’t suggest driving accuracy is too crucial, with thick rough and difficult flag locations, players will need to have full control of their golf ball and bombers are likely to struggle unless taking a more strategic approach off the tee this week.

The Fall Series provides a very welcome change to the betting landscape for punters having struggled to pick which one of the world-class players was going to win over the last 6 weeks. We are back to wide open fields without the majority of the game’s best players and we often see big price winners at this time of year. If you like a player here this week then don’t be put off by the price. Although it might pay to consider whether those who contended on Monday at the Web.com will be fully prepared for this just

Such is Kevin Na’s form around the Silverado course he was already on my shortlist for this before the horrific events unfolded in his home town of Las Vegas. It feels a little uneasy putting him up now but we only have to look at Stacey Lewis in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey hitting her hometown of Houston to see how such tragic events can give them a sense of perspective or in Lewis’ case a drive to donate as much money as possible. Quite how this will affect Na we really can’t be sure but its clear from a golfing point of view that the course suits so I’m happy to get behind him here despite claiming I would never back him again! Na is a nervous character that often seems overwhelmed when he is in contention so playing this week with his thoughts elsewhere might just free up his pre-shot routine should he find himself on the leaderboard on Sunday.

Na was 7th here last year and 2nd the year before that and the shorter track together with the requirement for accurate approaches is right up his street. In 2017 Na ranked 5th for Scoring Relative To Par on Approaches from 125-150 yards and he will find himself in that range more often than not around Silverado. The scoring stat rather than just proximity to hole is often more telling as we know he is taking his chances. Na is a solid enough putter and he has shown over the years he is comfortable on poa annua, none more so than when he was 7th at Oakmont’s U.S. Open last year but he also came 4th at Riviera in February. One of his main strengths is his scrambling which well help him over the weekend as the greens firm up. His recent form is good with a 4th and a 6th in his last four tournaments.

Pricewise it’s always a bit of a conundrum with Na as his win price always seems short yet his high number of top 5 finishes can help counter that somewhat. He has 8 placed efforts from his last 52 tournaments and 14 from his last 100. There’s also something quite genuine about him and I can’t help but root for Na so I would love to see him get his long overdue 2nd PGA Tour win here. Not going to argue that there is much value in 28/1 but similarly I think it’s a fair price with his combination of course and current form.

Martin Laird started playing some very good golf at the tail end of the 2017 season so a stop at one of his favourite courses looks very timely indeed. Laird has one of the highest ball flights on Tour with his irons and that helps him find the right portion of these slick greens. His record at the course is very good reading 8th-63rd-3rd and these are precisely the sort  of tournaments that the Scot thrives in. He targets these weaker events as great opportunities to contend and although he hasn’t won in 4 years he is a 3 time winner who doesn’t usually back up when the chance to win is there.

His last few results of the season were solid but ultimately too late to make a mark on the Fed Ex Play-offs. He closed the season going 20th-40th-44th and on that last start at the BMW his tee-to-green game was brilliant and he was only let down by the putter. A return to poa annua might help counter that and he generally performs well on the rougher surfaces having ranked 14th on the greens here last year. If he has kept his swing ticking over the last two weeks he will hopefully play well again.

Luckily Chesson Hadley wasn’t at the business end of last week’s Tour Championship on the Web.com so he will be fresher than most of the 2018 new batch this week. But he was the outstanding player on the 2nd Tour having topped the final money list so he doesn’t quite arrive on Tour under the radar. Hadley has the big plus of having had his Tour card before though, even notching up a win at the Puerto Rico Open in 2014. Hadley also has three other wins on the Web.com Tour. His record around the course is quite poor but he is playing far better lately and won just three weeks ago at the Albertson Boise Open which features poa annua greens. In fact three of his professional wins have come on the surface so he clearly enjoys putting on poa. Hedley ranked 6th on the PGA Tour in GIR over the last 6 months and while that is for quite a small sample size he also ranked 14th on the Web.com for the same stat over the 2017 season. Hadley will be determined to make his mark this time around on Tour and this looks like an ideal starting point.

Scott Brown always seems to be underestimated by the bookies and that looks to be the case again with quotes of 100/1 in a couple of places. Brown is coming off a very good 2017 where he was runner-up twice, in the team event in New Orleans with Kisner and at Riviera. He also recorded his best major finish to date with a 13th at the US PGA in only his 4th appearance at one of the big four events. It is the Riviera finish that stands out though, highlighting that he is happy putting on poa annua greens. He missed the cut here in 2015 but was 12th in 2014 when playing better. Brown will arrive full of confidence after a good finish to his summer and should go well.

I wanted to tip Andres Gonzales this week but unfortunately he isn’t in the field. Instead I will finish with Daniel Summerhays. He is a player who has really struggled to get that elusive win on the PGA Tour but one thing he doesn’t struggle with is poa annua greens. In 2016 he finished 3rd at the US Open and 8th at the US PGA, both of which were played on poa annua greens. He hasn’t done brilliantly at the course yet but he has made 2 out of 3 cuts and he did rank 6th in putting in 2014. It’s rather speculative but at these odds (150/1) he is always worth consideration on poa greens.


Alfred Dunhill Links

This week’s Dunhill Links sits in its usual spot on the European Tour and having been on the go since 2001 almost everyone knows what to expect on the East Coast of Scotland this week. It takes the form of a pro-am across three courses during the first three days so the courses are set up extremely easily for the celebrity hackers. With the spot in the calendar being in October in Scotland we don’t see any of the hard and fast conditions that are prevalent at The Open. The greens and fairways are soft so trouble is even harder to find than usual at St Andrews and Kingsbarns. Carnoustie is usually a little more difficult but even still it will need the wind to blow to prevent rounds in the 60s being the norm. The flags are also very favourable to allow the amateurs to enjoy their experience so with all that combined you can see why the winning score is usually in the 20s under par. St Andrews and Kingsbarns both have wide open fairways and plenty of drivable par 4s so power is very much a weapon this week. Ultimately though, it is all about making birdies so aggressive iron play and a hot putter will be the order of the week in Fife and Angus.

After a round at each course everyone who makes the 3rd round cut plays the final round at the home of golf and things get a little more serious on the Sunday. The forecast for the whole week is a steady wind throughout but I’m hoping the rain stays away as I’ll be at one of the courses for the first round on Thursday.

Ryan Fox went firmly into the notebook for this after his superb summer of Links golf. Fox finished 5th at Le Golf National, 4th at the Irish Open and 4th again at the Scottish Open confirming himself a very strong links and bad weather player. The fact that he went a little off the boil through August and September isn’t of too much interest to me and merely serves to give us a good price here. His brilliant July guaranteed his Card for next year so it was no surprise to see him take some time off after the Open and US PGA and he would have needed a few events to blow the cobwebs off on his return.

The Scottish Open 4th is the one that interests me most with it having come at the Kyle Phillips designed Dundonald Links course. Kingsbarns is another Phillips design and together with St Andrews and Castle Stuart they are probably the 4 widest championship Links courses you will see in the UK.

Therefore we would expect Fox to be suited by them as most of his mistakes come with the big stick in hand. Fox hits it further than pretty much everyone on Tour and he will eat St Andrews and Kingsbarns up. He is aggressive with his irons and his putting improves on grainy links greens. The New Zealander first plied his trade on the PGA Tour of Australasia so is at home on the grainier surface as well as exposed golf courses. Having been brought up on firm, fast courses he has also shown he is comfortable knocking the ball down and chasing it onto the greens when conditions dictate.

This whole set-up just looks absolutely perfect for Fox and despite this being his debut in the event I think the easy set-up will help him adjust and he has already played St Andrews in the 2015 Open when it was set-up considerably tougher than it will be this week. Quite how he might fare at the tougher Carnoustie I don’t know but while it will be harder than the other two courses this week, it will be as soft so scoring should still be good. That will also suit a player who ranks 2nd for birdie average over the last 3 months. Fox looks like the best piece of value in the field to my eye at 66/1.

While Fox is a confident pick I also want a few players onside that have more recent form in the bag. Step forward George Coetzee yet again. I’m not going to bang on again about Coetzee too much but he is such a good links putter I’m pretty much going to continue to back him in this event whenever he is bigger than 33/1. There are few players who have been in better form over the last month and bizarrely it has been his long game that has had him at the right end of the leaderboard lately. If he keeps that up,  the extra room off the tee will take the pressure off his driving and his short game skills should help this birdie machine contend again this week. Ranks 6th in the all-round so with every part of his game in decent nick the timing of this event is ideal for someone who jointly holds the course record at the Old Course.

I’m in danger of going overboard and backing 7 or 8 players this week. I have to give Marc Warren another go after playing well at Close House. Warren is another sublime putter who thrives on links greens. He was 5th last year and is back in form again at the right time this year. His wild driving has been stopping him contending on Sunday recently but again he will be able to relax on most tee shots this week and let rip. He ranked 19th for GIR and 19th in putting so he should be looking forward to returning north to his homeland.

Joakim Lagergren is a very straight-forward pick this week. He has finished in the top 10 the last two years, returning a Top 20 bet for me here last year at a great price. That left me regretting not putting him up each way as he finished 4th. Not going to make the same mistake this year, especially at 90/1. The young Swede has one of the most silky smooth putting strokes you will see and enjoys the easy pro-am set up here. It takes the pressure off his tee-to-green game which isn’t always a strength. Everyone hits these huge greens so it’s often a battle between the putters and those who aggressively fire at every flag. Lagergren likes to do both so can be expected to go well again at a tasty enough price.

I was going to have a 5th pick of Robert Karlsson given how well he played last week. He opened at 175/1 with bet365 and with him being a past winner of this event that looked far too big. He has been cut into 125/1 which looks about right for someone who has struggled for so long. But I think he is still perhaps value to finish inside the Top 10 at 12/1.

Finally I’m also having a bet on Florian Fritsch for a Top 20 here. Fritsch is perhaps most famous for his fear of flying and he will be playing his 7th week out of the last 8 while we have been in Europe. Keeping hold of his card when he can only play half the schedule is very tough but he is learning to make the most of his strong periods of form and he usually has to play every event this time of year. Fritsch was 7th here last year and 19th the year before on his debut so he clearly enjoys the format. So with a 100% record of top 20s in the event he looks a rock solid bet at 5/1. I will have 2pts on this to return stakes for the event should everything else go wrong.

I’ve got bit carried away this week but both events are good betting heats so hopefully the extra picks pay off this week as I try to sneak back to level for the year.

 


Summary of bets

Safeway Open

Kevin Na – 1.5pt ew @ 28/1

Martin Laird – 1pt ew @ 50/1 (Unibet, 888)

Chesson Hadley – 0.5pt ew @ 60/1

Scott Brown – 0.5pt ew @ 100/1 (Unibet, 888)

Daniel Summerhays- 0.5pt ew @ 150/1 (Unibet again!)

Dunhill Links

Ryan Fox – 1.5pts ew @ 66/1

George Coetzee – 1pt ew @ 40/1

Marc Warren – 0.5pt ew @ 66/1

Joakim Lagergren – 0.5pt ew @ 80/1

Robert Karlsson – 1pt Top 10 @ 8/1

Florian Fritsch – 2pts Top 20 @ 5/1

 

Weekly pts advised = 18 pts

2017 pts advised = 460 pts

@theGreek82