The Players Championship and Rocce Forte Sicilian Open – Betting Preview

A close call week last week that showed no returns but plenty of positives to take from the week. The English Women’s team proved that they were indeed hugely over priced as they qualified from their group before losing out to the eventual winners, Ireland. We certainly won’t see prices like 50/1 around for quality women teams in the event next year. Over on the PGA Tour Patrick Reed played very well too which also justified backing him on value alone. Unfortunately though despite his weekend 67-69 scoring he finished up in the dreaded 8th position. I thought we were going to get half the place money when Phil found the hazard on 18 but he did what Phil does and found a shot off the rocks before draining a 25ft par putt. Far better to have a nearly week like that though where the angles were sound than an absolute shocker. We have two excellent betting heats this week with some added confidence after a close week.

2018 pts advised = 185.50

2018 ots returned = 215.44

ROI = 16.14%


The Players Championship

The golf season finds itself halfway between the first two majors of the year and for the last time that means it’s Players Championship week. It has been played in May for as long as I remember but after next year’s re-jig of the calendar it will be played in March. Quite how that will affect the conditions of the event I’m not sure but we don’t need to worry about that until next year. For now we can just focus on this year’s renewal which sees the strongest field assembled so far in 2018 gather at Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.

At just 7215 yards, TPC Sawgrass isn’t a long course by modern standards but that is perhaps fitting of what Pete Dye was attempting to do with his Florida gem. In 1980 he sought to design a course that tested all aspects of a player’s game and favoured no particular type of player. He has certainly achieved that as the recent list of winners includes some of the most varied players you could imagine. Tiger Woods has overpowered it on just two occasions but even then that was as much down to his touch on and around the greens. Short, accurate types like Fred Funk and Matt Kuchar have won. Ball striking machines Sergio Garcia and Henrik Stenson both won there in their youth and the enigmatic Mickelson also managed a win. Fowler won with his excellent all-round game while Day’s combination of power and touch landed him the title in 2016. While this does indeed tell us that any type of player can win I still had a look at the stats for the last 10 winners to see if there was anything that they happened to all do well during the week of their win.

The least important aspect at TPC Sawgrass would appear to be off the tee as the 10 winners have averaged 32nd for driving distance and 21st for driving accuracy. That’s not to say that you can afford to drive the ball wildly as it is undoubtedly easier to hold the small, bermuda greens from the fairway. But statistically anyway, the Players Championship isn’t usually won or lost with the driver.

The lowest average appears in scrambling and that is usually the main attribute that I consider for Sawgrass so that makes perfect sense. The 10 winners ranked 10th but that improves to just 6th if you remove Garcia’s rather bizarre ranking of 57th when he won in 2008. Kaymer scrambled brilliantly to win in 2014 but he did so largely with the putter and it is worth noting the tight run-off areas at Sawgrass allow the players different options around the green. Imagination is important and it is perhaps no coincidence that Kaymer also won the 2014 US Open at Pinehurst No. 2. It is one of the few U.S. Open venues that has tightly mown run-off areas and a look at that leader board is nothing more than a list of recent winners at TPC Sawgrass!

Just pushed into 2nd was greens in regulation as the same 10 averaged 14th place for greens hit but again removing Fowler’s abnormally high-ranking from 2015 then this becomes an average ranking of just 7.

Looking instead at trends for a moment there is an interesting pattern of the last 10 winners all having recorded a top 23 finish previously at TPC Sawgrass and also having plenty of experience as they won their title at an average attempt of 7. This isn’t a course that beginners tend to fare too well on and even when 26-year-old Fowler won in 2015 he was having his 6th look at the course while shock winner Kim finished 23rd the year before. Four of Fowler’s first five attempts were missed cuts but the one time that he did make the weekend he finished 2nd. While backing debutants is maybe not a solid option if looking for the winner with short price players, there are plenty recent examples of players contending and placing on their first look.

TPC Sawgrass’ iconic hole is the island green, par 3 17th and it completes a very tough set of par 3s. Indeed of the last 10 winners, 6 have played them under par so I would expect minimising bogeys on the short holes to be crucial again. Beyond the more broad stats I also like proximity to the hole each year at TPC Sawgrass as it is crucial to have an accurate iron game to find the small greens. With all the new categories that the PGA Tour has now though we can look even more closely. Approaches 150-175 yards Scoring Relative To Par is a very good indicator as is the same stat for the 175-200 yard range. They tell us not only who is repeatedly getting the ball close from those distances but also who is taking advantage when they do get close.

So we are looking for someone who can hit a lot of greens, is excellent at getting up and down, plays Par 3s well, and is a strong putter on fast bermuda greens. The course itself backs that up as Sawgrass has some of the smallest greens on Tour at 4500 sq ft. They are surrounded by sand and water hazards throughout so accuracy and particularly distance control is needed to hold the greens. The tight run-offs allow the ball to easily fall off the green so each approach shot has to be struck with authority.

With the head of the market struggling to be split here and nobody trading under 14/1 not only do we have the strongest field of the year but we also have one of the best betting heats. Historically this was a great event for outsiders given the patience and strategy required but with Fowler and Day winning in 2015 and 2016 respectively that looked like it was maybe changing. However Si-Woo Kim’s left field win last year confirmed that bigger prices can still prosper here. I think that looks to be the angle this week with bookmakers all competing for business with some great each way terms and I’d certainly shop around to get at least 7 places this week.

As mentioned above, I put a huge emphasis on proximity to the hole at TPC Sawgrass and particularly from the 150-200 yards range. Hao-Tong Li makes the squad this week due partly to his strong stats in those areas but also just because he looks over priced for a player of his talent on a course that should suit him. Li ranks 10th in scoring RTP from 150-175 yards and 13th in the 175-200 category. It is his debut but it was also his Royal Birkdale debut when he finished 4th behind Spieth and Kuchar at the Open last summer. While that course is miles away from Birkdale in location and style, they are both difficult courses that require accurate approach play, excellent scrambling skills and minimising bogeys. Li’s results haven’t been fantastic lately but he is another example of a European Tour player moving to play on both Tours and just struggling a little with what that entails. But he has had a week off and is a winner already this year on slick greens at the Dubai Desert Classic. If he can keep the ball in play off the tee with a sound strategy then I’d expect a good week. While debutants can struggle to win here I think the 200/1 gives us a brilliant each way bet and I’m also adding him for a Top 20.

Rafa Cabrera-Bello looked like an obvious candidate this week after his 4th last year but having missed three out of four cuts he actually opened up at a nice price here of 110. There is still a little bit of that around but I rate him a bet at anything 80/1 or bigger. Rafa ranks 1st in proximity to the hole on the PGA Tour and that is enough for me to want to back him alone but factor that 4th place in and he looks a really solid bet. His driving hasn’t quite been up to his usual standards this year but we know that can change as historically he has been one of the better drivers on the European Tour over the last few years. If we look solely at Rafa’s recent performances in the WGCs, Majors or the “5th Major” then we see just how far he has come as he finished 4th at the 2017 Players, 4th at The Open, 5th at the WGC HSBC Champions and 3rd at the WGC Mexico. He seems to have really found a way to peak for the bigger events and there is no question that his goal this season will be to make the Ryder Cup team again. The best way for a player who struggles to get over the line is to rack up high finishes in events like this. Should play well again and is a decent price to do so.

Rafa

I’m always reluctant to back Webb Simpson so when I started getting a little excited about him for this on Sunday, you would think a simple look at his TPC Sawgrass form would have put me off; MC-MC-69-MC-15-MC-66-16. Not a chance. Those two top 20s just about kept me interested and to be honest Simpson’s all round game is as good as it as been since 2010-2012 era when he was legitimately one of the world’s best on suitable courses. As most readers will know the anchor putter ban really threw him but his 2018 stats are just perfect for this and his putting is back to somewhere near it’s best. Simpson ranks 2nd in scrambling, 6th in bogey avoidance and 10th in strokes gained: putting and he is comfortable on bermuda greens. Every chance he can post his best Sawgrass finish to date this week at 70/1.

It’s very easy to plan to leave out the head of the market in an event like this but it’s a lot harder to fully commit to it in practice! I really thought Justin Thomas would go well here last year given the state of his game and that he signed off with a 65 in 2016.  But he never really got going and missed the cut. Thomas seems to have the perfect game for Sawgrass though as he has established himself as one of the best around with his short irons and he currently ranks 3rd in scrambling over the last 3 months and 12th in bogey avoidance for the season. If he doesn’t get too adventurous off the tee then I’d expect him to go well again and perhaps enjoy some of the spotlight having been removed. I think he is worth an each way bet here in order to have an interest at the head of the market.


Rocce Forte Sicilian Open

Last year I looked at links players for this given the wide open, coastal nature of the course in Sicily at the Verdura Golf Club. While that didn’t find the impossible to find Quiros (his form was terrible) it was certainly the right line of thought. The list of courses where the powerful Spaniard has won is basically a list of wide open links style courses, and I particularly noted Doha Golf Club where he has won and finished runner-up twice. The other winner around Verdura in 2012, Thorbjorn Olesen, generally wins on the same sort of courses. I’m taking that approach again while also maybe giving further consideration to some of the historically classy players in the field as per Quiros last year. The course here in Sicily is a Kyle Phillips design and big wide open fairways are very much his ethos as they can be seen on his other courses like Kingsbarns, Dundonald Links and PGA National in Sweden. He also tends to favour large greens and again they can be seen at Kingsbarns and Dundonald. A further example of some of his work can be seen on 9 holes of Celtic Manor where he was involved with the old Wentwood Hills course which went on to make up 1/2 of the Twenty Ten course. Given these strong features we tend to see Phillips course form stand up well so I’ve had a look through those leader boards as well as other links courses.

Bourdy

Gregory Bourdy has some decent form at Kyle Phillips designs despite actually being quite short and accurate off the tee. However he does have a good approach game and an excellent touch around the greens which also helps on these links style lay-outs. Bourdy’s last win was around Celtic Manor in 2013 and he has top 5s at several other links courses where form ties in. He was 4th last year at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship (Olesen won in 2015), 5th in Qatar in 2015 and 4th at Lake Karrinyup in Perth in 2016, which is another course that Thorbjorn Olesen won around in 2014. His form hasn’t been anything great in 2018 but a player of his class looks a very big price at anything near to three figures in this field. Therefore the 125/1 is a must bet for me at a course that should suit part of his game at least.

Tom Lewis has some nice pieces of historical links form and he has won at Oceanico Victoria in Portugal where Quiros has won. He hasn’t done much of any note on the main Tour lately but he stopped a run of missed cuts with a 9th place last time out on the Challenge Tour. If he found something with his game in Turkey then he could be a big price on a course like this where he finished 11th last year.

Anthony Wall tends to go well on a lot of links courses and particularly on the same sort of ones as Alex Noren who is a bit of a Kyle Phillips expert. He was 4th at Dundonald Links last year and he won around Archerfield Links in the Paul Lawrie Match play and that was another wide open links layout. Wall isn’t the sort of player who finds sustained periods of form and is more likely to pop up at layouts like this where his excellent short game can get him competitive in windy conditions. He withdrew from his last event in April but has had a couple of weeks off to recover and if he is fit he should go well on a course where he was 6th in 2012.

My final pick is an old favourite in Joakim Lagergren. Throughout his relatively short European Tour career he has been seen at his best on open courses where his short game skills can be shown off. That is exactly what we have here and I don’t think he should be 50/1 in this field considering he was 3rd just a couple of starts ago in Morocco.


Summary of Bets

Players Championship

Justin Thomas – 1.5pts ew – 16/1 (1/5 odds 8 places Skybet)

Hao Tong Li – 0.5pt ew @ 200/1 (1/5 odds 8 places Skybet) and 1pt Top 20 @ 10/1

Rafa Cabrera-Bello – 0.5pt ew @ 110/1 (1/5 odds 7 places Betfred) and 2pts Top 20 @ 4/1

Webb Simpson – 0.5pt ew @ 70/1 (1/5 odds 8 places Skybet)

Rocce Forte Open

Gregory Bourdy – 1pt ew @ 125/1 (1/5 odds 6 places Boylesports)

Tom Lewis – 0.5pt ew @ 80/1 (1/5 odds 6 places Betfair Sportsbook)

Anthony Wall – 0.5pt ew @ 90/1 (1/5 odds 6 places Betfair Sportsbook)

Joakim Lagergren – 0.5pt ew @ 50/1 (1/5 odds 7 places Coral)

 

 

Weekly pts advised = 14pts

Total 2018 pts advised = 199.50pts

 

@theGreek82

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Houston Open – Betting Preview

I broke the rule of not getting too involved in the Match Play last week so therefore I can’t really complain about losing all 8pts. Aphibarnrat very nearly made it to the semi-finals to get me out of a jam but despite the three previous events going to the favourites, it is worth remembering that these are 64 of the best players in the world and it really doesn’t take much to bring about an upset or 8. Small stakes next year!

GMac didn’t do much in the Dominican and Appleby fell away after starting well on Thursday. No European Tour event again this week so we just have the Masters warm-up in Houston but I’ve also had a look at the first Ladies’ major of the year.

Total 2018 pts advised =103pts

Total 2018 pts returned = 92.69

ROI = -18%


Houston Open

With one week to go until Augusta we stay in Texas and head along to Houston for the Shell Houston Open from Humble. There will be two schools of thought amongst the field this week, those who have qualified for the Masters will be looking to sharpen up their game and hone the skill set required for Augusta while those not qualified will be trying to punch their ticket up Magnolia Lane by winning this week. That makes for both an interesting narrative and betting heat as the motivation may well be greater for players further down the betting. It takes a seriously impressive mental attitude to win the week before a major and then follow-up in the big one. In recent times we have only seen McIlroy and Mickelson do so. So while much of this year’s schedule has been dominated by the upper echelons of the game, I’d be inclined to widen the net a little this week. Despite being a ball-strikers paradise, since moving to its slot the week before the Masters, only 2 of the 11 winners are major winners and you would be hard pushed to suggest any of the last 5 were top class even if the reigning champion Henley could still reach that level.

Shell

The Golf Club of Houston was Rees Jones’ first course that he designed from scratch and it has hosted since 2003. It is quite long at nearly 7500 yards but the fairways are very wide and the rough is minimal, meaning bombers have a good record in the event and the shorter hitters can struggle unless every other department of their game is firing. There is a lot of water in play around the greens  so an accurate approach game is required before they reach perhaps the biggest test of all. The greens are usually set up fast to mimic Augusta conditions next week and they are a bit of a mix with bermuda, bent and poa all popping up by all accounts.  Therefore 3 putts will be a plenty and holing out well will be key this week as the winner normally performs well with the putter.

There are quite a lot of players I like this week so with just one tournament I’m going to back a few to relatively low stakes, especially the more speculative ones.

Rees Jones also carried out a redesign of Torrey Pines and the course form generally correlates quite well. The Torrey greens are slick and while scoring is a lot tougher, driving distance and holing out are both very important. Harris English’s best finish of the season prior to last week in the Dominican was 8th at Torrey Pines and he is also a former runner-up there. He also has strong course form at the Sony Open where defending Houston champ Russell Henley got his first win, English has 3rd, 4th and 9th place finishes. He was 5th last week and ranked 6th in total driving and 11th in GIR so clearly he has found his game again. At his best English is a very strong putter and he drives it long and straight so I’m not sure why he has never done that well in Houston. The course should suit him and if he has turned a corner with last week’s confidence boosting 5th, then 80/1 could be quite a big price in a relatively weak field.

Benny An announced himself as a player to follow on ball-striker’s courses with quick greens when he won the BMW PGA Wentworth in 2015, although he is winless anywhere since then. That’s not to say he hasn’t played well though and he has been knocking on the door again this year on the PGA Tour. His putting can be quite hit or miss but when I noticed he was 2nd on Tour for putting inside 5ft I knew I had to back him here where holing out is difficult. I’m expecting a big week from young Korean.

Charles Howell III has form at Torrey Pines, Sony Open, Honda Classic and a good record here in Houston. He is famously one of the hardest to get over the line having not won since 2007 but with players like Chucky Three Sticks we have to look out for small things that might bring about improvement. Last week’s performance in qualifying from a WGC group with Phil Mickelson in it will have given him a huge lift and he perhaps let the pressure of qualifying for his home-town major get to him in the knock-out stages. That could well happen again this week but I think his each way price looks very good indeed. Howell is often criticised for his putting but this year he ranks 3rd in putting inside 5 feet and that will serve him well here while his extremely consistent tee-to-green game should be present.

Two very, very speculative punts to finish and Lanto Griffin seems over priced for someone who finished 12th at Torrey Pines. That is the height of my reasoning behind this bet. He is a PGA Tour rookie who is still finding his feet but to contend on a layout like that suggests there is maybe more to come. After a few missed cuts he managed a 28th last week where he was 8th in putting and at 300/1 I thought he was worth a small bet.

Jonas Blixt was a master on the greens a few years ago as he racked up 2 PGA Tour wins. He has been very quiet since but won the doubles event last year in New Orleans. He started 2018 fairly poorly again but he finished 41st on his last start at Riviera before 4 weeks off. Blixt isn’t much of a ball-striker to be fair but I think this course should suit him with some room to spray it off the tee. We shouldn’t forget Blixt finished 2nd at the 2014 Masters and he is capable of better ball-striking days. It’s a very speculative punt given he hasn’t shown much in this event to date but on the two occasions he has made the cut he returned top 30s and at his price it won’t cost much for a little interest.

 

LPGA – ANA Inspiration

The first Ladies major arrives this week and Brittany Lincicome looks somewhat over priced to me. She has already won this event twice in 2009 and 2015 and came runner-up in 2007. Lincicome is very much a horses for courses type of golfer and thrives on courses where she can use her powerful game to her advantage. She defended her Bahamas LPGA Classic in January and if she were out of form then I could perhaps see the reason behind a few firms having her as a 33/1 shot this week. But she sits in 2nd on the 2018 money list and I think she has been overlooked in the market here perhaps in favour of some of the more fashionable and popular picks. Yet a lot of those above her in the betting have been a little out of form while Brittany hasn’t missed a cut since last July and her 2018 form figures read 10-16-54-7-1. She looks a very solid each way bet at anything around 28/1 to 33/1.


Summary of Bets

Houston Open

Harris English – 1pt ew @ 80/1 (1/5 odds 6 places)

Charles Howell III – 0.75pt ew @ 50/1 (1/5 odds 6 places)

Benny An – 0.75pt ew @ 40/1 (1/5 odds 7 places)

Lanto Griffin – 0.25 pts ew @ 300/1 (1/5 odds 7 places)

Jonas Blixt – 0.25pts ew @ 300/1 (1/5 odds 7 places)

LPGA – ANA Inspiration

Brittany Lincicome – 1 pt ew @ 33/1

 

Weekly pts advised = 8pts

Total 2018 pts advised = 121pts

@theGreek82

Valspar Championship and Hero Indian Open – Preview

Georgie boy’s win very nearly took the blog into profit for 2018 and if the European Tour picks were good, my WGC Mexico picks were equally as bad. To be fair to Dufner, Luiten and Chappell, none of them played terribly but scoring was too low for three players who are better suited to a proper championship layout. I’ll be keeping all three in mind for the likes of Augusta and Shinnecock though later in the year.

Erik Van Rooyen nearly gave us even more returns in Pretoria but again he disappointed on Sunday. One thing worth noting though was how brilliant he was tee-to-green for 63 holes before his putting woes seemed to frustrate him so much they effected the rest of his game. Every time the camera cut to him he seemed to either be in the centre of the fairway 40 yards in front of his playing partners or on the green with a 20ft putt. EVR is definitely worth following through 2018 on ball-striking courses.

Total 2018 pts advised = 92pts

Total 2018 pts returned = 89.94pts

ROI = -2.2%


Valspar Championship

Ran out of time for much in the way of course details this week. It’s tree-lined, narrow, about 7300 yards long and requires accuracy and a good putting touch. Bombers don’t usually carry much of an advantage and the course is quite testing, rewarding those who enjoy a more technical test. The greens are bermuda and the course is in Tampa Bay, Florida. Canadian Adam Hadwin defends and Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy head a relatively strong field. For those wishing to dig a little deeper, I’m sure I covered the Copperhead course in better detail last year.

Webb Simpson looks my idea of the best bet here this week and I’ve been looking for a chance to back him since his putting improved somewhere back to its best. When Webb first came on Tour he was a very strong putter with his long, anchored putter but the ban really ruined his game. This year however he sits 6th in strokes gained: putting and he has had two Top 5s this year already. They both came on bermuda greens (Sony Open and Honda Classic) and there is no question that he performs better away from poa annua as his 4 wins have been split between bermuda and bentgrass greens. So he will relish the return to the surface and to an event where he recorded 4 consecutive Top 20s between 2010 and 2013, the best of which being a runner-up finish in 2011. He then struggled for a few years but you usually have to putt well to compete on the Copperhead course so his resurgence with the short stick should see another contending performance. He also ranks 37th in strokes gained: approaches which is another key indicator for the course. So often we have seen a major winner triumph here given the championship nature of the course and a fairly high winning score (average of -11). Webb ticks that box with his 2012 U.S. Open win and a quick look at that leaderboard gave me extra confidence that he should play well this week. Five Valspar champions recorded a Top 20 around Olympic Club that week and both courses are visually similar and provide the same sort of test where birdies have to be earned. There is still some 45/1 around which I think looks a fantastic each way bet but he is more of a general 40/1 now.  That’s a bit of a shame but he is still very much worth a bet, especially with Sky Bet’s 8 places on offer this week.

Luke List may well not have recovered from his play-off defeat to Justin Thomas yet but there was so much to like about his game at the Honda. If he can take the positives out of that performance then he looks a very fair price at 55/1. The shot tracker visuals for List’s approaches were absolutely amazing such were the height of his irons and his 100% commitment to his slight draw. This meant he was taking the ball in well over water on several holes under huge amounts of pressure on the back 9. Yet he delivered with the large majority and this was a player in complete control of golf ball. With his power he won’t even need to get the driver out too much around Innisbrook and if he can stay in play off the tee then there is no reason that he won’t enjoy another good week. His form isn’t fantastic around Innisbrook but he was 26th last year and with way his irons are performing  he should certainly improve on that.

There isn’t really much else that I fancy here but I think Gary Woodland looks over priced considering he won just 4 starts ago. Woodland won this back in 2011 so we know it suits and the power packed American has been putting brilliantly of late, particularly on his favoured bermuda greens. There isn’t much more to say really, I expect that win to propel Woodland to the sort of level that everyone expected when he first appeared on Tour and that could well mean multiple wins in a year. I’m more than happy to back him at 40/1 while in form at a course where he has already won. (there might even still be some 50/1 around with a few of the smaller bookies

 


Hero Indian Open

Link to The Golf Family preview;

https://thegolffamily.com/hero-indian-open/


Summary of Bets

Valspar Championship

Webb Simpson – 1pt ew @ 40/1 (1/5 odds 8 places Sky Bet)

Luke List – 1pt ew @ 55/1 (1/5 odds 6 places)

Gary Woodland – 1pt ew @ 40/1 (1/5 odds 8 places Sky Bet)

Hero Indian Open

Scott Jamieson – 1pt ew @ 33/1 (1/5 odds 6 places)

Ashun Wu – 0.75pt ew @ 125/1 (1/5 odds 6 places)

Renato Paratore – 0.75pt ew @ 66/1 (1/5 odds 6 places)

 

Weekly pts advised = 11pts

Total 2018 pts advised = 103pts

 

@theGreek82

Honda Classic and Qatar Masters – Betting Preview

A little short of time this week so no moaning about last week and fairly short previews.

2018 pts advised = 70pts

2018 pts returned = 55.94 pts

ROI = – 20%


Honda Classic

The PGA Tour heads east to PGA National at Palm Beach, Florida for what is one of the tougher stops on Tour. Pars are pretty good around a course where the wind usually blows and the greens are quite small and very well protected. We will be looking for links players in Europe this week and at a course where Ernie Els, Padraig Harrington, Adam Scott and Rickie Fowler have lifted the trophy, I’ll be looking at similar types here. Ability to hit greens in tough conditions and scramble well when you miss is the order of the day at PGA National. Having said that though Rickie Fowler putted his way to victory last year but a lot of those were completing his up and downs. Scrambling and bogey avoidance should be two good angles in while I’d be wanting evidence that a player can play in the wind and handle bermuda greens before I parted with my cash on the Honda Classic.

Louis Oosthuizen is getting advised this week largely on price but he also hit more greens than everyone else last year as he finished 21st. His first 2 appearances ended up in withdrawals and then he missed the cut on his 3rd so last year suggested he was finding his feet on a course that should suit. Despite the abundance of talent the 2010 Open champion possesses the fact he has never won on U.S. soil can make him difficult to back at his price some weeks on the PGA Tour. However that isn’t the case this week as the opening 80/1 looked a great each way price about him getting his 2018 season properly up and running with a contending performance. Unfortunately that 80/1 disappeared as I was writing this today but I still think the general 66/1 to 70/1 gives us some value if you look at the standard of player around the 50/1 mark this week.

My only other each way pick is another solid links player and after Graeme McDowell played so well last week at Riviera I think he is also a little over-priced at 66/1. McDowell has usually been a very good wind player through-out his career and there is no doubting that he prefers a difficult test of golf with his first win in the U.S. coming at the U.S. Open with a winning score of just level par. He was 12th in both GIR and scrambling last week so hopefully a switch to bermuda greens might bring about a change in fortunes on the greens for GMac. Another major-winner who is priced up alongside a few players who he is simply better than. So lets take advantage of that 66/1 as he surely shouldn’t be any bigger than 50/1 this week at a course where he has 4 Top 10s from his 8 appearances.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat makes a rare appearance in the U.S. this week having not played there since 2016. But he has made the Top 20 on 3 of his 14 appearances and he arrives confident and with his game in good shape. This test should suit him perfectly so I think the stand-out 5/1 on offer with Betfred for a Top 20 should be snapped up. Given several of those appearances in the U.S. were on courses that wouldn’t have suited him I think there is probably a little wiggle room down to 4/1 but no probably no lower than that.

 


Qatar Masters

Link to The Golf Family preview;

https://thegolffamily.com/qatar-masters-betting-preview-2/


Summary of Bets

Honda Classic

Louis Oosthuizen – 1pt ew @ 66/1

Graeme McDowell – 1pt ew @ 66/1

Kiradech Aphibarnrat – 1pt Top 20 @ 5/1 (Betfred)

Qatar Masters

Alexander Bjork – 1pt ew @ 40/1 (1/5 odds 6 places)

Joakim Lagergren – 0.5pt ew @ 100/1 (1/5 odds 6 places)

Thomas Bjork – 1pt Top 20 @ 6/1

 

Weekly pts advised = 9pts

Total 2018 pts advised = 79pts

 

@theGreek82

Genesis Open and NBO Oman Open – Betting Preview

We came agonisingly close to the double this week as Mickelson surged through the back 9 on Sunday night after Aphibarnrat obliged earlier in the morning in Australia. Just like 2 years ago when Vaughan Taylor beat Mickelson in to 2nd place, inspired outsider Ted Potter Jnr played a superb round alongside Dustin Johnson to record one of the most remarkable wins of the season so far. I can’t complain though after Aphibarnrat somehow managed to land the World Super 6s event after seemingly being down and out about  six times over the course of the weekend. His class eventually shone through however as he made the up and downs and putts when it mattered as his opponents struggled with their own clutch putting.

Aaron Wise also grabbed a top 20 in California to make it a profitable week for the blog with some 41 pts returned.

Total 2018 pts advised = 59

Total 2018 pts returned = 55.94

ROI = -5%


Genesis Open

The PGA Tour remains in California this week to complete its west coast swing and we’re in L.A. for the glamour that Riviera Golf Club brings. Golf fans are truly spoilt at this time of year with the likes of Torrey Pines, Pebble Beach and now Riviera.

Riviera is a lush green course with sprawling up and down fairways running through parkland and huge elevation changes between tee and green. Despite there usually being plenty of thick kikuyu rough, driving accuracy isn’t as important as it once was. The poa annua greens are slick and tricky, again surrounded by thick rough or run-offs. The bigger hitters have enjoyed an advantage in recent years as they can attack many of the flags with a wedge or a 9-iron. The trees can certainly block players out from the green but many of the par 4s have a side where it is ok to miss and you will see a lot of the bombers hit their slinging draws or power fades around the subtle dog-legs to give them the preferred angle in. While you don’t absolutely have to be long at Riviera, if you aren’t, you need to be accurate through the bag with your irons and very capable around the greens. Last week’s scrambling stats are worth a look at given the very defined rough around the small greens at Pebble Beach. The challenge will be similar this week again chipping onto slick, sloping, poa annua greens.

It’s a course that has very strong links with both Augusta and Glen Abbey (host of the RBC Canadian Open) and that is a route I have gone down the last few years. It found me Chez Reavie at 250/1 in 2016 who would go on to finish one shot out of the places in 7th. I had been hoping for a decent price on him this week but he is well and truly exposed now after consecutive 2nd places. Both courses are not only visually similar but require much the same skill-set and there are players that thrive on all three. Distance off the tee, GIR and scrambling  are probably the most crucial stats to look at this week.

RBC Canadian Open - Final Round

I’m going down the value route this week with a couple of very big prices. Jonny Vegas has won the last two Canadian Opens at Glen Abbey and that combined with his 15th here last year makes him very interesting. Vegas is the sort of player who should thrive at Riviera with his length off the tee, high ball flight and a great chipping touch around the greens. He simply looks massively over priced here after an over reaction to a missed cut at Torrey Pines. Prior to that he was 11th at the CareerBuilder and 7th at the Tournament of Champions. Vegas isn’t always the most accurate of drivers so Torrey Pines doesn’t really suit his game off the tee. As we mentioned Riviera is more accommodating with missed fairways so I’m going to focus on his previous tournaments, his solid finish to the 2017 season and the fact he shot 3 rounds in the 60s here last year. Looks a great each way price at 125/1

hoff

Charley Hoffman goes well on all of these courses and is another player who the bookies have very quickly forgotten about. For a period in 2017 Hoffmann was the form player on Tour outside the bigger names and while he hasn’t been at his best so far in 2017 he shouldn’t be dismissed at tracks like Riviera. He lost in a play-off last summer at Glen Abbey and looked like he might win the Masters for a couple of days. In fact his Augusta record in general is very good as he has made the top 30 in all four appearances. Hoffman also has some solid form in the bank at at Riviera having finished 4th last year and he has made 9 of his 11 cuts at the venue.

So far this year he ranks 35th in strokes gained: off the tee and 65th in strokes gained: approaches to the green while he has only missed one of his last 22 cuts. He withdrew last week at Pebble but I’m hoping it was just precautionary and if he is fit then 100/1 is huge. I really like the price but given he might not be fully fit I will reduce stakes slightly to 0.75pts ew.

Luke List has the game for Riviera being one of the biggest hitters on Tour but he also has an excellent touch around the greens. It’s his iron play that can often let him down but he has been playing very well lately with a 12th at Torrey Pines and a 26th in Phoenix. List currently sits 9th in strokes gained: off the tee and in those last two events he ranked 6th and 7th in GIR. List has played Riviera twice with mixed results, he missed the cut last year while in dire form but was 20th the year before on his debut. With his tee-to-green game in fine fettle this looks a great course for him where putting isn’t usually as important as hitting greens.

Kevin Chappell’s price has gone a little this week but as regular backer of his I do like his chances this week. His driver has been on fire this year so far and if he makes a good start I may look to get him onside in-play. If Mickelson wins you might not hear from me for a while but at 22/1 he is a little easier to overlook this week.


NBO Oman Open

Link to The Golf Family preview

https://thegolffamily.com/nbo-oman-open-betting-preview/


Summary of Bets

Genesis Open

Jonny Vegas – 1pt ew @ 125/1 (1/5 odds 7 places Skybet and others)

Charley Hoffman – 0.75pt ew @ 100/1 (1/4 odds 5 places Bet365)

Luke List – 0.75pt ew @ 125/1 (1/5 odds 7 places Skybet and others)

NBO Oman Open

Alexander Bjork – 1.25pt ew @ 50/1 (1/5 odds 6 places)

Pablo Larrazabal – 1.25pt ew @ 40/1 (1/5 odds 6 places)

David Drysdale – 1pt Top 20 @ 9/1

 

Weekly pts advised = 11pts

Total 2018 pts advised = 70pts

@theGreek82

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

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