Hero World Challenge – Some bets

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

Total 2017 pts advised = 537

Total 2017 pts returned = 381.21

ROI = -29%

Hero World Challenge

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

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

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

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

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

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

Summary of bets

Hero World Challenge

Brooks Koepka – 3pts win 10/1

Mauritius Open

Darren Fichardt – 0.5pt ew @ 50/1

Australian PGA

Grant Forrest – 1pt Top 20 @ 10/1


Koepka + Oosthuizen ew double – 0.75pt ew @ 82.5

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


Weekly pts advised = 7pts

Total 2017 pts = 540pts



Hero World Challenge – Betting Preview

​When I woke up and turned the highlights of the World Cup on on Sunday morning I saw Japan were -4 through 7 holes and just 3 shots behind Denmark. Stupidly I got a little excited but it was short lived as it soon became evident that Matsuyama was back to his old self on the putting greens and missing everything in sight. With the closing format being better ball, birdies were the order of the day and as the Japanese team’s dried up they were easily overtaken by several hot teams and they couldn’t even hold on for a Top 4 finish.

Another losing week leaves the totals looking like this;

Total points advised = 861.50

Total pts returned = 834.50

ROI = – 3.25 %

Given that this week sees the competitive return of the G.O.A.T at his own foundation’s event, it would be very easy to join the Tiger Woods circus and focus this week’s preview on the great man himself. So that’s exactly what I have done.

By Thursday morning 466 days will have passed since Tiger last played competitive golf at the Wyndham Championship, where he put 4 solid rounds together to finish in T10th place. The golfing landscape is a very different one to which he left but don’t be fooled into thinking it is one that won’t be improved by his presence. That’s not to say golf needs him as many in the media will no doubt try and claim this week but it would be nothing short of disrespectful, not to mention plain wrong, to claim his return isn’t a welcome one. During Woods’ career he single-handedly changed the modern golf game and while fans and journalists alike are spoiled by the number of world class athletes in the game now, most of them have Woods to thank for their massively inflated bank balances. You could argue that along with Michael Jordan in the years before him, they changed what being a modern sportsman is all about and they took being an elite sports star to another level.

Opinion is split on just what level Woods will get back to but where it really shouldn’t be split is the level that people hope he gets to. He is currently four majors shy of Nicklaus’ total of 18 and three PGA Tour wins shy of Sneed’s 82 and while this will be his first tournament back I would expect us to have a better idea of what might be possible come Sunday. I hope to see him put four decent rounds together this week, not finish a distant last and then hopefully push on in the New Year. There is no question that world golf is in a very healthy position right now but having a competitive Tiger Woods back on Tour would be the cherry on top of what already looks to be a very exciting 2017. Let’s hope that is the case.

As for the tournament itself, well the Hero World Challenge is a Tiger Woods Foundation benefit tournament and always used to be held at Sherwood Country Club until 2014 when it moved to Isleworth Golf and Country Club. It moved again last year as the 18-man elite field found themselves in the Bahamas on a new course in Albany. Last year we were going in a little blind with Ernie Els having only designed the course in 2010 and it had never hosted a professional tournament before. While there are no stats readily available for the 2015 leaderboard, we can still hopefully take a few pointers. There are also a number of pros that are members of the course and own a house on the resort but that didn’t appear to help Justin Rose last year as he struggled.

It looks a tournament where current form will be the most important factor this week as well as trying to work out whose game might be suited to the test. As we would expect with an 18 man field the odds are all very short so value will be a little tougher to find. Last year’s first two home had both been playing well with Bubba having finished 3rd last time out and Patrick Reed was on a run of 7th-2nd-10th. Although played on a different course we see the same with previous winners. In 2014 Spieth had just won the Australian Open the week before and Stenson (2nd) had scooped the DP World Championship two weeks prior. In 2013 Zach Johnson was having a very good season with Top 10s in the Open and PGA preceding a win during the Fed Ex Series at the BMW Championship and 3pts out of 4 at the Presidents Cup. Tiger Woods finished runner-up to him and he was back at World No. 1 and finishing up a year which included 5 PGA Tour wins. In 2012 Graeme McDowell had gone 12th -2nd -5th -11th in that season’s majors and 2nd placed Bradley had won the WGC Bridgestone and won 3pts on his Ryder Cup debut just weeks earlier. The World Challenge isn’t a tournament for turning around a bad year. 

The course is long (7400 yards) and the fairways are very wide with no rough to speak of at all. Instead the fairways are surrounded by lush white bunkers that resemble the sort of waste areas we have seen recently at Whistling Straits, Chambers Bay and Dove Mountain. The flat, wide and winding fairways also resemble Lake Malaren a little to me which along with Dove Mountain are Jack Nicklaus designs and Albany certainly has that second shot course appearance that you associate with Nicklaus courses. For the extremely errant off the tee there are some tall grasses growing in these waste areas but they appear to be another 10-15 yards back into the sand. The greens are quite well protected but are not too undulating and they are of a decent size so plenty birdies will be made as long as greens are hit and Bubba Watson’s winning score of -26 last year is testament to that. I’d expect more of the same this year so looking at current form and particularly recent GIR and birdie average numbers will be pertinent.

Additionally some players still have motivation in December but many of these will be treating this as the start of their Christmas holiday period with a nice family jaunt to The Bahamas. Previous evidence of still being motivated at this time of year and in particular this tournament will be a big plus in Albany this week.

Brooks Koepka maybe isn’t the best of prices in the Bahamas but he fits the profile of a World Challenge winner perfectly. While he hasn’t managed a PGA Tour win this year he has done everything but. The big hitting American has had two runner-up finishes and another six top 10s. Despite being forced to miss the Open through injury he will still look back on a very good year in the majors as he finished 21st at the Masters, 13th at the US Open and 4th at the US PGA. 

He also made his Ryder Cup debut 2 months ago and he won 3 points out of 4 to help the US team to a comfortable victory. This helped him to fly out of the blocks in the 2017 wraparound season and he very nearly won the Shriners but again had to settle for 2nd place. Throughout his relatively short career he has shown a willingness to travel to improve his game. Coming through both the Challenge Tour and the European Tour he has shown himself to be able to play on all sorts of courses in all kinds of conditions. This was evident again when he travelled to Japan three weeks ago to take part in the Dunlop Phoenix Open. He finally got his 2016 win in what was actually a reasonably strong field for the Japanese Tour. His winning score in Miyazaki was -21 and that has been the norm with his professional wins as they have come at -16, -27, -24, -18, -21, -17 and -15. That ties in nicely with Bubba’s winning score of -26 at the Albany course last year so his game should be suited by the low scoring nature of the course. That was the case last year as Koepka himself got to -18 to finish in 7th place and with him playing as well as anyone in the field I think he has a good chance of winning this on his second look.

Koepka has also performed well on the two tracks that are visually similar as he finished T18th at Chambers Bay and then T5th at Whistling Straits. He currently ranks 18th in GIR from 175-200 yards and 10th in proximity to the hole from 200-225 yards and that long iron game together with his power off the tee is why he plays long courses like Albany so well. He also sits 27th in birdie average so we know the putter is behaving again after turning a little cold earlier in the year.

It’s an extremely strong field but I think he will have more motivation than most as he aims to lay a marker down for the 2017 season and with a strong year in the majors, a winning Ryder Cup debut, brilliant recent form as well as some course form, I think he looks the man to beat this year. 

I have had a quick look at the tournaments in both South Africa and Australia but they are both dominated by their home favourites and they both look very hard to oppose. So instead for an interest I’m having as solid a looking double as you will find in golf on Charl Schwartzel and Adam Scott at around 16/1.

                       Summary of bets

Hero World Challenge 

Brooks Koepka – 2pts ew @ 12/1

Other tournaments

Charl Schwartzel (Alfred Dunhill) + Adam Scott (Australia PGA) – 2pts win double at 16.5/1 

Weekly points advised – 6pts

Overall pts advised – 867.50 pts


Hero World Challenge, Nedbank Golf Challenge and Australian PGA Championship – Betting Preview

It was an agonising final round in both Australia and South Africa on Sunday. After their respective 3rd rounds it looked like there was a strong possibility of Spieth and Schwartzel both winning, Scott and Grace both placing, along with Curlewis making at least the Top 20. Rumford even looked like he could make a run at the Top 5 as he started his final round strongly.

But despite playing some truly awful golf at times, combined with suspect decision-making, Matt Jones somehow managed to hold off two Masters champions to win his national Open. It’s a result that I think can be considered a bit of a one-off. Spieth and Scott finished one shot shy after both playing some fairly poor golf across the 4 days and I would certainly give them as much respect lining up in this again next year.

In South Africa Branden Grace appeared to have his whole family trading him on the Exchanges such was his up and down week. (obviously not serious!) He gave Schwartzel (and indeed the field) a huge head start prior to the weekend and never got close enough to mount a challenge. Annoyingly though he managed to find the water twice in his last three holes for two bogeys when par would have given him 4th place. Schwartzel never looked comfortable over the weekend and even admitted so in his post round interview. But as I mentioned in the preview, such is the gulf in class between the top 3  and the rest of the field last week, none of the chasers could even put the slightest pressure on Schwartzel and in the end he managed to wobble his way to a 4 shot victory even with some suspect tee shots. In truth his putter won him the tournament and should he recover his driving game then he should be able to pull himself back towards the World’s Top 10 in 2016. That said, he remains a player to think twice about steaming into at short prices.

Andrew Curlewis started the day inside the Top 20 and when he birdied the 2rd hole he was briefly inside the Top 10. Unfortunately that was a close as he got and his whole round unravelled from the 8th as he went bogey-double bogey to leave me cursing the lack of liquidity in the southern hemisphere exchange markets which meant I couldn’t trade any profit from his position on Saturday.

The returns weren’t great but it was an interesting week just to explore a different way of making profit from two very top-heavy markets. In hindsight  I don’t think it was a bad way to go as  it can be regarded as very low probability that both Spieth would find himself not chasing down a player of Matt Jones calibre and Grace wouldn’t maintain a placed finish with just a Par 5 to play. Either of which would have given a decent profit on the week. With 7.93 pts returned it leaves the running totals as follows;

Total pts advised – 300

Total pts returned – 443.71

ROI – 47.9%

This week we have a slightly different set of tournaments again with two short elite fields in both the Hero World Challenge and the Nedbank Golf Challenge. I’ll also be looking at The Australian PGA Championship and will be considering each way trebles this week given the low odds. Both the main events look extremely hard to call so while I’m using a similar staking plan as usual this week I wouldn’t want anyone blowing all their Christmas cash so it might be worth keeping overall stakes a little lower this week.

Hero World Challenge

The Hero World Challenge is a Tiger Wood’s Foundation benefit tournament and was always held at Sherwood Country Club. It moved to Isleworth Golf and Country Club last year and it is on the move again this week. The 18-man elite field find themselves in The Bahamas on a new course in Albany. With the course never having held a tournament before it looks highly likely to level the playing field of course form however it should be noted that several professionals are in fact members of the course.

It looks a tournament where current form will be the most important factor this week as well as trying to work out whose game might be suited to the test. As we would expect with an 18 man field the odds are all very short so value will be a little tougher to find.

From the photos I have seen and the descriptions I have found, the course is long (7400 yards) and looks to be links like in nature with plenty of hills and mounds helping to define each hole. The fairways however are flat and many are surrounded by sand waste areas. Hopefully Dustin Johnson reads the local rules this week!

                        reedSome players still have motivation in December but many of these will be treating this as the start of their Christmas holiday period with a nice family jaunt to The Bahamas. Patrick Reed is one player who is clearly still in the zone having played very well throughout the European Tour Final Series with 3 Top 10 finishes. An in form Reed can go well on almost any course such is his short game prowess and he looks primed to add a win to his recent strong form. Having savoured every minute of his Ryder Cup debut he will be keen to use this as a springboard to his 2016 season to make sure he doesn’t miss out on a first Ryder Cup on US soil. His iron game was in great shape in Europe (averaging well over 80% for GIR) and his confident attitude should help him around this new course. I’m expecting a big week from Reed.

There aren’t a lot of other players that jumped out at me. Spieth wasn’t striking the ball anywhere close to his best last week, Bubba Watson hasn’t been seen since the WGC HSBC where he had a poor week, Justin Rose closed out the DP World Championship with one of his worst rounds of the year. Dustin Johnson usually fares well at this time of year but given his high-profile collapses earlier this year he is hard to support at such low odds even if he does look very well suited to the course.

Last week in Australia Adam Scott finished in T2nd place after a very poor opening couple of rounds. On Thursday alone he hit 2 double bogeys and carded a further 7 bogeys throughout the week. The fact he managed to stay in touch with Spieth and Jones was very impressive and testament to the quality of his long game. Scott can demolish par 5s and he should love it here in Albany where he will face 5 of them each day. We have also seen how well he plays Links golf with the best Open record bar none over the last 4 years – 10th, 5th, 3rd, 2nd. Scott is at his best on tougher courses where his tee to green game can help him contend regardless of how his flat stick performs so I’m hoping Albany won’t play too easy this week. There is no question that the pending anchoring ban will be playing very strongly on his mind but I think his putting woes are factored into a rather juicy looking price of 16/1. It wasn’t long ago that he going off this price in full field Majors.

Nedbank Golf Challenge

On paper this should be an easier Tournament to find a betting angle into. The Gary Player Country Club course in Sun City has hosted this since 1981 and so we have plenty course form to go on. In addition to that many of these players have been playing plenty of golf lately so we know who is arriving with their game in top shape. The course is long at 7800 yards but it is at altitude so it doesn’t play all of that. The fairways are Kikuyu grass which is the norm down in South Africa and it can play as a slightly specialist grass, boosting the chances of those who play well in South Africa. The greens this week are bentgrass and will play around medium speed, getting faster as we approach Sunday.

fisher_480x288_1There is a case to be made for a few of the players at the head of the market and I did consider them for the each way trebles. But two players stand out for me on current form and course form. Ross Fisher finished the 2015 season strongly with a 3rd place finish at the WGC HSBC and then a decent enough T13 at the BMW Masters. On both those occasions he had his usually impressive GIR figures with rankings of 10th and 2nd. Fisher has a strong record not only in this tournament but in SA on the whole. He finished 2nd last year at Sun City and that is no surprise on a long, tight course where finding the fairways and greens is a tough test. His last win also came in South Africa in 2014’s Tshwane Open and he has several other Top 10s in South Africa over the years. Fisher is top class when on form and playing on a course that suits, so he looks to be about the best value in the field this week.

Thongchai Jaidee has been playing some excellent golf not only the last three months but largely throughout 2015. His recent form reads 31st (a final round 77 dropping him off the DP World Championship leaderboard), 3rd, 11th and throughout that time the bookmakers have been consistently showing the 46yr old Thai very little respect. Again this week we find him at odds of 33/1 and that looks more than fair when we see he finished 7th and 9th on his last two shots at Sun City and won as recently as September on the European Tour. On paper you could dismiss him on such a long course but Jaidee’s accuracy with his woods and hybrids is excellent so he will still find plenty of greens this week which will allow his brilliant putting to keep up with the pack.

Although having his first look at the course there is one more that interests me. Byeong Hun An finished the season better than anyone, playing the Final Series in a total of 59 under par. He is long off the tee and usually straight but he has been quite wayward of late. His win at Wentworth showed that he can keep the ball in play off the tee when required and it may be that he is one of those players who actually enjoys having the tree-lined fairways dictate his shot shape to him. His approach play and putting were consistently excellent over the last 6 weeks so I’d expect him to contend again. His price looked a little short when he opened but I see he has drifted to 20/1 which looks very fair. I wasn’t really looking for a 3rd pick in this but I don’t think I can leave any of them out and if just one of the three place then we will see stakes returned on the tournament.

With the Australian PGA Championship taking place and two restricted fields I’m going to go with each way trebles this week. Obviously it is hard enough to get winning doubles but with a recent winner and two placed efforts last week I think it’s worth some small stakes, each way cross trebles for something different.

I won’t go into much detail about the Australian PGA Championship but one thing we notice time after time in these Triple Crown events is that they are usually won by a top class player who is proven on the hard, fast, Australian conditions. I wanted to back Brandt Snedeker here but I have been stung by him before when travelling to Asia or Australia. In theory he should take very well to these sorts of courses as he is one of the best putters around on fast greens. However his ball striking can let him down and there is nothing to suggest that his game is in good enough shape to warrant a restrictive looking price of 12/1.

Rod Pampling (33/1) and Brett Rumford (20/1) both played well last week and are experienced on these types of courses. Pampling is a native Queenslander and hails from just 50 miles north of this week’s Gold Coast course. He closed with a course record 61 last week to give the leading pack a little bit of a scare but ultimately he came up just short to finish 4th. That will leave him oozing with confidence and at 46 years old he will take inspiration from Peter Senior’s (aged 56!) win two weeks ago at The Australian Masters. Rumford was striking the ball excellently last week and it was bizarrely his normally razor-sharp short game that was letting him down. That won’t happen two weeks in a row and without any of the world’s elite here this week he will be confident of getting his 2nd win in Australia of the year.

Summary of Bets

Hero World Challenge

Adam Scott – 1.5pt ew @16/1

Patrick Reed – 1pt ew @ 12/1

Nedbank Golf Challenge

Ross Fisher – 1pt ew @ 30/1

Thongchai Jaidee – 1pt ew 33/1

Byeong Hun An – 1pt ew @ 20/1

12 x 0.15pt Each way trebles – (Reed, Scott) x (Fisher, Jaidee, An) x (Pampling, Rumford) = 3.6pts

Additional 0.45pt ew double – Adam Scott and Byeong Hun An = 0.9pt

NOTE: Both the Hero World Challenge and Nedbank Golf Challenge only pay 4 places this week due to restricted fields.

 Weekly Pts advised – 15.5pts

 Total pts advised 314.5