Monday, 27 January 2014

9 to Crash the 25th Birthday Party!

The world’s best three players tee it up in Dubai this week. Tiger Woods is joined by Rory McIlroy and Henrik Stenson for the USD$2.5M tournament which celebrates its 25th birthday this year. OK, Rory is only ranked No.7 in the OWGR and Adam Scott quite rightly is the No.2 but there’s no denying that Dubai and the European Tour can boast a stellar field for this week. With Rory having finished 2nd in Abu Dhabi two weeks ago following that two shot penalty and Tiger having missed the 3rd rd cut at Torrey Pines on Saturday, it makes for an intriguing battle ahead. The bookies will have these three clear favourites between 5/1 – 7/1 and it will be tough to take them on especially with each-way punting.

Probably the most innovative golf bookmaker at present is Skybet who are offering a “without these three” market and if punting e/w this week this is the market I’d prefer to get involved in. I fancy Rory quite strongly this week, Tiger is the best out there and will be fired up for a quick bounce back following a poor showing at The Farmers and Henrik will be getting used to that new putter too! If you don’t have a Skybet  account, now is a good time to open one as they will give you a free matched bet up to €30 (£30).
Open a Skybet  account here.  

I am an each-way punter believing that the places can keep the bankroll ticking along should a player just come up short of that elusive win, but recently I have begun to think it may not be the way to go and that thinking was further underlined when last week’s selection, Thomas Aiken @ 90/1 grabbed a tie for 5th with 4 others to only return ¼ stake reduction. Our 0.5 pts e/w bet yielded just 2.94 pts!! A TOP10 bet would have been more profitable. So, the dilemma is do I now back my picks for the win only AND TOP10 pending price? Hard to back the WIN this week given the three players at the head of the market, but its something I am going to look at more closely over the next couple of weeks as we head back down to South Africa. Of course, the w/o market becomes a good option this week too.
I used the term “keeping the faith” last week and dropped both Sergio Garcia & Thorbjorn Olesen from my staking plan and kept the faith in Tommy Fleetwood and Stephen Gallacher. Whilst Garcia was the 8/1 favourite, Olesen was still value last week and I should have stuck by him. Garcia won and Olesen was T 3rd !! Cabrera-Bello was also on my shortlist for last week so all in all quite a frustrating result from Qatar for me. Taking the positives, I’m looking at the right players, just need to get the final staking plan right. Gallacher, of course, is the defending champion this week and loves the course so whilst it's hard to defend he must be considered this week again. I did back him @60/1 here last year and if he can get as many eagles as he did twelve months ago, he’ll be up there again. Alvaro Quiros is showing signs his game is coming back and the winner here in 2011 could perform this week on the back of recent outings. He is a bit shorter than I expected this week(albeit just a tad shorter but he remains on my list) So, I am compelled this week to “keep the faith” and that means I’m going with a different approach to try include as many as I can from my shortlist that I tweeted earlier and those that I've been watching of late. This week concludes the Middle Eastern Swing so I’m concluding with more or less a familiar “Birdie Club Team”.

Cabrera Bello was on my radar this week but he's a general 28/1 to win (14/1 w/o the favs). I'm not overly keen on getting involved at that price. He has both course form and extremely good recent form so won't be far away. Same goes with Olesen, but he's a player that has shown when he hits form he stays there for awhile and he appears to be hitting some decent form following his T 3rd last week. He was also 3 rd here last year and at 14/1 (w/o favs) he too is left off the plan this week. Thomas Bjorn is overpriced for me this week. Yes he hasn't been playing too great the past few weeks and he may have missed the cut in Dubai three times in the past 5 years (9th & 15th in between though) but he's also a former winner (2001) and has posted a number of top10s to boot. A recent winner in Sun City, Bjorn excels on par-5s and he can be a contender here. 40/1 Outright and 20/1 (w/o the favs) is a great price in my opinion. Ross Fisher & Chris Wood are also value for me this week at 66/1 (40/1 & 45/1 in the w/o favs market) and I'm getting them onside as well. I also like the chances of Korean Seung Yul Noh who finished T 10th in Torrey Pines on Sunday. Hoping he can bring that form into this week, and @ 90/1 outright (40/1 w/o favs) I cannot justify leaving him out.

I’m going with a 12 pt staking plan this week with 9 of the 11 players on my shortlist featured. 
(wait and see now, Cabrera-Bello will edge out Olesen on Sunday,most probably in a play-off !)

Staking Plan (12 pts)

WIN   ( ALL WITH Skybet w/o the 3 favs)

1 pt WIN A. Quiros           @ 25/1 Skybet
1 pt WIN S-Y Noh             @ 40/1 Skybet
1 pt WIN S. Gallacher        @ 25/1 Skybet
1 pt WIN R. Fisher            @ 40/1 Skybet
1 pt WIN C.Wood             @ 45/1 Skybet
1 pt WIN T. Bjorn             @ 20/1 Skybet

TOP 10

1 pt  S-Y Noh        TOP 10 @ 7.50 BetVictor
1 pt R. Fisher         TOP 10 @ 6.50 Betpack / StanJames
1 pt C. Wood         TOP 10 @ 9.00 Betpack / StanJames
1 pt  T. Fleetwood  TOP 10 @ 7.00 Betpack / StanJames

TOP 20

( 2 players without any current form but decent enough course form worth a nibble)

1 pt  R.Rock          TOP 20 @ 6.50  Betpack / StanJames
1 pt  Peter Lawrie  TOP 20 @ 15.00 Betpack / StanJames

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Qatar goes ahead...for the golf !

We had a very exciting tournament in Abu Dhabi last week where Pablo Larrazabal emerged victorious down the stretch over Major winners, Rory McIlroy & Phil Mickelson. Rory can feel unlucky by having a two shot penalty awarded to him in round 3, but whatever the rule may be, thems are the rules folks and a touring pro, never mind a Major winner, or multiple Major winner, or multi-dollar amassing superstar, should know better and indeed if his caddy is being paid, so too should his caddy. I find it incredulous that this incident was either controversial or indeed a "silly rule", its a rule we as as golf spectators and players alike know well. I can see many tournaments slowing down now with many players asking for a referee for every "situation" arising which does not do the game any good. Its time players and their backroom staff faced up to their roles and responsibilities of playing on tour and for big money and endorsements. I love Rory McIlroy, but I don't want to hear him or his fellow professionals complaining and bemoaning rules infringements. God knows I make enough  mistakes myself both in my personal and business life,and if I don't do my job properly, my employer can take disciplinary action to correct it before getting rid of me. Silly it may be for sure, the rule,and golf has plenty of them, but it was broken. Sergio Garcia was also called into question about tapping the green, as a result of TV viewer calling a discrepancy, but he was the end after discussion. Are we seeing the tag "gentlemen's game" being slowly removed from the game? Let's hope not, nothing untoward happened at the tournament (nor vast majority of the time)and Pablo Larrazabal emerged a worthy champion. So then, whats in store for this week?

Monday, 13 January 2014

Can we really expect the unexpected in Abu Dhabi?

It’s a star-studded line-up for this weeks European Tour event in Abu Dhabi where Welshman, Jamie Donaldson defends his title having seen off Justin Rose and Thorbjorn Olesen 12 months ago. It wasn’t the best of tournaments for Rory and Tiger last year as they both missed the cut. “Expect the Unexpected” they say for this tournament so will we see an upset this week? Given the form that the market leaders are in, I doubt it very much!

Henrik Stenson will be the short priced favourite this week and if he plays as well as he did in Dubai when sealing the DP World Championship, he will be hard to beat. Before those years of loss in form, the Swede had finished runner-up in both 2008 & 2006, sandwiching another TOP 10 in between. Rory, likewise, has not won here but has a string of near misses, with 2 runner up placings, more recently in 2012 & 2011. He has a further 2 TOP 5s in the years preceding those. Adding into the mix this week is the brilliant course form of Martin Kaymer who seeks his fourth win here, and twice winner Paul Casey. Phil Mickelson also tees it up for his third visit whilst Sergio Garcia will be bursting with confidence following his long overdue win at the Thailand Open.

It’s Garcia that probably brings the next best form to Stenson into Abu Dhabi with a T2 at the Nedbank last time out and a 4th at the HSBC Championship in China. Pending the price, Sergio is well worth a bet this week and I think 12/1 – 14/1 would be a fair price. (updated 15:00 13/01/14- 2 pts WIN Sergio Garcia @ 12/1 Ladbrokes )

If you are looking for some value down the field, there are a number of players that could provide that “unexpected”. Tommy Fleetwood, fresh from his TOP 5 in Durban has missed the cut here the past 2 years but that should not be a deterrent for a player that has begun to feel at ease on Tour. He excels on par 5s and low scoring is a premium this week, so I wouldn’t be afraid to side with the 22 year old and @80/1, an each way bet is a play for me.

Joost Luiten is in great form and is so consistent these days he might just provide some value given the quality of the field here. T3rd in Durban yesterday, the Dutchman has 2 Top 5s and 2 TOP 20s in his last 4 starts. 33/1 Ladbrokes 

Thorbjorn Olesen didn’t have the best of seasons in 2013 so would be a bit of a risky bet for first outing of the new season, but finishes of 2nd & 8th in his only 2 visits to Abu Dhabi shouldn’t be ignored and he could surprise a few with a bold showing and is worth a flutter both e/w @ 80/1 with Bet365 and TOP10/20. 

TIP 1: 2 Pts WIN S.Garcia @ 12/1 Ladbrokes

TIP 2: 0.5 pts e/w T.Fleetwood @ 80/1 Bet365

TIP 3: 1 pt e/w J.Luiten @ 33/1 Ladbrokes 

TIP 4: 0.5 pts e/w T.Olesen @ 80/1 Bet365

TIP 5: 2 pts T.Fleetwood TOP 10 @ 4/1 Ladbrokes

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Monkey Business in Durban

This week sees the resumption of the European Tour as 37 players tee it up for the Volvo Champions at the Durban CC in South Africa, an event open to all winners on the previous seasons tour plus last year’s previous winner Branden Grace. Those under 50 years of age with 10 wins or more are also eligible which means Ireland’s Padraig Harrington will also be playing. Charl Schwartzel is raging hot favourite with the bookies this week and its easy to see why as he has won the majority of his titles at this time of the year in his homeland and is definitely the one to beat following his victory at Leopard Creek last month. But at best price 4/1 there is no value in backing him.
This course is very close to Mount Edgecombe where the Nelson Mandela Championship was played and like that event before Christmas, this area is susceptible to adverse weather at this time of year and this weeks tournament may be rain affected. It’s a short course where precision off the tee is vital and it’s a course that will suit wind players with an accuracy game to boot. 

With the above factors taken into account my value bets for this week lie with Paul Casey, Matteo Manassero and Brett Rumford.

Casey, winner of last years Irish Open has a strong affinity with Volvo sponsored tournaments and has excellent form in this event with a win two years ago. Another to recently get engaged, he could surprise this week at a decent price of 30/1 with Betpack.

Manassero was 9th last year and his game should be well suited to scoring here. With length not an issue this week, the Italian who is not averse to winning is real value in this reduced field @ 33/1 with Skybet.

Brett Rumford is a player that can excel in the wind and can get hot with the putter if in the mood. No course form to go on but a win at Baltray in the past and recent TOP 10 in Perth, indicate if the wind does blow this week he can compete and the 2-time winner on tour last year is way over priced in my opinion @ 100/1 with Betpack.

Staking Plan :

1 pt e/w P.Casey @ 30/1 Betpack

1 pt e/w M. Manassero @ 33/1 Skybet

0.5 pts e/w B. Rumford @ 100/1 Betpack

Thursday, 2 January 2014

New Year brings new Challenges and Hopes. Bring it on !

First of all, I'd like to wish a Happy New Year to all readers of the blog and to those following on Twitter. 2014, from a golfing perspective, looks set to be an exciting one with so many young guns capable of winning Majors, and of course Rory & Tiger looking to put Major-less 2013 behind them. We'll have the Ryder Cup to look forward to later in the year as Dubliner, Paul McGinley captains the European Team against Tom Watson's USA team at Gleneagles in Scotland. The European Tour will be very interesting this year as more & more of their top players are moving towards full PGA Tour membership whilst sponsorship remains an issue. But its this tour that I will be focusing on again from a betting perspective, whilst picking certain tournaments on the PGA to invest in as opposed to being involved every week. Reason being is clear from my 2013 results as I returned decent profit in Europe but gave it away by trying to back every tourney in the US which I hadn't done in the past. I was unlucky on a few occasions on the PGA Tour with many a 36 & 54 hole leader, and indeed in one tournament had 3 in the top 3 with just 9 to play, to end up with  nothing for the week! The year started so well but the second half was poor and but for Dustin Johnson's win in China I'd have ended up in the red for the year.With +86.81 pts profit from the European Tour, +13.25 pts from the Majors,and +24 pts from the WGC the good work was undone by a loss of -106.33 pts on the PGA Tour. I'll continue to get involved in the PGA Tour for sure but won't be doing so every week. I have also reviewed my staking plan and am approaching the new year from a different angle as a result. I'll continue to tweet my shortlists, which also proved to be there or thereabouts a lot of the time with many winners missed by the final cull. I'm hoping my new staking plan will try capture more of these "near misses".
    I'd also be very interested in receiving some onsite comments and feedback this year, the golfing betting fraternity is growing mainly thanks to twitter and together I think we can all bash the bookies this year.
On the topic of receiving feedback and indeed becoming a fraternity of sorts, I am also in the process of arranging a "golf&gamble weekend" of which details will be announced shortly, so stay tuned and make sure you sign up to our weekly newsletter.

On a final note before this weeks golf tees off in Hawaii on Friday, I'd urge any punter who bets on the golf each week and who is on Facebook to check out The Punters League run by the guys over at Golf Betting System. I do, there is a £250 overall winners prize and weekly £25 winners prize by selecting 3 players each week on both main tours.... get involved ...its FREE and there is fantastic banter among the group.

I'll be back next week for my selections for the Volvo Champions to be staged in Durban. I've had an interest in Webb Simpson @10/1 for Hawaii this week, purely due to recent form and if he plays as well as he has been before the break with stand-in caddy Ted Scott (Bubba's caddy as Paul Tesori takes time off to be at the expectant birth of his child) on his bag, he should be in with a chance. Starts Friday 3rd January.