DP World Championship and RSM Classic – A Betting Preview

After a 4th week with no returns and Fitzpatrick finishing just outside the places I must admit I’m looking forward to the winter break on the two main Tours. It hasn’t been a great 2017 but it feels like I was very close with a host of players placing throughout the year but most of them failing to get over the line. I might post some small previews with just the tips for anyone still reading these but I’m largely going to take a break until the Tournament of Champions in Hawaii in January.

It’s easy to think you have all the answers after the success I had in the first year but things have been a lot tougher in the last 18 months. I will look to evaluate my process over the break and may alter things in the New Year, possibly reducing the number of bets and looking more closely at the place markets. Too often have my outsiders played well, missed out on the front 5 but made the Top 20, amounting to a loss for the blog.

We sign off with two great events though, the European Tour season ending DP World Championship from Dubai and the RSM Classic from Sea Island, Georgia.

2017 pts advised = 518pts

2017 pts returned = 381.21pts

ROI = -26.4%

 


DP World Championship

The main story this week will be the battle between Tommy Fleetwood, Justin Rose and to a lesser extent Setgio Garcia, for the Race To Dubai title. While that will be intriguing we also have an elite European Tour event to try and find the winner of and that looks like no mean feat. The top 60 players through the season line up at the Jumeirah Estate (Earth course) in Dubai and as ever the course that awaits them will be absolutely perfect.

The Greg Norman design is a monster but other than length nobody can have any complaints about the quality course laid out in front of them. Lush green, wide fairways, minimal rough, perfectly manicured bunkers and slick bentgrass greens make for a great event even if it is a very scorable one for those who bring their A game. The winning score often reaches -20 and a quick look through the winners tells us how that is usually acheived. Matt Fitzpatrick stopped the Stenson-McIlroy benefit that was in place since 2012 and while the young Englishman isn’t the longest, he is usually one of the more accurate. Stenson and McIlroy both ate up the Par 4s and 5s with their combination of power, approach accuracy and towering ball flight and on the whole that’s a fairly decent angle in. The greens are heavily undulating and loft will be required to get anywhere near the flags here, many of which are protected by water or sand.

Despite knowing what is required it is a very difficult event to attempt to find any value in, or to have a very strong opinion on who might win. Justin Rose is very tempting as I figured he would be nearer 5/1 in this small 60 runner field. He is 8.2 on the exchange and he is playing superior golf to everyone in the field and is also probably the best golfer in the field (Rahm?!). There is part of me that thinks he might still be the best value in the field as he surely wins this more like 1 in 6 times rather than 1 in 8. The only thing putting me off is personal as I always seem to to struggle to get Rose right. I was convinced he was going to win the US Open this year at Erin Hills but he missed the cut and that has certainly left me with some scar tissue. But given it is the last event of the season I’m going to attempt to go out with a winner here and he is unquestionably the man to beat so I’m having 4pts win on the Exchange.

Martin Kaymer has been a conundrum for many throughout the 2017 season as he often appears over priced given how classy a performer he is. Then once backed at 66/1 he would maybe show enough to get his backers excited only to fall away as he reminded everyone that he is somewhat of a different beast now since throwing away the Abu Dhabi Championship in February 2015. His whole game has really suffered and since then last week is one of the few weeks where has contended on Sunday. That is enough for me to feel he is over priced here at 40/1 however as deep down we know how much ability he has. He doesn’t have the best of records around the course and I’m not even that confident of his chances but everyone has their price and 40/1 for Kaymer coming off a 5th place in SA just looks too big. Kaymer loves the desert and he has 3 wins in Abu Dhabi as well as a solid record in the Dubai Desert Classic and Qatar Masters. Despite never bettering 10th here he closed with two 67s last year and 40/1 is a solid each way price.

Matt Fitzpatrick threw in one bad round last week which cost us an each way payout and possibly better. A Friday 77 left him playing catch up all weekend but he rallied for 8th place and his 7th consecutive Top 15. That is some serious form that has been overshadowed a little by Hatton and Rose both winning back to back during that run. I think I need to give him a chance to recoup last week’s money and given he won here last year, he looks fairly priced at 16/1. Normally defending might be an issue but I expect Rose and Fleetwood to take a considerable amount of the attention away from Fitzpatrick and he put up an excellent defence of the Nordea Masters in the summer when finding only an inspired Renato Paratore too good. He has absolutely no need to fear anyone in this field as this is firmly his level now. Looks sure to go close as long as he can avoid that one bad round.

Ryan Fox did very well for me through the summer and he spent the bulk of the autumn playing on courses that didn’t suit his game. The one exception was the Alfred Dunhill  where I went in again as I thought it would be ideal, he started well but a poor Friday combined with the slow 6hr rounds seemed to throw him and he ended up missing the 54 hole cut. This is right back in the bombers wheelhouse though and given all the courses he has gone well on this year I’m convinced he can outplay his price but maybe not quite threaten the places. So instead of an each way bet I’m going to play him in the top 10 market.

Despite not loving the tournament as a betting proposition I’ve managed to find 4 bets, this might be exactly where I’ve gone wrong in 2017. Finding a bet in each event just for the sake of it!

 


RSM Classic

The final PGA Tour event of the year takes us back over to the US and to the East coast of Georgia. This week there are two courses in play at Sea Island, the Seaside course and the Plantation course. Everyone will play one course on each before the Plantation takes a back seat over the weekend. Both courses are relatively short at around the 7000 yard mark and the test isn’t too dissimilar to last week as the Seaside course is another fiddly course where accuracy is at a premium. Finding the fairway is required in order to be able to fire approaches at the flags and after that a hot putter will be needed on the undulating bermuda greens. When Kisner racked up the record low score of -22 in 2015 he did so with this exact formula, every time the camera cut to him over the weekend he seemed to be sending a short iron inside 15ft from the middle of the fairway. If we look back at the last 3 editions, the winners have ranked 1st, 2nd 1st for putting.

2015 U.S. Open Sectional Qualifying

I backed Jamie Lovemark here last year at 80/1 and he fell one spot shy in the agonising 6th place. Unfortunately he is a lot shorter this week but I really like his chances here of getting his maiden win. The last three RSM winners were all winning for the first time on the PGA Tour. Lovemark missed the cut in Mexico last week but prior to that he was last seen finishing 5th in the CJ Cup where he ranked 5th for driving accuracy and 7th for GIR. Returning to Sea Island where he has played well I’m hoping he can find that level of long game to go with his always assured putting stroke (24th in Strokes Gained: Putting). His best two finishes last season were a 3rd at Greenbrier and 4th at the Sony Open, two courses which often correlate well with Sea Island. They were both partly designed by Seth Raynor who used classic British links characteristics on lots of his holes. Sea Island was designed by the great Harry Colt who is responsible for some of the best links courses in the world. There might just be something about these classic tracks that fit the eye for Lovemark and although the 40/1 isn’t a price to get excited about I do like his chances this week.

I’ve backed Si-Woo Kim a few times lately on price alone and I think he looks a must bet again here, especially as he arrives in good form this week. The bookmakers continue to forget that he has won The Players Championship and that piece of form places him way ahead of the majority of this field. But he has also won around the tree-lined Sedgefield and is still just 22 years old. Both those wins were on bermuda greens and this streaky putter clearly performs better on that surface. He missed the cut last year but was 18th on his debut the year before. Kim looks to me like the sort of player that has his price and almost needs to be followed in whenever he isn’t given the respect he deserves. He opened at various prices towards 80/1 which was really far too big, he is now 50/1 and to be honest that still feels very big coming in off a 3rd place in Mexico.

Blayne Barber was high on my list even before I looked at his course form which included a runner-up finish last year. That meant he had to be backed just as long as his price was ok and we are getting three figures across the board on the young Floridian. Barber hails from just over the border in Tallahassee and he has already won the South Georgian Classic on the Web.com Tour. He is clearly comfortable in these conditions and I think he looks a very solid bet to go contend here again. His best finish other than his 2nd here last year is a 3rd at the Honda Classic. That is another short, exposed course designed by Tom Fazio (Fazio redesigned the Seaside course) and they seem to be the sort of courses where it could pay to follow Barber in his early career. He is another strong putter who ranked 23rd in strokes gained: putting last year but it was actually his long game that clicked here last year as he hit 80% of the fairways and 87% of the greens. He missed his first cut of the season but finished 45th last week in Mexico which will set him up nicely for his return to Sea Island.


Summary of Bets

RSM Classic

Jamie Lovemark – 1pt ew @ 40/1

Si-Woo Kim – 1pt ew @ 50/1

Blayne Barber – 0.5pt ew @ 110/1

DP World Championship

Justin Rose – 4pts win @ 8.2

Matt Fitzpatrick – 1.5pt ew @ 16/1

Martin Kaymer – 1pt ew @ 40/1

Ryan Fox – 1pt Top 10 @ 16/1

 

Weekly pts advised = 15pts

2017 pts advised = 533pts

@theGreek82

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OHL Classic and Nedbank Golf Challenge – Betting Preview

There were exciting finishes on both Tours last week but none of our players were quite on the premises down the stretch on Sunday. Matthew Southgate was on the leaderboard most of the weekend but a poor front nine on Sunday left him with too much to do and he could only finish 11th. On the PGA Tour it was annoying to miss out on Patrick Cantlay as his win has been coming and he looked to have a good chance however 20/1 about a maiden however talented isn’t a price for everyone. The outsiders I plumped for instead started very well as both Stegmaier and Fathauer sat in the top 20 after the first round but both struggled on Friday on what was a very strange 2nd round. They couldn’t get closer again over the weekend and it was annoying to see Hadley place as I left him out on price alone.

Total 2017 pts advised = 506pts

Total 2017 pts returned = 381.21pts

ROI = -24.67%


OHL Classic

The penultimate event of the 2017 Fall Series takes place south of the border, down Mexico way. The course is El Camaleon at Mayakoba and has been a staple on the Tour since 2007. It is quite a unique event for a couple of reasons, firstly it was the only regular PGA Tour event outside the U.S. for a number of years and secondly it was one of the few courses they play annually that is less than 7000 yards long.

To allow for the lack of length the course is heavily tree-lined with very narrow fairways and some smaller, fairly tricky sea paspalum greens. Despite the fiddly nature of the course, scoring is usually very low and while it isn’t over powered, the accurate players in the field can make plenty of birdies, especially if they enjoy putting on the often quirky sea paspalum greens. Sea paspalum is said to grab the ball a lot more than other grasses so those with an aggressive short iron game are able to pepper the flag and make a score without having to hole a serious amount of distance. Experience of the grass is certainly advantageous and the strain of grass caused quite a stir back at the 2012 US PGA when very few players had seen sea paspalum on the PGA Tour. It is becoming increasingly more common now however and is used at lots of Web.com Tour venues.

While young rookies tend to do very well in these early season events, more experienced pros tend to enjoy the test at Mayakoba and we can see that if we look at the last three winners, Pat Perez, Graeme McDowell and Charlie Hoffman. I wouldn’t want to rule any of the younger players out but I will be focussing on the experienced players who will have the patience for a more considered test of golf.

I’d make accuracy the most important attribute this week, both off the tee and indeed with their irons. Having played well previously in the heat and humidity will be beneficial and proximity to the hole numbers are worth a look, especially with the wedges from 100 to 150 yards.

Chesson Hadley is one of the form players in the world right now and while I left him out at 28/1 last week I’m going to include him here as he has shown his liking for sea paspalum in the past and played well in the humid conditions. Hadley didn’t actually do a lot wrong last week as he bogeyed the 18th to miss out on the play-off but that was the only mistake he really made down the stretch and he wasn’t alone in bogeying the impossibly hard final hole.

His whole game has been in great shape for the last two months and he doesn’t really have too much of a weakness to his game. He was won before away from mainland U.S as his sole PGA Tour win came in Puerto Rico in similar climate and on similar paspalum greens. In all honesty I thought we would be looking at joint 2nd favourite here around 18/1 or 20/1 so I’ll gladly take the 25/1 on offer about the player who looks more likely than anyone in the field to play well. *Since initially writing this he has been cut to 22/1, it’s not brilliant but still the right side of 20s for me.

This layout should suit Kevin Chappell quite well as he enjoys a test of long game accuracy as much as anyone on Tour. I normally associate him with tougher courses as one of his main strengths is protecting his par on testing ball-striking layouts and his win came at TPC San Antonio on a score of -12. While scoring here is always a lot lower than that, it is the San Antonio link that I like here. It is another Greg Norman course with a premium on accuracy and the green complexes are similar. Chappell can eat up the Par 5s around here with his consistent tee-to-green game and that will allow some slack with the putter which doesn’t always behave.

His form is actually sneaky good coming in too despite not really appearing on any leaderboards. He hasn’t finished outside the Top 35 since The Open and his figures read a very positive 20-28-12-35-6-33-13-8. That 20th was last week at The Shriners and was an excellent result considering it was his first appearance since his successful Presidents Cup debut over a month ago. This is his debut at the course but he finished 9th and 11th in the Mexico Open on the Web.com Tour and the course should suit. I think we are getting a decent price given he is a winner earlier this year, arriving in good form and has pieces of form over the last couple of years as strong as anyone in the field bar Fowler or Reed.

Andrew Putnam looks a great outsider here largely due to his results in the South American/Caribbean swing on the Web.com earlier this year. He went on a run of 8th-11th-5th-1st in the Bahamas, Colombia and Panama and all of those were played in similarly hot and humid conditions. The most interesting point however is that they all feature sea paspalum greens and the Panama GC where he won is also tree-lined and considered a difficult test tee to green. He isn’t the most accurate of drivers but given he has won on tight courses before we can assume he is capable of a strategic game off the tee.

He has played Mayakoba just once and he made the cut but finished down in 72nd last year. He struggled with his long game but yet he ranked 1st for putting which is a big positive. He hasn’t done much lately but his form in similar climates and on sea paspalum greens makes the 250/1 look huge. I’ll also have an interest in the Top 20 market.

Kyle Thompson has missed all three cuts so far in the 2017 season and after last week’s wash out I probably shouldn’t have such a speculative bet but he is another with very good form from the Web.com tournaments played outside the U.S. He won the Great Exuma Classic in January at the Sandals Emerald Bay Golf Course in the Bahamas which is another Greg Norman design with sea paspalum greens. It isn’t quite as tight a driving course but the green complexes and bunkering look very similar as is the climate. He is a massive price and quite out of form but I’m still having a very small interest each way and Top 20.


Nedbank

This is played at the Gary Player Country Club at Sun City in South Africa and it plays about as long as the multiple major winner’s self-indulgent stories. That figure is around 7800 yards and while it is at altitude it is still one of the longer courses on Tour. Unlike many of those though, the players aren’t able to completely let rip with the driver as the fairways are very narrow, tree-lined and feature quite sticky kikuyu rough. Additionally the greens are quite small and are intricately shaped to allow several difficult pin positions. This has seen many of the European Tour’s best ball-strikers win the title over the years and the long-game has to be fully on point to compete in this 72 hole slog in the blistering heat. We have seen many rounds crumble away into the 80s and without a cut this week there will be a huge disparity between the winner and the player in last place. The course will reward good shots but heavily punish those not on their game, especially as the greens firm up over the weekend.

fitz

Matt Fitzpatrick has been top of my list for this ever since he won the European Masters at Crans. To say that Crans and the Gary Player CC are exactly the same test would be inaccurate given the huge difference in length, however there are definitely some crossovers and for me the two have some sort of link. Five of the last seven Nedbanks have been won by players who have also won around Crans and I suppose the two common attributes are finding fairways and being in form. Neither course is one where a player can compete without finding the short stuff or arriving without their game in a good place.

Fitzpatrick is a supremely accurate driver of the ball and although he is quite short, his long iron game is also very accurate meaning he will still be able to hit these smallish greens. His two efforts to date in the Nedbank haven’t been spectacular but he has made the top 20 on both occasions. He hasn’t quite threatened to win in recent weeks but his form has still been good with results of 11-9-15-15-11 since his win in Switzerland. If he starts well then I expect him to contend this week.

Tommy Fleetwood should enjoy this test but I’m a little unsure how he might perform with the pressure that Justin Rose heaped on him last week. He will be very much the focus at the course during the build up and having played so much golf lately, that might just take its toll after a long flight from Turkey. Instead I’m looking at two outsiders for an added interest.

Paul Waring drives the ball very long and very straight and he bounced back to form last week as he finished 14th in Turkey. His whole game was very strong as he ranked 11th in the all-round, 5th in total driving and 7th in ball-striking. His best finish to date on Tour was a runner-up finish in the Joburg Open in February so I’m hoping he will be comfortable in these conditions. Had this been a star-studded field he might have struggled but given the number of big names now missing he shouldn’t be overawed.

I wanted to include Romain Wattel again but it was proving hard to forgive him his opening round last week where I really fancied him to go well. But at 150/1 I think he is worth another go as he ranked 7th for total driving, 8th for GIR and closed with rounds of 68-69-67. It was just a poor start and a cold putter that prevented him contending and I’m hoping a trip to SA and the grainy putting greens might sort the latter out. He already has three placed efforts in the country so should go well now he is returning as a European Tour winner.


Summary of bets

OHL Classic

Chesson Hadley – 1pt ew @ 22/1

Kevin Chappell – 1pt ew @ 30/1

Andrew Putnam – 0.5pt ew @ 250/1 and 1pt Top 20 @ 8/1

Kyle Thompson – 0.25pt ew @ 500/1 and 0.5pt Top 20 @ 20/1

Nedbank Challenge

Matt Fitzpatrick – 1.5pts ew @ 18/1

Paul Waring – 0.5pt ew @ 175/1

Romain Wattel – 0.5pt ew @ 150/1

 

Weekly pts advised = 12pts

2017 pts advised = 518pts

@theGreek82

Shriners Hospitals and Turkish Airlines Open – Betting Preview

The WGC HSBC was a massive washout early doors so I didn’t really end up watching much at all. I’m guessing it must have played very soft though as the shorter hitters really struggled to keep up with the bombers and that’s not always the case at Sheshan.

At the Sanderson Farms things went a little better as both Baddeley and Gay flirted with the leaderboard over the weekend but they throw in too many mistakes and rather uncharacteristically both missed several shortish putts.

2017 pts advised = 498

2017 pts returned = 381.21

ROI = -23.4%


Shriners Hospitals for Children Open

With the Fall Series having given chances to rookies since it was established back in 2013, many arrive in confident mood knowing that if they play well they will have a chance in these lower quality fields. But last week rather than a young Web.com graduate getting off the mark it was 41 yr old maiden Ryan Armour who showed no chinks as he easily converted his 5 shot final round lead. If we also look at last year’s Shriners winner, 47-year-old Rod Pampling, then we see further proof of how open these events can be. That makes it a nightmare from a betting point of view as realistically everyone in this field is capable of winning. What that means is we really have to err on the side of value even more so than normal this week and we can start by dismissing some of the incredibly short prices at the head of the market. Tony Finau no doubt has a long, successful career ahead of him and he has proven himself already in classy events but he hasn’t yet shown that he can be relied upon as a short price favourite. Webb Simpson at his best is the class act here but we haven’t seen 4 rounds of his best very often since the anchoring ban. Patrick Cantlay makes most appeal of those at the front but he is priced up on reputation as much as anything and while it looks only a matter of time before he wins, I’d prefer him at a price in a stronger field where the scoring isn’t as low.

The course is TPC Summerlin in the desert in Las Vegas. It sits at some 7255 yards but it’s altitude of 2600ft means it won’t play all of that. That has resulted in short hitters having plenty of success in this event over the years as they are able to compete on a fairly level playing field.

TPC Summerlin was designed by Pete Dye protegé Bobby Weed and he is also responsible for TPC River Highlands (Travelers Championship) and Dye’s Valley Course at Sawgrass which hosted the Web.com Tour Championships from 2013-2015. Weed worked closely with Dye for years and his influence was strong so Dye’s own TPC Sawgrass is also worth looking at this week as several players have strong records at both.

There are some trees around but I don’t think it could be classed as tree-lined in a classic sense and the main protection off the tee comes from thick rough which has been up in recent years. The fairways aren’t narrow however so the rough can certainly be avoided by the more accurate players while bombers should still be close enough to muscle the ball out of the rough. The main difficulty of the course however lies with the green complexes as we have come to expect with Dye’s own courses. They are undulating, fairly quick and have lots of runoff areas so only the most controlled, accurate approach shots will end up anywhere near the flag. Therefore being in the fairway is crucial to consistent low-scoring  across the four days and with a winning score usually north of -20, low scoring will be required! Key stats include GIR, proximity to hole and par 3 scoring as the short holes are tough and the winner normally performs well on them.

The head of the market isn’t that appealing this week at all, there are certainly players who can be expected to play well but I’m taking the each way value  given how this tournament has panned out recently. I wanted to compliment some larger prices with one towards the front of the betting but that is proving very hard indeed.

Brett Stegmaier very nearly won this two years ago so I’m a little surprised about his price this week. Stegmaier is another who is no young rookie and at the age of 34 he has been bouncing around the Web.com Tour since he turned professional back in 2006. Stegmaier also has form at TPC River Highlands where he shot an opening 64 to sit 2nd behind Spieth after the first round earlier this year. He would go on to finish a respectable 26th. Stegmaier also has two top 25s around the Dye Valley course but it his Florida Gator roots that made him a must back for me this week. The University of Florida’s golf course is the Mark Bostick Golf Course which was redesigned by Bobby Weed shortly before Stegmaier’s time there. The course appears very similar visually, especially the greens, and that might help explain why he was so comfortable here on just his 5th PGA Tour start. At 200/1 it won’t cost us much to see if he can go well on the course again.

Derek Fathauer is also a huge price this week after a 10th place finish last week in Jackson. That stopped the run of missed cuts and he played ok across the four days but he putted very well. Fathauer has played here three times before and he is improving after posting a 36th last year after two missed cuts. The reason I looked at him first this week was the location of his only professional win, the Dye Valley course at Sawgrass. He won the Tour Championship there in 2014 to earn his card for the 2015 season. He didn’t really make much of an impact but I think he looks a very fair each way price this week after his solid performance at the Sanderson last week.

My final pick is Patrick Rodgers who has stopped the rot of 4 missed cuts with a run of 33-23-43-73. Those 4 missed cuts came after the disappointment of losing out at the John Deere Classic where he was pipped to 2nd by Bryson Dechambeau. Rodgers only professional win was at a similar altitude to TPC Summerlin down in Bogota and he was also 3rd at last year’s Travelers Championship at Weed’s TPC River Highlands course. He missed the cut here last year but was 13th the year before and can get himself back into contention again now he is settled back in the US after the Asian swing.

 


Turkish Airlines Open

This event moved to a new course last year so we only have one year of course form to go on for the first of The Final Series events. Last year’s tournament was won in fairly convincing fashion by Thorbjorn Olesen.

The course is the Regnum Carya Golf Club and was designed by Thomson, Perrett & Lobb Golf Course Architects, which was founded by 5-time Open Champion Peter Thomson. It was said to have been based on the classic heathland courses around London and it is certainly very tree-lined. Last year that perhaps made me look too closely at driving accuracy which meant I was never going to find the usually wild Olesen. But it should be noted that he is a player who can go well on tree-lined courses and perhaps the narrow lines focus his mind and force him to keep the ball in play with irons and 3-woods. Additionally the punishment for finding the trees wasn’t as massive and the greens were still found from under the branches.

Interestingly George Coetzee was 5th here last year and he and Olesen contested a play-off in Mauritius at the tree-lined Heritage course in 2015. Again though that was the only running of that event at the course but they return there next month so it may well be worth keeping an eye on that link even if it cant help us this week.

With Peter Thompson having helped design the course and Olesen having won last year, I’m of the thinking that the course may well play like some of the tree-lined classic courses that I always associate with links players. One of those is Lake Karrinyup in Perth, Australia where Olesen won in 2014. That leads me to my main pick this week, Alexander Levy.

Levy was 2nd there in the final stroke-play event in early 2016 and his form has been simmering away nicely lately as he slowly gotten over the short putt he missed to win the European Open in the summer. An aggressive iron player, Levy’s week can often be dependent on his putter and usually when it performs we see him contend in this level of field. That has seen him become a relatively prolific winner and he already has 4 wins to his name. He has shown already he is happy to travel away from central Europe and he has won twice in China on two different courses. His record in Turkey is good too with top 20s in both the editions at Montgomerie Maxx while he ranked 1st on the greens here last year as he finished 25th. I think he represents a shade of value here at 50/1 given the number of less prolific winners that find themselves shorter in the betting.

The head of the market looks strong but it also looks hard to split them and find a bet so instead I will look for the each way value just like over in the US. My other picks are three talented players that are in no way guaranteed to play well but they should be suited by the course and they look over priced.

Romain Wattel has missed a couple of cuts since his KLM win last month but I don’t think either event would have suited him and he can be forgiven for still not being too focussed having finally obtained his first European Tour win. With this being the first in the Final Series he will be determined to make a good start here and he will be rejuvenated after a week off.

He was 6th at Lake Karrinyup in 2016 and also 6th last year at Wentworth. The course should suit his game and I think we are getting a little bit of value on the Frenchman now that he has the monkey off his back.

Jeung-hun Wang has impressed no end in the last two years but he also has a habit of falling rapidly out of form, only to find it again from nowhere. He is already a three-time winner on Tour and I think he is someone who can still be profitable following at bigger prices when the course suits. I originally looked at Wang because of his win in the Mauritius Open where Olesen won but I forgot that was played on a different course, albeit still a tree-lined one. That tempered my enthusiasm for him a little but then I saw his price. He arrives here after a poor showing in the CJ Cup which would have made him hard to back anywhere under 80/1 but there is still some 125/1 around and that looks big to me.

Wang’s other two wins came in the Qatar Masters and the Trophee Hassan. Olesen has an excellent record in the former and the Trophee Hassan win was around a fairly tight tree-lined course. He played here last year and finished 13th and the course really should suit him. The price more than factors in the chances of him playing poorly again.

Matthew Southgate is a little bit of an enigma, often popping up in elite company and looking like he belongs before promptly disappearing again for a few months. When he is playing well though he is someone you look at and wonder how he isn’t contending most weeks. Obviously he has had his health problems over the last few years but he retains a lot of talent, especially on the right courses. While travelling back from China isn’t ideal, he will have a lot of confidence after his 24th place finish there and the course should suit this accurate driver. He came 31st here last year and will be looking to improve on his 2nd look. Looks over priced to do so at 150/1.


Summary of Bets

Shriners

Patrick Rodgers – 0.5pt ew @ 100/1

Brett Stegmaier – 0.5pt ew @ 200/1

Derek Fathauer – 0.5pt ew @ 200/1

Turkish Airlines Open

Alex Levy – 1pt ew @ 50/1

Romain Wattel – 0.5pt ew @ 125/1

Jeunghun Wang – 0.5pt ew @ 125/1

Matthew Southgate – 0.5pt ew @ 150/1

 

Weekly pts advised = 8pts

Total 2017 pts aadvised = 506pts

@theGreek82

WGC HSBC and Sanderson Farms – Betting Preview

Patrick Reed, Shane Lowry and Soren Kjeldsen all gave us a run for our money last week and while they never really looked like winning it was rather disappointing that none of them managed to place after spending the bulk of the week in and around the top 15 or so. The first week in six with no returns and it means I’m up against it now to get back into the black for 2017 with just 5 weeks left before the Christmas break.

Total 2017 pts advised =490

Total 2017 pts returned = 381.21

ROI = -22.2%


WGC HSBC

The 3 week Asian swing culminates with the final WGC of the season in Shanghai at Sheshan Golf Club. With the exception of the 2012 running, Sheshan has been the venue for the WGC HSBC Champions dating back to it’s inception in the 2005 season so there is no shortage of course form. It was designed by the renowned Asia based team of Nelson and Haworth and plays at 7266 yards long with undulating, tree-lined fairways, elevated bentgrass greens and plenty water in play. The design team are quoted as saying that they were influenced by Donald Ross’ Oak Hill course which has a lot of varied Par 4s with many elevation changes and puts a premium on distance control.

That is very much what is required around Sheshan and a look through the names on previous leaderboards shows up lots of players who regularly put up impressive proximity to the hole numbers with the full range of irons. While it isn’t always a great putter that wins, they generally perform rather well on the greens that week. Especially when it comes to lag putting from distance as the green complexes are undulating and tricky. Those looking at particular stats should focus on approach proximity, particularly the more difficult longer irons (175-200 and 200-225) which can often separate those who are swinging well and those who aren’t. Three putt avoidance will also be key with lots of difficult long-range putts to be found on the greens.

Ross Fisher will divide opinion this week as he is grouped together with some altogether bigger names in the betting market. But I’m not too fussed about that as Fisher is a classy player who is back to his very best and he has shown over his career he can contend in fields like this when swinging well and holing putts. That is exactly what he has been doing over the last few weeks.

He followed up his course record at St Andrews with another excellent performance when having to settle for 2nd behind Hatton again in Italy. Those two were playing on a different level to the rest of the Tour for two weeks and if Fisher has kept things ticking over since then he can be expected to go well on a course that suits his accurate game. He has finished 6th and 3rd in the last two editions but also has a runner-up finish from back in 2007. A test of accuracy from tee to green right through the bag is exactly what Fisher wants but he has also shown that he can putt well on these greens, ranking 9th on the greens last year and 8th in 2007. Furthermore he has been putting a lot better recently (ignoring his Thursday round at St Andrews where I felt like offering some help his lag putting was so bad!) so he will be confident returning to Sheshan.

Beyond just this course his general form in China has always been very strong since finishing 4th on his first appearance back in 2005, and he has done everything but pick up a win. Just this year he finished 3rd at the Sheshan International and followed up the week after with a 6th place at the Volvo China Open.

Some will scoff at the price but it’s a 78 man field, he has some of the best course form in the field and is swinging better than most of that field. Whether he can be relied upon to get over the line on Sunday in this company I’m not sure, but I think his each way chances are excellent and he looks very likely to play well again. Unfortunately even the 28/1 is gone now but for those that have a Betfair account there is still some 30.0 kicking about.

Chez Reavie has had three consecutive top 20s to start his 2018 season which is a level of consistency not always associated with him given how he often struggles on certain courses. Sheshan looks right up his street though, difficult approach shots across elevation changes and a premium on proximity to the hole is what his game is all about. Those are key at Riviera where he has solid form and also at Glen Abbey the scene of his only PGA Tour win. Reavie is also an excellent scrambler and I think he could surprise a few on a course where shorter hitters can thrive as long as they are accurate long iron players. He will have his work cut out to win this but then again nobody would have picked out Russell Knox 2 years ago so he could be worth a small play at a good each way price. Last time I picked him he agonisingly finished 7th at 250/1 so I’m also going to have a Top 10 bet given he is someone who can quite often come up just short on Sunday.

I’m going to have a saver on Hideki Matsuyama here after seeing his numbers for his last event at the CIMB Classic. He landed a backdoor 5th place but his long game was very much back to its best prior to his slight slump after the US PGA. He hit 95% of fairways and 86% GIR , good enough to rank 1st in both categories. Returning to the scene of his 7 stroke win last year I would expect him to go close if that level of ball-striking is maintained. No kind of each way price though and if he plays well enough to contend then he should really go on and win so I’ll go win only.


Sanderson Farms Championship

The tournament that now regularly goes up against the WGC HSBC is the Sanderson Farms Championship and it takes place in the deep south of Mississippi and Jackson Country Club. The course is a medium length Par 72 at 7284 yards with tree-lined fairways and small, tricky, champion bermuda greens that are said to resemble Donald Ross greens which tells us they are undulating and generally fall from back to front. This sets a precedent on distance control with irons and indeed approach putting. The three winners of this event to date are all very good putters and despite the course hardly being a cake walk from tee to green, this has largely been settled on the greens thus far.

Aaron Baddeley always jumps out whenever good putters are required and lately he has been putting best on bermuda greens. His best finish last season was at TPC San Antonio where he finished 5th, ranking 7th on the champion bermuda greens. In 2016 he won on the bermuda greens at the Barbasol, another alternate event played during The Open week. His 2nd best finish of 2016 was a 4th place finish in this every event. He’s not in the greatest of form coming off two missed cuts but he ranks 1st in proximity to hole so far for the 2018 season. It’s very much in its infancy but if he can the get the ball anywhere near the hole at Jackson CC then his putter can help him score and he looks a tasty each way price at 80/1 having excelled in similar events in recent times.

Brian Gay’s form has been up and down throughout 2017 but it’s interesting to note his last two placed efforts have been on champion bermuda at TPC San Antonio and the Barbasol. He hasn’t won since 2013, but while he is a bit of a journeyman he usually does ok in lower grade events like this and he is still a 4-time winner on Tour. Three of those have come on bermuda greens and one of those was around TPC Southwind which is very similar to this week’s course. Missed the cut on his first start of the season but he hadn’t played for 6 weeks so he should be better prepared this week having loosened off at the Safeway Open.

While there are many good Web.com graduates on show this week who will be eager to prove themselves early in the season, the bookies are onto most of those who have been playing well recently and subsequently there are a lot of poor prices around. Therefore I will just leave it at the two speculative plays on a couple of proven champion bermuda putters.


Summary of Bets

WGC HSBC

Ross Fisher – 1.5pts ew @ 25/1

Chez Reavie 0.5pt ew @ 100/1 and 1pt Top 10 @ 6/1

Hideki Matsuyama – 1pt win @ 12.5

Sanderson Farms

Aaron Baddeley – 0.5pt ew @ 80/1

Brian Gay – 0.5pt ew @ 150/1

Weekly pts advised = 8pts

Total 2017 pts advised = 498pts

 

@theGreek82

CIMB Classic and Italian Open – Betting Preview

There were returns last week on both Tours as Hadley and Warren both grabbed full places. That very nearly made for a profitable week but not quite (16.5pts) and we really need winners to get back into profit for 2017. Hadley looked like he was going to oblige as he started the final round as favourite but could only manage to shoot level par on a tricky day where Steele rallied with a few timely (and lucky!) birdies.

In Scotland we were in a great position early on but I’m not sure what happened to Coetzee and Fox after Thursday. I followed them around St Andrews and they were both playing very well on the whole. Warren did the opposite though finishing strongly after starting slowly on Carnoustie. Lagergren looked like he might have snagged a place again but a double bogey on the 14th did for his chances on Sunday.

2017 pts advised = 460

2017 pts returned = 376.35

ROI = -18.2%

I’m a little bit rushed for time this week having been away so will focus on the picks. Both tournaments are on the same course so a lot of last year’s info will still be key.


CIMB Classic

 

The CIMB Classic takes its usual position at the Kuala Lumpur Golf Club and we have a strong bank of form to look at with just two men having won the last four editions as both Ryan Moore and then Justin Thomas doubled up. That further confirms how important course form is this week as it’s played in serious humidity in Malaysia and there are quirky sea paspalum greens like those on Tour at El Cameleon and Puerto Rico. The course was designed by Nelson and Haworth who are responsible for several championship courses in Asia and the form often stacks up. It is an early start this week through the night in Malaysia and conditions are hot and humid. Both Thomas and Moore putted the lights out during their wins despite neither men being considered consistently great putters. Sea paspalum is a tricky surface and comfort levels need to be high in order to contend.

Rafa

Rafa Cabrera Bello had some excellent form at the course even before his 10th place finish on the PGA Tour in this event last year. In the Malaysian Open he was 3rd and 4th in 2011 and 2012. For years the Spaniard threatened to become a bit of a journeyman on Tour always failing to maximise his brilliant ball-striking by falling short on Sundays. Gradually over the last two years though he has moved his game to another level and he got his reward with a slightly back-door win at the Scottish Open as Shinkwin himself struggled to get over the line in July. Rafa has also recorded some strong results in elite company recently, making the semi-finals of the World Match Play in 2016 before his best ever Major finish at this year’s Birkdale Open where he was 4th. I think the market has under estimated him this week so he is largely getting backed on a value basis. His tee-to-green game is better than the majority of this field but as ever it’s his very average short game that can hold him back. Having said that it has improved significantly lately and therefore he contends more often than not now as he only needs to perform slightly above average on the greens to do so. The slight worry with regards to winning this week is how prevalent putting has been for the winner. But there is enough value in the each way price for that not to concern me and he has putted well on these sea paspalum greens before. A solid looking bet at 40/1.

Chris Stroud looks a little over priced here despite his run of poor form. Stroud finally got his first PGA Tour win this summer at the Barracuda Championship and chased that with his first Major Top 10 at Quail Hollow the week after. Having secured his card and had his best ever two results in the space of two weeks it’s easy to see why he lost a little intensity and missed his next three cuts in strong fields. He has had a month off since then and would have got rid of any rust last week in California so will be relishing his return to both Malaysia and sea paspalum greens. Stroud finished 3rd at Kuala Lumpur GC in 2013 and followed that up with another 3rd two weeks later on Mayakoba’s sea paspalum. He ranked 2nd and 10th for putting those two weeks and thrives on the different surface as two further Top 10s in Puerto Rico testify. Stroud has also finished runner-up in the Alfred Dunhill and 8th in the Dunlop Phoenix in Japan, showing he isn’t your typical PGA Tour pro who can struggle when playing on the other side of the world. May well miss the cut again but I think he has been a little bit too easily dismissed at the 200/1 available with Betfred. Top 20 too at 5/1

James Hahn’s claims are very obvious being the only man bar Thomas to finish inside the top 10 the last two years. He was the first name on the shortlist but his price is a bit of a joke now around the 40/1 mark. We know how good he can be in contention but he is so inconsistent that it is very hard to know when he will play well. There are a few other prices that I cannot get on board with this week. Yes, Lahiri loves the course but should he really only be 3 times the price of Matsuyama, or the same price as last week’s winner Brendan Steele? I don’t think so. In fact I’m going to leave it at just the two picks here as Thomas should really win this again but is completely unbackable at just 4/1.

 


Italian Open

The Italian Open returns to Golf Club De Milano for the third time in a row. Francesco Molinari returns to defend and Jon Rahm tees it up as favourite looking to get his quota in for Ryder Cup eligibility. His presence together with the always too short Molinari have set the tournament up as a strong looking betting heat.

The course is a very narrow one as I covered in greater detail last year. But unlike so many tree-lined narrow tracks, this is also fairly long and has some very small greens. So perhaps it’s a little surprising how low the scoring has been to date.

Anywhere that Molinari wins you would imagine can’t put much emphasis on putting and despite some of the stats conflicting with that a little (Moli ranked 18th for putting, Karlberg 17th in 2015),  I’m happy to assume it isn’t overly important this week despite the need for birdies as the greens aren’t too difficult. Many of the holes wind through the trees with dog-legs and as such it is an extremely strategic course off the tee. Not only will they have to be on the correct side of the fairway but more often than not they will only be able to take an iron off the tee, resulting in lots of long iron approaches, especially on the front 9. That sits very well with Molinari having won as he hits his long irons and hybrids as well as anyone on the European Tour.

It’s all about the tee-to-green at Golf Club De Milano and then trying to get the putter hot by giving themselves plenty of chances.

Tommy Fleetwood was the massive standout at the prices on Monday when they came out and subsequently everyone jumped on. I did tweet about the 25s along with many others so hopefully readers managed to get involved. The dilemma then for me was at what price I can still advise him in the blog. The 25s came and went and unfortunately so did most of the 22s about the new father this week but there is still a little bit around and 20/1 is still just about fair too.

We all know what a fantastic long game Fleetwood has and he showed that throughout the summer. An argument could be made for him being in the top 12 or so in the world in terms of ball-striking alone but I must admit I still don’t rate him as much of a putter which usually means I still struggle to back him at short prices. However, in this field, on a tight course with small greens, he probably won’t need to putt too well to get into contention. The fact that he is still a bigger price than Molinari and Tyrell Hatton is to ignore Fleetwood’s rise to the top golfing table in 2017. Therefore with a 7th place last year, where he ranked 1st in GIR, and having broken the Carnoustie course record last Friday, I’ve decided he is still a worthwhile play at 20/1 even if some of the early juice has gone.

Anyone following Martin Kaymer will have had an interesting time to say the least since his meltdown in Abu Dhabi in 2015. It has been very odd to see a double major winner’s form take such an abrupt downturn but even still there have been instances where he has looked backable due to course form and disrespectful prices. This looks like one of those opportunities but this week we also have the added bonus of the fact his long game is very much back to it’s best. He ranked 4th for total driving and 9th for total accuracy last week in Scotland.

So if we see more of the same from him this week he surely has to go well on a course that he was 2nd at in 2015, again throwing away a lead as he led by three at the turn on Sunday. The 40/1 might take into account the fact that hasn’t been able to close them out lately but for me it hasn’t factored in his combination of class, course form and current ball-striking level. Anything much over 28/1 looks generous for the German this week.

There are a host of outsiders I liked this week at the prices and I’ve decided to plump for three more. I’m backing them in the Top 20 market too.

Chris Hanson recorded a top 20 here last year on his first look and I think he is over priced here on his return. Hanson ranks 2nd in total accuracy over the last three months and that combination will be ideal this week on such a narrow course. He hit 79% of the greens at the course last year which ranked 10th for the week. His current form is good if we ignore his missed cut last week in Scotland in the pro-am slog. His results prior to that read 11-25-37-14 with the 11th coming at the tree-lined Close House layout. If his long game remains as sharp as it has been then he should play well again.

Ricardo Gouveia got my attention after last week as he actually ranked 3rd in total driving and 5th in total accuracy. Obviously that was playing three rounds on wide open fairways where comfort levels would have been high for the young Portuguese on the tee. So when I saw that he missed the cut here last year my enthusiasm was tempered a little. However when I delved a little further I noticed that one of his Challenge Tour wins was in Italy on an old-fashioned, tree-lined course with a premium on accuracy. He backed that up with a 6th place finish the year after when defending. I put him up a few weeks ago and he played well so I’m going to give him another go here but just a very small win bet and a bigger top 20 bet.

Jason Scrivener ranked 1st in total accuracy last week but still finished down the field in Scotland as he was let down by his putter. That’s not often the case so if he can improve on the greens he should go well. He was 5th on his last trip to Italy earlier this year at the Rocco Forte Open and has course form of 36-14 so he looks a little over priced.

 


Summary of Bets

CIMB Classic

Rafa Cabrera Bello – 1.5pt ew @ 40/1

Chris Stroud – 0.5pt ew @ 200/1 and 1pt Top 20 @ 5/1

Italian Open

Tommy Fleetwood – 1.5pt ew @ 22/1

Martin Kaymer – 1pt ew @ 40/1

Chris Hanson – 0.5pt ew @ 150/1 and 1pt Top 20 @ 6/1

Jason Scrivener – 0.25pt ew @ 175/1 and 1pt Top 20 @ 7/1

Ricardo Gouveia – 0.25pt ew @ 200/1 and 1pt Top 20 @ 8/1

 

Weekly pts advised = 15pts

Total 2017 pts advised = 475pts

@theGreek

Tour Championship and Portugal Masters – Betting Preview

Both the headline picks in the US placed which meant it was a profitable week but only thanks to Dubuisson’s withdrawal which returned 1.5 pts. Day was 4th and Rahm 5th so I shouldn’t really be too disappointed with the week as I was right to avoid Spieth, Thomas and DJ. It just had a feeling of a tournament that Day could have won despite Leishman’s brilliance. His rustiness in contention meant he made too many mistakes but it has to be noted just how perfect Conway Farms is for the Aussie’s combination of power and touch. His course form now reads 4th-1st-4th and he is an amazing -49 in that time!

Total 2017 pts advised = 413pts

Total 2017 pts returned = 341.09pts

ROI = – 17.41%

 


Tour Championship

Now in its 11th edition, the Fed Ex Cup heads to Georgia for the final leg of the Fed Ex Cup Play-offs, the Tour Championship. East Lake is the host again as per the first 10 so there is plenty of form to look at. It’s a Donald Ross design and it is one of his longest at 7385 yards but it isn’t normally over powered. That is down to tree-lined fairways and subtle dog-legs which make it very much a strategical golf course off the tee. With his trademark greens, usually sloping from back to front, distance control is absolutely paramount at East Lake. If the approach shots aren’t hit perfectly the ball will run off down one of the shaved areas which always prove difficult to chip from.

Every year it provides a solid test of golf where anyone looking to win can’t afford to switch off for one second. Scoring is usually around the -7 to -13 bracket which to me always provide the most exciting tournaments. Birdies are out there to be made but only for those in complete control of their golf ball and come Sunday when the greens will have firmed up, par will be a good score on most holes.

From a stats point of view things at East Lake have been a bit of a mixed bag and perhaps a better gauge of attributes is simply to look at the list of winners; McIlroy, Spieth, Horschel, Stenson, Haas, Furyk, Mickelson, Woods, Scott. They are all brilliant performers tee-to-green, particularly with their approach shots. That is evident in the one strongest stat year after year which is GIR but to delve a little further the last four winners have finished the season ranked 2nd, 4th, 47th and 3rd in strokes gained: tee to green.

East Lake form can be quite important and we do see players repeatedly play well there however it has also been a happy hunting ground for debutants. What is perhaps more important is general form at Donald Ross designs as form ties in well with several of his courses. Sedgefield, host of the Wyndham Championship is the only regular Ross design on Tour but there have been several others used in recent times; Oak Hill, Oakland Hills, Aronimink and most interesting of all, Pinehurst No. 2. The latter hosted the 2014 U. S. Open and all of the last 8 winners at East Lake finished inside the top 35 at Pinehurst. The green complexes are very similar to East Lake with small, sloping greens and lots of run-off areas.

But perhaps the most consistent guide has been Sedgefield which has bermuda greens just like East Lake. The bouncier greens together with Ross’s open fronted greens/aprons allow links style bump and runs and that can give an extra dimension not always available on U.S. target golf courses.

I racked my brains with Jordan Spieth here this week as for my money he is far and away the man to beat however the bookies have also taken that view and he is a best price 11/2. It’s not the worst price I’ve ever seen by any means and we need to remember this is just a 30-runner market. But we have to weigh up just whether it’s worth firing into and I’m torn. His East Lake record is superb and his stats this year suggest his game is in ideal shape for taking on Donald Ross design again. Even when backing Spieth at that price he really has to be bomb-proof so I’m going to avoid him as a proper bet but advise a stake saving bet all the same.

For me the outstanding value in the field lay firmly with Justin Rose when he opened at 16/1. I managed to have a little of the 16.5 on Betfair and also tweeted about his price so hopefully any regular readers managed to get on. He has been cut now to a general 14/1 but I still think the price is fair. His season hasn’t been what he would have hoped for after his Masters loss in April, injury combined with the disappointment from the play-off defeat resulted in two MCs and a 54th from the next three majors. However he has bounced back in the play-offs and found a swing that takes the pressure off his back. This has allowed him to get his sharpness back and the result was a brilliant 2nd behind Marc Leishman last week at the BMW. While his season stats reflect his slump through the summer, last week’s were as good as you could wish for heading into East Lake. Rose ranked 1st in both GIR and scrambling while only five others hit more fairways.

justin-rose-zurich-classic_3295658

His recent record at the course is probably 2nd only to Spieth reading 2nd, 4th, 6th, 2nd. He has also won around the Donald Ross designed Aronimink and finished inside the all-important top 35 at Pinehurst in 2014 (12th), he was 9th at Oakland Hills and 5th on his only visit to Sedgefield where he hit a brilliant 91% of greens. He is clearly very comfortable on Ross designs and enjoys the strategic design elements involved.

Year upon year East Lake is all about ball-striking as we mentioned earlier. There are very few better ball–strikers around than Rose and the fact he is scrambling well is a further bonus. We know he isn’t always the best of putters but he has won on quick bermuda greens at Doral and generally the short stick takes a bit of a back seat at the Tour Championship. Certainly you can’t contend by throwing in 3-putts galore but two putt pars are more than acceptable on greens that plenty of the field will be missing. On last week’s showing Rose will be peppering the flags and giving himself more looks than most. Even an average putting week can see him contend and he looks an absolutely knocking each way bet at 14/1.

The two outsiders I like this week are Gary Woodland and Daniel Berger. While I think they should both go well, the nature of the tournament makes it very hard to work out how to back them. I think they will have their work cut out to make the each way places but that is more than reflected in their respective prices of 66/1 and 55/1. So I will have small each way plays and also two top 10 bets.

Gary Woodland’s long game stats are superb this year and while he doesn’t seem to have cropped up on too many leaderboards it is that tee to green consistency that got him to the Tour Championship. Woodland ranks 5th in ball-striking and 17th in strokes gained: tee to green and his approach play was as good as ever last week when he ranked 3rd in GIR. He hasn’t set East Lake on fire so far but he has finished in the top 10 on his last two appearances here including last year. So often putting can be his downfall but that shouldn’t hold him back here and he usually scrambles well at East Lake. Should really go well again at a generous price.

I tipped Daniel Berger here last year and I think he warrants another go at the prices. He relishes bermuda greens and his iron play has been superb this year, ranking 8th in strokes gained: approaches. I’m convinced East Lake should suit him and this is already his 3rd look at the course having qualified in all three of his pro seasons, quite an achievement.

Tony Finau’s wild driving doesn’t make him an obvious bet this week but I can’t help but be impressed by his long game stats. Finau is 7th in strokes gained: tee to green and 6th in the all-round ranking. If he keeps the ball in play off the tee I think he might just be this year’s surprise package so I’m also having a top 10 bet on him.


Portugal Masters

Once again we arrive at a staple of the European Tour season with the Portugal Masters at Villamoura in the Algarve. It has hosted since 2007 and in that time there has been a very clear picture develop of what is required to win around the Victoria golf course.

It is a wide open, sprawling, undulating course with very little in the way of rough so it sets up very much for the “grip it and rip it” types. The greens are also huge and undulating and it is basically a links course in that respect. So while getting as close to the green as possible off the tee is certainly an advantage, everyone will be hitting the greens with regularity so the tournament is usually won with the putter. Last year the player who hit the fewest greens across the 4 days still made an impressive 67% while in 2015 that figure was 65%. That’s quite a high total and confirms how easily they can be found. Aggressive iron play followed by a deadly putter is the recipe. The last 3 winners have all performed brilliantly around the greens; Harrington was 2nd in scrambling, 1st in putting, Sullivan was 1st in scrambling, 2nd in putting and Levy was 1st in both. Therefore that has been my main focus this week.

 

Chris Paisley’s missed cut in Switzerland can be ignored as the fiddly Crans course was never going to suit the Englishman. Paisley isn’t the most accurate of players from either the tee or the fairway and he is all about short game brilliance. The start before Crans he came 3rd at the Made in Denmark which is far more suited to his game. Back at the Victoria course in Villamoura he will get the sort of short game test he relishes. Everyone will be hitting greens so he can let his short stick do the talking. Paisley ranks 5th in one putts, 2nd in putts per round and 15th in total putting over the last 3 months while his scrambling is also amongst the best on Tour, currently ranking 13th for the season. I had him earmarked for this even before I noticed he was 5th last year and while that means his price is a little shorter than I expected, it also further backs up how suited he should be to the course. This will be his 4th look at the course in fact and his results are trending with a 72nd followed by a 37th at the course. For some reason Betfred really don’t like Chris at all and again they were a massive standout 100/1 on Monday. That has gone now but the general 80/1 is more than fair about someone with his standard of short game around a course like this.

Justin Walters is a bit of a course specialist here so I was intrigued to see him work his way through the leaderboard over the weekend with a 65-67 to finish T3rd. In truth I’m not too sure why he likes the course as he isn’t someone you could class as a great putter but he enjoys the lack of trouble off the tee that’s for sure and the links style greens play very grainy, much like he is used to in South Africa. Last week he ranked 3rd in putting and 19th in scrambling and that is exactly the sort of short game combination we are looking for this week. His event form reads 17-37-21-2 so off the back of that 3rd place finish he looks an obvious yet solid play again here at 100/1.

I’m getting into a bit of difficulty with my backing of George Coetzee now and my judgement is starting to get a little clouded where he is concerned so by all means write this bet off as a bout of cliff-following. He is one of my favourite golfers and I have been on for all three of his wins so far, meaning he doesn’t owe me anything.  He finished 3rd last week where he ranked 6th in scrambling and 14th in putting. It is his putting that provides the source of my problem as I firmly believe him to be the best putter on the European Tour and probably close to the top 10 in the world. The trouble is he is so prone to mistakes that he will often throw in two double bogeys in a week to go with his 20+ birdies. Luckily this week the Victoria course isn’t one that punishes errant drives or approaches which is probably why Alvaro Quiros is on the list of winners!

I really like Coetzee for the Alfred Dunhill in two week’s time but I don’t think I can leave him out at a course where he normally plays well. The 33/1 isn’t fantastic after his 3rd place last week but I can’t leave him out.

 


Summary of Bets

Tour Championship

Justin Rose – 2pts ew @ 14/1

Jordan Spieth – 2pts win @ 6.0

Gary Woodland – 0.5pt ew @ 66/1 and 1.5pts Top 10 @ 7/2

Daniel Berger – 0.5pt ew @ 60/1 and 1pt Top 10 @ 3/1

Tony Finau – 1pt Top 10 @ 3/1

Portugal Masters

George Coetzee – 1pt ew @ 33/1

Chris Paisley – 0.75pt ew @ 80/1

Justin Walters – 0.5pt ew @ 100/1

 

Weekly pts = 16pts

Total 2017 = 429pts

@theGreek82

 

BMW Championship and KLM Open

A bit of a washout at Crans last week as 250/1 shot Gouveia finished best of the 5 picks. The winner was the fairly obvious Matt Fitzpatrick who I looked at for quite a while but I really didn’t think he was playing well enough to win despite his strong course record. It’s a further reminder however just how much better the top-tier of European Tour players are than the rest even when we see a reasonably deep field. Alex Noren, Matt Fitzpatrick, Thomas Pieters and Tommy Fleetwood are a class above right now and while they maybe still can’t be followed at single figure prices, similarly they shouldn’t be readily dismissed when out of form either.

Total 2017 pts advised = 402.50 pts

Total 2017 pts returned = 329.84 pts

ROI = -18.05%

 


BMW Championship

I have had a look into this week’s course as the BMW returns to Conway Farms, host of the 2013 and 2015 tournaments. However with the current form of the world’s best players, trying to find even each way value could prove futile given those trading under 20/1 could easily fill all five places! This means we should really only be looking at the head of the market for the remaining tournaments, certainly this week as East Lake next week can prove a horses for courses sort of week. The trouble with deciding between the top 4 or 5 players is that it can basically be pot luck as it often comes down to factors that even the shrewdest of tipsters can’t foresee. I certainly struggle with separating “the chalk” in situations like this so I’ve tried not to get heavily involved. (But largely failed!)

Jason Day and Zach Johnson are the previous champions here and that suggests touch on around the greens is required at Conway. That is reflected in the stats too as the first five home averaged 10th (2015) and 18th (2013) in scrambling and 7th (2015) and 8th (2013) in total putting. What does conflict between the two events was how important driving distance was, in 2015 it was crucial with the first five averaging 6th, yet in 2013 when Zach won the top 5 averaged just 45th in driving distance. I’m not too sure what the weather was like during those events but I’d still imagine the short game will be crucial at Conway Farms again this week.

It is a Tom Fazio design so form at Firestone may well be worth a look, Day and Johnson both hold very solid records there as do several of the names on the two final Conway Farms leaderboards; Scott Piercy, Jim Furyk and Hunter Mahan.

I think the course should suit Jon Rahm perfectly given the locations he has gone well at so far in his short professional career. A winner of the Farmers Insurance at Torrey Pines and runner-up around Glen Abbey, it appears Rahm usually plays well at the same courses as Jason Day and that makes me think he could be set for his 2nd win here at Conway. Both have powerful, towering ball flights, an excellent touch around the greens and make plenty of birdies so I guess that shouldn’t really shock us. Rahm is still expected to reach the very top of the game, even with the current crop of stars around and while he might not represent any great value on a course he hasn’t seen before, we might be looking back at 14/1 on Rahm this time next year and thinking “wow”. Of course that’s not to say Rahm wont have an awful 2018 and end up being more like 40/1 next year but such is the make-up of these Fed-Ex events now that I’d rather take a slight chance on him at a more juicy price than try to find any reasoning for splitting those above him in the market.

I’m also going to have Jason Day onside here as my other main outright bet. He has firmly turned the corner lately with recent results reading 25-6-9-24-27 . He won here in 2015 and his US PGA win was a just a little further north along Lake Michigan. He was also 9th just last month on the Fazio designed Quail Hollow and he has a good record around Fazio’s Firestone course. This should arrive at just the right time for him to step up his season with a contending performance. Day ranks 5th in birdie average over the last 3 months and he looks another good alternative to the front three.

I’m also going to have a few place bets starting with Daniel Berger for a top 10. Berger was 2nd here in 2015 and having gone from strength to strength since and become a two-time winner, I think he has been dismissed a little too easily on his return to Conway Farms. While I could easily advise an each way bet I prefer the top 10 bet here this week with Berger.

Jhonattan Vegas gets in because of two wins at Glen Abbey and I think that together with a 3rd place just two starts ago makes him over priced at 125/1 for the win. But I’m not really prepared to back him in the outright as he isn’t someone I trust in contention, instead I will have a top 20 bet on the Venezuelan.

Despite him not usually being the best of putters, Bryson Dechambeau showed what he can do when his short iron game is on point at the John Deere Classic in Illinois just two months ago. The science based scholar of the game also won his U.S. Amateur in Illinois so he is obviously comfortable in that part of the country. Given Zach Johnson is a former winner here and also loves the John Deere I thought Bryson looked a little over priced here at 250/1 in a couple of places. I’m not sure whether he can trouble this leaderboard but I will have a small each way bet and a top 20 bet too.

 


KLM Open

After years of being a golf bettor’s dream, the KLM moved away from its two regular courses (Hilverschume and Kennemer) to The Dutch last year and left everyone with a bit of a headache. It turned out there needn’t have been any fuss as local favourite and event specialist Joost Luiten won the event for the 2nd time. The leaderboard also contained several with strong KLM Open records so The Dutch seemed to play much the same as the two previous courses. It wasn’t as exposed as the other two but it is described as an inland links course so that shouldn’t surprise.

The course is a short Colin Montgomerie design (6893 yards) and the emphasis last year was very much iron play with there being plenty room off the tee as most of the fairways have wide open landing areas. There is water in play on many approaches so it looks worth following those with solid GIR numbers as missing too many proved detrimental last year with Luiten ranking 2nd in GIR. Scoring was good at -19 so the putter will need to behave even if  short stick prowess isn’t the first thing you would associate with Luiten or runner-up Weisberger. They ranked 16th and 6th respectively on the greens.

The forecast this week isn’t good at all with plenty wind and rain on the way. That is usually the case at the KLM Open so event form shouldn’t be taken lightly as Luiten proved last year.

Victor Dubuisson is very much the enigmatic Frenchman but despite his troubles over the last couple of years he retains a lot of ability. Both his European Tour wins have come on another Montgomerie course at the Turkish Airlines Open. The reason he enjoys it so much is there is plenty of room off the tee and that suits Dubuisson whose talents start to shine from the fairway onwards. On his day he can drive the ball well but too often he his erratic and can find himself in trouble. With more fairways being found here he can let his approach play shine and despite a poor year that area of his game is still quite sharp, he ranks 10th in GIR over the last 3 months and he can be quite a streaky putter. However we often see him at his best on grainy links greens and he jointly holds the St Andrews course record of 62 while he also took brilliantly to Gleneagles at the 2014 Ryder Cup which plays very much as an inland links. The downside is that he is in no way certain to enjoy the bad weather that is forecast for much of the week. However when backing a class-act like Dubuisson in a poor field at a price like this, everything isn’t going to be in our favour. I’m taking the price and crossing my fingers we see the best of him this week.

Jamie Donaldson and Padraig Harrington are two who should enjoy the poor weather and links conditions but it’s proving very difficult to be able to follow either with much confidence. Both men have thrown in a couple of good performances this year but far more often they have disappointed.

I really like Ryan Fox for this test but I couldn’t believe the opening price of 22/1. He has been pushed out to a general 25/1 but that is still very skinny. Fox spent most of the summer being under rated by the bookies but it seems they have more than caught up with him now and despite another top 10 last week his price is far too short for someone who hasn’t even really properly contended in a European Tour event nevermind won one yet. He is very talented and I don’t think a win is too far away for the New Zealander but he can easily be left out here at he price. I am all over him for the Alfred Dunhill Links however and hopefully he can hold off until then and we might get 50/1 again in three week’s time.

Instead I’m going to take another speculative punt on Robert Rock who has often shown he can handle playing in bad weather. Rock has three top 5 finishes at the Irish Open in miserable weather and he also came 7th at Oosthuizen’s weather hit Open at St Andrews in 2010. Rock is one of very few in this field to have won a tournament with Tiger Woods  competing in it and that does remind you that he has a touch of class and this isn’t the deepest of fields. Rock has been playing better this summer and prior to a missed cut around Crans last week his form was promising; 10th-5th-71st-9th. That 9th was in poor weather at the Scottish Open and the venue was the Kyle Phillips designed Dundonald Links. It has huge landing areas and places the emphasis on iron play much like The Dutch will this week. He ranks 17th for GIR over the last 3 months and as others toil in the wind and rain he should enjoy the test.

 


Summary of bets

BMW

Jon Rahm – 1.5pt ew @ 14/1

Jason Day – 1pt ew @ 18/1

Daniel Berger – 1pt Top 10 @ 5/1

Jonny Vegas – 1pt Top 20 @ 7/2

Bryson Dechambeau – 0.5pt ew @ 250/1 and 1pt Top 20 @ 11/2

KLM

Victor Dubuisson – 0.75pt ew @ 80/1

Robert Rock – 0.75pt ew @ 80/1

 

Weekly pts advised = 12pts

Total pts advised = 414.50pts

 

@theGreek82