Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Houston Open - 2013

Another quality tournament in store this week on the PGA sees a quality field line up at Redstone GC in Texas. This event is normally played the week before the Masters but has swapped weeks with the Valero Open taking place next week as a result of those organizers having a clause that they wont finish a tournament on Easter Sunday. The switch seems to have upset Phil Mickelson, as he likes to play Houston the week before the Masters. This year he will have a week off in between. A lot of eyes will be on Lefty here this week as a good performance will see his odds slashed for Augusta. Same can be said for Rory McIlroy. Should he be in the mix this week his odds will come in for Augusta and perhaps Tiger will drift back out. But we'll have to see how it goes this week in Texas. One thing we also need to keep an eye on this week is any Masters fancies, as Redstone GC is very similar to Augusta in setup. Long course, almost identical in length and fast, very fast greens. Those players with good GIR and scrambling stats this week will head to Georgia in a good state of mind !

I have once again gone through quite a lengthy shortlist yesterday and today, whittled in down to 23 as of Tuesday morning, scratched a few off it and then put one or two back on it. Its an intriguing event but stats do tend to back up the trend that Texans can do quite well here in their own backyard, and those that have the length off the tee. Americans normally win this event too so Westwood, Oosthuizen, Stenson, McIlroy got docked marks when I went through my notes. I really fancied Stenson to go well this week as he went so close for the blog last week (if he had not found water on 16 at Bay Hill in the final round he may well have got us a place bu it showed he was going for it, and I always like that. But 50/1 is a bit short of what I was expecting for the former Players Champion so regrettably I am leaving him out. He needs a good result to make the Masters.

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Trophee Hassan II - 2013

European action moves to another continent this week. Quite a number of players have made the long flights from Kuala Lumpur to Agadir, Morocco and will be delighted to leave the thunderstorms behind for a much better climate in the North West of Africa. This will be the third year the event will be staged at the Golf du Palais GC where Northern Ireland's, Michael Hoey defends. Its a poor enough field this week, but to be expected really when most of the top Europeans are concentrating on plying their trade in the US this year as well as this being just 2 weeks ahead of the Masters at Augusta.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Arnold Palmer Invitational - 2013

The PGA Tour serves up yet another quality tournament this week when Arnold Palmer hosts at Bay Hill, Florida. Tiger Woods defends this week on a course he simply loves. Tiger is gunning for his eighth victory here, a feat that will match Sam Sneads record of winning the same title 8 times. Tiger loves breaking records ! Tiger is 3/1 favourite this week, and why not? So then, a short write up this week ? Well it could be if you strongly fancy Tiger to win but thanks to some bookies, we can avail of the betting w/o Tiger market which I firmly believe is the better way to go here this week. Whether Tiger does win or lose there is still value in this market due to a very strong field.

Whilst looking over the field for this week, I found it tough to actually look further down the betting market than the top 10 or 15 with the exception of one. This is a tough par 72, where an excellent tee to green game is required. On top of that, past results also show that a hot putter is required. My first two picks meet the first part no problem at all but one of these is a bit lacking in the putting department. That said he is not as bad as most critics would want us all to believe and his recent Major results the past few seasons assure me that he can certainly contend in these top events. Up first is Lee Westwood @ 28/1. Westy has not a great record here and is visiting Bay Hill for the first time in 5 years. Of all players on tour,if asked who would I rate as the best, most consistent driver, I would opt for Lee Westwood. And if he fufils my expectations with the driver this week, there is every chance he can stay patient and get across the winning line. Patience is a requirement on this course, ranked as one of the toughest on tour.

The second pick is Jason Dufner who excels off the tee and in approach play. Slow to get going this season, he showed signs last week that he is beginning to click into gear. Although he has not had a great record here over the years he did have a top 15 finish last year. This may be a big week for Dufner with the Masters looming and a lack of success so far on tour in 2013, so he should be keen to assess his game. I am expecting a real good performance from him. Again in the w/o Tiger market, he can be backed at 33/1

The shortlist also listed Hunter Mahan,Bubba Watson,Webb Simpson,Keegan Bradley, Phil Mickelson, Justin Rose & Henrik Stenson. Hunter Mahan should have won for the blog a few weeks back at Riviera, and looked like defending his WGC Matchplay title but lost in the final to Matt Kuchar also. This recent form cannot be ignored either and over the past couple of seasons has shown that he is a player for the big events.Mahan has recorded 6 top 25s this season. Like Westwood, he will be patient on a demanding course and should be up there challenging. 33/1 in the w/o Tiger market is great value.

My final pick is an outside fancy in the shape of Swede, Henrik Stenson @ 100/1 (w/o Tiger) with Paddypower.He played recently in Puerto Rico without really contending but had shown some consistency towards the end of 2012 (winning in South Africa). He should be fresh enough and eager to do well here as he currently sits 58 in the OWGR. If he can move up 8 places he will be at Augusta in 3 weeks time.

TIP 1: 1 pt e/w Lee Westwood @ 28/1 w/o Tiger Betpack   StanJames

TIP 2: 1 pt e/w Jason Dufner @ 33/1 w/o Tiger Boylesports

TIP 3: 1 pt e/w Hunter Mahan @ 33/1 Boylesports

TIP 4: 0.5 pts e/w Henrik Stenson @ 100/1 Paddypower

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Maybank Malaysian Open - 2013

Gangajeet Bhullar made a good run at it last Sunday at the Avantha Masters to finish 2nd and enable us to get some return for the blog. He was never going to win it after Thomas Aiken had made a huge move on the Saturday but it was a bit frustrating to see the South African win it after I mentioned in the pre-tournament write up that he should win it and at 50/1 was very tempted to back him. We should have! Tommy Fleetwood almost made the places as well but I believe his pitching on Saturday and Sunday let him down and the nerves may have played their part. He will be one to watch out for again though.
The European remains down in Asia this week for the Malaysian Open to be played for the 4th year at the Kuala Lumpur G& CC. Luke Donald & Charl Schwartzel headline the line-up and hopefully the event will attract more spectators than last week in Noida. Padraig Harrington also plays this week following a run out in Thailand last week as he prepares for the Masters in three weeks time. Donald & Schwartzel head the betting at 11/2 & 6/1 or thereabouts and perhaps the smart play would be to decide between the two who will prevail and back them outright with 2 or 3 pts. But there is no fun in that, although, I do feel Donald is the man to beat this week. With that in mind I have made 3 selections from my shortlist of 11 should he and Charl slip up in the heat and rain. I mention the rain as these events over the years in this part of the world have often been affected by thunderstorms and therefore ruin the event but the forecast this week is not too bad although the familiar thunderstorms are forecasted for days 1 & 2. Sunny spells for the remainder of the event should ensure no major disruption.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Tampa Bay Championship - 2013

Quality tournament fare again on the cards from the US PGA this week when the re-named Tampa Bay Championship taks place at Copperhead GC at the Innisbrook Resort in Florida. This is a par 71 course, tree lined with small greens and it is ranked as one of the easier par 71s on tour last year (5th easiest of 11 ) but the final 3 holes were ranked as one of the most difficult closing 3 holes on tour. These three holes are affectionately called "the Snake Pit" and comprise of a par 4 in between two par 3s. No Tiger or Rory this week but its still a quality field with Luke Donald, Adam Scott, Simpson, Dufner,Kuchar,Oosthuizen, Kaymer, Garcia and others competing.
This week I'm looking at players who are coming here in decent form and whose play suits the course.It will definitely suit Luke Donald but at 16/1 I am very relunctant to back him for the win.(he is the defnding champion too). One of the players towards the head of the betting market that I do like though is Webb Simpson @ 20/1. This price may shorten, hence why I tweeted this last night before I got a chance to write up this preview. Simpson has good course form and has come close on a couple of occasions to winning here. The US Open Champion is well suited to this type of track and should he get the flatstick to perform this week I think he can win this. He has his trusted caddy, Paul Tesori back on the bag now and this could hopefully act as the catalyst to return Simpson to winning ways.He was T 20th last week without really playing that well so a trip here must be an opportunity to go better. Ever consistent, a good start on Thursday could see him well positioned and that will bring added confidence to the putting. 1 pt e/w @ 20/1 Betpack

Monday, 11 March 2013

Avantha Masters 2013

We head off to India this week for the Avantha Masters to be played at the Jaypee Greens Golf Resort in Noida, just 40km away from New Delhi. This year, we have a new course to consider following the first three events having been hosted at the DLF G &CC in Delhi. The Greg Norman designed course is regarded as India's longest at just over 7,300 yards and is said to be designed similar to those sand belt courses in Melbourne. There are also quite a number of lakes on this course which did host an Asian Tour event (SAIL Open) in 2008 which was won by New Zealander, Mark Brown. So with very little course form to go on and a field not overly jumping out at me, I am putting up players that have been showing some form of late in the hope they continue that here this week. Two players are aiming for a piece of history this week. Defending Champion Jbe Kruger is bidding to win his second European Tour Title and defend also, not many can say they have defended their first title with their second win. SSP Chowrasia is gunning for his 3rd Avantha Masters Title.

Monday, 4 March 2013

WGC - Cadillac 2013

The second of the World Golf Championships takes place at The Doral Golf Resort in Miami this week where Tiger Woods is seeking his 7th title in this the 14th instalment. He won his second title when this event was staged at Mount Juliet in Ireland over 4 glorious days of weather that the Irish Open wish they could have had over recent years, and which I attended with my father over the 4 days. So, this event is an event that I always look forward to even though it is now held back on American soil. I do wish though as a WGC that they could rotate the event again around the world. Anyway, onto this week and the Blue Monster course at the resort where the 18th hole always reminds me of the 18th  Smurfit Course at the K Club. 60 players tee it up on Thursday where Justin Rose is defending. Rose has been in fine form this season and will be quietly confident of doing well here. It will be interesting to see how Tiger fares after his disappointing showing last week, but one thing is guaranteed, the Golf Channel will still be showing plenty of him over the 4 days. Tiger is the 12/1 favourite and in a 60 man field, I'm sure he will have some support.
My first pick this week is Martin Kaymer. The German has or had been threatening to kick start 2013 following success in South Africa at the end of 2012 but despite finishing down the field last week his play suggested he is not too far away from clicking. He has mediocre form here at Doral, but what I do like about his course form is that he has always returned a great score in one of the rounds. 64s, 65s and 66s have been produced here and if he can get a decent first round under his belt this could be the week to click and get back in the winners enclosure. He finished tied 20th here last year following opening and closing 74s. He was tied 24th the year before, again signing for a brace of 74s over the weekend. He managed a better weekend the year before to finish tied 3rd. When on song, Kaymer is one of the best in the world, and I dont think we'll be waiting long before he rises the world rankings again to challenge for the number one spot which he held briefly before. 55/1 is too big in my eyes and is a must for me here.
My second selection is Peter Hanson of Sweden who also has a top 5 finish here in recent years. These kind of courses suit his game and he comes in here on the back of a top 15 at the Honda. Ever cool on the course, Hanson is starting to show his likeness for the big ones despite not getting it down come back 9 on Sundays on more than a few occasions. In 2012, he finished 3rd at Augusta, 23rd at The Open, 15th at The Players. He will be under the radar this week for sure and 60/1 with Bet365 is value and worth an e/w chance.
My third pick is Russell Henley who was quite impressive in winning the Sony Open in January. The rookie has had time to celebrate that win and is now re-focussed on the job at hand and I was quite impressed with his performance again last week at The National PGA where he finished alonside Hanson in the top 15. 110/1 with Betpack or StanJames is far too big for the rookie who is in terrific form and represents great value.
I had considered Dustin Johnson at 40/1 who is a bit big at that price as a result of recent form but DJ is a player that can shrug that off quite easily and contend here. Rory has great course form here but his game is not right at the moment and the 25s on offer although tempting on paper probably are best passed on. Rory is now more focussed on getting ready for Augusta.

TIP 1: 1 pt e/w Martin Kaymer @ 55/1 Betpack or StanJames

TIP 2: 1 pt e/w Peter Hanson @ 60/1 Bet365

TIP 3: 1 pt e/w Russell Henley @ 110/1 Betpack or StanJames Free Bet