Wednesday, 21 June 2017

BMW International Open 2017 - Golfclub München Eichenried

Europeantour action heads to Golfclub München Eichenried this week and for the 23rd time for the BMW International Open. All but 6 of the events have been staged here and Pablo Larrazabal was the last to win it here in 2015. It was also his second victory having won in 2011. Henrik Stenson, also a twice winner but on two different course will defend his title. The field is strong with quite a few players arriving from Wisconsin including the Masters Champion, Sergio Garcia. 


We should see plenty of birdies this week and if entering your Daily Fantasy Teams over at Playon, it might be worth noting players who can go low and prefer the "birdiefests". 


If you haven't played at Playon yet, you can register here and avail of a free entry into any (£/$/€ )5.50 game by using the code "BIRDIE". The shortlists of late have proved to be quite helpful for me anyway with a few positive results to date

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From my shortlist, I really only like two players in the outright in Pablo Larrazabal @ 29.00 and Soomin Lee @ 300.00 whilst in the TOP20 markets, I'm interested in Lee, Ryan Fox and local boy, Bernd Ritthammer @ 10.00, 7.00 & 10.00 respectively.

As mentioned, Pablo is a twice winner here and is an individual that thrives on confidence. He'll arrive brimming with loads of it to Golfclub München Eichenried having won twice in the past here. He's been in ok-ish form this season too (9/11 events with 4 TOP20s) and he'll be out to outscore his friend and compatriot and Masters Champ, Garcia too. He will start in the afternoon wave on Thursday playing alongside Max Kieffer and Andy Sullivan. He contended strongly in Shenzhen and Beijing last month before cooling off in Sweden where he missed the cut but he'll be fresher than his fellow competitors arriving from last week's US Open at Erin Hills. I think the outright price is fair given his course form and recent efforts.

Soomin Lee has a much better chance than his odds imply this week. He may be just 6/12 events this season with a solitary TOP20 recorded in Beijing where he finished 9th and whilst he's missed the cut in his last two outings, he may find Golfclub München Eichenried more to his liking this week and he's taken @ 10.00 to produce enough to grab a TOP20. I've included him in the win market too, he's the type to just show up at any given time and I'm playing him @ 300.00 on Betfair with a view to getting some profit somewhere over the course of the tournament. The Korean is often overpriced and perhaps this week it's justified given his recent form but he'll like not only the course this week but the warmer weather too.

I've added Ryan Fox into the staking plan in the TOP20 market @ 7.00. The kiwi is a big hitter that should contend on low scoring events. He's 9/13, with 2 TOP20s earlier in the season, but he's shown in his last tournaments following extensive travel by finishing 21st & 23rd in Sweden and Austria. Rested since, Fox is a decent punt for a T20 here. He tees it up alongside Ben Evans who has got into the field at the last minute who I would have been keen to include in the TOP20, but I can only see SKYBET quoting odds of 8.00 and that's not a bet for me. (he does get included in the 10tofollowin2017 plan though). Fox will be up for the banter with the British & Irish players this week as his All Blacks rip the Lions apart in his hometown, Auckland,on Saturday, and with that he should be up for a good showing this week to rub it in!

Bernd Ritthammer is just 5/14 events but has posted 3 TOP25s. The Nuremberg
 native will be at home this week in Bavaria and will relish the upgrade for this weeks event instead of defending his Challenge Tour title in the Made in Denmark event. That title was one of three on the Challenge Tour last year that saw him promoted to the Europeantour and he'll tee it up on the back of 14-48-mc-40-mc from his last 5 starts. Home based player chomping at the bit this week and should be motivated to show his talent. He's worth taking at 10.00 in the T20 market to complete this weeks selections.


Selections

2.00 pts e/w P. Larrazabal @ 29.00
0.25 pts win S.Lee @ 300.00

1.75 pts TOP20 S. Lee @ 10.00
2.50 pts TOP20 R.Fox @ 7.00
1.50 pts TOP20 B. Ritthammer @ 10.00

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

US Open 2017 - Erin Hills, Wisconsin

The USGA bring their National Open Golf Championship to Wisconsin for the very first time this year and it promises to be an exciting week ahead. Erins GC will be the 7th public course to host the US Open and the 3rd in the last 4 years. It will be the first privately owned course to host the tournament. Having hosted the 2008 US Women's Amateur Public Links and the 2011 US Amateur Championships, former owner and founder, Bob Lang will see his dream realized this week when the US Open is added to its portfolio. Sadly, due to financial reasons, Lang had to sell the course to Andy & Carlene Ziegler in 2009. Due to family commitments this week, its highly probable that 6-time runner up, Phil Mickelson won't make his 14:20 tee time alongside local boy, Steve Stricker and Stewart Cink. A course that boasts a lucky charm as its logo hasn't been kind to significant interests so far (or perhaps the Zieglers see it that way).

Dustin Johnson hopes to defend his title and in doing so become the first to do so since Curtis Strange achieved this way back in 1989. Indeed, Johnson really should be going for a hat-trick this week as his three-putt on 18 at Chambers Bay allowed Jordan Spieth to double up from his Masters victory earlier that year. Johnson's US Open form is powerful; he also finished 4th at Pinehurst in 2014.Not only is his US Open form strong but he arrives here on the back of 7 TOP10s in his last 10 Majors (he did not play Augusta this year). He has also arrived this week having become a Daddy for the 2nd time on Monday.

To emphasize the chances of the world's best in the Majors, and particularly the chances of the current world's best, Jordan Spieth became only the 6th player in history to win the Masters/US Open double in 2015 and their closest rival presently, Jason Day has produced TOP10s in his last 4 US Opens (5/6 TOP10s in total). Rory McIlroy will go looking for his 2nd US Open title here and his 5th Major. The Masters champ will tee it up for the 18th time having only missed the cut twice in the past. He has 5 TOP10s. Justin Rose, winner at Merion in 2013 and the Olympic Gold Medallist, arrives this week looking to go one better than Augusta in April where he was beaten by Sergio Garcia in a play-off. Erin Hills looks to be a course ideal for Rose to add to his Major tally.

There has been a few notable golfers who won their first ever Major at the US Open ; Jack Nicklaus (1962 for his first professional title), Johnny Miller (1973) and Rory McIlroy and now that Sergio has handed the "best golfer never to win a Major" title over, Rickie Fowler looks to be the next in waiting and he can break through at Erins Hill this week. The Californian has missed the cut the last two years but was 2nd to Martin Kaymer at Pinehurst and 10th behind Justin Rose the year before.Rickie is 11/13 this season, with a win at The Honda classic and 6 T-10s , 9 T-20s. The second of those missed cuts came last week following an opening 76 in Memphis  but his runner-up finishing at Jacks Place the week before is evidence enough that his game is in fine form. As good a putter as Jordan Spieth, Fowler is a fine exponent of wind play which looks to be the key factor this week and his win at Gullane GC in Scotland two years ago as well as his win at Abu Dhabi in 2016, look to emphasize his prowess for wind playing. Erins Hill has been commented on as to be a course subject to wind. At 25/1 to do so, I'm backing him to claim his first Major this week in Wisconsin.

If I think Rickie is value @ 25s then former champion, Justin Rose has to be at 28/1. Despite no wins on tour this season ...yet, Rose's form is similar to Rickies as they rank similarly in Driving Distance, SG:TTG and SG:ARG. Rose with probably the slightly better game around the greens than Rickie, whereas Fowlers flatstick seems to be used a lot less than Justin's. The Masters defeat should ignite his confidence to go well here and if Erin's Hill needs a patient approach, then there aren't many better in that department than the Englishman.Justin is 6/11 in US Opens with a win and 3 TOP-10s.

Adam Scott could be a serious contender this week although despite solid Major form, its the US Open where he has yet to really excel.His best result to date was at Chambers Bay but has missed the cut 6 times in his 15 appearances to date. He does however seem better suited to this links type course and his 2017 form is progressive and can take confidence from a TOP10 finish last week in Memphis. 6th at Sawgrass and 9th at Augusta means Scott his bringing his best form into the big events. At 33/1 he is decent value this week.

When I first started to take a look at the course last year, I thought, its a course for Martin Kaymer. The 2014 Pinehurst conqueror hasn't won anywhere since but he's a big event player too and cannot be ignored too easily. That said, the market suggests that he is being ignored and is now available @ 100/1 + in places. That's huge for a two time Major Champion on linksy type courses in the US! The German can win anywhere (well maybe not at Augusta) and he's backed this up by winning The Players as well as 8 other European Tour titles at places such as Abu Dhabi( 3 times), Scotland (twice), Holland and France not to mention a WGC title in China. He's 5/6 on the Europeantour this year and 6/6 on the PGA tour culminating in 4 TOP10s. At 80/1 each way with 6 places on offer (1/4 odds with Bet365) he's worth a punt. At slightly bigger on the exchanges Kaymer can be backed to win @ 110.00

Ross Fisher is having a great season and won't be daunted here having played so well in the WGCs earlier this season already yielding a 6th at the HSBc and 3rd in Mexico.He'll make just his 4th appearance at the US Open this week having not played since 2010 but he was 5th at Bethpage in 2009. 22nd at Muirfield Village two weeks ago was ideal preparation and @ 200.00 outright and 125/1 each way with the 6 & 8 places on offer about, shows plenty of value. Tee to green, Fisher has the ideal game has proven himself in windy courses and conditions and with a perfect threeball out early on Thursday where he plays alongside fellow Horizon stablemate, Graeme McDowell and Lee Westwood, he may just be in for a good week.

From my shortlist earlier, I have three players that I'm keen to back in the TOP-20 market. Pat Perez,  Jamie Lovemark and in particular, Brendan Steele are also having solid seasons. All three rank ideally in the SG;TTG and DD as well as the crucial SG:ARG category. Only Lovemark has yet to win this season of the three but Perez has 9 TOP20s in his 17 starts with just one missed cut, Steele has 7 from his 14 starts (no MCs) and Lovemark has 4 from 15 (4 MCs) but arrives on the back of a TOP20 at the Byron Nelson and a TOP10 at The Memorial.

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Selections

2.0 pts e/w R.Fowler @ 26.00
1.75 pts e/w J. Rose @ 28.00
1.50 pts e/w A.Scott @ 34.00
0.75 pts e/w M.Kaymer @ 81.00
0.50 pts e/w R.Fisher @ 126.00

2.50 pts TOP20 B.Steele @ 7.00
2.50 pts TOP20 P.Perez @ 7.00
2.00 pts TOP20 J. Lovemark @ 8.50




Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Lyoness Open 2017 - Diamond Country Club, Austria

 A decent week last week but it was a week of "what-ifs" in Sweden, but some solid returns with three players yielding the profit. We move onto Austria this week for the Lyoness Open to be played once again at the Diamond Country Club where home favourite Bernd Wiesberger looks to be strong for the field and he heads the betting market @ 5.50

This post is very brief I'm afraid due to time constraints, but hopefully like the 2010 posts on the blog,it might bring some luck. With a very weak field and a strong favourite who I feel should prevail here I'm keeping selections to a minimum. With Mikko Korhonen a bit shorter than my tissue, I've opted to leave him be and instead jumped on Tom Lewis @ 71.00 - I had initially priced the Englishman @ 80s as per my shortlist, but subsequent to my pricing, both Chris Wood & Gregory Bourdy have withdrawn so the 71.00 still on offer is of value now. On three previous visits to the course he has produced 26-30-10 finishes, yet it was his 30th finish in 2013 that saw him shoot 63 in the first round that suggests the course is to his liking.So far this season, the resurgent Lewis is 8/9, which sees 4 TOP20s (44%). His last 3 events are positive; 18th in Portugal, 11th in Sicily and 41st in Sweden.

I've backed James Morrison at the Trophee Hassan (T-13th), Shenzhen (T-29th) and again at the Rocco Forte Open in Sicily (T-58th) in the past couple of months, and I'm even surprised that I'm going in again here this week @ 34.00 ! That said it's hard to ignore his recent form as he has been playing well without getting the results. As I tweeted during some of those events, he had developed a trend of finishing rounds with bogeys, merely a coincidence I hope, but if he can eliminate the mistakes, he can go in here. Finishing 4th last year with a weekend pair of 68s, "Jimbo" should be buoyed to go well this week in a field of this strength.

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Selections

1.00 pt WIN T. Lewis @ 71.00
1.50 pts E/W J. Morrison @ 34.00

3.00 pts TOP10 T. Lewis @ 7.00




Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Nordea Masters 2017 - Barseback GC

Alex Noren heads home for this week's Nordea Masters at the Barseback GC in Sweden having swooped last Sunday with a 62 to win the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth and in doing so complete his 5th victory inside 17 starts. He will tee it up hoping to win this title for the 3rd time, an event that has seen numerous multiple winners over the years, and if he is to complete the hat-trick he will do so on yet another different course than his previous victories. Winner in 2015 at the PGA National and in 2011 at Bro Hof, Noren's bid at Barseback will be the first bid of any player since the event was last played here in 2009 when formally known as the SAS Masters. His attempt back then is best forgotten as he missed the cut shooting 80 in round two. It's probably also worth noting that despite the hot form of late, Noren has struggled in all of his last 4 follow up tournaments following a win. I suspect that might change this week, being on home soil chasing the hat-trick.

Barseback Masters Course sits along the sea, although not a links course, the back nine can often resemble one. Results from 2009 and 2006 do suggest however, that those with solid links form will contend here. Accuracy is key in approaching the greens. On paper this does look like a Stenson v Noren contest but try as he might over the years, the Open Champion is yet to win this event. Barseback wasn't kind to him in the previous two hostings either so at short odds, I'm keen to look further down the field.


Bradley Dredge is a nice price this week @ 95.00 He's 5/7 events this season having missed the cut in both Shenzhen & Sicily with a patchy performance last week at Wentworth where he slipped own the leaderboard on Sunday with a closing 75. Barseback should be more his cup of tea though and if he finds the greens and brings his superb putting game, he could be a solid investment this week.

George Coetzee will tee it up on the 10th on Thursday morning alongside Bradley Dredge & Mikko Ilonen (former Nordea Masters winner). The South African @ 60.00 is well worth a punt this week. Following a return from injury last year, big George is now 7/12 this season with 5 of those being TOP20 but it's the 4 TOP10 returns that catches the eye despite a MC last week. He ranks inside the TOP50 for "Putting Average" and the course setup should suit here for his debut.

Finally I'm drawn towards both Alexander Bjork and Jeunghun Wang too. The Swede is in great form following graduation from the Challenge Tour. The 26 year old finished T-14th at Wentworth where his short game proved key. He's certainly in a progressive run of late and could be inspired in front of his home crowd this week or indeed in front of his investors from TradeinSports. I'll be investing in a good showing this week @ 110.00 outright as well as the 5.00 for a TOP20.

At a similar price, Wang is of interest this week despite being the complete opposite to Bjork in terms of recent form. However, he is the type of player to produce the goods any given week and he can add to his Europeantour title tally here to go with wind-affected courses demanding accuracy that he succeeded on in Mauritius, Morocco and Qatar. He's always overpriced and I like them here should he find his game.

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Selections:

0.50 pts B.Dredge WIN @ 95.00
0.50 pts G. Coetzee WIN @ 60.00
0.25 pts A.Bjork WIN @ 110.00
0.25 pts J.Wang WIN @ 110.00

2.00 pts TOP20 B.Dredge @ 4.50
2.00 pts TOP10 G. Coetzee @ 6.00
2.00 pts TOP20 A.Bjork @ 5.00
2.00 pts TOP20 J.Wang @ 5.00


Tuesday, 23 May 2017

BMW PGA Championship 2017 - Wentworth

We roll on to the Europeantour's flagship event this week, the BMW PGA Championship, to be played at the yet again, re-vamped Wentworth. This will also mark the start of the inaugural Rolex Series and therefore carries a purse of $7M. Whether the efforts to get the design of Wentworth right to appease the tour's leading players is down to maintaining this as the so-called flagship event or not remains to be seen, but with a purse of this size we get a stellar field in attendance. Unfortunately, Rory McIlroy, winner here in 2014, will be missing in action as he recovers from the rib injury that flared up again at Sawgrass two weeks ago. Favourtism is therefore handed to Justin Rose ahead of good friend, Henrik Stenson.

Whilst there have been a few changes made to the course in the past twelve months, centred mainly around the greens and fairway bunkers, the course should still reward good ball strikers who find the fairways and greens moreover than those that like to bomb their way around. Down the years we have had some shock winners but in recent times it's fair to say the winners enclosure is becoming a who's who of European golf and I believe the future cream of European golf will prevail once more this week.

Justin Rose goes off favourite but it's hard to get excited about his chances where he last produced a result here worth talking about back in 2012 when runner-up to Luke Donald. Form at the course since hasn't been great, but Rose is a world player now and may just be the type to take on the Rolex Series but he's too short here this week for a bet. So is Stenson, who has struggled to find the form that took him to Open glory last year and he can be dismissed based on loss of form and price.Its the pack just in behind that has my attention and it's very difficult to ignore the chances of Francesco Molinari this week. Yes, we all know Franni doesn't get it done coming down the stretch on Sundays but surely one who keeps knocking on the door will prevail at some point ? The Italian has been very consistent for over 18 months now and Wentworth is a course, just like Sawgrass that he has formidable form on. Sixth at The Players two weeks ago suggest he's comfortable returning to favourite tracks and returning a decent result at this moment in time, and if we are to ignore last year's effort here, we can be excited by the form of 5-7-9-7 in the four years previously. He's been plying his trade namely on the PGA tour this year where he is 11/12 with 4 TOP10s/8 TOP20s. He doesn't usually come in to my outright staking plans but @ 21.00 I'm happy to get involved. Alex Noren & Benny An at slightly bigger prices (22/1 & 25/1) are very appealing but of the three I prefer to side with the Italian this week although An, winner here two years ago is not dismissed lightly.

I've always thought Martin Kaymer would love Wentworth and win here some day and perhaps he will but I will overlook him here in preference to the two English lads, Tommy Fleetwood and Matty Fitzpatrick @ 33/1 & 40/1 respectively. Both are the future of the European Tour and both have started to put their own stamp on big events and will not be here this week looking solely for a big cheque! Fleetwood will be looking forward to the Open at Birkdale this summer as a home event for him and he'll be wanting to take the form right through to July starting here this week in the tour's biggest event. Tee to green, he is ideal for Wentworth despite a mixed bag of results in his 5 visits to date (6th being his best result two years ago). 41st at Sawgrass last time out and beaten in a playoff to Bernd Wiesberger in Shezhen prior to that, Fleetwood arrives rested and in form. He's 5/8 on tour this season with a win (Abu Dhabi) and 4 TOP5s, including a runners up placing behind Dustin Johnson at the WGC in Mexico. Always a good scorer on par-5s, Fleetwood has real chance to add to his title collection this week.

Matt Fitzpatrick arrives with some question marks following poor results of late but there is still some juice in the 40/1 price here. Two missed cuts at Hilton Head and Sawgrass are hardly deterrents for a selecting him here though. A solid Masters performance again at Augusta shouldn't be ignored and indeed results at the aforementioned WGC in Mexico as well as the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill are more encouraging where he posted 13 & 16th finishes. His game is well suited to Wentworth and should the flatstick get hot this week he has a good a chance as anyone this week.

Shane Lowry has form here and indeed should have won in 2014 ahead of Rory. He was on my shortlist of 15 here but given his schedule yet again this year seems to have no real flow to it, perhaps due to new fatherhood duties,and the fact he arrives with little form to ride on, he's omitted from the staking plan. I am hoping Shane's schedule will be focused for the remainder of the year as I fully expect him to win before the year is out.

Staking Plan

1.5 pts e/w F. Molinari @ 21.00
1.5 pts e/w T. Fleetwood @ 34.00
1.5 pts e/w M.Fitzpatrick @ 41.00


Wednesday, 17 May 2017

The Rocco Forte Open - Verdura Sicily

A slightly "better" field than last week's affair in Portugal move onto Sicily this week for the new Rocco Forte Open to be played at the Kyle Phillips designed Verdura Golf Resort, which hosted the Sicilian Open back in 2012. A picturesque golf course overlooking the Mediterranean Sea has brought a lot of admiration from those attending this if going by all the social media awash with photos and general high praise of the resort. The resort boasts two courses, from which a composite 18 holes will make up this week's Championship course. With just one years course history to go on, we need to factor in what type of player Verdura is most likely to suit and identify if any players have the pedigree to match it or indeed possess form on a Kyle Phillips design.

This blog backed Nicolas Colsaerts to win here back in 2012; he finished 3rd and he immediately jumps off the page again this week @ 35/1. The Belgian has solid form on links courses for which this week's course shares similar traits. Throw in Hilvershume GC in Holland, a Kyle Phillips course that hosted the KLM Open from 2010 to 2012 where he produced two TOP10s to complement decent efforts at The Alfred Dunhill Championships where another Phillips designed course, Kingsbarns, features, then he's bound to be excited to be returning here. He spends quite a bit of time in Mauritius too and practices on windy coastal courses, so he should be comfortable this week despite a loss of form of late where he's just 4/8 events with best finish a 28th in Qatar (windy coastal course). 39th and 42nd in Shenzhen & Beijing last month is encouraging ahead of his return to Sicily this week.

I'm going "third time lucky" with James Morrison here having backed him twice in April in Morocco and Shezhen where he finished 13th & 29th respectively. On both occasions he sat prominently on the leaderboard through 36 holes before slipping back each weekend. It's easy to drop him based on a non-return but he too has shown some solid form on links/windy courses that can't be ignored. Whether he's actually value in the betting can be argued, but I am finding it hard to leave him out even @  22/1. He's 8/9 this season producing 5 TOP20s (2*T10s), arrives fresh and can continue solid recent form with another bold showing here.


Selections:
1.50 pts e/w N. Colsaerts @ 36.00
1.50 pts e/w J. Morrison  @ 23.00


Tuesday, 9 May 2017

The Players Championship 2017 - TPC Sawgrass

Often dubbed the "5th Major", The Players Championship carries a huge purse that guarantees the cream of world golf will tee it up at TPC Sawgrass this week. It will also see the return to action of newly married, Rory McIlroy and the Masters Champion, Sergio Garcia. The TPC Sawgrass at Ponte Verdre, Florida has undergone some changes since last years event. The biggest change is the reseeding of the greens to a BermudaTifeagle type. They are forecasted to be running at 12.5 on the stimpmeter. The 12th hole has been significantly reduced in length to create a drive-able risk/reward hole. Over the years, the roll of honour suggests that no one particular key attribute can be assigned to a potential winner. The best of them though would be approach to the greens and scoring from there. Big hitters haven't appeared to have had an advantage. Rory's form suggests its a place he could and should win on it but he makes his debut this week as a married man and I'm not sure if he's fully prepared having been on honeymoon recently. Its certainly a good hunting ground for Sergio Garcia having won here back in 2008. He was runner-up in 2007 and 2015 and has produced T10s in 2014 & 2013 also. He'll be full of confidence here.

A tweet from World Gold ranking guru,"Nosferatu" (@VC606) highlighted the 10 players with the most World Ranking Points accumulated here the past 5 years and it was interesting to see 6 of those from my own shortlist on it. Sergio ranks in TOP5 despite not having won here in that 5 year period. Martin Kaymer, winner here in 2014 before going onto win at Pinehurst (his last win anywhere) is an interesting prospect this week. At best priced, 71.00 the German can end the drought here. He's been in decent form, gradually climbing the world rankings again and he's proven on Pete Dye designed courses and on windy ones as well. He's been getting close over the past twelve months to a return to the winners enclosure.

Russell Henley is a recent winner at The Houston Open and followed that up with a T15 at Augusta. His form at Sawgrass is not brilliant although he has a TOP20 in his four visits (2014). As good a putter as anyone on tour, Henley can improve on his recent form on a course that should suit him and if we get any wind those chances can only be enhanced. He's too big @ 81.00 anyway.

Patrick Cantlay has to be backed at the price but of course I could say this about a further 12-20 players in the field who represent value this week. Having returned to the tour this season, his results are encouraging. In his four starts this seasons he has finished no worse then 48th yet has two TOP5s to his name.He came up just a shot shy at the Valspar Championship in March and just two at the Pete Dye designed Harbour Town last month.He produced two T15s at the Junior Players Championship back in 2008 & 2009. At 25 years of age, the Californian has reached 131 in the world and has secured his card for the year. He could be about to fulfill his huge potential that was identified before his back injury and personal loss hit in 2016. He won't be a 125/1 shot for much longer and I'll happily have him on board here.

To complete my staking plan this week I've included TOP10 selections with Matt Kuchar, Matt Fitzpatrick and Sung Kang @ 5.75 , 11.00 and 15.00 respectively. The American is very consistent and has superb form here having won in 2012 and finishing 3rd last year. Matty Fitzpatrick missed the cut on debut last year and finished a lowly T43rd at The Junior Players Championship in 2011 but he's a different class these days and his deceptive,yet accurate long game, can help him here, not to mention his strong short game. The South Korea cannot be dismissed lightly any given week and he arrives here in brilliant form having finished runner-up at Houston, 6th at Valero Texas Open and 11th at The RBC Heritage. The 29 year old lies 29th in the FedEx Cup. A T25 at Riviera backed up a T15 at TPC Scottsdale. A final round 77 in his only appearance here back in 2012 saw him fall down the leaderboard and he'll be keen to do better this time round.

Selections

1.00 pts e/w M.Kaymer @ 71.00 (1-6)
1.00 pts e/w R. Henley @ 71.00 (1-6)
1.00 pts win P. Cantlay @ 126.00

1.00 pts T10 P. Cantlay @ 9.00
2.00 pts T10 M. Kuchar @ 5.75
2.00 pts T10 M.Fitzpatrick @ 11.00
2.00 pts T10 S.Kang @ 15.00



Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Volvo China Open 2016 - Topwin GC

I've spent quite some time trying to finalize a shortlist for this week's European Tour event in China, that I've left very little time to put an in depth preview together ahead of the first group teeing off later tonight (GMT).

The course does favour bigger hitters and with the field more or less the same as last week's event down the road in Shenzhen, I expect those that played well there to perform again in Beijing this week.

George Coetzee had a chance last week until the 72nd hole and he has every chance this week to reward his progressive season to date since returning from injury. I've opted however to side with both Thorbjorn Olesen and Pablo Larrazbal around the same price.(Big George should fly this week so!) Both are in form and the latter is in confident form following his tweet after the Shenzhen saying he was playing his best golf in a long time. He's certainly trending towards a win soon.

Peter Uihlein @ 28/1 just about gets a nod at the price. Course should suit and we can dismiss last year's WD as the wrist injury at the time explains it.

Finally, kiwi, Ryan Fox should arrive after resting up following a heavy schedule throughout February and March. He blew off a few cobwebs last week and will be better suited to Topwin GC this week. Has a Thursday afternoon tee time and the hope is that he can score well then and build on it early Friday to provide a trade on the exchange if possible and stay within the TOP20 come Sunday evening.


Please note - I will not be previewing the "Golf Sixes" event next week nor the Wells Fargo on the PGA Tour. Hopefully the little break can be celebrated following a winner in Beijing!

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Selections:

1.25 pts e/w T. Olesen @ 34.00
1.25 pts e/w P. Larrzabal @ 34.00
1.25 pts e/w P. Uihlein @ 29.00
0.50 pts win R.Fox @ 140.00
2.00 pts TOP20 R.Fox @ 4.00



Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Shenzhen International 2017 - Genzon GC

It was a typical golf betting tournament for the blog last week; a very frustrating one! After 36 holes on what is proving to be a tough golf course, the blog's outright selections, Grégory Havret and James Morrison sat proudly on top of the leaderboard with TOP20 hopefuls, David Drysdale and Ben Evans in around the required mark. Only Johan Carlsson disappointed. Having spent the Easter weekend away with my family, I was able to take a quick check on score mid Saturday afternoon to see both Morrisson and Havret well up there through 45 holes and I was actually growing in confidence of the Englishman's chances. Eventually getting to the bar later that evening and looking forward to enjoying a couple of nice beers, I opened the scores to horror as I continued to scroll down the page looking for Mr. Morrison. Somehow, he played the final 7 holes in +8 to tumble down the leaderboard. He returned on Sunday to post the round of the day and just miss out on the required TOP10 to add salt to the wound. With Morrison out of contention at the start of the final round, perhaps Grégory Havret could do the business, but no, he decided to have his worse round of the week and slide down the leaderboard too. To top it all off we ended up with two players finishing T-19th with six others, reducing our returns significantly.

I mention all this as I look at the field for this week's Shenzhen International in China, just 4 hours north of Hong Kong. Whilst I'm a fan of Tommy Fleetwood and indeed Ross Fisher, I cannot back them at these prices this week even if I do think Tommy is the one they have to beat here. I backed Peter Uihlein here last year where he duly missed the cut having arrived at the course with his putter having being stolen the week before at Valderrama. I'm not going to get excited about his chances this time round @ 25.00 Alexander Levy is of interest but again he's priced accordingly.

Instead I want to keep James Morrison on my side again this week @ 60.00 in the outright and 6.00 for a TOP10. He should arrive in good spirits following last Sunday's 68 (-5) to erase bad memories of the final 7 holes on the Saturday. In doing so, he produced his 5th TOP15 finish in 7 starts this season. As per last week's preview, he finished 6th at the Tshwane Open and 4th at the Joburg Open in his previous 2 starts, which came on the back of 12th in Malaysia and 23rd at the Dubai Desert Classic. Finishing 13th last week continues a good run of form and he can't be dismissed lightly here this week.

Grégory Havret also remains in the plan @ 101.00 and 5.50 for TOP20. His form is continuing with 3 TOP20s in his last 4 starts.



The tournament starts @ 06:30 local time, which is 23:30 tonight GMT. Entries for the weekly DFS game over at Playon will close just before the first ball is struck and entries are low at present so its worth considering signing up this week and having a go if you haven't done so already - Sign up to PlayOn Daily Fantasy Sports here

Staking Plan

1.00 pts WIN J.Morrison @ 60.00
0.50 pts WIN G.Havret @ 101.00
2.50 pts TOP10 J.Morrison @ 6.00
2.50 pts TOP20 G.Havret @ 5.50

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Trophee Hassan II - 2017

Royal Golf Dar Es Salam will host this year's Trophee Hassan tournament and Jeunghun Wang will defend for the first time in his career. The Korean beat Nacho Elvira last May to win his first title and having played at Augusta last week where a pair of 78s meant he missed the cut quite convincingly, he'll be glad to get back to the "bread and butter" stuff this week. The course will host for the third time having done so last year and also back in 2010 when Rhys Davies prevailed. Wang has made the trip from Atlanta along with Mike Weir, all others teeing it up here will be doing so having had quite a break since last competing.

Weather forecast is good for the week but we should expect the wind to play its part being a coastal course and at a lengthy 7600 yds,we should expect scoring to be high but possibly better than last years event when only 9 players bettered par. Perhaps the kikuyu grass type is a factor here too, as this is normally seen on South African and Australian courses, hence I suppose why Dean Burmester is market leader ?

Its not a great field this week but its a very competitive one. Victor Dubuisson reappears as he looks to get his career back on track and will have many supporters here where his scrambling skills will play a big part. Ryder Cup captain, Thomas Bjorn will tee it alongside Nicolas Colsaerts & Marcel Siem which is interesting considering that Nico's compatriot, Thomas Pieters will surely be on his team in Paris next year. The course with its length should suit the Belgian, although he finished quite lowly seven years ago here. There are a number of former winners of the tournament in the field, including Richie Ramsay, David Horsey, Alejandro Canizares, and Michael Hoey, who won on the Royal Palais course.

James Morrison @ 35/1 looks more than fair given his form of late. He finished 6th at the Tshwane Open and 4th at the Joburg Open in his last 2 starts, which came on the back of 12th in Malaysia and 23rd at the Dubai Desert Classic. Twice a winner on tour it's worth noting that these wins came at Madeira & The Open de Espana at the Real Club de Golf El Prat, two venues where wind is a strong factor. This part of the world could be to his liking! If the kikuyu grass is a factor, we should be encouraged by his South African results of late as well as his 13th place finish at The South African Open at Glendower GC.

Gregory Havret has shown in the past he can compete in tough conditions when finishing runner-up to GMac at the 2010 US Open at Pebble Beach. A former winner of the Scottish Open (Loch Lomond) the 40 year old has shown steady form of late and opened up at Pretoria GC 5 weeks ago to lead with a 65 before finishing T15th. He's simmering for a good week and will be comfortable in the French speaking Rabat for the week and the field strength will give him confidence. 80/1 appeals.

I put up David Drysdale in Malaysia recently where he duly missed the cut but I will have another interest here again. From his 8 starts this season he's had 1 TOP10 and another TOP20 in Pretoria and Leopard Creek. Has never won on tour but can put in a solid effort here again for a T20 @ 6.50.

Lastly, Johan Carlsson and Ben Evans, who both feature on my 10toFollowin2017 list can be backed at big prices this week. The Swede has gone off the boil of late, hence maybe the price increase, but I'm hoping the 5 weeks off will see him refreshed and ready to pick up from 2016 where he was 21/28 with 7 TOP20s. He's the missed the cut on his last 4 outings but should he get a decent start Thursday morning playing alongside Daniel Im and Nathan Holman, making the cut could be the catalyst for the first T20 of the season @ 15.00 ! Ben Evans should like it here- long track where accuracy may be key but hes returning from injury and has yet to find his form this season. Again the 5 week break could help and hopefully by the time his group tees off on Thursday (the last group off the 10th tee) he'll play in calmer conditions knowing what a "good score" to target. Currently available @ 800.00 on Betfair for the win and 10.00 for a TOP20.

Staking Plan

1.00 pts win J.Morrison @ 35.00
0.50 pts win G. Havret @ 81.00
0.10 pts win B.Evans @ 800.00

2.00 pts TOP10 J.Morrison @ 4.00
2.00 pts TOP20 G. Havret @ 5.00
1.90 pts TOP20 D. Drysdale @ 6.50
1.50 pts TOP20 J. Carlsson @ 15.00
1.00 pts TOP20 B.Evans @ 10.00


Monday, 3 April 2017

The Masters 2017

Augusta National Golf Club - the only course to host the same Major each year awaits the world's best for the first Major of the year where the World Number One, Dustin Johnson arrives looking to win four in a row and in doing so, capture his 2nd Major. He vies for favouritism with Jordan Spieth ahead of Rory McIlroy in the betting market. It's been a huge twelve months for DJ since he went off a best price 22/1 for The Masters last time, winning the US Open at Oakmont in June and winning another six times in sixteen starts since. He arrives hot, hoping to improve on his 4th place finish here in 2016 and 6th in 2015. He will face competition from Jordan Spieth who infamously "lost" the green jacket at the "Golden Bell",12th hole, when finishing runner up for the second time in three years to Danny Willett. Spieth sandwiched those two runner-up placings with victory in 2015. He will make his fourth appearance. Rory again goes in search of the missing Major to complete his slam and for me is the man to watch out for this year. Has Rory played enough competitive golf since returning from rib injury? Does he need to have is my question? He's not a bet for me here but I think we and Rory McIlroy are in for history making week.

Whilst last years installment was met with great excitement and anticipation, it doesn't quite feel the same this week with some of the market leaders arriving with questions to answer. Sadly, we may not see Jason Day in action due to his mother's illness and should he tee it up, it's hard to see him putting in an effort to wear that jacket that he's come so close to wearing in recent years.You could argue though, that now that the weight and recent worry over his Mum's health is out in the public domain, and the the recent operation is completed, he may be in better frame of mind and go on to excel in his first week back playing! Phil Mickelson usually thrives at Augusta but his recent form suggests he needs to find more if he's to win his fourth jacket  and he'll warm up in Houston looking to time his game to perfection. He can take heart that year on year we see the "veterans" continually threaten to challenge at Augusta but he hasn't won since the 2013 Open at Muirfield. He'll arrive with extra questions to answer over his gambling debts too! With the young guns now seeing to business on all tours, I would be surprised to see Messrs Langer and Couples perform well enough for a TOP20.

Just over a month ago, pundits believed Hideki Matsuyama had to "just show up" at Augusta, but his form has gone recently and with confidence dented, it's hard to see how his putting game can carry him to victory here - even more difficult to see at best price 21.00! There are a lot of question marks about, some more questionable than others such as the form of former winners Bubba Watson, Adam Scott and the defending champion, Danny Willett.  I've backed Justin Rose just as I did last year but you could question his recent form too. Debutants don't win at Augusta, Fuzzy Zoeller the last do so in 1979 but punters seem to think Jon Rahm can ! He's good, he's very good and the leading players may be vulnerable this year but history as shown the experience is required to outlast the field. He's ridiculously short in the market @ 22.00 Debutants can win of course and in time(over the next 10 years) I think we'll see a new Augusta trend develop. Far too many top class golfers about these days to right them off.

Sergio Garcia stated here in the past that he wasn't good enough to win a Major. Augusta may not provide him with his maiden Major but he has some form here to suggest he could. He's much happier in himself these days having found happiness and announcing his engagement to Angela Akins. But he's not for me here this week although is a strong candidate for the other 3 Majors later on. Henrik Stenson has decent form without ever really threatening to win at Augusta and following loss of form in recent weeks he can't be backed either.

Jordan Spieth will rally for this and he is remarkably strong minded and mature for his years to be able to cope with the demons of the 12th hole of twelve months ago. He'll be aware of course that some of the greats have suffered there in the past before returning to prevail.

It all points to a real opportunity for Rory and with bad weather forecasted, it may just be the chance he grabs to join the famous 5 and become only the 6th player in history to win all 4 Majors.He's just announced a new 10 year lucrative deal with Nike and will be in high spirits.

Dustin Johnson goes in search of his 4th straight win having captured the Genesis Open and two WGCs in recent weeks. Its the win at Riviera that brings extra confidence as Riviera form relates well with Masters performance. His Augusta form is progressive too and he arrives in the best form of his life. He deservedly shades favouritism ahead of Jordan & Rory.




Augusta Form and forming a betting Shortlist

The English team and Debutantes


Last year in my previews I went about culling players from the list to conclude a final shortlist. In my first preview "The Masters 2016 - Making the Shortlist, Part 1", I chopped Emiliano Grillo and Andy Sullivan from the off amongst others; I wouldn't be so hasty to chop these two this time round, particularly the former.Based on debutantes in the field, Part 2 saw Benny An, Soren Kjeldsen and Matty Fitzpatrick axed ! Whilst Bjeung Hun An missed the cut, Kjeldsen finished in a tie for 7th along with Matt Fitzpatrick. Grillo was 17th. It was in Part 4, where I spoke about the chances of Danny Willett. Willett went onto win on just his second visit on the back of becoming a father for the first time just days earlier. In that preview I opted to keep a quartet of Englishman onside and they didn't disappoint as Casey, Westwood and Rose all finished in the TOP10. It was some week for the English with the winner and 4 others in the T10 ! Can they repeat ? If Augusta form is vital then yes they can and their representation is bolstered by debutants Tyrell Hatton and  Tommy Fleetwood as well as returning Chris Wood, Ross Fisher and Andy Sullivan. Hatton & Fleetwood in the debutant market are of interest where Jon Rahm heads the market @ 3.50. The two Englishmen can be backed @ 8.00 & 9.00 where each way terms pays out on first 3. Thomas Pieters and Alex Noren @  8.50 & 11.00 respectively are also worth noting in this market and Noren's 4.00 to beat Henrik Stenson & Soren Kjeldsen in TOP Scandinavian market also appeals. I wouldn't ignore the 19.00 on Hudson Swafford in the first-timers category too lightly either


The Veterans vs the Young Guns

Jack Nicklaus is the oldest winner of The Masters at 46 years of age having won in 1986 by seeing off Seve & Greg Norman down the stretch. Mark O' Meara is the last 40 years plus player to win here in 1999. Can Phil Mickelson win his 4th jacket this week and eclipse Jack as the oldest ever ? He hasn't won in 4 years but has shown decent form of late but when he drives up Magnolia Lane this week everything becomes possible. The history of this age group in reality doesn't give much hope for Lee Westwood to break through despite his course form and same can be applied to Henrik Stenson, Steve Stricker, Pat Perez, Charley Hoffman and former winner Zach Johnson. Paul Casey will turn 40 in July for the 2nd round of The Open at Royal Birkdale. He could celebrate that as a Major winner already as Augusta is a course that he has produced solid efforts on over the years (10-11-20-mc-38-66-6-4) 51.00 to contend again this year represents some value and with 6 places available for the price. Justin Rose though at 34.00 is my bet for the second successive year. I agree with him that he is about to click at the right time having played so solidly all season to date. At 36 years of age, Rose can add to his solitary Major here if he can raise his putting game. Tee to green he is a perfect match for Augusta, has the temperament for the big ones and will go close again.Brandt Snedeker is another of this age group that brings the course experience into play and he has a chance. But he's had them before. Its the group of 25 - 30 year old that I am interested in looking at here this year.

The Value Pool


Augusta and The Masters usually follows a trend and those that have proven form here tend to be on the leaderboard each year. Danny Willett broke through last year at a time when world golf is being dominated by 20 somethings but he did so on the back of strong early season results and of course the "nappy factor". 21 players between the ages of 25 and 30 tee it up this week which includes the Sheffield man, the only player in the group to have captured the green jacket before. Rory looks to join him. So too does Jason Day, Hideki Matsuyama, Rickie Fowler, Patrick Reed and Brooks Koepka to name a few. Its Rory and Fowler I like most from this group and I expect a good showing from last week's winner and therefore final invitee, Russell Henley having backed him in 2015.

I backed Rickie last week and despite some mistakes he finished the tournament with another solid TOP5. His form this season cannot be ignored nor his Augusta form where he finished 5th in 2014 and 12th in 2015.(he missed the cut last year but I'm happy to ignore that one given he'd lost a playoff to Matsuyama just prior to this when he really should have won and it hurt him!)  At 25/1 he's proper value and cannot be left out of the staking plan. Apart from Dustin Johnson, he probably arrives as the next best form player.

Others to consider for side markets such as TOP10/20 are the already aforementioned Matty Fitzpatrick, Tyrell Hatton,Tommy Fleetwood and Alex Noren, whilst the likes of Matt Kuchar, Marc Leishman and Jimmy Walker are sure to hover on this part of the leaderboard.

Could we have a shock winner? If we are to, then Daniel Berger, Hudson Swafford, and Adam Hadwin could be the ones to monitor with Berger having produced a TOP10 on debut last year the more likely of the three.


Staking Plan 


1.00 pts win J.Rose @ 34.00
1.50 pts e/w R.Fowler @ 23.00 (8 places)
1.00 pts e/w P.Casey @ 51.00 (6 places)

1.50 pts e/w T. Fleetwood TOP Debutant @ 9.00 (3 places)
2.00 pts win A. Noren TOP Scandinavian @ 4.00



















Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Arnold Palmer Invitational 2017 - Bay Hill

This years Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill is set to be a poignant occasion, as it will be the first one since the passing of "The King" last September. A strong field has assembled this week, despite some journos questioning the absences of some of the Worlds top players, including the new number one, Dustin Johnson. The API unfortunately is scheduled the week before WGC and just three weeks before The Masters. It comes hot off the back of the WGC in Mexico too so I believe it's unfair to criticize those that are not attending this year. I'm sure there isn't a golfer out there, professional, amateur or fan who doesn't hold the greatest respect for Arnold Palmer and hopefully those at the Windermere course in Florida this week can mark the career of the man who was largely responsible for the professional game make-up that we have today. It will be an emotional week for his grandson, Sam Saunders who will play alongside Rory McIlroy and Brandt Snedeker. Rory heads the betting here ahead of course specialist, Henrik Stenson.


The Course


Bay Hill has undergone some changes recently meaning that the greens are becoming more Augusta-esque with run off areas designed to penalize those missing their targets. This was complemented by removing rough areas around the hazards and bunkers, often bail out areas. The rough is reported to be quite severe too but scoring should remain quite low. The scoring should be done on the par-5s this week. A cold putter will leave you trailing.


Shortlist & Selections


Tough week to reduce the field down to an average 10-man shortlist so I posted my 22 list on Monday with some players I was keen to check on, highlighted. Seán O'Hair was in my thoughts for this week but we withdrew last week at Copperhead with a neck injury. He plays though so perhaps it's not too bad. Was 2nd to Tiger Woods back in 2009, twelve months after finishing 3rd behind Tiger in 2008. He should have won in 2009 having taken a 5 shot lead into Sunday and was pipped by a birdie at the last from Woods. Recent form is solid if ignoring last week as he's posted 4 TOP15s in his last 7. He's worth a play here despite injury concerns given his previous course form and obvious recent form - the early departure last week gives him more time to be ready this week.

Zach Johnson may not be a name you'd associate with "par-5 scoring requirement" but it's very difficult to ignore his course form here and if a short game around the games is required, the double Major Champion has the game to contend yet again. 5th last year on the back of a TOP10 in 2015, Zach was also 3rd back in 2009 here. He's been quiet of late despite 6th at The Sony Open and T12th at The Phoenix Open, so a man of his character could rise to the occasion that represents itself this week in celebration of the great Arnold Palmer. 67.00 outright is value for me but the T10 & T20 markets reflect his obvious chances and represent no value. He will have to be an outright (or e/w) bet or back-to-lay bet.

I like to get players who are coming in with solid recent form and there's a few doing so this week. Namely, Wesley Bryan who can't seem to miss the frame at the moment. He's finished 4-4-7 in last 3 events to really find his game. How he fares at Bay Hill remains to be seen but his price is about right this week @ 60.00 The Europeans though are arriving with excellent form in the shapes of Tyrell Hatton,Thomas Pieters, Francesco Molinari, Justin Rose, Paul Casey, Matty Fitzpatrick and of course Henrik Stenson & Rory McIlroy. The Olympic Champion is a win bet for me here as he too seems at ease at this course with 4 TOP10s in his 8 visits. Rose was my Masters ante-post bet last month @ 33/1 and I'm anxious to see him warm up here with three weeks to go. He plays alongside his buddy, Henrik Stenson the first two days which is a huge positive for me. They should rub off each other, and put themselves in the mix for the weekend ahead.

 Another European and an old favourite of mine is simmering of late, indeed for some time now. He last played here in 2008 when missing the cut but he's a much more accomplished player these days. Martin Kaymer is a double Major Champion on US soil, has won The Players and excels in the big events.He'll play alongside Jason Day, the defending champion and Bubba Watson. The German will be encouraged by his TOP5 at PGA National on greens similar to Bay Hill. Looking at his results the past twelve months we can be encouraged by his performances on the tougher courses such as Valderrama, the K Club, le Golf National,Wentworth, Baltusrol, to mention a few. Kaymer is due another big one and is the type of player that can click any given week- preferably one when he's 85.00 !!

Lastly, I'm playing the TOP20 market with Chad Campbell @ 7.50 The 4-time PGA winner has shown positive signs of return to form of late having posted a TOP15 last week on the back of T6th at The Career Builder in January. Its been a struggle the past 5 years for the Texan, but he did produce a TOP20 here twelve months ago. He ranks 14th on tour presently for par-5 scoring, will be encouraged by his performance at La Quinta and can put in another solid week at a course he knows well having won here way back in 2004.


Staking Plan


2.00 pts WIN J.Rose @ 21.00
0.50 pts E/W Z.Johnson @ 61.00 (6 places)
0.25 pts WIN S. O'Hair @ 151.00
0.75 pts WIN M. Kaymer @ 85.00

1.50 pts TOP10 M.Kaymer @ 6.00
1.50 pts TOP20 S. O'Hair @ 5.50
3.00 pts TOP20 C.Campbell @ 7.50

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Valspar Championship 2017 - Copperhead, Innsbrook

It's a short journey across the Gulf of Mexico for the PGA Tour this week where the Valspar Championship will be held on one of the tour's toughest courses. Its a week where par is good and for those that can stay patient and bank the birdies when they come and post a score in a round -10, an exciting Sunday finish at "The Snake Pit" awaits. Justin Thomas leads the market from Henrik Stenson. This tournament has seen many Major winners prevail here such is the difficulty of the course.


The Course


Copperhead underwent some renovations before last years event in particular the greens, which by reports were much slower then usual. They are expected to be fast again this time round. The course repeatedly ranks in the TOP5 for difficulty in terms of putting as well as GIR. Players need to be striking it well and accurate to compete. on this par-71 layout we still have 4 Par-4s, but 5 Par-3s. These short holes rank as one of the toughest par-3 scoring courses the players will play on tour. Throw in a bit of wind around the gulf, and we have another competitive event where the favourites can be taken on although Stenson is the man to beat for me here.


Selections


I put up Jason Dufner for the Honda Classic a couple of weeks back where he finished T14th. He finished well in Mexico too last week suggesting his game is in good shape and so @ 51.00 he's worth having onside again. He tees it up for the tenth consecutive year here and has finished no worse than 28th in 2011, 2010. "The Duf" has shown in the past that his best performances come at these type of events, where he's a winner of the PGA Championship in 2013 at Oak Hill CC, a winner at New Orleans as well as the Byron Nelson. Dufner has also contested well at Colonial not to mention 4 TOP20s at the last 4 US Opens of which 2 were TOP5s. He revels tough conditions "

Ryan Moore @ 25s could be right but I wanted a bit more for someone who hasn't won as often as he should have. He should contend this week on a track he clearly likes having finished 3rd & 5th the last two years. Instead, I'll opt for Webb Simpson @ 61.00 e/w with Paddypower who will pay out 1/5 odds up to 7 places this week. Simpson has started to show signs of late that his game is getting back to where it was when winning the US Open in 2012 and although his last victory came in 2013, course such as Copperhead are ideal for him. He did however miss the cut on his last two visits but form prior was good showing 17-10-2-13. He recently missed out on victory at the Phoenix Open losing in a playoff to Hideki Matsuyama and is value in this field on this course this week.

Staking Plan

1.00 pt win J.Dufner @ 51.00
0.50 pt win W.Simpson @ 61.00

0.50 pts e/w W.Simpson @ 61.00 (7 places)
2.50 pts TOP20 J.Dufner @ 3.25


Hero Indian Open 2017 - DLF Country Club

Yet another new course for us to take in this week, this time on the Europeantour as the players head to India. From onsite comments this week from players, caddies and journalists, it seems we could be in for a treat with tight scoring predicted. Following on from Mexico last week, golf tournaments are finally beginning to challenge the players all-round game, and we'll see the same this week on the PGA Tour as players head to Innsbrook for the Valspar Championship, one of the toughest courses on tour. Here in India, we have what appears to be a huge change in course type from the Delhi GC used in recent years.


The Course


DLF CC is a Gary Player Design course which opened in 2015. It forms part of the resort where The Palmer course has been used for the Avantha Masters in the past. This is a long course with multiple tee boxes available to shorten or lengthen the holes each day if needed. The 5th hole, a par-3, resembles Sawgrass' 17th island green but it's the closing 4-5 holes where the fun could be. Two 600yd+ par 5s on 15 & 18 are no respite for a par-3, 275 yd 16th. Reports of the actual length being in play this week are varied between 7,300 - 7,600 yds but it can be assumed that this a course where driving will be key. So too will approach play as the fairways can be quite undulating and many of the greens are big, sloping and fast. Players have predicted the winning score to be in around -10.


Shortlists and Selections


With no previous form to go on, it might have been obvious to stick with the market leaders here as the field strength is quite weak. Anirban Lahiri heads the betting having won his home Open two years ago and finishing runner up to SSP Chawrasia twelve months ago. Indeed, Lahiri has been playing in stronger fields of late and on paper it suggests that this week's tourney is between him and Rafael Cabrera Bello, who surely must win soon? I was initially keen on Peter Uihlein's chances this week but not so keen now at 16s. Kiradech Aphibarnrat should be suited to this course but swing changes of late and a dip in confidence make siding with the Thai, risky. But he can compete in the bigger fields and may just fancy his chances this week if taking to the course. At 25s though, the price is just about fair. Scott Hend though is an interesting runner! One of the biggest hitters on tour, the Aussie seems to produce his best results in the Asian Tour events and if the bigger hitters are to contend at DLF, Hend is sure to be up there. He would make my DFS lineups at Playon.

My first pick is Stephen Gallacher @ 65.00 The Scot has endured a bit of a slump since his Ryder Cup debut three years ago but has started the year in decent form. Maybe that's to be expected as he always produces his best results in the Desert Swing where he made TOP10 in Dubai once again in January although he missed the cut in both Abu Dhabi & Qatar. But form prior to this is encouraging also ; 10th at The Australian PGA and 25th in Hong Kong. He ended the 2016 season with two TOP15 finishes at the British and Portugal Masters. He arrives fresh here this week having not traveled to South Africa and Perth recently. Not a prolific winner on tour but who is in this field? Perhaps Jordan Smith and Roman Langasque will in their time and its exciting times for Phacara Kangwatmai who showed his ability in Perth at the Super6. But for this week, I can't ignore the possible course suitability for the Scotsman and he could be inspired to win again having witnessed his good friend, Paul Lawrie do just that in South Africa only last month.

I will conclude the staking plan this week with the home favourite Anirban Lahiri @ 9.00 Having backed the Indian in Dubai and Malaysia, it could be a case of third time lucky. From interviews on Europeantour, Lahiri has indicated that solid ball striking is a requirement of which he excels at. He's shown in previous events that the added pressure being the home player doesn't affect him and he can make his trip home a profitable one.

I was tempted by a TOP20 bet on Jyoti Randhawa this week who has a fantastic record in his home Open. Although now divorced, he will be joined by his brother-in-law in the field, Digvijay Singh, and he could be worth a play in that market.

Selections


3.00 pts win A. Lahiri @ 9.00
0.50 pts win S. Gallacher @ 65.00
2.50 pts TOP20 S.Gallacher @ 3.25

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Tshwane Open 2017 - Pretoria CC

Following torrential rain last week in Johannesburg where the Sunshine Tour & Europeantour decided not to go to a Monday finish, action heads west for the Tshwane Open to be played at the exclusive Pretoria CC. I wonder if there wasn't a WGC event on this week, would the ruling bodies have gone to a Monday finish last week ? Weather forecast is much better this week and it looks like we will get 4 rounds in. The Tshwane Open has been cursed with bad weather in the past!

It was a frustrating week for us last week as our TOP10 bet, Dylan Fritelli hovered around the 10th placing all week before settling for a T16th just 2 shots back. Graeme Storm never got going and needed a low one to finish higher than his result of T38 and grab some T20 money, but it was an event to forget about. Over on the PGA Tour, both selections threatened to deliver tidy profit. Seán O'Hair did finish TOP20 and Jason Dufner double-bogeyed his 71st hole to shut the door on a TOP10 payout.

We go again

The Course


Pretoria CC is an old course and short at just 6800 yds over a par of 70. Its the home course to market leader, George Coetzee who won here two years ago with a score of 266 (-14). He needed a closing 65 to see of Jacques Blaauw by a shot who closed with a 61. However, they were both a few shots ahead of the rest of the field and so was Charl Schwartzel when he romped to a 8 shot victory twelve months ago with a score of 264. It's worth noting that just 20 players bettered par last year. Judging by twitter feeds during the week from the players practicing we must take note of the rough in play, putting emphasis on accuracy this week. David Horsey reckons though if it dries out it will be ok! With accuracy a premium, it should mean Thomas Aiken makes the shortlist, but its time to leave the Joburger off the shortlist for the foreseeable future as he just doesn't seem to perform when the opportunity for him to do so manifests itself.  In my opinion, George Coetzee, who is no stranger to the course having been brought up playing on the course, will be the man to beat this week.

For a flyover of Pretoria CC, have a look at this video here (might be an idea to watch with sound off 😉)



Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Honda Classic 2017 - PGA National, Florida

PGA Tour action moves across to the East Coast this week and to the very difficult par-70, PGA National GC at Palm Beach Gardens. The "West Coast Swing" saw in-form players and therefore market leaders, Hideki Matsuyama, Jordan Spieth and Dustin Johnson conquer the respective fields. Having spend the past couple of weeks on poa annua greens, some players will be delighted to see bentgrass greens in play. But its the wind factor and course difficulty that should be factored into the staking plan here. Solid ball strikers do well here as too do Major Champions ! Adam Scott will defend. The Aussie warmed up nicely without really contending last week (who did as DJ romped away with it at Riviera?) and is par or better for his last 8 rounds here. Emphasis should be on accuracy for both off the tee and GIR. Patience will be key as the winning score is likely to be in around 270 (-10)

I was keen to get on Rickie Fowler for this but I can't at the price (18/1). Strong wind player, Rickie is in decent form and this could be a big year for the tours leading "bogey avoidance" player.


Joburg Open 2017 - Royal Johannesburg and Kensington GC

Europeantour action returns to Johannesburg this week for the 200+ field contending the Joburg Open to be played once again at the Royal Johannesburg & Kensington GC over two courses, the easier West course, which  played almost 2 shots lower than the other course, the East course last year. The East will be in play for three rounds though with each player having played both on days one & two before the cut is made.The RJ&K requires accuracy, and strong GIR stats have been to the fore on leaderboards in recent years. As per the norm in these co-sanctioned events in South Africa, the home based players have a solid record but it's also worth noting that quite a few first time winners have gone in here. With such a huge field its hard to get excited about any of the market leaders considering price, but there really isn't much standout quality in this field, and you would expect one of the leading half dozen players in the market to see it out. But with a lot of thunderstorms forecasted for the week, it could get messy and the draw may play its part again, and those out on Thursday morning on the easier West Course might just get lucky.

Some players arrive here from Perth having also played in Malaysia the week before and indeed some also played in the Middle East- I expect these to be tired and should the tournament become a stop/start affair, these players shouldn't really be in contention - that's my thinking anyway. These players include Jordan Smith, Thomas Detry, Ryan Fox and Nathan Kimsey.

The Courses:


Both courses feature the kikuyu grass on its fairways and rough, which were a feature at Riviera last week in Los Angeles. The greens are poa annua. As with last week's PGA Tour event not all players will be au fait with kikuyu again bringing the home contingent into the reckoning. The golf club is on a hill at altitude, so wind will be a factor and with the weather forecasted that wind will be a real factor this week.

Shortlist and Selections:


Ireland's Paul Dunne produced a TOP10 on his debut twelve months ago and England's Anthony Wall seems to like here too with three TOP10s in his last three visits. Both are in decent form of late and made my shortlist. David Drysdale has two TOP3 finishes here as well as two TOP15s but missed the cut the last two years. However, he was 7th at the recent South African Open and was 11th at the Alfred Dunhill Championships on his recent trips to South Africa. Paul Waring, Ross McGowan and David Howell have banked course form here but the rest of the form sits strongly with the home players. One such player is a player that I've backed a few times for this and that's local boy, Thomas Aiken and this is a tournament that he would dearly love to win.


Graeme Storm held off Rory McIlroy to win the South African Open last month and he was 4th at the Alfred Dunhill Championship on his previous visit to SA in December at Leopard Creek. The win here last month was huge for the Englishman and he'll look forward to a revisit to this part of the world this week and having rested, he should be fresh and chopping at the bit. He's overpriced in my opinion in the outright (67.00) as well as the TOP20 (4.00) Whether he can follow up with another win so quickly having taken ten years in between the French Open in 2007 and last month's victory remains to be seen but confidence in this game is like an extra club at times.

Thomas Aiken is in solid form of late, will be at home this week and knows the RJ&K course better than anyone. I'm happy to see the 23.00 about for his chances this week. He didn't play last year as he sought a season on the PGA Tour but previous five years' results read 10-5-6-24-3. Recent form is very strong ; 6/5 this season with 4 TOP20s of which 3 are TOP5's ! Ranked number one for GIR, this week represents probably his best chance to prevail at his home Joburg Open.

Given first time winners have prevailed here a number of times, Dylan Frittelli has to be included. 9 TOP10s on the Challenge Tour saw him win the coveted Rolex Trophy in 2016, and although results this season are patchy its worth noting his best results have come in his homeland. Another Joburger, Frittelli produced a TOP10 last week at the Sunshine Tour's Data Dimension Pro-AM having lost a play-off the week before at the Eye of Africa Championship. This home form cannot be ignored and the 55.00 outright represents a good price as does the 7.00 for TOP10.


The Asian players, Soomin Lee & Ashun Wu are a nice price this week and I wanted to get them on board and may do so if there is any drift today/tomorrow or indeed they get the draw I'm hoping for based on above. Paul Dunne and Chris Paisley were left out based on price alone but would not be surprised to see TOP20s from them both. Its Jacques Blaauw though that I may get involved with in-running as he has been in fine form in much better grades of late when finishing 6th on the web.com tour in Colombia two weeks ago.


Selections:

2.00 pts T. Aiken @ 23.00
0.50 pts D. Frittelli @ 55.00
0.50 pts G.Storm @ 67.00

2.50 pts TOP20 G.Storm @ 4.00
2.50 pts TOP10 D. Frittelli @ 7.00



Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Genesis Open - 2017

The PGA Tour boasts a stellar field this week as Riviera GC hosts the newly named, Genesis Open. Previously know as the Northern Trust Open and originally as The Los Angeles Open, the event was on Tiger Woods schedule until back spasms in Dubai forced his withdrawal. We will however, see 8 out of the TOP10 World Ranking players in attendance. "Hogan's Alley" as Riviera GC is affectionately known, will see Jordan Spieth, Hideki Matsuyama and Sergio Garcia tee it up coming off wins last time out. Justin Thomas arrives having won twice is his last three starts. Past performances here suggest that players need to be inform to contend this week, and those with course experience should do better than others. Bubba Watson is a two time champion here with a further 4 TOP20s to his name, so clearly he likes the course. A case be made for many of the leading players and it will be hard to see an outsider prevail here given the form of the leading players right now. But we have seen "shock" winners here of late including James Hahn in 2015 and John Merrick back in 2013. Even Aaron Baddeley in 2011 was a triple figure price.

The Course


Riviera ranks as the 5th hardest course on the PGA Tour. A lot has been made of the grass type on the fairways here - kikuyu grass which is not widely seen on the Tour and is a grass type that suits South Africans and to some extent, Australians. Sangmoon Bae who finished TOP10 in 2015 remarked that the grass was to his liking as he was used to it in Japan & Korea. Those fairways can be uneven but they are narrow on a tree-lined setup and its crucial to find the right side of them to approach the greens. Small, hard to hold greens are a feature here and are considered lightening fast. On first glance the course seems to favour the bigger hitters and on recent result it does suggest that the bombers will contend but emphasis on accurate play is key too. Those with a sound short game this week will do well. It's a course that will test every department of the game and reiterates the requirement to be coming into the week with some form of which we have plenty to consider! Hogan's Alley is a ball strikers course and if the TV companies could somehow one day get down to showing some actual golf across the course we'd be treated to an exhibition this week. The 10th Hole is a clever hole, a real risk/reward hole that most players will drive or attempt to drive it. But can they hold it or better still give themselves a chance of a second shot should they miss too far left?

World Super 6 Perth - 2017

Karrinyup GC in Perth Australia hosts the inaugural "World Super 6 Perth" this week amidst a lot of eyebrow raising and a general dismissive public reaction. It's an innovative punt by The Europeantour to try and mix it up and why not? I for one am tired of the TV coverage offered by Sky Sports and this new format may just give us the viewer an opportunity to see more golfers and more golf! As with amateur golf, the idea of playing qualifying strokeplay before an event concludes with matchplay is not new. Playing over just 6 holes to create the excitement is and should it take off and be a success I can enviasge more of the top players coming on board. Its the "decider" played to the 18th green from a purpose built tee that may need tweaking but let's see how it unfolds this week. If luck is to play it's part it will happen on Sunday, the 24 qualifiers will have already played themselves into contention.

The Format


156 players will tee it up in threeballs on Thursday and play as normal for the first two days. All 156 players will as normal be looking to make the top65 cut and therefore play "the weekend". On Saturday these 65 & ties will continue to play as normal but try position themselves to sit within the top24 on the leaderboard at the conclusion of 54 holes. The TOP24 then will play on Sunday in a matchplay over 6 holes. Should we have more than 24 players at the Saturday conclusion, those players will playoff until the 24 are decided. The top8 receive a bye and so the remaining 16 enter the first round of matchplay. This first round of matches will leave 8 players to meet up with the top8 and 8 matches will head out to play another "Super 6" until we are left with a quarter-final lineup.If any match is tied after 6 holes then they playoff at the purpose built 18th. In theory the TOP8 players would need to win 4 matchplays whilst the other 16 would need to win 5 to take the title. It could be a winner for spectators and TV viewers and may also be an ideal trading event betting wise. 5 books as of Tuesday, 14th are offering 54 outright betting for those that prefer there run of the mill tournaments.Whatever the outcome it's different and the Europeantour need something new.....but playing it in Australia when most of the TV viewers in Europe will be sleeping and in the US, the PGA Tour will be live may not have been ideal. Asian reaction will be key to it's success.

The 6 holes will be as follows

1st Par 4 322yds 2nd Par 4 468yds 8th Par 3 220yds 11th Par 5 553yds 12th Par 3 148yds 18th Par 4 444yds


The Contenders


Its a very weak field for the inaugural event with Louis Oosthuizen & Alex Noren the class acts of the field. A decent start is required this week and there should be plenty of leaderboard watching from the players. I pity any player who leads by 6 after 54 holes this week.....it will be a bitter pill to swallow knowing he's back level with the field come Sunday as they all start anew. For me, Karrinyup will suit long straight hitters who can find the greens, and in matchplay, those getting in close first can put the pressure on. Do we side with players with strong GIR stats, those who can play in the wind or those that will put the pressure on the approach shots first? The new format gives everyone a chance here should they make it to Sunday but at only 24, I would tend to favour the likes of Noren & Oosty here to make it to Sunday. Their presence against the rest over 6 holes, makes them 1UP already in my book and Noren will have fond memories of the Paul Larwrie Matchplay last year where he made the final (albeit over 18). It could well be all buts and ifs this week so the staking plan is limited, after all we do have a mouth-watering affair in Los Angeles going on too.  From my shortlist though I'm gonna play Ben Evans and Ryan Fox as well as Gangajeet Bhullar to reach the quarter finals (top8 finish as opposed to the TOP8 qualifiers from strokeplay) @ 17.00


Staking Plan

0.25 pts win B.Evans @ 250.00
0.50 pts win R. Fox @ 36.00
1.00 pts TOP8 B.Evans @ 21.00
1.25 pts TOP8 R.Fox @ 6.00
1.00 pts TOP8 G.Bhullar @ 17

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Maybank Championship 2017

The Desert Swing concluded last week with some very disappointed players voicing their frustration with the way the 2nd round was halted but the organizers will have been delighted to see the high profile players in contention as Sergio Garcia saw off Henrik Stenson to take the title. It's long flights for those moving onto this week's event just outside Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia where the Maybank Championship will be held for the 2nd time following a successful event at The Selangor GC twelve months ago. Charl Schwartzel fights favouritism here with Rafa Cabrera Bello, with the latter in excellent form without winning.

The Course


Suajana GC has been used 7 times in the past for the Malaysia Open and also for the 2002 Eisenhower Trophy. Its worth noting that the defending champion this week, Marcus Fraser won the individual event at the Eisenhower here. The Course is not long, but it's tree lined, undulating and features smallish greens. Accuracy seems to be the key this week and it will be interesting to see if course enhancements since 2009 will make the scoring more difficult; birdies were abound in those 7 Malaysia Opens. Greens wont be running as fast as normal either so putting will be paramount this week and therefore those with strong GIR and Proximity to the Hole should feature come Sunday. As a co-sanctioned event in this part of the world, it can pay to side with those most familiar with the monsoon climate as well as course experience and Thongchai Jaidee who is a double winner at the course must be on the shortlist having won the Malaysia Open in 2004 and 2005 at Saujana GC. Another notable winner here at Saujana is Lee Westwood who does tend to perform in Asia, backed up by his win of the Malaysian Open in 2014.

Shortlist & Selections

The shortlist couldn't be reduced any further from the 14 that I listed as I once again thought about the TOP20 market more so than the outright. Bernd Wiesberger is very short in the betting @ 14/1 and wouldn't be a bet for me but I think he is the one to beat this week. Runner Up in Malaysia in 2014 & 2015, the Austrian's consistent play of late should see him do well here this week and it is his strong GIR stats that could be key to tackling Saujana and posting the score to beat. We know he can keep form, and we know that he can play in KL and adapt to weather conditions that it presents so he would be a key player to have on your weekly PlayOn Fantasy Team


Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Dubai Desert Classic 2017

We have the final leg of the Desert Swing in Dubai this week but unfortunately we won't see Rory McIlroy playing alongside Tiger Woods due to his ongoing recovery from the rib injury sustained in Johannesburg a couple of weeks ago. Instead, Tiger Woods will tee it for the first two days with Masters Champion, Danny Willett and Matty Fitzpatrick. Henrik Stenson leads the betting and is a strong favourite one at that. He warmed in Abu Dhabi two weeks ago and arrives this week at a course where he has won previously and produced another 5 TOP10s in his other 10 starts. Throw in the expected wind for this week, Stenson looks to be the one to beat and I was sorely tempted to make him my only bet this week. That was after considering Martin Kaymer who I believe is getting very close to a win and was tempting @ 33/1 but he appears to have got the "bad draw".

Wind & The Draw


The draw hasn't suited Kaymer as he has an afternoon tee time on Thursday just as the winds are forecasted to pick up from the morning of 5km/hr to 25km/hr. If the forecast is accurate, he may be at a disadvantage. Friday afternoon's forecast is even worse and raises the possibility of being suspended at which time the Friday morning players may be on a score that the afternoon starters may find themselves too far back to contend. Indeed Friday may be a non-day pending severity of the winds.  It's a guess at this stage as to how the weather will play out but for the time being I have decided to leave him be. Favourite, Stenson, along with other leading contenders: McDowell, Pieters, Garcia, Hatton, Willett, Fitzpatrick and indeed Tiger Woods, have an early tee time Thursday starting at the 10th. It will be interesting to see the pace of play too and whether the morning starters really do blow away the chances of the afternoon brigade.


The Course

The Majlis course over the years has seen multiple Major winners prevail here but its also been a good hunting ground for wind exponents. Stephen Gallacher is a twice winner here and indeed was 2nd in 2012 prior to winning back to back in 2013 & 2014. He was 3rd then in 2015. Previous stats of recent winners shows that accuracy off the tee is not essential but GIR is, and with the expected wind to come it may be even more crucial as well as a good scrambling game. Those with a solid desert pedigree should do well here and if any player tells you in an interview later he wasn't aware of the leaderboard, he's telling fibs! Patience will be key this week and those that handle the conditions will rise to the top of the leaderboard. Let's hope for four rounds but be prepared for a 54 hole tournament.

Selections

I think Stenson will win and have mulled over for the past couple of days as to whether he will be my only bet. He's just a tad too short so instead I've taken a stab on overpriced Anirban Lahiri @ 110.00 in the outright market and 4.00 in the TOP20. India's Number 1 has slipped to 86 in the OWGR rankings but has been shown solid form already this season on the PGA Tour where he's 4/5 with 3 TOP25s to his credit, including a 3rd place finish at the CIMB Classic last October and a T13th at the RSM Classic one month later. He was T25th LTO at the Career Builder Challenge. If he's driven by success of fellow Asian players he'll be chomping at the bit to join Hideki Matsuyama and Jeunghun Wang in the winner's enclosure soon. He won twice in February 2015 at the Hero Indian Open and the Malaysian Open, so hopefully he can continue to shine this February again.

I'll complete my staking plan with three TOP20 selections in Jorge Campillo, Felipe Aguilar & Peter Uihlein.

The American is another that's overpriced and can resume his season having returned from wrist injury recently which saw him finish TOP10 at the South African Open last month. He has strong claims in the wind having won his sole Europeantour title at the Madeira Islands Open, not to mention having been beaten in playoff for the Dunhill Championship in 2013, where he shot a 60 at Kingsbarns. He won the US Amateur at Chambers Bay in 2010 also. He was 13th here two years ago and can hopefully get a solid start Thursday playing alongside another links exponent, Richie Ramsay and Aussie amateur, Curtis Luck, the current US Amateur Champion (Ramsay US Amateur Champion in 2006).

Jorge Campillo is in some consistent form of late with 3 TOP20s in his last 4 starts. Indeed he produced a TOP10 in Dubai last November. The 30 year old has been improving year on year and is now at 152 in the OWGR. He will make his 6th appearance at the Classic and he'll look to improve on a best finish of 23rd back in 2014. He was 21/28 last season which resulted in 12 TOP20s (42%) so at 6.00 for another here I thought was fair considering the Spaniard has shown form on wind affected courses in the past and he has an early tee time alongside George Coetzee & Felipe Aguilar.

It's Aguilar in the Campillo grouping that I am also interested in this week at a big 10.00 for a TOP20. The Chilean has gone off the scene for awhile but has been simmering of late and actually topped the GIR stats in Qatar last week. Has shown good form on links/wind affected courses in the past and was the first player eliminated from the 9 hole playoff at The Open de Espana back in 2013 played at El Salar. Has only 1 notable effort at The Majlis, a 3rd place finish in 2013 but is worth a chance at the price to build on some good iron play of late and grab a T20.


0.25 pts win A. Lahiri @ 110.00
2.75 pts TOP20 A. Lahiri @ 4.00
2.00 pts P. Uihlein TOP20 @ 4.50
2.00 pts J.Campillo TOP20 @ 6.00
1.00 pts TOP20 F.Aguilar @ 10.00



Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Qatar Masters 2017 - Doha GC

The second of the Desert Swing tournaments moves to Doha GC this week where a decent field is in attendance. Unfortunately, Branden Grace who won here the past two seasons won't be available to try and complete the hat-trick as he supports his wife who is undergoing some minor surgery this week instead. Last week's winner, Tommy Fleetwood does contend though and its a course that will suit immensely. Alex Noren heads the betting. Wind is usually a big factor here but from checking weather forecasts the past couple of days, it appears we may just be in for a good week.  This blog has had a decent start to 2017 with profit in both opening previews so hopefully we can keep that going. My 12 man shortlist released on Monday includes both Noren & Fleetwood and I am finding it hard to ignore both. The Qatar Masters has shown those with fine links pedigree tend to perform well here as do those with form at The Portugal Masters on The Oceanico Victoria course as well as Gleneagles in Scotland.Both Noren & Fleetwood meet this criteria and will be popular picks for Draftkings and Playon lineups.


The Course


Doha GC was designed by Peter Harradine who also designed last week's Abu Dhabi GC. This is totally different though; the course is much more exposed with the rough not as penal as Abu Dhabi. Last week we were looking for the more accurate type player whereas this week driving distance will have more of an advantage. That said, previous results have indicated that those hitting greens in regulation tend to rise up the leaderboard. Scoring will be low and the par-5s will be key. Previous course form is always advantageous as we've seen many over the years consistently perform here. My 12 man shortlist is drawn up of those with course form, strong GIR and DD stats.


Selections


Marc Warren makes a lot of appeal this week @ 110.00 The Scot has fine links pedigree and indeed is a former winner of aforementioned Johnnie Walker at Gleneagles (2007). He was also runner up here in 2015. "Links form" is backed up by strong showing at a number of Scottish Opens, Irish Open at Baltray,as well as the Dunhill Links. He played solidly tee to green here last year and although finishing only 36th, he ranked 5th in GIR and 13th in DD. 2016 wasn't a great year by Warren's standards but it's worth noting his results just last October where he finished 5th at The Dunhill, 12th at the British Masters and 12th at The Portugal Masters. He brushed off the rust in Abu Dhabi where a final round 76 saw him slip out of the TOP20 to finish a low 49th. An opening 66 though was encouraging, and should he start the same way this week on a course much more suited to his strengths we may see him go close at a nice price.

We have 7 players this week from my "10toFollowin2017" list of which 4 can hold some strong claims for a solid week. Paul Dunne has obvious links form having contended so well at The Open as an amateur. Indeed that amateur career in Ireland was founded on many links courses which culminated in winning the East of Ireland at Baltray in 2013. The Greystones native has made a solid start to the season sitting in the TOP40 on the R2D from his 3 outings (28-29-39) and can improve on that here. Johan Carlsson came up a bit short for a TOP20 return last week but his game is there and he arrives here this week at a course that he has excellent results on in the past (16-13-13). He ranked 12th in DD twelve months ago and @ 5.50 for TOP20 he may be worth a dabble to make it 4 in a row. Ricardo Gouveia & Benjamin Hebert have also played well but their odds reflect those past performances so the best TOP20 price for both @ 3.50 & 4.00 respectively can be passed for this week.

Joost Luiten @ 31.00 though is worth a bet here and having shaken off the cobwebs in Abu Dhabi he will hope to go well soon and Doha GC where he finished 13th last year, will suit. He ranked 12th for GIR & 16th for DD last year. The Dutchman was 20/25 in 2016, making TOP20 on 15 occasions! 9 of those were TOP10s of which 5 were TOP5. This was only good enough for 15th in the R2D and as he currently sits 61st in the OWGR rankings, he has many goals and incentives in front of him for the season ahead. He needs to make TOP 50 by April 3rd to make Augusta and he needs to start compiling points if he wants to make the Ryder Cup team for the first time. Now into his 32nd year, Luiten can maintain the consistency of 2016 and add to his 5 European Tour victories here.

Nicolas Colsaerts @ 70.00 represents some value and the big hitting Belgian can use his length to his advantage where he ranked 4th in DD last year. Previous results have yielded 9-13-27 and although he missed the cut last week he was 4th in Dubai at the end of last season. He was 22/28 events in 2016, resulting in 4 TOP5s from his 7 TOP20s. 

0.25 pts win M.Warren @ 110.00
1.00 pts e/w J.Luiten @ 31.00
0.50 pts win N. Colsaerts @ 70.00

2.00 pts TOP20 M. Warren @ 5.00
2.00 pts TOP20 N. Colsaerts @ 3.40
2.00 pts TOP20 J.Carlsson @ 5.50