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!


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