Hero World Challenge – Some bets

Scott Hend was poor last week and the fun trebles never really got going. I wasn’t going to post anything this week but I can’t resist trying to end the season on a winner after a miserable end to the season.

Total 2017 pts advised = 537

Total 2017 pts returned = 381.21

ROI = -29%


Hero World Challenge

I tipped Brooks Koepka here last year at 12/1 and he didn’t play great finishing down in  13th of the 18 man field. But I’m convinced that the course should suit perfectly so I’m going to back in again. He is a far better player now having won the U.S. Open. and yet we are nearly getting the same price. Granted the field is a little stronger but I still think he looks a great price at 10/1. The test looks very similar to Erin Hills where he can bomb the ball into the wide open fairways and allow his aggressive iron play to set-up the birdies. If the putter is behaving, as it does more often than not, then he will enjoy the low-scoring nature which has seen -18 and -25 win the two events to date in the Bahamas.

Elsewhere we have two co-sanctioned events on The European Tour, the Mauritius Open and the Australian PGA. Both have markets dominated by the class acts and as we know they often clean up in these tournaments at the end of the year. The tournament in Mauritius looks there for the taking for Louis Oosthuizen who must have decided to make the small journey prior to his Christmas break back in South Africa. It quite literally has his name all over it as the capital of Mauritius is Port Louis! Despite the weak field though 13/2 looks a little prohibitive in an event that was dominated by putting in 2015. There is a good chance his relentless tee-to-green game will be far too good here but I’d rather throw him an each way double with Koepka, after all it is multiples season now!

Darren Fichardt opened at 66/1 in a couple of places and that looked to me like the stand out value in the Mauritius field. He has been cut in most places now but there is still some 50/1 around that looks worthwhile in this company. Fichardt was 6th last time out which was in a far classier field at the Nedbank. He also won in Joburg earlier this year and looks over priced especially with putting set to be crucial again.

Given how well he performed in his first two starts in the autumn, Connor Syme deserves a mention now with his full European Tour card. But he was down the field at Valderama on his last start so he remains a watching brief into 2018. The course should suit though and he has shown already in his young career he is comfortable travelling to the southern hemisphere having won the Australian Amateur in 2016.

The head of the market in Australia is equally as strong yet it maybe doesn’t look too reliable with Leishman, Scott and Garcia all trading in single figures. As great a 2017 as Leishman has had he makes absolutely no appeal at 15/2 and Adam Scott hasn’t been in any kind of form at all this year. His record in this event is second to none but he hasn’t played in a month and isn’t too appealing at 8/1 in a fairly strong field by Australian standards. Garcia makes the most appeal but he hasn’t played in Australia since 2010 and only 6 times in his career. That tells me there is something he doesn’t love about heading down under and it could just be that he is still having an extended honeymoon. He still looks the most likely of the three however and anyone looking for a solid option for the third leg of their each way treble will struggle to find a better option even if he makes little appeal as a single. The hard and fast layout will certainly suit the Masters champion. In terms of single bets the tournament looks rather trappy to me with a host of young, up and coming Aussies all looking to emulate last week’s winner Cameron Davis. The likes of Marcus Fraser, Andrew Dodt and Tom Lewis all look to be big prices but aren’t consistent or reliable enough to have a bet on I don’t think.

Instead I’m going to place perhaps the most speculative punt of the whole year on Grant Forrest to finish inside the Top 20. Looking through various names and leaderboards I’ve found a bit of a link between Carnoustie and the Royal Pines course. Forrest made the final of the Amateur Championship in 2015, losing to Romain Langasque who finished 10th here last year. He missed out on qualifying for the final two rounds of Q School but only just after firing 4 respectable rounds. Will be looking to make the most of this European Tour start. Worth 1pt for a Top 20 at 10/1 surely.


Summary of bets

Hero World Challenge

Brooks Koepka – 3pts win 10/1

Mauritius Open

Darren Fichardt – 0.5pt ew @ 50/1

Australian PGA

Grant Forrest – 1pt Top 20 @ 10/1

Multiples

Koepka + Oosthuizen ew double – 0.75pt ew @ 82.5

Koepka + Oosthuizen + Garcia ew treble – 0.25pt ew @ 701.25

 

Weekly pts advised = 7pts

Total 2017 pts = 540pts

 

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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

CJ Cup and Andalucia Masters – Betting Preview

Tommy Fleetwood managed to land a portion of the place returns but ultimately it was a poor week. Rafa Cabrera-Bello played well in Malaysia but could only finish 10th as he struggled to keep pace with the low scoring. The top 20 bets all showed some promise over the first few days but in the end fell well short. It was the 5th week in a row with returns however so hopefully another win is on its way soon.

Total 2017 pts advised = 475pts

Total 2017 pts returned = 381.21

ROI= -19.75%


CJ Cup

The CJ Cup is new to the PGA Tour and it marks the first ever PGA Tour event to be held in Korea. It is hoped that this can really start the mass globalisation of the PGA Tour as they finally seem keen to put their brand and marketability to good use.

The downside for punters is that we have a new course to analyse and one that has only ever seen four LPGA Tour events from 2002-2005. That makes it somewhat of a guessing game so we have to use our imagination a little this week while also keeping stakes low.

The course is Nine Bridges on Jeju Island off the south coast of Korea. Visually it reminds me a little bit of Lake Malaren in Shangai while I noticed Timothy Frank stating on Twitter how it looked a lot like Kapalua which I can also see. The wide fairways meander through trees and water but they also feature several elevation changes both off the tee and on approach shots to greens. However theses appear to be very clear lines towards greens, promoting good visibility. Similar to Jack Nicklaus’ design philosophy which limited blind approaches due to the guesswork and lack of skill that could be involved. The Golf Plan design team behind the course also designed the similarly named Haesley Nine Bridges and also the Sentosa GC which hosts the Singapore Open.

Patrick Reed has had a fairly mixed year often showing some very good signs but more often that not struggling to put all parts of his game together for 4 rounds in any given week. Yet he still rounded off his summer with a runner-up finish to Justin Thomas at the US PGA, a result that was some way his best in a major having never previously recorded a top 10. Reed’s form was simmering a little before the break and he will be more determined than some of the other big names having not had the best of years.

There are a couple of other factors in play here with Reed, firstly the appearance of Nine Bridges as similar to some Jack Nicklaus courses. Reed has a brilliant record on Nicklaus designs having made a name for himself in the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles. He also has  runner-up finishes at Lake Malaren and Sherwood CC, an 8th at Muirfield Village and a 16th on his only visit to Crans. His win at the Humana Challenge also featured a 63 around Nickalus’s PGA West course. Reed often goes well on courses that he hasn’t seen before with three of his five PGA Tour wins having been as a course debutant. Reed is also a winner and runner-up around Kapalua in Hawaii which hosts the Tournament of Champions.

While some PGA Tour players don’t really like traveling outside the US, Reed has embraced it from the word go having tried his best to maintain his European Tour card over the last few years. He fell short of this due to the tough schedule which that requires but he is comfortable in these surroundings and I’d expect him to take to this course.

Adam Scott has won around the Sentosa course three times in his career so despite his indifferent 2017 season I think he looks a decent price at 35/1 here. Lets not forget that is a price that more than takes into account his form as a peak Scott would be on offer at a similar price to the front three in this market at around 12/1.  Having won several times in Asia and on a similar course I’m hoping the few weeks off might have revitalised him and a new course looks the perfect opportunity for him to show off his tee-to-green prowess.

Si-Woo Kim opened at 125/1 in places and that price is still holding surprisingly. I’m not even going to explain this in any great detail. The Players Champion playing in the first PGA Tour event in his homeland of South Korea. When will he start getting the respect he deserves? It just looks like an auto-bet in a 78 man field with limited depth despite his missed cut last week. In fact it’s possibly the best piece of value I’ve seen in some time. I know he played poorly last week but we have seen already in his short career how quickly his game can turn around and a return home should do just that. Cue a 63rd place finish but a value one nevertheless!

His compatriot Song Young-han is a former winner and runner-up at the Sentosa Golf Club. That win of course was at the expense of Jordan Spieth in 2016 so he is clearly a player of some talent. While he hasn’t played in too many fields of this depth he is playing some consistent golf at the moment in Asia and he has five top 10s from his last 6 starts. He should be comfortable on the course and looks a decent price.

.


Andalucia Masters

 

We stay in Europe for the final regular event of the 2017 season and what a venue awaits. Valderrama has only been around since 1980 yet it is already one of the more storied courses in Continental Europe. It famously hosted the 1997 Ryder Cup in which Seve led a European team to a famous victory. It has hosted some regular events since, namely the Volvo Masters from 2002-2008, this very tournament in 2010 and 2011 and it hosted the Open de Espana last year. Most of that is quite dated but is still worthy of consideration given the unique charms of the course.

Players will have to readjust their approach this week after two birdie fests in Scotland and Italy. Valderrama is very much the opposite with the winning score of the last 10 events averaging -5 however Andrew Johnston last year won with a +1 total.

The course was designed in 1980 by Robert Trent Jones Snr and it is very much in keeping with his style of course. His mantle was to make a course where you could score a “difficult par but an easy bogey” and therefore great strategy is required around his courses. Valderrama is very much a shot makers course where concentration will be key throughout all 72 holes. It isn’t a long course either coming in just under 7000 yards and nobody will be overpowering it this week.

The fairways are tree-lined, undulating and narrow while the greens are well protected with innovative bunkering and some water in play. They are also very small and well contoured so there will be plenty greens missed by everyone in the field. The last 5 winners around Valderrama ranked highly in most of the main stats so a good all round game is required to win here but above all accuracy and a patient game will be advantageous while excellent scrambling skills will be required to keep bogeys off the card.

Form across RTJ courses tends to stack up well as most of them are quite difficult and reward accuracy and shot-making. In Europe he has designed or redesigned Golf Du Palais Royal and Royal Golf Da Re Salaam (both hosted the Trophee Hassan) and Royal Park I Roveri (hosted Italian Open 2009-2012) while he is responsible for many more in the US. Most notable for European Tour purposes are Firestone, his Augusta redesign and Hazeltine.

valderrama-golf-club

The chances of Garcia and Rahm are obvious here but last week both Tours showed us the perils involved with backing short prices. Rahm, Thomas and Molinari all looked too short and not one of them even returned full place money. Both can be dismissed as a betting proposition here.

Shane Lowry has been striking the ball very well again lately but hasn’t managed to get the putts to drop. Even last week when missing the cut he still hit 75% of the greens but given the number of putts being holed his rounds of 69 and 71 weren’t enough to make the weekend. He looks worthy of a bet here due to his strong form on tough, Robert Trent Jones layouts. While he has a decent record here at Valderrama of 4th and 18th he is a winner around Firestone and he really should have won the US Open at Oakmont in 2016 after losing a 4 shot final round lead.

Lowry should relish this difficult shot-makers test and he is a far better player now than when visiting previously. He has been a little wild off the tee with driver lately but in truth he can use an iron for position on plenty of the holes this week. It is hard to get excited about his price but I think his skill set is so suited to Valderrama that I have to back him in what isn’t the deepest of fields.

My other pick is another fairly obvious one in course specialist Soren Kjeldsen. I did consider going for some of the juicier each way prices but so many of the players I had marked down for this aren’t playing. The only negative with Kjeldsen is his lack of competitive golf since coming back from injury. But I don’t see that as too much of  problem for the veteran around one of his favourite courses. Very few players plot their way around difficult courses as easily as the Dane appears to and he reminded us of his grinding ability two years ago at Royal County Down when winning the Irish Open in tough conditions. He has also recorded his two best major finishes on courses with RTJ links as he was 7th at Augusta in 2016 and 6th at Hazeltine in 2009 at the US PGA while he also has a 12th at Firestone to his name. Again I don’t think his price is particularly fancy but I think having him and Lowry onside should give us a very strong hand over the weekend when things get tough.

The two shorter prices make speculation down the field a little trickier but the majority of players that I liked have decided not to play. The only one that I like now is Johan Carlsson, whose stats don’t quite tally up with his finish of 56th last week. He ranked 15th for GIR but amazingly the often erratic Swede was 2nd for driving accuracy on the tight course. It was an ice-cold putter that did for him in Italy but that isn’t often the case with Carlsson and it shouldn’t matter too much here if his long game retains that level of accuracy. Only Rahm, Drysdale and Wallace recorded less than his 4 bogeys for the week. Carlsson was 14th at Valderrama last year on his first appearance at the course and I think he can out play his odds of 150/1 this week. I will also have a top 20 bet on him here.

I tipped Alejandro Canizares at Valderrama last year due to the fact it’s his home course but he could only finish 11th. He has had a poor 2017 but played well again last week and he was probably the only other one close to being included but I think a similar finish could be on the cards for him without threatening to win.

 


Summary of bets

CJ Cup

Patrick Reed – 1pt ew @ 28/1

Adam Scott – 1pt ew @ 35/1

Si-Woo Kim – 0.5pt ew @ 100/1

Song Young-han – 0.5pt ew @ 125/1

Andalucia Masters

Shane Lowry – 2pt ew @ 16/1

Soren Kjeldsen – 1.5pt ew @ 18/1

Johan Carlsson – 0.25pt ew @ 150/1 and 1.5pt Top 20 @ 5/1

 

Weekly pts advised = 15pts

Total 2017 pts asvised = 490pts

@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

Tour Championship and Portugal Masters – Betting Preview

Both the headline picks in the US placed which meant it was a profitable week but only thanks to Dubuisson’s withdrawal which returned 1.5 pts. Day was 4th and Rahm 5th so I shouldn’t really be too disappointed with the week as I was right to avoid Spieth, Thomas and DJ. It just had a feeling of a tournament that Day could have won despite Leishman’s brilliance. His rustiness in contention meant he made too many mistakes but it has to be noted just how perfect Conway Farms is for the Aussie’s combination of power and touch. His course form now reads 4th-1st-4th and he is an amazing -49 in that time!

Total 2017 pts advised = 413pts

Total 2017 pts returned = 341.09pts

ROI = – 17.41%

 


Tour Championship

Now in its 11th edition, the Fed Ex Cup heads to Georgia for the final leg of the Fed Ex Cup Play-offs, the Tour Championship. East Lake is the host again as per the first 10 so there is plenty of form to look at. It’s a Donald Ross design and it is one of his longest at 7385 yards but it isn’t normally over powered. That is down to tree-lined fairways and subtle dog-legs which make it very much a strategical golf course off the tee. With his trademark greens, usually sloping from back to front, distance control is absolutely paramount at East Lake. If the approach shots aren’t hit perfectly the ball will run off down one of the shaved areas which always prove difficult to chip from.

Every year it provides a solid test of golf where anyone looking to win can’t afford to switch off for one second. Scoring is usually around the -7 to -13 bracket which to me always provide the most exciting tournaments. Birdies are out there to be made but only for those in complete control of their golf ball and come Sunday when the greens will have firmed up, par will be a good score on most holes.

From a stats point of view things at East Lake have been a bit of a mixed bag and perhaps a better gauge of attributes is simply to look at the list of winners; McIlroy, Spieth, Horschel, Stenson, Haas, Furyk, Mickelson, Woods, Scott. They are all brilliant performers tee-to-green, particularly with their approach shots. That is evident in the one strongest stat year after year which is GIR but to delve a little further the last four winners have finished the season ranked 2nd, 4th, 47th and 3rd in strokes gained: tee to green.

East Lake form can be quite important and we do see players repeatedly play well there however it has also been a happy hunting ground for debutants. What is perhaps more important is general form at Donald Ross designs as form ties in well with several of his courses. Sedgefield, host of the Wyndham Championship is the only regular Ross design on Tour but there have been several others used in recent times; Oak Hill, Oakland Hills, Aronimink and most interesting of all, Pinehurst No. 2. The latter hosted the 2014 U. S. Open and all of the last 8 winners at East Lake finished inside the top 35 at Pinehurst. The green complexes are very similar to East Lake with small, sloping greens and lots of run-off areas.

But perhaps the most consistent guide has been Sedgefield which has bermuda greens just like East Lake. The bouncier greens together with Ross’s open fronted greens/aprons allow links style bump and runs and that can give an extra dimension not always available on U.S. target golf courses.

I racked my brains with Jordan Spieth here this week as for my money he is far and away the man to beat however the bookies have also taken that view and he is a best price 11/2. It’s not the worst price I’ve ever seen by any means and we need to remember this is just a 30-runner market. But we have to weigh up just whether it’s worth firing into and I’m torn. His East Lake record is superb and his stats this year suggest his game is in ideal shape for taking on Donald Ross design again. Even when backing Spieth at that price he really has to be bomb-proof so I’m going to avoid him as a proper bet but advise a stake saving bet all the same.

For me the outstanding value in the field lay firmly with Justin Rose when he opened at 16/1. I managed to have a little of the 16.5 on Betfair and also tweeted about his price so hopefully any regular readers managed to get on. He has been cut now to a general 14/1 but I still think the price is fair. His season hasn’t been what he would have hoped for after his Masters loss in April, injury combined with the disappointment from the play-off defeat resulted in two MCs and a 54th from the next three majors. However he has bounced back in the play-offs and found a swing that takes the pressure off his back. This has allowed him to get his sharpness back and the result was a brilliant 2nd behind Marc Leishman last week at the BMW. While his season stats reflect his slump through the summer, last week’s were as good as you could wish for heading into East Lake. Rose ranked 1st in both GIR and scrambling while only five others hit more fairways.

justin-rose-zurich-classic_3295658

His recent record at the course is probably 2nd only to Spieth reading 2nd, 4th, 6th, 2nd. He has also won around the Donald Ross designed Aronimink and finished inside the all-important top 35 at Pinehurst in 2014 (12th), he was 9th at Oakland Hills and 5th on his only visit to Sedgefield where he hit a brilliant 91% of greens. He is clearly very comfortable on Ross designs and enjoys the strategic design elements involved.

Year upon year East Lake is all about ball-striking as we mentioned earlier. There are very few better ball–strikers around than Rose and the fact he is scrambling well is a further bonus. We know he isn’t always the best of putters but he has won on quick bermuda greens at Doral and generally the short stick takes a bit of a back seat at the Tour Championship. Certainly you can’t contend by throwing in 3-putts galore but two putt pars are more than acceptable on greens that plenty of the field will be missing. On last week’s showing Rose will be peppering the flags and giving himself more looks than most. Even an average putting week can see him contend and he looks an absolutely knocking each way bet at 14/1.

The two outsiders I like this week are Gary Woodland and Daniel Berger. While I think they should both go well, the nature of the tournament makes it very hard to work out how to back them. I think they will have their work cut out to make the each way places but that is more than reflected in their respective prices of 66/1 and 55/1. So I will have small each way plays and also two top 10 bets.

Gary Woodland’s long game stats are superb this year and while he doesn’t seem to have cropped up on too many leaderboards it is that tee to green consistency that got him to the Tour Championship. Woodland ranks 5th in ball-striking and 17th in strokes gained: tee to green and his approach play was as good as ever last week when he ranked 3rd in GIR. He hasn’t set East Lake on fire so far but he has finished in the top 10 on his last two appearances here including last year. So often putting can be his downfall but that shouldn’t hold him back here and he usually scrambles well at East Lake. Should really go well again at a generous price.

I tipped Daniel Berger here last year and I think he warrants another go at the prices. He relishes bermuda greens and his iron play has been superb this year, ranking 8th in strokes gained: approaches. I’m convinced East Lake should suit him and this is already his 3rd look at the course having qualified in all three of his pro seasons, quite an achievement.

Tony Finau’s wild driving doesn’t make him an obvious bet this week but I can’t help but be impressed by his long game stats. Finau is 7th in strokes gained: tee to green and 6th in the all-round ranking. If he keeps the ball in play off the tee I think he might just be this year’s surprise package so I’m also having a top 10 bet on him.


Portugal Masters

Once again we arrive at a staple of the European Tour season with the Portugal Masters at Villamoura in the Algarve. It has hosted since 2007 and in that time there has been a very clear picture develop of what is required to win around the Victoria golf course.

It is a wide open, sprawling, undulating course with very little in the way of rough so it sets up very much for the “grip it and rip it” types. The greens are also huge and undulating and it is basically a links course in that respect. So while getting as close to the green as possible off the tee is certainly an advantage, everyone will be hitting the greens with regularity so the tournament is usually won with the putter. Last year the player who hit the fewest greens across the 4 days still made an impressive 67% while in 2015 that figure was 65%. That’s quite a high total and confirms how easily they can be found. Aggressive iron play followed by a deadly putter is the recipe. The last 3 winners have all performed brilliantly around the greens; Harrington was 2nd in scrambling, 1st in putting, Sullivan was 1st in scrambling, 2nd in putting and Levy was 1st in both. Therefore that has been my main focus this week.

 

Chris Paisley’s missed cut in Switzerland can be ignored as the fiddly Crans course was never going to suit the Englishman. Paisley isn’t the most accurate of players from either the tee or the fairway and he is all about short game brilliance. The start before Crans he came 3rd at the Made in Denmark which is far more suited to his game. Back at the Victoria course in Villamoura he will get the sort of short game test he relishes. Everyone will be hitting greens so he can let his short stick do the talking. Paisley ranks 5th in one putts, 2nd in putts per round and 15th in total putting over the last 3 months while his scrambling is also amongst the best on Tour, currently ranking 13th for the season. I had him earmarked for this even before I noticed he was 5th last year and while that means his price is a little shorter than I expected, it also further backs up how suited he should be to the course. This will be his 4th look at the course in fact and his results are trending with a 72nd followed by a 37th at the course. For some reason Betfred really don’t like Chris at all and again they were a massive standout 100/1 on Monday. That has gone now but the general 80/1 is more than fair about someone with his standard of short game around a course like this.

Justin Walters is a bit of a course specialist here so I was intrigued to see him work his way through the leaderboard over the weekend with a 65-67 to finish T3rd. In truth I’m not too sure why he likes the course as he isn’t someone you could class as a great putter but he enjoys the lack of trouble off the tee that’s for sure and the links style greens play very grainy, much like he is used to in South Africa. Last week he ranked 3rd in putting and 19th in scrambling and that is exactly the sort of short game combination we are looking for this week. His event form reads 17-37-21-2 so off the back of that 3rd place finish he looks an obvious yet solid play again here at 100/1.

I’m getting into a bit of difficulty with my backing of George Coetzee now and my judgement is starting to get a little clouded where he is concerned so by all means write this bet off as a bout of cliff-following. He is one of my favourite golfers and I have been on for all three of his wins so far, meaning he doesn’t owe me anything.  He finished 3rd last week where he ranked 6th in scrambling and 14th in putting. It is his putting that provides the source of my problem as I firmly believe him to be the best putter on the European Tour and probably close to the top 10 in the world. The trouble is he is so prone to mistakes that he will often throw in two double bogeys in a week to go with his 20+ birdies. Luckily this week the Victoria course isn’t one that punishes errant drives or approaches which is probably why Alvaro Quiros is on the list of winners!

I really like Coetzee for the Alfred Dunhill in two week’s time but I don’t think I can leave him out at a course where he normally plays well. The 33/1 isn’t fantastic after his 3rd place last week but I can’t leave him out.

 


Summary of Bets

Tour Championship

Justin Rose – 2pts ew @ 14/1

Jordan Spieth – 2pts win @ 6.0

Gary Woodland – 0.5pt ew @ 66/1 and 1.5pts Top 10 @ 7/2

Daniel Berger – 0.5pt ew @ 60/1 and 1pt Top 10 @ 3/1

Tony Finau – 1pt Top 10 @ 3/1

Portugal Masters

George Coetzee – 1pt ew @ 33/1

Chris Paisley – 0.75pt ew @ 80/1

Justin Walters – 0.5pt ew @ 100/1

 

Weekly pts = 16pts

Total 2017 = 429pts

@theGreek82