A pretty shitty week last week but I was probably due one after three profitable weeks in a row. I won’t dwell on things too long though as we have two excellent events this week both on proper links style courses and therefore lots of good angles in to the betting.
2019 pts advised = 210
2019 pts returned = 216.86
ROI = 3.27%
The move to Trinity Forest last year was met with mixed reviews but I’m all for Tournaments at courses that don’t convene to the normal PGA Tour target golf. The old course, TPC Las Colinas, was a fairly traditional ball-strikers paradise and it was also situated at a rather swanky resort so you can see why so many of the seasoned Tour players enjoyed their visit.
Trinity Forest is a modern links course located on an old land fill site and the contrast between it and the previous course is rather strong. The course was designed by Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore and it plays to some 7450 yards but last year it was quite wet so there wasn’t too much run out. It was designed to play hard and fast like a British links course and if that was to be the case this week I think scoring would be tougher than Aaron Wise’s winning score of -23. Unfortunately recent weather in the Dallas area suggests that the course will play quite soft again and therefore we maybe can’t quite take the full-on links player approach.
The course is a wide open one with ample room off the tee, undulating fairways and huge greens. With firm conditions you could probably all but ignore what players do off the tee but with less than ideal roll-out, driving distance will be important again this year as it was last year. From there it becomes very much a second shot course but with big greens a brilliant short game can also get it done. If we can find a player who is getting the ball close to the flags and showing a good touch on and around the greens then even better.
There are five Par 4s under 450 yards and with very little holding them back off the tee we will see a lot of wedges on these holes after the players unleash driver. Therefore an aggressive wedge game will be important this week especially considering the low scoring nature of the event last year. Aaron Wise led the field in Par 4 scoring last year on his way to winning so that’s worth a look too.
Patrick Reed has a stellar record at Coore and Crenshaw’s Kapalua layout in Hawaii and this looks another ideal layout for him even on his debut. Anywhere that wayward drives aren’t punished suits Reed and with his approach game having looked somewhere back to its best last week (10th in GIR) I think he should go well. There are few better short games around than Reed’s and he will handle the long lag putts and lengthy chip shots better than most. He is also an accomplished Texas wind player having been born in San Antonio and he currently lives just outside Houston. He is a fairly determined character who won’t think twice about going all out to win the week before a major if given half a chance. A solid looking each way bet at 28/1 with 8 places.
Charles Howell III was 9th here last year and he started this season very well indeed. Two missed cuts recently have pushed his price out to a very interesting 40/1 with 8 places. Howell sits 2nd in Par 4 scoring and while he isn’t a player with a great bank of links form by any means his relentless hitting of greens should be suited to the course. The lack of bite in the course will suit him if it does play soft and the fact he is putting far better this year should make him a a big player this week. He is 3rd in GIR and 26th in strokes gained: putting and that is exactly the sort of combination you want any week but particularly on this layout.
Kiradech Aphibarnrat’s form has tailed off a little since the WGC Mexico but this looks ideal for him and I think he has to be backed with Betfair’s stand-out 100/1 with 8 places. With lots of space off the tee he won’t find too much trouble and his wedge game has been excellent so far this year. He leads the Tour in scoring relative to par from approaches inside 125 yards and with the short par 4s and huge greens this range will be in play a lot. He withdrew two weeks ago in an event in Brunei due to a knee injury but I think 100/1 is a massive over reaction to that and he looks a very fair each way bet.
Matt Jones was 13th here last year and has actually been playing quite sneaky well with 6 top 40 finishes in a row. A wide open course will suit this Aussie who is an excellent wind player but possesses an even better short game and sits 26th in strokes gained: around the green this year. His only PGA Tour win to date was in Texas at the Houston Open and if things do firm up over the weekend then few are more suited to hard and fast conditions than this Sydney native who won the Australian Open back in 2015.
Colt Knost jumped off the page at me as he studied at SMU which now uses Trinity Forest as it’s University course. Unfortunately it wasn’t even designed when he graduated in 2007 but he still lives nearby and I’m hoping the local ties might mean he knows more about the course than others. He missed the second half of 2018 through injury and returned in January on a Medical Extension. He missed his first four cuts but there were signs of improvement last week when he finished 38th at Quail Hollow. Knost has always been a good putter and if he does have a little inside knowledge of the huge greens then 300/1 could look big.
With the move from May to September of the PGA at Wentworth and an apparent lack of sponsor it looked for a while like we might lose this event. That would have an absolute travesty for the European Tour and particularly British golf. The event has been hugely succesful so far in boosting interest in the game and the interactive nature of what Sky Sports have done so far has been excellent. Thankfully they have managed to bring it forward to May, find a sponsor and also get the brilliant Hillside GC links layout onboard as host. The result is that Tommy Fleetwood hosts the 5th event in a row since its return to the schedule in 2015 at Woburn.
While the first four visited some of south England’s finest parkland courses this time we get a chance to see a lesser known links gem of the north-west in Hillside. It backs up on to Royal Birkdale on the coast and it’s that sort of course with sculpted fairways into the dunes and undulating terrain. A proper links course requires proven links players and that usually helps the punters out even if we are about 2 months ahead of the usual links golf in July. It’s well worth looking at leaderboards from recent Scottish Opens, Irish Opens and Opens as well as the Qatar Masters, Portugal Masters and events from Australia.
Eddie Pepperell and Tyrrell Hatton slot right in behind host and tournament favourite Tommy Fleetwood in the betting. They are both 18/1 here but that doesn’t bother me at all as for me they are the best two links players in the field right now and a chunky each way bet on both of them makes the best betting sense here this week.
Pepperell has been playing quite a bit of golf over on the PGA Tour so far this year and with a fair bit of success. That explains the apparent short price here but this is a massive step-down from the fields he was playing in when he posted 3rd at The Players Championship and 16th at The Heritage. His sometimes suspect putting has been particularly strong so far in the US as he ranks 16th in strokes gained: putting. When you combine that with his always reliable approach play and ability to play in the wind, you get a very smart prospect here this week. Pepperell was 2nd in the Scottish Open last year, 6th in the Open and he won the Qatar Masters which has long been a good guide to links golf. He also has an Alfred Dunhill top 10 and a 2nd and 3rd at the Portugal Masters which is played on another exposed links style course. Defending a tournament is never easy but with it being at a different course that might take away some of the pressure. Although his laid back nature will also help him. The 18/1 might not be for everyone but with Betfred’s 10 places the each way portion looks very solid indeed.
Tyrrell Hatton keeps popping up on links layouts and his Alfred Dunhill Championship record in particular is immense, reading 1-1-2. He hasn’t been playing his best so far this year but he really does come alive on links courses. His imagination and putting touch allow him to play with the utmost of confidence on links courses knowing he will handle whatever comes his way should he miss the greens. But his approach play also seems to improve for being on tight links turf. He likes to flight his ball down and let his approaches run out which is a huge advantage when trying to gauge distance in the wind on links courses. That helps explain why he hit 85% and 83% of greens in regulation when he won his two Alfred Dunhills. There’s not too much more to say, he just loves links golf and I’m willing to take a chance that he finds his form again as soon as he sees the course.
I was just going to leave it at the two chunky each way bets but it wouldn’t be a links event with out adding a couple more proven exponents of the traditional British style of golf. I expected Ryan Fox to be backed in given the bank of links form he has built up over the last two summers but Betfred’s 40/1 with 10 places is far too good to pass up. He has gone 4-4 and 6-2 in the Irish Open and Scottish Open the last two years and those were exactly the sort of field that he faces here. He hasn’t disgraced himself in his Open appearances either but he is still finding his feet in the Majors. I expect him to win on a links course sooner rather than later now he has got off the mark in the World Super 6 Perth event. It is played at Lake Karrinyup which is a typical hard and fast Aussie course where good links players thrive. With Fox it is hard to pin point why he is so good on links but it certainly has a lot to do with his fearless approach off the tee which so often means he is going in to the greens with nothing more than a wedge. He is also a very creative player from inside 100 yards and the familiar links turf allows him to flourish in that area. The 40/1 with 10 places looks rock solid even with him coming in off a break.
I wanted to add a proper outsider but then I saw returning blog regular George Coetzee at 70/1 with Betfred’s 10 places. Coetzee is another player who I have long expected to win on a British links course but it hasn’t happened yet. He probably wouldn’t want the weather too miserable but there are few better putters on grainy links greens than Coetzee and for me that is always worth including him at odds like this. He took April off to spend relaxing back home in South Africa with his girlfriend and the fact that she is now his fiance makes me think the break will have had a positive effect (he was also at Anfield on Tuesday night!). If he isn’t too rusty then the 70/1 looks a fantastic price as he was in great form during March finishing 2nd in Qatar on the links course at Doha and then signing off for his holiday with a 6th in India.
Summary of bets
Patrick Reed – 1pt ew @ 28/1
Charles Howell III – 1pt ew @ 40/1
Kiradech Aphibarnrat – 0.75pts ew @ 100/1
Matt Jones – 0.5pts ew @ 80/1
Colt Knost – 0.25pts ew @ 300/1 (all Betfair 1/5 odds 8 places)
Eddie Pepperell – 2pts ew @ 18/1
Tyrrell Hatton – 2pts ew @ 18/1
Ryan Fox – 1pt ew @ 40/1
George Coetzee – 0.5pts ew @ 70/1 (all Betfred 1/5 odds 10 places)
Weekly pts advised = 18pts