WGC Mexico and Tshwane Open – Betting Preview

A disappointing Sunday meant there were no returns last week. Louis Oosthuizen and Joakim Lagergren were both perfectly placed just inside the Top 10 but both played very underwhelming rounds after I started to get a little bit excited late on Saturday evening.

That leaves the points as follows as we reach the first World Golf Championship of the year;

Total 2018 pts advised = 79pts

Total 2018 pts returned = 55.94pts

ROI = -29%


WGC Mexico

With T***p’s Doral course now firmly in the past, Mexico takes centre stage as Chapultepec GC hosts the WGC Mexico Championship for the second year. With any new course comes a lot of second guessing of how it will play and despite it’s narrow, tree-lined nature, Dustin Johnson came out on top of a leaderboard which included some of the longest drivers in the game. There is certainly an element of back to the drawing board about this year’s renewal then but at least we have 4 rounds of competitive golf to help us this year.

The 7330 yard, par 71 course was designed by two Scottish brothers, Willie and Alex Smith from Carnoustie, around the time when Scots were very much the talking point of US golf in the early 1900s. Donald Ross was at the fore front of that and he himself had links to Carnoustie with the first 3 club professionals at his East Lake design all hailing from the Angus town. Indeed the first of those was Alex Smith himself. This suggested to me last year that they probably shared a lot of Ross’ design philosophy and the course does look rather like some of his designs in the US like East Lake and Sedgefield.

So perhaps it was surprising to see so many big hitters on the leaderboard and only 2 of the top 10 ranked inside the top 10 for driving accuracy. In turn four of the five longest hitters of the week finished inside the top 10. Now with a WGC event it isn’t always too reliable to focus 100% on driving distance stats as they are often only measured on a couple of holes. But Johnson still managed to hit 72% (5th) of his greens in regulation despite only finding 58% of his fairways (49th).

This is an increasing trend that we are seeing on the PGA Tour, especially at championship courses where you expect there to be penalties for missing the fairway. The big hitters like DJ, Jason Day and Rahm are often letting rip across completely different driving lines in order to get the ball as close to the hole as possible. Their logic being that they can get the ball as close to the flag from 150 yards away in the rough as most of the shorter hitters can from 200 yards in the fairway. I don’t think one tournament is enough to claim that is how Chaplultepec might play going forward, especially as they may well have grown the rough a little this year, but I certainly don’t think it is going to be a course where the more strategic plotters hold any sort of advantage. Last year the greens ran at about 13″ on the stimpmeter and time and time again we see the best way of stopping the ball on slick greens is with as much loft as possible. The bulk of those on the leaderboard all have towering ball flights and that looks worth considering this week. It’s a shame Luke List isn’t in the field as the trajectory of his irons last week was a thing of beauty on Shot Tracker!

All of the top 10 ranked inside the top 33 for putting (75 in the field) with DJ himself ranking 5th. Ability to putt on fast poa annua greens will be crucial this week so those who put up good short stick numbers on the California swing may be worth looking at (Torrey Pines, Pebble Beach and Riviera all have poa annua greens). DJ had previously won at both Pebble and Riviera while his U.S. Open win was on the lightening quick poa annua greens of Oakmont.

Every year at the first WGC of the season despite everyone clambering to over analyse the course (see above!) the most important factor is current form. It’s still very early in the season and not everyone is fully wound up yet. Indeed 4 of the last 5 winners of this were winning for the second time in that calendar year and if we look more closely at last year’s leaderboard, 4 of the top 6 had already won in 2017.

In summary, it appears that while the big hitters may well have an advantage on the shortish course, there is more than one way to play Chapultepec. However it’s not a course where anyone will be expecting to find their game if they have been struggling in recent weeks. Above course suitability and any specific attributes, current form looks to be the main angle in to Mexico this week.

 

joost

My main fancy in Mexico is a fairly speculative one on first look but yet given he won his last tournament, Joost Luiten perhaps shouldn’t be the outsider that the market makes him at 125/1*. Luiten was last seen getting the better of Ryder Cup player Chris Wood in Oman two weeks ago and unusually he putted very well. It is normally tee-to-green supremacy that we associate with Luiten and it was that part of his game that was on show at Chapultepec last year as he ranked 1st in drving accuracy and 1st in GIR. I’m hoping that his recent improvement with the putter combined with how well suited he was to the course, can bring about a contending performance. One of his main strengths is distance control and with the course being at altitude and featuring lots of elevation changes, committing to a number will be important.

He has already shown he can win in the hotter climates with titles in Oman and Malaysia and with 8 professional titles he is very capable in contention. Obviously this is a big step up but the odds of 125/1 take that into consideration and I like his chances of playing well and possibly grabbing a place. I’m also going to have a Top 20 bet at a very tempting 3/1 to cover him playing well but falling away in the heat of a battle against the world’s best.

It looks very likely that one of the top 5 or 6 in the market will win in Mexico this week but good luck trying to decide who might come out on stop and its worth considering that while it’s always nice to find a winner, (especially in a WGC) if we look at odds of around 66/1 and up then we are getting better odds for a place than we are for any of the front 5 in the market to win. So with that in mind I’m plumping for another couple of each way prices.

Jason Dufner was my main tip last year and I think he is worth persisting with here after a respectable 23rd where he just couldn’t make enough birdies and only three players made less bogeys. He is in decent form, 17-36-18-11 and hasn’t missed a cut since July. As ever his long game stats are strong and they look a good fit for the challenge at Chapultepec, he is doing everything well, but nothing outstanding at the moment. He is currently 40th in proximity to the hole and 18th in scoring relative to par from 200 yards while we know he can be deadly with his wedge game. With some players in this odds bracket you question whether they can win in an elite field like this but Dufner is a major winner with another 4 PGA Tour titles. He also had a solid record around the bombers track at Doral and one of the best things from a punting point of view is that he is equally at home on those types of courses as he is on a tighter, tree-lined track. Given we only really have one tournament to look at I think it might pay to side with an adaptable sort like Dufner and he goes in the staking plan at 80/1.

Kevin Chappell finished well down the field last year and I’m not too sure why. It seems like he should relish the test of distance control and accuracy tee-to-green. Chappell has a good record at Riviera and Augusta while his only PGA Tour win to date was at TPC San Antonio which is ball strikers course with a premium on accurate approach play. He has actually started the season a lot better than he normally does and he looks worth a go at a decent each way price. Last year he arrived with his 2017 results reading MC-48-75-MC whereas this year they read 20-8-31-6-21, with the 8th place finish coming on the poa annua greens at Pebble Beach. In two of those events he also ranked 1st in the all-round ranking which tells us his whole game is in good shape and he should be primed for an assault on a championship layout like this.

 


Tshwane Open

Link to The Golf Family preview

https://thegolffamily.com/tshwane-open-betting-preview/


Summary of Bets

WGC Mexico

Joost Luiten – 1pt ew @ 125/1  100/1 (1/5 odds 6 places) and 2pts Top 20 @ 3/1

Jason Dufner – 0.75pt ew @ 80/1 (1/5 odds 6 places)

Kevin Chappell – 0.75pt ew @ 66/1 (1/5 odds 6 places)

Tshwane Open

George Coetzee – 2pts ew @ 12/1

Erik Van Rooyen – 1pt ew @ 28/1

 

Weekly pts advised = 7pts

Total 2018 pts advised =  87pts

 

@theGreek82

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Fed Ex St. Jude Classic and Lyoness Open – Betting Preview

If last week’s Memorial Tournament highlighted what a brilliant time 2016 is to be a golf fan, it also reminded us just how difficult a time it is to be a golf punter (and tipster!). The change of tactics to dutching the three market leaders didn’t work despite them all showing flashes of magic over the four days. The strength in-depth on the PGA Tour must truly be at an all-time high and even on a course like Muirfield Village that usually throws up top-class winners, a 36 year old maiden managed to beat an exceptionally strong field.

In Sweden our 200/1 pick Manassero played brilliantly over the majority of the four days and he actually recorded his best finish in nearly two years but unfortunately that was only a 12th place and it left me wishing I had also bet on a Top 20. Tyrrell Hatton also threatened a good week but couldn’t quite get close enough to land a blow before finishing double bogey-double bogey to fall down the field.

The profits are now disappearing at an alarming rate and as is the case with golfers, when you lose a little confidence in betting you start to find it even harder and question yourself more than normal. Certainly to be going on with I’m going to leave out the doubles and probably try to cap the weekly outlay at 10pts.

Total pts advised –648.5

Total pts returned – 722.80

ROI (11 months) – 11.5%

 


Fed Ex St Jude Classic

It is proving very hard to know which weeks Day, Spieth and McIlroy are going to fire but luckily this week they have all chosen to sharpen up their game away from competitive golf and they sit this one out. It’s the Fed Ex St Jude Classic from Memphis this week and it’s now in its 10th year as the US Open warm up event. Despite the lack of the World No. 1, 2 and 3 there is still a decent field assembled as players look for either some momentum heading into next week’s US Open or indeed a place in the field with anyone breaking into the world’s top 60 this week getting a tee time at Oakmont for the season’s 2nd Major.

The host course is TPC Southwind and while it won’t be too similar to the test faced next week, at least it is one of the tougher regular Tour stops so they will be able to get into the thinking of saving par rather than trying to make birdie. The average winning score over the last 5 years is -11 and it usually ranks amongst the 10 hardest courses on Tour so patience will be required.

TPC-Southwind

It is a 7241 yard Par 70 and as the name suggests there is usually a breeze whistling around the trees and that helps to keep the scoring down. As does the abundance of water around the course and that highlights the need for an accurate iron game this week. One similarity to Oakmont next week will be the number of fairway bunkers and there are 94 here this week to give them plenty of practice for Oakmont’s famously testing set of bunkers.

The greens are small and bermuda grass which combined with the windy, narrow, tree-lined nature of the course helps throw up a few others that correlate nicely with TPC Southwind. The Waialae course in Hawaii is one and Fabian Gomez (2015 St Jude winner) won there earlier this year with Greg Owen, who finished runner-up here last year, finishing in behind him in 5th. Others include El Cameleon, Harbour Town and Copperhead, which host the OHL Classic, RBC Heritage and Valspar Championship respectively.

If we look back at the calibre of player that has won recent Major warm up events then the last 10 were Jim Herman, JJ Henry, Jordan Spieth, Fabian Gomez (2015 St Jude), JB Holmes, Geoff Ogilvy, Brian Harman, Ben Crane (2014 St Jude), Matt Jones. This hardly jumps out as a list of greats with only Spieth and Ogilvy being major champions. In fact if we look further back at just this event since it first held its pre US Open slot, the only major winner to lift the trophy was Justin Leonard way back in 2008. This suggests that it could be a week to side with the outsiders again as the market leaders look to sharpen up their game for the bigger challenge ahead at the US Open next week.

Additionally three of the last five winners were winning their first PGA Tour title so after Mcgirt’s exploits last week there will be plenty of players arriving here fancying their chances of getting their own first win.

The one I like this week is Colt Knost, despite him not being quite the price I was hoping for. Knost first came onto my radar in 2012 when researching Olympic Club form for the US Open. He won his US Amateur there in 2007 beating Michael Thompson in the final. Thompson would go onto finish 2nd at the US Open and rightly or wrongly I have linked the two players together as ones that enjoy a tougher test. They are certainly both good putters (Knost ranks 28th in strokes gained:putting) and that will be helpful this week but it is Knost’s all-round improvement over the last few months that has suggested he could be finding the form again that made him the Number 1 ranked amateur in the world in 2007.

He recorded his best ever result at Sawgrass last month when finishing 3rd behind Jason Day and Kevin Chappell and he hit a best in field 80.6% of greens in regulation on another set of small, fast, bermuda greens. That was no one-off either as he went onto hit 75% in his next two performances which resulted in a 4th place finish at the Byron Nelson before a poorer 67th place finish last week when he struggled in the thick rough around the greens. There isn’t the same sort of lush rough at TPC Southwind this week though and I would expect him to revert back to the norm as he ranks 28th for scrambling over the last 3 months.

When playing on fiddly greens that are hard to hit, proximity to the hole is always a crucial stat and Knost ranks 11th in this category for the 2016 season. He also has some reasonable course form with a 12th place last season being preceded by finishes of MC-15-MC. He seems to go well in the St Jude Classic when arriving in form and he is probably in the best form of his professional career at the moment. He also has some form on the courses that link well with TPC Southwind as he has finished 3rd at both the OHL Classic and RBC Heritage. Knost is definitely more of a patient golfer that likes to plot his way around a golf course and with his strong greens in regulation and scrambling numbers together with his liking of bermuda greens I think he looks to have a good chance this week on a course where he has played well before.

As I mentioned earlier odds of 40.0 look a little restrictive but when we look at those in front of him then we see there aren’t that many top class players to beat and TPC Southwind should be an ideal place for this classy maiden to get his first win.

Given that I think Colt Knost will go well I also think Michael Thompson will be suited by the test but he doesn’t arrive in quite the same sort of form. Fortunately that is factored into his price and he was also out of form when he finished 3rd from nowhere last year. The reasons were touched on above as he is an excellent putter who thrives in tougher conditions. His only win came at PGA National where he scooped the 2013 Honda Classic and that is another windy track with tough greens and limited birdie opportunities. Two weeks ago he stopped a run of three missed cuts with an 18th at the Byron Nelson so he may have turned the corner.

Thompson’s stats aren’t overly impressive and it is more of a hunch bet this week but he is a player that owes me nothing after the 2012 US Open and I’m happy to have a small play on him here at a price that could look big if he performs anything like last year.

 


Lyoness Open

Very seldom will you see three players starting at single figure odds on the European Tour but that is the case this week as 3 of last 4 winners of the Lyoness Open tee it up here all in decent enough form and deserving of their place at the head of the market (Bernd Wiesberger, Joost Luiten and Chris Wood). This gives us a similar conundrum to last week in the US and while all three are proven winners in these sorts of field, they aren’t quite consistent enough to make a strong argument for them easily beating ET fields at such short prices.

But in order to oppose them we have to find players who are capable of competing with them should they find their best stuff. That doesn’t look too easy in this field but is probably worth a bit of a search.

The course is Diamond Country Club near Vienna, Austria and at 7458 yards it is reasonably long with wide fairways and small raised greens with water in play on 13 of the holes. It appears to be all about the approach shot here this week with the rough staggered into 3 cuts and the fairways said to be in excellent condition on the European Tour website.

diamond-country-club-atzenbrugg_008075_large

A quick look at recent results backs this up as the last 5 winners have ranked 6th-20th-1st-11th-4th for greens in regulation and even when they did miss they got it up and down well as the same 5 ranked 3rd-4th-31st-3rd-1st for scrambling. They didn’t hit it too far the last couple of years either which is surprising for last year’s winner Chris Wood. This tells me that it’s all about setting up the 2nd shot and with no great emphasis off the tee I’d side with accuracy over distance. Three of the last four winners all ranked 1st for birdies so you are going to need a hot putter this week in Austria.

Out of the front three in the market I prefer Joost Luiten. Chris Wood is not only looking to go back to back but also defend his title here and I think that makes it hard to side with him at a single figure price. Wiesberger clearly loves this course and playing in his home country but he hasn’t played a great deal of golf lately in Europe and again he looks very short without a Top 10 anywhere in 2016.

Luiten’s form is far better and he has had a brilliant 2016 so far, doing everything but win. He has been difficult to back too though throwing in the odd poor performance when everything seemed to be in his favour.But I’d be very annoyed if I missed out here given how obvious his chance is. His course form is 3-1-3 and over the last 3 months he ranks 3rd for GIR. But I’m still just not sure that he is putting or scrambling well enough to back at the price. To go in at 7/1 you need to know that they can ruthlessly take care of the field if they play their best golf. I’m still not sure Luiten  (nor Wiesberger or Wood) falls into that category yet so instead I’ve found a couple of others who might just represent a little bit of value.

Nino Bertasio probably hasn’t done enough in the game to warrant going off at 40/1 in a European Tour event but he has already given the blog some returns so I’m happy to reinvest some in the young Italian this week. Luckily there is still some 80/1 out there with a few firms which seems a lot fairer.

He struggled in Mauritius after his 5th place finish in Morocco but bounced back to form with a 12th place finish at the Nordea Masters last week. His game was in great shape as he ranked 9th for GIR and 2nd in scrambling. When we combine that with the fact he currently ranks 1st for total putting over the last 3 months then he starts to look a very nice each way price. With form figures of 12-41-5-11 you can see why some of the more shrewd bookies have cut his price and 80/1 in this field looks more than fair for an up and coming talent.

Gary Boyd closed last week with a 67 and that was his lowest round in a European Tour event on European soil in nearly 4 years. The Englishman has been out of form for a while now and hasn’t had a Top 10 since 2012 either. That was at the Italian Open on the Royal Park GCC track near Turin and he also finished 2nd there the previous year. The course is another one that requires a great deal of accuracy and the leaderboard was always littered with high GIR numbers. It also reminds me visually of Diamond Country Club as both have plenty water in play, tree-lined fairways and small greens. Boyd is in no way guaranteed to play well this week but it could be that he found something prior to Sunday’s 67 and he sits 20th in GIR for the last 3 months so he looks worth a small play on a course that should suit despite modest course form of MC-40-45.

Given how obvious Dustin Johnson and Joost Luiten’s chances are this week I’m going to have a small bet on the win double just in case.


Summary of Bets

St Jude Classic

Colt Knost – 1pt ew @ 40/1

Michael Thompson – 0.5pt ew @ 175/1

Lyoness Open

Nino Bertasio – 1pt ew @ 80/1

Gary Boyd – 0.5pt ew @ 125/1

Johnson + Luiten 1pt win double @ 62.75/1

 

Weekly outlay – 6pts

Total outlay – 654.6pts

@theGreek82