McGladrey Classic 2014/2015

McGladreyPrize Fund: $5,600,000

Winner’s Share: $1,008,000

Course: Sea Island GC (7,005 yards par 70)

This week sees the penultimate event played in America for 2014 on the PGA Tour – the final event, the Sanderson Farms, plays second fiddle to the HSBC Champions next week.

On the back 9 Sunday, we had written off Ben Martin with him 1 over par and the likes of Streelman, a Sunday specialiast, and 2013 winner Webb Simpson closing in fast. But having played the last 4 holes 4 under par including a 46ft bomb on 16 for eagle, he was a deserved winner. With Simpson, Walker and Koepka grabbing place money, it was a tough week to find any value.

This aerial view shows exactly what he course is about - courtesy of seaisland.com

This aerial view shows exactly what he course is about – courtesy of seaisland.com

With this little spell we now have at the back end of the year, things are nearly done as we move to the Sea Island Golf Course in Georgia. And you don’t have to be a golf geek to work out what this course is playing alongside. At 7,000 yards and situated next to sea, it’s all about course management and plodding your way around. Plenty of water and marshland means it’s as close to links as you are getting stateside.

Tim Clark shot a 62 on the final day last year and barely touched over 270yards off the tee, so distance is not vital. Similar to last week, wedge and high iron yardages are going to be pivotal. If you average anything around the 290yard mark off the tee, it will be wedge play galore. Putting well is obviously key on the slick surfaces and most people who finished high did that last year. Although Chris Kirk interestingly ranked 33rd in putting average before he picked up the trophy in 2013. Emphasising even more so the importance of tee to green play.

There is also a remarkable similarity with the Harbour Town Golf Links course – home to the RBC Heritage.  All the previous winners on Sea Island have played well at Harbour Town – in fact barring Chris Kirk, who still had a top 20 and the fact this is his home course – all the winners had a top 10 at the RBC before their victory.  Food for thought.

TwitterDon’t forget to follow us throughout the week on Twitter @downthe18th for the latest news, betting + banter. Please get in touch and let us know what you think of our picks and who you fancy as well!

Russell Knox (40/1 Ladbrokes BEST BET)

He will love it if things get naughty weather wise

He will love it if things get naughty weather wise

Russell Knox was constantly on our radar last season, always fitting the stats for courses requiring a tee to green guru.  We admittedly didn’t know much about him, but over time started realising that he has a lot of potential and he genuinely is that good with his irons.

Rarely does he find himself right at the top of leaderboards though and that has been his problem – fully pushing himself to challenge.  We saw plenty of him at the Scottish Open, leading after day 1, but struggling through a patch of holes on the Friday dented his chances and that is often the case – obviously barring that playoff defeat at the Honda last season.  However, last week we saw the Scot play some sublime golf all 4 days.  He finished outright 3rd and looked the part.

He ended up 4 shots behind eventual winner Ben Martin, so we cannot see him being overly exerted following a close call Sunday finish.  He will be coming onto a course in a fresh season off the back of a positive performance and somewhere he suits down to the ground.  He’s finished T27 and T32 here before, but in line with the similarities to Harbour Town – he finished T9 at the RBC Heritage earlier this year.

His game has the Scottish links routes, no denying that and if he was ever going to record his first PGA Tour victory it would be on a course like this.  He was T7 for GIR, T9 for driving accuracy and T17 for putting average last week, so he is in fine fettle.

Scott Brown (45/1 StanJames)

A very intriguing mid-range pick in Scott Brown this week.  We have already gone there this season and frustrations naturally grow when your bet doesn’t quite get returns, but when you take a step back and look properly at his performances, you can’t help but be impressed.

T10 last week after a poor opening round – finishing with a 66 gives any golfer a massive boost of confidence.  Then T12 the week before in a bizarre mixture of quality and average golf from Brown.  He hasn’t been playing particularly well off the tee which may worry some, but his irons have been consistent and his putting is on another level at the moment.  10th overall last week and 13th the week before prove his eye is firmly in on the greens.

He interestingly played outstandingly at the RBC Heritage this year as well, finishing T5 and with a T4 here in 2013 and T20 in 2012, his confidence should be sky high before teeing it up on Thursday.

A lot of factors point in Brown’s direction, so for us, he gets one more chance.

Brian Harman (55/1 various)

Cracking beard there from Harman.

Cracking beard there from Harman.

Brian Harman has only been fully on the PGA Tour for 3 seasons now, but will tee up in the first of his 4th with a win under his belt.  The John Deere Classic has his name engraved and you can’t help but think he could have a lot of say over the coming 10 months.

After that maiden victory, he inevitably struggled, but he’s had an extensive break now and should be fresh to hit the ground running.  So why should we be at all interested in backing him?  Well, firstly this is his home course.  He trains at the esteemed school here, therefore you can only assume he’s indulged in a few cheeky rounds here over the past few weeks.  Secondly, he played very well for a T7 finish at the RBC Heritage earlier this year and thirdly he recorded an impressive T10 here in 2013.  All that certainly adds up to someone who could challenge in this sort of field at the beginning of a new season.

You would class Harman as one of this all-round talents, he doesn’t have a particular facet to his game that is exceptional, but he rarely puts a foot wrong and tee to green is solid, whist on the greens he won’t shy away from making a few putts.

There is the unknown entity surrounding a player who hasn’t made an appearance on Tour yet, no denying that, but you can’t help feeling intrigued by him.

Adam Hadwin (66/1 various) 

Adam Hadwin is certainly one to watch.  Plus anyone thinking there's a striking resemblance to Adam Scott??

Adam Hadwin is certainly one to watch. Plus anyone thinking there’s a striking resemblance to Adam Scott??

Like Brown, we have already plumped for Adam Hadwin this season.  However, we went for the new PGA star in the first week when he did, well, bugger all.  However last week he played some consistent golf to finish T10 and that should now be the catalyst for a potentially big season from the Canadian.

As we wrote before, he has a decent history in the game without little luck going his way, so the 26-year old has finally proved himself consistently to reach the Tour and now should have massive confidence over that top 10.

It keeps that ‘winning’ (hypothetically, considering he has only won once out of the top performances recently, but I’m sure you get our drift!) mentally and it should push him to achieve more.  You can’t read into it too much yet, but 10th for driving distance, 10th driving accuracy and 17th GIR are outstanding stats whatever the time of year.

We are confident you will see his name regularly at the top of the leaderboard, so this could be a week to look out for him, even more so due to the fact he actually played here a few years ago, all be it finishing T70 – still made the cut as a youngster though!

William McGirt (100/1 various)

William McGirt is another player who has performed very well at the RBC Heritage this year, where he finished T9 and that instantly made us take a look at him.

He is yet to win on the PGA Tour, but had a relatively decent year in 2014 with 4 top 10s, including that one at Harbour Town and a T5 at the Barclays a few weeks back.  He did withdraw from back problems at the season opener, which would understandably concern a few, however a solid T33 last week proves all is well again.  As accurate a player you will ever get – T19 for GIR and T6 for driving accuracy last week shows his game is on and he could be an interesting outsider here.

John Huh (125/1 various)

Come on Johnny boy!

Come on Johnny boy!

Another cheeky outsider for us all to consider is John Huh.  A young, enigmatic golfer who still has the world at his feet, is yet to fully push on and fulfil his outstanding potential his early days promised.  He, like all our main picks found a top 10 at the Heritage – finishing T3 and this is the sort of course you can really see suiting the American youngster.

Always very accurate off the tee and usually consistent with his irons, he has been known to struggle with length, but this track shouldn’t get in the way of that whatsoever.  T28 last week where he was T18 for driving accuracy and T19 for GIR, but his putting admittedly let him down.

If he can put more together and follow up from a couple of cracking 67’s he shot at the Shriners, 125s will be great value.

Outsiders

Robert Allenby (150/1 various) and Rory Sabbatini (200/1 Coral)

We know this would bring our total to 8 picks, but we just couldn’t get rid of any outsiders.  Robert Allenby finished T23 at the RBC this year and impressively T8 the season opener a couple of weeks back.  He played well consistently, as he always does and his tee to green accuracy could prove valuable on this sort of track.  Plus, he is on a few to have played here every year since its beginning, finding a T3 finish back in 2010.

As for Rory Sabbatini, we all know what a fine player he is on his day.  Like Allenby, he is a multiple time PGA Tour champion but injuries have constantly got in the way.  We always fancy a cheeky tickle on him when it’s a course like this, so it’s no different now.  T9 at the RBC earlier this year and a fine tee to green stalwart that may have missed the cut last week, but we are confident he could turn it around here.

ISPS Handa Perth International 2014

Perth-International-Logo-2013-800x213Prize Fund: A$1,750,000

Winner’s Share: 

Course: Lake Karrinyup CC (7,142 yards par 72)

 

FOR ANYONE THAT HAS BEEN WAITING FOR OUR PICKS: 

We are really sorry for any inconvenience caused, we have absolutely no idea what’s happened, but we thought everything was published a couple of days ago and have gone about our business as usual – but some technical issues have caused the picks not to have saved/shown up on the site.  Please do have a quick peak if you get the time before the tournament starts to see where we’ve gone – but clearly there wasn’t much point in us doing our usual write-up this late in play!

It’s only fitting that we end the European Tour’s regular season in Australia. Actually, no it’s not. Anyway, the big-hitting Aussie Scott Hend won over in Hong Kong in a tournament that saw plenty of outsiders grab a large chunk of the prize fund. Meanwhile on British soil, Mikko Ilonen won the World Match Play Championship – a victory not many could have predicted with the likes of Dubuisson, McDowell and Stenson in the field. So for us and many punters alike, it was rather fruitless few days.

This week signals the very last chance for players to either force their way into the Final Series or retain their playing rights for next year. It certainly is ‘squeeky bum’ time for anyone outside the top 110 in the R2D standings. That should have a huge bearing on where your hard earned cash is going this week.

A club rule is that Kangaroos are allowed to roam the course as they please

A club rule is that Kangaroos are allowed to roam the course as they please

The Lake Karrinyup course in Perth has been played on for the past couple of years and is widely regarded as an all-round test of a golfer’s ability. When analysing deeper, there is a rather obvious trend of players who excel with their irons doing well. Canizares, Fisher, Dufner, Van Pelt, Jamieson, Rumford to name a few. We have to mention how good Jin Jeong looked here last year – iron play from the very top drawer. Most, on their day, also have a box of tricks around the greens. And with the course playing just over 7,100 yards, distance off the tee isn’t really imperative.

In 2013, only 1 person in the top 10 ranked outside the top 17 for GIR and although less apparent, the GIR trend was also visible in 2012. SO – GIR, solid iron play and a Mickelson-esque short game are the criteria we should all be looking at this week.

TwitterDon’t forget to follow us throughout the week on Twitter @downthe18th for the latest news, betting + banter. Please get in touch and let us know what you think of our picks and who you fancy as well!

Steven Bowditch (was at 66/1 when we originally laid and wrote this! Now at 33/1)

Thorbjørn Olesen (45/1 888sport)

Eduardo De La Riva (100/1 various)

Scott Jamieson (70/1 Bet365)

Chris Doak (90/1 888sport)

OUTSIDERS

Richard Green (66/1 various)

Andreas Hartø (200/1 various)

 

 

Hong Kong Open 2014

hong-kong-open-logo

Prize Fund: €1,025,038

Winner’s Share: €171,843

Course: Hong Kong Golf Course (6,699 yards – par 70)

Two tournaments to go before we reach the Final Series, as we leave Europe for the last assault on worldwide domination for the Tour.  Off to Hong Kong for the aptly named Hong Kong Open at the aptly named Hong Kong Golf Course.  Pure originality for you there.

We are in a bizarre situation this week though, where there will be two tournaments in Europe running concurrently.  Whilst many of the European stalwarts play alongside the Asian Tours finest, slightly closer to home on the rainy shores of England, 16 top players will be battling it out in the exciting 1 v 1 format – The Volvo World Matchplay Championship at the prestigious London Golf Club in, well, not London but Kent.

The field contains 6 Ryder Cup players, including Patrick ‘ssshhhh’ Reed, who has given the tournament great advertisement and endorsements coming over to literally silence the crowds.  Gmac, Henrik Stenson, Stephen Gallacher, Victor Dubuisson and Jamie Donaldson make up the remaining members of that great whitewash a few weeks back.  We usually enjoy previewing and betting on matchplay tournaments and we certainly will, but at the time of writing the odds for specific markets have not yet been released.  We will try and do a few cheeky accumulators along the way, so keep posted each morning!

What we do know though is the groups – check them out here!

Back to the other side of the world and when you look at the field, you cannot help but be underwhelmed.  Miguel Ángel Jiménez headlines and rightly so having won here twice in a row and four times overall.  Some record, but the 50-year old isn’t playing the best golf at the minute and for him to head the market at 12s is criminal.  In fact the whole  market is absolutely appalling and we were gobsmacked when the first bookies released their odds.

We had already earmarked two cracking players from the Asian Tour in Cameron White and Antonio Lascuna, but finding them at 40s and 33s (22s with some!) respectively put us right off them.  Sadly.  But do keep an eye on those boys, because they could do well, we just didn’t know enough about them to really attack at such low odds.  Ernie Els at 14s – two top 10s all year, Robert Jan-Derksen at 22s – no top 10 since June.  Basically, there are some pretty poor odds due to the low quality field, so, apart from White and Lascuna, we have decided to keep our original players because they weren’t the worst value considering.

hong_kong_golf_club_36948591

Hong Kong Golf Course in Hong Kong for the Hong Kong Open

The course itself is one of the shortest we can remember on any Tour – 6,699 yards.  The par 70 will open itself up for all types of players, but it won’t be easily overpowered by the bombers because it is renowned for being a tight track.  You have to stay in play  in order to find birdies therefore the tee to green specialists usually come to the fore.  You can see that by the winners – Jiménez, Rory McIlroy, Ian Poulter, Colin Montgomerie, Pádraig Harrington and Freddie Jacobson to name but a few.

Tree-lined and strategically placed bunkers with small, compact greens are the courses main defences and you will need to be on top of your game accuracy wise to do well.  Obviously putting is always imperative, but with the smaller greens, scrambling will, without doubt, play a big part.

Here’s what we’ve got.

TwitterDon’t forget to follow us throughout the week on Twitter @downthe18th for the latest news, betting + banter. Please get in touch and let us know what you think of our picks and who you fancy as well!

Grégory Bourdy (25/1 StanJames)

We have a lot of time for this photo

We have a lot of time for this photo

We know we banged on about the odds earlier and yes our opinions are the same, but considering the field, the course and recent form, we felt 25s for Grégory Bourdy felt fair and decent value.

The Frenchman is a 4-time European Tour winner and has bags of experience, but his 2014 has really not been of that standard.  3 top 10s all year is not the best return, but we were very impressed with his 2 rounds last week.  He finished T7 in the rain effected Portugal Masters, with a 67 and 65.  You cannot help but be intrigued by that sort of return to form.

He was 1st in driving accuracy both days, whilst he putted well throughout.  We’ve always had him down as an iron guru, but that has weirdly whats been letting him down.  In his T47 finish at the Alfred Dunhill a couple of weeks back, he was near the top for driving and putting but wasn’t hitting it far enough or accurately enough from the fairways.  But with this shorter track, we are confident it should play into his hands and he will be able to attack the greens from closer, central positions.

He is 27th for GIR across the season, so it has just been recently that haven’t gone as well.  But when you realise that he is 74th on the RTD rankings, it makes his case even more appealing.  He has to get inside the top 60 in order to compete at the Final Series, making this the perfect and potentially last opportunity to cement a position.

He has won here as well, back in 2009, which will give him all sorts of confidence with the pressures on his shoulders.  He is a quality player on his day and he has to prove that here.

Raphaël Jacquelin (40/1 various)

Cracking beard.

Cracking beard.

Another Frenchman with 4 European titles to his name, Raphaël Jacquelin has got quite a bit of air time in the past few weeks and we’ve taken note.  Tee to green we always knew how talented he is and he has proven that, consistently finding greens for fun.  He was 1st 3 out  of the 4 days for GIR at the Alfred Dunhill and we are not denying he bottled the title from a winning position going into the weekend, but that T18 finish should give him some confidence.

He played very well, but wasn’t holing a great deal on the Sunday, shooting over par and dropping way down the leaderboard.  If you are wondering if you’re losing your marbles and your adamant you saw him in Portugal, but can find no records of him anywhere, don’t be alarmed.  We were stumped for a long time when we could find no records of his comeback quality 2nd round, playing with Nicolas Colsaerts.

He got disqualified… He wasn’t the only one mind you – Stuart Manley, José María Olazábal and Richard Green also DQ’d, but we are unable to find out why annoyingly.  Whatever happened will be put to one side though because we have seen enough glimpses of someone close to finding their rhythm to back him here.

He finished T5 back in 2009 here as well, which should give him that extra push, plus, like his compatriot, he finds himself outside the top 60 in the RTD rankings – currently 75th.  He needs a good week.

Prom Meesawat (50/1 various)

We see a lot of Prom Meesawat when the Asian parts of the Tour kick in during the early stages of the year and you cannot deny the Thai 30-year old has a lot of talent.

In his last 5 outings on the European Tour he hasn’t missed a cut, recorded 3 top 25s and 1 2nd placed finish.  And where was that?  Oh yes, Hong Kong.  He played magnificently after a difficult year in 2013 to record that finish, unfortunately losing in a playoff to everyones favourite 50-year old.  He tried to find more game time on the bigger Tour but ultimately struggled until that performance.

He has since coordinated his time more carefully and that’s why we feel the results have improved.  He’s lying in 6th on the Asian Tour rankings and recorded a win just 4 outings ago.  31st for driving accuracy, 35th GIR, 19th putts per round and 5th for scrambling (all on the European Tour) show his all-round abilities and how damaging he could be over here.

Adrian Otaegui (100/1 BetVictor)

Do all Spanish golfers just look the same then? Seve, Olazabal, Larrazabal, Sergio - you could compare the lot with this lad!

Do all Spanish golfers just look the same then? Seve, Olazabal, Larrazabal, Sergio – you could compare the lot with this lad!

Adrian Otaegui (what a surname that is!) has a wonderful future ahead of him.  The 21-year old Spaniard worked his backside off to earn his card back for the 2014 season and has been a mainstay on the European circuit, but it hasn’t gone according to plan.

He has just 1 top 10 all year and is facing life battling for a card once again if he doesn’t find something extra in Hong Kong.  He currently lies in 116th place in the rankings, which is just 6 away from the necessary 110th spot, so it is crucial he gets 4 decent rounds together like we know he can.

He was very promising in his T12 finish last week, but the ridiculous weather and mad scenario he was faced with stopped him from placing higher.  T2 after the 1st round, he was playing out his skin tee to green, finding putts for fun, but he had to pretty much run from the 18th back to the 1st and start his 2nd round straight away.

No rest or time to re-couperate is a lot to ask of any golfer, let alone a 21-year old needing a performance, so the fact he finished -1 for that round showed a lot of character.  He was still outstanding tee to green (inside the top 7 in each categories on both days) but his putting did suffer.

He has never played here before, but his accuracy tee to green is highly encouraging and we feel he could really do something in a field not too dissimilar to a Challenge Tour one.  We’re sorry Ernie and Miguel, that was harsh.

Outsiders

Peter Lawrie (200/1 various) and Simon Wakefield (250/1 various)

Both these European stalwarts are currently outside the top 110 in the RTD and will need one hell of a push to guarantee playing privileges next year.

Firstly, Peter Lawrie showed a bit of form at the Alfred Dunhill, winning the Pro-Am with Kieran McManus – bizarrely missing the cut in the actual tournament – but it should give him a slight push.  He is traditionally a tee to green player, but has obviously played appallingly this year.  He has recorded 2 top 10s here before and that should give him confidence.

Secondly, Simon Wakefield.  A true gent of the game and a character who should be playing in the big time.  He too hasn’t had the greatest season, but has always played unbelievably tee to green, just suffering with the short stick all too regularly.  4th in driving accuracy and 87th for GIR show his capabilities.  But last week he found himself inside the top 10 for putting stats, now suffering with his irons.  If he can put it all together then he could be up there, because with how short this course is, it could suit the Englishman.  We are rooting for you Wakey!

Let us know your thoughts on our selections and who you fancy this week! @DownThe18th

Shriners Hospitals for Children Open 2015

SHFCOPrize Fund: $6,200,000

Winner’s Share: $1,080,000

Course: TPC Summerlin (7,255 yards – Par 71)

The household name Sang Moon Bae won the first event of the wrap around season at the Frys.com Open. As with most early season events, the leaderboards are a jumble sale of tour regulars, Web.com graduates with a few legends thrown in for good measure – Retief Goosen deserves that title doesn’t he?

Enough of last week and onto the very long winded Shriners Hospitals for Children Open. TPC Summerlin is a cracking course set in the Nevada Desert, Vegas. The perfect week to follow the PGA Tour one would think. Booze, gambling and 4 days of golf – that’s the life.

There are worse settings - courtesy of tpc.com

There are worse settings – courtesy of tpc.com

Expect to see another mix of faces at the top of the leaderboard – plenty of people at high odds are there for the taking. The course, whether you like it or not, is a birdie-fest. It ranked as the 2nd lowest scoring course on the Tour and saw Webb Simpson get to -24. In 2003, Stuart Appleby got to -31. You get the picture.

The players haven’t got a great deal to worry about off the tee. Key is to leave a yardage they feel comfortable with. If you average around the 300 mark off the tee, as a lot of the guys do, no more than 180 yards will be left on the majority of par 4’s. Essentially, guys who are at their best with an 8 iron or below will thrive. And let’s not forget – it will turn into a putting contest. Anyone who wins this will need to be putting well not just making birdies but saving those pars too.

TwitterDon’t forget to follow us throughout the week on Twitter @downthe18th for the latest news, betting + banter. Please get in touch and let us know what you think of our picks and who you fancy as well!

Brendan Steele (90/1 Bet365)

He takes golf seriously

He takes golf seriously

All of our picks were outlined before odds were released and so was our order of confidence. Up step Brendan Steele at 90/1. We saw enough of him last week, on the way to his T21 finish, to suggest he is ready to go very low in Vegas.

Last week was a case of solid golf without pushing on. He ranked top 25 for both putting and GIR and was highly impressive in one of the key yardages we outlined 125-150. He was 6 under for 9 attempts at that yardage. It’s impressive but does make you wonder what he was doing for the other approaches. Thankfully, he won’t have many other yardages this week.

Last year was an odd event for Steele – he ranked 1st in putting and yet 3rd from bottom in GIR. He knows these greens like the back of his hand but couldn’t get his irons going at all. Well this week, we feel he’s in perfect shape to put that right.

Ryo Ishikawa (80/1 Stan James)

Japanese poster boy - courtesy of supersport

Japanese poster boy – courtesy of supersport

The Japanese poster boy, Ishikawa, knows how to go low and proved that last year on the way to his 2nd place in his first appearance in Vegas. It’s hard to believe he has only just turned 23 with 11 Japanese titles under his belt already. Now is the time to crack the PGA Tour like his countryman Matsuyama.

In his time, Ryo has shot a 58 and he’ll be looking for much of the same this week as he brings some relatively decent form in with him. Before his T19 last week, he finished in the same position at the Barclays although followed with a MC at the Deutsche Bank. He also had a couple of decent showings over in Japan during the close season to keep everything going.

Ranked 6th approaches 125-150 and was ‘okay’ with the putter. In the 2014 season, Ishikawa finished in the top 20 for both 125-150 and 150-175. He knows how to use those higher clubs. Putting will be where it is won and lost for Ishikawa this week.

Cameron Tringale (55/1 Bet365)

The putter is hot at the moment

The putter is hot at the moment

It’s rare that we give people 2nd chances but this man deserves one. We backed him last week and despite glimpses of good form, never got it going. Still, T26 wasn’t bad. But his game seemed to be upside down – a guy known for his ability with the irons couldn’t seem to get them going and yet ranked 3rd in strokes gained putting. It’s almost as if he has worked on his putting so much in the few weeks off, he forgot about what he does best. But even so, that can easily be rectified and we know he is playing well – recorded a 2nd and 15th in the play-offs.

This guy is close to becoming a top, top performer on the Tour and just needs that win. No better time than the start of the season.

Spencer Levin (140/1 Bet365)

You might raise your eyebrows once more but let’s not forget Bae, Bowditch, Molder and Goosen were all 150/1 and above at the start of last week. He’s another guy who loves the 125-150 yardage – finished 8th in it last year on the Tour and was 6th at the Frys.com. He was also 2nd driving accuracy last week, not that it makes a difference, and was T14 GIR. His game was all there except for on the greens.

Now that could be enough to turn you away but look at this – he finished 5th in 2011 and 4th in 2010 at this event. He knows these greens well. So combine what he was doing last week with the course form he possesses and we’re very happy. Again, look at that price.

Scott Brown (140/1 Bet365)

The big guy is one the hunt for title number 2 - courtesy of Nike

The big guy is one the hunt for title number 2 – courtesy of Nike

There are a few players on the Tour who do one thing and one thing only, and that’s putt well. Baddeley and Driscoll are just a couple that come to mind. Scott Brown is another. He proved it once again in the season-opener where he ranked 7th in putting on the way to a T12 finish. He also paired that with solid ironplay, ranking T35 in GIR.

Last year in Vegas it was an odd couple of days – he shot a 65 on day 1 but followed it with a 77 and missed the cut. He’s a man that plays well for periods and in large part due to his putting. If he is ever going pick up his 2nd PGA title, a course that rewards good putting will be the place. At these odds once again, why not?

Outside Bets

Danny Lee (150/1 Various) and Kevin Kisner (125/1 Paddy Power)

On face value, Danny Lee doesn’t shout out at you. But dig deeper and you will find he is a good putter and very good with his short irons. Ranked 9th 125-150 last week and 1st in putting average. He was also top 50 for both 125-150 and 150-175 for the whole of the 2014 season. As we have mentioned, this course is all about those yardages. Kevin Kisner finished T21 last week and enjoyed a solid end to last season with a T9 in Canada and T8 at the Wyndham. Ranked in the top 25 for both putting and GIR last week and is regarded as one of the better players in the game with the short stick. Kisner was 21st in strokes gained putting in the whole of last season.

Let us know your thoughts on our selections and who you fancy this week! @DownThe18th

Frys.com Open 2014

Frys.comPrize Fund: $6,000,000

Winner’s Share: $1,080,000

Course: Silverado Resort & Spa (7,203 yards – Par 72)

FANTASY GOLF (PGA TOUR) – With the new season starting (far too soon for us mind you) come and join our fantasy league over on the PGA Tour.  Bit of fun, pitting your wits against not just the PGA site, but the DownThe18th universe!  We will have a surprise or two for the genius that finds themselves staring down at the rest of us come September next year.

 Simply create your team on: FANTASY PGA TOUR and go to Create/Join Leagues and type in ‘DownThe18th’.  You will find us there!

As for the actual tournament, a decent field, considering the ludicrous timing of a first PGA Tour event, will be in attendance.  The remnants of another Ryder Cup defeat linger on here, with Matt Kuchar, Jimmy Walker and Hunter Mahan vying to right their recent wrongs.  Whilst it will be interesting to see if Lee Westwood can continue his momentum from Gleneagles as he puts himself forward for this week.

Traditionally this tournament has been held in California and although a different course for 2014, we will be in the same, sunny state.  The North Course at Silverado Resort & Spa in Napa Valley will play host and no big event has ever been held here, so it has been tough to work out what we should be looking out for.

Quite a few trees then...

Quite a few trees then…

What we do know is that at 7,203 yards, the par 72 is not particularly long, but it will provide quite a difficult test for the players, especially considering its the first one back for many and the first PGA event ever for some of the Web.com graduates.  Four par 5s and four par 3s are a rare occurrence, let alone together on the same course, so it makes this an interesting prospect.

We can see its a parkland course, with tree-lined fairways and plenty of strategically placed bunkers everywhere.  There are water hazards galore, so impetus will be on finding the short stuff and plotting your way round.  The greens are bent grass and not particularly small, but should be playing quite fast, making for even greater intrigue.

We have put all this together and made our own assumptions that you will be looking for a deadly accurate player.  Doesn’t necessarily have to be long, but tee to green efficiency seems to be everything – particularly the first shot.

Cleeeeaaarrly that just gives you the name Kuchar, but be our guest if you want to touch a probably soul-destroyed pro, who travelled back from Scotland a defeated man just last week at 12/1.  Seriously.

TwitterDon’t forget to follow us throughout the week on Twitter @downthe18th for the latest news, betting + banter. Please get in touch and let us know what you think of our picks and who you fancy as well!
Brandt Snedeker (33/1 Ladbrokes BEST PRICE)

Come on Sneds, get that roaring passion going again!

Come on Sneds, get that roaring passion going again!

Oh we really do miss you Sneds.  You should have been at Gleneagles, your talent is there, but what happened last season? When will you be back?

No, this is not a benign love letter to Brandt Snedeker, but a genuine loss and confusion for someone who found nothing all year, when he should be challenging leaderboards weekly.  Only 3 top 10s all season is simply shocking for his standards and we are so sure that in 2014/15, he will bring a completely different game.   Well, he sorta has to.

He started finding a bit of consistency at the back end of the season with 9 straight tournaments making the weekend, 2 top 10s and 3 further top 13s.  3 of this finishes followed one after the other, before he missed 2 cuts in a row at The Barclays and Deutsche Bank, crashing out of the FedEx in the process.

We are taking confidence in those 3 outings before the missed cuts though; a sign that something better is on the horizon and that the old Sneds isn’t far away.  Because, when you look at this course and what it needs for it to be mastered, his game is perfect.

Strategic, straight, tee to green and one of the best putters on Tour (still!), this has the Jamie Donaldson lookalike written all over it.  You can see the headlines, you can see the story and how often do we look back in hindsight, thinking arrgghhh that makes sense?  Without a whole host of big names, Snedeker could really feature strongly here.

Cameron Tringale (50/1 Ladbrokes BEST PRICE)

Lets hope his putter listens to him this week!

Lets hope his putter listens to him this week!

Cameron Tringale is another interesting one this week.  As we always do for tournaments like this (i.e unknown course entity), going through the entry list, we instantly felt Tringale had plenty to offer this sort of track.

Firstly, you cannot argue with the fact that he is in plenty of form, especially compared to the  majority of the field, having played well in the last few weeks of the season.  T2 at The Barclays, T69 at the Deutsche Bank, T31 at the BMW and 15th at the Tour Championship.  When you consider all those events involved the worlds best, you can’t help but be impressed with that reading.

Secondly, he is outrageously consistent tee to green.  One of those remarkably efficient iron players, he has every bit of ability to play well on a course such as this.  59th accuracy, 45th GIR and 43rd strokes gained shows how good he is across the board.  He is yet to win on the PGA and it can’t be far away.  This could be that time.

Heath Slocum (150/1 StanJames)

Oh the memories.  Winner of the 2009 Barclays.  What a performance that was

Oh the memories. Winner of the 2009 Barclays. What a performance that was

To say Heath Slocum didn’t have one of his most memorable seasons is probably an understatement.  Put simply, he wasn’t great.  He showed sparks but just couldn’t put 4 rounds together in the same week. However, finally, at the Wyndham Championship in August, he recorded a 4th place – his highest finish since 2010 – and proceeded to fight for his card at the Web.com season ending tournaments.  Here, he showed outstanding character, playing beautifully for 4 rounds, finishing T4 and clawing his way back to the big time.

It could have been so easy to lose your way and your card in that instance.  He didn’t rest on his laurels after the Wyndham, he had to fight back on the Web.com.  His momentum could be seriously underestimated going into this week as he will be one of those ‘graduates’ that has plenty of experience in the big time.  He has 4 titles to his name for crying out loud – including that outstanding Barclays victory in 2009.

So, when you consider that even with his poor finishes, he was 5th in driving accuracy, 33rd in GIR and 75th in strokes gained throughout last season, you have to think he is an interesting fit here.  His lack of power off the tee clearly hampers him on most of the bombers courses that America throw at us, but this is different.  A short, stern test that could suit a momentum-building Slocum.

At the end of the day if he shoots an 80 Thursday and Friday, missing the cut horrifically, it wouldn’t have really mattered considering his odds.  Always worth a cheeky punt.

Adam Hadwin (100/ WillHill BEST PRICE)

Winning this year in Chile.  A rather bizarre trophy for the cabinet though...

Winning this year in Chile. A rather bizarre trophy for the cabinet though…

A name not many would have heard of.  We cannot say we knew much about Adam Hadwin before last year, but here is one of the Web.com graduates with a genuinely intriguing future ahead of him.

At only 26, the Canadian has plenty of years in the game, but his interesting past shows that he has a great deal of raw ability.

His first ever PGA Tour event was (obviously!) at the RBC Canadian Open in 2010 where he finished respectably in T37.  He won the 2010 Canadian Rookie of the year and outrageously finished T39 at the 2011 US Open before he continued his form at the RBC again, finishing T4.  A further T7 at the Frys.com proves that he showed plenty of promise as a youngster.  Undeniably he went on to struggle for a few years, before an outstanding 2014 has found him with a permanent Tour card.

He would have grown up and learnt a lot in the past 3-4 years, which could make him a highly interesting player to watch throughout the year.  On the Web.com he won twice and found 9 top 10s, which is a remarkable proof of talent.

In his last 5 outings he has a victory, 2 top 10s, a 2nd placed finish (and a missed cut in between) and he finished the year as winner of the money list.

No doubt he has the game – 44th driving distance, 39th deriving accuracy, 64th GIR and 23rd putting average last year.

Wouldn’t be ironic if he just came in, swooped the title and beat countryman Graham DeLaet to a first PGA trophy?  Blimey, the latter has certainly been trying!

Let us know your thoughts on our selections and who you fancy this week! @DownThe18th

Portugal Masters 2014

Prize Fund: €2,000,000pm-logo

Winner’s Share: €333,330

Course: Oceânico Victoria Golf Club (Par 71 – 7,209 yards)

FANTASY GOLF (PGA TOUR) – With the new season starting (far too soon for us mind you) come and join our fantasy league over on the PGA Tour.  Bit of fun, pitting your wits against not just the PGA site, but the DownThe18th universe!  We will have a surprise or two for the genius that finds themselves staring down at the rest of us come September next year.

 Simply create your team on: FANTASY PGA TOUR and go to Create/Join Leagues and type in ‘DownThe18th’.  You will find us there!

Everyone associated with the European Tour will not begrudge world number 792 Oliver Wilson his win at St Andrews, after so many near misses throughout his career. And if anyone backed him at 500/1 – what is your secret? For us, Tommy Fleetwood missed a very makeable one on the last to take it to a play-off while Louis Oosthuizen sneaked into a share for 6th spot. So a profitable week but one that could have been so much better.

Moving on, the Tour finds itself in Vilamoura, Portgual this week at the very aesthetically pleasing Oceânico Victoria Golf Club. It’s one of those tracks Darren Clarke and Yourgolftravel absolutely love – “Tell ‘em Darren sent ya” – you know the advert… It’s pretty easy and scoring is always low: Lynn 2013 (-18), Lewis 2011 (-21) and Green 2010 (-18). Steve Webster holds the tournament record at -25.

A stunning course - courtesy of golf monthly

A stunning course – courtesy of golf monthly

You need to be putting well, finding greens and have played relatively well at the Alfred Dunhill the week before. Depsite Lynn missing the cut at St Andrews last year, he still ranked 1st putts per round and 3rd putts per GIR. The majority of players who came inside the top 10 in Portugal last year had at least a top 30 at the Alfred Dunhil the week before.

Another thing to bear in mind is the Race to Dubai standings. The top 60 qualify for the season-ending DP World Tour Championship in Dubai while the top 110 players retain their playing rights for the upcoming 2015 season. Anyone just outside either of these brackets will be itching to perform well with time running out.

 

TwitterDon’t forget to follow us throughout the week on Twitter @downthe18th for the latest news, betting + banter. Please get in touch and let us know what you think of our picks and who you fancy as well!
Nicolas Colsaerts (40/1 Stan James)

Colsaerts does what he wants on the course

Colsaerts does what he wants on the course

The Belgian Bomber has had a really, really poor 2014. Partly due to his failed foray onto the PGA Tour but mainly down to bad form, plain and simple. He was well aware his season needed resurrecting and started to play plenty of events in recent weeks. It paid off. At the Wales Open, he finished in 4th spot narrowly missing out on the title. Having supported Team Europe at Gleneagles, Colsaerts’ next mission is to make the top 60 – he currently lies about €130,000 outside, so a big performance is needed.

His enormous distance off the tee will give him a big advantage coming onto this course. He finished 15th here last year and ranked 17th putts per GIR and 2nd GIR in his last appearance at Wales – an encouraging combination. We all know he can go low when he wants, this week could be the one where he catapults himself onto everyone’s radar once again.

Chris Wood (50/1 Stan James)

What a neck

What a neck

For someone with so much potential and a winner already on the Tour, his T9 last week in Scotland was only his 5th top 10 of the year. But with that finish, he ticked all the boxes we were looking for this week. He had a 10th here in 2008 and was 1st putts per round and 5th putts per GIR at the Alfred Dunhill. He’s playing well, putting well and knows Vilamoura.

Wood can be erratic off the tee and tends to perform a bit better on courses where he can loosen those long arms. He shot -18 to claim his first win on the Tour in Qatar, showing he knows how to go low and more importantly, knows how to win. Good value considering some of the names at the top end of the market.

Marcel Siem (50/1 BetFred)

The German is always someone who can win regardless of form. But his T11 last week was enough for us to think he can carry that form over to Portugal. He is renown for his big hitting and has got plenty of birdies in his locker. Has a best of 4th here in 2008 and was relatively consistent in all areas at the Alfred Dunhill.

Considering he won his 3rd European Tour title last year, 2014 has been somewhat of a disappointment. Highlights have been his T12 at the US Open and T7 at the BMW PGA. So he knows a performance is needed – also lies 51st on the Race to Dubai, by no means guaranteed a top 60…

Robert Jan Derksen (80/1 Paddy Power)

The time is now for the retiring RJD

The time is now for the retiring RJD

Sometimes you can just see storylines before they happen and the Dutchman is one of them. If you didn’t know, he is retiring at the end of the 2014 season stating lack of motivation and interests outside of the Tour as his reasons. Despite this, he said he is determined more than ever to go out on a high. His dream is win the season-ending World Tour Championship. Well Robert, you need to get there first.

So this could be the week he gets that emotional final win. He finished T11 last week and ranked T17 GIR and T15 putts per GIR. Has a really solid record on this course, 6 top 20’s in his last 7 appearances including 8th last year. We really can see it happening.

Thorbjorn Olesen (66/1 Stan James)

Wants to make the top 60

Wants to make the top 60

It seems like all of our picks have points to prove and Olesen is no different. Having really shone in 2013 especially at the Masters, this year has been anticlimactic to say the least. He started 2014 like a train with 2 top 5 finishes but since then apart from a T7 at his home tournament, nothing has happened for him. So much so, he finds himself in 64th place on the R2D.

If there is one thing we know, Olesen is a passionate lad and will be pumped at the prospect of being in the last chance saloon, he needs to perform now. Despite being nowhere near last week in Scotland, he did rank 6th in GIR. If he can take that to Portugal and get the putter going, he’s got a shot.

 

Outside Bets

Soren Hansen (150/1 Stan James)

For some reason, we probably haven’t been more confident in our outside bets as we have this week. Firstly, the Dane Hansen recorded his second best finish of the year last week, a T18. Despite being average tee to green, he putted out of his skin – 2nd putts per round and 6th putts per GIR.

So take that to this week and we have a chance. Also has a 7th here in 2008. Also lies 99th in the R2D.

Lucas Bjerregaard (250/1 Bet365)

One more Dane for your consideration. Many expected a much better end to 2014 after his graduation for the Challenge Tour last year and solid start to this. He bombs it off the tee and has all the attributes to go far, but is yet to add that all-important consistency to his game. Finished T32 last week and was in the top 20 for both putting stats. His length off the tee will give him the upper hand and a good performance here would cap a great maiden European Tour season.

Let us know your thoughts on our selections and who you fancy this week! @DownThe18th

Alfred Dunhill Links Championship 2014

Prize Fund: €5,000,000Alfred_Dunhill_Links_Championship-1-200-200-100-crop

Winner’s Share: €560,000

Course: St Andrews, Carnoustie, Kingsbarns

With the whole of Europe still buzzing after what was an amazing spectacle at Gleneagles, it’s only fitting that we stay in Scotland for our next installment of European Tour golf.

The Alfred Dunhill is a pro-am format tournament played over 3 different courses. Each player will have a round at St Andrews, Carnoustie and Kingsbarns before the final cut of 60 play a 2nd round at the home of golf, St Andrews.

With the Race to Dubai Final Series just around the corner, the field this week is very impressive. Ryder Cup heroes McIlroy, Kaymer, Dubuisson and Gallacher will be the talk of town. The likes of Schwartzel, Luiten, Casey and Els are just some of the many other top performers we will see this week.

article-2436974-1859B73000000578-814_634x447

The iconic views of St Andrews – The Home of Golf

Now with this being played over 3 different courses, it’s foolish to simply look at course form. Notoriously, people who win this have come into the week striking the ball beautifully and haven’t particularly done well in the event in recent times. David Howell had only recorded 1 top 10 in his last 8 appearances at the Alfred Dunhill before winning last year while Branden Grace had missed the cut on his only previous appearance before winning in 2012. And it makes sense – with only 2 rounds at St Andrews and 1 each at Carnoustie and Kingsbarns, it gives you no time to feel comfortable. You need to be playing well, adept on links courses and content with the format of the event.

Knowing this, what are we putting particular importance on? Well, the winner has won with a score of -22 or below in the last 3 years – so birdies are an absolute must. With quite forgiving fairways, length off the tee is useful – but GIR and putting is where it’s won and lost. David Howell was 4th GIR and 5th putts per GIR on the way to his win last year yet was 51st in driving accuracy. Someone who ticks these boxes and is playing well will ultimately do the business.

Outstanding form - courtesy of golfwrx

Outstanding form – courtesy of golfwrx

Tommy Fleetwood (33/1 Ladbrokes)

We mentioned that you need a man in form and young Fleetwood is exactly that. He finished superbly at the Wales Open with 4 birdies and an eagle to grab a share of 2nd place, 1 shot behind Dutchman Luiten.

It seems, even at this early stage in his career, the Englishman is somewhat of a links specialist. Winning at Gleneagles last year and coming 5th in this event shows this. He also recorded one of his only top 20’s in his maiden year on tour, 2012, at another links track at the KLM Open.

He’s streakier than bacon at times and we hope the Alfred Dunhill will cap what has been a great end to his 2014 season.

Brooks Koepka (40/1 BetFred)

Scotland is his 2nd home!

Scotland is his 2nd home!

Much like his compatriot Peter Uihlein, Brooks has the uncanny knack of going on streaks. 3 of his last 4 starts have been 15th, 3rd and 11th – the last two are on links courses.

2013 was massive for him winning 3 Challenge Tour events in a row and securing European Tour status. But 2014 has been arguably bigger. T4 at the US Open and T15 at the Open shows he has what it takes at the highest level. He also finished 3rd at the Dubai Desert Classic and European Masters. His season in America was solid too – 4 top 25’s including a 3rd at the Frys.com Open.

So why this week? Well, he’s a big hitter and can loosen his arms with these generous fairways. He gets birdies like they’re going out of fashion and his recent form on links courses is solid. The class he showed at the aforementioned majors means he has the ideal game for all 3 tracks.

Bernd Wiesberger (50/1 Paddy Power)

Wiesberger is also a Whiskey connoisseur. He created his own blend for Ballentines last year

Wiesberger is also a Whiskey connoisseur. He created his own blend for Ballentines last year

It was great to see the Austrian finally getting recognition for how good he really is after his display at the PGA Championship, where he was in the final pairing with Rory McIlroy on the last day. What an experience it was for him. Since then, he’s finished 6th in Italy and 13th and 12th in Switzerland and Wales respectively. So his form is actually tough to beat.

Wiesberger eventually ended up T12 here last year but it was always going to be tough after he started the week with a round of 70. His final 3 rounds were as good as anyone. One thing that has been consistently argued at Bernd is his ability, or lack of, with the putter. Well, we’ve honestly seen vast improvements in recent times – shown by his results. At these odds too, this is a tremendous bet with a lot of value.

Ernie Els (66/1 Ladbrokes)

'The Big Easy' winning at Muirfield back in 2002

‘The Big Easy’ winning at Muirfield back in 2002

A man who loves this event with 4 top 10’s and someone who is actually in a bit of form. His T7 at the PGA Championship was when we first starting thinking about Els again – his 65 on the final day at point looked to be a whole lot better and had a chance of winning. The Big Easy bottled that form and took it with him to the play-offs. He finished T5 at the Barclays and T16 at the BMW, just missing out on the Tour Championship. But this was promising after what was on paper a poor year barring his 4th at the WGC Match Play.

So when you see the likes of Lowry at 22/1, this really is a solid bet. And you feel like Ernie has been around for ever, but at 44 he still has a few wins in him yet.

Louis Oosthuizen (50/1 Various)

He likes St Andrews...-Photo Courtesy of Glyn Kirk/AFP/Getty Images

He likes St Andrews…-Photo Courtesy of Glyn Kirk/AFP/Getty Images

Our 2nd South African of the week and more of a hunch than the rest. We all know what he does – he beat Paul Casey and Lee Westwood to the Open title at St Andrews in 2010. But after a few injury niggles last year, Louis hasn’t been quite the same. There have been points in recent times where Louis was a nailed on place every time he played. His win at the Volvo Golf Champions in January should’ve sparked something more this year, but like Ernie, only really turned up at the WGC Match Play.

So why now? He has a 5th place to his name in this event and besides the Barclays where he missed the cut, his last appearance was a T15 at the PGA Championship – respectable to say the least. He is ideal for this event and will have had a good rest in preparation for this week.

Pablo Larrazabal (80/1 Various)

You could almost say Pablo is Mr DownThe18th

You could almost say Pablo is Mr DownThe18th

Once again, another eyebrow raising pick. The Spaniard is one of our absolute favorites and loves to go low. Except for last week in Wales, Pablo’s recent Links form is very impressive. T11 Scottish Open and T5 KLM Open – where he shot a 2nd round 62 and looked on for 59 at one point. His 75 on day 3 would have disappointed him but responded with a 65 in the final round.

But if there is one person who will be buzzing to get out on the course after watching the Ryder Cup, it’s him. And has a genuine opportunity to make the 2016 team. He will enjoy the crazy format, was 17th last year and will be the perfect partner for anyone in the pro-am. He’s 80/1 for a reason but we’re willing to chuck him in at number 6 and see what happens.

TwitterDon’t forget to follow us throughout the week on Twitter @downthe18th for the latest news, betting + banter. Please get in touch and let us know what you think of our picks and who you fancy as well!