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

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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

The Northern Trust and Made in Denmark – Betting Preview

Fairly miserable week last week made all the worse by Johan Carlsson making the semi-finals of the Match Play. He was the first name on my short list last week but left him out due to being in a very strong quarter of the draw. In hindsight it was a stupid move and his strong showing again together with Anthony Wall’s impressive defence highlighted how important event form is even after just three editions.

Total pts advised = 380.5

Total 2017 pts returned = 300.96pts

ROI = -20%


The Northern Trust

The Fed Ex Cup Play-offs kick off this week with a new course to the PGA Tour. As is now customary the first event takes place in the greater New York area but Barclays have been replaced as the sponsor by Northern Trust. The course which the top 125 players head to this week is Glen Oaks Golf Club on Long Island.

It is a long Par 70 playing to some 7350 yards and while it hasn’t been used yet on Tour there are a couple of pointers we can take. It was renovated in 2012 by Craig Currier who was responsible for the works carried out at Bethpage Black prior to it staging the 2002 US Open. Bethpage held this tournament last year and both are in the NY area so form from last year and when BPB hosted in 2012 could be important.

They also both have poa annua greens which is a surface that always divides opinion. Some players thrive on the surface while others hate it. Glen Oaks is also said to have gone against the recent tide of new courses to the PGA rotation. We have seen Chambers Bay, Erin Hills, Pinehurst No. 2 and Whistling Straits all welcome majors in recent times due to their rugged use of natural terrain however Glen Oaks is very much the opposite. It is a lush green course with perfectly manufactured lines in the fairways, greens and bunkers. It is said to be similar visually to Augusta so form there could well be of interest and also Riviera which always ties in nicely with Augusta but it also has poa annua greens so form there could be key.

If we look at the list of winners at all the Fed Ex Play-off events since it began in 2007 we notice a pattern of very classy winners.

Of the 40 tournaments to date, 24 of those have been won by major winners and 36 of those by players who have played on either Ryder Cup or Presidents Cup teams. Of the 40 tournaments the only one which was won by a Tour maiden was Camillo Villegas’ 2008 BMW Championship.  While it makes sense that only world-class golfers would win the latter events where only 30/75 players are competing, the fact they have also dominated the first event tells us that the cream always rises and the weaker players in the field struggle as the better players start taking things more seriously.

With nothing else much to go on those look to be the pointers this week; form on poa annua greens, form in the NY area (specifically Bethpage is a bonus), form at Augusta/Rivera and already an accomplished winner on Tour.

Matt Kuchar is so often a player that has gone off too short a price over the last 5/6 years since he took his seat at the big boys table on the PGA Tour. This is nearly always due to the high chance of him playing well and placing rather than his chance of actually getting over the line and winning. This may sound a little unfair about a man with 7 PGA Tour titles, especially as it is almost knocking his consistency, but there is no question a player of his talents should have won more tournaments in recent times.

kuchar-630x420

A different Kuchar was witnessed at Royal Birkdale though as he pushed on to go toe to toe with Jordan Spieth during the final round. He didn’t wilt under the pressure or settle for 2nd place and it took Spieth’s best over the closing holes to beat him. All this makes me think he looks a little over priced here at 40/1. Kuchar hasn’t missed a cut since March, he has finished inside the top 16 in all 4 majors and inside the top 30 in all three WGC tournaments this year. He also has a very solid record in the New York area with two of his early wins having come at Atunyote Golf Club and Ridgewood Country Club. Ridgewood also has poa annua greens and is visually quite similar to Glen Oaks while Kuchar also has an impressive Augusta record with four top 8 finishes.

There have already been nine multiple winners of Fed Ex Play-off tournaments and I think Kuchar is a fair price to become the 10th with very few players in the field arriving in better form. Even if the 40/1 disappears I would suggest 33/1 is still a fair price.

Lucas Glover won the 2009 U.S. Open at Bethpage Black and he has shown enough glimpses of form in 2017 to suggest he can go well this week in similar conditions. He fits the classy profile of Fed Ex Cup winners and so looks a little over priced here at 125/1. He ranks 16th in strokes gained: off the tee which should help him on a 7350 yard par 70 layout. No more reasoning than that. Small each way bet at 150/1 and a top 20 bet at 8/1.

I was absolutely gutted to miss out on Jimmy Walker winning on the poa annua greens of Baltusrol at last year’s US PGA given how much I focussed on the putting surfaces and the fact he is known as the “prince of poa”. With his fatigue related illness at the moment it is proving hard for him to be competitive over four rounds but he showed glimpses at Firestone where he opened 68-65 to lead at half way. Despite his struggles his odds of 270 on Betfair look far too big so I’m advising 0.5pts win in the hope that he starts well. I’m also having 0.5pt ew at 125/1 in the first round leader market. Baltusrol is also a par 70 in the New York area and a return might see him find some extra energy levels this week.

 


Made in Denmark

This will be the 4th running of the MID at Himmerland Resort so we have a little bit of form to go on. The one thing that jumps out at me is how all the winners and leaderboard regulars are very strong putters. Not only in reputation but on the stats too and all three currently rank inside the top 27 for putts per round on Tour. Thomas Pieters won last year, ranking 3rd for putting and we know how good he can be on the greens. 2015 winner David Horsey regularly makes the top 20 in season putting stats and  2014 saw the silky putting stroke of Marc Warren triumph.

That evidence was enough for me to only consider very good putters this week but I have also given some consideration to a couple of courses that correlate well through the winners. Last year I mentioned how Doha Golf Club, Gleneagles, Crans, Tsleevo and Royal Golf Dar Es Salam all tied together with form here so I have had a look through recent leader boards at those events but didn’t really find anything too exciting from a betting angle.

Chris Paisley currently ranks 2nd for 2017 in putts per round and while he provided some returns for the blog earlier in the season, his game deserted him a little through the summer. But he looked to be playing well again last week as Alejandro Canizares needed extra holes to beat him in the quarter finals. He has played at the course twice before and finished 34th and 35th but that doesn’t tell the whole story as he shot a final round 78 in 2015 to fall away having been in contention after three rounds in the 60s. With putting looking crucial I think he can out play his odds given he arrives in decent form.

Johan Carlsson putted very well last week from the limited coverage that was available. He takes his time over them for sure but he seemed to roll in more 15-20 footers than he missed and while there is no doubt the stroke-play format suits his error strewn, aggressive game, he is a little bit of the Thomas Pieters mould in that respect and he won here last year. Across his 6 matches last week I make him around 31 under par and he made 4 eagles on Sunday alone. With confidence high he could be a little over priced here at 80/1 despite missing both his cuts here to date.

Other strong putters like Lagergren, Bertasio and Scrivener were all considered but none of those three have shown enough recently to suggest that they can contend here. Paul Dunne makes some appeal and should go well but he looks short enough at a general 25/1. Thomas Detry could easily have been included again this week having shown up well at the match play but again he hasn’t really done enough yet in the game to be odds of 40/1 in this sort of field.


Summary of Bets

The Northern Trust

Matt Kuchar – 1.5pt ew @ 40/1

Lucas Glover – 0.5pt ew @ 150/1 and 1pt Top 20 @ 8/1

Jimmy Walker – 0.5pts win @ 270.0 and 0.5pt ew @ 125/1 first round leader

Made in Denmark

Chris Paisley – 0.75 pt ew @ 150/1

Johan Carlsson – 0.5pt ew @80/1

 

Weekly pts advised = 9pts

2017 pts advised =389.5pts

@theGreek82

Wyndham Championship and Paul Lawrie Match Play – Betting Preview

As Matsuyama shot up the leaderboard on Friday with a brilliant 64 to tie the lead I was starting to think maybe I knew what I was doing again and stupidly expected the Japanese star to push on and win comfortably. Unfortunately though his long game unravelled over the weekend and that allowed Thomas to catch up and win with an impressive, albeit a little lucky, back 9. I’m not sure how much of Matsuyama’s play could be attributed to nerves but considering he wasn’t playing well at all he actually did quite well to hang around and only play the weekend in +2. While he has many major top 10s already in his young career this was the first time where he found himself favourite heading into both the 3rd and final rounds. I’d expect him to be all the better for the experience in the same way that Thomas, and many others before him, said he had learned a lot from his U.S. Open final round 75 in June.

James Hahn managed to oblige with a Top 20 for us but annoyingly Tony Finau had a final round shocker after sitting in the Top 20 for the bulk of the tournament. It returned just 6.6 pts which leaves the results as follows.

Total 2017 pts advised = 374.5pts

Total 2017 pts returned = 300.96pts

ROI = – 19.6%

I was going to sit this week out again but then I noticed it was the Wyndham which is usually a good horses for courses type event with a lot of form to go on. The Paul Lawrie Match Play didn’t look that exciting but it takes place at Bad Griesbach in Germany which has hosted a few tournaments already so there may be an angle in. The preview will be relatively short but hopefully still some bets.


Wyndham Championship

The Wyndham Championship takes place at its usual host course, Sedgefield Country Club and there is very much an established type of player that goes well here which often makes it a very good betting heat. The out of sorts Henrik Stenson is here chasing his quota of PGA Tour starts and his presence has thrown up a lot of very fair prices across the board.

Sedgefield is a fairly average length Par 70 designed by Donald Ross and repeatedly the same sort of attributes are required to go well. It is a tree-lined course with wide enough fairways but the bermuda greens are small so the more accurate drivers who can find the appropriate parts of the fairway tend to enjoy the lay-out as they give themselves the best chance of hitting the green. The last 5 winners have averaged 16th for driving accuracy while they have averaged 32nd for driving distance. The small bermuda greens generally slope from back to front as per the Donald Ross template but they also have lots of undulations and can be difficult to hold. The test around Ross’s courses is very much accuracy and that is the main attribute to consider this week. The greens are bermuda grass as per last week and we saw how uncomfortable many of the players were on the surface. The ball tends to break heavily at the death on bermuda and this can make the combination of pace and line difficult to deal with. Any picks should have shown a liking for bermuda greens in the past.

Form on Donald Ross courses also tends to stack up very well with Sedgefield correlating nicely with East Lake (Tour Championship), Oak Hill (2013 US PGA), Aronomink (2010 & 2011 AT & T National) and Pinehurst No. 2 (2014 US Open). There are lots of players who enjoy the test his layouts present and therefore have strong banks of form on several of these courses.

I really like Keegan Bradley for this as he should be suited to Sedgefield but yet he only played it for the first time last year when he finished 46th. Bradley currently sits in 5th position for Par 4 scoring and that combined with this 4th place finish at Pinehurst in 2014 are the two main points of interest for me but he also won his US PGA on bermuda greens in 2011. Despite struggling the last few years it really is just his putting that is letting him down since the anchoring ban. He has made his last six cuts, returning two top 10s in that time and I’m confident he can take advantage of the lack of depth this week. Bradley ranked 12th for total accuracy last week in the PGA and with other snippets of Donald Ross and bermuda form I expect a strong showing.

Trey Mullinax was one of the many players to congratulate Justin Thomas on twitter after his US PGA win but he is probably closer to the man who lifted the Wanamaker Trophy than most. Mullinax went to the University of Alabama with Thomas and played on the golf team with him for two years. It’s perfectly plausible that Mullinax gives himself a kick up the arse this week when he thinks of how well his mate is doing. However I’m not going to put him up on that alone, more so that he is a very talented golfer!

Mullinax currently ranks 11th in par 4 scoring and he finished 9th at the U.S. Open at Erin Hills, which was actually his first PGA Tour top 10. But it is some of his solid Web.com Tour form that interests me this week. His win came at the Rex Hospital Open last year some 80 miles to the east of Sedgefield at TPC Wakefield Plantation. Another of his best results in the second tier was when he was 4th behind Si Woo Kim at the Ellie Mae Classic in 2015. Kim would go on to win the Wyndham last year and with all these factors combined I think Mullinax is worth a play at a sporting 150/1. I’m also having a top 20 bet on him as I only have the 2 outright picks this week.

I wanted to back both Bill Haas and Jason Dufner here but neither of them have been quite at their best over the last 2 months so I’m reluctantly leaving them both out.

 


Paul Lawrie Match Play

Paul Lawrie takes his match play event outside the UK for the first time as the Bad Griesbach Resort in Germany hosts the 3rd edition of a tournament that has failed to capture the imagination of most golf fans so far. What it does do though is give the 2nd tier of European Tour players some valuable match play experience and while some criticise the need for it at all, it does at least stick to a simple knock-out draw which makes for a nice change from all the bracket nonsense we see at the WGC match play event. (I think, nobody really has a clue!!)

The Bad Griesbach course has hosted the 2015 and 2016 Porsche European Open as well as the Challenge Tour’s Aegean Airlines Open from 2013-2015 so while the format is different there is some course form to go on.

2016’s edition was a weather shorted one and Alex Levy powered his way to a win in three rounds on a soaking wet course. That is in direct contrast to 2015 Champion Thonghai Jaidee who has a more subtle approach to his game. Both players however have very accurate approach play when on their game and can be good putters if conditions are right, Levy thrives on slow greens whereas Jaidee is a proficient putter who excels on faster greens. This suggests that knowing the weather in advance could be important this week, at present it is a mix of rain and sun which doesn’t tell us too much.

With that said however if you can’t find fairways and greens in match play golf it can be very hard to apply any pressure so with relatively wide fairways I make accurate approach play the most important aspect here. Secondly I would say that a previous look at the course could be important as there is no chance to ease into the tournament as the straight knockout format means that all day 1 losers will be going home early. I’d also prefer to see at least some sort of match play pedigree in their careers to date.

I had a fairly big shortlist for this but annoyingly 5 of them have ended up in the same quarter of the draw. I thought Matthew Southgate, Max Kieffer, Johan Carlsson, Magnus Carlsson and Jamie Donaldson could go all go well but four of them are actually in the same 1/8th of the draw so I am leaving that minefield well alone!

Instead I have gone to the other half of the draw for my first pick and despite Robert Karlsson’s opening match against Edoardo Molinari, I think he looks a fair price at 50/1. That is a tough match but both those men have achieved more than pretty much anyone else in the field and despite Karlsson not having done much at all in recent years he makes some appeal. That was the same back in 2015 when he made the Semi-Final of the first edition of the tournament at the tricky Murcar Links course in Aberdeen. The match play format allowed him a nice change from his stroke-play struggles and I was thinking he might just have a good run again even before I saw his course form. Karlsson was 3rd at Bad Griesbach in 2016 and it’s a draw that could open up nicely for the winner of the first round match. With this format looking a bit of a lottery at this level I will just go small stakes and have 0.5pt ew @ 50/1.

I did like Richard Bland a lot for this but his price is short enough for someone yet to win on Tour and he also has a fairly tough draw that could see him face a couple of Ryder Cup players before even making the Quarter Finals. I also liked 2014 WGC Match Play finalist Victor Dubuisson but he is in the same quarter as Karlsson now and also has a tricky opener against Bradley Dredge. Marc Warren is a proven match play exponent and when fully fit he is a far better player than most of these so his odds certainly appeal. However he has missed most of the season through injury. I took a chance on him at the World Cup where he played quite well until the semi-finals when fatigue kicked in and his injury prevented him from swinging freely. Worth keeping an eye on should he appear fully fit.

In truth you could make a case for most of the 64-man field but I’ve decided to opt for a youngster in the hope that he takes to the format. Thomas Detry sits 20th on tour for total accuracy over the last three months and his best finish to date was runner-up in Germany earlier in the year at the BMW International Open. He ranked 2nd for putting that week and finished 2nd again in the flat stick ranks on his last outing. It seems like his whole game is in decent shape and he certainly has the talent to scare a few of these more exposed European Tour types. There are a few very good players in his quarter but on the whole it looks to be the weakest in terms of recent form. He looked like he was taking to the match play format in the Perth Super Sixes but eventually lost his first match at the 2nd play-off hole to eventual finalist Adam Bland. His odds of 33/1 aren’t fantastic but I’m hoping he will enjoy his return to the south-east of Germany and with the possibility of a relatively easy path should he win his first game, I think he looks worth the risk.

The draw looks a little bit too trappy to bother with a 3rd pick from the off but I will be paying close attention to who goes well in the competitive first quarter and I may add one more in play.

 

 


Summary of Bets

Wyndham Championship

Keegan Bradley – 1pt ew @ 45/1

Trey Mullinax – 0.5pt ew @ 150/1 and 1pt Top 20 @ 13/2

Paul Lawrie Match Play

Robert Karlsson – 0.5pt ew @ 50/1

Thomas Detry – 0.5pt ew @ 33/1

 

Weekly pts advised = 6pts

Total 2017 pts advised = 380.5pts

 

@theGreek82

2017 US PGA Championship – Betting Preview

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

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

2017 pts advised = 353.5pts

2017 pts returned = 294.36pts

ROI = -16.7%

 


 

US PGA Championship

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Summary of Bets

Hideki Matsuyama – 5pts win @ 13.5 on Betfair Exchange

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

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

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

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

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

Webb Simpson – 1pt Top 20 @ 9/2

1st Round Leader

Alexander Levy – 0.5pt ew @ 175/1

Alex Noren – 0.5pt ew @ 66/1

Patrick Reed – 0.5pt ew @ 100/1

 

Weekly pts advised = 21pts

2017 pts advised = 374.5

@theGreek82

 

WGC Bridgestone – Betting Preview

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

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

Results as follow;

2017 pts advised= 345.5

2017 pts returned= 240.36

ROI = -30.4%

 


WGC Bridgestone

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 


Summary of Bets

Hideki Matsuyama – 2pts ew @ 20/1

Kevin Chappell – 1pt ew @ 50/1

Kevin Kisner – 0.5pt ew @ 100/1

Ross Fisher – 1pt Top 10 @ 10/1

 

Weekly pts advised = 8pts

Total 2017 pts = 353.5pts

@theGreek82