Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Bay Hill Betting without Tiger

No Europeantour action this week, or next, so I'm having an interest in the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill where Tiger Woods should have been going for his 9th WIN! Sadly, he's withdrawn citing continual back spasms and with The Masters looming, he obviously feels he needs rest rather than more title shots at this point in time. To be fair it was difficult to see him winning this week given his recent form. He's out now anyway, so who can capitalize? Bay Hill completes the Florida Swing in which this year has really tested the players and this week will be no exception. Emphasis will be on par-5 scoring this week; its where Tiger has dominated in his previous eight victories. That said, tidy scoring elsewhere is required and a number around -12 or possibly -11 might be enough to prevail come Sunday. Its a 7,800 yd course where accuracy is key and those that play the par-5s well to take advantage on their scorecard will be challenging.

I wanted to back GMac this week but hes a bit short for my liking as is Justin Rose (way too short even with Tiger out). For this week I've been looking at players that could surprise and put in a good performance and are available at decent odds. I've decided upon some TOP10 & TOP20 bets as well as a couple of each ways  and hopefully the event won't be delayed as it was last year and we can get uninterrupted TV viewing in the absence of no Europeantour golf.

First up is Zach Johnson, who to be fair is probably in the best form of his career right now, although has tailed off a bit in his last 3 starts with 16th his best finish. Previously though he was in awesome form and he's been on the radar for Augusta since January. He along with my second selection this week are firmly on the Masters shortlist and if Zach goes well here I'd expect to see his 33/1 odds slashed, so along with a punt here this week, Zach is also going on the staking plan for Augusta. He's 22/1 this week, which is a fair price. Decent previous form here which has seen him miss the cut just once in his 9 starts, and finish with 3 TOP10s and an 11th placing 2 years ago.

My second selection is Lee Westwood who is also being backed for Augusta. Lee is 66/1 this week (50/1 Augusta) and for me he's over-priced on both books. Recent coach change (back to Pete Cowan) may be timed to perfection and Bay Hill gives us a real good opportunity to see how his game is. Excellent off the tee, Westwood's putting stats are gradually improving and he's likely to play the par-5s well.He finished well down the field last year, and didn't play Bay Hill between then and 2008. He has a TOP 5 from 2006 albeit some time ago now but the key to scoring well is to know the course and thats backed up by the fact that there has not been a debutant winner of the API since 1980. With the first Major almost upon us, I'm expecting a big showing from Lee this week and I cannot ignore the 66s.

Recent winner, Russell Henley is in form and therefore cannot be ignored at present.He made his debut last year and missed the cut but confidence will be high having beaten Rory McIlroy in that playoff two weeks ago and he's worth chancing for a TOP10 @ 10/1.

Another outsider I can see putting in a decent showing here is Japan's Ryo Ishikawa. He's currently 29th on the FedEx Cup rankings having grabbed himself 2 TOP10s in his 11 starts this season. When you consider that he's made 7/11 cuts of which 6 of those saw him finish inside the TOP25, Ishikawa may be on the way to a more consistent campaign in 2014. From his total 78 starts on tour hes just made the TOP25 8 times previously so signs are he's improving vastly this year.Now ranked just outside 80th in the OWGR, he needs to produce a good result in one of the bigger tournaments to kick on and this could be a course and event that he can do that.He likes the par-5s too ! He ranks in the TOP10 on tour currently in par-5 scoring. I don't expect him to win so its a TOP10 & TOP20 punt for me @ 14/1 & 11/2.

My last 2 plays are both former Major winners, looking to desperately revive their careers.  Irishmen Padraig Harrington & Darren Clarke are a long way away from the winners enclosure but both are working hard on getting back to where they were and their experience where patience is key could help them sneak a TOP 20 placing provided they get a solid opening round under their belt.

Staking Plan: (9 pts)

1 pt e/w Z.Johnson @ 22/1     Titanbet
1 pt e/w L.Westwood @ 66/1 Titanbet

TOP 10
1 pt R.Henley @ 10/1 Betpack
1 pt R.Ishikawa @ 14/1 Betpack

TOP 
1 pt R.Ishikawa @ 11/2 Betpack
1 pt P.Harrington @ 11/2 Betpack
1 pt D.Clarke @ 16/1 Betpack

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