Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Honda Classic - 2013

The US PGA Tour heads east to commence the "Florida Swing" at Palm Beach on the National PGA Course on Thursday. Tiger Woods heads the betting ahead of out-of-form World Number Once, Rory McIlroy.The course is another par 70 and is one of the toughest on tour with 3 significant holes on the back nine, known as the "Bear Trap", proving to be decisive in determining the eventual winner. The holes 15-17 are two par 3s and a par 4 in the middle. These have played on average to 11 strokes the past few years. This is a tough track with very tough par 3s to negotiate.
I so badly wanted to back Justin Rose this week but best odds of 15/1 are way short of what I was expecting so regrettably he is omitted from my bookie slip this week.But his fellow countryman, Lee Westwood at 25/1 does get my attention as he has recorded 2 top10s here the past 3 seasons. Lee has taken up residency in Palm Beach and will be keen to make an impact on the PGA tour and his ever consistent tee to green game should serve him well here. He was a bit sloppy playing Cabrera-Bello last week in a game that he was in control of, but this is the type of course and event that he tends to play well in and I'll be on him this week. Both StanJames & Betpack are offering 6 places this week and that 25/1 is available with them.

My second pick is Keegan Bradley who tends to go well on par 70s. He has shown progressive signs that he is getting near to his very best again and will feel more comfortable back playing in Florida this week. Great iron play is required here as well as excellent statistics and Keegan ticks both those boxes for me. Generally available at 33/1.

My final pick is a bit of an outsider in the form of Billy Horschel, another who will be delighted to be back in his native Florida. Currently ranked in the top 5 for all round  he has recently enjoyed a top10 and top 15 finish. He will be trying to bring that recent form with him here and is worth chancing at 110/1

All selections this week advised e/w with 6 places on offer with StanJames & Betpack

TIP 1: 1 pt e/w Lee Westwood @ 25/1

TIP 2: 1 pt e/w K.Bradley @ 33/1

TIP 3: 1 pt e/w B.Horschel @ 110/1

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Tshwane Open - 2013

This weeks European Tour event returns to South Africa where a new event, The Tshwane Open is being held in co-junction with the Sunshine Tour. Tshwane is a fairly new city and is a metropolitan municipality that forms the local government of northern Gauteng Province,and includes the city of Pretoria. As this is a new event we have obviously have no course form to go on and therefore we will concentrate on the type of course on offer and try identify who best fits ideally for it and who is coming here with some decent form.

The course its self was designed by Ernie Els on a piece of land that was lived on by his own grandftaher. The Copperleaf Course will host the sixth and final European Tour - Sunshine Tour co-sanctioned event this year. It is just a tad over 7,700 yards but will have very generous fairways which will suit the bigger hitters and whilst the weather forecast is good and sunny it is also expected to be hot. Let's hope so, following the weather affected tournaments we have experienced already this year on both sides of the Atlantic.

So who do I think will prevail this week? It is difficult to assess again this week and was tempted to look at some big price players given this being a new event, but I couldn't get away from the fact that locals tend to compete in these events and I've settled on backing three South Africans. First up is Thomas Aiken. I said a couple of weeks ago that Thomas doesn't win often enough but he may just feel that the course, the weather, and the anticipation in South Africa for this event to be a success, that it all points to him as being a positive week. 18/1 with  Bet365  is just about right for a player that has had a lot of success in Sth Africa and he heads my staking plan this week.

My second selection will be Tjaart Van der Walt. Again!. He played very well at the Africa Open and finished tied 5th. He can keep that momentum going and he most certainly will be hoping to go well as he is a native of Pretoria- very local to this neck of the woods. Average driving distance this season is 280 yds, that will help this week. A generous 45/1 with Boylesports this week cannot be ignored.

My third and final pick this week is Jbe Kruger who didn't deliver last time out but he will not let that phase him. The big hitter might just be suited by this course and does tend to play well in South Africa normally so I do expect him to regain some form this week and challenge once again.

TIP 1: 2 pts WIN Thomas Aiken @ 18/1  Bet365

TIP 2: 1 pt e/w Tjaart Van der Walt @ 45/1 Boylesports

TIP 3: 1 pt e/w Jbe Kruger @  Bet365

Monday, 18 February 2013

World Golf Championship-Accenture Matchplay 2013

Following an exciting weekend in both East London, South Africa and California, (where the blogs selections were right in the thick of things on the back 9 Sunday) the action centres on just one event this week - the 2013 Accenture Matchplay. Dove Mountain GC, a Jack Nicklaus designed resort hosts the matchplay yet again. Over 18 holes, picking the winner won't be easy and its an event I sometimes debate whether getting involved in or not. My approach is to look at each of the four sections or brackets as its like to be called, aptly named the Ben Hogan,Bobby Jones,Sam Snead & Gary Player brackets, and determine who is likely to go well and progress out of them. As an Irishman, I'm delighted to see two compatriots playing but come end of Wednesday, only two of them will be left standing as old Walker Cup team mates and friends, Rory McIlroy & Shane Lowry square off in Match No 29 whilst Graeme McDowell and Padraig Harrington face each other an hour earlier in Match No22.
My strategy is to try to decide who will win their first round match and therefore take momentum into the next rounds.Some will say its a bit of a lottery but to some extent it could be but the results would indicate otherwise, the last few years! A lot of these golfers excel on confidence, and some of these will have vast matchplay experience. For example most of the European players here this week will bring a lot of winning Ryder Cup experience. Two of those winning Europeans feature in my outright shortlist, namely Ian Poulter and Sergio Garcia. The former won here in 2010, loves the one on one and will only be focussed on beating his opponent no matter how well/bad he plays. I'm a liitle surprised he is available at 25/1 and should he get his challenge off to the perfect start against Stephen Gallacher which I fully expect him to, he will see this as great opporunity to add yet another WGC title. El Nino plays Jaidee in his first rd match and meets most likely Matt Kuchar in the next, and I think he can win both of these also following decent form lately. He loves the matchplay format and he may see this week as a chance to kick start his season as he pursues big titles. 33/1 in general for Sergio Garcia too. In the same bracket as Garcia, (Ben Hogan), I have a feeling that Ernie Els will demonstrate that old Wentworth matchplay experience and spring a surprise. He plays the really in-form, and last minute entry, Freddie Jacobsen, who came so close to making the playoff in Riviera on Sunday. The Swede's form will not faze the South African and if "The Big Easy" triumphs over him he has that confidence to take on his man in the next round which could be Keegan Bradley which will be tough. Ernie is value for me at 90/1.

In the Bobby Jones bracket, I really do think Rory will prevail despite the new clubs not suiting last time we saw him in Abu Dhabi. 14/1 might seem a bit short but he will be a lot less if he makes it through to Friday!.4/1 about winning the bracket is way short. If he wins the group, despite the theory that the matches get harder, he is almost there and the outright is the preferred way to go. I also fancy Schwartzel this week at 20/1 and should see off Russell Henley in the first round. His form at the moment is awesome (top 3 finish in each of his last 5 starts including 2 wins!). Harrington will find it tough against Gmac on Wednesday but this could be a great match, and the conqueror could go far....I'm siding with the Dubliner and the 80/1 outright is taken.

The Gary Playr bracket sees Tiger as favourite and I think he can win this...he will be out to win it anyway and finally break the non-American winner trend of recent years. 12/1 is a good price, where the bracket price of 7/2 again represents no value. In fact, betting on Tiger to win each match and rolling the winnings over might be a better way to go. I like Martin Kaymer's chances this week. He was beaten by Luke Donald in the final two years ago and is over-priced at 40/1 this week I reckon.(10/1 for the bracket). This course suits his game and if he is putting near his best he can beat anyone....this is the week I expect a big showing.

So in conclusion, the shortlist mentioned above involves just one American......that was not intentional when sitting down to study the match-ups!. But the recent results in this event backs up the notion that the Europeans fare better and with that I'll play it that way too. I'll leave Rory & Tiger out of it and perhaps look at them in-running.

If you are not following me on twitter (@birdieclubtips), it may pay to this week as I may also put up some double and treble match bets each day over the 5 days. Remember also, that this event starts on Wednesday.


Outright: 10 pts total

1 pt e/w C.Schwartzel @ 20/1 (1-4)
1 pt e/w S.Garcia @ 33/1 (1-4)
1 pt e/w Martin Kaymer @ 40/1 (1-4)
1 pt e/w Ian Poulter @ 25/1 (1-4)
0.5 pts e/w P.Harrington @ 80/1 (1-4)
0.5 pts e/w E.Els @ 90/1 (1-4)

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Northern Trust Open - 2013

After the birdie fest tournaments completed the past couple of weeks, its, as a golf fan, a pleasure to have a tournament on this week where the player will be tested and the competition likely to be fierce. The Riviera GC in California is the 3rd best rated course on tour by the players and was once described by Johnny Miller as "... definitely one of the greatest, no-nonsense golf courses in the world. It requires a player to play every club in his bag and every shot in his game." Its a par 71, and just a tad over 7,200 yards. That said the course record is 61. So who will prevail here this week ? A player that is in form, knows the course and is patient. Patient enough to score when the opportunity presents itself and the 2013 event has quite a number of capable candidates to walk off with the loot. Having sat down to work out who to back in this I realized that this is probably the toughest call to make in quite some time, even harder than some Majors. I also started with a shortlist of 22 before reaching 15 last night. I have opted to drop some of the bigger price fancies on the belief that the winner this week will come from a group of players who show consistency in these type of events and having played here before.

Bill Haas is defending champion having won a 3-man play-off last year. I backed Bill Haas a couple of weeks ago and was pleased enough with his top 10 finish and had the flatstick behaved he might have gone close to a win. As you also may know, I have perseverd with Hunter Mahan the past couple of weeks and again his putting let him down badly in his last two events. Other than that, both are playing quite well and cannot be ignored.

Luke Donald and Graeme McDowell make their seasonal debuts here this week and I was rather keen on the Northern Irishman, but having noted the 80/1 available yesterday I see that 66s is best price now. Not enough value there for me so the shortlist ibegins to take shape. Luke will need an outing I think, but is one of the few top players not to change equipment in the off season so no doubt will be well prepared. Charl Schwartzel has the ideal game for Riviera and in his last 4 events he has won twice and been runner-up twice....but this is a step up in grade from those last 4. Charl is too short at 22s for me (30s then maybe), but I would not be the least surprised to see him contend.Zach Johnson,Peter Hanson, Lee Westwood,Bo Van Pelt, Bubba and Jim Furyk were all on that 15 man shortlist but I cant back em all ! The two Europeans are suited to the course but I think we may have a better shot with the selectd five I'm putting up.

Webb Simpson has been slow enough out of the blocks this season and missed the cut in the Humana. But the US Open Champion excels on these types of courses. The tournament will act as a guide to many of the players this week as to how their game and competitiveness are shaping up ahead of the WGC events and the first Major in April. I expect Simpson to have his A-game with him this week to that he can push himself.

Last years beaten play-off player, Keegan Bradley has the control in his game for Riviera. He finishd T4th for the Tournament of Champions in Hawaii last month and is a really consistent performer. He cannot be ignored on this course and is a must for me this week to go one better.

My final pick this week is a player I have never backed before but simply could not leave out for this one. Off the back of a strong showing last week and complemented by excellent Riviera results (winner in 2011), Aussie, Aaron Baddeley, has all the credentials to win it again. In fact his last win on the Tour was here and he finished T11th last year. He had a top 30 at the Humana last month and was T12th last week so he does come here in great shape on a course he likes well. He should compete.

That concludes the staking plan for this one. 5 Picks, which is unusual for me but this is going to be a great tourney this week and it will be very competitive. Here's hoping the shortlist rejects don't spoil it for me. The one big price player I had considered was William McGirt. He can be backed on Betfair at 450.00 and I might just have the minimum on him for a bit of fun.

One bookie offering 6 places this week is Betpack and with the competiveness expected this week I do recommend taking the offer. If you need to open an account with Betpack you can do so below new customers click here

TIP 1: 1 pt e/w Bill Haas @ 33/1 Betpack

TIP 2: 1 pt e/w H.Mahan @ 35/1 Betpack

TIP 3: 1 pt e/w W.Simpson @ 35/1 Betpack

TIP 4: 1 pt e/w K.Bradley @ 30/1 Betpack

TIP 5: 1 pt e/w A.Baddeley @ 35/1 Betpack

Monday, 11 February 2013

Africa Open 2013

Richard Sterne returned to the winners enclosure on Sunday when winning the Joburg Open, having come some close to winning in Dubai the week before, and he was due to play this week at East London GC for the Africa Open. He has withdrawan now following that victory and it now leaves this weeks event wide open. Thomas Aiken now heads the betting ahead of compatriot Jaco van Zyl. With such an open field this week, I think its wise to look at some value in the betting further down the book. Last week I put up Lee Slattery at 150/1 on the back of some solid conistency in his results and but for a level par round last Friday he may well have challenged for a place in Johannesburg. He eventually finished top 20 and because of that I cannot ignore the 75/1 on offer this week in a much weaker field. The course will reward patient golfers and the Englishman is approaching 2013 with a lot of confidence and could go under the radar this week.
 My second selection this week is South African, Tjaart Van der Walt @45/1. Recent course form and decent enough effort last week suggests he could go well here and of the South Africans represents good value alongside Jbe Kruger. Both these home players will see this week as an opportunity to win and both are included on the staking plan. Kruger has top10s here the past 2 years and can challenge for the title this year.
As its an open field I had considered both Peter Whiteford and Ross McGowan at 150/1. With the three selections made above in a very weakish field it may be prudent to watch these two this week and add to the weekly investment by concentrating on the Northen Trust Open on the USPGA where a very strong field is assembling. Selections for that will be online Tuesday.

As I have had quite a number of enquiries as to when these posts are published, I am aiming to have the European Tour picks complete each Tuesday with the USPGA selections done Wednesday. However, these can be done earlier, time permitting, so the option to have the post e-mailed can be done if that is a preference by enetering your e-mail address in the "Follow by Email" box to the left on this blog.

TIP 1: 1 pt e/w Lee Slattery @ 75/1

TIP 2: 1 pt e/w Tjaart Van der Walt @ 45/1

TIP 3: 1 pt e/w Jbe Kruger @ 28/1

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am - 2013

On the PGA circuit this week we are faced with the second pro-am of the year to be held over three courses at  Pebble Beach, Spyglass Hill and the Monterey Penisula. The pros will play with their celebrity partners over 54 holes on each of the three courses before the cut is made and the final round is played on Pebble Beach. Again, as with the Humana a few weeks ago, some pros will love this format and others will hate it. And there will be some who simply love playing these courses as 4-time winner and twice winner, Phil Mickelson & Dustin Johnson respectively have shown. No surprise then as to who leads the betting market, but at 15/2 generally, you would need to be very confident that either are ready to win for the second time in 2013 already. Well, obviously with a win under their belt, they are ready, but can they ? Lefty was awesome last week in his wire to wire and will be brimming with confidence. Its a quality field assembled here and its made even more fascinating with a lot of the young talent that is evident on tour also playing. So how do we pick a likely winner?
Course form and players suited to both the pro-am format and the conditions really need to be factored in this week, and, try as I could, I could not delete my fellow Dubliner, Padraig Harrington from my shortlist. A proven links player, a proven wind player and a proven scrambler are vital ingredients for this week. And as for the Pro-Am format? Winner of the European equivalent, the Dunhill, complemented with an excellent record in the AT&T, you can be assured he and and his amateur partner, businessman and top race owner, JP McManus will be out to complete the double. Harrington is playing very well the past 6 months and I for one am delighted to see a fairly busy schedule being undertaken by the Stackstown man and I cannot pass on him this week at 25/1 as I feel that schedule will reap the rewards.
My second pick is Hunter Mahan with the risk of you, the reader, beginning to question my wisdom of sticking with him for three straight weeks. Tied 15th & T16th the past two weeks shows solid form and inevitably he will convert his good iron play into some success. He always strives in the bigger tournaments and this one will suit his temperament. He is included on the back of decent outings the past two weeks and at 28/1 its a definite pick.He also has a good record here the past couple of seasons.
Third up is Ricky Barnes @ 150/1. Ricky is always a player suited to these conditions with the flight of his ball ideal for wind. He has not been in great form recently, but Stephen Gallacher's win in Dubai last week does prove that certain courses bring out the best in players and this event could be the catalyst for a good season ahead.
I am putting up a fourth selection in the shape of Scott Langley who ran Russell Henley so close in Hawaii in January. 175/1 is too big for this rookie who almost won last month and his comments that week in Maui that the stronger the wind the better has not ben forgotten and hence a small investment is taken to see just how good he likes the wind......let's hope I get some wind then ! Time will tell whether Langley will be a regular on the leaderboards but for this week I think its worth having a small interest.

TIP 1 : 1 pt e/w Padraig Harrington @ 25/1 Betpack(money back offer if beaten in a playoff)

TIP 2: 1 pt e/w Hunter Mahan @ 28/1 Paddypower

TIP 3: 0.5 pts e/w R.Barnes @ 150/1 Betpack(money back offer if beaten in a playoff)

TIP 4:  0.5 pts e/w Scott Langley @ 175/1 Betpack(money back offer if beaten in a playoff)

Jo'burg Open 2013

The Desert Swing ended with Stephen Gallacher winning his second ever European Tour Title on Sunday, and thus making it two wins in three weeks for the blog. Has to be said, sometimes in sport you need a bit of luck and the Scot seemed to have it by the bucket load last week to compliment his putting performance. Runner up, Richard Sterne, was looking like the probable winner at one stage but it wasn't to be but he can certainly look forward to this week's event which returns to his home country, South Africa, for the Jo'burg Open to be held once again at the Royal Johannesburg & Kensington GC, where Charl Schwartzel sets off the raging hot favourite. And why wouldn't he, having won the first two tournaments of the 2013 season in his native country! But best price 10/3 to win ? No thanks.
 I wanted to back Thomas Aiken, a native of Jo'burg and his price seems to be of some value at 33/1, but he has let me down too often and is not showing the form of promise of a few years ago. That said, he has an uncanny knack of producing the goods when least expected but for the value around the same mark, I couldn't ignore Robert Rock @ 35/1. The Englishman finished 9th here last year and  a final round of 84 two years ago can be ignored too as the previous three rounds saw him in in the top 10. It's fair to say he has really become a much consistent golfer these days and his outing last week in Dubai where he finished T7th after withdrawing the week before shows me that his game is in good shape. Having expected Rock to be around the 20/1 mark, I'm not passing on 35s!
In a very weakish field overall and with the former US Masters Champion, Schwartzel expected to take the honours, I am still surprised to see Marc Warren available at 60/1, also with Bet365. Warren was T3rd here last year and returned a top 20 the year before. He is putting very well lately and finished nicely last week for a T17th. With good memories from last year and a renewed enthusiasm for his game, I am expecting a very big showing here.
My final and third pick is Lee Slattery, having considered Jamie Elson also. The latter was 2nd here last year and 4th the year before with a top 30 the year previously. But since that runners-up placing last year, he has missed close on 14 cuts and his confidence is sure to be waning. A return to Jo'burg will be welcome but his compatriot, Lee Slattery will hopefully fare much much better. Slatts has finished in the top 20 here the past 2 years. He missed his first cut in 14 tournaments in Abu Dhabi two weeks ago so is beginning to settle into some sort of consistency. Given the field assembled here, he has a very good opportunity to make some money and make the top 5 and at the generous odds of 150/1, he completes the staking plan.

TIP 1 : 1 pt e/w R.Rock @ 35/1 Bet365

TIP 2:  1 pt e/w M.Warren @ 60/1 Bet365

TIP 3:  1 pt e/w L.Slattery @ 150/1 Bet365/Ladbrokes