Wednesday, 26 February 2020

Oman Open & Honda Classic 2020

Europeantour action restarts in The Middle East this week at The Oman Open outside Muscat. Al Mouj GC is a links type course which is prone to the wind, which is always a factor in this part of the world.................maybe except for this week if the forecast is in anyway accurate. Highest winds forecasted for the week is ~16 kmh so conditions should be ideal for some really low scoring.

I'd love to be onside with Martin Kaymer this week but the 16/1 best price doesn't want me to. I've looked long and hard at this event but I'm not overly excited. I couldn't convince myself not to get with an old favourite of mine this week  in the shape of Ross Fisher. Ross is 35/1 (7 places) or 55.00 on the exchange and 10.00 (TOP-5) and 5.50 (TOP-10). The Englishman had a quiet year last year although he seemed to come to life towards the end of it and his recent form is encouraging too. He finished 6th in both Abu Dhabi & Riyadh a few weeks ago and is a renowned links player. This is not a strong field at all here this week - if wind does get up, patience will be key and the experience will be advantageous. But signs are there already in 2020 that Fisher could be in for a good year, he turns 40 years of age later this year and if he wants to take inspiration in reaching that milestone, he only has to look at The Saudi winner, Graeme McDowell who also turns 40 this year. Lee Westwood, winner in Abu Dhabi suggests my first post here of 2020 on the blog was silly as the young guns still look to fire.

Paul Waring has missed the cut in Saudi & Dubai this season but he posted 2 TOP-20s in Abu Dhabi and in Dubai last November at the DP World Tour Championship. Currently 74th in the OWGR, his goal surely is to make TOP-50 and get into more prestigious events and accumulate bigger ranking points. Another with strong links/wind pedigree, the Englishman will be happy to kick-start his season back in this part of the world and he could go well @ 35.00 here. I wouldn't be backing him any lower though but the price is fair enough in this strength of field. He went 20/22 last year with 6 TOP-10s to boast on the back of his sole win at The Nordea Masters in August 2018. Consistency has seen him rise to 74 and he can get back on track here having visited the past two seasons, albeit unsuccessful visits when finishing mc-44.

Oman Open Selections:

1.00 pts WIN R. Fisher @ 55.00
2.00 pts TOP-5 R. Fisher @ 10.00
1.00 pts e/w P. Waring @ 36.00 (7-places)

If Al Mouj GC is toughened up by wind, then we can expect the same at The PGA National GC in Jupiter, Florida where a decent field, despite only Koepka from the OWGR TOP-10 participating, tees it up. PGA National is ranked 2nd toughest of the "standard PGA events" and the Bear Trap over the closing 3 holes lays testament to how difficult it is to prevail.

In much the same way as I wanted to back Kaymer in Muscat, I wanted to get onside with Rickie Fowler here but the price is too low for me to pull the trigger. Instead, Ryan Palmer who I backed at The Sony Open, is taken to keep his form going at a course where he has done well at in the past.4th Last year and 2nd in 2014 shows he's more than capable. 75.00 on the exchange available or 61.00 (7-places) are value for Palmer at PGA. The Texan can also be backed @ 7.80 (TOP-10) & 4.60 (TOP-20). I'll complete my staking plan this week with some value on Wyndham Clark & Brian Stuard - Clark is available @ 70.00 / 9.50 (TOP-10) / 5.00 (TOP-20) whilst Brian Stuard is available @ 330.00/ 19.00 (TOP-10)/ 8.00 (TOP-20). Stuard has decent form here having posted 4 TOP-30s in his last 6 visits. Lets hope he go slightly better this time round.

Honda Classic Selections:

0.75 pts WIN R.Palmer @ 75.00
1.00 pts TOP-10 R.Palmer @ 7.80
1.00 pts TOP-20 R.Palmer @ 4.60
0.25 pts WIN W. Clark @ 70.00
1.00 pts TOP-10 W. Clark @ 9.50
1.00 pts TOP-20 @ W. Clark @ 5.00
0.25 pts WIN B. Stuard @ 330.00
1.00 pt TOP-10 B. Stuard @ 19.00
1.00 pt TOP-20 B. Stuard @ 8.00

Total Week Spend: 12.25 pts (Season P&L = +30.30 pts)

Wednesday, 19 February 2020

WGC Mexico 2020 - Chapultepec GC, Mexico

Adam Scott duly delivered last week at Riviera for the blog which puts the new found enthusiasm for the year ahead in a positive light, and I'll try and add to that this week as we start the countdown to Augusta.

The WGC heads back to Mexico for the 4th year,where past results suggest those at the top of their game, striking it well and finding greens will prevail. It has also shown that European Tour based players fare well at Chapultepec GC but the victories have gone the way of Dustin Johnson (2) and Phil Mickelson. The course is at altitude which is a factor to take into consideration and perhaps those that have been here the past 3 years will have a slight edge.

I wanted to back JT this week. His missed cut last can be ignored. He's been solid here on previous visits and is surely to contend on a course where he has the required form and experience. At 10/1(14.00 on the exchange) he is quite tempting, but I've backed just two this week. Matty Fitzpatrick was backed in Dubai last month to no avail, but I'm more than happy to side with him again here considering he's proven playing at altitude (Crans, Switzerland). This will be his 4th visit to Chapultepec, where his best finish to date is 16th on debut. He's been in fine form of late and was unlucky not to win in Abu Dhabi and he's definitely a player who raises to the challenge in these big events. I think he's great each way value here and it would not be a surprise should he be rewarded for so many near misses the past 12 months or so. 7 places @ 50/1 will do me !

My second selection is a speculative one in that he's been returning to form the past 6 months on the Asian Tour, rising the OWGR rankings to climb back inside the TOP-100. This week gives him a huge opportunity to capitalize further and spring a surprise. I'm keen to have a chance in the TOP-20 market and the tiniest of interests in the win market, where he could present a trading option should he start well. Step forward Ryo Ishikawa. The Japanese star has been solid the past 6 months having yielded a win at the end of 2019 in Japan before dusting off the 2020 cobwebs by finishing 24th at the Singapore Open last month.It's hard to believe he's still in his 20's (28 yrs old) and having now reached number 85 in the OWGR rankings, he will surely be motivated to improve further and make use of these events to accumulate as many points as he can. He may be an 18 time winner as a pro, but he is yet to perform on the stage outside of the Japan/Asian Tour and the bet here really is to make top-20 @ 8.50 which he's well capable of achieving if bringing his form of late to Mexico


1.00 pts e/w M.Fitzpatrick @ 51.00 (7 places)
2.00 pts TOP-20 R. Ishikawa @ 8.50
0.25 pts WIN R. Ishikawa @ 800.00

Wednesday, 12 February 2020

Genesis Invitational & Womens Australian Open 2020

I love Riviera GC ! The Genesis Invitational is for me, one of the best tournaments on the PGA Tour outside of the Majors and the sentiment has to be felt by players alike as yet again we have a very strong field teeing it up in California this week making the SOF ~ 645 pts with 70 OWGR points available to the winner.

The tournament is not without it's shock winners over recent years but I'm approaching this week with the view that the victor on Sunday will be a well established player given recent form of the field assembled. Brooks Koepka for me isn't fully fit, so he's the one exception. JT should have won here last year and he's sure to contend here this week but I'm keen on 2 players at value prices this week; Adam Scott & Marc Leishman. The two Aussies arrive having won last time out, Scott taking out the Australian PGA Championship the week before Christmas and his compatriot winning at Torrey Pines two weeks ago. Scott is available on Betfair @ 42.00, Leishman @ 55.00 with TOP-10 prices available @ 4.50 & 5.60 respectively.

As per my preview for this back in 2017, I backed Leishman @ 75.00 then and @ 67.00 in 2014 and he duly missed the cut both times despite an opening 67 in 2017 and a 69 in 2014. He was 5th the previous year in 2016 and produced a 4th place finish last year with 4 rounds in the 60's. I'm very keen on him this time round considering his form since returning to the Tour after spending time to support his very ill wife and his 9 TOP-10s in 24 starts in 2019 have led him to an early success in 2020, winning the Farmers last month. I'll opt for TOP-10 market to cover the places instead of the 11.00 on offer for TOP5 where dead heat rules always seem to get in the way of strong field tourneys

Adam Scott is mercurial to say the least but as he approaches 40 years of age, I can see Scott challenging strongly this year. (can't believe he's 40 having seen him play at the K Club for The European Open back in 2000). Riviera requires ball striking, and indeed Riviera and Torrey Pines are the only courses on the PGA Tour to feature Kikuyu grass on both fairways and in the rough. West Coast specialists as well as Australians and South Africans have a distinct advantage playing on this with Scott having posted 3 TOP-10s in his last 5 visits on top of a further 2 TOP-20 s within a 6 tournament spell, I'm keen to be with the Adelaide man at the prices.

Collin Morikawa was considered, particularly in the TOP-20 market but the 3.00 was deemed too short given Riviera usually rewards those who have course form

In the Women's Australian Open to be played at Royal Adelaide GC, a links type course requiring accuracy, I'm backing Ireland's Leona Maguire @ 120.00 outright and @ 8.50 for TOP-10. It may be a big step up for former World Amateur No.1 but last week's 4th place finish will exude confidence in the Cavan native and she has to be backed at these prices as she sets about making her mark on the LPGA. The prices will reduce over the months ahead!

Selections/Staking Plan

1.00 pts WIN. A. Scott @ 42.00
1.00 pts WIN M. Leishman @ 55.00

3.00 pts TOP-10 A. Scott @ 4.50
3.00 pts TOP-10 M. Leishman @ 5.60

(Women's Australian Open)
0.75 pts WIN . Leona Maguire @ 120.00
1.25 pts TOP-10 L.Maguire @ 8.50