Patrick Cantlay finished T3rd and Kang and Scott both delivered Top 20s to give us a profitable week. The main two bets didn’t deliver but that’s why I think it’s important to get involved in the Top 20 markets at majors. Finding the winner is tough (unless you just back Koepka of course!) and I think it’s easier to find a bit of value in the top 20 market. You also get a run for your money the whole weekend if they make the cut and it provides a good chance to make the stakes back.
The 10 places that several firms offer on majors also gives punters a massive opportunity to at least break even on the week. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the blog has done better at majors since 10 places became the norm.
Koepka was brilliant and barring a slight wobble when the wind was at it’s strongest on the back 9 on Sunday he never really looked like losing. His dominance (4 majors from his last 8) will give everyone a real problem in a month”s time when the U.S. Open comes around. We probably won’t see double figures about him for a long time in majors yet he will be looking to become the first player in over 100 years to win 3 U.S. Opens in a row and the first since 1956 to win any major 3 times in a row. It really shouldn’t be easy for him but that’s not to say it won’t be!
Another profitable week makes it 5 weeks from the last 6 and leaves the results as follows;
2019 pts advised = 254
2019 pts returned = 274.96
ROI = 8.25%
Charles Schwab Challenge
Another name change here for what is essentially just called “Colonial” anyway as that’s where it’s been played since 1946. It’s a tree-lined, classical course with fairly tight, winding fairways, thick rough and it’s generally a course that can’t be over powered. You have to hit the right parts of the fairways in order to not be blocked out from going at the flags. It’s a short enough course at just over 7200 yards so from there onwards it becomes a battle of the short irons. Some of the best wedge players in the game have won here like Steve Stricker, Zach Johnson and Jordan Spieth. Find fairways, attack the flags and make your share of putts. That’s the recipe year after year for Colonial. Useful stats are proximity to the hole, scoring relative to par from approaches in both the 100-125 yards and 125-150 yards ranges, putting from 10ft-25ft and one putt percentage. Being a par 70 Par 4 scoring is more important than usual and with the winning score usually nearer to -20 than -10, birdie average is also worth a look.
Corey Conners won around TPC San Antonio and that made a whole lot of sense as it’s an ideal course for him. Colonial also looks a great fit and I’ve got to side with him having missed out on tipping him in Texas due to him only Monday Qualifying and sneaking in under the radar. Conners was 8th here last year on his debut and seems to pop up at any ball-striker’s course where tee-to-green accuracy trumps power. I’ve seen a small backlash against some strokes gained stats recently and while they are by no means the be-all and end-all, used wisely they are a powerful tool. While nothing can predict how a player will play in any upcoming week it makes far more sense to side with someone who has been doing something well all season already. That is exactly what applies to Conners this week as he is 10th in strokes gained: tee to green. His numbers with the short irons are also strong as he is 4th in scoring relative to par from approaches at 150-175 yards, 9th from 125-150 yards and 1st in proximity to the hole. He was also 9th last week in strokes gained: off the tee which was better than McIlroy and Patrick Cantlay. Having made the weekend again for the 2nd major in a row I think his confidence will negate any fatigue and he should pitch up at Colonial raring to go. A decent putting week will surely see him out play his odds of 80/1. There is some 100/1 around still but I’d rather take the 8 places.
This course and Kevin Na are a match made in heaven. Fairways and wedges is what Na is all about and that’s perhaps why he has only missed the cut here once in 11 events returning 7 top 25s. He hasn’t been at his best this year but his numbers are still good in the relevant areas and he just can’t compete on the longer courses unless his whole game is at it’s best. Back here though I expect him to go well. Na is 5th in scoring relative to par from 125-150 yards and 12th in strokes gained: around the green. He missed the cut at Bethpage but that was far too long for him and prior to that he was going ok. His best strokeplay result this year was at the Heritage and if he takes that game here there is no reason he can’t improve on last year’s 4th place finish, especially since he now has that winning monkey off his back.
JT Poston has played here twice finishing 41st on his debut and then 20th last year but it’s his 6th at Heritage last month that gets him on the team here. He was 6th for total accuracy there and 2nd in the all-round and Harbour Town has always tied in nicely with Colonial as a similar skill-set is required at both courses. He was also 22nd at The Players which also correlates well as a more strategic course. There have been some missed cuts since but he played his first major weekend golf at Bethpage and I expect that experience to have a positive effect. Worth an each way go at 125/1.
Made In Denmark
Having left Himmerland GC last year we return again to the course that hosted from 2014-2017. I’m not sure whether that was a one-off or if they are alternating between the two but for now it gives us 4 year’s worth of course form and a fairly well constructed idea of what is required at Himmerland. It’s yet another links style course but it is also one of the shorter tracks on Tour at just 6881 yards and so far a sharp short game has been the order of the week. Everyone should be finding the fairways without the need for driver on lots of holes while the big greens are normally easy enough to hit. Depending on whether the wind blows scrambling can also be crucial as greens will be missed if it blows and it’s a very exposed course. Obviously hitting a high percentage of greens will help you contend at the majority of courses and for the most part the players on the leaderboards have also hit their fare share. However excelling on or around the greens looks like it might be the best way to come out on top this week.
Despite all that talk of short game my first pick is actually a tee-to-green merchant. Benjamin Hebert came agonisingly close yet again to his first ET win 3 weeks ago in China and given his course form here I’ll forgive the MC last time out at Hillside. While that course will share similarities with Himmerland, he will still probably have been gutted about his play-off defeat and traveling back from China to play will have only made that worse. His course form is trending and reads 6-13-14 so he looks an excellent each way bet with Betfair’s 45/1 and 7 places. Whether he will hole enough putts to win I’m not sure but the place portion just looks too good.
Thomas Detry has also been knocking on the door lately and the British Masters looked there for the taking for him two weeks ago. But he put in an uncharacteristically poor round of putting to finish T15th. Generally though he excels on links style layouts with grainy greens where his touch on and around the greens is important. He’s still chasing his first proper win but after winning the World Cup pairs event with Pieters, big things are expected from Detry in 2019. He also didn’t play last week in New York so will have had a week to get him absolutely right for this. He played here once in 2017 when he ranked 7th on the greens on his way to a 14th place finish. Coral’s standout 33/1 also comes with the standout 7 places and I think that looks more than fair with 7 of the 9 above him in the betting having played the US PGA.
Renato Paratore’s sole European Tour win was at Barseback GC where Marc Warren, Adam Scott, Joakim Haeggman and Ricardo Gonzalez have all won. They all have plenty of tie-in form at other similar courses, namely Gleneagles and Doha, and I think Himmerland is another similar course where recent leaderboards have shown the same kind of players with Marc Warren winning the first event back here in 2014. So Paratore would have been of interest this week anyway but the fact he was 8th last time out on a short, links course makes him properly stand out at 150/1 this week. He hasn’t played Gleneagles but he has been 4th at Doha. His two results here were a MC in 2015 but an 18th in 2016 where he ranked 9th on the greens and went 67-68 over the weekend, suggesting that he had got to grips with the course. His 2019 hasn’t really taken off yet but he will be looking to build on that British Masters performance and a course where he can leave the driver in the bag looks an ideal next stop for him.
Richie Ramsay was close as were regular bets Ryan Fox, George Coetzee and Thorbjorn Olesen but ultimately they just didn’t quite tick enough boxes this week. I should probably be backing both Fox (80/1) and Coetzee (100/1) on value grounds alone here but they are both on the naughty step after MCs at Hillside two weeks ago so I can leave them out from the start.
Summary of bets
Corey Conners – 1pt ew @ 80/1 (1/5 odds 8 places)
Kevin Na – 1pt ew @ 70/1 (1/5 odds 7 places)
JT Poston – 0.75pts ew @ 125/1 (1/5 odds 8 places Skybet)
Made In Denmark
Benjamin Hebert – 1pt ew @ 45/1 (1/5 odds 7 places Betfair/PP)
Thomas Detry – 1pt ew @ 33/1 (1/5 odds 7 places Coral)
Renato Paratore – 1pt ew @ 150/1 (1/5 odds 7 places Betfair)
Weekly pts advised =