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

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Wells Fargo Championship and Volvo China Open – A Betting Preview

Jon Rahm and Ryan Palmer clicked as I hoped they would to record a relatively straight-forward win at the Zurich Classic. They parred the 18th for a 3 shot win and while others got close they never really looked like giving up their lead. It was great to see Palmer back with a win as he’s a likeable player who deserves some good fortune after his family issues. As for Jon Rahm he really is something else. Even when he doesn’t appear to have his best stuff like early in the final round he has an amazing knack of grinding out a score. Sometimes he doesn’t look like he is doing anything amazing but he seldom hits 2 bad shots in a row and usually hits a great recovery instead. He has also become very solid at holing out inside 10ft and it often looks like he gets the ball in the hole with sheer will and determination. If Bethpage Black sets up as a true US PGA course in two weeks time then the Spanish powerhouse is going to take a lot of beating.

As preperation for that we have the Wells Fargo this week which of course is played at the 2017 US PGA course, Quail Hollow. The European Tour heads back out to Asia again for the Volvo China Open. Two good events with plenty of recent course form.

Rahm and Palmer’s win puts the blog back into profit for the year;

2019 pts advised = 196

2019 pts returned = 216.86

ROI = 10.64%


Wells Fargo Championship

Back to regular PGA Tour stuff as we head north to Quail Hollow in North Carolina which has hosted since 2003 with the exception of 2017 when it held the US PGA. It is a long, 7600 yard championship style course with a premium on a powerful long game and all recent winners are players who sit in lofty positions in the strokes gained: tee to green rankings. When tee to green supremacy is so important it’s easy to go with some of the massively priced poor putters who strike the ball well. But you generally don’t get too many average players lifting this trophy and playing “the chalk” has been working well for me lately. So instead I’m playing three shorter price players who all still can’t putt!

For my main pick I’m going with Hideki Matsuyama who has been priced up here like he is hitting the ball sideways. That’s not really the case though and despite no win he hasn’t missed a cut since The Open in July. In that time he has returned 11 top 20s from 20 events with 4 of those being top 5s. He sits 2nd in strokes gained: tee to green sandwiched between 2 recent Quail winners in McIlroy and Thomas. He is also 22nd in strokes gained: around the green. His lack of being in contention this year has created a situation where Webb Simpson is the same price to win on a 7600 yard long course. Simpson has never won beyond 7250 yards with all 5 wins coming between 7100 and 7250. Maybe he is just a little short in the betting but I think it’s a combination of Hideki being a little big and Simpson being a little short. Matsuyama’s course form is very strong and was trending nicely until last year’s MC as he went 38-20-11-5  with the 5th coming in the best field of all at the US PGA. He is surely getting closer to a win and the last time he was seen on bermuda greens he finished 8th at TPC Sawgrass. Coral’s 20/1 with 7 places looks to be a great each way bet.

Benny An makes the team yet again and will continue to do so while he continues to return the place money. A tee to green test where scrambling is crucial is right up An’s street. He ranks 6th in strokes gained: tee to green and 1st in strokes gained: around the green. Poor putters can have done very well at Quail as the greens aren’t as difficult as other championship layouts. We know An is as poor as they come on the greens but that surely doesn’t warrant him being 55/1 here I don’t think. He hasn’t done much at the course yet but it should really suit and he was in fine form prior to his MC at the Heritage. He has had a week off and I’m happy to assume he has ironed out the driver problem that he had but the slightly wider fairways will also help.

If I’m placing putting ability down the list of attributes then I really have to side with Luke List at 80/1. His results haven’t been fantastic lately but Quail Hollow is a course that suits him where he has played well before and he finished 9th last year off the back of a MC, while this year he was 41st last time out. This season he ranks 14th in strokes gained: tee to green so he will be looking forward to the upcoming run of long, championship style courses that he can overpower. He’s not always the most reliable player when you think he is going to perform but with the stand out 80/1 we don’t have to get too involved stake wise.

Others who came close were Roberto Castro and Nick Watney and while I couldn’t put anyone off I think their general prices are just about right now since they have been cut. The 150/1 with 8 places very nearly tempted me to add Castro but while I can see him playing well I’d be surprised if he comes out on top of this field on such a long course. So I’ll stick with the three and hope that at least one of them can hole some putts!


Volvo China Open

The China Open returns to Genzon GC in Shangai after being away since 2014. It has hosted the Shenzhen International from 2015-2017 however so there are four events worth of form to look at. The four winners were Bernd Weisberger, Soomin Lee, Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Alex Levy.

The course is a Nelson and Hawarth design like so many of the prominent championship courses in China and indeed Asia on the whole. They are responsible for Sheshan GC which hosts the WGC HSBC Champions event as well as Kuala Lumpur G&CC and Royal Selangor GC. They are similar courses and form stacks up nicely as does form in Asia in general. Some players love the consistently hot and humid conditions while others really aren’t suited at all. Don’t expect anyone with horrible form in Asia just to suddenly start enjoying themselves this week.

Perhaps one of the most important aspects of this layout is off the tee. There are lots of forced carries, elevation changes and dog-legs where the green can be blocked out on parts of the fairway. A quick look at the leaderboards show plenty of long and accurate drivers. Another aspect looking purely at the winners suggests that committed and aggressive iron play will prosper once the fairways are found. There are few more aggressive players on the European Tour than Levy and Aphibarnrat with their approaches. Both of them will seldom lay-up on a par 5 nor pass up the opportunity to go straight at a flag. Luckily they both have a good enough short game to get them out of trouble if they do short side themselves and that is another attribute that has been crucial so far at Genzon.

I really like Hao Tong Li a lot as a player and a person as he plays golf the right way and has an infectious enthusiasm about him. I’d love to back him to win here and he is definitely the right favourite and probably the best player in the field right now. But even if he is almost the right price I don’t think I want to be wading in at just 12/1 about a player who ultimately hasn’t won since early 2018.

I stupidly made my shortlist this week before I knew who was even in the field and that resulted in scoring out quite a few namely Olesen, Fox, Coetzee and Luiten. But there were still a few names remaining and I’ve sided with three all from the second tier.

Bernd Wiesberger is slowly getting his game back if his last outing at the Indian Open is anything to go by. He ranked 5th in the all-round ranking with his long game showing signs of his best, which would be right at the very top of this field. His form in Asia has always been brilliant since he arrived on Tour. His first win in 2012 was in Korea and he has followed up with further ET trophies in Indonesia and on this very course in 2017. Looking more closely at just China, Wiesberger’s first MC there actually came in this event last year when playing with an injury but his results prior to that were 9-4-1-35-28-24-17-13-17-28-40-42-25-45. That 9th place was at the Nelson and Hawarth Sheshan course while he has been runner-up twice at their Kuala Lumpar course. The main downside this week is that he might still be a little too rusty in contention to get over the line again but conditions and course couldn’t be more suited. I think there is plenty of each way value with Boylesports’ stand-out 50/1 with 8 places.

Matsahiro Kawamura looks hugely over priced on recent form even if a lot of that has been reliant on the short game. His last two events he has finished 6th in Morocco and 2nd in India and both those events were at very difficult courses. Kawamura isn’t a player I know that much about just yet as we haven’t had too many chances to watch him on his rookie season on Tour. He is just 25 years old still but has racked up 28 top 10s world wide and his record of 7 top 20s in his first 12 ET events is a serious effort. The form just leaps out and I have to back him at 50/1 on value grounds alone.

The same applies to Scott Hend who everyone seems to forget very quickly about whenever he plays well or indeed wins like last month in Malaysia. We know ideally Hend wants a bit more space off the tee but that hasn’t stopped him before on courses with tight driving lines as he is a two-time runner-up at Crans and has won around Fanling. He can club down and find the fairways with 3 wood or long irons when needed and with his Asian form I think we are getting some value in this field. In particular he has form at the right courses too with three top 20s at KL G&CC and three top 25s at Sheshan in elite fields. That’s before we even look at his 4th and 15th at this very course.

Hend’s 3 ET wins have all came in Asia and his win in Malaysia in March was at Saujana G&CC which is a tight enough driving course with fiddly greens. The last two times he has won a tournament in March he has gone in again later that year and with him not getting any younger he will know he has to try to rack up the wins while he is playing well. For comparison’s sake price-wise, Ross Fisher is 28/1 and hasn’t won anywhere in 5 years while our main man Erik Van Rooyen is 20/1 and he hasn’t won anywhere full stop! How Hend can be 45/1 in this field is quite frankly a nonsense for me however he plays and he should be backed accordingly.


Summary of Bets

Wells Fargo

Hideki Matsuyama – 2pts ew @ 20/1 (1/5 odds 7 places Coral)

Benny An – 1pt ew @ 55/1 (1/5 odds 8 places Betfair)

Luke List – 0.75pt ew @ 80/1 (1/5 odds 7 places Betfred/Betway)

Volvo China Open

Scott Hend – 1.5pts ew @ 45/1 (1/5 odds 7 places)

Bernd Wiesberger – 1pt ew @ 50/1 (1/5 odds 8 places Boylesports)

Matsahiro Kawamura – 0.75pts ew @ 50/1 (1/5 odds 7 places Coral)

 

Weekly pts advised = 14pts

 

@theGreek82

Honda Classic and Oman Open – Betting Preview

It was the best week so far in 2019 as 4 out of 7 bets landed in some form or other. Aphibarnrat got the full place money and the top 20 while Li bagged a small share of the top 20 money. Best performer was Amy Yang however who won in Thailand at 28/1. In total 72.83 pts were returned to take the year into profit and boost confidence ahead of the main part of the season.

This week the PGA Tour heads back north to Florida while the European Tour is back in the Middle East with the Oman Open.

2019 pts advised = 88.50

2019 pts returned = 110.33

ROI = 24.67%


Honda Classic

The Florida swing gets underway at PGA National in Palm Beach and it is the first of 4 events in the Sunshine State. The course is a 7140 yard par 70 with water in play and a mix of open holes and tree-lined ones. The fairways are wide enough however and driving accuracy hasn’t been too crucial recently.

Links players tend to play very well here given the similar skill-set. The greens are small and the course is exposed to the elements so a tidy short game is perhaps the most important attribute here and one I have paid close attention to. The lowest winning score we have seen at the course since the switch in 2007 is -13 back in 2010 but only twice since has it been in double figures. This is a coastal resort course but not like the others on Tour, this is a tough test where avoiding bogeys is far more important than racking up birdies. This will require a different mindset compared to many of the events we have seen this year. Mexico last week was pretty tough so while traveling back to the US maybe wasn’t the best preparation, those who teed it up at Chapultepec should arrive with their games primed for PGA National.

Stats wise bogey avoidance and strokes gained: around the green are key. The last 5 winners ranked 1st, 9th, 6th,6th and 9th in scrambling for the week. The last 3 winners finished their winning season 12th, 11th and 21st in bogey avoidance respectively.

I have to go in again on Kiradech Aphibarnrat after landing T3rd place last week. He was under rated last week and on opening show appears to be again. It makes a lot of sense that European Tour players aren’t given immediate respect in the markets for PGA events but the likeable Thai has shown time and time again what a great player he is and beyond just last week’s finish there was a lot to like about his game for PGA National. More often lauded for his short game skills he ranked 5th in strokes gained: tee to green and in elite company that has to make him of interest stepping back down to a fairly average PGA Tour field. Aphi also led the field in scrambling however so his short game was as good as ever, even if we didn’t get to see any of it over the weekend! He has won before on a links course as he took the inaugural Paul Lawrie Match Play title at Murcar Links in 2015 while his win last year at Lake Karrinyup requires similar skills. His Open record isn’t great but a warm weather links course in his current form looks perfect. There is still some 60/1 around but Skybet’s 50/1 with 8 places makes most appeal to me.

Again the first 4 or 5 players in the betting have solid claims but I’ve gone a little further down the market for my next pick. Billy Horschel’s career stalled a little after he won the Fed Ex Cup in 2014 but he has had a win in each of the last 2 seasons so is gradually getting back to where he was. Horschel is Florida born and bred and none of his five wins have come west of Dallas so he will be happy to be back on Eastern Time. With that said though he hasn’t been in bad form at all in the early part of the year with his results reading 45-38-8-25. The 45th in Mexico was let down by a Friday 76 as he opened with a 68 and closed 70-71 over the weekend. Horschel is 42nd in bogey avoidance and he was 7th for scrambling last week, which is impressive as plenty struggled around the tricky green complexes. We know his tee-to-green game is usually pretty reliable and he has been putting fairly well so far this year, ranking 58th with the short stick. Horschell also sits 26th in scoring relative to par from 150-175 yards and that range will be in-play a lot this week. The main reason for the bet however is some strong recent course form. He missed the cut last year but prior to that he went 4th-8th in 2017 and 2016. I think that makes the 40/1 look very fair in this field but I’m probably going to side with Coral’s 33/1 and 7 places.

I’ve been paying close attention to Harold Varner III over the last year or so and I’m convinced he is going to have a good year in 2019. He hasn’t done much at this course in 3 attempts but his last start in Florida was 7th at the Players Championship and he currently ranks 10th in bogey avoidance. For me that should make him a good fit for another course with small, bermuda greens. He has been a little up and down so far in 2019 but there has been plenty to like, namely his 10th at the Phoenix Open when he ranked 4th in GIR. The last two winners of this were ahead of him in 1st and 3rd so I’m hoping we see that HVIII rather than the one who missed the cut at the Genesis. That is entirely possible though as he is another who is more comfortable on the East Coast and is yet to post a top 10 in California. Very little harm can be done backing him at up to 125/1 in this field.

A good previous finish is usually an advantage at this difficult layout so I thought I’d add one more with Sung-Hoon Kang looking a little over priced. He was 10th in 2016 here and some of his best results have come at courses where previous Honda Champions have had success. He was 3rd at the CIMB Classic in 2017, 2nd at the Houston Open in 2017 and 8th at Riviera in 2016. Kang isn’t setting the world on fire stats wise this year but he has been posting some decent finishes. He was 10th at the Sony Open, 20th at Torrey Pines and 14th at Pebble Beach. Skybet’s 125/1 with 8 places is just too tempting.

 


Oman Open

This is just the European Tour’s 2nd stop in Oman but the course was also in use on the Challenge Tour from 2015-2017. That course is the Al Mouj GC in Muscat and it was met with very favourable reviews from the players last year. It is a beautiful links style course that measures 7365 yards and sits looking out across the Gulf of Oman. As with most of the links style layouts in the Middle East it is exposed to the wind, heavily bunkered and has undulating fairways. However this perhaps more so than any of the others on rotation properly resembles a links course. Several holes really hug the coast line and some of the holes wind there way through big dunes covered in tall grasses. You could be forgiven for thinking that it is actually a UK course but they get to play in wall to wall sunshine so you can see why it is so popular. Last year’s winner Joost Luiten has a very solid bank of links form even if he doesn’t yet have much of an Open record.

While Luiten isn’t renowned for his putting he actually led the field last year in total putting with runner-up Chris Wood ranking 3rd with the putter. Wood is another links specialist however and there were another 3 UK players in the top 10. There are no stats available for the Challenge Tour event so last year’s analysis is pretty much all we have in that department. The course was designed by Greg Norman and while he doesn’t have too many courses on rotation on the European Tour he did design Golf Club El Prat in Barcelona which hosted the 2011 and 2015 Open De Espana. The course is inland but the bunkering and green complexes are very similar.

Mathieu Pavon recorded a 65 last year and also shot 65 and a 66 to finish 3rd around the course on the Challenge Tour in 2015. Last year’s was only good enough for him to finish 31st but he was let down by the putter. That shouldn’t be the case this year though as he ranks 7th in strokes gained: putting. His form hasn’t been great this year so far in similar events but he has shown lots of promise over the last 2 years on Tour so I’m hoping a return to a more familiar course might bring about an improvement. He does have some solid links form with top 10s in the Nordea Masters and the Scottish Open. Worth a go at 80/1 in this sort of field.

I’ve been looking for an opportunity to back Zander Lombard on a proper links course since he showed his hand early on at Carnoustie last year when sitting 6th at half way. He scrambles brilliantly on fast, grainy links greens and despite only finishing 65th here last year I think he should enjoy the course. He was in very poor form last year while his whole game is in great shape this year. That hasn’t always been borne out in his results though but he does have three top 5s world-wide in his last 9 events. The highlight of those being a 3rd place finish at the Alfred Dunhill Championship. It is his stats that really stand out this year though and they suggest that it is just a matter of time before he begins to fulfil his potential. For the 2019 season Lombard is 4th in strokes gained: tee to green and 9th in strokes gained: around the green. Add in the fact he was 1st in putting when during that 3rd at Leopard Creek and he looks to have an excellent chance here if he can put that all together for 4 rounds.

George Coetzee has to get backed this week on value alone. I know he has been in horrid form since winning for the blog early last season but I can’t see how he is as big as 100/1. He shot an opening 67 last week in Mexico and then scared the leaderboard further on Friday with a front 9 of 35. He fell away to finish down in 56th place but it should have given him a boost and this isn’t a very good field at all. At his best he would be somewhere around 25/1 here so I’m happy to take 4x that and just cross my fingers. If conditions weren’t ideal then maybe I’d leave him out but links style desert courses are what Coetzee is all about. He has racked up 9 top 10s in the Middle East already and should go well on his first look at Al Mouj GC.

I normally don’t like backing too many but I got a bit carried away with some of the big prices on Monday so I have 2 more this week for small stakes.

Ashun Wu has form at lots of key courses namely winning at The Dutch Golf Club when he scopped the KLM Open in September (Luiten won there in 2016). His other win came at the Lyoness Open where both Chris Wood and Joost Luiten have won. Wu has a brilliant short game and that proved to be crucial last year here. He is currently 8th in scrambling and 2nd in one putts this year. His results haven’t been brilliant so far in 2019 but this should be right up his street so I’m expecting an improvement on last year’s missed cut.

Romain Wattel is another winner at The Dutch and has lots of links form over his 8 seasons on Tour. He is a very frustrating player to back as he is so inconsistent. It is hard to know whether we will see the player who missed the cut in Saudi or the player who posted a 16th in the Dubai Desert Classic but I don’t think I can leave him out given Betfair’s standout 150/1 with 7 places.


Summary of bets

Honda Classic

Kiradech Aphibarnrat – 1pt ew 50/1 (1/5 odds 8 places Skybet)

Billy Horschel – 1pt ew @ 33/1 (1/5 odds 7 places Coral)

Sung-hoon Kang – 0.75pt ew @ 125/1 (Skybet)

Harold Varner III – 0.75 pt ew @ 100/1 (Skybet)

Oman Open

Mathieu Pavon – 0.75pt ew @ 80/1 (1/5 odds 6 places)

Zander Lombard – 0.75pt ew @ 66/1 (1/5 odds 7 places)

George Coetzee – 0.75pt ew @ 100/1 (1/5 odds 6 places)

Ashun Wu – 0.5pt ew @ 100/1 (1/5 odds 7 places Betfair)

Romain Wattel – 0.5pt ew @ 150/1 (Betfair)

 

Weekly points advised = 13.5 pts

 

@theGreek82

Valspar Championship and Hero Indian Open – Preview

Georgie boy’s win very nearly took the blog into profit for 2018 and if the European Tour picks were good, my WGC Mexico picks were equally as bad. To be fair to Dufner, Luiten and Chappell, none of them played terribly but scoring was too low for three players who are better suited to a proper championship layout. I’ll be keeping all three in mind for the likes of Augusta and Shinnecock though later in the year.

Erik Van Rooyen nearly gave us even more returns in Pretoria but again he disappointed on Sunday. One thing worth noting though was how brilliant he was tee-to-green for 63 holes before his putting woes seemed to frustrate him so much they effected the rest of his game. Every time the camera cut to him he seemed to either be in the centre of the fairway 40 yards in front of his playing partners or on the green with a 20ft putt. EVR is definitely worth following through 2018 on ball-striking courses.

Total 2018 pts advised = 92pts

Total 2018 pts returned = 89.94pts

ROI = -2.2%


Valspar Championship

Ran out of time for much in the way of course details this week. It’s tree-lined, narrow, about 7300 yards long and requires accuracy and a good putting touch. Bombers don’t usually carry much of an advantage and the course is quite testing, rewarding those who enjoy a more technical test. The greens are bermuda and the course is in Tampa Bay, Florida. Canadian Adam Hadwin defends and Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy head a relatively strong field. For those wishing to dig a little deeper, I’m sure I covered the Copperhead course in better detail last year.

Webb Simpson looks my idea of the best bet here this week and I’ve been looking for a chance to back him since his putting improved somewhere back to its best. When Webb first came on Tour he was a very strong putter with his long, anchored putter but the ban really ruined his game. This year however he sits 6th in strokes gained: putting and he has had two Top 5s this year already. They both came on bermuda greens (Sony Open and Honda Classic) and there is no question that he performs better away from poa annua as his 4 wins have been split between bermuda and bentgrass greens. So he will relish the return to the surface and to an event where he recorded 4 consecutive Top 20s between 2010 and 2013, the best of which being a runner-up finish in 2011. He then struggled for a few years but you usually have to putt well to compete on the Copperhead course so his resurgence with the short stick should see another contending performance. He also ranks 37th in strokes gained: approaches which is another key indicator for the course. So often we have seen a major winner triumph here given the championship nature of the course and a fairly high winning score (average of -11). Webb ticks that box with his 2012 U.S. Open win and a quick look at that leaderboard gave me extra confidence that he should play well this week. Five Valspar champions recorded a Top 20 around Olympic Club that week and both courses are visually similar and provide the same sort of test where birdies have to be earned. There is still some 45/1 around which I think looks a fantastic each way bet but he is more of a general 40/1 now.  That’s a bit of a shame but he is still very much worth a bet, especially with Sky Bet’s 8 places on offer this week.

Luke List may well not have recovered from his play-off defeat to Justin Thomas yet but there was so much to like about his game at the Honda. If he can take the positives out of that performance then he looks a very fair price at 55/1. The shot tracker visuals for List’s approaches were absolutely amazing such were the height of his irons and his 100% commitment to his slight draw. This meant he was taking the ball in well over water on several holes under huge amounts of pressure on the back 9. Yet he delivered with the large majority and this was a player in complete control of golf ball. With his power he won’t even need to get the driver out too much around Innisbrook and if he can stay in play off the tee then there is no reason that he won’t enjoy another good week. His form isn’t fantastic around Innisbrook but he was 26th last year and with way his irons are performing  he should certainly improve on that.

There isn’t really much else that I fancy here but I think Gary Woodland looks over priced considering he won just 4 starts ago. Woodland won this back in 2011 so we know it suits and the power packed American has been putting brilliantly of late, particularly on his favoured bermuda greens. There isn’t much more to say really, I expect that win to propel Woodland to the sort of level that everyone expected when he first appeared on Tour and that could well mean multiple wins in a year. I’m more than happy to back him at 40/1 while in form at a course where he has already won. (there might even still be some 50/1 around with a few of the smaller bookies

 


Hero Indian Open

Link to The Golf Family preview;

https://thegolffamily.com/hero-indian-open/


Summary of Bets

Valspar Championship

Webb Simpson – 1pt ew @ 40/1 (1/5 odds 8 places Sky Bet)

Luke List – 1pt ew @ 55/1 (1/5 odds 6 places)

Gary Woodland – 1pt ew @ 40/1 (1/5 odds 8 places Sky Bet)

Hero Indian Open

Scott Jamieson – 1pt ew @ 33/1 (1/5 odds 6 places)

Ashun Wu – 0.75pt ew @ 125/1 (1/5 odds 6 places)

Renato Paratore – 0.75pt ew @ 66/1 (1/5 odds 6 places)

 

Weekly pts advised = 11pts

Total 2018 pts advised = 103pts

 

@theGreek82

WGC Mexico and Tshwane Open – Betting Preview

A disappointing Sunday meant there were no returns last week. Louis Oosthuizen and Joakim Lagergren were both perfectly placed just inside the Top 10 but both played very underwhelming rounds after I started to get a little bit excited late on Saturday evening.

That leaves the points as follows as we reach the first World Golf Championship of the year;

Total 2018 pts advised = 79pts

Total 2018 pts returned = 55.94pts

ROI = -29%


WGC Mexico

With T***p’s Doral course now firmly in the past, Mexico takes centre stage as Chapultepec GC hosts the WGC Mexico Championship for the second year. With any new course comes a lot of second guessing of how it will play and despite it’s narrow, tree-lined nature, Dustin Johnson came out on top of a leaderboard which included some of the longest drivers in the game. There is certainly an element of back to the drawing board about this year’s renewal then but at least we have 4 rounds of competitive golf to help us this year.

The 7330 yard, par 71 course was designed by two Scottish brothers, Willie and Alex Smith from Carnoustie, around the time when Scots were very much the talking point of US golf in the early 1900s. Donald Ross was at the fore front of that and he himself had links to Carnoustie with the first 3 club professionals at his East Lake design all hailing from the Angus town. Indeed the first of those was Alex Smith himself. This suggested to me last year that they probably shared a lot of Ross’ design philosophy and the course does look rather like some of his designs in the US like East Lake and Sedgefield.

So perhaps it was surprising to see so many big hitters on the leaderboard and only 2 of the top 10 ranked inside the top 10 for driving accuracy. In turn four of the five longest hitters of the week finished inside the top 10. Now with a WGC event it isn’t always too reliable to focus 100% on driving distance stats as they are often only measured on a couple of holes. But Johnson still managed to hit 72% (5th) of his greens in regulation despite only finding 58% of his fairways (49th).

This is an increasing trend that we are seeing on the PGA Tour, especially at championship courses where you expect there to be penalties for missing the fairway. The big hitters like DJ, Jason Day and Rahm are often letting rip across completely different driving lines in order to get the ball as close to the hole as possible. Their logic being that they can get the ball as close to the flag from 150 yards away in the rough as most of the shorter hitters can from 200 yards in the fairway. I don’t think one tournament is enough to claim that is how Chaplultepec might play going forward, especially as they may well have grown the rough a little this year, but I certainly don’t think it is going to be a course where the more strategic plotters hold any sort of advantage. Last year the greens ran at about 13″ on the stimpmeter and time and time again we see the best way of stopping the ball on slick greens is with as much loft as possible. The bulk of those on the leaderboard all have towering ball flights and that looks worth considering this week. It’s a shame Luke List isn’t in the field as the trajectory of his irons last week was a thing of beauty on Shot Tracker!

All of the top 10 ranked inside the top 33 for putting (75 in the field) with DJ himself ranking 5th. Ability to putt on fast poa annua greens will be crucial this week so those who put up good short stick numbers on the California swing may be worth looking at (Torrey Pines, Pebble Beach and Riviera all have poa annua greens). DJ had previously won at both Pebble and Riviera while his U.S. Open win was on the lightening quick poa annua greens of Oakmont.

Every year at the first WGC of the season despite everyone clambering to over analyse the course (see above!) the most important factor is current form. It’s still very early in the season and not everyone is fully wound up yet. Indeed 4 of the last 5 winners of this were winning for the second time in that calendar year and if we look more closely at last year’s leaderboard, 4 of the top 6 had already won in 2017.

In summary, it appears that while the big hitters may well have an advantage on the shortish course, there is more than one way to play Chapultepec. However it’s not a course where anyone will be expecting to find their game if they have been struggling in recent weeks. Above course suitability and any specific attributes, current form looks to be the main angle in to Mexico this week.

 

joost

My main fancy in Mexico is a fairly speculative one on first look but yet given he won his last tournament, Joost Luiten perhaps shouldn’t be the outsider that the market makes him at 125/1*. Luiten was last seen getting the better of Ryder Cup player Chris Wood in Oman two weeks ago and unusually he putted very well. It is normally tee-to-green supremacy that we associate with Luiten and it was that part of his game that was on show at Chapultepec last year as he ranked 1st in drving accuracy and 1st in GIR. I’m hoping that his recent improvement with the putter combined with how well suited he was to the course, can bring about a contending performance. One of his main strengths is distance control and with the course being at altitude and featuring lots of elevation changes, committing to a number will be important.

He has already shown he can win in the hotter climates with titles in Oman and Malaysia and with 8 professional titles he is very capable in contention. Obviously this is a big step up but the odds of 125/1 take that into consideration and I like his chances of playing well and possibly grabbing a place. I’m also going to have a Top 20 bet at a very tempting 3/1 to cover him playing well but falling away in the heat of a battle against the world’s best.

It looks very likely that one of the top 5 or 6 in the market will win in Mexico this week but good luck trying to decide who might come out on stop and its worth considering that while it’s always nice to find a winner, (especially in a WGC) if we look at odds of around 66/1 and up then we are getting better odds for a place than we are for any of the front 5 in the market to win. So with that in mind I’m plumping for another couple of each way prices.

Jason Dufner was my main tip last year and I think he is worth persisting with here after a respectable 23rd where he just couldn’t make enough birdies and only three players made less bogeys. He is in decent form, 17-36-18-11 and hasn’t missed a cut since July. As ever his long game stats are strong and they look a good fit for the challenge at Chapultepec, he is doing everything well, but nothing outstanding at the moment. He is currently 40th in proximity to the hole and 18th in scoring relative to par from 200 yards while we know he can be deadly with his wedge game. With some players in this odds bracket you question whether they can win in an elite field like this but Dufner is a major winner with another 4 PGA Tour titles. He also had a solid record around the bombers track at Doral and one of the best things from a punting point of view is that he is equally at home on those types of courses as he is on a tighter, tree-lined track. Given we only really have one tournament to look at I think it might pay to side with an adaptable sort like Dufner and he goes in the staking plan at 80/1.

Kevin Chappell finished well down the field last year and I’m not too sure why. It seems like he should relish the test of distance control and accuracy tee-to-green. Chappell has a good record at Riviera and Augusta while his only PGA Tour win to date was at TPC San Antonio which is ball strikers course with a premium on accurate approach play. He has actually started the season a lot better than he normally does and he looks worth a go at a decent each way price. Last year he arrived with his 2017 results reading MC-48-75-MC whereas this year they read 20-8-31-6-21, with the 8th place finish coming on the poa annua greens at Pebble Beach. In two of those events he also ranked 1st in the all-round ranking which tells us his whole game is in good shape and he should be primed for an assault on a championship layout like this.

 


Tshwane Open

Link to The Golf Family preview

https://thegolffamily.com/tshwane-open-betting-preview/


Summary of Bets

WGC Mexico

Joost Luiten – 1pt ew @ 125/1  100/1 (1/5 odds 6 places) and 2pts Top 20 @ 3/1

Jason Dufner – 0.75pt ew @ 80/1 (1/5 odds 6 places)

Kevin Chappell – 0.75pt ew @ 66/1 (1/5 odds 6 places)

Tshwane Open

George Coetzee – 2pts ew @ 12/1

Erik Van Rooyen – 1pt ew @ 28/1

 

Weekly pts advised = 7pts

Total 2018 pts advised =  87pts

 

@theGreek82

Honda Classic and Qatar Masters – Betting Preview

A little short of time this week so no moaning about last week and fairly short previews.

2018 pts advised = 70pts

2018 pts returned = 55.94 pts

ROI = – 20%


Honda Classic

The PGA Tour heads east to PGA National at Palm Beach, Florida for what is one of the tougher stops on Tour. Pars are pretty good around a course where the wind usually blows and the greens are quite small and very well protected. We will be looking for links players in Europe this week and at a course where Ernie Els, Padraig Harrington, Adam Scott and Rickie Fowler have lifted the trophy, I’ll be looking at similar types here. Ability to hit greens in tough conditions and scramble well when you miss is the order of the day at PGA National. Having said that though Rickie Fowler putted his way to victory last year but a lot of those were completing his up and downs. Scrambling and bogey avoidance should be two good angles in while I’d be wanting evidence that a player can play in the wind and handle bermuda greens before I parted with my cash on the Honda Classic.

Louis Oosthuizen is getting advised this week largely on price but he also hit more greens than everyone else last year as he finished 21st. His first 2 appearances ended up in withdrawals and then he missed the cut on his 3rd so last year suggested he was finding his feet on a course that should suit. Despite the abundance of talent the 2010 Open champion possesses the fact he has never won on U.S. soil can make him difficult to back at his price some weeks on the PGA Tour. However that isn’t the case this week as the opening 80/1 looked a great each way price about him getting his 2018 season properly up and running with a contending performance. Unfortunately that 80/1 disappeared as I was writing this today but I still think the general 66/1 to 70/1 gives us some value if you look at the standard of player around the 50/1 mark this week.

My only other each way pick is another solid links player and after Graeme McDowell played so well last week at Riviera I think he is also a little over-priced at 66/1. McDowell has usually been a very good wind player through-out his career and there is no doubting that he prefers a difficult test of golf with his first win in the U.S. coming at the U.S. Open with a winning score of just level par. He was 12th in both GIR and scrambling last week so hopefully a switch to bermuda greens might bring about a change in fortunes on the greens for GMac. Another major-winner who is priced up alongside a few players who he is simply better than. So lets take advantage of that 66/1 as he surely shouldn’t be any bigger than 50/1 this week at a course where he has 4 Top 10s from his 8 appearances.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat makes a rare appearance in the U.S. this week having not played there since 2016. But he has made the Top 20 on 3 of his 14 appearances and he arrives confident and with his game in good shape. This test should suit him perfectly so I think the stand-out 5/1 on offer with Betfred for a Top 20 should be snapped up. Given several of those appearances in the U.S. were on courses that wouldn’t have suited him I think there is probably a little wiggle room down to 4/1 but no probably no lower than that.

 


Qatar Masters

Link to The Golf Family preview;

https://thegolffamily.com/qatar-masters-betting-preview-2/


Summary of Bets

Honda Classic

Louis Oosthuizen – 1pt ew @ 66/1

Graeme McDowell – 1pt ew @ 66/1

Kiradech Aphibarnrat – 1pt Top 20 @ 5/1 (Betfred)

Qatar Masters

Alexander Bjork – 1pt ew @ 40/1 (1/5 odds 6 places)

Joakim Lagergren – 0.5pt ew @ 100/1 (1/5 odds 6 places)

Thomas Bjork – 1pt Top 20 @ 6/1

 

Weekly pts advised = 9pts

Total 2018 pts advised = 79pts

 

@theGreek82

Phoenix Open and Maybank Championship – Betting Preview

We got off the mark last week as Tyrrell Hatton flew through the field on Sunday to land solo 3rd. It promised to be even better than that for a brief spell as he had a 10ft putt to get to -21 at the driveable Par 4 17th. He missed that and then found water on 18 to leave himself 2 shots shy but it was another brilliant desert performance and he rewarded the faith shown in him. Hatton’s consistent play in both desert and links conditions is second to none over the last 18 months and this has to be factored in when assessing his price going forward.

Over in California, Woodland was perfectly placed for a Sunday assault as he was 5th and just 3 shots back. The wind did for him again though just like 2015 and he really doesn’t look to be a great wind player at all. There is no doubt that he loves Torrey Pines South course as his Saturday 66 testified but he doesn’t seem to handle even one round of wind.

This week the PGA Tour moves inland to the desert and the Phoenix Open while the European Tour has a little break from its Middle East swing and heads down to Malaysia for the Maybank Championship.

Total 2018 pts advised = 35.5pts

Total 2018 returns = 9pts


Phoenix Open

In the normally more reserved sport of golf, TPC Scottsdale is the one course that comes closest to typifying U.S. Sports. The course is somewhat famous in the game for it’s stadium seating around the par 3 16th hole and it helps create an atmosphere unlike any seen in regular stroke-play events. That’s not to do the course an injustice however as it is a very serious layout, with pristine conditions and the Phoenix Open usually throws up a classy winner.

Hideki Matsuyama has won the last two events and never finished outside the Top 4. To be honest that tells us everything you need to know about the course. The fairways are wide enough and it pays to have some length off the tee. The greens are on the larger side and in order to fire at the flags, a degree of loft will be required and the control that the fairway allows is also beneficial. TPC Scottsdale is a ball-strikers dream and rewards accurate, aggressive iron play perhaps more than any course I can think of. The greens themselves don’t usually require any brilliance and it is usually all about the law of averages and having more putts inside 15ft than the rest of the field. That is something Matsuyama regularly does when his mid-irons are dialled in and he is as ruthless as anyone on Tour from between 150 and 200 yards out.

With a 12th place finish last week where the putter was behaving, Matsuyama is almost certainly the player to beat and at odds of 10/1 I wouldn’t put anyone off. However with Spieth,  Fowler and Thomas all alongside him in the betting it doesn’t look like a week for a big play on any of the favourites. Instead I’m happy to play some of the healthy each way prices that the strong head of the market has given us.

chappell

Kevin Chappell’s long game was sublime last time out at the CareerBuilder and it was his horrible putting that stopped him from winning. He still managed 6th place though and with the greens being a bit of an equaliser here at Scottsdale I think this pure ball-striker looks to have a great chance. His form at the course isn’t fantastic to date but I’m not really sure why. He plays well in desert conditions and this tee-to-green test should be just about perfect for him on paper. Chappell has three missed cuts from 6 appearances and hasn’t beaten 24th yet but there were positives from that best finish in 2013. He fired opening and closing 66s and there were also some good rounds two years later in 2015 where he shot Friday and Saturday 65s to sit in the top 10 going in to Sunday. That’s enough to confirm to me that he can play this course and if we delve a little further into his finishes we see that they were more about his form at the time. Chappell normally takes a little while to get going in the New Year and that 24th finish came on his only effort in Phoenix where he was arriving off a Top 10 already that calendar year. On a ball-strikers course sometimes you just have to pick ball-strikers and that’s exactly what Chappell is, currently ranking 6th in strokes gained: tee to green. The 66/1 looks a big each way price.

bradley-keegan-080512-640x360_0

Keegan Bradley is another tee-to-green machine and you could make a perfectly good case for him being the most consistently long and accurate driver of the ball in world golf. His approach play isn’t too shabby either and he currently ranks 7th for strokes gained: tee to green. Bradley is a 3 time winner on Tour and also a major winner so given he finished 6th last week and has four top 25s in Phoenix, I’m surprised that we can get 66/1 about him. He has suffered considerably since the anchored putter ban but over the last year or so there have been signs that he is finding a way to get competitive again. We shouldn’t forget that when you strike the ball as well as he does, an average putting week is often all he needs to contend. That will be even more prevalent at TPC Scottsdale and he looks to have a great chance here this week.

I was going to leave it at two bets here this week but then I noticed Chesson Hadley’s price. I watched him closely during the fall series and his form was very good without getting over the line for the win. He has kept that going in 2018 although he has done so a little under the radar as the world’s best players have ousted him from the spotlight. Hadley is currently 10th in strokes gained: tee to green, 6th in strokes gained: approach to green and 29th in strokes gained: putting. All those combined suggest he is on the verge of grabbing his 2nd PGA Tour title. His form at Scottsdale isn’t great but he has taken his game to a new level of consistency recently and he looks a great price at 100/1.


Maybank Championship

Link to The Golf Family preview below;

https://thegolffamily.com/maybank-championship-betting-preview/


Summary of Bets

Phoenix Open

Kevin Chappell – 1pt ew @ 66/1 (1/4 odds 5 places general)

Keegan Bradley – 1pt ew @ 66/1 (1/4 odds 5 places general)

Chesson Hadley – 0.5pt ew @ 100/1 (1/5 odds 6 places several)

Maybank Championship

Alex Levy – 2pt ew @ 16/1 (1/4 odds 5 places Ladbrokes)

Jason Scrivener – 0.75pts ew @ 70/1 (1/5 odds 6 places Boylesports)

David Horsey – 0.75 pts ew @ 70/1 (1/5 odds 6 places Skybet)

Weekly pts advised = 12pts

Total pts advised = 47.5pts

@theGreek82