Travelers Championship and BMW International Open – Betting Preview

Gary Woodland was a popular and deserving winner as he hung tough to see off Koepka and Rose on Sunday. Having put him up in the first round leader market it was a little annoying as I gave him a lot of consideration in the outright market but must admit I really didn’t think he was capable of holding off two of the best around in Koepka and Rose. Hopefully some readers maybe stuck a few quid on after seeing the bit about his Sunday 65 at Pebble in 2017.

Most of the picks performed quite well and while it was a losing week in the end even on Sunday it could have been so different with DJ and Molinari still in the hunt for a place and Hatton, Li, Scott and Kaymer also on the periphery of their required places. I have no idea what happened to Molinari as he got to -6 early and then we never saw another shot as he seemed to just collapse. DJ never got going on Sunday which was pretty much the story of his week as his putter was stone cold. Hatton missed from 3ft 9 inches for birdie on 18 to lose out on the top 20 but luckily Scott and Kaymer picked up their top 20 and top 40 respectively to return around about half the week’s stakes.

A lot was written about Pebble and how easy the scoring was this week and I’d probably have to agree that the greens were a little too receptive for a 7070 yard US Open course. It was a still a hugely enjoyable event but for me it didn’t have that U.S. Open feel. I saw a tweet from someone who summed it up best of all ( I forget who) which suggested that if every single player in the field loved the conditions then that means it was definitely too easy!

2019 pts advised = 320

2019 pts returned = 460.28

ROI = 43.84%


Travelers Championship

With no wind and a fairly soft course, last week ended up being all about powerful players attacking a relatively defenseless, short course and this week to mix things up we will see powerful players attacking a relatively defenseless, short course. Although scoring should be even lower this week with TPC River Highlands having been the site of the PGA Tour’s first ever 58 in 2016.

That’s not really the full story to be fair as TPC River Highlands is a classical, tree-lined Pete Dye redesigned course and it’s not always straight-forward. However anywhere that Bubba Watson can win three times clearly isn’t the most strategic of tests. While the fairways are tree-lined they are wide enough and the punishment is never too severe for missing them as the trees are laid back a little and the rough isn’t too thick. Additionally they have plenty of subtle dog-legs which means Bubba has been able to move the ball off the tee. That relaxes him a little as he’s never been a fan of having to find a straight fairway. But even then if we look at this 3 wins he ranked 70th, 58th and 70th for driving accuracy while he has averaged 315 yards driving over all his Travelers appearances. Despite being a fairly poor putter Bubba putted well in all three wins which together with the low scoring suggests the greens are pretty flat and easy to read. Again those three wins involved different styles of win for Bubba, last year he was 7th in GIR while in 2015 he led the field in scrambling. The only constant is his driving distance rankings at TPC River Highlands; 7th-2nd-1st-1st-1st-1st-2nd-1st-1st-2nd.

TPC River Highlands is essentially about making as many birdies as possible by getting the ball closer to the hole than everyone else for your birdie putt as everyone will be making their share from inside 20ft. Put Bubba on a course where he can hit driver and he will normally be using a wedge where others are using 8 iron. That gets him closer to the flag and that gets him birdies.

I’ve chosen to look mainly at Bubba’s wins here because he is such a horses for courses type of golfer. Shorter hitters like Spieth have also won here but even then Spieth ranked 1st in strokes gained: tee to green so it wasn’t his putter that won it for him. Knox was 16th in strokes gained: off the tee in 2016 and that’s as far back as the strokes gained stats go on Tour Tips.

A player doesn’t have to hit it far here but it is certainly an advantage when trying to  make the number of birdies required to contend this week. Ultimately though the course is all about proximity to the hole from whatever range your player will be hitting from regularly and if they can get it close with a 6 iron then they can still go well. Therefore as well as driving distance, approach proximity stats from the 100-175 range are all worth a look.

However I’ve not leaned on the season stats this week as much as I normally would as I already had three players in mind for this, one for a couple of weeks and the other two straight after the U.S. Open. Although it just so happens they come out favourably in lots of the appropriate stats categories too which is never a bad thing.

Other Pete Dye courses are always worthy of look at recent leaderboards and so far this year we have alreeady seen TPC Sawgrass, Harbour Town, TPC Louisiana and Austin Country Club. Sawgrass Valley is also a Dye/Weed combo much like River Highlands and it played host to the the Web.com Tour Championship from 2013 to 2015. Bobby Weed designed TPC Summerlin himself and it hosts the Shriners Hospital Open later in the year.

Kevin Streelman has shot 7 of his last 8 rounds at TPC River Highlands in the 60s as well as winning here back in 2014. His last appearance on a Dye track yielded a 6th place at Harbour Town while on his last start he ranked 2nd in strokes gained: approaches and 13th in strokes gained: putting. That put him firmly to the top of my short list for this and quotes of 66/1 have done little to temper my enthusiasm. Streelman is also performing well with driver this year ranking 24th in strokes gained: off the tee while his approach proximity is also good ranking 29th. He has plenty historical form on Dye courses too having finished runner-up at Sawgrass in 2013 and two other top 10s at Harbour Town. His record at TPC Summerlin also bodes well as he has made all 9 cuts there with the pick being a 2014 runner-up finish.

Rounding in to form but also well rested on one of his favourite courses he looks a great each way bet this week. I’m advising the 50/1 with 8 places though as it’s more generally available and in this field the extra place looks worthwhile. Betfred are still going 66/1 with 7 places if anyone can get on before that goes.

There was a little while where Emiliano Grillo was my go to bet on Dye courses and there have been enough signs recently to suggest it might be worth siding with him again. He hasn’t missed a cut since early March and his last start before the US Open was 9th at Memorial. He won his Web.com Tour Championship around the Dye/Weed designed Sawgrass Valley course and also has a solid record at TPC Sawgrass too.

He was briefly on the leaderboard at Pebble Beach last week before falling away over the weekend. A birdie fest isn’t usually what Grillo is looking for although his two professional wins have been on -14 and -15. Rather he needs somewhere that has simple enough greens to read where his accurate tee-to-green play can help him achieve a score. While Grillo is a strong driver of the ball his approach play is generally better as the iron in his hand becomes shorter. Particularly the sort of range that excels on most Dye courses, 125-175. This season he ranks 37th in proximity to the hole and 6th in strokes gained: approaches. Skybet’s 50/1 with 8 places looks good.

Chesson Hadley dropped what was comfortably his best ever major finish (9th) at the weekend so it’s very timely that we head to another short course where approach proximity is key. Hadley ranks 4th in proximity to the hole this season and he has always excelled in that area, often struggling to hole the putts required. He putted brilliantly last week though ranking 13th. That will have given him a huge confidence boost and his form on short, classical courses, particularly Dye designs is excellent, even if he has missed his 3 cuts at River Highlands. He has finished 11th at Sawgrass, has a Harbour Town top 10 and he has also won the Web.com Tour Championship around the Sawgrass Valley course. Hadley also has three top 10s at Weed’s TPC Summerlin. He looks a solid enough each way play at 125/1 with 8 places.


BMW International Open

This event rotates between two excellent courses in Germany and this week it’s the turn of Munich and Eichenried GC again. Eichenried is a tree-lined course with water in play and slick, undulating greens. It reminds me a lot of Wentworth and on the whole it throws up classy winners much like the Surrey venue. They are often sublime ball-strikers like Stenson, Kaymer and Els as finding the correct spot on the greens can be difficult. But the greens are also some of the fastest and most difficult that we see on the European Tour therefore good putters fare well here too and several have won over the years like David Horsey, Nick Dougherty and David Howell.

That’s pretty much what is required, relentless hitting of greens or a brilliant display of putting. If we can find someone doing both at the minute they will take a lot of beating.

Oliver Wilson ranks 14th in strokes gained: putting and 21st in strokes gained: approaches for the season. That’s as good a combo as there is in the field and that’s pretty much good enough for me this week. His recent form is very good having gone 4th and 8th on his last two stroke-play starts and as a former Ryder Cup player he ticks the classy box too. Wilson has played here several times without ripping it up but he does have an 18th place finish and he was also runner-up at Wentworth in 2008. A decent each way price at 50/1 with 7 places.

I really like Detry’s chances but he has stung me twice already this year at a short enough price when things looked to be in his favour. Instead I’ll take three more stabs with two more excellent putters and another who is historically a poor putter but has impressed recently on the greens.

Chris Paisley delivered several times for the blog over the last few years but he has slowed down a bit over the last year or so. He was 3rd here in 2015 though and there have been enough recent signs to suggest he is maybe set for a good summer. His last proper strokeplay event he finished 4th in Denmark while he followed that up with a 17th in the Belgian Knockout after “winning” the 2 round stroke-play segment. Paisley is an excellent putter and will handle these greens better than most having ranked 1st in total putting in 2015. This season he is 30th in strokes gained: putting and 24th in 3-putt avoidance. With some of the bigger names in the field we still get a decent price despite his strong recent form. I’m taking the 50/1 with 7 places at Betfair.

Paul Dunne showed us what he was all about on fast greens in 2015 when he led the Open after three rounds. Since then he has managed a win on Tour and several high finishes. He generally plays better on a week where the short game is key and again I expect him to get to grips with these greens better than most. Given he shared 4th place in Denmark last time out you could argue that he is a shade too big at 50/1. His best finish prior that was his 3rd place at the Perth Super Sixes where again the greens were heavily undulating and very slick. If he can hit enough greens he should go well.

Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano made a name for himself years ago on the European Tour and I’m almost surprised that he is only 38. He won 7 times on his first 8 years on Tour, usually on windy, ball- strikers courses and at times his putting was so bad that plenty twitter jokes were fired at him. So I was surprised to see he is currently 1st in total putting on the ET over the last 3 months. A small enough sample size for sure but that only falls to 8th when looking at the current calendar year. His strokes gained number isn’t so good down in 102 but he is 18th in putts per GIR and 31st in 3-putt avoidance. Gonzo has also posted three consecutive top 25 finishes and despite some poor course form, he hasn’t played here since 2010 and it’s a course that should suit. Worth a small go at 150/1 with 7 places.

I was also going to advise Bourdy on the Exchange this week as I noticed he opened at 690 which seemed far too high. However he is back down to 410 which is more reasonable but if he drifts above 500 again there may be some trading potential. His recent course form isn’t great but his silky touch used to shine on faster greens.


Summary of bets

Travelers Championship

Kevin Streelman – 1pt ew @ 50/1 (1/5 odds 8 places)

Emiliano Grillo – 1pt ew @ 50/1 (1/5 odds 8 places Skybet)

Chesson Hadley – 0.75pts ew @ 125/1 (1/5 odds 8 places Skybet)

BMW International Open

Oliver Wilson – 1pt ew @ 50/1 (1/5 oddds 7 places Betfair)

Chris Paisley – 1pt ew @ 50/1 (1/5 oddds 7 places Betfair)

Paul Dunne – 1pt ew @ 50/1 (1/5 odds 7 places Coral/Betfred)

Gonzo Fernandez-Castano – 0.5pts ew @ 150/1 (1/5 oddds 7 places Betfair)

 

Weekly pts advised = 12.5pts

 

@theGreek82

 

 

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RBC Canadian Open and Golf Sixes- Betting Preview

Patrick Cantlay obliged to give us consecutive winners for possibly the first time and it was also the 7th profitable week from the last 8. Southgate just managed to land the place money in Belgium too and this leaves the year to date results looking very healthy indeed.

Cantlay was brilliant on Sunday as he shot a nearly faultless 64 to over take Scott and Kaymer who ultimately didn’t have an answer for his relentless ball-striking. He even poured in a few putts just to really consolidate things. It was good to see him land his 2nd win after a very sustained period of impressive golf. While I wouldn’t suggest that Pebble Beach or Royal Portrush are ideal for him he is playing so well he has to be respected wherever he tees it up and his odds will be interesting next week.

2019 pts advised = 277.50

2019 pts returned = 431.31

ROI = 55.43%


Canadian Open

After a few years at Glen Abbey GC the Canadian Open returns to Hamilton G&CC to let it celebrate the 100th anniversary of Canada’s first National Open. It last hosted in 2012 with previous recent editions in 2006 and 2003. Glen Abbey had begun to give us a clear picture of what was needed so this is a new challenge but i’ve hopefully found some good angles to look at.

Hamilton is one of the few courses under 7000 yards on Tour and it looks to be a course that can be got at. Any course that lists Bob Tway and Jim Furyk as recent winners doesn’t immediately suggest bombs away but Scott Piercy won the most recent event and the game has changed a lot since Furyk lifted the trophy in 2006. Of course measuring just 6966 yards the less powerful players should be able to contend too.

The course was designed by the legendary Harry Colt and it does appear quite like some of his most famous parkland designs, Wentworth and Sunningdale. Colt was perhaps most famous for his work on his Open courses but this doesn’t play anything like a links course.

The main striking characteristic is the number of raised tee shots down to fairways that are in turn below a raised green. Several of these are framed by trees but looking at the views from some of the tees the trees are scattered and quite open so the bombers will feel like there is very little trouble ahead for driver. The bunkers are considerably laid back from the fairways and will only punish the properly errant drives. The approach shots look to be the most testing aspect and given the lack of length I’d imagine that the short irons will be very important this week. The last two winners putted very well during their win and it might turn out to be a battle from 150 yards and in where those who repeatedly give themselves birdie chances will contend.

The course has a slight Donald Ross appearance and given he has far more courses in rotation on the PGA Tour than Colt I think looking at some of his shorter courses could pay dividends. Hamilton feels a little more open but certainly shares some attributes with the likes of East Lake, Oak Hill and Sedgefield as they all feature well protected, rasied greens. If we look at these recent leaderboards we see a good mix of power and accuracy. Looking at the 2013 US PGA in particular, the last two Hamilton G&CC winners were in the top 5 that week in Furyk and Piercy. But also inside the top 10 were bombers Day, DJ and McIlroy. The only other major top 10 that Piercy has was at Oakmont in 2016 where a certain Jim Furyk was runner up and both courses feature plenty of elevation changes. Piercy was also runner-up at the 2016 WGC Bridgestone at Firestone while Furyk has a great record there for a course that should be too long for him. (If we want to get really silly with tenuous course links we can also look at 1930 Hamilton winner Tommy Armour who won his US Open at……Oakmont).  Overall though I think we’re going to get an event where anyone playing well should have a chance and that makes for a very exciting week but also a more open one than we sometimes see on 7500+ yard layouts.

While we know the likes of DJ and Bubba have taken this event seriously the week before the US PGA, I’m not entirely convinced that their focus won’t be on sharpening up for a potentially career-defining Pebble Beach US Open next week. I think the same will apply to Koepka and McIlroy and while they could essentially win this with their B game, I’m happy to look further down the market this week.

Jason Dufner (HAS NOW WITHDRAWN) has shown enough in recent weeks to make me think that he is close to winning again and given the angle I’m using for Hamilton, this could be the perfect stop. Dufner was on a decent run of form going 4-MC-40 ahead of his 7th place at Memorial last week. The great thing about Duf at his peak was that he could compete on almost any course given his tee-to-green game but he struggled to win anywhere overly long. Put him on a short course however and his scoring iron’s proximity would give him so many chances that he simply had to hole some of the 5-15 footers. This was never more prevalent than when winning his US PGA at Oak Hill as he peppered elevated flag after elevated flag. With the potential similarities and elevated greens his distance control from 175 yards and in should hold him in good stead this week. While he still isn’t ranking too highly in these areas he has taken a big jump in approach proximity numbers this week having performed well in this area at Muirfield Village as he ranked 6th in strokes gained: approaches and 4th in GIR. Dufner also finished 8th at Oakmont and has two top 10s at Firestone. The general 50/1 isn’t fantastic but he has so much class that if he is somewhere near his best he can still make a Colin Mochrie of the price.

Shane Lowry should really have won that US Open at Oakmont and he often crops up on the same leaderboards as Piercy and Furyk, winning the 2015 WGC at Firestone. He was in the doldrums for a while after that 2016 US Open but we have seen him back to his best at times in 2019 and his best is firmly good enough to contend in elite fields like this. Lowry is another who thrives on any course where short iron proximity helps with the scoring as he isn’t always the best of putters despite his excellent touch around the greens. His last two PGA TOur finishes have been 3rd at RBC Heritage and 8th at Bethpage Black. On those pieces of form and his historical form on some potentially key courses the 50/1 looks very fair.

I’m probably banging the Oak Hill drum a little too loudly and while it’s never too wise putting too many eggs in one basket, it’s easier to take risks when in form so I’m adding 4th place from that 2013 leaderboard too, Jonas Blixt. He has been playing some decent golf lately and was 5th on his last start at Colonial where he was 6th in strokes gained: approaches. He should enjoy this test and can look to continue that form at a big price. (100/1).

I really quite liked Webb Simpson’s chances this week but was expecting at least 30/1 so his general 22/1 that he opened isn’t great. I’ll be watching his Exchange price though and if it goes north of 30 then he might be worth following on a course that should suit him.

Late addition after Dufner withdrawal

Oakland Hills isn’t to be confused with Oak Hill even if they are both Donald Ross designed parkland courses in the north east US. Oakland Hills is considerably longer and the elevation changes aren’t as obvious. However the same sort of thinly tree-lined fairways exist with typical elevated tees and uphill approaches. As I’ve mentioned Hamilton has a lot of those characteristics so I’m taking a huge leap with 2016 US Amateur winner around Oakland Hills, Curtis Luck. The young Aussie isn’t in the best of form but he was 5th three starts ago in the team event at the Zurich with Hank Leboida. There is plenty cross over form with Hamilton and TPC Louisiana with Piercy having won at both and Dufner who I really liked for this also a winner there. Even as I write this I fear I’m clutching at straws but sometimes players just like these classic sorts of layouts and there isn’t much to lose at 250/1. At least he is putting as well normal as he ranks 21st in strokes gained: putting.

Roberto Castro and Colt Knost were also close to getting added but you can’t really advise more than one completely out of form no-hoper! Castro contended at Dufner’s US PGA and Knost won his US Amateur around the similar Olympic Club. Both are probably just about worth £2 on the Exchange though….


Golf Sixes

This event was a lot of fun last year but maybe not the best event to be betting on. With matches taking place over just 6 holes there is certainly a real lottery feel to the event although a round robin nature should at least allow for the best teams to advance from the group. From there it’s Quarter Finals onwards as the top 2 from each of the 4 groups of 4 advance. The teams are very random indeed but there is also a change of course and that’s what I’m focussing on.

They have moved to Oitavos Dunes in Portugal and it’s a course we have seen several times on Tour albeit not since 2009. It held 4 Portugal Opens over a period of 5 years back then and it was dominated by short game experts and links lovers. Paul Broadhurst Michael Hoey and Pablo Martin Benavides were two of the winners while the likes of Paul Lawrie, Alastair Forsyth and David Howell regularly appeared on leaderboards. The course is right by the coast so a wind pedigree is needed and every winner performed on and around the greens.

Given most of these players haven’t seen the course I thought Jamie Donaldson and Stuart Manley (Wales) looked over priced as the 13th rated team (Portugal have an amateur playing and the 2 Ladies teams look a lot weaker than last year). They have played here 7 times between them with Donaldson posting two top 10s. While neither are setting the Tour on fire this year Manley does still rank 54th in strokes gained: putting and that has always been his strength. Donaldson is 7th in strokes gained: around the green and their short game talent together with knowledge of the course might see them go better than expected, especially if the wind blows.

I also very much like George Coetzee in any event that might turn into a putting contest and the fact he is playing with friend and fellow ET winner Brandon Stone only strengthens that case. This season Coetzee is 15th in strokes gained: putting while Stone is 57th around the green. Given they both enjoy links golf and know how to win at this level I was suprised to see 4 teams shorter than South Africa. Some firms are paying 4 places but I’m not sure I want to part with two times the stakes to be honest so I’ll just play them both win only and hope we can get at least one of them out of the group stages.


Summary of bets

Canadian Open

Jason Dufner – 1.5pts ew @ 50/1   WITHDRAWN – VOID BET

Shane Lowry – 1pt ew @ 50/1

Jonas Blixt – 0.75pts ew @ 100/1 (all 1/5 odds 8 places Betfair/Skybet/PP)

Curtis Luck – 0.75pts ew @ 250/1 (1/5 odds 8 places Skybet)

Golf Sixes

South Africa (Coetzee and Stone) – 2pts win @ 12/1

Wales (Donaldson and Manley) – 1.5pts win @ 18/1

 

Weekly pts advised = 8.5pts

 

@theGreek82

 

Memorial and Belgian Knockout – Betting Preview

Kevin Na was the only player to properly contend last week but luckily he did more than that and ran out a relatively comfortable winner at Colonial in the end. He has his critics but given how consistent he has always been on suitable courses and the fact he now has 2 recent wins suggests we might see a sort of Jimmy Walker type period where he racks up several wins having rediscovered the knack in his mid 30s. The win leaves the results as follows;

2019 pts advised = 265.50

2019 pts returned = 360.96

ROI = 35.96%


Memorial

I’m a little rushed this week so not too much about the course. Muirfield Village is a Jack Nicklaus design and sticks very much to his vision which is a course that tests every aspect of the game but one where the challenge increases as you get nearer the hole. There is trouble off the tee if you really want to find it but generally this is a 2nd shot course. The greens are pristine, quick and undulating so approaches will need to be struck perfectly to hold the correct area of the greens. Downhill putts are not much fun at Muirfield so the person who controls their iron shots the best this week should really contend. Scrambling can be testing on Nicklaus courses and Muirfield Village is no different. Bryson was 1st in scrambling last year whereas Dufner was 1st in GIR the year before. Prior to that McGirt was 6th in GIR and 7th in scrambling. So the winner will need to excel in one of these areas or do both better than most.

I backed Patrick Cantlay in his first start after the Masters and he delivered a place so having also finished 3rd at the US PGA I have no intentions of leaving him out at Memorial. This time he has had a week off and the fact he missed the very suitable Colonial tells me he has Muirfield Village marked down as a course where he can get his 2nd PGA Tour win. He was 4th here last year and looks nailed on to play well again. I really wanted to back him at Colonial so I’ve had to be patient but I also really like his chances here. An all-round test with emphasis on accurate iron play is ideal for Cantlay who simply thrives on championship quality courses like this. He will be a popular pick this week as more and more people come to realise his talent. That expectation level may take its toll and prevent him getting over the line but the 16/1 looks rock solid when we consider his recent form. His results read 15-6-MC-9-3-3 and these have all been in strong fields. The majority of recent Memorial winners have finished that season in a lofty position in strokes gained: approaches and Cantlay is no different sitting 14th so far this year. His distance control is perhaps his main strength and finding the right part of these slick greens is crucial. He also leads the Tour in scrambling as an added bonus, further confirming how suitable the course is. With last week’s returns leaving the blog in good health I’m going to have a fairly confident each way bet.

Matt Kuchar will be another popular play this week and rightly so at his odds of 20/1. His Memorial form is superb and he is a former winner there from 2013. His full results read 13-4-4-26-15-1-2-8-5-10-13-MC-32. That’s impressive and if we look at 8 places it’s an each way bet that would have landed in 6 of his last 9 appearances at Muirfield Village. But not only that Kuch is having a great year as he has won twice already. He also hasn’t been outside the top 12 on his last 5 starts and leads the Tour in GIR. Yet again he is too big a price here at 20/1 with Skybet’s 8 places looking like very solid value. He’s only really a back-up to Cantlay however who is very much the main bet this week.

I was tempted to leave it at just the two but recent winners here have actually been a bigger price so I’m going to add a 3rd pick as normal. It’s a very speculative play on two-time Bay Hill winner Matt Every who is out to a very fair price of 150/1 this week. Bay Hill is another course where Tiger flourished due to its emphasis on approach play and last year’s Memorial winner Dechambeau was runner-up at Bay Hill. Every has missed his last 4 cuts here but he was 6th on his debut and we know he is quite erratic form wise from year to year. But he is actually in fairly decent form having been 17th on his last start at Colonial and runner-up before that at Trinity Forest, two very different tests. He came 8th and 1st in total putting those weeks and he sits 1st in scoring relative to par for approaches in the 150-175 yard zone. That area will be in play a lot with several mid to long par 4s at Muirfield. At 150/1 it feels like it’s too good to pass up with 8 places.


Belgian Knockout

I enjoyed this event last year and despite the format it wasn’t quite the crap shoot that everyone expected. Two rounds of stroke play followed by knockout, 9-hole, head to head stroke play had some traditionalists and cynics up in arms but it was a fun event and the two finalists were very far from surprises.

Adrian Otaegui and Benjamin Hebert had both been knocking on the door and were towards the head of a fairly weak European Tour field. They also both fit a similar profile as steady fairways and greens types. That is always a solid match-play tactic and works well on most courses over 18 holes but aggressive golf can also bear fruit in regular match play. However the switch to stroke-play head to head matches meant that slow and steady was the only way to go as one big number can be highly likely to send you home over the weekend.

It’s perhaps not ideal to put too much emphasis on just one event therefore it doesn’t look like an event to get heavily involved in. But sticking to the Otaegui/Hebert mould of in-form tee to green sorts is probably the wisest strategy from the off.

Andrea Pavan hasn’t properly pushed on yet from his maiden ET win last year but his long game is still in great shape even if it hasn’t been getting him the results throughout 2019. Things have picked up however as he has gone 15th-25th coming in and signed off with a 67 on Sunday. He has shown enough in these sort of events coming T9th at the Perth Sixes in 2018. Over the last 3 months the Italian sits 9th in total accuracy and that’s the consistency we are looking for. For me he is a similar type of player to Otaegui and Hebert as none of them really look to over power a course. Worth a go here in a fairly open looking event.

Matthew Southgate tends to play his best mainly on links courses but also on British parkland courses. This course resembled some of the recent British Masters venues and he did ok here last year finishing 12th. He missed his two previous cuts before last week’s 9th place but again his long game has been better than that. Over the last 3 months he ranks 2nd in total accuracy and that has also  been the case most of the season as he sits 18th in driving accuracy and 44th in GIT for the season. If he makes the weekend cut then that long assurance should really keep mistakes to a minimum. Otaegui’s first two wins were both away from regular stroke play and Southgate might also benefit from the format change.

Just the two picks this week as it looks fairly tough. It’s not ideal backing each way in this format so I’ve taken Betfair’s 8 places at reduced odds.


Summary of bets

Memorial

Patrick Cantlay – 3pts ew @ 16/1 (1/5 odds 7 places Betway/Coral)

Matt Kuchar – 1pt ew @ 20/1 (1/5 odds 8 places Skybet)

Matt Every – 0.5pts ew @ 150/1 (1/5 odds 8 places)

Belgian Knockout

Andrea Pavan – 0.75pts ew @ 50/1

Matthew Southgate – 0.75pts ew @ 40/1 (both 1/5 odds 8 places)

 

Weekly pts advised = 12pts

 

@theGreek82

Charles Schwab Challenge (Colonial) and Made In Denmark – Betting Preview

Patrick Cantlay finished T3rd and Kang and Scott both delivered Top 20s to give us a profitable week. The main two bets didn’t deliver but that’s why I think it’s important to get involved in the Top 20 markets at majors. Finding the winner is tough (unless you just back Koepka of course!) and I think it’s easier to find a bit of value in the top 20 market. You also get a run for your money the whole weekend if they make the cut and it provides a good chance to make the stakes back.

The 10 places that several firms offer on majors also gives punters a massive opportunity to at least break even on the week. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the blog has done better at majors since 10 places became the norm.

Koepka was brilliant and barring a slight wobble when the wind was at it’s strongest on the back 9 on Sunday he never really looked like losing. His dominance (4 majors from his last 8) will give everyone a real problem in a month”s time when the U.S. Open comes around. We probably won’t see double figures about him for a long time in majors yet he will be looking to become the first player in over 100 years to win 3 U.S. Opens in a row and the first since 1956 to win any major 3 times in a row. It really shouldn’t be easy for him but that’s not to say it won’t be!

Another profitable week makes it 5 weeks from the last 6 and leaves the results as follows;

2019 pts advised = 254

2019 pts returned = 274.96

ROI = 8.25%


Charles Schwab Challenge

Another name change here for what is essentially just called “Colonial” anyway as that’s where it’s been played since 1946. It’s a tree-lined, classical course with fairly tight, winding fairways, thick rough and it’s generally a course that can’t be over powered. You have to hit the right parts of the fairways in order to not be blocked out from going at the flags. It’s a short enough course at just over 7200 yards so from there onwards it becomes a battle of the short irons. Some of the best wedge players in the game have won here like Steve Stricker, Zach Johnson and Jordan Spieth. Find fairways, attack the flags and make your share of putts. That’s the recipe year after year for Colonial. Useful stats are proximity to the hole, scoring relative to par from approaches in both the 100-125 yards and 125-150 yards ranges, putting from 10ft-25ft and one putt percentage. Being a par 70 Par 4 scoring is more important than usual and with the winning score usually nearer to -20 than -10, birdie average is also worth a look.

Corey Conners won around TPC San Antonio and that made a whole lot of sense as it’s an ideal course for him. Colonial also looks a great fit and I’ve got to side with him having missed out on tipping him in Texas due to him only Monday Qualifying and sneaking in under the radar. Conners was 8th here last year on his debut and seems to pop up at any ball-striker’s course where tee-to-green accuracy trumps power. I’ve seen a small backlash against some strokes gained stats recently and while they are by no means the be-all and end-all, used wisely they are a powerful tool. While nothing can predict how a player will play in any upcoming week it makes far more sense to side with someone who has been doing something well all season already. That is exactly what applies to Conners this week as he is 10th in strokes gained: tee to green. His numbers with the short irons are also strong as he is 4th in scoring relative to par from approaches at 150-175 yards, 9th from 125-150 yards and 1st in proximity to the hole. He was also 9th last week in strokes gained: off the tee which was better than McIlroy and Patrick Cantlay. Having made the weekend again for the 2nd major in a row I think his confidence will negate any fatigue and he should pitch up at Colonial raring to go. A decent putting week will surely see him out play his odds of 80/1. There is some 100/1 around still but I’d rather take the 8 places.

This course and Kevin Na are a match made in heaven. Fairways and wedges is what Na is all about and that’s perhaps why he has only missed the cut here once in 11 events returning 7 top 25s. He hasn’t been at his best this year but his numbers are still good in the relevant areas and he just can’t compete on the longer courses unless his whole game is at it’s best. Back here though I expect him to go well. Na is 5th in scoring relative to par from 125-150 yards and 12th in strokes gained: around the green. He missed the cut at Bethpage but that was far too long for him and prior to that he was going ok. His best strokeplay result this year was at the Heritage and if he takes that game here there is no reason he can’t improve on last year’s 4th place finish, especially since he now has that winning monkey off his back.

JT Poston has played here twice finishing 41st on his debut and then 20th last year but it’s his 6th at Heritage last month that gets him on the team here. He was 6th for total accuracy there and 2nd in the all-round and Harbour Town has always tied in nicely with Colonial as a similar skill-set is required at both courses. He was also 22nd at The Players which also correlates well as a more strategic course. There have been some missed cuts since but he played his first major weekend golf at Bethpage and I expect that experience to have a positive effect. Worth an each way go at 125/1.


Made In Denmark

Having left Himmerland GC last year we return again to the course that hosted from 2014-2017. I’m not sure whether that was a one-off or if they are alternating between the two but for now it gives us 4 year’s worth of course form and a fairly well constructed idea of what is required at Himmerland. It’s yet another links style course but it is also one of the shorter tracks on Tour at just 6881 yards and so far a sharp short game has been the order of the week. Everyone should be finding the fairways without the need for driver on lots of holes while the big greens are normally easy enough to hit. Depending on whether the wind blows scrambling can also be crucial as greens will be missed if it blows and it’s a very exposed course. Obviously hitting a high percentage of greens will help you contend at the majority of courses and for the most part the players on the leaderboards have also hit their fare share. However excelling on or around the greens looks like it might be the best way to come out on top this week.

Despite all that talk of short game my first pick is actually a tee-to-green merchant. Benjamin Hebert came agonisingly close yet again to his first ET win 3 weeks ago in China and given his course form here I’ll forgive the MC last time out at Hillside. While that course will share similarities with Himmerland, he will still probably have been gutted about his play-off defeat and traveling back from China to play will have only made that worse. His course form is trending and reads 6-13-14 so he looks an excellent each way bet with Betfair’s 45/1 and 7 places. Whether he will hole enough putts to win I’m not sure but the place portion just looks too good.

Thomas Detry has also been knocking on the door lately and the British Masters looked there for the taking for him two weeks ago. But he put in an uncharacteristically poor round of putting to finish T15th. Generally though he excels on links style layouts with grainy greens where his touch on and around the greens is important. He’s still chasing his first proper win but after winning the World Cup pairs event with Pieters, big things are expected from Detry in 2019. He also didn’t play last week in New York so will have had a week to get him absolutely right for this. He played here once in 2017 when he ranked 7th on the greens on his way to a 14th place finish. Coral’s standout 33/1 also comes with the standout 7 places and I think that looks more than fair with 7 of the 9 above him in the betting having played the US PGA.

Renato Paratore’s sole European Tour win was at Barseback GC where Marc Warren, Adam Scott, Joakim Haeggman and Ricardo Gonzalez have all won. They all have plenty of tie-in form at other similar courses, namely Gleneagles and Doha, and I think Himmerland is another similar course where recent leaderboards have shown the same kind of players with Marc Warren winning the first event back here in 2014. So Paratore would have been of interest this week anyway but the fact he was 8th last time out on a short, links course makes him properly stand out at 150/1 this week. He hasn’t played Gleneagles but he has been 4th at Doha. His two results here were a MC in 2015 but an 18th in 2016 where he ranked 9th on the greens and went 67-68 over the weekend, suggesting that he had got to grips with the course. His 2019 hasn’t really taken off yet but he will be looking to build on that British Masters performance and a course where he can leave the driver in the bag looks an ideal next stop for him.

Richie Ramsay was close as were regular bets Ryan Fox, George Coetzee and Thorbjorn Olesen but ultimately they just didn’t quite tick enough boxes this week. I should probably be backing both Fox (80/1) and Coetzee (100/1) on value grounds alone here but they are both on the naughty step after MCs at Hillside two weeks ago so I can leave them out from the start.


Summary of bets

Charles Schwab

Corey Conners – 1pt ew @ 80/1 (1/5 odds 8 places)

Kevin Na – 1pt ew @ 70/1 (1/5 odds 7 places)

JT Poston – 0.75pts ew @ 125/1 (1/5 odds 8 places Skybet)

Made In Denmark

Benjamin Hebert – 1pt ew @ 45/1 (1/5 odds 7 places Betfair/PP)

Thomas Detry – 1pt ew @ 33/1 (1/5 odds 7 places Coral)

Renato Paratore – 1pt ew @ 150/1 (1/5 odds 7 places Betfair)
 

 

 

Weekly pts advised =

@theGreek82

US PGA Championship 2019 – Betting Preview

Places for Aphibarnrat, Jones and Eddie Pepperell made it a good week and we are back in profit again heading into the second major of the year, or the third from last shot at glory as I’m going to call it…..Considering none of them were really in contention through the week it was pretty good to get three returns and boosts the confidence ahead of trying to pick apart the strongest field in golf. Results are as follows;

2019 pts advised = 228

2019 pts returned = 245.46

ROI = 7.66%


US PGA

As someone who doesn’t really like change, the new major schedule is going to take a lot of getting used to. Right now the thought of having another major this week is extremely exciting and then very quickly the U.S. Open will arrive. However the thought of having to wait some 9 months for the next major after Rickie Fowler lifts the Claret Jug in July isn’t such a pleasing proposition. Why dwell on that now though! Lets just enjoy what we have on the horizon and in this week’s case it’s a breathtaking event. With Tiger back on the major train, numerous world class players all with strong cases to be made and a US PGA with the deepest field in golf there should be no end of drama. The fact that Bethpage Black is hosting only boosts that idea as we get a long, tough U.S. Open style course but set up a little more favorably as is the US PGA norm.

Bethpage Black is a 7468 yard par 71 and is widely regarded as one of the toughest courses in the U.S. Opened in 1936 and designed by the famous A.W. Tillinghast it is a parkland course and features poa annua greens much like all his courses in the greater New York area. We have seen it in use a few times lately with it hosting the 2012 and 2016 Barclays Championship and going further back the 2002 and 2009 US Opens. The two US Opens saw winning scores of -3 and -4 while the Barclays were a little easier at -10 and -9 respectively. I’d expect to see a similar set up to the Barlcays events and anyone getting to double figures will surely be towards the top of the leaderboard come Sunday night. Form on other Tillinghast courses always stacks up and Phil Mickelson in particular boasts an impressive major record on them back in the 2000s when his courses were never far from the major rota. Baltusrol GC, Winged Foot, Bellerive and Ridgewood CC are perhaps his most famous courses away from Bethpage, while Pebble Beach and Torrey Pines are two other similar championship layouts with poa greens.

The underlying difficulty at Bethpage is just how relentless the course is and the players won’t be able to lose concentration for a second this week. It isn’t a tricked up course that will be unfair and everything is laid out in front of them, good shots will be rewarded and everything else punished. We won’t see the rough overly thick I don’t believe but courses in the New York area are always lush green so it still won’t be easy to hit greens out of the rough. As ever the bombers will be hitting their approach shots from considerably nearer the hole and this is a feature at every long championship course now despite even the “thick rough” US Open narratives we hear every June. Lately almost every name on a major leaderboard is someone that regularly gets it out there over 300 yards off the tee. That’s not to say shorter hitters can’t prevail but they will need to have their iron game seriously dialled in this week. The forecast rain early in the week is only going to compound that with fairway run-out probably minimal. The majority of the greens at Bethpage are also raised up and heavily protected by bunkers so a high-ball flight will be required to hold the greens. Everything about this week is suggesting to me that power will be the number one attribute yet again.

With these well protected and raised greens not only will approach shots be crucial but distance control in particular. Players will be forced to carry their numbers perfectly to reach and then hold greens and going at flags won’t be nearly as important as just finding greens in regulation. There is a reason Colin Montgomerie came closest to winning a major at Tillighast’s Winged Foot. The green complexes are similar and there were few better in the game at hitting their approaches pin high than Monty in his pomp. So players that can hit their irons consistently the right distance should go well this week, therefore GIR will be important but also some applied knowledge away from the stats. Players like Justin Rose and Sergio Garcia have always been superb at hitting their numbers so anyone that you consider to have that trait is probably worth a second look.

bethpage-black-18th-hole-pga-championship

While the rough might not present US Open style problems for approach shots it will be interesting with regards to scrambling around the greens. Last week at Trinity Forest we saw tightly mown links style aprons and run-offs which allowed lower bump and runs around the greens. Bethpage will be more like what we see at Augusta and Torrey Pines where touch and imagination will be required to save par when missing the greens.

Looking at past statistics at Bethpage only serves to confirm the importance of the long game. The four winners there (Reed 2016, Watney 2012, Glover 2008 and Woods 2002) have ranked 13th, 2nd, 4th and 1st in GIR while they were also 28th, 9th, 3rd and 2nd in total driving. Nick Watney scrambled terribly when he won but so did most of the field as they averaged just 45% success in getting up and down. The other three winners were 10th, 8th and 12th for scrambling. Obviously none of the 4 putted terribly but their averages for total putting were 45th, 21st, 9th and 43rd. Only 2016 has the full strokes gained breakdowns and Reed was 27th in strokes gained: putting while Scott managed to finish 4th despite ranking 76th that category! Reed ranked 3rd in strokes gained: tee to green. From a scoring point of view both Barclays winners came 1st for par 5 scoring but both Major winners were 1st in par 4 scoring. With one less par 5 in play for majors than normal I’d probably make the par 4s more important especially as the majority are rather long.

One additional observation from the stats is how the winners here didn’t do anything badly and the two Barclays winners were 8th and 4th in the all-round ranking while both Major winners ranked 1st. So you could just skip the rest and go straight to the all-round ranking stat on the PGA Tour website and back the first 3; Thomas, Koepka and McIlroy. Interestingly all three of those have won the US PGA in the last 5 years! This even further highlights the need to be doing most things well in the run-up to a PGA Championship. I have actually gone a little further down that all-round ranking and my main two picks sit 7th and 8th respectively.

Jon Rahm has delivered for me in the last two majors and I firmly believe he is trending towards a major so the calendar change looks ideal for him. While he enjoys Augusta there is no question that a US PGA looks his best chance of getting off the mark. So getting to play PGA-Masters-PGA is going to be of benefit to him and all the other bombers too. A long and difficult US Open course set up for a US PGA has Rahm written all over it for me.

When the US PGA followed the WGC Bridgestone in the schedule there was one of the strongest trends in golf relating to a high finish the week before. It made so much sense as it is almost impossible to come out on top of the deepest field in golf if you aren’t playing well coming in. Not only does Rahm tick the form box but he won his most recent start at the Zurich team affair alongside Ryan Palmer.

This season Rahm ranks 2nd in strokes gained: off the tee while he backs up that power with 62nd in strokes gained: approaches and 59th in strokes gained: putting. But for those who don’t like these modern stats approaches Rahm probably ranks close to 1st in the sarcastic “strokes gained: golf shots” category. There are very few in the game that seem to just always find a way of getting the ball in the hole, even when he is having a tantrum and behaving like an idiot he will follow a petulant double bogey with a run of birdies and his sheer determination seems to lift his game for the big events. His win on his debut at Torrey Pines in 2017 pretty much announced him as a future major winner. He took a little time to get used to major golf but I believe he now knows what it takes and is definitely managing to rein in the emotions a little. He has finished 9th-4th in his last two majors and I think that is a sign of things to come over the next 15-20 years. Even at just 24 there is a feeling that he is focussed mainly on the majors and I think he is a cracking each way bet at 18/1 to carry on his run and contend again.

I also put Jason Day up for the last two majors and I have to keep to the same theme again with him having also delivered at the Masters. Everything applies to Day that applies to Rahm pretty much but we get the added bonus of some course form and being a proven major winner. He played in both the Barclays events in 2012 and 2016 finishing 24th and 4th respectively and with the set up being similar I’m expecting a big week. Day absolutely loves Tillinghast courses even beyond Bethpage having finished runner-up at Baltusrol, contending for 3 rounds at Bellerive and he has three Top 20s at Ridgewood. He also knows how to win on poa greens as a two time winner at Torrey Pines and I really think that course could be a good marker for Bethpage (Watney and Woods have both won there and Glover has a 3rd and 4th). He has played just once since the Masters but kept things ticking over nicely with a 24th at Quail Hollow which will have been a fitting warm-up for Bethpage. As ever he is putting brilliantly this season ranking 11th in strokes gained: putting and he is 5th in strokes gained: off the tee. It has been his iron play that has held him back this year but he usually manages to up that for the big events. If he is injury free then everything else looks to be in his favour and we can expect another big week at a very fair 25/1.

I really wanted to add Patrick Reed too and there is no question he is a good price at around 60/1. However I just don’t think he has shown enough recently despite being the last man to win around Bethpage. Instead I’ll add three more at bigger prices who should all be suited to the course.

Patrick Cantlay showed at the Masters just how good he is and his rock-solid tee-to-green game makes him another who could rack up top 10 finishes on these sort of courses for years to come. After nearly winning at Augusta he went on to contend again the very next week at The Heritage and he will arrive at Bethpage in a bullish mood. That Masters T9th was his first major top 10 and going straight to another suitable course there is a great chance of us seeing his 2nd top 10 arrive at the earliest opportunity. Cantlay is 10th in strokes gained: tee to green and leads the Tour in par 4 scoring but it’s his short to mid range putting that can let him down. However with Bethpage not really being focussed too much on the putting, another ball-striking clinic should see him towards the upper echelons of the leaderboard again come Sunday.

I will probably bet Hao Tong Li for a Top 20 finish in every major for the foreseeable future while we are still getting as good a price as 6/1. I’m also including him as an outright bet due to the 10 places on offer. Li’s power game off the tee together with his accurate mid to long iron game make long championship courses ideal for him so I expect him to rack up the high finishes in such events going forward. He is 12th in strokes gained: tee to green on the European Tour while his proximity numbers on the PGA are impressive. He is 1st for approaches from 175-200 yards while he is 16th from 150-175 yards in the rough. Li also holes out brilliantly under pressure and scrambles very well making him a far bigger threat than 125/1 suggests. He is also in fine form having finished 4th last time out in China.

I figured I might as well keep both of the Zurich winners on the team as Ryan Palmer loves Tillinghast courses and played superbly alongside Rahm. He has been 13th and 24th on his last two visits to Bethpage while he has been 5th on both his Ridgewood CC appearances. Considering he was having a quiet enough season some of his stats are also excellent for this. He ranks T3rd in Par 4 scoring and 32nd in strokes gained: approaches while he still retains a lot of his power and it’s his ability out of the rough that makes him look quite interesting. He ranks 5th in GIR from anywhere other than fairway and 16th in proximity to the hole from approaches from the rough. Both these will be crucial and arriving in confident mood after his win Palmer should enjoy himself here. I’m going to have a small play in the outright and the top 20 market.

A ball-striking test on a long, soft course where putting shouldn’t matter and Lucas Glover won the last major held there. If ever there was a course to play Keegan Bradley then this is surely it! Bradley’s putting woes are well broadcast these days but he remains one of the best tee-to-green operators on Tour. He is 10th in strokes gained: tee to green and 12th in total driving. He hits his irons higher than probably 99% of players in the game and he will relish the difficult ball-striking test. I’m not sure I can advise an outright bet on him but at the same time I couldn’t put anyone off a small play at 300+ on the Exchange. Instead I’ll go 1pt top 20 at a massive 6/1.

Sung Hoon Kang actually shot a low round of the week 64 at Bethpage in 2016 and with the form he has shown this season he looks worth a small play in the Top 20 market. Having got his maiden win last week I’d expect him to carry that form over and play well this week. He has played in 5 majors to date and never missed a cut so he shouldn’t be overawed by the occasion. The Sunday Bethpage 64 helped him to 18th and a repeat of something similar looks possible

Ryan Moore hasn’t done much lately but his course form is strong enough to side with here and he is another lover of Tillinghast designs having won his US Amateur around Winged Foot and he was 7th here at the Barlcays in 2016 and 10th at the US Open in 2009. Moore’s distance control is superb and that’s why we usually see him play par 3s so well. He is also a very straight driver of the ball and while he might struggle to contend with the bombers here I think a Top 20 is definitely achievable and he looks a little over priced to do so at 5/1.

I was going to leave it at that until I noticed Adam Scott’s price just before I was about to post. He is around 40-50/1 to win but also a general 2/1 for a Top 20 (3.45 on the Exchange!). Considering how solid his tee-to-green game is the 2/1 made me look closer. Scott has finished inside the top 20 at 28 of his 72 majors but looking more recently when he developed a real consistency at that level it gets even better. He has been in the top 20 on 22 of his last 37 majors working out at 59% or a 1.68 shot going on history alone. Even looking at all 72 majors he is 39% or a 2.57 shot. But if we consider how much better Scott is on a rain softened course and that he has been top 20 in 6 of his last 8 US PGAs then this really does look like a solid bet worth getting properly stuck into. But we’re still not done! Scott was also in the top 20 on his last two starts with a 12th at the Players and 18th at the Masters. He was also 4th the last time he played Bethpage Black! I’m going to finish with a confident 4 points @ 2/1 on value alone. (If you have a Betfair account he is currently 3.45 on the Exchange)

FRL bets

As ever a few small fun bets in the first round leader market. I could have ended up with 8 but have narrowed it down to 4 bets all at decent odds. I realise that’s maybe too many for people to be backing but I’ve backed them all so felt like I had to include them.

I don’t usually like to double up in this market by Ryan Palmer’s case looked a little too compelling. He sits 16th in 1st round scoring and has started quite quickly in the past on rain softened major courses, notably a 65 at Valhalla when McIlroy won his 2nd PGA. He opened with a 67 at Torrey Pines and a 68 at Ridgewood in September. He has a later tee-time of 12:32 but it might pay to spread it around a little as the weather could be changeable.

Emiliano Grillo was 2nd at Bethpage last time in 2016 and he opened with a 67 for 3rd place after round 1. In the two majors he has played on Tillinghast courses he has opened with a66 at Baltusrol in 2015 and a 69 at Bellerive last year. Grillo is a long and straight driver who chipping and putting on greens that don’t have too much bite. With so much rain forecast ahead of Thursday he should enjoy the conditions. He sits in 30th for 1st round scoring this year and from a tee-time of 12:32 he looks interesting.

Justin Harding started his Masters career well with an opening 69 and went on to finish in 12th position. He has maintained his form since then and most recently finished 10th last week at Trinity Forest. He drives the ball long and straight and currently sits 5th in total driving. His approach play isn’t quite up to the same standard as the rest of his game but he is actually very good from the rough currently ranking 1st in proximity to the hole from the rough. His ball flight might be a little too low to contend if things firm up over the weekend but he could start well on a receptive course from an early tee-time on Thursday (07:29).

Unfortunately another double up here with Adam Scott but conditions will just be too ideal on Thursday to leave him out. He has a habit of starting majors fast so looks worth siding with from a 7:40am tee time when the poa greens will be at their best.


Summary of Bets

US PGA

Jon Rahm – 3pts ew @ 18/1

Jason Day – 2pts ew @ 25/1 (Betfair Sportsbook)

Patrick Cantlay – 1pt ew @ 40/1

Hao Tong Li – 0.5pts ew @ 125/1 and 2pts Top 20 @ 6/1

Ryan Palmer – 0.5pts ew @ 150/1 and 1pt Top 20 @ 15/2

Keegan Bradley – 1pt Top 20 @ 6/1

Ryan Moore – 1pt Top 20 @ 5/1

Sung Hoon Kang – 1pt Top 20 @ 15/2

Adam Scott – 4pts Top 20 @ 2/1

FRL

Ryan Palmer – 0.25pts ew @ 110/1

Emiliano Grillo – 0.25pts ew @ 95/1

Justin Harding – 0.25pts ew @ 100/1

Adam Scott – 0.5pts ew @ 40/1

(all outrights are 1/5 odds 10 places with Betfair or Skybet, Top 20s general price. All 1RL are 1/5 odds 8 places Betfair)

Weekly pts advised = 26.5pts

Byron Nelson and British Masters – Betting Preview

A pretty shitty week last week but I was probably due one after three profitable weeks in a row. I won’t dwell on things too long though as we have two excellent events this week both on proper links style courses and therefore lots of good angles in to the betting.

2019 pts advised = 210

2019 pts returned = 216.86

ROI = 3.27%


Byron Nelson

The move to Trinity Forest last year was met with mixed reviews but I’m all for Tournaments at courses that don’t convene to the normal PGA Tour target golf. The old course, TPC Las Colinas, was a fairly traditional ball-strikers paradise and it was also situated at a rather swanky resort so you can see why so many of the seasoned Tour players enjoyed their visit.

Trinity Forest is a modern links course located on an old land fill site and the contrast between it and the previous course is rather strong. The course was designed by Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore and it plays to some 7450 yards but last year it was quite wet so there wasn’t too much run out. It was designed to play hard and fast like a British links course and if that was to be the case this week I think scoring would be tougher than Aaron Wise’s winning score of -23. Unfortunately recent weather in the Dallas area suggests that the course will play quite soft again and therefore we maybe can’t quite take the full-on links player approach.

The course is a wide open one with ample room off the tee, undulating fairways and huge greens. With firm conditions you could probably all but ignore what players do off the tee but with less than ideal roll-out, driving distance will be important again this year as it was last year. From there it becomes very much a second shot course but with big greens a brilliant short game can also get it done. If we can find a player who is getting the ball close to the flags and showing a good touch on and around the greens then even better.

There are five Par 4s under 450 yards and with very little holding them back off the tee we will see a lot of wedges on these holes after the players unleash driver. Therefore an aggressive wedge game will be important this week especially considering the low scoring nature of the event last year. Aaron Wise led the field in Par 4 scoring last year on his way to winning so that’s worth a look too.

Patrick Reed has a stellar record at Coore and Crenshaw’s Kapalua layout in Hawaii and this looks another ideal layout for him even on his debut. Anywhere that wayward drives aren’t punished suits Reed and with his approach game having looked somewhere back to its best last week (10th in GIR) I think he should go well. There are few better short games around than Reed’s and he will handle the long lag putts and lengthy chip shots better than most. He is also an accomplished Texas wind player having been born in San Antonio and he currently lives just outside Houston. He is a fairly determined character who won’t think twice about going all out to win the week before a major if given half a chance. A solid looking each way bet at 28/1 with 8 places.

Charles Howell III was 9th here last year and he started this season very well indeed. Two missed cuts recently have pushed his price out to a very interesting 40/1 with 8 places. Howell sits 2nd in Par 4 scoring and while he isn’t a player with a great bank of links form by any means his relentless hitting of greens should be suited to the course. The lack of bite in the course will suit him if it does play soft and the fact he is putting far better this year should make him a a big player this week. He is 3rd in GIR and 26th in strokes gained: putting and that is exactly the sort of combination you want any week but particularly on this layout.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat’s form has tailed off a little since the WGC Mexico but this looks ideal for him and I think he has to be backed with Betfair’s stand-out 100/1 with 8 places. With lots of space off the tee he won’t find too much trouble and his wedge game has been excellent so far this year. He leads the Tour in scoring relative to par from approaches inside 125 yards and with the short par 4s and huge greens this range will be in play a lot. He withdrew two weeks ago in an event in Brunei due to a knee injury but I think 100/1 is a massive over reaction to that and he looks a very fair each way bet.

Matt Jones was 13th here last year and has actually been playing quite sneaky well with 6 top 40 finishes in a row. A wide open course will suit this Aussie who is an excellent wind player but possesses an even better short game and sits 26th in strokes gained: around the green this year. His only PGA Tour win to date was in Texas at the Houston Open and if things do firm up over the weekend then few are more suited to hard and fast conditions than this Sydney native who won the Australian Open back in 2015.

Colt Knost jumped off the page at me as he studied at SMU which now uses Trinity Forest as it’s University course. Unfortunately it wasn’t even designed when he graduated in 2007 but he still lives nearby and I’m hoping the local ties might mean he knows more about the course than others. He missed the second half of 2018 through injury and returned in January on a Medical Extension. He missed his first four cuts but there were signs of improvement last week when he finished 38th at Quail Hollow. Knost has always been a good putter and if he does have a little inside knowledge of the huge greens then 300/1 could look big.


British Masters

With the move from May to September of the PGA at Wentworth and an apparent lack of sponsor it looked for a while like we might lose this event. That would have an absolute travesty for the European Tour and particularly British golf. The event has been hugely succesful so far in boosting interest in the game and the interactive nature of what Sky Sports have done so far has been excellent. Thankfully they have managed to bring it forward to May, find a sponsor and also get the brilliant Hillside GC links layout onboard as host. The result is that Tommy Fleetwood hosts the 5th event in a row since its return to the schedule in 2015 at Woburn.

While the first four visited some of south England’s finest parkland courses this time we get a chance to see a lesser known links gem of the north-west in Hillside. It backs up on to Royal Birkdale on the coast and it’s that sort of course with sculpted fairways into the dunes and undulating terrain. A proper links course requires proven links players and that usually helps the punters out even if we are about 2 months ahead of the usual links golf in July. It’s well worth looking at leaderboards from recent Scottish Opens, Irish Opens and Opens as well as the Qatar Masters, Portugal Masters and events from Australia.

Eddie Pepperell and Tyrrell Hatton slot right in behind host and tournament favourite Tommy Fleetwood in the betting. They are both 18/1 here but that doesn’t bother me at all as for me they are the best two links players in the field right now and a chunky each way bet on both of them makes the best betting sense here this week.

Pepperell has been playing quite a bit of golf over on the PGA Tour so far this year and with a fair bit of success. That explains the apparent short price here but this is a massive step-down from the fields he was playing in when he posted 3rd at The Players Championship and 16th at The Heritage. His sometimes suspect putting has been particularly strong so far in the US as he ranks 16th in strokes gained: putting. When you combine that with his always reliable approach play and ability to play in the wind, you get a very smart prospect here this week. Pepperell was 2nd in the Scottish Open last year, 6th in the Open and he won the Qatar Masters which has long been a good guide to links golf. He also has an Alfred Dunhill top 10 and a 2nd and 3rd at the Portugal Masters which is played on another exposed links style course. Defending a tournament is never easy but with it being at a different course that might take away some of the pressure. Although his laid back nature will also help him. The 18/1 might not be for everyone but with Betfred’s 10 places the each way portion looks very solid indeed.

Tyrrell Hatton keeps popping up on links layouts and his Alfred Dunhill Championship record in particular is immense, reading 1-1-2. He hasn’t been playing his best so far this year but he really does come alive on links courses. His imagination and putting touch allow him to play with the utmost of confidence on links courses knowing he will handle whatever comes his way should he miss the greens. But his approach play also seems to improve for being on tight links turf. He likes to flight his ball down and let his approaches run out which is a huge advantage when trying to gauge distance in the wind on links courses. That helps explain why he hit 85% and 83% of greens in regulation when he won his two Alfred Dunhills. There’s not too much more to say, he just loves links golf and I’m willing to take a chance that he finds his form again as soon as he sees the course.

I was just going to leave it at the two chunky each way bets but it wouldn’t be a links event with out adding a couple more proven exponents of the traditional British style of golf. I expected Ryan Fox to be backed in given the bank of links form he has built up over the last two summers but Betfred’s 40/1 with 10 places is far too good to pass up. He has gone 4-4 and 6-2 in the Irish Open and Scottish Open the last two years and those were exactly the sort of field that he faces here. He hasn’t disgraced himself in his Open appearances either but he is still finding his feet in the Majors. I expect him to win on a links course sooner rather than later now he has got off the mark in the World Super 6 Perth event. It is played at Lake Karrinyup which is a typical hard and fast Aussie course where good links players thrive. With Fox it is hard to pin point why he is so good on links but it certainly has a lot to do with his fearless approach off the tee which so often means he is going in to the greens with nothing more than a wedge. He is also a very creative player from inside 100 yards and the familiar links turf allows him to flourish in that area. The 40/1 with 10 places looks rock solid even with him coming in off a break.

I wanted to add a proper outsider but then I saw returning blog regular George Coetzee at 70/1 with Betfred’s 10 places. Coetzee is another player who I have long expected to win on a British links course but it hasn’t happened yet. He probably wouldn’t want the weather too miserable but there are few better putters on grainy links greens than Coetzee and for me that is always worth including him at odds like this. He took April off to spend relaxing back home in South Africa with his girlfriend and the fact that she is now his fiance makes me think the break will have had a positive effect (he was also at Anfield on Tuesday night!). If he isn’t too rusty then the 70/1 looks a fantastic price as he was in great form during March finishing 2nd in Qatar on the links course at Doha and then signing off for his holiday with a 6th in India.


Summary of bets

Byron Nelson

Patrick Reed – 1pt ew @ 28/1

Charles Howell III – 1pt ew @ 40/1

Kiradech Aphibarnrat – 0.75pts ew @ 100/1

Matt Jones – 0.5pts ew @ 80/1

Colt Knost – 0.25pts ew @ 300/1 (all Betfair 1/5 odds 8 places)

British Masters

Eddie Pepperell – 2pts ew @ 18/1

Tyrrell Hatton – 2pts ew @ 18/1

Ryan Fox – 1pt ew @ 40/1

George Coetzee – 0.5pts ew @ 70/1 (all Betfred 1/5 odds 10 places)

 

Weekly pts advised = 18pts

@theGreek82

Zurich Classic and Trophee Hassan II – Betting Preview

Patrick Cantlay showed a great mental attitude to bounce back to contend last week after his Augusta disappointment. Unfortunately there was a slight sense of deja vu for him as he threw in a double bogey early on in his final round once he hit the front. He rallied well though and played as well as anyone from that point on but he just couldn’t get close enough to an inspired CT Pan. His returns made for another profitable week but only just.

2019 pts advised =185

2019 pts returned = 179.76

ROI = -2.83%


Zurich Classic

This novelty team event isn’t for everyone betting wise but there are enough angles in to make it worthwhile, certainly from a fun, small stakes point of view. The course is the same every year as they play at TPC Louisiana, another Pete Dye layout, and the format has been the same recently allowing us to know what is required. They play two rounds of fourballs and two rounds of foursomes (alternate shot) across the four days.

Since they put the entries up to 80 teams I’m not convinced that it can be a very easy event to price up for the bookies. That means there must be some value around as each team has two players so in theory there is twice the margin for error in their price especially with the lesser names. That figure is perhaps even higher if you feel a certain team can prove greater than the sum of their parts. Ultimately though it can be a tricky event to predict so while some of the prices appeal it isn’t a week for huge stakes.

Form in similar team events is advantageous while Pete Dye form always stacks up nicely as we noted last week at Harbour Town. Other courses of his are TPC Sawgrass, TPC River Highlands, Whistling Straits and the PGA West Stadium Course at La Quinta.

Having noted the potential value down the field the first team I’m backing here is actually one from the top and that is Jon Rahm and Ryan Palmer. The first point to note is that they are 20th and 6th respectively in birdie average and that is important in this event as you have to make plenty to contend. I’d doubt there is a team here with a lower cumulative ranking for birdies this season. But beyond that they seem quite a good fit as Palmer’s laid back ways could rub off on Rahm and they are both aggressive, flag hunters. Rahm’s arrogant and petulant ways don’t immediately look suited to team golf but this looks a pairing with potential. Palmer has struggled lately to get over the line and you have to go back to 2010 for his last win. He is a 3-time winner on Tour though and this is the sort of event I can see him bouncing back in. Both players have some form on other Pete Dye courses with Palmer having finished 5th at Sawgrass and Rahm is a winner at the PGA West Stadium course. Rahm has missed his only cut here but Palmer has finished 4th in both the team event and the individual stroke-play event so knows the course well. Many will have their doubts about backing teams shorter than 20/1 in such an event and that is perfectly fair, but the way Rahm’s form has been simmering lately he looks close to a win and there is just something I quite like about this pairing.

Kevin Streelman + Vaughan Taylor – Kevin Streelman led the field in strokes gained: approaches last week at Harbour Town and that makes him very interesting here as we know what a streaky putter he can be. His results in both the individual format and team format here aren’t great but seldom has he arrived with his approach game in such fine fettle. He has lots of Pete Dye form elsewhere though with one of his wins coming at TPC River Highlands while he has a runner-up at Sawgrass and three top 10s at Harbour Town. Vaughan Taylor often pops up from nowhere when a hot putter is required and he could compliment Streelman nicely here as he ranks 11th in strokes gained: putting this year. Whether they can be consistent enough across 4 rounds I don’t know but I can definitely see them going very low at least once.

Dominic Bozzelli + Peter Uihlein – Uihlein hasn’t been in much form at all since he won on the Web.com Tour in late 2017. But we know he is a very gifted iron player who can often struggle off the tee and on the greens. The fourball format will help take the pressure off his driving and they could out play their odds if they start well. Bozzelli is one of the best putters on Tour and currently sits 1st in the rankings for strokes gained in that department. He has also shown some decent form in low scoring events on Dye courses as he has been 5th the last two years at the Desert Classic. His best result on the PGA Tour was a 3rd at the Valspar which is played on another technical test much like Dye’s layouts. Bozzelli has played in this once before alongside JT Poston in 2017 and the two rookies did well to make the cut and finish 32nd.

Uihlein has shown his liking for team formats having had a good record at the Alfred Dunhill when he played on the European Tour. He also took 6 points out of 8 from his two Walker Cup appearances as an amateur. He played here for the first time last year with Emiliano Grillo but they were never going to hole enough putts to compete and missed the cut. Both Uihlein and Bozzelli are Florida based and 3 of the last 4 players to win at TPC Louisiana also lived in Florida. Similar conditions and bermuda greens should make them feel right at home. It’s risky but at 150/1 what is there to lose!


Trophee Hassan II

The Trophee Hassan II returns to Royal Golf Dar Es Salam for the 4th year in a row and we have seen mixed results so far in terms of the type of players that have contended. The main reason for that I think is that the course is a decent all-round test of golf and whoever turns up with their whole game in good order should contend. That is especially the case in this level of field with no real superstars or ruthless winners. This leaves it looking like quite an open event and perhaps a good chance for maidens to pick up their first win. The favourite Joost Luiten obviously has to be respected but I’ve been stung backing him sub 20/1 too many times.

The course is very much a typical Robert Trent Jones’ one as it’s a classical tree-lined track that looks to test most aspects of the game. It can be a challenge off the tee and the new greens are rather undulating and tricky to hold. Jones doesn’t have too many other courses on the European Tour but Valderrama is perhaps his most famous work and it has hosted two recent Andalusian Masters as well as the Open De Espana. He also designed the other course that was used for the Trophee Hassan between 2011 and 2015.

Adri Arnaus opened at 60/1 which was far too big in this field considering his talent but also the fact he was 2nd just two starts ago. It’s his debut at the course and there is a chance it will be a little narrow for him but you could have said that about last year’s first two home Alex Levy and Alvaro Quiros, and there are plenty of similarities between him and Quiros. If he uses some strategy off the tee and finds enough fairways then he could really take to the course. He sits 10th in strokes gained: off the tee and 30th in GIR and the higher scoring nature of this event should mean that his fairly average putting doesn’t hold him back too much. He has been cut to 50/1 but that’s still a decent price with Skybet’s 8 places.

Jason Scrivener is back out to a very fair price now all just because of 1 missed cut and a little bit of time off. It was a well deserved break though as he played in some of Australia’s big events as well as most of the European Tour’s Asian swing. It meant a lot of golf and for Scrivener a lot of top 20 finishes. From last year’s Turkish Airlines Open he went 23-16-3-6-16-7-5-26-39 before that missed cut in Malaysia. Returning here off a break I think he has the right sort of steady all-round game required to go well this week. Scrivener was actually 10th here in 2016 and he is a considerably better player now. He has also shown a liking for Robert Trent Jones’ most famous course Valderrama as he has posted finishes of 22nd and 27th there.

His stats also back him up nicely for this test as he ranks 8th in bogey avoidance for the season, 12th in strokes gained: approaches and 52nd in strokes gained: around the green. He has always looked like a player who enjoys a difficult test of golf and he looks well worth siding with here at 70/1 with 8 places.

There are a couple that I like towards the top of the market in Fabrizio Zanotti and Nacho Elvira but it’s hard to believe that a profit could be made backing either of them long-term at just 25/1 even in this field.

Instead I’ll throw a bit of a dart with Ashley Chesters as the 3rd pick. He was 8th here two years ago and has excellent Valderrama form having been 12th and 4th on his two visits. While his short game isn’t always the sharpest his accurate tee to green game will always give him a chance on a course like this. He was 25th on his last start in India and he looks a fair each way price with Betfair’s 100/1 and their 7 places.


Summary of bets

Zurich Classic

Jon Rahm + Ryan Palmer – 1.75pts ew @ 16/1

Kevin Streelman + Vaughan Taylor 0.75pts ew @ 80/1

Dominic Bozzelli + Peter Uihlein – 0.5pts ew @ 150/1 (all 1/5 odds 7 places Betfair)
Trophee Hassan II

Adri Arnaus – 1pt ew @ 50/1 – (1/5 odds 8 places Skybet)

Jason Scrivener – 1pt ew @ 70/1 – (1/5 odds 8 places Skybet)

Ashley Chesters – 0.5pt ew @ 100/1 (1/5 odds 7 places Betfair)

Weekly pts advised = 10pts

@theGreek82