Made In Denmark

Prize Fund – €1,500,000made in denmark logo

Winner’s Share – €250,000

Course – Himmerland Golf & Spa Resort (7,033 yards par 71)

Our 2014 Picks – Marc Warren – WON, David Howell – MC, Søren Kjeldsen – T15, Craig  Lee – T15

After a successful first event in a decade last year, the European Tour returns to Aalborg for the Made in Denmark tournament at Himmerland Golf and Spa Resort.

It was very interesting viewing last year due to the surprisingly tough test the players faced. We say surprising because the par 71 measures at 7,033 yards which by today’s standards is absolutely nothing.

But due to it’s links-parkland style, the blustery conditions whipped round the track due to it’s completely exposed nature. The undulating fairways and greens are protected furthermore by water hazards and a clutter of bunkers, making it a very true to test of golf.

Marc Warren won with a -9 score last year and looking at the stats, it was very much a putting parade from the high finisher, along with a very solid GIR display.

Some of the guys inside the top 10 hit the ball far, whilst some didn’t and the same can be said for accuracy, so we are looking at those iron and short stick gurus.

Peter Uihlein 40/1 Coral

When we saw Peter Uihlein at 40’s, it was a very quick decision to back him because even though his season hasn’t been at his high standards, this is a top, top player especially in this sort of field.

He is perfect for any linksy type conditions with his brute force off the tee and impenetrable mid-iron game. We know he came pretty much last after making the cut here in 2014, but there’s been a few signs of renaissance that we would be annoyed if we weren’t with him.

T9 at the Match Play a few weeks back show progress, but due to the nature of a links-type course as well, you have to think there’s some more correlation there.

If he can get his putter going then his length will provide him with plenty of chances to make birdies – he is 87th for putts per round throughout the season, so he just has to make it count.

Chris Paisley 100/1 PaddyPower 

Chris Paisley is getting a few cheeky invites to European Tour events this season and he is doing everything to take advantage of them.

T13 at the Nordea, 3rd at the BMW and then T18 in Portugal last time out prove that he’s got the game to compete at this level.

But it was his T44 in Switzerland that caught our eye in particular because his putting stats were superb throughout the week. He didn’t drop outside the top 15 and showed that he can get the short stick going when he’s in the groove.

Overall he lies in 38th for putts per round and at 3-figure odds he’s definitely worth a punt in this field.

Wyndham Championship 2015

Prize Fund – $5,400,000wyndham

Winner’s Share – $954,000

Course – Sedgefield CC, Greensboro (7,130 yards par 70)

Our 2014 Picks – Bill Haas – T2, Ricky Barnes – T24, Freddie Jacobson – T2, Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano – MC, John Huh – T57

After a sensational performance from Jason Day last week, the major year has come to a close and all eyes will quickly turn to the last event before the season ending Final Series. In 5 tournaments time we will have crowned the new FedEx Cup champion who’ll pocket a cool $10 million. Outrageous scenes.

So keep an eye out for all those bumbling along outside the top 125 in the standings as they will be doing everything possible to make sure they’re teeing it up at the Barclays next week. For these lads, it’s crunch time –

120 – Scott Stallings 121 – Jamie Donaldson 122 – Spencer Levin 123 – Nicholas Thompson 124 – Luke Donald 125 – Charl Schwartzel 126 – Scott Langley 127 – Seung-Yul Noh 128 – S.J. Park 129 – Camilo Villegas (won here last year…!) 130 – Ryo Ishikawa 131 – Bily Hurley III 132 – Alex Prugh 149 – Martin Kaymer 156 – Graeme McDowell 170 – Ernie Els 187 – Tiger Woods

Stallings and Donaldson are the only two names above that aren’t playing this week, which is a massive risk if they want to qualify. There are obviously plenty of guys below Prugh who can jolt up the standings with a win, so keep tabs on the storylines as they develop throughout the week.  And yes, Tiger Woods IS PLAYING.  Madness.

As for the event itself, the Wyndham Championship is held at the Donald Ross designed Sedgefield Country Club. The 7,127 yard par 70 has played host since 2008 after 30 years at Forest Oaks and whilst being a cracking track, it’s often provided the players with little bit in terms of scoring.

The winning numbers have been very low and even with the subtle re-designs on the greens, Patrick Reed’s 2013 score was the lowest since the 08’ renewal.

The newly laid Bermuda greens did cause some changes in playability last year – the small, undulating and fast greens arguably provide the only true defence. Therefore we have to look at putting stats and GIR because you can’t score if you’re not giving yourself the chances but clearly going to take a peak at the scoring stats themselves as well.

5 tournaments to go ladies and gentleman, 5 tournaments to go.

Brandt Snedeker 20/1

Brandt Snedeker is looking like he’s getting close to his old self, finally putting that back injury behind him once and for all.

He is putting well again – 40th birdie or better % and 7th one-putt % – whilst his irons are nearly there.

He’s been scoring far better as well. After winning the AT&T earlier this year, pretty much from nowhere, he has gone on to record some very decent finishes.

5 top 12’s in his last 7 outings shows the sort of level we’re talking about at the moment – especially considering that includes a US Open and the PGA Championship…  He was hitting 65% of fairways and greens at Whistling Straits, whilst his putting is still is usual self – that 40-footer on the last bringing great entertainment to all of us!

All in all, we feel it would be a silly move not to at least consider the mighty Sneds, even with the shorts odds.

Ryan Moore (40/1 various)

Ryan Moore is an interesting one this week – on the surface he has the game to really challenge on this sort of track. However, his form hasn’t been the most eye-catching this season – his last top 10 came back in March… There’s been glimpses no denying, but he hasn’t been able to put four rounds together for quite a while.

So why plump on him here? Well, he looked in decent knick tee to green at the PGA, finding over 71% of fairways and 68% of greens, whilst a few weeks ago he had 83% driving accuracy and 72% GIR.

That is a potentially potent combination for this course, especially considering the fact he’s won here and recorded a T6 in the past.

He’s also 56th for strokes gained putting, 25th in total putting and 29th for one-putt percentage.

Decent shout.

Vaughn Taylor (125/1 various)

Vaughn Taylor may have a ridiculous way of spelling his name, but that doesn’t put us off the fact he’s a pretty decent shout this week.

He is a two-time PGA Tour champion believe it or not (2 Reno-Tahoe Open wins in 04’ and 05’) but his career has mainly been plugging away on the Web.com, NGA and other such Tours.

However in his last year before he turns 40, he’s been making some sort of inroads on the PGA circuit this season. A couple of top 10’s and only one missed cut in 11 outings is not a bad return and we feel he’s got something to offer on the sort of track.

He is 28th for driving accuracy, 25th GIR and 79th for strokes gained putting which really is a cracking combination – he’s also 13th for scoring average which just goes to show he can shoot low when he’s in the groove.

Much like Moore, he has to find the consistency to do it for four rounds and then we could have a cheeky outsider on our hands.

Hudson Swafford (200/1 various)

Hudson Swafford is someone that is worth looking at because of the very high odds and the fact he does, theoretically, suit this track.

A MC last time out at the Barracuda, but before that he was playing well for a couple of rounds in several tournaments in a row, only to have a stinker on at least one of the days.

He must keep his form going over a few days and he really could challenge here.

37th for GIR, 29th strokes gained putting, 71st scoring average and 48th 3-putt avoidance is now bad for someone who is at 200/1…

Why not?

PGA Championship 2015

Prize Fund – $10,000,0002015_PGA_CHAMPIONSHIP_TICKE

Winner’s Share – $1,800,000

Course – Whistling Straits (7,514 yards par 72)

Our 2014 Picks – Sergio Garcia – T36, Hideki Matsuyama – T36, Marc Leishman – MC, Hunter Mahan – T7, Louis Oosthuizen – T15

So here we go, one last push, one final hurdle. The golfing Major season will come to a head at a Pete Dye classic, as arguably the best field of the four big ones battle it out to win the PGA Championship.

It often gets moved aside for the traditional majors and is only considered slightly bigger than The Players in some circles, but do not be fooled – The top 100 players automatically qualify whilst tournament winners in the past 12 months also get a spot (as well as some of the PGA Pro’s that got through their own qualification process) so this is a huge event with an unbelievable history and the very best players at this moment.

A history that includes some memorable moments as well. Y.E Yang defeating Tiger in 09’, the new boy Keegan Bradley toppling the world in 2010, Rich Beem and his heroics in 2002, Shaun Micheel in 2003. We really could go on, but there are so many magnificent sporting stories that come to the fore with this 4th Major.

So, before we get talking about Mr. Dye’s beautifully set up track, let’s have a look at some of the trends and recent history of the PGA Championship.

For starters, there are three points that consistently crop up with PGA winners –

  1. 13 of the last 15 champions recorded a victory in the same year.

This is no surprise in a lot of ways because the field is made up of winners, but it may help narrow down your search slightly. It does show that you have a recent knack of knowing how to get the job done and some sort of form.

  1. Since the WGC Bridgestone became the unwritten warm-up to the PGA in 2006, the winner has always been in the field and remarkably, always finished inside the top 22. (A big argument can be made to stretch that to those who finished T25 this year)

The lengthy nature of Firestone makes this little surprise as well – PGA tournaments are always on long tracks, so the comparison is obvious. Plus, another indicator that the winners’ game is in decent knick.

  1. Barring Jason Dufner in 2013, every winner going back to Vijay Singh in 2004 has averaged over 291 yards before the win

Again, hardly surprising considering the length of traditional PGA tracks – barring Oak Hill (2013, 2003), Southern Hills (07’) and Medinah (06’) every course measures in at 7,400 yards minimum.

So, if we are judging everything by that, we can actually narrow down the field to a select few names who fit the categories and they’re as follows (world ranking in brackets) –

  • Jordan Spieth (2nd)
  • Bubba Watson (3rd)
  • Jason Day (5th)
  • Justin Rose (6th)
  • Rickie Fowler (7th)
  • Patrick Reed (18th)
  • Shane Lowry (19th)
  • Brooks Koepka (20th)
  • Danny Willett (25th)
  • Bernd Wiesberger (26th)
  • Branden Grace (28th)
  • Robert Streb (40th)
  • Steven Bowditch (60th)
  • Camilo Villegas (156th)

So, those few names make for very interesting reading. We are now going to be able to whittle the list down even further by looking at Whistling Straits itself.

The Pete Dye layout will play as a 7,512 yard par 72 and is chiselled alongside the shores of Lake Michigan. There is absolutely no doubting there is a resemblance to classic Links tracks often found in Ireland – and even Chambers Bay in some regards, but at it’s core you have an American track that can be over-powered in good conditions and bite in tough, windy weather.

Not bad ay?

Not bad ay?

Eights of the holes are completely exposed to the lake and there are elevation changes of a staggering 80ft throughout the course. But the undulating, rolling landscapes have a cracking defence in the ridiculous 900+ bunkers littered all over.

On the surface you would think that driving accuracy will be key, but Singh and Kaymer were nowhere near the top end in that stats category and looking back at their performances, it seems far more important to have your irons in full flow.

Hitting the small, tough greens is no easy feet, especially trying to the ball to stop. Therefore the usual Links skill of scrambling will be vital for our 2015 winner.

If you look at it – Kaymer and Singh were both inside the top 10 for GIR stats throughout the week as well as the top 20 in scrambling. So, let’s now scrap those names above who are outside the top 40 in both those categories.

Here’s the five left –

  • Bubba Watson (3rd)
  • Jason Day (5th)
  • Danny Willett (25th)
  • Bernd Wiesberger (26th)
  • Branden Grace (28th)

Now you cannot deny those are some very fascinating names. Before we get into the nitty gritty of our own picks, we must mention that for us, Bubba and Day are too short to consider below 20’s – there’s much better value out there, but they should still be contemplated seriously before finalising your staking plans.

For the fourth and final time in 2015 – enjoy this week’s major!

Rickie Fowler (22/1 various)

Come on Rickie, it's time. - courtesy of golfweek

Come on Rickie, it’s time. – courtesy of golfweek

Yes, we’re going there again. We are just so adamant Rickie is going to win a major very soon that when a course sort of suits him, we feel our hands are tied.

He does fit the original trends, but didn’t make the last 5 because he lies in 93rd for scrambling, however we’ve seen how well he can play from tough positions when it matters most.

At the end of the day he won in typical Links conditions in Scotland and got himself into the mix at The Open, so he knows how to play these sorts of layouts. It clearly didn’t work for him at Chambers Bay, but some of that must be to do with the group he was playing in – they were all awful…

And in his last two outings, he finished 2nd at the Quicken Loans and T10 last week at the WGC. He’s in great knick and should be incredibly confident in his abilities.

He is an outstanding bunker player as well, which will without doubt come into play at times this week – his sand saves last week were 88.88%…

Overall, he’s a big hitter, 41st for driving distance – and can get in a real flow with his irons when everything is working well. You’d be a fool not to at least consider him…

Henrik Stenson (28/1 various)

Another big chance for the Swede

Another big chance for the Swede

We’ve heard a few whispers about Stenson recently that everything wasn’t quite going right, but he proved his form by a very solid T6 last week.

He never propelled forward massively, but was consistent in his scoring and should take confidence moving forward to a major that should suit his game.

So he hasn’t won this year, therefore didn’t make the trends, but blimey has he had some good outings – Five top 4 finishes this season say everything, so he isn’t in the worst knick

Looking at his stats, you have to be impressed as well. 38th for driving distance, 1st for GIR and 62nd for scrambling. With his prodigious tee to green game he could overpower this track and use his expertise on Links tracks to perfection.

A really good shout for the ‘top bracket’ of players…

Brooks Koepka (45/1 PaddyPower)

He's used to much tougher Links tracks than this...

He’s used to much tougher Links tracks than this…

Brooks Koepka has slowly been producing the sort of form that warrants him being a very interesting mid-ranger at 45’s.  He is consistently playing well on both sides of the Atlantic – he hasn’t missed a cut since The Players and has recorded 6 top 20’s, 3 of which were inside the top 10.

Last week he looked in good rhythm once again, finishing in a tie for 6th and he didn’t shoot over 70 again, taking his record to 9 rounds of 69 or better in his last 10.  That’s some going.

So, as well as being in good touch, he suits this sort of track down to the ground.  He hits the ball a mile and has the ability to get his irons working ridiculously smoothly – 6th for distance and 19th for GIR, whilst he is actually 49th for scrambling from the rough which bodes well here.

His overall scrambling isn’t great stats wise (155th) but we’ve seen enough of him to know that he can handle the pressures of an up and down in linksy conditions – 3 of his 4 Challenge Tour wins were on coastal tracks…  Plus he finished T10 at St. Andrews a few weeks back…

Plus he’s 58th for sand save which basically makes him the complete player.

And don’t forget he’s a two-time winner in the past year, so he knows very much how to get the job done… Intriguing to say the least.

Branden Grace (80/1 various)

Will he be Grace-ing the winner's circle?

Will he be Grace-ing the winner’s circle?

It’s probably quite easy to forget that Branden Grace is actually a 3-time European Tour winner in the past year.  Whilst that is simply ludicrous, you’d have to think he would be around 30’s if that form was on the PGA Tour…

In fact his form across just 2015 is just breathtakingly good – 18 tournaments, 2 wins, 5 top 10’s, 11 top 20’s and only 2 missed cuts.  Unreal.

The South African therefore has to be considered, especially when you think how close he came at Chambers Bay.  There was no bottle there at all, he genuinely had a chance going down 16 and a T4 finish is still no mean feat.

He really is coming into his own now and this could be a perfect fit for someone who is used to these sorts of tracks.  His stats on his predominant Tour in Europe match everything perfectly – 301 yards off the tee, 8th GIR and 18th scrambling.  Not bad.  Plus, he fits the trends and history, so there really is little to not like…

Danny Willett (100/1 various)

Has everything in his locker for this sort of track

Has everything in his locker for this sort of track

Danny Willett has had a pretty stellar year and is consistently recording top finishes. With two wins already this season and a further 4 top 6 performances, you cannot doubt the Englishman is an intriguing shout at 3-figure odds.

As we stated in our preview, he fits all the trends and stats for recent winners – a comfortable, if not exciting T17 at the WGC will definitely stand him in good stead – in fact his recent form line is so impressive – T17, 1st in Switzerland and T6 at The Open.

It was at St. Andrews where we saw the potential big tournament winning Willett really shine – a mini breakthrough if you will. He had every chance of capturing the claret jug going into that weekend but all the adverse conditions definitely didn’t do him any favours.

Overall, you’ve got someone that hits it over 292 yards, lies 23rd for GIR and 4th in scrambling on the European Tour and has the all-round tee-to-green game perfectly suited for this test.

Robert Streb (90/1 various)

Robert Streb showing his delight at winning the McGladrey last year  Stephen B. Morton / Associated Press

Robert Streb showing his delight at winning the McGladrey last year
Stephen B. Morton / Associated Press

Our final pick comes in the form of another non-major champion, making it a 6-man team who would all be debutants into the winner’s circle.

Robert Streb has performed above and beyond this year, pretty much continuing his early season form where he won his maiden title at the McGladrey Classic in October.

He almost won again a few weeks back at the Greenbrier but lost out to Danny Lee in a playoff, but that still shows how far he has come to nearly win 2 in the same season.He is actually 5th in the current FedEx standings, which says a lot for consistency – a stunning 8 top 10’s and 13 top 25 finishes prove how well he’s been playing on a very regular basis.

That playoff defeat was followed by a T14 at the John Deere, a T18 at The Open and a solo 5th at last weeks WGC. He was leading at St. Andrews for a while on that first day, which shows he doesn’t mind the adverse Links conditions or the pressures of the biggest tournament in the game.

Stats wise he is perfect as well – 40th for distance, 11th for GIR, 78th fro scrambling, 84th sand save and even 25th for strokes gained putting for a bit of good measure.

The real deal here.

WGC Bridgestone Invitational 2015

BridgestonePrize Fund – $9,250,000

Winner’s Share – $1,530,000

Course  Firestone CC (7,400 yards par 70)

Our 2014 Picks  Matt Kuchar (T12), Sergio Garcia (2nd), Martin Kaymer (T56), Jim Furyk (T15), Angel Cabrera (T31)

So Troy Merritt last week, what was that all about? The guy goes 5 missed cuts in a row, a best of T52 in his last 10, opens up in the betting at 250/1 – wins the Quicken Loans National. It’s why we love the game but it’s why we hate it at times too.

Quick shout out to Danny Lee as well, his win last month has got the Kiwi playing on a different level, his form reads – 1st, 3rd, MC (Open), 4th. And as a he’s a well-documented single man, we’re jumping all over the #FindDannyAGirl campaign. If it works, we’ll give it a crack too. Although we should probably get a bit better at golf first.

Right, Firestone CC. The last 5 winners tell us all we need to know about what type of player does well around here – McIlroy, Woods, Bradley, Scott, Mahan. They hit it long and on their day, straight as well. The course stands at 7,400 yards with a par of 70. Any short hitters, except for the Z.Johnson, Furyk and Kuchars out there, will get gobbled up.

Courtesy of PGA Tour

Courtesy of PGA Tour

Course form is a huge priority for us, if you’ve not got a top 20 around here before we won’t give you the time of day. Of the last 5 winners, Bradley’s T15 the year before he won was the worst ‘best finish’ of the five, everyone else had at least a top 10.

Something that perhaps some people often overlook is that this is a WGC and the pressures of winning such an event. There’s a reason why the top end of the betting is so packed. You’re not going to get any Troy Merritt’s winning this, sadly. For that reason, you need to be looking at top quality players who are playing well right now. As ever, we’ve factored in statistics to an extent and have looked closely at total driving, par 4 performance, 200-225 yard approaches and scrambling.

Justin Rose (16/1 Various) Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard - Final Round

Short odds, yes, but the Englishman is striking the ball as good as ever after his 4th on the Robert Trent Jones track last week which was preceded by a 6th at the Open. His year has gone under the radar somewhat when you think he’s gone T2 at Augusta, win at the Zurich Classic, then 2nd at Memorial. But with Rose now a major winner, he gets compared with the very best and since his 2013 US Open win, he hasn’t won a ‘big one’. We feel that time is now.

He ranked 1st in all-round ranking last week which is ideal for a course that will test every facet of your game. Frankly, tee to green there’s no better out there and it is a course that screams Justin Rose. His form at Firestone speaks for itself, three top 5’s and a further two top 20’s with his second-best performance coming last year, 4th.

Hideki Matsuyama (25/1 Various) Matsuyama

Muirfield Village, host of the Memorial tournament, seems to have a lot of similar trends when comparing with Firestone and that bodes extremely well for the for anyone who’s won around there. The Japanese golfer’s only win on the tour to date came last year, at Muirfield.

Technically speaking, Matsuyama has the lot. His slow backswing means everything is inch-perfect and what’s so good about this guy is that he loves the big occasions. He burst on the scene two years ago with three top 20’s in the year’s final three majors. Well, he’s at it again this year with three top 20’s in the first three. Not quite Rickie Fowler-esque from last year but these are good trends.

He’s one of the very best off the tee and also ranks 1st in the ‘tee to green’ stat and 2nd in par 4 performance. So when you see his first two appearances at this WGC have seen him finish 21st and then 12th last year, everything seems to be pointing in one direction.

Matt Kuchar (45/1 Coral) He grinds.

Kuch hasn’t exactly been firing on all cylinders in recent months and it’s why, for the time being anyway, he often finds himself in the middle of the pack when it comes to odds. But we’ve seen enough in his last few appearances to see that he’s ready to weigh in with another win.

The upwards curve begin with his T12 at the US Open which he then followed with a T2 at the Scottish Open, in behind his American buddy Fowler. St Andrews was tough but he then finished T7 at the Canadian two weeks ago. Look closer and you’ll find he averaged 310 yards off the tee while maintaining his accuracy, finishing 4th in fairways found. For someone you would label a shorter hitter, his driving looks pretty perfect coming into Firestone.

In his five appearances at the Bridgestone, he’s finished outside the top 20 once (27th in 2013) and has two top 10’s in those five. Big tick on the course form front. Like Matsuyama, we have to mention the Muirfield link – he loves it there and won in 2013.

Marc Leishman (50/1 Coral)

Andrew Redington/Getty Images North America

Andrew Redington/Getty Images North America

At 50/1, the Aussie actually feels like an outsider. This was a pretty simple pick for us. We all know what he did at the Open and it’s starting to become a regular thing for him now, doing it in the big events.

He held the first round lead here last year after shooting a 64 and eventually ended up finishing in a comfortable solo 3rd, three shots ahead of the pack and 3 three shots adrift of Rory. His big finish at Firestone last year came off the back of a 5th at the Open. So the transition from links golf to Firestone is one he’s proven he can do, time for him to go 2 better this time around.

Madeira Islands Open 2015

logo-torneioPrize Fund – €600,000

Winner’s Share – €100,000

Course – Clube de Golf do Santo da Serra (6,826 par 72)

Our 2014 Picks – No Picks

Right then, so after an incredible couple of month’s golf in Europe which ended with a superb win for Danny Willett in the Swiss Alps, we now move onto a week that we doesn’t whet the appetite greatly. The idea of the Paul Lawrie Match Play and re-run of the postponed Madeira Islands Open hasn’t made us jump off our seats in excitement like recent events, but still there is some money to be made we think.

And that brings us to our first point for Europe this week – we are simply not going anywhere near the Match Play. The field is far too random, admittedly there’s some decent players there, but it really isn’t worth it in our opinion. We are big advocates of this format and love watching a 1 vs 1 battle, but there’s too many factors here that make it too tough to call, the main reason being it’s straight knockout style.

By all means go ahead if you fancy it, our recommendation would be some cheeky in-play bets on specific matches and even an accumulator – something we may consider further in the tournament’s progression.

So, we are going to re-visit Madeira for our betting plans and ignore Lawrie and his chums for now. Plus, we were one of the many who had JB Hansen enjoying a nice lead when the heavens opened on the Portuguese Island a few months ago, so we feel like we’re owed something here.

As we wrote back then, Santo de Serra is a shot 6,826 yard par 72 that is perched on top of a mountain, with quite generous fairways and significant elevation changes all leading up to the tightly compact and undulating greens.

 

getimage.ashx

courtesy of visitmadeira

The Trent Jones family is not only the designer across the pond this week, because this is another one of his fine creations. He’s developed a place that relies on the Atlantic coastal winds for protection, because on a calm day, anyone with distance can rip this place apart – 4 reachable par 5’s and 7 sub 400-yard par 4’s. That says it all really.

You only have to look back to 2013 when the big-hitting Peter Uihlein (who only found 40% fairways) grabbed his maiden win here. The likes of Madsen, Henry, Benson are names just at first glance who have enjoyed success here and are certainly not shy off the tee.

We’re only plumping for a team of 4 here though because the odds aren’t the greatest, but let’s hope our boys prove to be good value…

JB Hansen (33/1 various)

Big hitting JB

Big hitting JB

We couldn’t not really could we?! JB Hansen was leading before the postponement and his form is actually better now then it was then, so it seems stupid not to chuck our money on the 24-year old again.

His lowest finish in his last 6 outings is T26, including 3 top 10’s, which proves how well he’s playing at the moment.

He hits the ball a long way and has the ability to overpower this track, as he showed a few months back.

33’s for a regular Challenge Tour player may seem short, but he has, without doubt, some of the best form of anyone in the field and the fact he’s already shown what he can do round here, it seems a no brainer in our eyes.

Carlos Del Moral (45/1 BetFred)

Yet another hot caddie wife! Courtesy of European Tour

Yet another hot caddie wife!
Courtesy of European Tour

Carlos Del Moral is an intriguing player this week and considering he is one of a few who’ve been playing regular European Tour golf this season, his odds are incredibly appealing.

Firstly, he is one of the bigger hitters on the circuit – averaging over 302 yards (15th for driving distance). Secondly he showed some real class at the BMW in Germany when he recorded one of his highest finishes on the main Tour so far – T4. His 65 on the Saturday propelled him up the leaderboard and was an exhibition in raw power off the tee (1st for distance on the day), impenetrable irons (22nd GIR) and holing those chances you create (4th putts per GIR.)

Basically, it’s perfect golf and the fact he went on to play a similar brand on the Sunday, proves to us that he could have a major say on Madeira this week. Plus, he’s finished 4th here before as well…

Chris Paisley (50/1 BetFred)

Nice smile Christophe.   Courtesy of Zimbio

Nice smile Christophe.
Courtesy of Zimbio

Chris Paisley is mainly a Challenge Tour play, but he has plenty of experience at the higher level to know what it’s all about. He has that feel of one of those players who knows what it would mean to win here. The benefits are endless and it could be a major career-turning point for anyone of his current level.

Much like Del Moral, Paisley showed some of his potential in Germany where he actually went one better and finished solo 3rd. He was in the final group on the Sunday, just a couple of strokes behind James Morrison, but neither could capitalise on their early efforts. His putting throughout the week was incredible – he never left the top 10 for each round, whilst he was averaging just over 290 off the tee and playing well with his irons.

All in all it was a decent outing, which he’s backed up with a solid T44 in Switzerland last week and the fact he’s had 3 finishes inside the top 22 here proves he knows the track.

Jens Dantorp (80/1 Coral)

Cracking attire

Cracking attire

Our final pick this week comes in the form of a young Swede, Jens Dantorp. The Scandinavian country seems to be churning out decent players at the moment and this 26-year old seems like another one who could achieve a few things in his time.

He won a ridiculous 8 Nordic Golf League titles and broke through on the Challenge Tour in 2013 at the prestigious Rolex Trophy, but since then it has all been relatively quiet.

In fact he didn’t even feature inside the top 10 again till this year when he came T8 in Turkey back in May.

A solo 2nd followed before he announced himself again in front of his home crowd at the Nordea Masters.

Along with young amateur star Markus Kinhult, Dantorp found himself propped at the top of a leaderboard containing names with far more credential sniffing below.

He was averaging 300 yards off the tee and didn’t drop outside the top 10 for putting stats across those 2 days. Obviously he tailed off slightly at the weekend, but to keep himself in the hunt as long as he did in a big event, shows the potential he has.

Sadly, he’s gone on to miss 3 out of his next 4 cuts on the Challenge Tour, but we are going to look past that because he does suit everything on paper and at 80’s is definitely worth a punt.

Quicken Loans National 2015

2019231_origPrize Fund – $6,700,00

Winner’s Share – $1,170,000

Course – Robert Trent Jones GC (7,385 yards par 71) – New Course

Our 2014 Picks – Jason Day (MC), Nick Watney (T30), Hunter Mahan (T24), Angel Cabrera (T24), Shawn Stefani (2nd)

Another week down on the PGA and everything is really hotting up ahead of what we think we will be a fascinating Presidents Cup and FedEx Cup finale. Yes Jordan Spieth is quite a bit ahead of others, but the 2nd string are beginning to really crowd up now – there is just a couple of decent finishes from Bubba Watson right through to 16th place Brooks Koepka and that is exciting. But everyone is going to have to take advantage when the golden boy isn’t playing and Jason Day did just that last week, now it’s the turn of Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose and Jimmy Walker to have their say (can we say Tiger Woods still or…?)

Undoubtedly they’re the 3-pronged superstars spearheading the field this week but taking them out the equation and we have a fairly ordinary line-up to stick our claws into.

The Quicken Loans National 2015 (in association with the Tiger Woods Foundation) is generally a top event that has attracted some pretty impressive winners in recent years – Rose and Tiger have won it twice, whilst Bill Haas, Nick Watney, Anthony Kim and KJ Choi have all picked up the trophy as well.

At the time of their wins, they were all in the higher bracket of players and some of that definitely has to do with the courses they were playing on. Congressional is a US Open track, whilst Aronimink has hosted majors from amateur through to Senior. But we will not be on either track for the 2015 edition, because we’re moving to a beautiful course in Virginia called Robert Trent Jones Golf Club.

Absolutely no prizes for guessing who designed it though, but the man who brought us Congressional, Firestone, Spyglass Hill and Hazeltine among a whole host of others, stated that this was one of his finest. And that is really saying something.

The 7, 385 yard Par 71 is a typical Jones course. Meandering round Lake Manassas in Gainesville, water is brought into play on 9 holes, making accuracy instantly a thought to ponder.

Plenty of water in play

Plenty of water in play

We’ve seen a lot more death-defying tree-lined fairways across the season, but there are still plenty to to make everyone think off the tee, especially with the strategically placed bunkers dotted around (and the water of course!) The greens are large and characteristically undulating, making them tough reads and at times, very pacy.

It’s imperative that the guys get their eye in during the practice rounds to work out the better pin positions to attack and where the uphill putts are. If the rain comes as forecast however, the fairways and greens could hold up the ball, making it target practice for those who are on it tee to green.

We are basically looking for those that can hit the ball a relatively fair distance, but have a decent Total Driving combination, ball strikers and longer iron gurus, because of the three Par 5’s and four Par 3’s that await. If you can scramble, that of course is a bonus…!

All in all, this will be a debut PGA Tour event for Robert Trent Jones Golf Club, but it does have experience of hosting big events, having been the home to the Presidents Cup on four occassions – 95′, 96′, 2000 and 2005. Some useful insight there if you fancy having a cheeky gander.

So, after Brian Harman decided a collapse (he shot a clear worst 76) on Saturday was necessary having been 1 behind the leader, let’s hope for slightly more this week…

Will Wilcox (60/1 Coral)

Big celebrations. Courtesy of PGA Tour

Big celebrations.
Courtesy of PGA Tour

It’s unusual for our headline act to be at such high odds, but with the top 3 priced out and us not really fancying the chasing pack, Will Wilcox is someone that has a big appeal this week.

First of all his form far exceeds that of his price. Just look at those at higher odds – Bill Haas (33’s) has missed 3 cuts in a row, Justin Thomas (30’s) has one top 10 in amongst a best of T54 in 2 months, whilst Tiger (40’s) has, well, we’d rather not say.

Then we jump to Wilcox, 2 top 10’s in a row and some low shooting to boot. Last time out he finished 2nd outright at the Barbasol Championship (runs alongside The Open) which ironically was held at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail – another course that filled the great man with pride and joy…

Before that he finished T8 at the John Deere and if you look at his individual rounds, he has shot below 70, 16 out of his last 20 outings. That dates back to May.

So Basically this lad is in good knick and whilst we understand he’s yet to win on the PGA Tour, he’s proven he can handle the pressure by winning on the Web.Com and it’s only his 2nd year in the big time.

Plus, he simply suits the stats perfectly. 5th for Total Driving (59th distance, 16th accuracy), 6th GIR, 3rd ball striking, 50th strokes gained putting and just for good measure – 7th for scrambling. If he can continue his form and shoot as well as he did on another Trent Jones favourite, we could be in for a right treat this week..

Jason Bohn (50/1 various)

Now, Jason Bohn is a slightly different player to Wilcox in that he lacks the same sort of distance with the driver, but tee to green, you cannot argue they are strong candidates and should suit this sort of track.

He lies in 4th for driving accuracy and 42nd in ball striking, which proves he is imperious at finding fairways and greens alike.

His form has been impressive over the past couple of weeks as well – T12 at the John Deere, which included a final day 64 and T13 at the Greenbrier which included a ridiculous 61. His performance on the Sunday was the difference between a win and where he ended up, but it does show he’s hitting the ball well and scoring freely – plus it was his lowest ever career round and put him back in that leading position again. More lessons learnt.

No denying he hasn’t had a win since 2010, but the Greenbrier should give him some confidence back, and he showed that with his following performance, so this feels like a good week to jump on the American, especially in an average field.

Johnson Wagner (66/1 BetVictor)

Loves a tash

FanTASHtic

Johnson Wagner is another mid-ranger who fits most of the bill and is playing some pretty decent golf at the moment. After losing out in a playoff at the Shell Houston Open, he went on a horrific run of 6 missed cuts in 7 outings.

But he seems to have genuinely turned that around now, making 4 cuts in a row, including 3 top 18 finishes and even a T5 at the John Deere. He was very much in contention again last week in Canada, but fell off at the weekend with a couple of average rounds. Much like Wilcox though, his individual rounds have been very impressive – 11 of his last 16 outings, he’s shout 68 or below – that isn’t bad going at all..

He is decent across the board stats wise as well, 69th total driving, 18th GIR, 36th ball striking and 71st strokes gained putting, plus he is 47th for approaches from 200 yards +.

Very encouraging and don’t forget, he is a 3-time PGA Tour winner…

Stewart Cink (80/1 various)

A classic Cink your head into your hands moment.

A classic Cink your head into your hands moment.

Oh my have we not been here several times throughout the season? A sort of refusal on our part to admit that Stewart Cink may not win again. There are many who have fallen in similar displays of sorrow before and there’ll be many more to come. But since that 2009 Open victory, we haven’t truly seen the best of a truly quality player.

So, why on earth are we going there again? Well, firstly, he is still an iron guru – 4th GIR, 70th ball striking – and he has the sort of game that could do well. Plus, he is one of a very limited number of guys who have actually played tournament golf here. He was part of the victorious American teams in the Presidents Cup back in 2000 and 2005. In 00′ he won all 4 of his points on offer and whilst it wasn’t as smooth sailing in 05′, he still came away with 1 ½ points to his name.

Finally and potentially most crucially, he would of actually won us all some money last week…! A T5 finish in Canada will surely give him the world of confidence coming into this event, especially having finished with a 66.

He also recorded an impressive T20 at The Open, so you cannot argue that he’s in good knick. Why not ey?!

Outsiders

Retief Goosen (100/1 various) and Jim Herman (200/1 BetVictor)

The Goose loves it.

The Goose loves it.

A couple of cheeky outsiders to consider this week, coming in the form of Retief Goosen and Jim Herman.

Firstly, we’re going to check out the Hermanator. His form hasn’t been particularly mind-blowing, but an intriguing T22 finish over in Canada last week made up our minds to back the 37-year old with a few spare coppers.

He is back on the Tour after graduating again last year and is the sort of player who could do well here – 18th Total Driving, 5th GIR, 6th Ball Striking and 18th in approaches from 200 yards. The ol’ saying applies here – ‘Why not?.’

Then we have the Mighty Goose. (poor pun there for any fans of a certain Ice Hockey film…Poor)

Much like Cink, we’ve gone there a few times with the South-African, but we’ve actually reaped a few rewards and recently as well. He grabbed us a decent return in his T4 finish over in Germany at the BMW a few weeks ago. He played some decent golf to put himself in contention, shooting a 69 and 67 to close the tournament. He was inside the top 10 for GIR across the 4 days, which is hardly a surprise, so doubled with the fact he also managed T20 at The Open, we mutter those words once again. ‘Why not?’ PLUS he turned up at The Presidents Cup as well, winning 4 ½ points out of a possible 5 in 2005, including a 2 and 1 win against Tiger, whilst he managed 2 out of a possible 4 in 2000. He certainly knows the track…

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You can 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!

RBC Canadian Open 2015

RBC-Canadian-Open-LogoPrize Fund – $5,800,00

Winner’s Share – $1,026,000

Course – Glen Abbey Golf Course (7,273 yards Par 72)

Our 2014 Picks – Jim Furyk (2nd), David Hearn (T53), KJ Choi (T66), Tim Clark (WIN)

There’s no denying Zach Johnson was a worthy winner of the Open last week but we can’t hide our disappointment at not seeing Spieth do it again. His 4-putt on 8 would have broken the best of us – but not this guy. What a player and what a future he has. We’ve spoken about the Spieth/McIlroy rivalry for a while now but just sit back and imagine those two in a Sunday final pairing at a major.

As ever, we move quickly and swiftly on in golf. The Tour rocks up at Glen Abbey, the Canadian Open’s home if you were. With the odd exception, the tournament was held here for over 25 years until the early 2000’s where appearances became more sporadic.

We have somewhat of a love/hate relationship with this event with Hunter Mahan dropping out while leading in 2013 to attend the birth of his baby girl. But Tim Clark addressed the balance for us last year with a stunning display of putting.

Having read tons about the course, it’s all about the total drivers out there. The rough alongside the fairways won’t hurt you and getting it within wedge distance is key. We’re going to see plenty of approach shots from the 75-125 yard mark.

Courtesy of PGATour

Courtesy of PGATour

One thing we also know is the rough gets a lot tougher around the greens. It makes GIR stats more vital than ever. For that inevitable miss around the greens, scrambling is of course going to be key and we’ve definitely factored that into our research. Also worth noting that Brandt Snedeker gave us a putting masterclass in 2013 having been relatively average tee to green.

Arguably the biggest factor coming in this week is the Open. Usually, the Canadian is one where guys who have done well at the Open can continue to do so here but we all know how crazy St Andrews was. A Monday finish and endless waiting around makes preparation for the Canadian tough. Naturally, these guys are good and can certainly go again but we won’t be touching anyone who made the cut in Scotland.

DON’T FORGET – Our weekly competition with renowned magazine Golf Monthly continues, take a peak at the end of our selections to see how our stakes have been distributed this time.
Twitter

You can 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!

CHappell 2Kevin Chappell (66/1 Various)

This is the 3rd time we’ve backed Chappell in recent times and rightly so in our opinion. He’s fully fit, settled into family life and striking the ball as good as ever.

His 8th at the John Deere was recognition for the hard work he had put in over the last few months – finally his consistency is starting to pay off. So when we come to Glen Abbey, a place where total drivers thrive, the American is right up there for us.

Negatives would be that he’s only played here once and finished 68th but we know this is a course that suits his eye and when he’s striking the ball as good as he is at the moment, he can transfer that to any track.

Chappell also ranked 3rd putting at the John Deere which is ominous when paired with his tee to green game.

Brian Harman (70/1 Stan James)

All smiles again this week - courtesy of brianharmangolf

All smiles again this week – courtesy of brianharmangolf

On reflection, it was a poor pick going with Harman last time out to defend his John Deere title. Fulfilling plenty of media obligations prior to the week meant the American couldn’t prepare as well as he would want. He was also paired alongside Jordan Spieth for three rounds – and we all know what he did on the 3rd day.

So after a missed cut at St Andrews, Harman will travel to Canada with a lot of weight off his shoulders. He’s expressed in the media how well he is striking the ball and is just waiting for that little spark that would see him win PGA title number 2. Tee to green he’s ideal for Glen Abbey.

It has to be said his T24 as defending champ two weeks ago was very admirable and quite frankly if he had holed some putts, he would have contended. To put into perspective: ranked 2nd GIR but 70th (out of 73) in putting. We’ll put that down to the pressure… It’s a case of getting the putter working this week for Brian, because everything else is firing on all cylinders.

Roberto Castro (175/1 Coral)

Roberto Castro acknowledges the gallery after finishing the final round of the AT&T National golf tournament on the 18th green at Congressional Country Club, Sunday, June 30, 2013, in Bethesda, Md. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

Md. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

We like this one. Castro qualified on Monday for the Canadian, shooting a 65, alongside three other guys. This makes for a good few weeks as we’ve seen a pretty rapid rise in form since two missed cuts in June.

Last week’s T23 at the Barbasol saw him finish T17 GIR and 15th putting – everything seems to be in good order. The final piece in the jigsaw was his 6th at Glen Abbey he recorded in 2013. A couple of rounds in the 60’s saw him finish just 4 shots behind Snedeker, on -12. Roberto is also renowned for his wedge play and currently ranks 5th on tour for approaches from 50-125 yards.

Rory Sabbatini (100/1 Stan James)

Rory-Sabbatini-PGA-Championship-Preview-Day-p3SKQriLk-llWe are reluctantly going with the South African purely on the amount of factors he ticked. We can’t say there’s a real passion for Sabbatini but as we’ve shown the last couple of events with Lee and Wagner, stats matter.

His last two appearances at Glen Abbey, seperated by 13 years, were 6th and more recently 12th. Very recent form is nondescript but has recorded two top 10’s in his last six events.

Then we look at stats – 11th scrambling, 24th 50-125 yards and 35th tee to green.

Ultimately he ticks every box from a betting perspective. Our hands are tied, we’re going with him.