2018 U.S. Open – Betting Preview

It was a blank last week on both Tours after Adam Bland gave up a great chance to place in the Shot Clock Masters while nobody else was really in contention. Bland was 3rd going in to the final round but he seemed to have used up all his birdies on Saturday and he fell down the leaderboard. No time to dwell though as it’s US Open and World Cup week!

2018 pts advised = 250

2018 pts returned = 314.49

ROI = 25.79%


US Open at Shinnecock Hills

The second major of the year is upon us and while it doesn’t have the glamour of the Masters or perhaps the same history as The Open, that doesn’t mean the excitement levels are any less and on the face of it the 2018 US Open should be an absolute cracker.

We go back to Shinnecock Hills for the first time since 2004 and while that was a bit too much of a slog with hot conditions and a completely baked out course, measures have been taken to try to make sure Shinnecock plays hard but fair. With the course being historically the first proper US links course a lot may depend on the weather but the course looks immaculate and we should hopefully witness a brilliant championship with hard and fast links golf.

The Charles Macdonald and Seth Raynor designed course (1890s) was a short 6996 yard par 70 back when Retief Goosen outstayed the field but after a Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw redesign in 2012 the course was extended and now stands as a 7445 yard brute. The fairways were widened as part of that overhaul too but apparently the USGA have been growing the rough out into the fairway to make these more like the original narrow fairways. As it stands however they appear to be quite fair for US Open standards and they average about 40 yards wide by all accounts.

With no Shinnecock form since 2004 there are two courses of great interest to me here this week. Coore and Crenshaw have had their hands on two other courses that we have seen recently on Tour. Their original design, Trinity Forest, was used for the Byron Nelson just last month and that was an out-and-out links course. The players didn’t seem to enjoy it but the leaderboard still showed up plenty of US Open and links specialists. The most important course link for me however is Pinehurst No. 2 which hosted the 2014 US Open won by Martin Kaymer. The team went in and carried out a redesign prior to that US Open and it appeared very similar to Shinnecock even before their tweaks. Retief Goosen was actually the 54 hole leader when defending at Pinehurst in 2005 before throwing in a shocker on Sunday. They are also the only two US Open venues to feature tightly mown fringes and aprons. We saw the havoc that wreaked in 2014 and Kaymer was the only man to really get to grips with them as he ranked 1st in scrambling. What was most interesting about that was that Kaymer is a well documented poor chipper and so he putted up the run-off areas and had the pace of both fringes and greens perfectly all week. With run-offs a plenty there will be more than one way to get up and down at Shinnecock and a sharp scrambling game coming in will be crucial. Kaymer’s lag putting from the fringes helped him to win at TPC Sawgrass just 5 weeks prior so it is well worth a look at who has been scrambling well on similar greens. The tricky upturned saucers at Sawgrass or the undulating links greens at Trinity Forest are two good examples.

The greens will be hard and fast poa annua and they will get even trickier as the week goes on but while there will be lots of talk about what a nightmare they will be to putt on, the need for a silky stroke on the greens will be somewhat exaggerated. Obviously you aren’t going to win a U.S. Open 3-putting every green but time and time again when we see hard and fast greens it is a great ball-striker that comes out on top. Hitting greens on a long championship course is difficult enough but when the greens are hard only the best approach shots will stay on the green. Those with a laser like approach game and a towering ball-flight will be sure to go well this week. Even a hot putter will struggle to cover up mistakes for 4 days around this course. In 2016 at Oakmont DJ won ranking 1st for GIR and 51st for total putting and those greens were close to 15 on the stimp meter by Sunday.

With the course being completely exposed to the elements good wind players could well be advantaged should things get breezy. While a high ball-flight will be important in mild conditions those who are capable of shaping their ball to suit might just be best suited to Shinnecock if the weather is changeable as the forecast suggests currently.

 

Shinnecock

 

Looking back at the 2004 U.S. Open for a moment, it has one of the highest retrospective percentages of major champions inside the Top 40 this century for US Opens. A massive 49% of the players had either won a major or would go on to win one. This is obviously no exact science as the more recent events will obviously not post as high a number but it was still interesting. The rest of these are included in a table below;

2018 US Open stats

You can see that 2 of the highest 4 percentages belong to Retief Goosen and that tells us quite a lot about Shinnecock Hills. The winner will surely be high-class and probably a major winner already if not one in waiting. Despite the recent trend of first time major winners unless someone looks like a nailed on future major winner I’d give second thoughts to backing them for this particular test. That doesn’t make things easy though as the first 10 in the market all fall into one of these categories and several of them arrive in fine form. But a hard and fast US Open test is unlike anything else and therefore I’m not convinced that playing the shorter prices is the way to go despite their claims. Dustin Johnson is the correct favourite and the man to beat after last week but I don’t want to be a backer at just 8/1. Of the chasing pack Justin Rose and Rickie Fowler have unrivalled levels of consistency in majors these days and represent some solid value in the place portion. Again though I can just about pass at the prices with both having let me down in the past when everything seemed in their favour. Rory McIlroy’s recent form makes him of interest but if this plays firm, fast and windy I couldn’t possibly have him on my mind. Jason Day has an excellent US Open record and is considerably harder to ignore here but again I’m just not sure I want to be taking 16/1. Spieth will always have a chance but his putting has been poor enough to put me off even if he is sneaking up to a tempting a price. Tiger Woods can obviously never be written off and it would be typical for him to make his return to winning ways at the U.S. Open. But I’m not sure 20/1 fully takes into consideration the strength in depth of today’s game. That takes me down to the next tier of players and my first outright bet.

Henrik

I’ve liked Henrik Stenson for this for quite a few weeks but I was sort of hoping he might have posted more inspiring finishes over the last month than he has. However I still think Shinnecock should suit him perfectly so I’m making him the headline bet. Despite not really threatening to win this year he ranks 1st in strokes gained: approaches, 1st in GIR by a distance and 6th in scrambling. That approach play prowess will be crucial at Shinnecock as will his ability to get up and down when he does miss. As the greens firm up only the best ball-strikers will still be able to hold the greens and on his day Stenson is as good a ball-striker as there is. He has plenty of form on hard and fast courses too, he was 2nd to Mickelson around Muirfield which is probably the only true hard and fast links test we have seen recently at The Open. He has also won at TPC Sawgrass, Eastlake, TPC Boston, Golf Club Eichenried and Doha GC which all have firm green complexes.

His best US Open finish to date was at Pinehurst No. 2 where he finished 4th and again ranked 1st in GIR. His current form is very close to simmering but I just don’t think we have had the right test for him so far this season. At the Players again he ranked 1st in GIR but putted poorly all week while that was the same last week at the St Jude Classic where he was 1st in driving accuracy and 2nd in GIR. I don’t see his putting woes being that much of an issue as 2 putt pars will keep him ahead of most of the field this week. It’s also highly likely that he was just preparing for the U.S. Open as he usually likes to play the week before a major and did so before his Open triumph in 2016.

However it is a link with 2004 Shinnecock champion Retief Goosen that really got me interested in Stenson for this.. They are both multiple winners but not as prolific that we can’t still look at the courses which they have both thrived. Indeed there are actually 3 which they have both won around; Gut Larchenhoff, Doha GC and East Lake. Goosen also came runner-up to Stenson at Golf Club Eichenreid in 2006 which has some of the fastest greens on the European Tour. Above all else both are long and accurate ball-strikers who are suited to difficult championship style courses. With his often peerless tee-to-green game and form at all the right types of courses I think he looks like an excellent value alternative to those at the head of the market.

As I mentioned already I think Pinehurst No.2 looks a very good guide this week at Shinnecock. This makes me think that the 2014 US Open form will be crucial but I’ve also looked at Trinity Forest which hosted the Byron Nelson a few weeks ago as that is a Coore and Crenshaw original design. Adam Scott and Jimmy Walker featured in the Top 10 at both events and to me that suggests that they will go well at Shinnecock. Kevin Na was also 12th at Pinehurst and 4th at Trinity Forest. None of these 3 were players that I was expecting to back this week so I wasn’t really sure how to play them (luckily Kevin Na isn’t in field!). This Pinehurst link also brings in Martin Kaymer and gives me a huge conundrum. Besides Stenson however there were no other players that I particularly liked for this, so I have decided just to add these 3 to my team and back them all each way. The downside is that I have none of the market leaders onside and I’m probably putting most of my eggs into one basket but they look like rock solid each way options.

Adam Scott’s career has been a rather weird one in recent years. He has played a very light schedule with a view to focussing more on the majors as he searches for his 2nd of the big events. While that didn’t seem to affect his form too much until this year, he only has one top 10 from 12 events and that isn’t what we have come to expect from Aussie. That top 10 was the afore-mentioned Trinity Forest though and he was absolutely brilliant bar his poor putting as he ranked 3rd in GIR and 11th in scrambling. Despite the mixed results he ranks 12th in strokes gained: approaches in 2018. Scott is now a very accomplished links player and he should really have won at least one Open by now. But he is also building a good bank of US Open form with 4 top 20s in the last 6 years. As we all know his tee-to-green game is as good as anyone given the right test and a links layout in the US couldn’t be a better fit for Scott. I had already been backing him before the news broke at the weekend that he had brought back his old coach and was also going to be using a local caddie from Shinnecock. At first that worried me a little but after hearing some direct quotes I think it will surely be a positive and he looks a good bet at 60/1 with ten places.

Jimmy Walker looks to finally be over the worst of his Lyme disease and is starting to post the sort of finishes we have associated with him since he reinvented himself as a prolific winner in 2013/2014. He was runner-up at the Players Championship and 6th at Trinity Forest so he is clearly in some good form while on his last start he ranked 9th for GIR. As he proved with his US PGA win in 2016 he can mix it with the best when his whole game is working. I think the extra little bit of width will be crucial to helping Walker keep it in the fairway and after that he will relish the test. Another excellent wind player Walker is equally happy towering his irons in the air or flighting the ball down as required which will make him adaptable to the weather. He has missed his last 2 US Open cuts but he was ill last year and Oakmont’s narrow fairways were never likely to suit. The 9th place finish at Pinehurst is the key piece of US Open form for me and we should remember he is also one of the best poa annua putters in the world. His US PGA win was on the slick poa annua greens at Baltusrol in the New York area and that is what he has got again this week 100 miles along the coast. I think we will see a strong showing from the in-form major winner and again he looks over-priced given his form.

Martin Kaymer makes the team this week largely off the back of that 2014 win at Pinehurst but he has also shown glimpses of his class in recent weeks and I think he is too big a price on a course that should suit him perfectly. After that win it would have been impossible to think that he would go some 4 years without another win but through injury, loss of form and a questionable back 9 in Abu Dhabi that is exactly what has happened. The odds of 100/1 have pulled me in though and as well as Pinehurst he has won at several links courses and was considered an Open winner in waiting throughout much of his early career. He has taken a while to recover from a wrist injury but there were signs on his last start in Italy that he might be back somewhere close to full fitness. He ranked 1st in GIR on his way to posting an 8th place finish in Brescia and that should have him ready for this.

Finally I’ve added Byeong-Hun An after I only noticed today that he had been added to the field. I tried to back him last week assuming he had qualified but he only got in last-minute due to his World Ranking. Benny has been in great form of late and we know this ball-striking test should suit. He announced himself on the main circuit with his BMW PGA win in 2015 and that course is a great indicator for future major winners given they are some of the fastest greens on the European Tour. He has gradually become more comfortable on the PGA Tour and posted his best result to date just two weeks ago when Bryson Dechambeau beat him in a play-off at Muirfield Village. In truth he was the most impressive of the leading pack on Sunday and winning a big event doesn’t appear like something that would phase him too much. However the main reason for me backing him this week is the course which he won his US Amateur Championship at, Southern Hills. That was the scene of Retief Goosen’s other US Open win and the other two Shinnecock winners have also done well there. Raymond Floyd won the US PGA there in 1982 while Corey Pavin was runner-up in the US PGA in 1994. To me it looks a very strong link and with everything else we know about An I think he is a great each way price. For good measure he also sits 30th in strokes gained: approaches and 46th in scrambling.

I’m playing all the outrights with 10 places given how strong this field is but for the braver there are still some better prices around than those I have advised.

Other markets

Rafa Cabrera-Bello’s all-round game is so good right now that he looks set to rack up top 20 finishes everywhere he plays regardless of the field strength. Since 2016, only looking at WGCs, majors and The Players, RCB has racked up 10 top 20s from 21 appearances. He has also posted top 20s in each of his last 3 events. His approach game is at a career best (8th in strokes gained: approaches) as is his scrambling and putting. The markets don’t yet reflect how comfortable the Spaniard is in these types of events and the 7/2 looks a standout piece of value in the place markets.

Aaron Wise looks a fantastic prospect and after his win at Trinity Forest I have to include him in some shape or form for a test that will be similar. It will be only his 2nd major however so I’m not sure how clever a win bet would be. Instead I’m going to have a top 20 bet at a very generous 4/1. With his talent I’m not sure I need to write too much more.

Richy Werenski posted a 4th place finish last week and it was comfortably his best finish of the season. He was also 23rd at the Players where he ranked 2nd in GIR and it makes me think he might be suited to a more diffcult course. We often see a few random young US players pop up on these leaderboards and it could be Richy’s turn this week. Looks worth a small play at a generous 14/1 given we know he is playing well.

Keegan Bradley’s name often appears whenever difficult approaches are the key to a course and I don’t expect anything different here at Shinnecock. He was 7th just two starts ago at the Players Championship and Bradley is yet another player from the top 10 at Pinehurst No. 2 in 2014. Sits 2nd in strokes gained: approaches and I can see another solid 4 days for him resulting in a never quite in contention 13th place.

First Round Leader

Steve Stricker is having a great year playing on both the PGA Tour and the Champions Tour with 2 wins and 2 runner-ups arriving on the latter. But his recent form has been very strong on the PGA Tour reading 18-32-23 and especially his fast starts. His recent run of first round scores on both Tours reads 66-65-67-67-67-67-68-70-66-68-69-68. Even those who got bored reading that will notice how low he is going on day 1. He has improved on links layouts over time and that culminated with a best ever 4th at Troon in 2016. Given he is now 51 years old it is perfectly fair that he might start to tire as the week goes on at some of the longer PGA Tour courses. Therefore it looks like backing him when he is at his freshest on a Thursday is the way to go.

For my second bet in this market I’m taking an absolute flyer with Harold Varner III. Varner is proven on hard and fast courses in Australia as he finished runner-up at Royal Pines in the 2015 Australian PGA before going one better in 2016 to win it. That is still his only professional win and he has struggled to really push on from that in the US. However this test might just suit him and bring about a revival. There have been some signs recently though and none more so than when he finished 7th in the Players last month. He led the field in putting on the slick Sawgrass greens and a good putter is always handy for this market. I actually had him picked out before I even noticed he has the first tee time at 6:45am. With some rain forecast on Wednesday and the wind looking like getting up as Thursday progresses, those out early might just get the best of it. At a massive 200/1 with Betfred and Boylesports it’s worth an interest.

Jason Scrivener is quite probably out of his depth here but he is another who thrives on hard and fast courses and has a brilliant record at Lake Karrinyup in particular where greens are hard to hit with shaved run-offs and fast grainy grass. His first professional win came around Twin Creeks Golf course in November and that is another hard and fast links course with similar bunkering and rough. Scrivener is a brilliant scrambler but his iron game improves for playing on firm courses too and it’s not impossible to see him firing one good round in at Shinnecock. Given he qualified for this last week we know he is in decent form and in his last event he finished 21st in a good field in Italy. Also has an early 6:56am tee time and is worth a speculative punt at 300/1.


Summary of bets

US Open

Henrik Stenson – 2pts ew @ 28/1 (1/5 odds 10 places Paddy Power)

Adam Scott – 1pt ew @ 60/1 (1/5 odds 10 places Paddy Power)

Martin Kaymer – 1pt ew @ 100/1 (1/5 odds 10 places Coral)

Jimmy Walker – 1pt ew @ 80/1 (1/5 odds 10 places Paddy Power)

Byeong-Hun An – 1pt ew @ 90/1 (1/5 odds 10 places Paddy Power)

Other markets

Rafa Cabrera-Bello – 2pts Top 20 @ 7/2

Aaron Wise – 1pt Top 20 @ 4/1

Keegan Bradley – 1pt Top 20 @ 11/2

Richy Werenski – 1pt Top 20 @ 14/1

1st Round Leader

Steve Stricker – 0.5pt ew @ 125/1 1RL market (1/5 odds 6 places Skybet)

Harold Varner III – 0.25pt ew @ 200/1 1RL market (1/5 odds 6 places Betfred and Boylesports)

Jason Scrivener 0.25pt ew @ 300/1 1RL market (1/5 odds 6 places Boylesports)

 

Weekly pts advised = 20

208 pts advised = 270

@theGreek82

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RSM Classic and DP World Championship – Betting Preview 

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

The results are as follows;

Total pts advised =  846pts

Total pts returned = 825.56pts 

ROI = -2.5%

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

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

                          RSM CLASSIC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

             DP World Championship

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                  SUMMARY OF BETS

RSM Classic

Chris Kirk – 1.5pt ew @ 18/1

Jamie Lovemark – 0.75pt ew @ 80/1

Trey Mullinax – 0.5pt ew @ 150/1

DP World Championship

Victor Dubuisson – 1pt ew @ 45/1

Andy Sullivan – 1pt ew @ 25/1

Tyrell Hatton – 1pt Top 10 @ 3/1


Weekly pts advised – 10.5pts

Total advised pts – 856.5pts

 
@theGreek82

Olympic Golf and John Deere Classic

Last week’s tournaments were rather interesting and threw up one very obvious winner and one that was anything but. Russell Knox has a very solid bank of form on Pete Dye courses and I wouldn’t have been alone in kicking myself on Sunday night when he triumphed for his 2nd PGA Tour win and his first on American soil. Even more annoying was that he went off at a fairly good price (50/1) and he is someone who should definitely be considered on Dye tracks regardless of current form as he consistently hits greens even when the rest of his game might not be at its sharpest.

In the Paul Lawrie Match Play Anthony Wall was also picking up his 2nd win but while Knox’s came some 9 months after his first, Wall had a 16 year wait in between his trophies. With very average form he was difficult to fancy before the off but his win further highlights how difficult a betting format knockout match play can be.

The one interesting aspect of Wall’s win however was him showing the importance of scrambling in links golf. When the wind blows then greens will be missed and those with a great touch around the bumps and run-offs usually fare well. Year after year Wall is one of the best scramblers on Tour, as is runner-up Alexander Noren and I don’t think it was a coincidence that they played out the final after a very windy weekend of links golf.

Another week of no returns is leaving the profits very bare now but August and September were good months last year so hopefully I can turn it around and start pushing the ROI up again.

Total pts advised – 748.50

Total pts returned – 793.79

ROI – 6.05%

This week we have no action in Europe as the Olympic Golf Tournament just about takes centre stage over the PGA Tour’s John Deere Classic. I’ve focussed on the Rio action but have also had a brief look at the US golf.


Olympic Golf

There has been enough written about the Olympic golf debacle to thoroughly bore everyone already so I’m not going to get drawn into that and instead I have focussed solely on the golf tournament in question.

We have a 60 man field assembled down in Rio and while not being as strong as it could be there is a very nice mix of top-level PGA Tour players and those that have been lighting up the other lesser known Tours. I think that in itself will give an Olympic feel to the tournament and while a team event may have been more fitting, everyone that is playing is doing so because they want to win that gold medal for both themselves and their country.

The Olympic course in the Barra region of Rio is where the action will happen and it is a standard 72-hole stroke-play format running from Thursday to Sunday as normal. Gil Hanse designed the course specifically for the Olympics after being chosen ahead of some of the most respected modern-day designers in the game.

While being a very active designer, Hanse doesn’t have too many original designs that are in play on either the PGA Tour or the European Tour but he has been quoted saying that he based a lot of the design on his links course at Castle Stuart. Looking at the pictures that seems very fair as there is definitely a sprawling links nature to the fairways and they appear to be very wide just like his Scottish design. He has also carried out a few high-profile renovations and perhaps his most notable two are at Doral’s Blue Monster Course (host of the WGC Cadillac Championship from 2007-2016) and TPC Boston (home of the Deutsche Bank Championship)

The other narrative this week has been that the course has a Melbourne Sandbelt feel to it with the course being built on very sandy soil. That doesn’t give us too much to go on here with just the two Aussies in the field but it does suggest that the course could play hard and fast as it dries out over the four days with no rain forecast.

It is a 7128 yard Par 71 but it is quite different in that it still has four Par 5s but also has five Par 3s. There is very little in the way of rough and instead the fairways are lined with waste areas like we have seen at recent US Opens at Pinehurst and Chambers Bay. The greens are sea paspalum this week which we don’t see in use on the PGA Tour too much but there are a few courses with the grass in use; El Cameleon (OHL Classic), Kuala Lumpur GC (CIMB Classic), Trump International GC (Puerto Rico Open) and Sea Island (RSM Classic).

I have been through the field several times and while there is no doubt some value there I keep coming back to the same player and it is the most obvious pick and favourite Henrik Stenson.

For a couple of years now I have been banging the Stenson drum and it was a bit annoying to miss out on his Open win although he wasn’t the greatest of prices. I believe him to be the best player in the world from tee-to green and while many will say Rory McIlroy or Dustin Johnson, Stenson’s consistency is unrivalled and he showed at Royal Troon just what he is capable of if he has a good week on the greens.

The main thing pulling me in his direction however is his excellent record around Castle Stuart. He has played there three times and finished 8th, 3rd and then 13th last month when preparing for his Open win the following week. On those last two appearances he ranked 1st in total driving and this year he hit a best in field 91% of them. If the Olympic course does in fact play anything like Castle Stuart then it is certainly going to fit his eye.

Nobody in the field has putted on these greens before and that could be a great equaliser which would surely help the likes of Stenson who isn’t one of the better putters in the field.

There are a couple of other links that interest me too. He has shown that he can play Doral with a T4th there last year and his win at the 2007 WGC Match Play came on a course that is visually quite like the Olympic course, The Gallery Golf Club in Arizona. It is full of sand being in the desert and it also has lots of waste areas just like in Rio. He also has a win and 2nd place at TPC Boston since Hanse carried out his renovations in 2007.

The ice-cool Swede is extremely patriotic and he has already won golf’s World Cup in 2008 alongside Robert Karlsson. Becoming Sweden’s first ever male major winner was a huge deal for him and Sweden, in the subsequent weeks after his Open win there were several other performances around the world from Swedish golfers who claimed to be inspired by Stenson’s win. He knows that he is perhaps Sweden’s biggest star in Rio and also one of their best medal hopes. He will thrive under that pressure and will be determined to add a gold medal to what is already a career year for him.

It is perhaps a boring pick but as long as he shows no signs of fatigue I think he will take all the stopping and even if he just has an above average week on the greens then he could find himself pulling away from the pack again and bagging himself the first golfing gold medal since 1904.

On first glance odds of 6/1 might appear short but we must remember that it is a reduced field of 60 and there are only another 5 major winners besides Stenson so we can’t really expect much better odds for the Champion Golfer of The Year.

With a lot of the bookmakers only paying the medalists it doesn’t  look like a great each way betting prospect so I’m going to play another win only and then two very small stakes on a couple of outsiders with firms that are paying slightly lower odds but the usual each way terms. I quite like Patrick Reed for this but his odds have shortened this week after being tipped up by some of the bigger players. Reed has had a fairly impressive 2016 even if he hasn’t managed a win and it’s his pair of 67s at Castle Stuart over the weekend that makes him a bet here. That was his first look at the course and after getting to grips with it on the first two days he played the weekend lower than everyone bar Nicolas Colsaerts. He followed that up at Troon by getting himself into contention early on at The Open before the draw bias left him with too much to do.

Reed showed us on his Ryder Cup debut just how much he enjoys representing his country and this will mean a lot him. His biggest win to date was at Doral in 2014 and with form on two of the key Hanse courses I think he should take to the course in Rio and he is definitely due a win.

Nicholas Colsaerts weekend score was two shots better with a couple of 66s and it’s that piece of form that gets him into the staking plan. He was playing some very consistent golf up to that point and he is another patriotic golfer who should be suited to the course. Looks a little over priced here.

My final pick is another fairly unoriginal one as many are keen on Alex Cejka‘s chances. To put things simply he is in very good form and he putts well on Sea Paspalum greens. Worth a small stakes play here.


John Deere Classic

This tournament has been somewhat of a benefit for Steve Stricker, Zach Johnson and Jordan Spieth lately. Since 2008 only Brian Harman has managed to stop their monopoly here and while Stricker and Spieth have been doing the bulk of the winning with 3 wins and 2 wins respectively, Johnson hasn’t been outside the top 3 since 2009.

Luckily the profile of those 3 is a fairly obvious one. They are all excellent wedge players but more importantly 3 of the best putters that we have seen on Tour over the last 15 years.

That tells me not to look into too much detail and pick someone who is scoring well from 150 yards and in. So with limited time I’m not going to go into too much detail about the course at Deere Run, suffice to say that what you do from the tee isn’t overly important, it’s all about the greens and getting it close so that enough birdies can be made to get well into double figures under par.

Unfortunately for most of the field, Johnson and Stricker both line up here again and they look very hard to oppose. The only real angle in seems to be taking some of the value that their short prices have created in the each way market.

Stuart Appleby is one of those that seems a little over priced in this weak a field. Over his career he is a proven winner and while he hasn’t been playing brilliantly he popped up in a couple of the key stats here this week. He sits in 7th place for one putt percentage and 13th in approach performance relative to par from 125-150 yards. Both those have been key indicators around Deere Run so I’m going to have a small speculative play on the 9-time winner.

I expect Kevin Na to play well but I still haven’t forgiven him for last year and he surely can’t be backed to win at just 22/1.

Prior to his missed cut last week Steve Wheatcroft was last seen finishing 5th in Canada when he thinned his sand wedge out of the bunker on the Par 5 18th hole at Glen Abbey. That was a cruel blow when he had played so well during the round but that piece of form looks well ahead of those in the same odds bracket this week. He also ranks 16th in one putt percentage and finished 8th here in 2015. Another who looks a very fair each way price at 80/1

 

Summary of Bets

Olympic Golf

Henrik Stenson 3 pts win @ 6.6 on Exchange

Patrick Reed 1pt win @ 19.0 on Exchange

Nicolas Colsaerts – 0.5pt ew @ 66/1 (1/4 odds 1st-5th)

Alex Cejka – 0.5pt ew @ 80/1 (1/4 odds 1st – 5th)

John Deere Classic

Stuart Appleby – 0.5pt ew @ 200/1

Steve Wheatcroft – 0.5pt ew @ 80/1

Weekly points advised – 8pts

Total points advised – 756.50

@theGreek82

The Open Championship – Betting Preview

It was a good week last week but it was still hard not to be a little gutted with another 2nd place, even if it was accompanied by a 3rd place too. Tyrrell Hatton was one of a whole host of players who played their final round like a seasoned winner and he can be very proud of the fight that he put up against Alexander Noren. If he continues in that vein then it is just a matter of time before he gets his first win.

It was also good to see Nicolas Colsaerts keep his form going as expected with a couple of 66s on the weekend. He is another that will be looking to get back to winning ways this year but he might have to wait a couple of weeks as I don’t see this week quite suiting him.

Hatton on the other hand could go well after ranking 2nd in the all-round ranking and should certainly be given some consideration.

Their combined return of 31 pts helps to finish the 1st year with a profitable week and it leaves the totals as follows.

Total pts advised in first year – 692.50

Total pts returned – 780.79

ROI for one year – 12.75%

 


 

The Open

In April most golf fans will tell you their sporting highlight of the year is The Masters but as soon as we reach July that narrative changes somewhat and The Open becomes the focal point of the golfing year. They are tough to separate and while both are completely brilliant in their own way, they are two very different tournaments and there is nothing quite like an Open Championship.

Having finally attended my first Open three years ago at Muirfield I can now appreciate the buzz of the early morning tee offs and 15 hours of solid golf (weather permitting of course). I had heard people talk about it before but it was truly amazing spending time on the 1st tee and listening to the dulcet tones of Ivor Robson announce world-class golfer after world-class golfer. Sadly Mr Robson is retired now but everything else is as we were and Royal Troon is the lucky host this year of what is one of the most eagerly anticipated events on the Sporting calendar.

It is twelve years since the course last hosted although Troon has held seven previous Opens after being a bit of a latecomer to the rotation in 1923. To my mind it is a quintessential links course and while St Andrews carries with it all the history and glamour, Royal Troon is far more of a links course’s links course and features the classic 9 holes out and 9 holes back. Despite its classic appearance however there is very much a feeling within the game that Troon is one of the more boring courses on the rotation with too many holes that lack any character. While that may well be true everyone in the field still plays the same 18 holes and I don’t believe that will detract too much from the excitement this week.

Visually to me the course resembles both Royal Birkdale and Gullane and that is very welcome as last year’s Open never really took the form of a proper Open due to both the perfect conditions for the last two rounds and it being held at St Andrews. Louis Oosthuizen is a prime example of the different test presented by St Andrews. He has finished 1st and 2nd around The Old Course but elsewhere he can only boast a 19th, 36th, 54th and three missed cuts. It looks all about links golf exponents in Ayrshire this week.

Despite apparent one-hit wonder Todd Hamilton winning in 2004, Troon is normally won by one of the game’s elite; Justin Leonard in 1997, Marc Calcavecchia in 1989, Tom Watson in 1982, Tom Weiskopf in 1973 and Bobby Locke in 1950. Not only that but you have to go back to Locke’s 1950 win to find a winner that didn’t hail from the USA.

Troon

The fairways at Troon meander up and down and around and if you see a flat lie anywhere this week then pause your TV and take a photo. There are hillocks and undulations as many of the holes are framed by dunes, fescue and gorse. There are deep bunkers galore as you would expect both on the fairways and protecting the greens, many of which are elevated. When they get to the greens however they will be met with some of the best surfaces in the whole of the UK. They are a blend of poa annua, bent grass and fescue and as long as the wind doesn’t blow too hard there should be absolutely no complaints about them whatsoever. (the USGA should take note!)

The forecast currently suggests that the wind will be steady all week (10-15mph) but as someone who lives at the Scottish coast I wouldn’t be at all surprised if we see something a bit stronger. Just last week at Castle Stuart we saw the mild forecast winds turn in to 40mph winds. With quite horrid rough I expect driving accuracy to be important this week as you certainly don’t have double fairways to hit like St Andrews. The course isn’t the longest at 7175 yards but as ever the further you can get off the tee the closer you are to the green. So total driving was on my mind even before I took a look at the stats from Hamilton’s win in 2004.

The 1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 8th , 9th,10th, 13th and 16th ranked players in total driving for the week all finished inside the Top 10 and it is rare to see such a strong attribute for any tournament never mind a host course for a major.

The next most pertinent attribute looks to be scrambling as the 1st and 2nd ranked scramblers finished 3rd and 7th respectively. Who can forget Hamilton’s bump and run with his 3 wood to set up his 2ft putt to win the Claret Jug? Imagination around the greens is very important in links golf but especially so at Royal Troon.

With the greens being immaculate the better putters would normally be expected to thrive on them but they obviously need to get there first. The greens are average in size and well protected but relatively flat. That might take away some of the advantage that the likes of Spieth and Day have at reading the breaks on undulating greens, however lag putting will be crucial to avoid 3-putts.

I expect hitting greens and indeed proximity to the hole to be very important this week, particularly from the tougher 175-200 yard range and if we look at 2004 season’s final rankings then that is backed up. Hamilton finished the season ranked 18th in GIR from 175-200 yards and 12th in approaches from 175-200 in the rough. Many others from the leaderboard also finished the season in lofty positions in this area and while there are a number of short holes at Troon it will certainly test their longer irons too, even more so if the wind does get up.

Other stats in which Hamilton ranked highly that season were 3-putt avoidance, putting inside 10ft and approach putt performance and that just confirms the need to keep the three-putts to a minimum. While Justin Leonard’s win in 1997 came before such an array of stats were available he did rank 2nd in scrambling and 3rd in putts per round during that season and he was regularly one of the better drivers on Tour.

I think on the whole this gives us a decent idea of the attributes that will help win this week. A decent links pedigree, proven in high-class fields, long and accurate driving, good GIR numbers from distance, strong scrambling ability and solid lag-putting.

With Dustin Johnson having won his last two tournaments, the US Open and WGC Bridgestone, he has firmly pushed himself into the World’s top 4 players and the market here can barely separate them with Day, Spieth, McIlroy and Johhson all trading at around the 10.0-12.0 mark. Their chances must be respected but I don’t really like any of them at the prices this week on a course like Troon. Day has been very wild off the tee lately and will probably find himself in trouble too many times to finish on top this week. Spieth’s game just hasn’t been at its best in 2016 and while he was one putt away from the play-off at St Andrews last year I think he would need to be playing better to win here and doesn’t make much appeal to me at the prices. McIlroy also hasn’t been playing his best stuff and has struggled for consistency across four rounds since returning from injury last year. With his well-known aversion to poor weather I can’t consider him at single figures when it looks like we could be in for proper links golf conditions.

Rickie-Fowler-Cover

But I don’t have to look much further down the market for my idea of the best bet in Ayrshire. I have backed Rickie Fowler in most Open Championships since 2010 when he finished in 14th place at St Andrews after an opening 79. He played the last three rounds better than anyone and firmly announced himself as an Open specialist (5 shots better than the 3rd lowest!). I probably won’t stop until he wins one as he is surely an Open Championship winner in waiting and possibly the next Tom Watson if he can win one soon.

Fowler is a self-confessed lover of links golf and that is clear every year with the number of different shots he plays. He has every type of links shot in his locker and at the age of 27 that is quite impressive. He can shape the ball both ways in the wind and has the imagination to flight the ball down and use the lie of the land to his advantage. That is something that took the likes of Phil Mickelson years to appreciate and then a few more to master before winning his Claret Jug in 2013.

But it isn’t just links potential with Fowler any more as he won the Scottish Open at Gullane’s hybrid Championship course last July. That is a classic links course and as I have already alluded to, it more than resembles Troon with its narrow fairways sculpted into the land. Fowler won that with an exquisite week on and around the greens ranking 5th for scrambling and 3rd in total putting. He didn’t drive the ball well but Fowler handled playing out of the rough perfectly. He was able to get the ball out and get it running on the firm fairways and that is yet another important aspect of links golf as there will be some nasty lies in the rough where hitting a towering 7 iron just isn’t possible. He can also play the bump and run around the green that is so important in links golf. Anyone that was watching the Scottish Open at the weekend will have noticed the number of times that the players were forced to utilise that shot given the undulating nature of the ground around the greens.

At the start of this season it was actually his long game that was standing out and through the first few months of the year he was right at the top of total driving and GIR but struggling to get the putter going. He still ranks 26th for total driving and an impressive 4th in GIR. Throw in the fact he is sitting 13th in scrambling from the rough, 21st in 3-putt avoidance and 4th in GIR from 175-200 we can see how well his game should suit from a statistical point of view too. I have touched on the important attributes this week but moreover at Troon every aspect of the game is tested so it also worth having a look at the all-round ranking. Fowler at the top of his game has very few weaknesses and that is perhaps another reason that he goes so well on links courses.

If we look exclusively at his Open record then it is very solid for one so young. The 14th place finish at St Andrews was his debut and he followed that with a T5th in 2011 (Royal St. Georges), a T31st in 2012 (Lytham), a missed cut in 2013 (sun-baked Muirfield), a T2nd in 2014 (Hoylake) and then a T30th last year when crucially on the wrong side of the draw at St. Andrews.

His form in 2016 has been quite up and down so far but he did win in January in Abu Dhabi and he still has some high finishes with a proper return to form two weeks ago at the WGC Bridgestone where he finished in a tie for 10th. His 2016 results read 5-1-MC-2-6-8-38-10-MC-20-4-MC-MC-MC-44-10 and that is a lot of golf with trips to Hawaii and Abu Dhabi in there so it is fair to think that he was maybe just running on empty by the time he missed his three consecutive cuts. The lack of weekend golf will have helped him re-energise however and he also arrives after a week off. I’m expecting to see the Rickie Fowler of 2015 and early 2016 rather than the one that we witnessed during May and June. If that proves to be the case then he will take the world of stopping and at 33/1 he looks a solid alternative to the front 4 in the betting.

 

Graeme McDowell has always been a very good links player and as soon as I saw him on the leaderboard at Castle Stuart I knew I would be backing him for Troon if his price held. His accuracy off the tee will help this week and he ranked 3rd in the all-round ranking at the Scottish Open. He isn’t the longest of drivers but he makes up for that with a very accurate long iron and hybrid game when playing at his best. The 80/1 for such a classy major winner is frankly a bit strange. Not only did he finish in the Top 10 last week but he won earlier in the season in the US and he also finished T18th at the US Open so his game is pretty close to its best.

He currently ranks 8th for driving accuracy so will be finding more fairways than the majority of the field and should he miss the green he is an excellent scrambler on links layouts, ranking 4th in that department last week.

He already has a win in Scotland to his name further north at Loch Lomond and he has a solid Open record with the pick being a T5th at Royal Lytham in 2012. He also has a win at Celtic Manor where the weather is usually miserable and two wins on Le Golf National layout in Paris which plays very much as a links track. If the wind blows and Troon doesn’t play too easy then GMac should make a mockery of his price this week.

 

One of the interesting course links that I found when researching Troon was through the Honda Classic. The last two winners at Troon, Justin Leonard and Todd Hamilton both won the Honda Classic around Country Club Mirasol in 2003 and 2004 respectively. Now I guess that might not be that interesting unless you take into account the fact that it was Hamilton’s only other win on Tour.

This told me that there must be some sort of link so I looked a little deeper. The other two winners at CCM were Padraig Harrington and Luke Donald which gives an impression of both short game prowess but also some sort of correlation with links conditions.

Looking at pictures of the course doesn’t make anything immediately obvious however the fairways are undulating, it is exposed, there are plenty of bunkers and the green complexes don’t look too dissimilar. It may be a rather tenuous link but the Honda Classic in general has always thrown up good Open players and it is interesting that Harrington went on to win his 2nd Honda Classic at the new host course which is located in the same area as Mirasol at Palm Beach Gardens. Marc Calcavecchia and Tom Weiskopf have also won the Honda as well as a Troon Open so while I can’t fully explain it I’m going to take the hint and back Luke Donald accordingly.

I backed him last week at 50/1 and he had an ok week finishing in 45th place as he struggled to get anything going but it will have been good preparation all the same . For someone who doesn’t have the best of major records his Open results are actually a little bit better than you might think. Since 2009 he has 4 Top 12 finishes and Donald is probably another that has taken some time to get used to the unique challenges of an Open Championship. Two of those were T5th finishes and they both occurred on proper links layouts, Turnberry and Royal Lytham.

He currently ranks 6th for scrambling and if his short game is anywhere near its best then Troon should play to Donald’s strengths. If the wind gets too severe then he might struggle but he has always coped well in light winds having won at Castle Stuart and Wentworth.

He also has the advantage of having played Troon competitively 12 years ago even if he did miss the cut when a far less accomplished player. Over the last few years we have seen a few older winners that have perhaps arrived not expecting too much. Playing without that pressure can surely only be an advantage and when Donald was at his peak it appeared to often be the expectations that ruined his chances with a poor opening round. I’m expecting him to have a good week and his price has more than a touch of value at 150/1.

 

Given the nature of Hamilton’s win and a couple of other left field American winners this century, I was keen to get an outsider from the US onside. The Honda Classic link has thrown up Russell Henley who won it in 2014 and given that we know his two main strengths are long, accurate driving and putting it seems fair to part with some cash at a massive 250/1. He also had his best Open finish in three attempts last year finishing T20th.

He hasn’t been at his best in 2016 missing a lot of cuts but yet he still ranks 4th in total driving, 36th in scrambling and 12th in 3-putt avoidance. He also pulled out a 7th place finish from nowhere at the Fed Ex St Jude Classic a few weeks ago so it hasn’t been all bad for him. His stats combined with the Honda link and a tasty price make him look like the sort of dark horse who could come alive on a course like Troon that clearly suits players from the USA.

With the short prices of the front 4 and most bookies paying 6 places there is a lot of value around so I have added a couple of late picks just on price alone.

 

Patrick Reed and Kevin Kisner are no strangers to this blog and I rate them both very highly. Reed is one of the best scramblers in the world game but it has been his putter that has stopped him from pushing on in 2016. He arrives fresh from two closing 67s in Scotland last week and if he can keep that going then he should go well. His price probably reflects how poorly he has done in the bigger tournaments this year but I think he has a chance on any course where scrambling is vital. It could be that his driving gets him into trouble this week but 66/1 for a proven winner who excels in the wind looks too good to pass up.

Kevin Kisner could just have the perfect profile for the week and I must admit he wasn’t really on my radar for this until I saw his price. He is a general 200/1 and that seems far too high and surely must be backed. His form has dropped off a little in 2016 after closing 2015 brilliantly with his 1st win. His stats still look very solid for this week’s test though as he ranks 32nd for total driving, 20th in 3-putt avoidance and 10th in putting inside 10ft. It isn’t even like he is in terrible form right now with a 16th place finish at Firestone last time out. That is another tough driving course and with his long game clearly in good nick I’d expect a strong showing in Scotland from Kisner.

Lee Westwood has a brilliant record at Troon having finished T10th in 1997 and then T4th in 2004. We know he is in excellent form having been in contention at both 2016’s majors so  far. Unfortunately he played poorly again when properly in the heat of battle and so it is hard to recommend a win bet this week despite the fact he is sure to play well. Instead I will back him for his 19th major Top 10 at his 74th attempt. A stat which makes the 5/1 available look great value even without considering his brilliant course form.

monty

There is just no way I can get away from having some sort of bet on Colin Montgomerie this week at his home course as he returns to The Open after 6 years away. It is just a question of how to back him. With his recent success in Senior majors he will be confident of a good showing here and I’m going to have a small play on the 1st round leader and the Top 20 markets. Betfred are offering a huge standout price of 14/1 for the Top 20 and that looks like perhaps the best piece of value around this week.

Dustin Johnson came good with a place in the 1st round leader market at the US Open and backing him to be leading on the Thursday would have yielded some serious profits over the last 18 months. I don’t see any reason to stop despite how obvious a bet it is.

I’m also going to play Callum Shinkwin in the 1st round leader market. He will be arriving full of confidence having qualified for this with a 9th place finish at the Open De France before firing a closing 65 in Scotland last week on his way to another Top 10. Countless times we have seen young, relative unknowns surge up the leaderboard at the Open on a Thursday. Shinkwin currently ranks 2nd in total driving and 18th in GIR over the last three months and finished 7th in the all-round ranking last week so I think he could easily take to Troon. It’s a tall ask for him to even contend but if he carries on from that final round at Castle Stuart then he could outplay his odds of 150/1

 


Summary of Bets

Rickie Fowler – 3pts ew @ 33/1

Patrick Reed – 1pt ew @ 66/1

Graeme Mcdowell – 1pt ew @ 90/1

Kevin Kisner – 0.5pt ew @ 200/1

Luke Donald – 0.5pt ew @ 150/1 and 2pts Top 20 @ 5/1

Russel Henley – 0.5pt ew @250/1 and 1pt Top 20 @ 9/1

Lee Westwood – 2pts Top 10 @ 5/1

Colin Montgomerie – 1pt Top 20 @ 14/1 with Betfred and 0.5pts ew 1st round leader @ 150/1

Dustin Johnson – 1pt ew 1st round leader @ 16/1

Calum Shinkwin – 0.5pt ew 1st round leader @ 150/1

Outright winner bets are 6 places this week.

Weekly outlay 23pts

@theGreek82

The Scottish Open – Betting Preview

Last week we came extremely close to a winner with Scott Piercy and it was a bit agonising to see Dustin Johnson saunter through the field to pip him by 1 shot. But as expected Piercy massively outplayed his odds and he managed to make it a profitable week with 21 pts returned. Hopefully that is a sign of things to come as we enter the start of the summer golf season and it leaves the results as follows.

Total points advised – 682.50pts

Total points returned – 749.79pts

ROI – 9.86%

This means that with just one week to go until the 1st anniversary of the blog, it is guaranteed to finish in profit. It has been a little tougher in 2016 with the winners drying up but there have been enough places and I would certainly have taken a +ve ROI when I started out last July. Thanks to everyone that has read this over the year, it is certainly most appreciated.


The Scottish Open

This week we just have the one tournament with the Greenbrier Classic literally being a washout in West Virginia, but it’s a cracker as the European Tour takes us to the Scottish Open. Not only is it a tournament used to help prepare players for The Open Championship the following week, but it could help from a punting point of view given the conditions in Scotland will be quite similar. Five of the last six Open winners have played the Scottish Open the week before so it is definitely worth keeping an eye on proceedings in Inverness.

After a couple of years away visiting Aberdeen and East Lothian, The Scottish Open returns to the Inverness area and to Castle Stuart which hosted from 2011 to 2013. While the course is definitely a links course and exposed to the Moray Firth coastal conditions, it doesn’t represent the stiff test that Royal Troon will next week and it is usually a bit of a birdie fest.

The three winning scores were -17 (Phil Mickelson 2013), -17 (Jeev-Milkha Singh 2012) and -19 (Luke Donald in just 3 rounds due to torrential rain) so unless the weather takes a turn for the worse then I would expect more of the same this year.

Castle Stuart stands as a 7193 yard Par 72 and that average length combined with some of the widest fairways you will see on a Scottish Championship standard links course, means the layout is there for the taking for some of the bigger hitters. It makes hitting greens easier for them with the shorter clubs in hand especially given the number of elevated greens at the course. There is still the chance to play knock down shots into some of the greens but ultimately getting the ball out there off the tee appears to be an advantage around Castle Stuart.

Castle-Stuart-Golf-Scottish-Open-2012-40

With some reasonably steady winds forecast then distance control will be paramount but inevitably greens will be missed and scrambling will be important as it always seems to be on any links course. With tighter lies around the greens than on parkland courses, a lot more imagination is required to get up and down on links courses and those can play the lower bump and runs from 40 yards and in will fare well.

If we look at the three previous renewals then we see these two attributes are backed up somewhat. Mickelson ranked 7th in driving distance, Singh was 13th but Donald only ranked 67th. In terms of scrambling then Mickelson ranked 3rd and Singh 2nd but again Donald was the slight anomaly only ranking 33rd. But given we know what a great scrambler Donald is then we can perhaps ignore that as he ranked 2nd for GIR so he would have had far fewer opportunities to get up and down.

It does also suggest that there is more than one way to win at Castle Stuart but I’d certainly want anyone I was backing to be prominent in at least two out of the three key attributes (driving distance, scrambling and GIR)

So where do we start with our search for an in-form links exponent that is reasonably priced?

Well given the high-profile of this tournament there is no shortage of talent on show and a case can be made for nearly half the field as there are plenty that have shown form in Scotland, be it here or the Alfred Dunhill, Johnnie Walker or The Open itself. I’d certainly think twice about backing anyone that doesn’t have at least a Top 10 in Scotland but I’d also go a little further and ideally want experience of the course itself. With this being an easier links course than normal I think knowing when to be aggressive from previous editions will be beneficial this week.

The market is headed deservedly by Henrik Stenson fresh off a win in Germany 9 days ago and with him having the taste of victory again, the assured links player can be expected to go well on a course where he has finished 3rd and 8th on his two appearances. His odds of 9/1 are almost appealing too, but I’d imagine that he is using this as a chance to reacclimatise to links golf ahead of The Open as he continues his quest for his 1st major. That’s not to say he can’t and won’t win but I’d expect there are others hungrier for a week in the heat of the battle than Stenson.

Branden Grace and Phil Mickelson are the next two up and they have both shown plenty at Castle Stuart before and the course undoubtedly suits them. Mickelson won in 2013 before famously going on to win at Muirfield the week after and Grace chased him home that year. Their chances must be respected but they both appear maybe a tiny bit short for not quite being bang on their game at the minute. With such a deep field there are a lot of decent prices about further down the field.

Four years ago Nicolas Colsaerts would have probably been 4th in the betting here as a 22.0 chance in this quality of field. We all know the plummet that his game took however after his 2012 Ryder Cup appearance and he has spent a considerable amount of time in the golfing wilderness. Given the Belgian’s well reported enjoyment of life, it was hard to tell just how much hard work he was putting in to attempt to get his game back. However gradually over the course of this season there has been an improvement and he arrives in Scotland with some very decent form.

His strong start last week in France ended up in a T22nd but that course doesn’t really play to his strengths. Prior to that was a missed cut, again on a fiddlier course than he really wants. But his form before that was 3rd-22nd-23rd-3rd and that gives a better long-term picture of how well he has been playing. The 3rd place finish was at The Nordea Masters on an exposed, long course that favours the bombers.

The upturn of form is also reflected in his stats as he ranks 6th for GIR over the last 3 months. His length off the tee has never been in question and he currently ranks 2nd in driving distance. That has helped him go well at Castle Stuart in the past and there are very few in the field that will have better course form as he finished 8th in 2013, 36th in 2012 and 3rd in 2011. When finishing 8th at the last running he ranked 4th for GIR and while a lot will depend on how Colsaerts putts this week, having his irons dialled in should give him plenty of opportunities to get the putter hot on greens that he knows well.

Golf betting can be difficult enough at the best of times but perhaps one of the trickier aspects can be trying to work out when a previous class-act like Colsaerts is ready to strike again. It has happened time and time again that players have had a few years in the doldrums before getting back to winning ways seemingly from nowhere. But the one common theme is that it tends to be on a course where they are comfortable and have performed well before.

With others in the field perhaps focussed on Royal Troon next week or trying desperately to gain crucial Ryder Cup points, Colsaerts will tee it up at Castle Stuart in his usual laid-back style but most importantly with his game back on track. His only stroke-play win was in China at -24 so he enjoys a low scoring tournament and if he can have an average week with the short stick then I think he will contend on a course that sets up perfectly for him off the tee.

Luke Donald is a bit of a horses-for-courses type and some of his stats this year are extremely good , suggesting that his short game could be back to its best. He currently ranks 8th in scrambling and 13th in 3-putt avoidance.

If that is the case then an open track like Castle Stuart where he has won before looks to be a great place for him to get back to winning ways. He very nearly won the RBC Heritage in April on The PGA Tour when just getting beaten into 2nd by Branden Grace. That is another course where scrambling can be key. He finished down the field in 45th last week but he ranked 5th in scrambling and 26th in GIR so he isn’t far away from another big week. I’m going with a small outright play but given how much he used to love a top 10 finish in his prime, I will also have a dabble in that market.

Tyrrell Hatton was on a great run of form before he missed the cut in Germany two weeks ago but that result came after three weeks off for the young Englishman. Prior to that his form figures read 20-7-5-13-12 in some decent fields. The 5th place finish was in Ireland in similar conditions to this week and the 7th was at the BMW PGA Championship which was a field of the same stature he faces this week and always features blustery conditions. He got back on track last week with a T33rd finish but this looks more suited to his game.

Hatton has always had the appearance of a good links player not least because of his brilliant scrambling skills and he currently ranks 1st in that department. He is especially good at getting up and down from tight lies on fast greens and that will help him this week.

He hasn’t actually played Castle Stuart competitively yet but he already has an impressive bank of Scottish Open form. A 5th place finish at Royal Aberdeen was followed by a 22nd at Gullane last year. Throw in a 5th place finish at Paul Lawrie’s Match Play Tournament at Murcar Links and a 10th place finish at The Scottish Challenge down the road at Aviemore and you can see that this is a player completely at home on a links golf course.

If that wasn’t enough he also finished top of my stats model where I considered driving distance, GIR, scrambling and total putting over the last 3 months. So with odds of 66/1 he simply has to be backed here this week on a course that he will surely enjoy.

Padraig Harrington played last week in France and it isn’t a tournament that he usually attends with just four career starts there. So if that wasn’t interesting enough the fact that his putter was behaving (16th in total putting) and he was driving it well (5th in total driving) really jumped out at me. He finished 30th but that should have his game in great shape for two weeks of links golf and he ranked 6th in the all-round ranking. The two-time Open champion is one of the best links players of his generation so odds of 10/1 for a Top 10 finish when his whole game is in good order look hard to pass up.

Matthew Southgate ranked 4th in GIR and 3rd in scrambling on his way to a T11th finish in France and that combination makes him a big player again this week. It’s another strong field but a Top 20 looks very achievable again and the 15/2 available looks very fair.

While I like the chances of the three outright picks they are by no means guaranteed to play well so I would like a small saver on Henrik Stenson just incase. He will surely figure over the weekend so should things go wrong he will hopefully give us a chance of recouping our stakes.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat is a player that likes to start fast and he has quite a few low rounds in him. He managed to win the Paul Lawrie Matchplay around a very narrow Murcar Links and I’m not sure how as his driving was very wayward. He scrambled and putted superbly though and with the extra room off the tee at Castle Stuart he could shoot a 64/65 if he finds his silky putting stroke. If he can do that on the Thursday then he might prove to be a worthwhile play in the 1st round leader market at 66/1.


Summary of bets

Nicolas Colsaerts – 1pt ew @ 50/1

Luke Donald – 0.5pt ew @ 55/1 and 1pt Top 10 @ 9/2

Tyrrell Hatton – 1pt ew @ 66/1

Padraig Harrington – 1pt Top 10 @ 10/1

Matthew Southgate – 1pt Top 20 @ 15/2

Kiradech Aphibarnrat – 0.5pt ew 1st round leader @ 66/1

Henrik Stenson – 1pt win saver @ 9/1

Weekly outlay – 10pts

Total outlay – 692.50

@theGreek82

 

Memorial Tournament and Nordea Masters – Betting Preview

Last week at Wentworth seemed to sum up 2016’s betting so far. Going into the final round Hatton was 2nd, Westwood was 3rd and Cabrera-Bello was 7th so it looked almost unthinkable that none of them would finish in the Top 6. That’s exactly what happened though and if that wasn’t hard enough to take, David Toms bogeyed two holes late on in the US to fall out of the Top 20 for another week with no returns.

I have limited time this week so unfortunately this will be quite brief. In the US we have a brilliant looking field assembled for The Memorial Tournament but it’s all a bit dull again in Europe with a weaker looking field at the Nordea Masters in Sweden.

The profits have taken another hit and are now sitting as follows

Total pts advised – 636

Total pts returned – 722.80

ROI – 13.6%


Memorial Tournament

This week its Jack’s turn as the Tour heads to Muirfield Village in Ohio for The Memorial Tournament. The Muirfield course was designed by Jack Nicklaus and named after the scene of his first Open win in East Lothian. I’m not sure Nicklaus would have agreed with Muirfield’s recent decision to vote against Women members such is his willingness to promote the Ladies game but nevertheless it was a favourite of his and he created a course in Ohio of similar status in the game as it now heralded as one of the best stops on Tour.

It was opened in 1976 and has hosted The Memorial Tournament ever since producing an impressive roll call of winners. The course itself is 7337 Yards long and the fairways are of average width. There isn’t too much immediate trouble barring some lush green rough and it is very much a typical Nicklaus course as it is all about the approach shots and then what you do on and around the greens. Recent winners have been accurate drivers but a look at the stats confirm Muirfield Village’s increasing difficulty as you get nearer the hole. The last 5 winners have averaged just 22nd for total driving yet they have averaged 14th for GIR and 12th for scrambling. While putting is always important, Memorial is usually won with approach play but perhaps the most apparent stats information is how well the 5 winners have fared in the all-round ranking, suggesting the importance of doing nothing badly during the week rather than perhaps doing any one thing brilliantly. The average all round ranking for the last 5 winners is 3.6 and with such an elite field assembled here this week it looks a prudent play to side with someone whose whole game is decent order. With tricky, undulating, elevated greens, Muirfield tests all aspects of the iron game and it is a ball striker’s course undoubtedly. Approach shots need to be kept on a string to score well and Matsuyama who won this two years ago has some of the best distance control in the game.

In addition to previous form around Muirfield, other Nicklaus tracks are worth looking at too, Glen Abbey GC which hosted the Canadian Open in 2004, 208, 2009, 20013 and 2015, Sherwood GC which hosted Tiger’s World Challenge from 2000-2013, Valhalla where Rory Mcilroy won the USPGA in 2014 and Greenbrier which hosts the Greenbrier Classic and was redesigned by Nicklaus in 1977.

The top 3 ranked players in the world are all here and to make things even more interesting they all arrive looking for their 2nd win in a row. Over the last few years they have all shown their ability to hold their form and win back-to-back so it would take an exceptional effort for anyone to finish above Day, Mcilroy and Spieth, but if they did they would surely be top of the leaderboard come Sunday evening.

There aren’t a lot of players capable of staying with them if they hit their best form but the bookies are very aware of this and this has thrown up a lot of apparent value down the field (only 9 players trading below 50/1) but I’m not convinced that these juicy prices would be anything more than value losers. Should any of the market leaders start well then all trading potential will be lost on the bigger prices and it looks like a week to side with one of “the big three”. Between them they have won 16 of the last 62 PGA Tour events but there were plenty of those Tournaments where none of them actually played so a more accurate figure would be 16 in 48 or a 33% strike rate. That makes dutching Mcilroy, Spieth and Day at odds of 2.76 look like a worthwhile play here. I really can’t separate them this week but with the form they are in I expect one of them to win.

With the media having been very quick to label them the big three, each of them will be hugely motivated to win this week to set a marker down to the other two with the US Open just two weeks away. Over the last few years since Tiger’s dominance we have seen many of the game’s best players attempt to peak for Major Tournaments. But these three are playing to a level beyond that and they won’t be in the slightest bit worried about heading to Oakmont in two weeks having won both of their previous two starts.

Not only are they in form but unsurprisingly they all rank highly in the relevant stats and in the all-round ranking Mcilroy is 1st, Day 3rd and Spieth 5th over the last 3 months. Rose (2nd) and Stenson (4th) aren’t even here this week. They each have plenty of form either at Muirfield Village or other Nicklaus courses with Mcilroy having won at Valhalla, Day having won at Glen Abbey last summer and Spieth finishing 3rd in this last year.

In fact the more I think about it, the more I like the idea of the combined bet. Unfortunately it isn’t much of a price but given how hard it has been to pick a winner this year having all 3 running for us could be a welcome change. A 2.76 winner is better than a 60/1 loser and some returns are badly needed so a different strategy for a difficult looking week may pay off.

Ricky Barnes looks worth a small interest this week given his approach play last week. He ranked 2nd in GIR and he has 3 Top 25s from 4 appearances here with an impressive 3rd place finish on his debut in 2010 being the pick of those.

 


 Nordea Masters

The European Tour moves north to Sweden this week for The Nordea Masters and it returns to Bro Hof Slot GC (Robert Trent Jones Jnr design) after two years away at PGA National. There is plenty of course form with Bro Hof having hosted from 2010-2013 and the list of winners suggests that it is another ball-strikers course. I haven’t had a great deal of time to look at this so I’m just including a few small plays.

Tyrrell Hatton had a poor final round last week to fall out of the places but I don’t want to give up on him just yet. His price isn’t fantastic this week but again his stats look a good fit for the course and he arrives in better form than anyone in the field. He is 14th in driving distance, 3rd in GIR and 1st in scrambling. Last weekend was one of the few times where he has been in with a proper chance of winning going to bed on Saturday night and I would expect him to have learned a lot from the experience. We have seen many players on both Tours win the week after such a disappointment and even at 25/1 I think he looks the best play in this field with Stenson and Westwood looking very short at 7/1 and 14/1 respectively.

While you usually have to be a long hitter to prosper around the 7500 yard plus Bro Hof Slott course there are a few instances where other types of players have prospered. This week’s US Open Qualifying threw up some interesting results with Mikael Lundberg and Matteo Manassero qualifying in 2nd and 9th place respectively. Both players are short hitters but they have also won multiple European Tour titles and it is interesting that they have both returned to form.

Manassero finished 4th at Bro Hof Slott in 2013 on his only appearance so with him arriving here on a high I think he looks over priced this week. He ranks 3rd in GIR for the last 3 months so if he can get the putter going then he could outplay his odds of 200/1 which are surely too high in this field for a player of his class.

Mikael Lungberg interests me on Robert Trent Jones Jnr courses after winning twice at Jones’ Moscow Country Club early in his career. So it was a timely return to form for the Swede as he qualified with rounds of 68 and 69. He has been playing recently on the Challenge Tour and not doing an awful lot but with his Major debut to look forward to, a return home to Sweden might just see him go well on a course he has played competitively 3 times before.

 


 

Summary of Bets

Memorial

Jason Day 3pts @ 7.6

Rory Mcilroy 2.75pts @ 8.6

Jordan Spieth 2.75pts @ 8.8

Ricky Barnes 0.25pt ew @ 300/1

Nordea Masters

Tyrrell Hatton – 1pt ew @ 25/1

Matteo Manassero – 0.5pt ew @ 200/1

Mikael Lundberg – 0.25pt ew @ 250/1

No doubles this week.

Weekly outlay – 12.5pts

Total outlay – 648.5 pts

@theGreek82

Arnold Palmer Invitational and Hero Indian Open – Betting Preview

With it being Cheltenham week this will be fairly brief with a limited write up. I haven’t had the time to do as much research as usual so don’t go blowing all your Cheltenham Day 1 profits!

A very good week last week returned 65.38pts for the 3 places and two each way doubles but it still could have been so much better. Although both Scott Hend and Charl Schwartzel were deserving winners it was annoying to have three players bang in contention but ultimately never really look like winning on Sunday. Schwartzel was particularly annoying having backed him on his last 2 US starts but he disappointed at Doral so wasn’t keen to go in again a 3rd time.

Anyway that takes the totals to;

Total pts advised – 476pts

Total pts returned – 610.87

ROI – 28.33%

It also brings 2016 into profit for the first time with a 6% ROI.

This week the Florida Swing winds up at Bay Hill for The Arnold Palmer Invitational and The European Tour stays east for another co-sanctioned event, The Hero Indian Open from Delhi GC.


 

Arnold Palmer Invitational

Henrik

Henrik Stenson is my number one pick this week. His record is excellent at Bay Hill and I can’t have the first two favourites at the prices. Mcilroy disappointed last time out at Doral and Scott is going for a three-timer which is so hard to do. Stenson’s course form the last 6 years reads 2-5-8-15-47-52 and the only place to improve from there is to win. He has also ranked 5th-1st-2nd for GIR the last three years here and it is regularly one of the most important stats around Bay Hill which is very forgiving off the tee. His last two starts have seen him finish 11th and 28th so they too are progressive and he ranked 4th for GIR last week so looks to be rounding nicely into form as The Masters approaches. With the recent roll call of winners on Tour all being top class Stenson would also keep that recent trend going with a win and he looks to have the best chance of doing that at an ok price of 14/1

I wanted to back Paul Casey a few weeks ago such were his impressive GIR stats for the broken down approach yardages. But he didn’t play that week and then I forgot all about him at Doral so was kicking myself when he was on the leaderboard at the start of last week. He fell away over the weekend but still finished 7th and ranked an impressive 10th for GIR, 13th in scrambling and 19th in total putting. That sort of combination is dangerous on any course but even more so where driving is not too important. He also still sits 6th in GIR from 150 yards to 175 yards and that is crucial on any course but particularly one like this. He doesn’t have the best record at Bay Hill with only a 14th in 2007 to note but a 7th place at Doral should have him set up nicely for this test.

I want a classy player for my 3rd pick too and I’m prepared to give Marc Leishman one more go. I won’t repeat myself from two weeks ago at Doral but he has a 3rd place here in 2011 and while he hasn’t gone so well here recently I’d expect to see him return to his Riviera form rather than the up and down game that we witnessed at Doral. He found the water 6 times over the week and still finished 28th so there was a lot of good golf on show hidden in between the errors. If he has sharpened up his approaches on his week off then I expect him to go well again. I also feel a bit burnt from Schwartzel winning last week so don’t want to give up too quickly on Leishman!


 

Hero Indian Open

Even less time has been spent on this Tournament and there is only last year’s tournament to look at for top tier form. So stakes will be small but there are still some angles in. Anirban Lahiri won last year and ranked 2nd for total putting while SSP Chawrasia who chased him home finished 1st. I can only find stats for two of the Asian Tour tournaments here but it is more of the same in terms of the winner. In the Panasonic Open in 2015 Chiragh Kumar ranked 6th in putting when winning and Siddikur Rahman led the field in putting while finishing runner-up. The same tournament in 2014 was won by Chawrasia who again ranked top in putting. You can see the pattern and it is clear that putting is of the utmost importance around this course.

I’m giving Peter Uihlein another go this week as I don’t think he did a lot wrong last week and he is a similar price again in what appears a similar strength field. He ranked 3rd in putting last week and his touch was also excellent around the greens. Better than most of these and can hopefully contend again.

Siddikur Rahman has course form of 2nd-7th-5th and he ranked 1st-4th and 2nd in putting in those events. An extremely short hitter so his missed cut last week can easily be forgiven on a bombers course. He looks a good price at 70/1 given the lack of any real depth here and his superior knowledge of the course.

Chiragh Kumar won The Panasonic Open last year and he finished 19th last week in Thailand. He ranked 1st in putting in Thailand so will relish a return to this course where he won on his last start. Again looks very fair at 100/1.

Anirban Lahiri is a short favourite but is a class above most of these when at his best. He hasn’t been playing great in the US lately but this is a massive drop down in quality. He could easily return to form on a course he knows well so I’m going to stick him in the each way doubles instead of the outsider Kumar


Summary of Bets

Arnold Palmer Invitational

Henrik Stenson – 2pts ew @ 14/1

Paul Casey – 0.5pt ew @ 45/1

Marc Leishman – 0.5pt ew @50/1

Hero Indian Open

Peter Uihlein – 1pt ew @ 22/1

Siddikur Rahman – 0.5pt ew @ 70/1

Chiragh Kumar – 0.5pt ew @ 100/1 and 1pt Top 20 @ 4/1

3×3 0.25 ew doubles – (Stenson, Casey, Leishman) + (Lahiri 17/2, Uihlein, Rahman)

Weekly outaly – 15.5 pts

Total outlay – 491.5pts

@theGreek82