Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Maybank Championship 2018 - Saujana GC, KL

Haotong Li heads back to Asia this week having held off Rory McIlroy in Dubai on Sunday and win the title, to compete in the co-sanctioned Maybank Championship to be played again at the Saujana GC. The Palm course is highly rated throughout Asia and last year's results suggest the accurate players are likely to perform the best. Defending Champion, Fabrizio Zanotti emphasizes this and we shouldn't be surprised to see Henrik Stenson head the market. His good mate, Justin Rose swooped in Asia last Autumn to win in Jakarta, and the "Iceman" will be keen to grab some perceived easy OWGR points. Malaysia has held a close affinity with Swedish golfers over the years as they visit during their winter time to practice and so perhaps some of his compatriots may have some edge here acclimatizing to the humidity and conditions. Mr Stenson doesn't always prevail when we expect him to,so he's easily passed this week in favour of some value down the market.

Marcus Fraser has not had the best of starts to 2018 and for that reason was omitted from my shortlist but it's worth noting he excelled here at The Eisenhower Trophy back in 2002 as alluded in my preview here twelve months ago. Players accustomed to playing in this part of the world must be considered and for that reason alone I've opted for players who have shown recent form in the region and decent prices.

My first selection is Korean, Jeunghun Wang @ 34.00. Ok, he missed the cut here last year by a shot,but 15th in Abu Dhabi followed up with T-6th in Dubai with the best bogey-avoidance stats in both events this month,augurs well for his chances in KL. He has shown before he can hold form and travelling back to Asia will be easier for him than some of his European peers and I am hoping the results improve again this week.

South African, Shaun Norris is a lovely price here @ 140.00 in the outright market and a general 51.00 each way chance, and 4.00 in the TOP20 (although I have noted 17.00 available with Skybet, SJ, and Betfred- surely these are palps?) 2nd recently to Sergio Garcia in Singapore came on the back of a TOP20 at Glendower and a T-3 at Joburg Open. Last time out he was 5th in Myanmar to climb to Number 102 in the World. He's in form, he's acclimatized and ready to pounce.

I put up  Scott Vincent in Abu Dhabi and duly "put the mockers" on him but I'm going in again here @ 110.00 / 4.00 (TOP20). His 71st placing in the Middle East may back up my strategy idea that players playing 3 weeks in a row must be getting tired and so with a week off, the hope is he tees it up this week fresh and ready to improve on finishes of 4-30-22 in his previous events.

Plenty of value about this week, so I've added a Swedish player in Alexander Bjork @ 67.00 e/w. Form is bang on, and having just missed out on victories recently he must be kept in the frame. 2nd in Hong Kong and T-6th in Dubai, it's a matter of time before he does go in and had strong showings in 2017 where he was 23/29 including 10 T-20s of which 2 were TOP-5s. He has 3 T-10s from his 4 starts already in 2018 and can't be left out at such a price.

Japanese stars, Ryo Ishikawa and Yuketa Ikeda are added @ 190.00 & 180.00 respectively on the exchange and included for TOP-20s @ 6.00s. Quality players who just appear to be overlooked this week but Ryo hasn't exactly been playing rubbish lately! He did miss the cut in Myanmar, but 16th in Singapore came after a bold effort last November at The Casio Open when closing with a 66 to finish 2nd. His compatriot, Ikeda does all his best work in Japan, having won 19 times on the JGTO but he may provide a trading opportunity this week if continuing solid form of late. He's chanced for a TOP-20 too. I've added them to my Draftking lineups so we'll see how that goes ! (I'm still learning the DFS game but having played a couple of weeks now I can see the attraction in the games, so will be putting more effort into DFS salaries going forward)

Staking Plan (12 pts)

StakePlayerOddsTotal Cost of BetTerms
1.00Jeunghun Wang34.002.00e/w
0.50Shaun Norris140.000.50win
0.50Alexander Bjork67.001.00e/w
0.50Scott Vincent110.000.50win
0.25Ryo Ishikawa190.000.25win
0.25Yuta Ikeda180.000.25win
1.50Shaun Norris - T204.001.50win
3.00Scott Vincent - T204.003.00win
1.50Ryo Ishikawa - T206.001.50win
1.50Yuta Ikeda - T206.001.50win

Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Dubai Desert Classic 2018

Its the second event of the Desert Swing in Dubai this week to be played once again on the magnificent Majlis Course where Sergio Garcia defends. If we get a repeat of last Sunday in Abu Dhabi we will be in for a treat although I'd prefer to come out with a winner rather than yet again another dose of seconditis. Ross Fisher needs a break, his scoring in recent events has been tremendous but he's come up against one just too good and no one can argue with Tommy Fleetwood's performance to deny him last week! Still we move on and despite the field not looking as strong as Abu Dhabi, we have plenty of players that whet the appetite for the golf week again. Given Rory's warm-up last week its hard to see him not going in here, nor not seeing Henrik Stenson going close but we'll try try find a bit of value from our betting perspective. Sergio defends and having won last week in Singapore, he too arrives in form.

From my shortlist, I've found it to be a difficult event to get too involved in. Last week's selections, Fisher & Kaymer come back into my plans here and the former has a nice draw in a PM/AM start Thursday/Friday which seems to be an ideal plan for the Englishman. The former has been close often enough of late, including three runners-up placings in his last seven events, and the price has come in to reflect that but there's value still @ 32.00 for the win. He can boast 6/10 TOP20s here and recent form suggests he can improve that again this week and I'm sticking with him.

Martin Kaymer is kept onside in the hope that last week's warm-up will see an improved performance here at an event where he is 6/7, including 4 TOP-5s. Once he gets a solid start on a Thursday, I'm convinced the class will see him hit the "zone" and contend once more. As written in last week's preview, Kaymer had shown a return to form towards the end of 2017 and having got 4 rounds under his belt last week for a 27th placing, he may just spark a new title bid here and @60.00 to win I'm on board!

South African, Dylan Frittelli completes my staking plan this week as an each-way chance @ 51.00 (1/5 places 1-6). 4 TOP-20s from 5 starts this season including a win in Mauritius means he is in decent form and with the Majlis rewarding those hitting greens and making putts, Frittelli is expected to feature despite it being his course debut.

Staking Plan

1.50 pts win R.Fisher @ 32.00
1.00 pts win M.Kaymer @ 60.00
1.00 pts e/w D. Frittelli @ 51.00 (1/5 1-6)

5.50 pts TOP20 M.Kaymer @ 3.00

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Abu Dhabi Championship 2018

The hosts used the tagline, "Expect The Unexpected" for the staging of this event back in 2014, and perhaps they had a crystal ball at the time as this event has produced some amazing results over recent years.The winners circle lists three time winner, Martin Kaymer and twice winner Paul Casey amongst the twelve winners to date but perhaps its the final round slayings of Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Phil Mickelson and Henrik Stenson over the years that creates the unexpected results here. Rickie Fowler was able to keep Rory & Stenson at bay two years ago whilst Tommy Fleetwood edged out Dustin Johnson twelve months ago. Tommy has of course stamped his authority on European golf since by winning the Race to Dubai in 2017.

If we exclude Rory's efforts here in 2013 when trying to use his Nike clubs for the first time, Rory has not been outside the TOP-3 in his last six visits. Throw in his 5th on debut in 2009 it's obvious Rory likes Abu Dhabi GC yet he is still to win here. He makes his seasonal debut this week looking to get 2018 off to a better start than he did in 2017. Dustin Johnson, the World Number One is back to try and go one better than his only effort in Abu Dhabi to date and having made his mark already in 2018 by winning last time out in Hawaii, we can be assured its not appearance money only on his mind for the week ahead. He faces Rory as well as Justin Rose, Tommy Fleetwood and a few other European contenders,notably in the shape of Matty Fitzpatrick and Tyrell Hatton. A strong OWGR SoF in Abu Dhabi is assured and Dustin is the one to beat for me despite Rory's obvious claims, not to mention Stenson's. Three time winner Martin Kaymer has not won anywhere since the US Open at Pinehurst in 2014 and indeed since his extraordinary collapse here in 2015, he hasn't been as close since. He followed up that infamous result with a 16th in 2016 and was 4th twelve months ago. Again, it's obvious there is something about this course that fits his eye, and if Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson want to lay down the gauntlet this week then so too does the German who may look for inspiration to re-ignite his career on a course that will be forever synonymous for the German. At 33/1, it's really a price too good to be true for a player with so much form here and he makes my staking plan.

I was very tempted to get involved with Paul Casey @ 20/1 who will be keen to show his worth for consideration for the Ryder Cup team having lost his singles match last Sunday in the Eurasia Cup. Twice a winner here, PC has all the attributes for Abu Dhabi and having climbed to number 14 in the World, we know he's pushing to climb higher and this week gives him an ideal opportunity to do so. Having sided with Kaymer already and having started the season looking to back more 40/1 + opportunities, I've left the Englishman on the sideline. I was tempted though by his compatriot Danny Willett, who like Kaymer is looking for a big result this week to kick start anything, something to revive his career after a 2017 to forget. Willett has desert form in his locker and having shown some glimpses towards the tail-end of last year that his game was returning, he should tee it up on the 10th tee on Thursday seeing the two threeballs out in front of him serving a reminder of where he was just two years ago as DJ, Rory and Tommy head down the fairway in front of him just behind the threeball of Rose, Stenson and Matt Kuchar. A good showing is not beyond the Rotherham lad this week and @ 7.00 for a TOP20, it's well worth a dabble. Instead though, I've opted to get Darren Fichardt and 25 year old, Zimbabwean, Scott Vincent into the staking plan for the TOP-20 market @ 9.00 and 8.50 having shown better form of late.

Fichardt has shown more consistency outside his native South Africa in recent times and is well capable of putting a decent weeks work in Abu Dhabi here. Two T-10s in his last four starts to add to a further TOP-20 in that period augurs well for his confidence ahead.

Vincent is on the rise and it remains to be seen how he copes with the big boys but if his college career in the US and subsequent take to professional ranks is to be a gauge then he could just be one such player to be onside with. He showed his capabilities last week at Glendower when finishing 4th as well as a 3rd place finish behind Justin Rose and Phacara Kongwatmai in Jakarta the week before Christmas. Expect the unexpected!

Finally, Ross Fisher is added to the lineup on the back of solid form throughout 2017 which saw Ross climb back to number 35 in the world. He always produces strong GIR stats, a key performance indicator for tackling Abu Dhabi GC and having ranked 6th for the 2017 season, I'm hoping the winter practice and warm up last week in KL has Ross rarin' to go this week and if he can repeat a TOP-20, a feat he achieved in two of his last three visits, I'll be happy @ 3.00 with 40% of my staking plan with a 1 pt stake on the win @ 70.00

Both Fisher and Kaymer join Casey in my cross doubles effort this week from Abu Dhabi with The Career Builder Challenge on the PGA Tour

Staking Plan

 StakePlayerOddsTotal Cost of BetTerms

StakePlayerOddsTotal Cost of BetMarket
4.00R.Fisher T-203.004.00T-20
1.50Scott Vincent T-208.501.50T-20
1.50Darren Fichardt T-208.001.50T-20

Monday, 8 January 2018

South African Open 2018 - Glendower GC

Glendower Golf Club hosts the South African Open this week and the European Tour players teeing it up on Thursday will be looking to kick off the year with a bang. The newbies who are afforded a start here will hope to cash in and get something on the board as they embark on a 25 plus tournament season, if lucky enough to get the required starts in order to make the money to secure their cards for next season. With new years, comes new hopes, and some players will look to put disappointing 2017 campaigns behind them and get a solid result under them to bring renewed confidence.

There's no Rory McIlroy here this year, who was edged out by Graeme Storm last year, but the market leaders point to the home grown boys in the shape of Grace, Schwartzel & Frittelli. The home players tend to fare well here, mainly due to the kikuyu fairways but we have seen recent winners from Europe of late with Andy Sullivan prevailing in 2015, Madsen in 2014 and Stenson in 2012. Storms victory last year made it 4 European winners in the last 5 stagings.Looking at those winners alone emphasizes the requirement for accuracy at Glendower. The par-72, 7564 yds course is described as a traditional course where you will need to be striking the ball well.

My shortlist for the event has 13 players of which 5 are less than 40/1. The 5 are the leading South African's in the market and I think its fair game to oppose them in the opening tournament of the new year. Based on the new strategies, I do want to focus on some value this week and Erik Van Rooyen, Aaron Rai and Jinho Choi are my immediate focus. I had Marc Warren penciled in based on his form towards the end of season despite not having played here before but with the lack of course form here as well as mediocre South African form, he's omitted but remains a contender for DFS inclusion. Ten players who met the strategy criteria were left off my final shortlist but are being recorded for observation purposes

Recent Challenge Tour winner, Van Rooyen will have a home game this week in Johannesburg and will be keen to emulate his efforts in his hometown last time out when finishing 2nd at the Joburg Open in December and securing a place at Carnoustie next July. The 27 year old enters his 5th season as a pro and will be buoyed by his win at The Hainan Open last October as well as his win at The Eye of Africa last February, here in Joburg where he won a three man playoff which included Dylan Frittelli. At 50/1 he's worth taking.

Jinho Choi from South Korea is nicely priced this week following recent form. The 33 year old is looking to secure a card outside of Korea and isn't afraid to travel. He now sits inside the worlds top- 200 having not missed a cut since 2016. He's started the new season with progressive figures of 48-20-8 meaning he meets strategy#1 and becomes a selection for me here this week @ 150.00

Aaron Rai is too big this week as he returns to Joburg looking to add to his 7th & 19th place finishes at the Joburg Opens last year. 80/1 for a player that excels where accuracy is required cannot be overlooked and the price may be due to missed cuts recorded in Mauritius and Hong Kong but he's a good few ticks above where I thought he would be (I made him 50/1 here)


1.00 pt e/w E.Van Rooyen @ 51.00
0.25 pt win Jinho Choi @ 150.00
1.00 pts e/w A. Rai @ 81.00
1.75 pts TOP20 Jinho Choi @ 5.00

Goodbye 2017 !

The blog went into nosedive throughout the last quarter of 2017 with no returns whatsoever from the 27 selections costing over 61 pts loss. The first half of the year was nip n tuck and awash with quite a few near misses so the damage was really only felt towards the end of the season. Having spent some time over the festive season reviewing the year, the renewed focus this year will be on getting the staking plan correct. The aim is to concentrate more on players over the 40/1 price that represent some value and find those value TOP10 & TOP20s. The PGA Tour is proving to have real potential each week specifically in the side markets so I intend to get more involved in those as well as more threeball for rounds 1& 2. Whilst  2017 was the worst on record for the blog, I am strangely confident of a decent new year as long as the change in focus and discipline kicks in. The aim is to stop the trend of three losing years in the past four and return to the early days! From 45 shortlists last year, we found 15 winners with an average price of 15/1. Most of these were missed as they didn't constitute "value" in my opinion and even the 80/1 selection was left behind. I will take solace in the fact I am looking at the right players still, but I accept that the staking plan was wrong and didn't formulate the weekly stakes accordingly to the markets that I entered.

My approach will be different from the past, I hope! There will be more emphasis on players at a good price, coming into an event with form and relatively "warmed-up". I don't really want to side with a player who is playing his 4th week on the trot, especially on the European Tour where travel becomes a factor(see strategy#3 below). He should have shown course form preferably in recent years(#2 & #7) and I'll also consider players who will have either won(#8) or placed second(#4) on previous start. Form is proving key on the tours, and there may be some profits to be capitalized on (#1). The strategies I will introduce this year may be enhanced as the season progresses, or as I build my own database. I'm interested in seeing the performances of players who may play a week ahead of a tournament that may be defending(#5) or have won in recent years as there does seem to be a trend of players sub-consciously raising their game in advance of that event and doing so at decent odds (#6).

The weekly aim is 6-10 points from a starting bank of 200 points.

The weekly previews may touch more on what type of player I like for the event and who I expect to go well which may feed into how I'm approaching Playon & Draftkings lineups. With Draftkings only recently available to us here in Ireland, this may take time to figure out and the shortlists may change, but for now I'll continue to publish Mondays and include the new strategy criteria. The Shortlists can be found here

My Strategies for 2018

Strategy #Strategy Description
1Recent Form - includes a T-10 in one of last 3 starts - odds >41.00
2Recent form - includes a T-10 in one of last 3 events, and has previous course form ( odds > 41.00
3Recent form - arrives not having played 3 weeks in a row but showing progressive results inside T-30. odds > 41.00
4Finished 2nd LTO
5Defending Champion
6Player is defending Champion next week - can tend to hit form week prior to defending
7Course form - Has more than 2 T-10s in the past 5 years - odds > 34.00