2017 US PGA Championship – Betting Preview

Matsuyama turned the clocks back 10 months to produce one of the great final rounds at Firestone on Sunday to win comfortably and give me a much needed 20/1 winner. His ball-striking was near perfect as he fought off a stellar leaderboard and despite all the noise about McIlroy this week Matsuyama has to be considered the man to beat. More about that shortly.

That leaves the results creeping slowly back to a positive ROI but I still need a strong finish to the year so hopefully we can find some more profit this week at the final major.

2017 pts advised = 353.5pts

2017 pts returned = 294.36pts

ROI = -16.7%

 


 

US PGA Championship

For the last two years I have spoken about this being the least exciting of the majors and also “glory’s last shot” but given how excited I am about it I’m going to forget those tired clichés. Yes we will have to wait 8 months for the next major and yes it probably is the least significant of the four but this week we have the best field of the year assembled at a very fair, classical golf course where the bulk of the field have had a chance to play before. It’s a level playing field, a great course and most of the game’s big names arrive in good form, can we ask for much more? …….a Tiger Woods’ return maybe……

The course is Quail Hollow which has hosted the Wells Fargo Championship since 2003 so many of the field will have played it but not quite in its current guise. It was originally designed by George Cobb in 1961 but Tom Fazio has been back a couple of times recently to help tweak the course to get it set up to host the US PGA. Normally the course has played as quite a long Par 72 but the course has been lengthened in the last year and will play as a 7600 yard Par 71 brute this week. The greens changed from bentgrass to bermuda in 2014 and at the same time they removed lots of trees from around the greens in order to help look after the putting surfaces. Some trees were also removed from the fairways so a course that always suited long drivers is set up even more for the bombers this week.

Recent champions include Rory McIroy, James Hahn, JB Holmes and Rickie Fowler while Phil Mickelson has a host of top 10 finishes and considers the course to be one of his favourites.

One of the telling stats at recent PGA’s is that the winners of the last 10 have all finished in the top 22 of the WGC Bridgestone at Firestone. In 9 of those it was played the week before with last year being the exception due to the Olympics. While stats like that are obviously there to be broken, it is one of the more robust. It makes perfect sense that the winner is arriving in good form and also a classy enough player that they were in the restricted WGC field the week before. I haven’t followed it with every selection but when you look at the big names who meet that requirement there are plenty who are expected to go well this week. To add a little extra excitement Jordan Spieth bids for the career grand slam for the first time here too.

I’ve been back and forth with whether or not to put Hideki Matsuyama up again this week and I can see both sides of the argument here. He hasn’t yet won a major and he will have a lot of pressure on him here to win having romped home last week. His price of 12/1 looks to not really take much of that into account and it does feel a little restrictive. But on his side is how brilliantly he holds his form and the knowledge that if he plays like he did on Sunday he will win. There aren’t too many in the field that arrive here in that position and in truth we still don’t really know how good Hideki is going to be as he is still just 25 years old. I can’t leave him out but if you are struggling with the price just watch the highlights from Sunday again! I won’t repeat any of the stats from last week regarding his exquisite long game but I will add in that he has progressive form figures at Quail Hollow of 38-20-11 and as Dave Tindall pointed out in his excellent preview, Matsuyama has won twice already on bermuda greens in Phoenix.

If we look at Betfair we can still get 14.0 and I’m going win only as if he plays to his best and contends, I don’t expect anyone to get the better of him on Sunday with such positive recent final round memories for the Japanese star.

I’m not at all happy about it but after quite some consideration I decided I have to back Adam Scott here at 45/1. I know he is a terrible putter inside 10ft but he was a terrible putter inside 10ft at the Masters in 2013, just not quite as terrible because he had the long putter. But with any player there has to be a point where they can be backed regardless of such things and I think the 45/1 more than factors in his frailties on the greens. When he won the Masters it poured with rain a lot of the week and the greens were as soft as we have seen them. That certainly removes some of the advantage that good putters have on the greens and it also heightens the advantage that long drivers get off the tee. That is why we so often see the likes of McIlroy, Scott, Dustin Johnson and Bubba Watson go well when it rains as they carry the ball so far with their towering ball flights.

Scott has the all important Top 22 finish last week as he snuck into 13th after firing 3 rounds in the 60s. Scott also has an impressive bank of form in the year’s final major with 10 career top 25s, 4 of those being top 10s. The bulk of that is recent form too with top 25s in 5 of the last 6 US PGAs. Scott also has some strong Quail Hollow form with 3rd, 8th, 16th and 17th place finishes mixed together with three missed cuts. Despite him not being at his best this year he still ranks 17th in the all-round ranking on Tour and also 17th in strokes gained: tee to green. Scott might not hole enough putts to come out on top but 45/1 on a rain softened, 7600 yard course is just too generous an each way price to pass up.

I have no better idea than anyone else which Si-Woo Kim will turn up this week or how fit he might be but while markets rightly focus more heavily on form, they can sometimes be too quick to dismiss class, which, as Bill Shankly fans will tell us, is permanent. Kim, who is still just 22, has already won The Players Championship on bermuda greens and his other PGA Tour win was just 100 miles up the road at Sedgefield Greensboro. That win in the Wyndham was also on bermuda greens so it’s clear he putts better on that surface. Quite what gets his long game going I don’t know but he ranked 6th in GIR at Firestone and the last cut he made was at the US Open where he finished 13th. Kim clearly enjoys playing on the big stage and he looks massively over priced here at a general 200/1. He may well miss the cut but the price is just too big for someone who beat the best field assembled so far in 2017 just three months ago.

Tony Finau looks an interesting outsider this week given his solid record early on in his major career. He has only played in 6 to date but he has returned four top 30s with his first two yielding a 14th in the 2015 US Open at Chambers Bay and a T10th later that year at Whistling Straits. He missed a couple of cuts last year but also has an 18th and 27th at the last two Opens. Finau is one of the longer drivers on Tour (6th in DD) but he is also very aggressive which is probably reflected in the fact that he is 14th for Birdie average. What is perhaps more surprising though is that he is 6th in GIR  as someone who fires at almost every flag would be expected to short side himself and miss quite a lot of the trickier greens. The big hitter also sits in very good company in strokes gained: off the tee as he is 4th behind Rahm, Garcia and Dustin Johnson. Finau certainly appears to have the perfect game for a US PGA set-up and given his results in other majors he appears to thrive in major conditions in general. Unfortunately the bookies have also picked up on this and he has been cut into 80/1.

With his preference being for bent grass greens it could be that he doesn’t make enough birdies this week on the trickier bermuda surfaces but with rain forecast that could be an equaliser on the greens and his profile looks bang on for this test. Furthermore while he may well be better on bent grass greens, he has decent results on other surfaces with a 3rd on the bermuda greens at TPC San Antonio, a 5th on bermuda at the Valspar, a 4th on poa annua at Torrey Pines and his win in Puerto Rico was on sea paspalum greens. Finau may be just be versatile enough where greens are considered.

He has also finished 28th and 16th on his two looks at Quail Hollow. Granted it has changed a bit but with the main change being added length, he will be inconvenienced less than most.  He hasn’t been out of the top 40 in his last 8 starts and two of his last three results have been top 10s so with form simmering he looks a solid enough betting proposition. I’m having a small each way bet and also a larger Top 20.

James Hahn has two wins on Tour so far in his career, at Riviera and here at Quail Hollow. Having won on two classical, championship layouts he is firmly on the minds of punters for majors but the trouble is he hasn’t played in enough to be comfortable yet in the big events. Hahn has played in nine to date and while he missed his first four cuts, he made his next five so there is definitely progress. There is no doubt he has the all-round game for majors and he looks worth a small play here in the outright and top 20 markets.

Brendan Steele obliged with a top 20 at the US Open and he actually looked like he might place for a while. Steele has a great skill set for US majors and as ever he stands out on the stats front this week. Steele ranks 18th in birdie average, 16th in strokes gained: tee to green and 33rd in driving distance.

Steele didn’t quite get the all important top 22 at Firestone although he wasn’t far away finishing 24th. But the lanky Texan hit more greens than anybody else on the week and his last three efforts at Quail Hollow have been 14-9-30 so he is clearly comfortable on the course. He putted poorly at Firestone but I’m hoping the switch to bermuda greens will get him back on track. One of his wins was on bermuda at TPC San Antonio and his other was on poa annua so he may prefer putting away from slick bent grass carpets.

With his lofty position at the US Open until the back 9, Steele showed that he isn’t out of his depth in majors so I’m going to play him in the outright and the top 20 again.

Webb Simpson’s form has been very up and down the last few years and despite not being the longest hitters, his form at Quail Hollow together with being a North Carolina native, make me think he will play well this week. An outright bet might well be wasted given his lack of length and his putting woes since the anchoring ban but a Top 20 looks a possibility for a player who has had 5 in his last 9 starts.

My main 1st round leader bet is a little tenuous but at the same time Alexander Levy makes a habit of starting fast in Europe and I think he could take to Quail Hollow this week. I quite like him for two other reasons here though as he has a habit of excelling on rain-soaked courses as he is one of the most aggressive flag hunters around on either Tour. He only knows one way to play and he is a big hitter too so he won’t find the course too long. The tenuous part is that one of his wins came at the Portugal Masters which seems to tie in a little with Quail Hollow for the Europeans. Lee Westwood and David Lynn have both finished runner-up at Quail and won in Portugal while Robert Karlsson has a top 5 at Quail and two runners-up in Portugal. It’s maybe a bit silly but I’m having a go nevertheless at a sporting 175/1 despite him having a later tee-time.

As we all know Alex Noren can get pretty hot and put up some low numbers and he looks primed to go low again in round 1 here with an early tee time. Noren ranks 5th in round 1 scoring over the last 3 months and his final round 68 at Firestone on Sunday threatened to be even better as he raced to -5 on his front 9. For some reason Swedes have a history of starting fast at the US PGA. Of the 41 players to sit in the top 5 after day one in the last 5 years, 5 of them were Swedish. That is quite a high number given their representation in the field. The rest of the breakdown was 17 US, 6 English, 5 Australian, 2 Northern Ireland and one each from Spain, Italy, Germany, Canada, New Zealand and Argentina. A completely irrelevant stat really but makes the 66/1 about Noren look generous to me.

One final go at the 1st round leader with Patrick Reed who loves bermuda greens and has been playing ok of late. Nothing more than a bit of a hunch but it also gets an American on the Thursday team.


Summary of Bets

Hideki Matsuyama – 5pts win @ 13.5 on Betfair Exchange

Adam Scott – 1pt ew @ 45/1 (8 places, 1/5 odds Betfair Sportsbook)

Si Woo Kim – 0.5pt ew @ 200/1 and 1pt Top 20 @ 9/1

Tony Finau – 0.5pt ew @ 80/1 and 2pts Top 20 @ 7/2

James Hahn – 0.5pt ew @ 200/1 and 1pt Top 20 @ 13/2

Brendan Steele – 0.5pt ew @ 150/1 and 2pts Top 20 @ 11/2

Webb Simpson – 1pt Top 20 @ 9/2

1st Round Leader

Alexander Levy – 0.5pt ew @ 175/1

Alex Noren – 0.5pt ew @ 66/1

Patrick Reed – 0.5pt ew @ 100/1

 

Weekly pts advised = 21pts

2017 pts advised = 374.5

@theGreek82

 

WGC Bridgestone – Betting Preview

Having nearly accepted the demise of Stenson, Poulter and Fowler at Birkdale I’m just about ready for a preview again after a week off. It’s still very annoying as The Open looked like being very profitable at the turn on Saturday with all three sitting inside the top 11 at one point. In the end it there were no returns at all which stopped a profitable run over the last few months.

This week just the WGC from Firestone CC, Ohio as I’m not going to look too much at the Barracuda.

Results as follow;

2017 pts advised= 345.5

2017 pts returned= 240.36

ROI = -30.4%

 


WGC Bridgestone

The WGC Bridgestone is back in its usual spot the week before the US PGA after some scheduling changes last year to accommodate the Olympics. While it isn’t always an identical challenge the one constant with Firestone and whichever course is hosting the US PGA is length. Firestone Country Club is a Robert Trent Jones design and it sits as a 7360 yards Par 70 with some monstrous Par 4s and the longest Par 5 on Tour. Next week’s US PGA is always set up to play as long as possible and subsequently it has become a tournament that has been dominated by the longer hitters.

That similarity coupled with the tournaments being back-to back has brought about a telling stat where the last 10 US PGA winners have finished in the Top 22 at Firestone. Those who aren’t getting too involved from a betting point of view this week should pay close attention their fancies for Quail Hollow next week.

Firestone has been the host of this event in some capacity since 1962 so there is an abundance of course form and over the years a typical sort of winner has been established. The fairways are of average width but unlike most courses there are no dog legs and they all play perfectly straight. This puts straight, accurate drivers at an advantage even before the lush green rough is considered. The last 5 winners have averaged 14th for driving accuracy and while you can get away with missing fairways,  you need to be a good long iron player from the rough to get anywhere near the greens. On the long par 4s a missed fairway results in an approach shot of 200 yards + for most of the field and that is something that not all players are comfortable with.

The greens are relatively big at an average of 7,600 metres sq. but they play as some of the fastest on Tour at around 13″ on the stimp. So with a field average GIR of 55% over the last 5 years then we can see how hard it is to hold the greens. That brings scrambling into the equation and while the likes of Mahan and Johnson don’t immediately stand out as excellent scramblers, they did very well around the greens during the week of their win.

My first pick is someone who I backed regularly in the big tournaments for about 18 months prior to his excellent run, when he began delivering on his world-class promise with nearly flawless golf from November to January. Hideki Matsuyama was the best golfer in the world for two months before he went off the boil a little in 2017 and his putter began to cool down. But there have been plenty of signs in recent weeks that he is getting back to his best and a venue where poorer putters can thrive has arrived at the perfect time for him. His recent results have been very steady if not spectacular and they have helped him to 1st in the all-round ranking over the last 3 months. That complete game will help him around Firestone which is always a difficult test and the long game will have to be firing on all cylinders to win this week. Luckily that is what his game is built on and we can still get 20/1 on a player who arguably has the most consistent tee-to-green game in the field. Matsuyama ranks 7th in bogey avoidance, 10th in strokes gained: off the tee, 27th in strokes gained: around the green and 27th in scoring relative to par from approaches over 200 yards in the rough.

His Firestone results to date aren’t terribly impressive but I’m not really sure why as the venue should suit him perfectly. Matsuyama’s results in the big events this year eclipse virtually everyone except maybe Brooks Koepka. He has finished 11th, 2nd and 14th in the three majors so far while he has also thrown in a 25th in the WGC Mexico and 22nd in The Players. It looks highly likely we will at least get a run for our money and the odds look very fair for a player who is close to his best, where in turn his best can be close to unbeatable on the right course.

Kevin Chappell may turn into the big twitter gamble yet this week as he looks quite an obvious pick and could well let everyone down as he will be expecting to play well having finished 3rd last year on his debut. Chappell has built a reputation as being a bit of a specialist on courses that represent a tough challenge from tee-to-green. He was 3rd on his Open debut in 2011 and he followed that with a 10th at the Robert Trent Jones designed Olympic Club in 2012. Chappell’s long game was back to its best last week as he ranked 6th for total driving and 21st in GIR while interestingly he ranked 4th in total putting which so often holds him back. The clincher for me though was that he sits T2nd in scoring relative to par from 200 yards + approaches from the rough. That explains why he thrives on these types of courses and the last two course winners currently rank T2nd and 7th in this stat. Chappell definitely has the class to win an event of this size and now that he is a winner on Tour he should arrive confident of playing well again on his 2nd look at the course.

Kevin Kisner looks very overpriced on a course that should suit him despite his relative lack of length. His two results so far have been 37th in 2015 and 16th last year where he sat 6th at the half-way stage. Kisner hits it very straight off the tee and should find himself in the fairway more than most of the field this week. His iron game is in good shape too as he ranks 31st in GIR for the last 3 months. Recent results have been average but that has largely been due to a cold putter and hopefully with par a good score this week those missed birdie putts won’t be too crucial.

I looked at various different side markets here for a bet and settled on Ross Fisher for a Top 10 at a very tempting 10/1. Fisher finished 5th and 3rd at the first two WGC tournaments of the year and while his recent form hasn’t been fantastic, he gets in the staking plan thanks to his solid record around Valderrama, another difficult Robert Trent Jones design. Fisher has played there 5 times without ever being outside the top 25 and his best result was last year where he finished 6th. On his day Fisher is one of the longest, straightest drivers around and while his 3 appearances at Firestone haven’t yielded a top 25 yet, he hasn’t played it since 2010 and will be relishing the test this week.

 


Summary of Bets

Hideki Matsuyama – 2pts ew @ 20/1

Kevin Chappell – 1pt ew @ 50/1

Kevin Kisner – 0.5pt ew @ 100/1

Ross Fisher – 1pt Top 10 @ 10/1

 

Weekly pts advised = 8pts

Total 2017 pts = 353.5pts

@theGreek82

World Cup of Golf – Betting Preview 

​While there were some returns last week it was yet another frustrating week. Dubuisson was the 3rd round leader in Dubai only to tread water on Sunday and find himself having to get up and down on 18 just to get us 2/5ths of the place money. Tyrell Hatton played brilliantly as expected and easily won the Top 10 bet but for the second year running at the DP World Championship I was left ruing the decision to only have a top 10 bet rather than go each way on the eventual runner-up.

On the PGA Tour Chris Kirk was one of the many fancied runners who somehow missed the cut and to be honest I’m quite looking forward to a the Christmas break on the 2017 PGA Tour season as it is proving even more difficult than 2016. Such is the depth on Tour now almost anyone in the field can come from nowhere and win these regular Tour events now and while that can throw up some tasty prices, if we look at last week’s play off protagonists then it feels like you might as well just pick a player at random at the moment!

Jamie Lovemark finished in the agonising 6th place last week but he was actually 3 shots adrift of 5th and never really looked like getting involved after a poor 3rd round.

The week returned 8.9 points which leaves things as follows with just three previews left this year;

Total pts advised = 856.50

Total pts returned = 834.46

ROI = -2.57%

This week we just have the one event and that is the World Cup of Golf in Australia.
                  


                       WORLD CUP OF GOLF

If people looking in at Golf at the Olympics thought it odd how few of the golfing elite sought an Olympic Gold medal then they would be completely amazed at the even more blasé attitude towards the World Cup of Golf.  The football World Cup is probably the 2nd biggest sporting event in the world but yet Golf’s equivalent is usually nothing more than an end of season jolly and a chance to play competitively around a different course. Both those aspects apply perfectly this week as the list of those who have passed up the chance to play this week is a very long one but yet those who have committed get the chance to play on one of the best courses in the world – Kingston Heath. 

Played every two years around the world the competition is made up of 28 teams of two men representing their country. The highest ranking players from the first 28 countries are given the option to play with a teammate of their choice, should they not wish to take their chance then the next highest ranked is given the option and so on. In terms of format we will see a mix of better ball and alternate shot across the four days with the winning team being that with the best stroke-play score after four rounds on Sunday. The individual trophy has been scrapped this year after it overshadowed the team event somewhat in 2013.

The host course Kingston Heath is part of the famous Melbourne sandbelt and it’s often considered Australia’s finest design. These days it is used sparingly for tournaments so it’s great to see competitive golf back on the famous layout. Recent competitions held there include the 2009 and 2012 Australian Masters and the 2000 Australian Open.

The course was historically considered a brute and used to play to a par of 82 but these days it is just of average length as a 7087 yard Par 72. Its prestige comes from being a fantastically strategic course with fast fairways and greens as you would expect on a sandbelt course and it is expected to play very much like that this week. That will make avoiding the bunkers crucial as they are strategically placed and very deep but the sand itself is shallow. With Alistair Mackenzie having been responsible for their placement back in the 1920s they resemble classic links bunkers with high lips and greens falling away from the greenside traps. This will make par an extremely good score on any hole where a bunker is found. 

The previous edition of the World Cup was held at Royal Melbourne and was won by the best team on paper in Adam Scott and Jason Day. Given how tough a test we see on sandbelt courses I think it will be prudent to look towards the best ball-strikers again this year as you simply can’t hack it around Kingston Heath and hope to make a score. That is backed up even further by the two rounds of alternate shot where accurate players always prosper.

Upon a first look at the field the first thing that hit me was the disparity between the best teams here and the worst. We have seen lesser lights raise their game for the World Cup in the past but at one end we have the likes of Rickie Fowler and Jimmy Walker, Adam Scott and Marc Leishman, Shane Lowry and Graeme McDowell and at the other end we have SSP Chawrasia and Seenappa Chikkarangappa and Miguel Tabuena and Angelo Que. As a result I think we can dismiss a large number of teams from this event and instead focus on the teams with two players that regularly perform on the top two Tours.

The three teams mentioned already (US, Australia and Ireland) are the only three to have two players who have both won on the PGA Tour. On paper alone that puts them well ahead of the next group of teams which are those that include two players who have both won on either the PGA Tour or European Tour. These include England (Chris Wood and Andy Sullivan), Thailand (Thongchai Jaidee and Kiradech Aphibarnat), Denmark (Soren Kjeldsen and Thorbjorn Olesen), Sweden (Alex Noren and David Lingmerth), Italy (Francesco Molinari and Matteo Manassero), Belgium (Nicolas Colsaerts and Thomas Pieters) and China (Ashun Wu and Hai Tong Li). Away from those there are another two teams with one top class player and another solid pro who for the sake of these rankings can be considered along-side these teams. These are Japan (Hideki Matsuyama and Ryo Ishikawa) and South Korea (Benny An and KT Kim). Two other teams are deserving of an honourable mention as Jon Rahm has only just turned professional and he will play alongside the ever-improving Rafa Cabrera-Bello for Spain while Jaco-Van Zyl is a very accomplished player even if he hasn’t managed the elusive European Tour win that his teammate George Coetzee eventually got in 2014.

I find it very hard to see any of the rest having the combined ability to compete with these teams and therefore that gives me a rather long short-list of fourteen teams. If it were being played on an easier course then we might see a more competitive event but I’d expect the gap between first and last to be a substantial one after 72 holes around Australia’s finest test of golf. 

Rickie Fowler and Jimmy Walker are surely priced on reputation and their country alone as they have both been playing some fairly mediocre golf of late. In fact if we remove Walker’s leftfield US PGA win then he only has one other Top 10 since March. Fowler has picked his form up a little with a Top 10 in the WGC HSBC event but on the whole 2016 has been forgettable for him and we simply don’t know which Rickie will turn up in Melbourne.  Despite the layout no doubt suiting Fowler’s game they can be easily dismissed as 2nd favourites at just 8/1 and the bookmakers are beginning to agree as they are being pushed out slowly.

Adam Scott and Marc Leishman are harder to ignore as the home favourites. Scott is the world number 7 and won the Australian Masters around Kingston Heath in 2012 whereas Leishman’s game is perfectly suited to sandbelt golf and he was born in Victoria. But Leishman has been playing poorly lately and Scott was disappointing around Royal Sydney GC last week where he could only finish 14th in a fairly weak field. Again they are priced more on Scott’s lofty reputation in the game and probably shouldn’t be as short as 5/1 here.

But we don’t have to look much further down the market as the team I like most is the 3rd favourite Japan. For as long as the competition has existed they have taken it very seriously and with two wins and four runner-up finishes they are the 7th most successful country. They last won it in 2001 but they were T3rd last time out at Royal Melbourne in 2013 and Ryo Ishikawa finished T5th in the individual event. Ishikawa returns this year but he happens to have the most in-form player in world golf alongside him in Hideki Matsuyama. Matsuyama has current worldwide form figures of 5th, 1st, 2nd, 1st, and 1st, and since he found something with his putting stroke he has looked almost unbeatable. Ishikawa has been playing some fine golf himself with a win on the Japanese Tour followed by a 2nd, a 3rd and then a top 10 on the PGA Tour in the CIMB Classic last month.

With Ishikawa’s experience of sandbelt conditions together with Matsuyama’s almost peerless ball-striking this partnership will take a lot of stopping by the field gathered in Australia. As we enter summer down under you can expect conditions to be fairly hot but these two are one of the youngest teams in the competition with only France having a lower combined age. They won’t tire over four days in the heat and Matsuyama usually performs even better in warm, dry conditions. One of his PGA Tour wins was in the Arizona desert and he also performed admirably around a dried out Muirfield when finishing 6th at The Open as a 21 year old playing in just his 2nd professional Major.
The hard and fast conditions of the course will require accuracy in all parts of the game and Matsuyama has perhaps the best distance control in the world with his approaches. That will help him hit more of these slick greens than everyone else.

With top-class, in-form competition thin on the ground in Melbourne this week I’d expect the Japanese team to show their class and it wouldn’t surprise me if they won this going away such is the level that Matsuyama has been playing to lately.

It’s hard to be too confident given how difficult the 2017 PGA Tour season has been so far but Reed obliged last time we had a change of format at the Ryder Cup so let’s take advantage of another change and have a decent win bet on the Japanese at a very fair 10.5 on the exchange but also a place bet whereby we will get all stakes back for a Top 4 finish.

I might add an outsider to place later in the week but wanted to get the best price possible posted early on Japan.

                     Summary of bets

Japan – 3pts win @ 10.5, 2pts Top 4 @ 2.5


Weekly points advised – 5pts

Total pts advised – 861.50pts 

@theGreek82 

The Barclays and Made in Denmark – Betting Preview

Just as Bill Haas got himself into contention for the each way places he completely blew it with two out-of-bounds drives on the Par 5 15th. It was pretty hard to take especially as that is relatively out of character for a multiple winner who is usually accurate enough off the tee.

I must admit I was starting to think it pretty much summed up my 2016 so far but it is all too easy to get down on yourself in the difficult golf betting game. I must remember that one good week can quickly turn it all around. It had just better arrive soon!!

Results stand as follows

Total points advised – 766.50

Total points returned – 793.79

ROI – 3.5%

This week it’s the start of the Fed Ex Cup play-off series on the PGA Tour and the European Tour heads to Denmark for  an event which unfortunately won’t be spice up by Ryder Cup qualification as all 9 of the points qualifiers have already been decided. Martin Kaymer and Thomas Pieters will be looking to stake their claim for a wildcard pick however and Darren Clarke has picked Pieters to play with for the opening two rounds. No pressure then!


The Barclays

The top 125 in the Fed Ex Cup list head back to New York this week for the first of the play-off events. Knowing that only the top 100 continue to the following week at the Deutsche Bank Championship, many of those towards the bottom will be playing with the pressure of trying to progress. While that could well inspire, the Barclays is normally won by one of the game’s best as the recent roll of honour includes Jason Day, Hunter Mahan, Adam Scott, Nick Watney, Dustin Johnson, Matt Kuchar and VJ Singh.

I don’t expect that to change given the host course this week. The Barclays has taken to rotating around some of New York’s finest courses and this week it’s the turn of the intimidating Bethpage Black Course. It is famously one of the hardest courses in the world and in the 2002 US Open when Tiger Woods won he was the only man to finish under par. Things picked up a little for the 2009 US Open but there were still only five players in the red when Lucas Glover claimed the trophy. All that despite the course being very receptive with a rain-softened course hosting both editions.

There is some respite for the field this week however as the course played a little easier when hosting the Barclays in 2012. The par 4 7th hole was lengthened and turned into a Par 5 creating a slightly more favourable Par 71. That allowed Nick Watney to win on a figure of -10 and I would imagine we can expect a similar winning score again this year.

The course is another A.W. Tillinghast brute just like Baltusrol and it stands at 7468 yards long. Another similarity with the US PGA host course is the greens as Bethpage features a bentgrass/poa annua mix just like at Baltusrol. That leaderboard looks a good pointer along with 2012’s Barclays leaderboard and the 2009 US Open.

I have found some recent reviews that suggest they have grown the fescue rough up for the Barclays so when considered together with the below average width fairways it is very easy to think that driving accuracy will be important. But I don’t want to fall into the same trap as many did at Baltusrol where it was thought that finding fairways would be vital. Moreover it was actually the ability to hit it close from the rough that separated the field that week. So while long, accurate drivers can certainly prosper, a player should still be able to contend with good proximity figures from the rough.

Bethpage Black sits in a sprawling landscape with lots of elevation changes and that only adds to the difficulty. A look at the last three winners shows a list of fit, relatively young golfers and with the difficulty level, length of course and the physical challenge, I would think twice about backing a golfer who isn’t perhaps one of the more athletic this week as temperatures look set to hit 30 degrees.

Another aspect of the course that might not make driving accuracy the be-all-and-end-all is the size of these greens. They are on the larger side and that will mean that it will be possible to hit them even from 175 yards away in the rough. Approaches from the rough might not quite hold the green however which will make scrambling from the fringe important.

With Lucas Glover having won around the course you wouldn’t imagine holing putts to be too crucial. Although 3-putts will need to be avoided on these large greens so perhaps lag putting is the most important short stick aspect to consider this week.

When looking at the US PGA Championship, putting on poa annua greens was one of the things I considered most and yet Jimmy Walker’s form was poor enough to not even consider a player dubbed “the prince of poa”. So while holing lots of birdie putts might not be crucial this week I’d certainly want anyone I was backing to have some form on the trickier surfaces. One of the main attributes of poa infested greens is the ability for the ball to break sharply at the hole. That resulted in a lot of short putts being missed so if you were looking for another putting stat then holing out from inside 5ft could well be worth a look as that together with lag putting will help keep the 3-putts to a minimum.

While there is some Bethpage Black form to look at there also seems to be a bit of a correlation with Torrey Pines in California, home of the Farmers Insurance Open. Tiger Woods won there numerous times, Nick Watney has won there , 2012 runner-up Brandt Snedeker has two wins there and Lucas Glover has a 3rd and a 4th place finish. It maybe isn’t a rock solid link as they could just be two courses where the best players tend to win but it should be noted that both courses have poa annua present in their greens.

I’d expect Jason Day and Dustin Johnson both to go well this week with their impressive record on US Open layouts but I’m not prepared to fire into either at the prices when lining up against this strong a field, most of which by the nature of the play-offs, are in very good form. But as usual their price leaves some juicy exchange prices around and none more so than the player who I had in mind for this even before his excellent finish last week.

Hideki

Hideki Matsuyama has been putting poorly of late so it is actually quite amazing that he has finished 4th at the US PGA Championship and 3rd at the Wyndham Championship in his last two starts. What is most impressive about that however is that they both virtually turned into glorified putting contests for most of the leaderboard. As we have mentioned already the US PGA was played on a Tillinghast design and it was a brilliant effort to contend while ranking 60th in total putting.

Despite him putting poorly again at the Wyndham last week there was a slight improvement as he ranked 23rd for total putting. He has some decent results on poa annua greens in addition to Baltusrol last month. His last two performances at the Northern Trust have yielded a 4th and an 11th and the rolling hills of Riviera aren’t too dissimilar to Bethpage Black. He also finished 3rd at Silverado in the 2014 Frys Open open which features poa annua greens.

He fits the mould of recent Barclays winners perfectly this week and given what a brilliant ball-striker he is I was quite surprised by his odds this week. The course certainly looks to be less about putting than the last two that he has played on and given that he only finished 5 and 6 shots behind the respective winners, that could be enough to see him over the line. The rest of his game is in absolutely perfect order as he ranked 1st in total driving, 1st in ball -striking, 2nd in scrambling and even 1st in the all-round ranking despite his misfiring putter. He even ranks a respectable 37th on Tour for putting inside 5ft which will no doubt help him here.

We know he has the game to win big events on Tour and if Bethpage Black rewards ball-striking as I expect it will this week then he might just have ranked up win number three by Sunday night.

Ricky Barnes stormed onto the scene in 2009 taking the 3rd round US Open lead (with a 3rd round 65) at Bethpage Black. He shot a 76 to blow his chances but he still hung on to 2nd place in just his 2nd major start as a professional. It is fairly certain to say that his career hasn’t quite panned out as anyone thought since then and he is still looking for his first PGA Tour win after some 200 odd starts.

But there has been a noted improvement this year from Ricky with two 5th places in his last three starts and he has always been someone who has played well on poa annua surfaces. He grew up on the surface in Northern California and he has some decent results with a 3rd at Pebble Beach and a 9th at Riviera.

He led the Valero Texas Open earlier this year before going on to finish in 4th place and while it was a closing 74 he wasn’t terrible in contention. All that adds up to him sitting at 66th in the Fed Ex List and he knows that a good performance this week could see him right through to the Tour Championship.

From a stats point of view Barnes is also a good match for Bethpage Black as he ranks 4th for GIR over the last 3 months and 5th in 3-putt avoidance. He might not be the proven, multiple winner we are looking for but he won the US Amateur in 2002 and he certainly has ability. At 35 years old he still has plenty of time left to get his win, after all Jimmy Walker took until 34 and he is now a major winner. If he is to get a win then a tough championship layout with poa annua greens looks the place to do it and he is a sporting each way price at 150/1.

Graeme Delaet is a name that sounds the alarm bells with many a punter and subsequently a lot have written him off. But to hark back to Jimmy Walker again, he was a player that was also written off until he got his first win. Granted, Walker was always a good putter whereas Delaet often appears one of the worst on Tour. That’s not quite the case though and he falls into the Lee Westwood category whereby they hit the ball so close, so often that they end up having more birdie putts inside 20ft than most.

I’m not suggesting Delaet is a good putter at all but he is ok at holing out and he is also ok from long-range, he is just very poor from 5ft-20ft. However if my reading of the Bethpage Course is right, I think par will be a good score away from the Par 5s so his short stick woes could be factored out somewhat.

The Canadian also has some course form at Bethpage Black as he was 5th there in 2012. Throw in a 2nd and 9th at Torrey Pines and an 8th at Riviera and you can see that a lot of his better results come at ball-strikers courses with poa on the greens.

As ever he ranks very well in GIR and total driving and if he continues to hit more fairways and greens than the majority this is exactly the sort of track where he could pop up with his first win. All things considered 200/1 for a player of his quality looks like an excellent piece of value.

I’m also going to play Barnes and Delaet in the Top 20 markets as even if they play well they could find a few just too good at this level.

 


Made in Denmark

Now in its third edition, The Made in Denmark will be held again at Himmerland Golf and Spa Resort in Farso near Aalborg. During the first two years it has been a massive success with some of the highest crowds seen for a regular European Tour event. This year Martin Kaymer has joined the field to give it a little bit of class at the head of the market and overall the field does look a little deeper than last year. The course is a short, exposed 6,851 yard Par 71 layout and with two runnings now under its belt there is a little bit more to go on than last year. They were won by Marc Warren in 2014 and then David Horsey last year.

Prior to last year’s tournament I used a few course links through Marc Warren and while the players that I tipped up didn’t do too well, I think those on the leaderboard did back them up a little. I focussed a lot of my work on the two other courses where Marc Warren had won and I’m not seeing too much wrong with the approach although I have also expanded that to look at the courses where David Horsey has gone well.

Despite not being right by the coast, the course plays very much like a links course as the wind usually blows and it has undulating fairways with a sandy soil that can play quite fast if conditions allow. That coupled with Warren’s win made me think of a few similar courses like Barseback, Gleneagles and Doha Golf Club. Another course that would appear to bee a good guide would be Archerfield Links, host course of last month’s Paul Lawrie Match Play. The wind blew all weekend there on the parkland/links mix and visually it is another course that is similar.

David Horsey throws up a slightly different set of courses as he often goes well on fiddlier, shorter tracks and his other three wins have come at Eichenried Golf Club, Golf Club Du Palais Royal and Tseleevo Golf Club. Looking at the list of winners at those tracks we see yet more strong links players like Michael Hoey, Ernie Els and Martin Kaymer.

It seems like that has been the criteria quite a lot this summer and yet it hasn’t yielded much in the way of returns. I suppose it could be that with more and more links type courses on Tour, players are getting used to playing on them. However I’m going to stick with this method for at least one more week in the hope that it can pay dividends.

Marc Warren

Marc Warren was favourite last year to defend his title and we know how hard even the world’s best can find that so in hindsight tipping him at just 11/1 wasn’t the wisest of plays. But he was arriving in great form and the field was fairly poor. But after a quiet 2016 he has actually perked up a little in recent weeks with a 9th in the Match Play and then an 11th in the Czech Masters. He ranked 9th in total putting last time out and it was his putter that won this for him in 2014 so he looks hard to pass up this year at 45/1.

Warren is also a good wind player which is backed up by where he has won. Barseback GC in Sweden and Gleneagles are both tracks that play very much like links courses with the former also being exposed to the elements. On price alone he must be a bet on a course where has already won.

This is all starting to feel like déjà vu as I also tipped Robert Karlsson last year but again he arrives off the back of a good performance and the course should suit him perfectly. His 7th place finish in the Czech Masters was a turn-around in form as he hadn’t done a great deal in the previous few months.

He has won at Qatar, Crans and finished 2nd at Barseback and they are all courses which have thrown up similar winners over the years, often solid links golf exponents. His game was in good order last week but particularly off the tee and putting as he ranked 5th in total driving and 6th in total putting.

He finished down the field last year with our money on but I’m happy to give him another go on a course that I’m convinced suits him.

Richie Ramsay looks to be another excellent piece of value when you consider both his recent form and the courses that he has won and played well on. Odds of 45/1 appear to forget that he made it to the 3rd round of the Paul Lawrie Matchpaly with some brilliant golf on the first two days before ultimately being knocked out by an inspired Oliver Fisher. Prior to that was a missed cut at The Open but that is a grade above the level where the Scot is comfortable and the week before that he finished 6th in Scotland at Castle Stuart.

He has won both the Omega European Masters (Crans) and the Trophee Hassan (Golf Club Du Palais Royal, where David Horsey won in 2011) and this looks like a course that he will enjoy as he usually plays well in the wind. Odds of 45/1 make him a very solid looking each way pick.

 


Summary of bets

Barclays

Hideki Matsuyama – 1.5pts ew @ 30/1

Ricky Barnes – 0.5pt ew @ 150/1 and 1pt Top 20 @ 5/1

Graeme Delaet – 0.5pt ew @ 200/1 and 1pt Top 20 @ 7/1

Made in Denmark

Marc Warren – 1pt ew @ 50/1

Richie Ramsay – 1pt ew @ 45/1

Robert Karlsson – 0.5pt ew @ 75/1

Weekly pts advised – 12pts

Total pts advised – 778.50

@thGreek82