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

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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

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

If last week’s Memorial Tournament highlighted what a brilliant time 2016 is to be a golf fan, it also reminded us just how difficult a time it is to be a golf punter (and tipster!). The change of tactics to dutching the three market leaders didn’t work despite them all showing flashes of magic over the four days. The strength in-depth on the PGA Tour must truly be at an all-time high and even on a course like Muirfield Village that usually throws up top-class winners, a 36 year old maiden managed to beat an exceptionally strong field.

In Sweden our 200/1 pick Manassero played brilliantly over the majority of the four days and he actually recorded his best finish in nearly two years but unfortunately that was only a 12th place and it left me wishing I had also bet on a Top 20. Tyrrell Hatton also threatened a good week but couldn’t quite get close enough to land a blow before finishing double bogey-double bogey to fall down the field.

The profits are now disappearing at an alarming rate and as is the case with golfers, when you lose a little confidence in betting you start to find it even harder and question yourself more than normal. Certainly to be going on with I’m going to leave out the doubles and probably try to cap the weekly outlay at 10pts.

Total pts advised –648.5

Total pts returned – 722.80

ROI (11 months) – 11.5%

 


Fed Ex St Jude Classic

It is proving very hard to know which weeks Day, Spieth and McIlroy are going to fire but luckily this week they have all chosen to sharpen up their game away from competitive golf and they sit this one out. It’s the Fed Ex St Jude Classic from Memphis this week and it’s now in its 10th year as the US Open warm up event. Despite the lack of the World No. 1, 2 and 3 there is still a decent field assembled as players look for either some momentum heading into next week’s US Open or indeed a place in the field with anyone breaking into the world’s top 60 this week getting a tee time at Oakmont for the season’s 2nd Major.

The host course is TPC Southwind and while it won’t be too similar to the test faced next week, at least it is one of the tougher regular Tour stops so they will be able to get into the thinking of saving par rather than trying to make birdie. The average winning score over the last 5 years is -11 and it usually ranks amongst the 10 hardest courses on Tour so patience will be required.

TPC-Southwind

It is a 7241 yard Par 70 and as the name suggests there is usually a breeze whistling around the trees and that helps to keep the scoring down. As does the abundance of water around the course and that highlights the need for an accurate iron game this week. One similarity to Oakmont next week will be the number of fairway bunkers and there are 94 here this week to give them plenty of practice for Oakmont’s famously testing set of bunkers.

The greens are small and bermuda grass which combined with the windy, narrow, tree-lined nature of the course helps throw up a few others that correlate nicely with TPC Southwind. The Waialae course in Hawaii is one and Fabian Gomez (2015 St Jude winner) won there earlier this year with Greg Owen, who finished runner-up here last year, finishing in behind him in 5th. Others include El Cameleon, Harbour Town and Copperhead, which host the OHL Classic, RBC Heritage and Valspar Championship respectively.

If we look back at the calibre of player that has won recent Major warm up events then the last 10 were Jim Herman, JJ Henry, Jordan Spieth, Fabian Gomez (2015 St Jude), JB Holmes, Geoff Ogilvy, Brian Harman, Ben Crane (2014 St Jude), Matt Jones. This hardly jumps out as a list of greats with only Spieth and Ogilvy being major champions. In fact if we look further back at just this event since it first held its pre US Open slot, the only major winner to lift the trophy was Justin Leonard way back in 2008. This suggests that it could be a week to side with the outsiders again as the market leaders look to sharpen up their game for the bigger challenge ahead at the US Open next week.

Additionally three of the last five winners were winning their first PGA Tour title so after Mcgirt’s exploits last week there will be plenty of players arriving here fancying their chances of getting their own first win.

The one I like this week is Colt Knost, despite him not being quite the price I was hoping for. Knost first came onto my radar in 2012 when researching Olympic Club form for the US Open. He won his US Amateur there in 2007 beating Michael Thompson in the final. Thompson would go onto finish 2nd at the US Open and rightly or wrongly I have linked the two players together as ones that enjoy a tougher test. They are certainly both good putters (Knost ranks 28th in strokes gained:putting) and that will be helpful this week but it is Knost’s all-round improvement over the last few months that has suggested he could be finding the form again that made him the Number 1 ranked amateur in the world in 2007.

He recorded his best ever result at Sawgrass last month when finishing 3rd behind Jason Day and Kevin Chappell and he hit a best in field 80.6% of greens in regulation on another set of small, fast, bermuda greens. That was no one-off either as he went onto hit 75% in his next two performances which resulted in a 4th place finish at the Byron Nelson before a poorer 67th place finish last week when he struggled in the thick rough around the greens. There isn’t the same sort of lush rough at TPC Southwind this week though and I would expect him to revert back to the norm as he ranks 28th for scrambling over the last 3 months.

When playing on fiddly greens that are hard to hit, proximity to the hole is always a crucial stat and Knost ranks 11th in this category for the 2016 season. He also has some reasonable course form with a 12th place last season being preceded by finishes of MC-15-MC. He seems to go well in the St Jude Classic when arriving in form and he is probably in the best form of his professional career at the moment. He also has some form on the courses that link well with TPC Southwind as he has finished 3rd at both the OHL Classic and RBC Heritage. Knost is definitely more of a patient golfer that likes to plot his way around a golf course and with his strong greens in regulation and scrambling numbers together with his liking of bermuda greens I think he looks to have a good chance this week on a course where he has played well before.

As I mentioned earlier odds of 40.0 look a little restrictive but when we look at those in front of him then we see there aren’t that many top class players to beat and TPC Southwind should be an ideal place for this classy maiden to get his first win.

Given that I think Colt Knost will go well I also think Michael Thompson will be suited by the test but he doesn’t arrive in quite the same sort of form. Fortunately that is factored into his price and he was also out of form when he finished 3rd from nowhere last year. The reasons were touched on above as he is an excellent putter who thrives in tougher conditions. His only win came at PGA National where he scooped the 2013 Honda Classic and that is another windy track with tough greens and limited birdie opportunities. Two weeks ago he stopped a run of three missed cuts with an 18th at the Byron Nelson so he may have turned the corner.

Thompson’s stats aren’t overly impressive and it is more of a hunch bet this week but he is a player that owes me nothing after the 2012 US Open and I’m happy to have a small play on him here at a price that could look big if he performs anything like last year.

 


Lyoness Open

Very seldom will you see three players starting at single figure odds on the European Tour but that is the case this week as 3 of last 4 winners of the Lyoness Open tee it up here all in decent enough form and deserving of their place at the head of the market (Bernd Wiesberger, Joost Luiten and Chris Wood). This gives us a similar conundrum to last week in the US and while all three are proven winners in these sorts of field, they aren’t quite consistent enough to make a strong argument for them easily beating ET fields at such short prices.

But in order to oppose them we have to find players who are capable of competing with them should they find their best stuff. That doesn’t look too easy in this field but is probably worth a bit of a search.

The course is Diamond Country Club near Vienna, Austria and at 7458 yards it is reasonably long with wide fairways and small raised greens with water in play on 13 of the holes. It appears to be all about the approach shot here this week with the rough staggered into 3 cuts and the fairways said to be in excellent condition on the European Tour website.

diamond-country-club-atzenbrugg_008075_large

A quick look at recent results backs this up as the last 5 winners have ranked 6th-20th-1st-11th-4th for greens in regulation and even when they did miss they got it up and down well as the same 5 ranked 3rd-4th-31st-3rd-1st for scrambling. They didn’t hit it too far the last couple of years either which is surprising for last year’s winner Chris Wood. This tells me that it’s all about setting up the 2nd shot and with no great emphasis off the tee I’d side with accuracy over distance. Three of the last four winners all ranked 1st for birdies so you are going to need a hot putter this week in Austria.

Out of the front three in the market I prefer Joost Luiten. Chris Wood is not only looking to go back to back but also defend his title here and I think that makes it hard to side with him at a single figure price. Wiesberger clearly loves this course and playing in his home country but he hasn’t played a great deal of golf lately in Europe and again he looks very short without a Top 10 anywhere in 2016.

Luiten’s form is far better and he has had a brilliant 2016 so far, doing everything but win. He has been difficult to back too though throwing in the odd poor performance when everything seemed to be in his favour.But I’d be very annoyed if I missed out here given how obvious his chance is. His course form is 3-1-3 and over the last 3 months he ranks 3rd for GIR. But I’m still just not sure that he is putting or scrambling well enough to back at the price. To go in at 7/1 you need to know that they can ruthlessly take care of the field if they play their best golf. I’m still not sure Luiten  (nor Wiesberger or Wood) falls into that category yet so instead I’ve found a couple of others who might just represent a little bit of value.

Nino Bertasio probably hasn’t done enough in the game to warrant going off at 40/1 in a European Tour event but he has already given the blog some returns so I’m happy to reinvest some in the young Italian this week. Luckily there is still some 80/1 out there with a few firms which seems a lot fairer.

He struggled in Mauritius after his 5th place finish in Morocco but bounced back to form with a 12th place finish at the Nordea Masters last week. His game was in great shape as he ranked 9th for GIR and 2nd in scrambling. When we combine that with the fact he currently ranks 1st for total putting over the last 3 months then he starts to look a very nice each way price. With form figures of 12-41-5-11 you can see why some of the more shrewd bookies have cut his price and 80/1 in this field looks more than fair for an up and coming talent.

Gary Boyd closed last week with a 67 and that was his lowest round in a European Tour event on European soil in nearly 4 years. The Englishman has been out of form for a while now and hasn’t had a Top 10 since 2012 either. That was at the Italian Open on the Royal Park GCC track near Turin and he also finished 2nd there the previous year. The course is another one that requires a great deal of accuracy and the leaderboard was always littered with high GIR numbers. It also reminds me visually of Diamond Country Club as both have plenty water in play, tree-lined fairways and small greens. Boyd is in no way guaranteed to play well this week but it could be that he found something prior to Sunday’s 67 and he sits 20th in GIR for the last 3 months so he looks worth a small play on a course that should suit despite modest course form of MC-40-45.

Given how obvious Dustin Johnson and Joost Luiten’s chances are this week I’m going to have a small bet on the win double just in case.


Summary of Bets

St Jude Classic

Colt Knost – 1pt ew @ 40/1

Michael Thompson – 0.5pt ew @ 175/1

Lyoness Open

Nino Bertasio – 1pt ew @ 80/1

Gary Boyd – 0.5pt ew @ 125/1

Johnson + Luiten 1pt win double @ 62.75/1

 

Weekly outlay – 6pts

Total outlay – 654.6pts

@theGreek82