It was a poor week for the bets with nobody getting in contention and the fact that Alexander Bjork won the China Open made things even worse for me. Having followed him closely throughout his European Tour career I looked at him in detail last week but felt that his price had maybe gone by Tuesday afternoon. Not as annoying as missing Paisley earlier in the year though and we can’t back every player we like every week! But it did further highlight one of the most contentious subjects in golf betting though and that is “value”. Many shrewd professional sports bettors will never place a bet unless they perceive it to be value yet we see Jeremy Chapman churn out an impressive profit every week in the Racing Post, often making his selections blind before any prices come out and never worrying whether his players might be too short. I suppose for regular golf punters the answer lies somewhere in the middle and perhaps when the field is of lower strength there should be more flexibility given to what we think is value. This is very subjective however but I’m certainly regretting not tipping Bjork at 40/1 regardless of whether it was the right thing to do or not! But value and hindsight would make strange bedfellows in the sports betting game and in truth they should seldom be considered in the same thought process. So I’ll just forget about it, tell myself I made a shrewd judgement and move on to this week!
2018 pts advised = 177.50
2018 pts returned = 215.44pts
ROI = 21.37%
After a one year hiatus to allow the course to be set-up for last year’s US PGA Championship, the Wells Fargo returns to Quail Hollow this week which has been home since 2003. There is lots of form to look at although consideration must be given to the changes made ahead of last year, trees were removed, four holes were completely changed and new champion bermuda greens were laid. It’s hard to imagine that the feel of the whole course changed too much so consideration should be given to both last year’s PGA and historical Quail Hollow data. One thing that hasn’t changed is that Quail is still a ball-strikers course and it had long played like a championship course even before hosting the PGA last year. It rewarded long, accurate driving while approach shots were difficult with Thomas only hitting 63% on his way to winning.
However with bermuda greens added, last year’s PGA leaderboard included some bermuda experts but it’s hard to tell how much emphasis to put on that. It is interesting however that at that time, Thomas, Kisner, Reed, Molinari and DeLaet were all posting their best career major finishes to date. None of them had fantastic records at Quail Hollow or in major championships so the greens changing to their preferred surface together with a good ball-striking test looked like the ideal set-up for them. That is certainly the approach I’m taking this week. Neither Molinari or Matsuyama could be considered to be good putters but they ranked 8th and 7th respectively for putting at the PGA.
It’s foolish of me to assume that things are going to pan out as they did in August at the PGA but there are enough factors in play for me to pick two of those protagonists on value alone here. Patrick Reed finished runner-up at the US PGA long before he was seen donning the green jacket and perhaps that should have been a pointer that he was maybe getting to grips with playing majors. That would have no doubt given him plenty of confidence heading into the Masters and he finds himself arriving back at Quail Hollow on the crest of a wave and it’s difficult to know how he will play after that life changing event. But I’m backing him on price alone here as it’s my opinion that a player who finished 2nd at the course last time out and who won the Masters on their last start should be 3rd favourite here. Whatever factors are in play I struggle to see how there are 3 more likely winners this week. While Reed is possibly shorter than he might have been without winning the Masters I still don’t see how he is bigger than Fowler and I’m one of Fowler’s biggest fans. Lets not forget he was the one who got it done on Sunday and McIlroy had a shocker yet McIlroy’s price doesn’t seem to factor in that Sunday or indeed his struggles prior to his Bay Hill win. Again this is highly subjective but I would have Justin Thomas as favourite, McIlroy 2nd, Reed 3rd and Fowler 4th. Nothing that I have seen about Patrick Reed suggests that he is going to be less likely to win his next start because he won a Masters and if we think back to some of the fancy prices that Thomas was going off prior to being accepted as one of the best players around, there is scope for that here with Reed. I don’t know if he will ever become that prolific but if the Masters has announced him at the top table then 22/1 might just look a little silly in 2 months time. That’s certainly the view I’m taking and going to have a confident play on value alone.
After a slow start to the season Kevin Kisner has been playing brilliantly the last month and while this isn’t a Pete Dye course like he has been enjoying lately, it is on his preferred bermuda greens. Kisner led all the way to the 63rd hole of the U.S. PGA and in the end his lack of experience contending in majors probably did for him. But it more than suggested how suited he is to Quail Hollow in its new guise and with current form figures of 2-28-27-15 he looks far too big a price here even with a strong head of the market. There is still some 50/1 around with a few firms and that rates a very solid each way bet.
Sean O’Hair was 2nd on his last solo start at the Texas Open and he ranked 1st in ball-striking. That’s what led me to pick him and Walker last week but they never really got properly into contention. I’m giving O’Hair another chance this week though as a former winner at Quail Hollow and his last two Wells Fargo attempts have produced a 35th and a 20th. He also played well at the US PGA finishing 33rd and he ranked 4th for GIR. He didn’t quite get to grips with the new greens though and to be honest I have no real reason to think that will be different this time around as most of his winning has been on bentgrass greens. But he is playing well and is worth an each way go at 100/1.
It’s the European Tour’s turn this week to take over in the novelty stakes with the 2nd edition of the GolfSixes. To be fair it seemed like a fun enough tournament last year and while these tournaments maybe should have a place in the modern game I’m not convinced that they should take place right in the middle of the season. I was going to say that the players seem to agree but to be fair to them this is quite a decent field assembled here once we consider that most of the Tour’s elite players are seldom seen in any ET field never mind one of this nature. Last year’s winners Lucas Bjerregaard and Thorbjorn Olesen return to defend this week and they do so as the 11/2 favourites of a 16-team field. This year there are three “wildcard” teams entered which consist of the Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn playing with 2019 Solheim Cup captain Catriona Matthew, an England Ladies’ team of the supremely talented Georgia Hall and Charley Hull and a European Ladies team of Carlota Ciganda and Mel Reid. The tournament should be applauded for bringing together the mens and ladies games but I’m not sure that the bookmakers were fully aware that the ladies were playing off the ladies’ tees when they priced this up initially. Hall and Hull opened at a general 50/1 which seemed very big. GolfSixes confirmed in a tweet however that they would be playing off their own tees. More about the England ladies team later though after we have looked a little more closely at the event.
The Centurion Club hosts again in Herefordshire and last year it resembled many of the other courses in the area such as London Club, The Grove and Woburn. However it also has some more exposed holes but generally it is a tree-lined parkland course. The European Tour website lists the yardages and pars for each hole but there is no indication as to which holes they are. There are 2 x par 3s, 2 x par 4s and 2 x par 5s for a good mix of holes. The fact that it was won last year by two bombers suggests initially that there isn’t much trouble off the tee but I think that is perhaps as much down to the format as anything. They play 6 holes of “greensomes” match play and that is basically foursomes but with one key difference, the best tee-shot is picked on each hole. That gives teams with a big hitter quite an advantage as they can choose to find the fairway with the first tee-shot and then take a more aggressive line once position in the fairway is assured. That allowance for aggression would be of benefit in 18 holes match-play but that is even more pertinent in just 6 holes where going 1 up can often be all that is required to win the match. The 16 teams are divided into 4 groups where they play round robin matches with the top two in each group advancing to the knockout stages.
The course wasn’t designed by a big name in the golf course design world which is perhaps surprising given the exclusive nature of the course and from what I’ve read it gets mixed reviews. There are no stats available for the week’s golf but given what we know about the two Danes I’d imagine approach play will be the most important aspect at Centurion. When they are on their games they both hit an impressive number of greens and their position on any leaderboard is usually defined by their iron game. Where one mistake could prove costly and with two chances off the tee, one missed green could be the difference between winning and losing a match.
With 16 teams competing and the wide-open nature of this I thought my approach would be to just ignore the team’s trading below the pick-em odds of 15/1 but then when looking at the teams all the one’s I liked were below 15/1! That is of course until I saw the massive 50/1 about Georgia Hall and Charley Hull. I backed it straight away and tweeted that I thought it was a huge price so hopefully some of you got on. I appreciate that some of you will think the opposite here and with this the first event of its nature bringing both the European Tours together, essentially it is a game of opinions at this stage. They might be thrashed 4 and 2 in all three of their groups games and go home feeling a little bit gutted. But I really don’t think that will be the case. The Ladies game is so good at the moment that the only real difference is length and that is accounted for here with the separate tees. While it would be very hard to properly compare the standards of each, for my money the world rankings here simply make the English pairing far too big a price. Charley Hull is ranked 24th in the ladies game and Georgia Hall is ranked 35th so they combine for a team ranking of 59. The highest ranked man in the field is Kiradech Aphibarnrat (32nd) but he plays with world no. 306 Thongchai Jaidee. In fact the highest ranked mens team is also the English pairing of Matt Wallace and Eddie Pepperell who are ranked 91st and 100th respectively for a team combo of 191. It is never as simple as just looking at the world rankings but in the case of Hall and Hull we have two hungry 22-year-old Solheim Cup players who thrive in match play, have already played together and are on their way to the upper reaches of the game. Hull also arrives here off the back of a 3rd place finish on the LPGA where she hit 78% of her greens and she hasn’t missed a cut since July. She is also based down the road at Woburn GC and is used to this sort of course where the wind can be very hard to judge. Hall’s form is a little more modest but she is still acclimatising to the LPGA and she will be more comfortable back in England. The men lined up here don’t boast anything like their credentials and for my money that makes the ladies worth a speculative bet at 50/1. I’m a big fan of both Hall and Hull too so will happily cheer them on here as they attempt to further boost the ladies game in England this week. I honestly don’t know if I can see them winning this but it would be pretty exciting if they can get out of their group and they look the value play.
Despite just being 16 teams I thought I had better back one of the more favoured teams here this week too but I really don’t like any of them too much at all at these prices. If pushed to have one from the front I’d probably side with Aphibarnrat and Jaidee given how clutch Aphi is in match play. He won the Perth Golf Sixes for us in February getting up and down from practically every single spot around the 18th green. I can see him enjoying this format again and managing to bring Jaidee back to some sort of form. They played last year and got out of their group before losing to eventual runners-up, Australia. If they do get it going then they should take a bit of stopping so I’ll add them win only too where if they get to the final it’s probably better to trade out than waste 2 x the stake with the poor place terms available.
Summary of bets
Patrick Reed – 1.5pt ew @ 22/1 (1/5 odds 7 places Betfair Sportsbook)
Kevin Kisner – 1pt ew @ 50/1 (1/5 odds 6 places Betfred)
Sean O’Hair – 0.5pt ew @ 100/1 (1/5 odds 7 places general)
Kiradech Aphibarnrat + Thongchai Jaidee – 1pt win @ 12/1
Georgia Hall and Charley Hull – 1pt win @ 50/1
Weekly pts advised = 8pts
Total 2018 pts advised = 185.50pts