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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US Open 2019 at Pebble Beach – Betting Preview

Shane Lowry ran into an inspired Rory McIlroy on Sunday and if it wasn’t for that we may well have been celebrating a 3rd winner in a row. He had to make do with 2nd place though but it was enough to ensure an 8th profitable week from the last 9. This week the US Open returns to Pebble Beach and we look set for a brilliant event.

2019 pts advised = 286

2019 pts returned = 442.31

ROI = 54.65%


US Open

In previous years we have headed into US Open week with a mix of excitement and apprehension. The excitement coming from what is usually one of the best tests of golf that we see each year and the apprehension from wondering how the course is going to play. More recently that apprehension has revolved around a new course to the rotation (Merion, Erin Hills, Chambers Bay) but also how the USGA chooses to set it up. Make no mistake this week however as there will be absolutely no criticism of one of the most iconic courses in the world and if anything doesn’t go perfectly to plan then it will be the USGA who rightly bears the brunt of it. Thankfully that’s unlikely to happen though and we should be set for a tough but very fair week. The winning score in 2010 was level par and while I suspect it will be a little better this year, I’d be very surprised if the USGA let it get to double figures under par.

Pebble Beach Golf Links is one of the shortest courses on Tour measuring in at 7075 yards. It was designed in 1919 by Jack Neville and Douglas Grant and has been gaining in history and prestige ever since. While you couldn’t quite call it a proper links course it is located right beside the Pacific on the California coast between San Francisco and L.A and half of the holes run alongside the coast. The terrain isn’t quite the undulating British links style however and the turf isn’t sand based either like we see at The Open. But the majority of greens are open at the front allowing the players to play that low links style bump and runs and the wind blows more often than not.

Given the lack of length there could have been a worry that it might be overpowered as the game has moved on considerably since McDowell won with level par in 2010. However with the rough looking thick enough, the fairways narrow and the wind set to blow most of the week, it looks like an event where everyone will be able to compete. That is what happened in Canada last week and therefore I’d expect those who played well at Hamilton to hold their form.

The greens at Pebble Beach are some of the smallest the players will ever face at an average of 3,500 square feet. This is really what dictates the difficulty of the course as we usually see them quite fast for a U.S. Open and they will be set up at 12 on the stimp meter for Thursday, no doubt increasing in speed as the week goes on. So even for the powerful players they will be hard to hit and being in the fairway off the tee should certainly be of increasing benefit as the week progresses. There are slightly conflicting reports about how thick the rough is but it will certainly be longer than the set-up for the AT&T in February. The poa annua greens got a little bit of criticism in 2010 due to their extremely patchy colouring but that’s the nature of the beast with poa. They might not look as lush as bentgrass but they will putt well. Maybe better for some than others though as poa can be the trickiest of grasses to read and not everyone enjoys that test. They can break heavily at the hole as a ball dies and it’s perhaps no coincidence that Phil Mickelson and TIger Woods have enjoyed so much success on poa as they both like to hole out powerfully from inside 5ft, often taking any break out of the putt.

The wind currently looks to be quite steady between 10 and 20 kmph and that will keep everyone honest if not quite creating carnage. With such small targets the best iron players should go well as approaches will need to be struck perfectly to remain on the greens. McDowell and Havret weren’t PGA Tour players in 2010 so they didn’t have a ranking but Els (3rd) and Mickelson (4th) ranked 5th and 6th in strokes gained: approaches for the 2010 season.

Looking back at the last 10 US Opens from a stats point of view is interesting if not entirely surprising. Total driving ranks for the winners average 16th, GIR average 7th, scrambling numbers 11th and total putting 17th. The best of all the basic stats was all-round ranking which averaged 4th and that would have been even lower but for Spieth’s ranking of 23rd. This confirms what we know about the US Open; you absolutely have to hit plenty of greens and save par when you don’t but every single area of the game had better be above average. With the smaller greens in play, windy conditions and the greens firming up through the week GIR and scrambling will be as crucial as ever at Pebble Beach.

Trends wise you have to go back to Lucas Glover in 2009 to find a winner who hadn’t already recorded a US Open top 20 before their win. The last 10 winners averaged a 16th place finish on their last start while only Webb Simpson missed the cut. Seven of them had already won that season while seven of them also finished in the top 21 at the previous year’s US Open.

In terms of course correlations there are two fairly random ones that stand-out for me. The 2012 Open at Lytham produced a leaderboard that heavily resembles the 2010 Pebble Beach one. No less than 6 players bagged top 10s at both and despite the Open not having been back since, that leaderboard is worth a look. Jimenez was also in there and he was runner-up to Tiger in his 2000 rout at Pebble. Secondly, I thought it was too big a coincidence that 2010’s 1st and 2nd had both won at Loch Lomond so I did a little more digging and in fact GMac, Havret and Els have all won at the course while Mickelson was runner-up there to Havret in 2007 and Kaymer has also won there. Tom Lehman only won two proper events outside the US and the two courses he won on were Lytham and Loch Lomond while he boasts 5 Top 10s at Pebble beach with a 6th palce finish at the US Open in 1992 being the highlight. Unfortunately all this form is rather dated as we haven’t been back to Loch Lomond since 2010. But it’s another non links course that can still play rather linksy given it has the Scottish weather, green approaches are open and they are very undulating with links style run-offs. While very few of the younger players will have played either course I’ve used them to try to find some potential value with some of the older players in the field.

It’s a long time since I had such a lack of opinion about a major as I normally have a strong feeling way in advance for certain courses, even if they are usually wrong! This week at Pebble there are still enough question marks about the exact course set-up and a competitiveness about the event that makes it quite hard to get a handle on. Therefore I’ve landed on perhaps the most adaptable player in the field, Dustin Johnson. It’s maybe a little boring but such is his love affair with Pebble Beach and his current US Open form I think he is the safest bet from the front of the market. DJ has unfinished business at Pebble Beach after blowing a 3 shot lead after 54 holes in 2010. As brilliant a closer as he can be we have also seen him wobble plenty since then so the 8/1 might not be for everyone but he is almost certain to run his race at the very least and probably return the place money. He has played at Pebble 13 times and won twice recording 7 more Top 10s. With his ability to play in the wind never having been in doubt DJ will be equally happy flighting balls down into these greens or firing the ball up in the air and there aren’t too many in the field who are genuinely world class at both. This season he is 3rd in bogey avoidance, 1st in stroke average, 2nd in par 4 scoring, 16th in strokes gained: approaches, 15th in scrambling and a very impressive 14th in strokes gained: putting.  He also leads the Tour in performance on both poa annua and in California since 2014 (from the brilliant http://futureoffantasy.com/poa-annua-specialists-pgatour ). While others have been grabbing the headlines in 2019 DJ has been quietly going about his business and he has been 2nd at both majors this year, 5th at the Players and he won the WGC Mexico. Everything points to another big week at his favourite course.

johnson-dustin-OK

It would maybe have been hard to advise a big bet on DJ if the blog had been struggling this year but with it in healthy profit a chunky each way bet on the most suited player to the course and the most likely winner looks the best play.

Francesco Molinari was always a player I never really liked backing but things are different now since his transformation last year. He gets in largely on price here for me this week as 33/1 just feels a little big, especially with the 10 places on offer. Molinari is an Open champion and he had a very solid Loch Lomond record with three top 15s. He has been scrambling brilliantly recently ranking 9th over the last 3 months and 26th for the season. He has only played here once and missed the cut in 2010 but he is a far better player now and a course like Pebble really should suit his accurate game. McDowell is a 2-time winner at Le Golf National which features similarly small greens with lush rough surrounding them. Molinari always had a good record around there anyway but then of course he went 5-0-0 at the Ryder Cup in October. His current form since the Masters is a slight worry but I imagine he took a little while to get over not converting his 54 hole lead at Augusta. Another major should be exactly what he needs to get his focus back and he looks a solid back-up to the main DJ bet.

I’d love to be on Patrick Cantlay at the fancy prices that some have got about him but there is no way I can advise anyone to back him at 16-18/1. If he wins I will just have to suck it up and regret not backing him earlier. He is worth watching in play though as his 3 opening US Open rounds to date have been 75-76-75. It’s highly likely he trades bigger after the first round.

Tyrrell Hatton is one of the best links players around and he has proven this with his two wins at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship. This makes him look over priced especially as he has also shown that he can handle majors with 4 Top 10s in his last 12, two of those coming on poa annua greens and last year’s US Open 6th also coming on the links at Shinnecock. Hatton ranks 6th for performances on poa annua since 2014. His 2019 has been a little slow but there have been some better signs recently and he ranks 31st in total accuracy over the last 3 months. That long game improvement means he hasn’t missed a cut since March (56th and 48th at first two majors) and given that he should enjoy these quicker greens I’m happy to get him onside at an almost disrespectful price. I’ll also have a back up top 20 bet.

Kevin Na makes the team after delivering the win at Colonial two weeks ago. While its partly out of loyalty I also think plenty of the reasoning behind that win stands true here at Pebble Beach. Both are short courses that reward tee-to-green accuracy and where scoring will be done with the shorter irons. Given his current form and the fact he has two top 5s here from the AT&T, I thought 100/1 seemed a tad on the big side.

Luke Donald opened up far too big at 400/1 with Skybet having shown the odd glimpse of form this year and rightly he was cut to 300/1. Hopefully some maybe noticed me tweeting the 400/1 but I still quite like the 300 to be honest. Again he hits both my course links with 5th at Lytham and 4th, 2nd and 5th at Loch Lomond. He was also 16th at Pebble in 2010, has 3 further top 20s and such is the quality of his wedge play and short game I think he still has what it takes to be competitive on shorter courses like this. It’s far from a confident bet but the 60/1 place portion for a top 10 is just too good to pass up. I’m also going to double up with a top 30 bet at 11/2. There are usually one or two left field, older players that pop up on a US Open leaderboard and there’s no reason why it can’t be Donald this year.

I backed Martin Kaymer at 440 on the Exchange once I saw his run of strong GIR numbers and also noted the Loch Lomond link as he won there in 2009. That was before he went close to winning at Colonial and now he has been cut in to 70/1 to win and that feels about right. So I don’t think I can really advise a bet at that price but at the same time I couldn’t put anyone off and I would like to get him onside in the blog somehow. So I’ve gone for the Top 40 market as I quite like the 5/4 about that. It would have paid out in 21 of his 45 majors and a lot of those were played when he was in no kind of form. Arriving playing as he is and having finished 8th here in 2010 I think a top 40 should be well withing his reaches and it really should be odds on for me.

Adam Scott delivered the Top 20 money at Bethpage Black and while the bookies are on to him this week I think another top 20 bet still looks rock solid at 6/4. His US Open record is probably the poorest of the 4 majors but he still has 4 top 20s in his last 7 starts. That’s just a little bit behind his over all recent major record of 22 top 20s in his last 34 major starts. That is a brutal level of consistency since he took his game to new heights around 2011. His tee-to-green game is so consistent that he can be expected to play well again here and his price of 6/4 has plenty juice in it as you could argue that he should really be odds on. His last start he was runner-up to Cantlay at Memorial and his back 9 was brilliant which will have him arriving in confident mood. While I wouldn’t want to put anyone off an outright bet I think the market probably has him back at the correct outright price of around 30/1. I’m staking the Scott and Kaymer bets with a view to getting the bulk of the event stakes back should they land along with a DJ top 10. Anything else will be a huge bonus. These bets aren’t for everyone but I do think that place bets can be the backbone of any good betting strategy in major golf where finding the winner can be so difficult.

Despite Hao Tong Li coming up just short of the top 20 in the last two majors I’m a glutton for punishment and I’m going in again. He has already showed his love of links golf when flying through the field at Birkdale in 2017 with a Sunday 63. As I’ve already said in the first two major previews he has a brilliant long game for championship courses and some of his numbers look ideal for Pebble Beach. Particularly his ability to score from the rough as he is 7th in scoring relative to par from 150-175 yards and he leads the Tour from 175-200 yards. If these fairways do play as narrow as suggested and the rough is up Li should handle missing them better than most.

Marcus Fraser has a great short game and has always fared well in the wind. He looks over priced in plenty of markets this week having qualified well last week shooting 66-68 for 3rd place. There could well be another Gregory Havret on the leaderboard this year and while it’s very unlikely to be Fraser, I don’t think he should be a 1000/1 shot here. However its the top 40 market I like for him at 7/2.

First Round Leader Bets

Stewart Hagestad the amateur is first up as a very speculative selection. He shot a low round 66 at Pebble in 2018’s US Amateur Stroke-play section before making the quarter finals. Hagestad is a California native who managed 37th on his only Masters appearance but he has missed both his US Open cuts, although they were over on the east coast. That was his 8th attempt at making the US Amateur Match Play section so the fact he did it in California suggests he is happier nearer home on the west coast. He employed a local Pebble Beach caddie that week and hopefully he is doing the same again this week. It’s asking an awful lot for him to even make the cut but it feels like the sort of story that you could hear on a Friday morning and with prices up to 350/1 its worth a little play.

If we are going down the 2018 US Amateur route then we really have to include young Norwegian Victor Hovland who dismantled the field that week. He won his 6 matches 3&2, 2&1, 7&6, 7&6, 3&2 and 6&5. That was quite astonishing stuff and while I can’t quite remember how difficult it played that week he will definitely be bringing some happy memories back to Pebble. The bookies aren’t taking any chances but again I think he looks worth siding with to come flying out of the blocks. He has a potentially off-putting 3-ball as he is alongside Koepka and Molinari but hopefully he will go out and attack the course again with the fearlessness of a 21 year old. That could obviously go horribly wrong but it’s worth a chance at 160/1.

With speculative punts out of the way I’ll get to my main fancy of Paul Casey. Normally I like to side with players who have been lighting it up on a Thursday lately but with Casey this week it’s more of a hunch. I think he will be a little frustrated that he had to pull out of Colonial and then miss both Memorial and the Canadian Open. I don’t know what his scheduling was prior to his bout of flu but I imagine he would have played one of those at least. Casey’s last two AT&T efforts have been 2nd and 8th at Pebble and I really think it’s a course that he has learned how to play. He was a solid enough 40th in 2010 after opening up with a 69 to tie for the lead. I think lightning could easily strike twice here and I like the 50/1 with 8 places. He will be rested up and determined to make amends for two sub-standard major performances so far in 2019.

Gary Woodland has missed 4 cuts in the AT&T but on the only cut he made in 2017 he went on to shoot 65 around Pebble on the Sunday to finish 5th. That’s the joint lowest Sunday round since 2013 and it tells me that maybe it’s the other two courses on the Pro-am rotation that he doesn’t like. He sits 11th in strokes gained: off the tee and 11th in GIR while he was 8th at the US PGA last month. I’ll complete the 1st round team with a powerhouse who could go low here again if everything clicks.


Summary of bets

US Open

Dustin Johnson – 4pts ew @ 8/1 and a further 2pts win @ 10.0 on Betfair

Francesco Molinari – 1.5pts ew @ 33/1

Tyrrell Hatton – 0.75pts ew @ 125/1 and 1pt Top 20 @ 9/2

Kevin Na – 0.75 pts ew @ 100/1 and 1pt Top 20 @ 4/1

Luke Donald – 0.5pts ew @ 300/1 and 1pt Top 30 @ 11/2

Martin Kaymer – 4pts – Top 40 @ 5/4

Adam Scott – 4pts Top 20 @ 6/4

Hao Tong Li – 1pt Top 20 @ 13/2

Marcus Fraser – 1pt Top 40 @ 7/2

(All outrights are 1/5 odds 10 places)

1st round leader bets

Stewart Hagestad – 0.25pts ew @ 350/1 (1/5 odds 7 places)

Victor Hovland – 0.25pts ew @ 160/1 (1/5 odds 7 places Unibet)

Paul Casey – 0.75pts ew @ 50/1 (1/5 odds 8 places Betfair)

Gary Woodland – 0.75pts ew @ 60/1 (1/5 odds 8 places Betfair)

 

Weekly points advised = 34pts

 

 

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

 

Travelers Championship and BMW International Open – Some bets

While I wouldn’t suggest for a moment that Brooks Koepka wasn’t the right US Open winner I do think Stenson was a little unfortunate not to be a little closer. The only stretch that he struggled with was the back 9 on Saturday when conditions were very unfair and he played a few good shots that were punished. It was the same for the other leaders however it was clear Stenson was enjoying the hard and fast test up to that point. It’s always good to get a full place at a major but if you had told me that he was going to putt so well before they started then I’d have been counting my money before the off!

RCB was also left cursing the back 9 on Sunday as throughout most of the tournament he looked set for a top 10 nevermind the top 20 we needed. It wasn’t to be though and even with Stenson’s 13.2 pts returned there were some small losses on the week.

I’ve been a little short of time and good health this week so the picks will be brief for The Travelers Championship on the PGA Tour and the BMW International Open in Europe.

Updated results to follow


Travelers Championship

Despite some average form Brendan Steele’s price jumped out at me. You need to hit the greens around here and he still sits 11th for GIR and just last week at Shinnecock he was 12th in GIR. So his long game is in good enough shape and he is even making plenty of birdies. He sits 14th in Par 4 Birdie or Better which is a good indicator around here. Steele has been inside the top 25 on six of his seven visits with a 5th in 2014 being the pick of the bunch. Finished down the field at Shinnecock but there were plenty better players who missed the cut and he isn’t someone with a great record on poa annua greens. He will enjoy the return to bentgrass dominant greens and also having some rough to work with around the greens.

Nicholas Lindheim is pretty much just a stats hunch this week as his game looks suited to TPC River Highlands on paper if nothing else. He currently ranks 16th in Par 4 Birdie or Better, 20th in GIR from 150-175 yards and 32nd in putting from 5ft to 15ft. Missed his only cut here but was 12th on another Bobby Weed renovated course at Sawgrass’s Valley course in 2015. Could be over priced at 250/1.


BMW International Open

I wasn’t going to post anything for Germany but as I’ve backed them I thought I may as well squeeze in a few lines. Nothing too original about my main two bets here. Adrian Otaegui and Jorge Campillo have both been knocking on the door of a regular stroke-play win for the last couple of years. Neither man has good form here but Gut Larchenhof isn’t a terribly tough layout. It’s not tricked up, there is room off the tee and not too many dangers beyond bunkers for approach shots. As you would expect with a Nicklaus design it does get a little trickier as you approach the green but both men have been excelling in that area lately. With no big numbers to worry about they can just go out and make birdies as they rank 10th and 18th in birdie average over the last 3 months. I was surprised at the odds available and they both look worthwhile each way plays.

I have also backed a couple of veterans who enjoy the course and have shown glimpses in recent weeks.

Raphael Jacquelin was 4th here in 2016 and 3rd in 2004 so will be relishing a return. Especially after the brisk play at the Shot Clock Masters last time out seemed to bring back the beautiful rhythm to his swing. He finished 3rd there and to be honest I have no idea why this 4 time European Tour winner is 150/1 in this field having suggested he might have turned a corner.

Peter Hanson was 7th at the Shot Clock Masters also breaking a run of bad form and missed cuts. He was 3rd here back in 2009 while also 21st more recently in 2016. I’m hoping his performance last time out will also give him a lift and older players have a decent record around the course which bodes well for both the 40-somethings.


Summary of Bets

Travelers Championship

Brendan Steele – 0.75 pts ew @ 70/1 (1/5 odds 8 places Skybet)

Nicholas Lindheim – 0.5pts ew @ 250/1 (Skybet) and 1pt Top 20 @ 10/1 (general)

BMW International

Adrian Otaegui – 0.75pts ew @ 50/1 (1/5 odds 7 places Coral)

Jorge Campillo – 0.75pts ew @ 40/1 (Coral)

Raphael Jacquelin- 0.5pt ew @ 150/1 (1/5 odds 7 places Paddy Power)

Peter Hanson – 0.5pt ew @ 125/1 (1/5 odds 6 places Betfred)

 

Weekly pts advised = 8.5pts

@theGreek82

2018 U.S. Open – Betting Preview

It was a blank last week on both Tours after Adam Bland gave up a great chance to place in the Shot Clock Masters while nobody else was really in contention. Bland was 3rd going in to the final round but he seemed to have used up all his birdies on Saturday and he fell down the leaderboard. No time to dwell though as it’s US Open and World Cup week!

2018 pts advised = 250

2018 pts returned = 314.49

ROI = 25.79%


US Open at Shinnecock Hills

The second major of the year is upon us and while it doesn’t have the glamour of the Masters or perhaps the same history as The Open, that doesn’t mean the excitement levels are any less and on the face of it the 2018 US Open should be an absolute cracker.

We go back to Shinnecock Hills for the first time since 2004 and while that was a bit too much of a slog with hot conditions and a completely baked out course, measures have been taken to try to make sure Shinnecock plays hard but fair. With the course being historically the first proper US links course a lot may depend on the weather but the course looks immaculate and we should hopefully witness a brilliant championship with hard and fast links golf.

The Charles Macdonald and Seth Raynor designed course (1890s) was a short 6996 yard par 70 back when Retief Goosen outstayed the field but after a Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw redesign in 2012 the course was extended and now stands as a 7445 yard brute. The fairways were widened as part of that overhaul too but apparently the USGA have been growing the rough out into the fairway to make these more like the original narrow fairways. As it stands however they appear to be quite fair for US Open standards and they average about 40 yards wide by all accounts.

With no Shinnecock form since 2004 there are two courses of great interest to me here this week. Coore and Crenshaw have had their hands on two other courses that we have seen recently on Tour. Their original design, Trinity Forest, was used for the Byron Nelson just last month and that was an out-and-out links course. The players didn’t seem to enjoy it but the leaderboard still showed up plenty of US Open and links specialists. The most important course link for me however is Pinehurst No. 2 which hosted the 2014 US Open won by Martin Kaymer. The team went in and carried out a redesign prior to that US Open and it appeared very similar to Shinnecock even before their tweaks. Retief Goosen was actually the 54 hole leader when defending at Pinehurst in 2005 before throwing in a shocker on Sunday. They are also the only two US Open venues to feature tightly mown fringes and aprons. We saw the havoc that wreaked in 2014 and Kaymer was the only man to really get to grips with them as he ranked 1st in scrambling. What was most interesting about that was that Kaymer is a well documented poor chipper and so he putted up the run-off areas and had the pace of both fringes and greens perfectly all week. With run-offs a plenty there will be more than one way to get up and down at Shinnecock and a sharp scrambling game coming in will be crucial. Kaymer’s lag putting from the fringes helped him to win at TPC Sawgrass just 5 weeks prior so it is well worth a look at who has been scrambling well on similar greens. The tricky upturned saucers at Sawgrass or the undulating links greens at Trinity Forest are two good examples.

The greens will be hard and fast poa annua and they will get even trickier as the week goes on but while there will be lots of talk about what a nightmare they will be to putt on, the need for a silky stroke on the greens will be somewhat exaggerated. Obviously you aren’t going to win a U.S. Open 3-putting every green but time and time again when we see hard and fast greens it is a great ball-striker that comes out on top. Hitting greens on a long championship course is difficult enough but when the greens are hard only the best approach shots will stay on the green. Those with a laser like approach game and a towering ball-flight will be sure to go well this week. Even a hot putter will struggle to cover up mistakes for 4 days around this course. In 2016 at Oakmont DJ won ranking 1st for GIR and 51st for total putting and those greens were close to 15 on the stimp meter by Sunday.

With the course being completely exposed to the elements good wind players could well be advantaged should things get breezy. While a high ball-flight will be important in mild conditions those who are capable of shaping their ball to suit might just be best suited to Shinnecock if the weather is changeable as the forecast suggests currently.

 

Shinnecock

 

Looking back at the 2004 U.S. Open for a moment, it has one of the highest retrospective percentages of major champions inside the Top 40 this century for US Opens. A massive 49% of the players had either won a major or would go on to win one. This is obviously no exact science as the more recent events will obviously not post as high a number but it was still interesting. The rest of these are included in a table below;

2018 US Open stats

You can see that 2 of the highest 4 percentages belong to Retief Goosen and that tells us quite a lot about Shinnecock Hills. The winner will surely be high-class and probably a major winner already if not one in waiting. Despite the recent trend of first time major winners unless someone looks like a nailed on future major winner I’d give second thoughts to backing them for this particular test. That doesn’t make things easy though as the first 10 in the market all fall into one of these categories and several of them arrive in fine form. But a hard and fast US Open test is unlike anything else and therefore I’m not convinced that playing the shorter prices is the way to go despite their claims. Dustin Johnson is the correct favourite and the man to beat after last week but I don’t want to be a backer at just 8/1. Of the chasing pack Justin Rose and Rickie Fowler have unrivalled levels of consistency in majors these days and represent some solid value in the place portion. Again though I can just about pass at the prices with both having let me down in the past when everything seemed in their favour. Rory McIlroy’s recent form makes him of interest but if this plays firm, fast and windy I couldn’t possibly have him on my mind. Jason Day has an excellent US Open record and is considerably harder to ignore here but again I’m just not sure I want to be taking 16/1. Spieth will always have a chance but his putting has been poor enough to put me off even if he is sneaking up to a tempting a price. Tiger Woods can obviously never be written off and it would be typical for him to make his return to winning ways at the U.S. Open. But I’m not sure 20/1 fully takes into consideration the strength in depth of today’s game. That takes me down to the next tier of players and my first outright bet.

Henrik

I’ve liked Henrik Stenson for this for quite a few weeks but I was sort of hoping he might have posted more inspiring finishes over the last month than he has. However I still think Shinnecock should suit him perfectly so I’m making him the headline bet. Despite not really threatening to win this year he ranks 1st in strokes gained: approaches, 1st in GIR by a distance and 6th in scrambling. That approach play prowess will be crucial at Shinnecock as will his ability to get up and down when he does miss. As the greens firm up only the best ball-strikers will still be able to hold the greens and on his day Stenson is as good a ball-striker as there is. He has plenty of form on hard and fast courses too, he was 2nd to Mickelson around Muirfield which is probably the only true hard and fast links test we have seen recently at The Open. He has also won at TPC Sawgrass, Eastlake, TPC Boston, Golf Club Eichenried and Doha GC which all have firm green complexes.

His best US Open finish to date was at Pinehurst No. 2 where he finished 4th and again ranked 1st in GIR. His current form is very close to simmering but I just don’t think we have had the right test for him so far this season. At the Players again he ranked 1st in GIR but putted poorly all week while that was the same last week at the St Jude Classic where he was 1st in driving accuracy and 2nd in GIR. I don’t see his putting woes being that much of an issue as 2 putt pars will keep him ahead of most of the field this week. It’s also highly likely that he was just preparing for the U.S. Open as he usually likes to play the week before a major and did so before his Open triumph in 2016.

However it is a link with 2004 Shinnecock champion Retief Goosen that really got me interested in Stenson for this.. They are both multiple winners but not as prolific that we can’t still look at the courses which they have both thrived. Indeed there are actually 3 which they have both won around; Gut Larchenhoff, Doha GC and East Lake. Goosen also came runner-up to Stenson at Golf Club Eichenreid in 2006 which has some of the fastest greens on the European Tour. Above all else both are long and accurate ball-strikers who are suited to difficult championship style courses. With his often peerless tee-to-green game and form at all the right types of courses I think he looks like an excellent value alternative to those at the head of the market.

As I mentioned already I think Pinehurst No.2 looks a very good guide this week at Shinnecock. This makes me think that the 2014 US Open form will be crucial but I’ve also looked at Trinity Forest which hosted the Byron Nelson a few weeks ago as that is a Coore and Crenshaw original design. Adam Scott and Jimmy Walker featured in the Top 10 at both events and to me that suggests that they will go well at Shinnecock. Kevin Na was also 12th at Pinehurst and 4th at Trinity Forest. None of these 3 were players that I was expecting to back this week so I wasn’t really sure how to play them (luckily Kevin Na isn’t in field!). This Pinehurst link also brings in Martin Kaymer and gives me a huge conundrum. Besides Stenson however there were no other players that I particularly liked for this, so I have decided just to add these 3 to my team and back them all each way. The downside is that I have none of the market leaders onside and I’m probably putting most of my eggs into one basket but they look like rock solid each way options.

Adam Scott’s career has been a rather weird one in recent years. He has played a very light schedule with a view to focussing more on the majors as he searches for his 2nd of the big events. While that didn’t seem to affect his form too much until this year, he only has one top 10 from 12 events and that isn’t what we have come to expect from Aussie. That top 10 was the afore-mentioned Trinity Forest though and he was absolutely brilliant bar his poor putting as he ranked 3rd in GIR and 11th in scrambling. Despite the mixed results he ranks 12th in strokes gained: approaches in 2018. Scott is now a very accomplished links player and he should really have won at least one Open by now. But he is also building a good bank of US Open form with 4 top 20s in the last 6 years. As we all know his tee-to-green game is as good as anyone given the right test and a links layout in the US couldn’t be a better fit for Scott. I had already been backing him before the news broke at the weekend that he had brought back his old coach and was also going to be using a local caddie from Shinnecock. At first that worried me a little but after hearing some direct quotes I think it will surely be a positive and he looks a good bet at 60/1 with ten places.

Jimmy Walker looks to finally be over the worst of his Lyme disease and is starting to post the sort of finishes we have associated with him since he reinvented himself as a prolific winner in 2013/2014. He was runner-up at the Players Championship and 6th at Trinity Forest so he is clearly in some good form while on his last start he ranked 9th for GIR. As he proved with his US PGA win in 2016 he can mix it with the best when his whole game is working. I think the extra little bit of width will be crucial to helping Walker keep it in the fairway and after that he will relish the test. Another excellent wind player Walker is equally happy towering his irons in the air or flighting the ball down as required which will make him adaptable to the weather. He has missed his last 2 US Open cuts but he was ill last year and Oakmont’s narrow fairways were never likely to suit. The 9th place finish at Pinehurst is the key piece of US Open form for me and we should remember he is also one of the best poa annua putters in the world. His US PGA win was on the slick poa annua greens at Baltusrol in the New York area and that is what he has got again this week 100 miles along the coast. I think we will see a strong showing from the in-form major winner and again he looks over-priced given his form.

Martin Kaymer makes the team this week largely off the back of that 2014 win at Pinehurst but he has also shown glimpses of his class in recent weeks and I think he is too big a price on a course that should suit him perfectly. After that win it would have been impossible to think that he would go some 4 years without another win but through injury, loss of form and a questionable back 9 in Abu Dhabi that is exactly what has happened. The odds of 100/1 have pulled me in though and as well as Pinehurst he has won at several links courses and was considered an Open winner in waiting throughout much of his early career. He has taken a while to recover from a wrist injury but there were signs on his last start in Italy that he might be back somewhere close to full fitness. He ranked 1st in GIR on his way to posting an 8th place finish in Brescia and that should have him ready for this.

Finally I’ve added Byeong-Hun An after I only noticed today that he had been added to the field. I tried to back him last week assuming he had qualified but he only got in last-minute due to his World Ranking. Benny has been in great form of late and we know this ball-striking test should suit. He announced himself on the main circuit with his BMW PGA win in 2015 and that course is a great indicator for future major winners given they are some of the fastest greens on the European Tour. He has gradually become more comfortable on the PGA Tour and posted his best result to date just two weeks ago when Bryson Dechambeau beat him in a play-off at Muirfield Village. In truth he was the most impressive of the leading pack on Sunday and winning a big event doesn’t appear like something that would phase him too much. However the main reason for me backing him this week is the course which he won his US Amateur Championship at, Southern Hills. That was the scene of Retief Goosen’s other US Open win and the other two Shinnecock winners have also done well there. Raymond Floyd won the US PGA there in 1982 while Corey Pavin was runner-up in the US PGA in 1994. To me it looks a very strong link and with everything else we know about An I think he is a great each way price. For good measure he also sits 30th in strokes gained: approaches and 46th in scrambling.

I’m playing all the outrights with 10 places given how strong this field is but for the braver there are still some better prices around than those I have advised.

Other markets

Rafa Cabrera-Bello’s all-round game is so good right now that he looks set to rack up top 20 finishes everywhere he plays regardless of the field strength. Since 2016, only looking at WGCs, majors and The Players, RCB has racked up 10 top 20s from 21 appearances. He has also posted top 20s in each of his last 3 events. His approach game is at a career best (8th in strokes gained: approaches) as is his scrambling and putting. The markets don’t yet reflect how comfortable the Spaniard is in these types of events and the 7/2 looks a standout piece of value in the place markets.

Aaron Wise looks a fantastic prospect and after his win at Trinity Forest I have to include him in some shape or form for a test that will be similar. It will be only his 2nd major however so I’m not sure how clever a win bet would be. Instead I’m going to have a top 20 bet at a very generous 4/1. With his talent I’m not sure I need to write too much more.

Richy Werenski posted a 4th place finish last week and it was comfortably his best finish of the season. He was also 23rd at the Players where he ranked 2nd in GIR and it makes me think he might be suited to a more diffcult course. We often see a few random young US players pop up on these leaderboards and it could be Richy’s turn this week. Looks worth a small play at a generous 14/1 given we know he is playing well.

Keegan Bradley’s name often appears whenever difficult approaches are the key to a course and I don’t expect anything different here at Shinnecock. He was 7th just two starts ago at the Players Championship and Bradley is yet another player from the top 10 at Pinehurst No. 2 in 2014. Sits 2nd in strokes gained: approaches and I can see another solid 4 days for him resulting in a never quite in contention 13th place.

First Round Leader

Steve Stricker is having a great year playing on both the PGA Tour and the Champions Tour with 2 wins and 2 runner-ups arriving on the latter. But his recent form has been very strong on the PGA Tour reading 18-32-23 and especially his fast starts. His recent run of first round scores on both Tours reads 66-65-67-67-67-67-68-70-66-68-69-68. Even those who got bored reading that will notice how low he is going on day 1. He has improved on links layouts over time and that culminated with a best ever 4th at Troon in 2016. Given he is now 51 years old it is perfectly fair that he might start to tire as the week goes on at some of the longer PGA Tour courses. Therefore it looks like backing him when he is at his freshest on a Thursday is the way to go.

For my second bet in this market I’m taking an absolute flyer with Harold Varner III. Varner is proven on hard and fast courses in Australia as he finished runner-up at Royal Pines in the 2015 Australian PGA before going one better in 2016 to win it. That is still his only professional win and he has struggled to really push on from that in the US. However this test might just suit him and bring about a revival. There have been some signs recently though and none more so than when he finished 7th in the Players last month. He led the field in putting on the slick Sawgrass greens and a good putter is always handy for this market. I actually had him picked out before I even noticed he has the first tee time at 6:45am. With some rain forecast on Wednesday and the wind looking like getting up as Thursday progresses, those out early might just get the best of it. At a massive 200/1 with Betfred and Boylesports it’s worth an interest.

Jason Scrivener is quite probably out of his depth here but he is another who thrives on hard and fast courses and has a brilliant record at Lake Karrinyup in particular where greens are hard to hit with shaved run-offs and fast grainy grass. His first professional win came around Twin Creeks Golf course in November and that is another hard and fast links course with similar bunkering and rough. Scrivener is a brilliant scrambler but his iron game improves for playing on firm courses too and it’s not impossible to see him firing one good round in at Shinnecock. Given he qualified for this last week we know he is in decent form and in his last event he finished 21st in a good field in Italy. Also has an early 6:56am tee time and is worth a speculative punt at 300/1.


Summary of bets

US Open

Henrik Stenson – 2pts ew @ 28/1 (1/5 odds 10 places Paddy Power)

Adam Scott – 1pt ew @ 60/1 (1/5 odds 10 places Paddy Power)

Martin Kaymer – 1pt ew @ 100/1 (1/5 odds 10 places Coral)

Jimmy Walker – 1pt ew @ 80/1 (1/5 odds 10 places Paddy Power)

Byeong-Hun An – 1pt ew @ 90/1 (1/5 odds 10 places Paddy Power)

Other markets

Rafa Cabrera-Bello – 2pts Top 20 @ 7/2

Aaron Wise – 1pt Top 20 @ 4/1

Keegan Bradley – 1pt Top 20 @ 11/2

Richy Werenski – 1pt Top 20 @ 14/1

1st Round Leader

Steve Stricker – 0.5pt ew @ 125/1 1RL market (1/5 odds 6 places Skybet)

Harold Varner III – 0.25pt ew @ 200/1 1RL market (1/5 odds 6 places Betfred and Boylesports)

Jason Scrivener 0.25pt ew @ 300/1 1RL market (1/5 odds 6 places Boylesports)

 

Weekly pts advised = 20

208 pts advised = 270

@theGreek82

U.S. Open at Erin Hills – Betting Preview

Last week was a second week in a row of profit and was very welcome ahead of the second major of the year. It was Chez Reavie who provided it, easily making the top 20 and also hanging on for a share of a place as he finished 4th. Again it could have been a better weekend with Harris English and Zander Lombard also in contention but it is hard to complain too much and hopefully it that might be a corner turned again for the blog.

This week needs no introduction with the U.S. Open taking centre stage. The results are starting to look a little better ahead of an exciting looking week at Erin Hills.

Total 2017 pts advised= 259pts

Total 2017 pts returned = 187.47pts

ROI = -25.7%

I have just pasted my Matchbook review below and added a few extra bets. I also have a couple of 72 hole match-ups that will be on their site at the following link shortly.

To be added


US Open – Erin Hills

The second major of 2017 is upon us as the U.S. Open takes place for the first time ever in Wisconsin. The layout Erin Hills is a new one having only been opened in 2006. It hosted the U.S. Amateur in 2011 but barring the eight players in the field who played, everyone has been reliant on practice rounds. The action kicks off at 12:45pm UK time on Thursday with coverage starting on Sky at 6pm and continuing throughout the weekend.

With Sergio Garcia having won the Masters, there will be many more arriving at Erin Hills in buoyant mood thinking that they too have a chance for a maiden win. But the course can play to some 7800 yards off the back tees so on paper it could be brutally long and favour the bombers, however it is of course a U.S. Open so we would normally expect lots of rough and slick greens to properly test every part of their game.

Everything looks in place for another mouth-watering major this week. But can we find an edge on what appears to be another exciting golf betting event?

What will be required to win?

When the first pictures were shared of the high fescue grass in the rough, many thought this was going to be a brutal US Open set-up akin to the thick green stuff we saw at Merion. However on further reading I don’t believe that to be the case. Brad Faxon played there earlier in May and he tweeted how wide the fairways were and that it will suit the bombers. Kevin Na’s instagram video on Sunday confirmed just how high the rough is but the fairways are so wide that only the truly errant will end up in there and I can’t see it preventing players from hitting driver unless their name is JB Holmes. At some 7800 yards I think we really have to focus on the big hitters this week. Some of the better players who average sub 290 yards will contend but they had better have every other area of their game in perfect shape. Playing four days’ worth of approach shots with a 5 iron when DJ/Rahm etc are going in with wedge will take its toll on all but the steeliest of shorter hitters.

A look at the 2011 US Amateur Championship backs this up perfectly. The two finalists were Kelly Kraft and Patrick Cantlay. Kraft hits it as far as anyone and Cantlay was the best amateur in the game at the time and even now he sits 7th in the all-round ranking on the PGA Tour.  I think it will pay to focus on the longer players this week, perhaps giving some consideration to shorter hitters but only if they are among the very best like Cantlay was.

One of the key quotes from 2011 was from young Englishman Jack Senior. He noted how the course was “very, very similar” to the venue where they were heading for the Walker Cup the following week. The course in question was the classic links layout, Royal Aberdeen, host of the Scottish Open in 2014. What is striking is how similar the two courses are visually, with lots of undulating fairways, blind tee-shots, hidden approaches, lots of winding bunkers and plenty of fescue grass. There will be a lot written about similarities to Whistling Straits and Chambers Bay this week and while that certainly won’t be without merit, I’m very keen on the Royal Aberdeen link too.

Another quote which sounds valuable is from Mike Davis (USGA’s Executive Director) who gave a full description of each aspect of the course in a recent press conference. The most notable was what he said about the run-offs around the greens and how they have a complete lack of immediate rough. He likened this to Pinehurst No. 2 from 2014 and stated how this was the only other US Open in recent times to feature tightly mown aprons. Martin Kaymer used them to great effect in 2014 as he putted his way around the fringes, taking the pressure off his suspect chipping.

As well as needing to be fairly long off the tee, it is paramount to have an excellent iron game to contend at a U.S. Open and with blind approaches and fast greens this week it will be the same at Erin Hills. The last ten winners of the U.S. Open averaged 8th for GIR and if picking one key attribute this week I think that would be it.

Scrambling will also be important but without lush rough around the greens the players will have the chance to use different shots and the standard scrambling statistic on the PGA Tour maybe doesn’t quite tell us everything we need to know. Another key statistic for championship courses is scoring relative to par from approaches outside 200 yards. This is vital for saving par when out of position on a long par 4 or for making tap-in birdies on the par 5s. With Erin Hills having the potential to play as the longest in the history of the event then it might be even more important than normal. If the event does turn into a slog then patience will also be important as anyone who goes chasing a score that isn’t there on Thursday won’t be around come the weekend.

Trends

With the U.S. Open moving courses every year it isn’t as good as The Masters or The Players for trends but there is still some historical data that can help rule players out or in for those who enjoy a trends based approach.

  • All 17 winners this century had at least a top 4 finish already that season.
  • 16/17 of those winners had a previous U.S. Open Top 20 finish.
  • 6/7 of the last winners had made the cut at the Masters that season.
  • 6/7 had a top 12 finish last time out.

 

Main Contenders

 Dustin Johnson 8/1 : Current form – MC-13-12-2-1; US Open form: 1-2-4-55-MC

Both the reigning champion and favourite arrives at Erin Hills after a close to invincible 12 months. The improvement in his all-round game means he is currently the best player in the world and undoubtedly the man to beat. The long course together with the wide landing areas off the tee, make the course look ideal. The only negative is his price and a slight wobble last time out at Memorial when he missed the cut.

Jordan Spieth 14/1 : Current form: 13-2-MC-MC-4 ; US Open form: 37-1-17-MC-21

After a fairly quiet 2017 where some were questioning his long game, Spieth came flying back into the reckoning with a great tee-to-green performance at Memorial. With his solid US Open record he looks the right 2nd favourite although some may use his relative lack of length as a stick to beat him with this week. That didn’t stop him at Chambers Bay however and he will surely be involved in the shake-up come Sunday night.

Rory McIlroy 14/1 : Current form: 35-7-30-7-4; US Open form: MC-9-23-41-MC

Hasn’t been seen since The Masters and with that lack of competitive golf he is hard to fancy. The course sets up well for him but he surely can’t be considered before the off having not played in two months. Those who want to get involved may be better off watching the first round to see how he has recovered from a rib injury that looks likely to significantly impact his swing.

Jason Day 14/1 : Current form: 15-2-60-MC-22; US Open form: 8-9-4-2-59

Seemingly over his personal problems since his Mother was given the cancer all clear. Has shown patches of his 2015/2016 form, but he is surely making too many mistakes to win a US Open. However that is offset somewhat by an excellent record in the event and suitability to a course that looks a lot like Whistling Straits, the scene of his US PGA triumph.

Jon Rahm 22/1 : Current form: MC-2-MC-4-27; US Open form: Debut 23rd last year as amateur

On 2017 form he is the second best golfer in the world and the Spanish powerhouse has a great all-round game already at the age of 22. His temperament has looked a little suspect at times though and it’s far from a given that he will enjoy a patient US Open style test of golf. But he may not quite face that this year with Erin Hills appearing more US PGA than US Open.

Rickie Fowler 22/1 : Current form: 2-60-MC-11-3; US Open form: MC-MC-2-10-41

Seems to be judged to higher standards than most perhaps due to the profile he has built for himself. But ultimately he is a 2017 winner with a 2nd place finishjust two starts ago. Negatives are his poor Masters Sunday performance and missing his last two US Open cuts but that is factored into his price and he shouldn’t be dismissed lightly.

Hideki Matsuyama 30/1 : Current form: 45-22-32-11-51; US Open form: MC-18-35-10

Gone quiet since his all-conquering winter but he is still churning out solid results. Another with an impressive bank of US Open form already at 25 and it would be foolish to ever discount him at a major given his tee-to-green prowess. As ever though, the slick bentgrass greens may be the difference between 1st and 6th.

Justin Thomas 33/1 : Current form: 4-MC-5-22-39; US Open form: MC-DNP-32

Yet another to add to the list of “course suits perfectly”. Thomas also tailed off a little since his four win period through to January. Still playing very good golf however and was 4th at Memorial two weeks ago. Hard to see too many negatives at 33/1 barring maybe a mediocre US Open record to date.

Aside from those many will fancy Sergio Garcia to go back to back now he has got the monkey off his back while the young Belgian powerhouse Thomas Pieters will be looking to build on his 4th place finish at Augusta. But the one that stands out at the odds is sneaking in under the radar a little despite a Masters play-off loss just 2 months ago.

justin-rose-zurich-classic_3295658

I have liked Justin Rose for this most of the year. Firstly, he has an almost unrivalled record in majors for consistency over the last 5 years. Since 2012 he has played in all 21 majors, missing the cut just three times. Those 21 events have yielded 16 top 25s, with 6 of those providing returns for each way backers and of course he also has his 2013 U.S. Open win. To put those in perspective, Rory McIlroy has won three majors since 2012 but he only boasts 13 top 25s in that same period and world number 1 Dustin Johnson only has 11. Stenson has 12, Matsuyama 9 (only played 1 in 2012) and even the poster boy for brilliant non-winning performances at majors, Sergio Garcia, only has 10. Justin Rose’s game is built for majors, there are few who are as solid tee-to-green and as adaptable to any course. Difficult championship courses take the pressure off his short to mid-range putting and allow his ball-striking to rack up the pars.

What makes him perfect for this week’s test is the unknown quantity of the course. With very mixed reports about the layout, ultimately people will guess as to how exactly Erin Hills will play. The great thing about Rose is that he is just as home on a bomber’s layout as he is a fiddly, narrow course like Merion where he won in 2013. The only negative for me is that he has been suffering from a slight back injury but having missed Memorial to rest up I am willing to give him the benefit of the doubt that he is fully fit for Erin Hills. Rose’s 2017 stats aren’t quite as sharp as always but he still sits prominently in many of the key ones for this week. Rose is 25th in driving distance, 14th in GIR, 13th in strokes gained: tee to green and 10th in scoring relative to par for approaches over 200 yards. Not always the best of chippers, Rose should enjoy being able to putt around the fringes as his lag putting is very strong.

But the clincher with Rose this week is how he has played on courses similar to Erin Hills. Rose was 4th at Whistling Straits, 12th at Pinehurst No.2 but the most interesting one is his Scottish Open win. That win was at Royal Aberdeen which I alluded to earlier.  Just how much Erin Hills will actually play like a links course we don’t know but Rose’s confidence in his long game means he will be comfortable committing to a line and yardage despite not being able to see where the ball finishes.

To me there are the least negatives about Rose this week. Given his major record, there is still some value in his price, his consistency means he is almost assured to play well and his adaptability means however Erin Hills plays across the four days he will be fully prepared to handle it.

I am convinced that Jon Rahm will love this course and he is actually a fair price at 22/1 but I can’t ignore just how poor his attitude was when he missed the cut at Memorial. I won’t be in the slightest bit surprised to see him contend here but at the same time I think I can just about leave him out. Again with Dustin Johnson I am happy to let him win at just 8/1 when he missed the cut last time out. At a similar price to Rahm I think Rickie Fowler looks to be the best back up to Rose  at the head of the market. He has already won this year and his stats are absolutely brilliant for this. He has missed his last two U.S. Open cuts but he was back to his major best when leading the Masters after 54 holes. He had a rotten final round alongside Spieth and while on paper it looked a good pairing for them, I think both would be better suited to playing alongside someone who they aren’t quite so friendly with in a final round at a major. Fowler will have learnt from that though and he is driving the ball better than he ever has, currently ranking 1st in total driving. He is also 20th in GIR, 6th for strokes gained: tee to green, 1st in birdie average, 13th in bogey avoidance and 21st in scrambling. I really like his chances for The Open this year at Birkdale but it would be very annoying to see him win this without any money on.  A saver bet is recommended.

Outsiders to go well

While it looks very likely that one of the top 10 or so players in the world will come out on top this week I think there are still some longer prices  around for golfers who are playing well and could at least contend, allowing us to either trade them or back them in the place markets.

Russell Henley, Kevin Chappell and Brendan Steele look like the perfect sort of low-profile, home-grown winner that we have seen over the years in U.S. majors, most recently Lucas Glover in 2009 and Webb Simpson in 2012. These left field winners are more likely to pop up at the U.S. PGA but Erin Hills has a little bit of a PGA type appearance.

Henley is having a great year and has a solid stats profile for the week. He ranks 22nd  in GIR, 18th in total driving, 13th in birdie average, 15th in bogey avoidance, 13th in strokes gained: tee to green and an impressive 4th in scoring relative to par from approaches over 200 yards. He has won already this year in Houston and he is also a fine wind player having won on exposed layouts in Hawaii and Florida. He doesn’t possess the best of U.S. Open records recently but he did finish 16th as an amateur at Pebble Beach. He also finished 12th at Whistling Straits in 2015 and arrives off the back of his best major finish to date at Augusta where he finished 11th. Henley first made his name on Tour as a brilliant putter so if he brings his best long game then he should be suited to the test.

Kevin Chappell will be on a few more radars having won in May and also finishing 4th last week. Chappell has long been my idea of a U.S. Open winner such is the consistency of his long game across 4 days on a tough course. His stats aren’t fantastic but in all honesty that isn’t really his game. He is all about making tough pars while others around him fall away. Despite this maybe not quite being the usual U.S. Open grind I think he is playing too well to leave out this week.

Brendan Steele looked a great top 20 bet at the Masters and only just fell short finishing 27th but he is slowly finding his feet at the majors. He was 15th at Oakmont last year confirming that he enjoys fast greens and his best major finish to date was at Whistling Straits where he also finished in a tie for 12th. The Texan is used to the wind and he is a two-time winner on Tour who I think has a contending major performance in him now as an experienced 34 year old. Given he is usually an unfashionable pick, he looks over priced in all the key markets.

If the links theme does play out then it might pay to have a proper links exponent on the team and for that reason I’m going to back Tyrrell Hatton and George Coetzee. Last year Hatton was 5th at Royal Troon, he won the Alfred Dunhill Links and he also showed he is comfortable on long U.S. championship courses with another top 10 at Baltusrol. He will come into his own around these greens this week and should enjoy the test.

Coetzee is an absolute short game genius but he has been working hard on his long game too and has been reaping the rewards in Europe of late. He was last seen shooting a final round 66 to finish 4th at the Nordea Masters and that was the latest in a run of results which read 4-MC-8-8-11-8. Coetzee finished 7th at Whistling Straits and now that he is feeling fitter and playing well he will fancy his chances of a good showing this week.

Lastly I want to have Thomas Pieters onside in some capacity so will have a Top 10 bet. This is his U.S. Open debut but we saw what he was capable of on his first look at Augusta and this course will suit his combination of power and touch around the greens perfectly. Probably has a better temperament than Jon Rahm so while he may throw in a big number or two I expect him to enjoy the week on the whole.

First Round Leader market

Jason Kokrak is an out and out bomber but he also puts up very good GIR numbers on courses that fit his eye. He will enjoy the wide fairways and he should be able to get close to the flags. Kokrak has a habit of getting a little streaky and with an early tee-time I’m hoping he can go low on day 1.

Stephan Jaeger has won twice already on the Web.com Tour this season and is 1 win away from automatic promotion to the PGA Tour this season. But he is virtually assured of a 2018 PGA card so he will have absolutely nothing to lose, certainly not on day one and he has a history of flying out of the blocks. Jaeger equalled the lowest professional round of 58 last summer in his first round of the Ellie May Classic which he would go on to win by 7 strokes. That tournament is played around TPC Stonebrae which doesn’t look dissimilar to Erin Hills with lots of rolling fairways and fescue grasses. Jaeger’s last four opening rounds were 68-65-64-69 too so he might just be a little over priced at 200/1.

I couldn’t settle on a third 1st round leader pick so I have decided to back them both given how much fun the first round market can be. Jason Day will be only too aware of how poorly he has started his majors since his breakthrough US PGA win. His five opening rounds since have been 74-68-73-76-72 but that hadn’t been the norm up till then in his career. The five before that read 68-66-68-67-69 and I have a feeling he could take to this course early on and give everyone a reminder of his talents.

David Lingmerth was lying 2nd after the first round at Whistling Straits when he opened with a 67 and again he shot that same score to sit 2nd just two weeks ago at Memorial. The Swede enjoys a tough test of golf and he has an early tee-time on Thursday. Worth a go at a general 100/1.


 

Summary of Bets

Justin Rose – 3pts ew @ 25/1 (Betfair Sportsbook – 1/5th odds, 8 places)

Rickie Fowler – 1pt ew @ 22/1 (Skybet – 1/5th odds, 8 places)

Russell Henley – 0.5pt win @ 200 on Exchange and 1.5pts Top 20 @ 5/1

Kevin Chappell – 0.5pt win @ 80 on Exchange and 1pt Top 10 @ 6/1

Brendan Steele – 0.5pt win @ 230 on Exchange and 1.5pts Top 20 @ 5/1

Tyrrell Hatton – 0.5pt win @ 180 on Exchange and 1pt Top 20 @ 5/1

George Coetzee – 0.5pt win @ 450 and 1pt Top 20 @ 8/1

Thomas Pieters – 2pts Top 10 @ 4/1

 

Jason Kokrak – 0.25pt ew @ 150/1 1st Round Leader

Stephan Jaeger – 0.25pt ew @ 200/1 1st Round Leader

Jason Day – 0.5pt ew @ 25/1 1st Round Leader

David Lingmerth – 0.25 pt ew @ 100/1 1st Round Leader

(All 1st Round Leader bets are with Betfair Sportsbook 7 places at 1/5 odds)

 

Weekly pts advised – 21pts

Total 2017 pts advised – 280pts

 

@theGreek

Fed-Ex St. Jude Classic and Lyoness Open – Betting Preview

Finally there were some positive performances from my golfers on a Sunday and the result was a profitable week although things were almost a lot better.

George Coetzee flew through the field on Sunday getting to -9 and he gave himself a 15ft look at birdie on the 18th for a -10 clubhouse total. It slipped past agonisingly and had he set -10 I think, from what we saw the previous week with Alex Noren, he would have probably got himself into a play-off. He got a full place though at 50/1 and so did Kuchar on the PGA Tour. Kuch was in a far better position going into his final round but as ever he got in his own way a little but again he held on for 4th to give us both the place bet and the top 10.

Marcel Siem also finished strongly in Sweden to easily land the top 20 bet and on the whole there were 39.25 pts returned on the week. It was very welcome with the US Open nearly upon us and hopefully I can keep things going again this week.

2017 pts advised = 249pts

2017 pts returned = 170.22

ROI = -31.64%

WIth the US Open next week most of the big names aren’t in action which means there are two fairly low-key events; the Fed-Ex St. Jude Classic in the U.S. and the Lyoness Open in Europe.


St. Jude Classic

The final stop before the U.S. Open is TPC Southwind in Memphis, Tennessee. It’s a 7244 yard Par 70 and it usually plays quite tough so should be a fair test ahead of the U.S. Open for those in the field who are playing next week. There is a lot of water in play here but yet the fairways are still very wide and it mainly becomes a problem on approaches to the greens. They are small and slightly raised so the course is usually somewhat of a second shot course where high greens in regulation numbers are the order of the day together with good scrambling as inevitably the greens will be missed. There will be no complaints when on the putting surfaces though as Southwind’s bermuda greens are some of the smoothest bermuda greens the players will see all year.

Rickie Fowler and Brooks Koepka are the two market leaders this week and I think they will be very hard to beat given Fowler is in great form and Koepka loves the course here having finished 2nd and 3rd the last two years. But even in a poor field they are horribly short prices and despite their obvious talents, neither can be considered completely reliable and it would hard to back them at 8/1 and 12/1 respectively. Instead I’m going to keep stakes low and my powder reasonably dry for next week.

Harris English qualified for the US Open on Monday and there are two schools of thought as to how that can affect golfers playing just three days later. A long day of 36 holes can drain them and leave them tired and unprepared for the week ahead or, the conflicting argument, that the confidence and excitement about playing at Erin Hills will leave them freewheeling and they can continue to build on the good golf they played. I don’t think there is a hard and fast rule by any means but English really hasn’t had a lot to sing about lately without a top 10 since November. So having finished 29th on his last PGA Tour start it looked like he was maybe beginning to turn a corner and that looks even more likely after shooting 65-68 to comfortably qualify in T2nd. They were the lowest back-to-back rounds he had put together in over a year.

English also ranked 21st for GIR and 7th in scrambling at Colonial and that is exactly what is required when small, well protected greens come into play like we have this week at Southwind. English is a former winner around TPC Southwind and generally he performs well on courses with small greens. English plays with a towering fade which means his approach shots will generally land softly on smaller greens so it makes sense that he would have an advantage on such layouts. Both the courses that hosted his sectional qualifying have small, bermuda greens also so the preparation will have been ideal and they are also in the Memphis area so he won’t have had to travel far.

The wide fairways here won’t penalise the erratic driving we have seen from him this year and while the odds of 80/1 could be bigger, I’m willing to take a chance that this proven winner is rounding back into the form that saw him reach as high as No. 36 in the world.

I’m struggling to see any other interesting angles in this week so I’m going to go with another who qualified from the same courses as English and that is Chez Reavie. Reavie is a very accurate player who ranks 2nd in proximity to the hole and also scrambles with the best of them so this course should suit him on paper and his finishes here are fairly respectable. They are also trending in the right direction as he followed his missed cut in 2011 with a 27th in 2013 and then a 12th in 2015. If he keeps that two year progression going then he will contend this year!

Reavie is even more speculative than English as he really hasn’t done much at all for a few months but I’m hoping he can push on from Monday’s rounds of 67 and 66 which again are a huge improvement on what he has been doing lately. Luckily we are also getting a speculative price about Reavie though as he is a general 150/1 shot.

One other dart for me this week and that is Tom Hoge who is sitting 3rd in scrambling over the last 3 months. Hoge is actually in his 3rd year on Tour but so far things have been very low profile for him, seldom worrying too many leaderboards. But he does have some solid form at TPC Southwind (34th and 12th) and therefore I think there is a little bit of value in his odds of 250/1.


Lyoness Open

A miserable field became even more miserable with the withdrawal of Chris Wood but on the plus side we do have a solid bank of course form to look at with the Diamond Country Club having hosted since 2010.

A poor field would often be the chance for an up and coming maiden to get over the line but that hasn’t actually been the case at Diamond Country Club so far. All seven of the champions here had already tasted success on the European Tour before and the average time since their previous win was about 3 years.

The 7344 yard layout is one that immediately stands out against the other courses we see on European soil throughout the season. It has all the hallmarks of a PGA Tour course with lush green fairways and greens winding through lots of water hazards and white bunkers. This gives a suggestion of a typical target golf test and while that is maybe true to an extent, the course is quite exposed to the wind so links players have also thrived.

These have both been borne out in the results as most of the winners have been proven wind players that regularly hit a high number of greens. That will be my main plan of attack this week but given how well the course links worked out last week I will have a little look at that angle too. Bernd Wiesberger and Joost Luiten have both thrived on the layout in recent times and when on their game there aren’t many who hit more greens in Europe. They both tee it up again this year but Wiesberger does so as the very restrictive looking 9/2 favourite while Luiten hasn’t been having the best of seasons. Both can easily be left alone at the prices even if Wiesberger should really win comfortably if he plays anything close to his best.

Tom Lewis sits 3rd in GIR over the last 6 months and that immediately got me looking at him. He has struggled since his first win back in 2011 but it is important to remember he is still only 26. He isn’t the first Open Championship Leading Amateur to struggle a little as a pro and I’m sure he regularly takes inspiration from Justin Rose’s career. The 2013 US Open winner took 4 years to win after turning pro and struggled with missed cut after missed cut. Lewis managed to win on just his 3rd professional start but he has faced similar troubles since then.

However things have been slowly starting to look better for Lewis and he has made his last 5 cuts, also 8 out of his last 10. That is probably the most consistent period of his professional career and it is no coincidence that it has come along once he started hitting a high number of greens again. Lewis also fits in nicely to the profile of the previous winners at DCC as he is a European Tour winner with a bit of class who is rounding into some form and there isn’t too much to beat here. The price of 66/1 isn’t amazing for someone without a top 5 since Nov 2015 but he also has some strong course form of 26th-30th-10th and it feels like things have aligned nicely here for him this week.

As soon as I started my research this week I was keen to back Gregory Bourdy here but there wasn’t much to like about his opening price of 18/1. For a player of his talent he has often struggled to get over the line and really isn’t someone who makes a lot of appeal at such a low price, no matter how poor the opposition. But he is in great form and seems to play well at most courses where Wiesberger and Luiten also play well. Just 4 weeks ago at Genzon Club when Wiesberger was winning for the 4th time, Bourdy was 3rd and he is also a winner at Celtic Manor where Luiten has a win and a runner-up finish. But the main reason I can’t pass up the 18/1 is that he has finished 6th at this very course the last two years, confirming that it suits his accurate game. You certainly won’t ever get rich backing Bourdy at these prices but sometimes we have to move the goal posts a little to allow for field strength. Ultimately, in this field, only Joost Luiten and Jimenez have more European Tour titles to their name than Bourdy and he is in better form than both of them. I’m going to have a little 1pt ew interest. Bourdy has now been pushed out to 22/1 in places and that is a far more appealing price.

Zander Lombard finished 5th here last year and was seen losing in a play-off just three weeks ago in Sicily. There is nothing more complex to the pick than that and given how obvious he is I really thought he would be shorter than 50/1. I’m not complaining though as it gives us a nice bit of value for the up and coming South African on his 2nd look at the course.

With several very hard Par 3s that are tucked into the line of the water hazards, strong par 3 scoring will also be a huge advantage this week so I’m going to have a top 20 bet on Chris Hanson. He has a very accurate tee-to-green game and currently ranks 1st in Par 3 scoring over the last 6 months and 26th in total accuracy. Hanson was also 10th here last year.

Ben Evans also looks worthy of a top 20 bet this week as he is another accurate sort with form at a few key courses. Joost Luiten’s last win was the KLM Open around a new host course called The Dutch. Wiesberger was runner-up that week and just two places further back was Evans. He has made his last 5 cuts with the best finish in that period being a 6th place in Portugal. Evans has played the course twice before to little effect but there is no question he has improved a lot this year as he sits 14th in the all-round ranking over the last 3 months.


Summary of Bets

Fed-Ex St Jude

Harris English – 0.75pt ew @ 80/1

Chez Reavie – 0.5 pt ew @ 150/1 and 1pt Top 20 @ 5/1

Tom Hoge – 0.25 pt ew @ 250/1 and 1pt Top 20 @ 15/2

Lyoness Open

Gregory Bourdy – 1pt ew @ 22/1

Tom Lewis – 0.75 pts ew @ 66/1

Zander Lombard – 0.75pts ew @ 50/1

Chris Hanson – 1pt Top 20 @ 9/2

Ben Evans – 1pt Top 20 @ 9/2

 

Weekly pts advised = 12pts

Total 2017 pts advised = 261pts

@theGreek82