Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Perth Invitational 2016

We have a weak field moving on to Western Australia for this week's Perth Invitational where Louis Oosthuizen heads the betting market. The weather forecast suggests that we are in for a dry and hot week with a bit of wind meaning the course should play hard and fast. Local boy, Brett Rumford having played well of late following a return to action is sure to figure on a course that suits accuracy, especially approach play and has solid course form here. So what do we know of Karrinyup GC ? From their website, we know that fairways are generous but finding the fairways in the right spots is what is key to make the approach easier and recent results indicate that strong GIR stats are required here on top of the ever-necessity, a hot putter! The course is hilly and will be affected by wind (maybe not as much this week if we go by the weather forecast) which means players will need to use their clubs and imagine the shots required to negotiate one of Australia's top courses, a course tree-lined with trees ageing in excess of 500 years from which we can expect a kangaroo or two to hop out of. Whilst the field is of the "weakish" line-up, we have an interesting tournament ahead and should favour those who are in solid form of late and whose game suits the course. And its those players who are in form of late that I've arrived at with my 10 man shortlist. I did tweet late Monday night that I would think about adding Peter Uihlein @ 40/1 as the American has stated that this is his favourite course of the year !

But from my list, Louis looks to be the bet at a generous 10/1 for the win, being a proven winner in wind and on tough courses. I would fancy the chances of Mikko Ilonen this week despite his sporadic wins over the years. He's been solid in his opening four events of the season posting 22-13-16-12. He last played Karrinyup back in 2012 when missing the cut which poses the risk if the course suits and his driving accuracy statistics would indicate that perhaps not and indeed last week, the Finn was way down the table in the accuracy department but ranked very highly with the flatstick. Given the course will reward accuracy from tee to green, I'm leaving Mikko out of the outright calculations. Last weeks outright pick, Alejandro Canizares missed the cut by a distance but will arrive fresh in Perth looking to put that disappointment behind him, knowing his game has been in good form prior to Kuala Lumpur with a TOP5 in Dubai and TOP8 in Abu Dhabi. The Spaniard was third here in 2012 when leading the European Challenge to the two Americans Bo Van Pelt and Jason Dufner who occupied the first two placings. His opening 65 is encouraging too and should he get a decent start from the Thursday afternoon start, he may just improve on his second round scoring from last year on the Friday with an early start to avoid the forecasted winds. Last week is forgiven and he remains on the staking plan.

I was really impressed with Bjorn Akesson in Joburg last month and have wanted to get with him soon after but alas as I write this post I note he is now a non-runner this week. But another player that is worth watching and getting onside with in events like this is the Portuguese star, Ricardo Gouveia. Its been a steady enough start to his first full season on the European Tour with a TOP10 posted in Doha, a wind affected golf course at the best of times. Ricardo will play for Karrinyup for the first time this week, but he has shown in the past that this type of course could be to his forté. He also won in Oman, posted a TOP20 at the Alfred Dunhill Links, a TOP30 at the Portugal Masters and is playing awfully well for over 12 months now. He shouldn't be intimidated by the field this week where Oosty is joined by the runner-up from 2014, Victor Dubuisson and the victor, Thorbjorn Olesen. Apart from these, Ricardo has as strong a claim as any of them and at 50/1 he's worth a dabble.

And with Bjorn Akesson now not playing, my shortlist was reduced to none so as already mentioned, Peter Uihlein has to fill the spot on the back of his own tweet on Monday when he said he was "looking forward to playing his favourite course of the year". He finished ninth back in 2014 here and has shown signs recently that his game coming back(not in the Desert though!) and if he finds the fairways on a course that gives him a bit of room to do so, he can be a force. He's taken to produce a solid TOP20


0.50 pts e/w A. Canizares @ 41.00 (Ladbrokes)

2.0 pts TOP20 R.Gouveia @ 3.25 (BetVictor)

3.0 pts TOP20 P. Uihlein @ 2.62 (Betfair)

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Maybank Malaysia Championship 2016

This week's event on the Europeantour sees us in Malaysia for the inaugural Maybank Malaysia Championship which is not the same as the Maybank Malaysia Open!!(yeah right so) It's a new event being played on the Old Course at Selangor GC, a course first opened in 1893 but for this week its a relatively "new" course for the vast majority of players. We do have a fairly decent field too where Danny Willett heads the betting market from Major Champions, Oosthuizen & Kaymer.(Darren is also in the field too).The course is just 6700 yards with only 3 par-5s on offer for the week and by all accounts will reward long drivers off the tee who can find fairways. Willett is sure to go well again and Oosty may just find his game, but I'm swerving Martin Kaymer for this as his game doesn't appear to be anywhere near his best at the moment. In all there is a bit of value in the field but given the uncertainty of the course characteristics and the threat of thunderstorms which is the norm in these parts, I've opted to side with a couple of players that just may find things to their liking this week. Both selections have early starts on Thursday which may end up being a blessing if the said mentioned thunderstorms do materialize come the afternoon according to the forecast.

In the outright market, I have to play Alejandro Canizares @ 45/1 where his accuracy should help his cause around this track. To boot, the Spaniard has been in excellent form this season posting two TOP10s in the Desert Swing (Abu Dhabi & Dubai) where he posted three sub-70 rounds in Dubai last time out. Canizares was T3rd in Malaysia this time last year and has another TOP10 from the Malaysia Open in 2011 so he's quite comfortable playing in this neck of the woods and can do so again here this week where he arrives in obviously good form. He last won in Morocco in 2014 on a course that rewards accuracy, has decent form at the KLM Open and in general on courses where accuracy is key and he makes my staking plan for win and TOP20 for Selangor.

My second and final selection for this week for a TOP20 finish @ 5.00 is last weeks selection David Horsey who duly obliged in the same market for us in South Africa. Horsey has been steady the past few weeks and is showing a strong weekend trend in those weeks and should he get a more positive start he may just kick on and he's kept on the staking plan to do that given that his accuracy is ideal for Selangor. From his four starts this year, the Englishman has finished no worse than 36th (Dubai) and his strong Sunday finish at Pretoria on Sunday should see his confidence improving. Like Canizares, Horsey has good Morocco form and indeed solid form on the tight tracks (Denmark) and Selangor may just be up his alley but @ 5.00 for a TOP20 finish on offer this week to back up his TOP15 last week, I can't abandon him just yet.


0.75 pts WIN A. Canizares @ 45/1

3.0 pts TOP20 A. Canizares @ 2.80
2.75 pts TOP20 D. Horsey @ 5.00

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Tshwane Open 2016 - Pretoria Golf Club

We head back to South Africa this week following a very successful Desert Swing where we saw Rickie Fowler,Brandon Grace and Danny Willett take the titles. Charl Schwartzel will make his season debut here following recent illness which forced him to withdraw from events last month, and he heads the betting market from local boy George Coetzee. George defends at Pretoria GC where he has been a member since ten years of age and he used the course knowledge to good effect when winning last March. He also has just returned from an injury but can boast having a few competitive rounds under his belt ahead of the action having played the last five weeks. Following a cut at his national open, Coetzee has produced a TOP15 in Johannesburg, and a TOP10 in Qatar as well as solid 35th & 26th in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. He may just have an advantage on his compatriot here on both recent form and course knowledge and would be a better bet than the US Masters winner for me.

The Pretoria GC is a tight fiddly track that will suit a straight and accurate type player but is not adverse to low scoring as Adrian Otaegui and Jacques Blaauw demonstrated last year when shooting 62 & 61 respectively. Whilst this is only the second staging of the Tshwane Open here, the course has been used regularly for the Sunshine Tour and should be known to most of the home contingent although it has not been played on since 2011. Perhaps the younger home players such as Stone and Porteous will need to rely on excellent current form to negate any advantage that their elder compatriots may have but its clear that in these co-sanctioned events in South Africa, that the home based players tend to excel.

From my shortlist earlier this week, ten of the twelve shortlisted are from the home nation with the remaining two from England and its David Horsey who I have my hopes pinned on a good showing here and to hopefully break the home dominance as did Ross Fisher two years ago. Horsey finished TOP10 last time here and but for a closing 73 would have challenged for the title. He opened the week with a 63 along with Morten Madsen so clearly took to Pretoria GC and so he should as his accuracy should be a positive. But its his form of late that suggests that in this level of company that he could contend again here. He has returned figures of 31-35-36 in his three starts this season having played The Joburg Open, Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

Having won once in each of the past two seasons, he's not without a chance this week and I make him my outright bet @ 34.00 whilst @ 2.50 with BetVictor for a TOP20 or 4.33 for a TOP10 is also a must for me this week.

My only other selection in this tricky affair at Pretoria is Trevor Fisher Jnr in the TOP20 market @ 2.00 with Paddypower. The Joburg native had an excellent Desert Swing, playing his final round in Abu Dhabi with the World Number One, Jordan Spieth when finishing T7th. He finished T26th in Dubai last week.

From his six starts on the tour this season, Fisher Jnr has produced three TOP20s, which included a TOP10 at the South African Open. He was 22nd at the Tshwane Open in 2015 and appears to be in much better form of late and should be able to find himself within the TOP20 come Sunday night.


0.50 pts WIN D.Horsey @ 34.00
4.00 pts TOP20 D.Horsey @ 2.50

5.00 pts TOP20 T.Fisher Jnr @ 2.00

Monday, 1 February 2016

Dubai Desert Classic - 2016

The "Major of the Middle East " will complete the 2016 Desert Swing on the Majlis Course of the Emirates Golf Club this week where Rory McIlroy will return looking to improve on his putting that cost him dearly two weeks in neighbouring Abu Dhabi. The Classic has been staged every year since 1989 and has seen over 21 different champions, with only Scotland's Stephen Gallacher, defending succsessfully in it's history. It's fair to say that The Majlis has been Stephen's most profitable course in his career with those back to back victories, a runner up placing in 2012 and a further TOP10 in 2011, not to mention his third placing twelve months ago. Of course, Gallacher is not the only multiple winner here as defending champion, Rory McIlroy tees it up in search of his third title this week. Ernie Els has three titles and has shown some improved form of late, so who's to say he can't contend again this week? Henrik Stenson took last week off to rest following recent surgery but showed no real side affects from that two weeks ago in Abu Dhabi when finishing third behind Rickie Fowler and Thomas Pieters. The Swede has solid form  here and indeed in Dubai itself in recent years, when winning twice on the Earth Course at the season's finale (2014 & 2013). In all, the Majlis has seen some great winners over the years and let's hope we have another great week in store . 

I'm hoping for a nice winner to celebrate turning 50 years of age on Wednesday but I doubt I'll see Rory getting beat here. (Speaking of significant birthdays, thanks to Ian from Sports Betting Index who tweeted on Monday that this week Bob Estes will also turn 50 as well as Jose Maria Olazabal. I also share the same birthday as Retief Goosen). I'll have a sore head on Sunday after a party on Saturday night but should Rory not have this by the scruff of the neck by then I might just enjoy the couch whilst I recover!

So, from the pack can we find a player that could surprise and contend ? Last week's selection, Nicolas Colsaerts was on the original shortlist for this but he showed on Friday in Qatar how he can struggle in both the wind and scrambling departments. Reluctantly I've decided to leave him out but wouldn't be a bit surprised to see him bounce back this week. 

My selection in the outright market this week goes to Tommy Fleetwood @ 70/1. I mentioned Tommy in a recent post( Abu Dhabi preview), but was delighted to see his game was in good nick as he threatened to challenge in Qatar. I was actually pleasantly surprised to see his chipping has improved and he made some nice putts over the week from the bit of coverage I did see. Tommy plays here for the fifth time this week and has a TOP10 in his locker already from 3 years ago. Seventh last week in Qatar following a missed cut in Abu Dhabi should ensure he is ready to settle into his season and kick on and win a second title on the tour.  He appeared to be comfortable with his new swing last week and on a course where driving and scoring on par 5s will be vital, I'm keen to have the Southport player on the team this week.

My old favourite Ross Fisher can't be left out either this week. Ross is 7/8 from his visits to the Majlis and he's acquired six TOP20s from those visits which have included a TOP5 and two TOP10s. Recent form is also encouraging having finished T35th in Abu Dhabi and 15th in Sun City at the Nedbank. He also played quite nicely at the EurAsia Cup. The 35 year old should be looking for a good season ahead, and having had last week to refresh for this one, I'm confident of a bold showing on a course he is well used to, and make him a solid TOP20 bet this week @ 4.20 with William Hill (3.75 general)

Finally, as the Desert Swing comes to a close, it might be worth chancing the enigma that is Bryson Dechambeau here. He opened quite well in Abu Dhabi before fading down the leaderboard and he never really got going last week in Qatar. He may find conditions more to his liking this week in Dubai and indeed he showed no signs of effect from those two events, when winning the AD Invitational last Sunday at the Yas Links with a fine round of 65. With wind only forecasted for Thursday afternoon, it might be a week for low scoring again and the American is quite capable of putting four of those together. He's a player to watch for the future as we all know, and most certainly once he turns professional after The Masters. We may not get such nice odds on him in a European Tour event like this again. The "Scientist" is taken here to grab a TOP10 @ 13.00


0.50 pts WIN T.Fleetwood @ 70/1
1.50 pts TOP10 T.Fleetwood @ 8.00

1.0 pts TOP10 B.Dechambeau @ 13.00 

3.0 pts TOP20 R.Fisher @ 4.30