WGC Cadillac Match Play 2015

PrintPrize Fund – $9,250,000

Winner’s Share – $1,530,000

Course – TPC Harding Park (7,169 par 72)

Our 2014 Picks – Sergio Garcia (9), Jordan Spieth (5), Jason Day (WIN), Hunter Mahan (9)

NEW FORMAT FOR 2015

The top 64 players are ready to do battle in this year’s WGC Match Play but with a new structure. Given the early exit of the likes of Tiger and Rory in recent years, sponsors and TV companies have naturally kicked up a fuss. So how’s it working?

– 64 players

– 16 groups of 4 players (with 1 top 16 player in OWGR in each)

– 1 player from each pool will go into each group

– POOL 1 (Players seeded 17-32) POOL 2 (Players seeded 33-48) POOL 3 – (Players seeded 49-64)

– Round robin matches Wednesday, Thursday, Friday

– The 16 winners from the groups go into single-elimination match play, like the old format

– Semi-finals and final played out on Sunday

NEW COURSE

TPC Harding Park - Courtesy of Golf Digest

TPC Harding Park – Courtesy of Golf Digest

TPC Harding Park plays host to this year’s event which has hosted the WGC Cadillac stroke play back in 2005 and the President’s Cup in 2009. Tiger won in ’05 and was 5 for 5 in the President’s too…

With penal rough and a very protected tree-lined front nine, this parkland track has all sorts of obstacles for the players to contend with.

The second nine runs alongside a lake, which looks great on the eye and in many respects opens up for some potential freedom, but what it really means is a lot more wind.

The back nine could be such an intriguing proposition, when the heat of gargantuan battle is well and truly alive and the wind howls to make it even more fascinating.

After hosting the WGC back in 05′, both Tiger and Phil said the track seemed to play long, belying it’s short yardage.  The ball doesn’t travel as far at sea level and with potential strong winds, low, powerful ball flight could really be a key.

But it’s still clear how important it will be to keep the ball in play.  Having the chance to calculate when to attack pins and when to control your irons is everything in matchplay.  It’s not you against the field, it’s you against one other, so it really is vital that your not hacking out the thick stuff all the time.

Betting

As for betting, well it is completely wide open.  The most important thing to do, is to look at the draw and work out in your mind as rationally as possible who you think could go through the groups and what that means in terms of who’ll be playing who.

By far and away the most intriguing ‘section’ of the draw odds wise is the lower half – groups 4, 5, 12 and 13.

Furyk, Kaymer, Jiadee and Coetzee make up the ‘5th’ group and you cannot see the winner honestly coming out of there with Jimbo’s inconsistent short game, but Kaymer should theoretically progress if you were looking at it logically.  The German would then go on to play the winner of the ’12th’ group – one of JB Holmes, Koepka, Henley and Warren.  A tough one to call between the top 3 on paper, but Koepka and Holmes have the most appeal.  For us, Koepka might just edge it.

So, and we mean this very hypothetically, one of Kaymer or Koepka could be battling it out in the quarters – lets say Kaymer knicks it.  And the opponent there?

The ‘4th’ group containts Bubba, Oosthuizen, Bradley and Jimenez.  Honestly cannot see Bubba doing well here, Jimenez may not be able to compete with the other 3 which leaves Louis and Bradley.  Both are touch and go form wise and with the putter, but Keegan may just sneak it.  He would then play one of Fowler, McDowell, Lowry and English.  Only Fowler knows if he will turn up or not, whilst Gmac is a solid Matchplay bet.  Say we then have Bradley vs Gmac, Gmac grinds it out and gets to the quarters.

That then leaves you – again must stress how hyperthetical all this is, we are just trying to suggest how important it is to look at this part of the draw!! –  with Kaymer Vs Gmac for a place in the semis.

Whereas the other sections – if sponsors, crowds and tournament organisers get their way, whilst the form book runs true ten you could be seeing –

1 McIlroy Vs Matsuyama in the Round of 16

Scott Vs DJ in the Round of 16

 

2 Spieth Vs Reed in the Round of 16

Garcia Vs Day in the Round of 16

 

3 Rose Vs Walker/Poulter in the Round of 16

Kuchar Vs Stenson in the Round of 16

(The numbers indicate that specific section.  The winner of those sections will then go onto play each other in the next round, i.e McIlroy Vs Scott)

Now, some of them are ridiculous to call.

We will be making a few long-term bets for the overall, but it will take a lot more time for us to really be sure and most of our money will be going on accumulators and in-play.

But what we do know is that Ian Poultar and Paul Casey at 40/1 do intrigue and may be worth a cheeky punt for now.  Plus Gmac at 60s….

More will follow

Volvo China Open 2015

Prize Fund – $3,230,0002010018

Winner’s Share – $540,000

Course – Tomson Shanghai Pudong Golf Club (7,296 par 72)

Our 2014 Picks – Pablo Larrazábal – T36, Nicolas Colsaerts – MC, Wade Ormsby – MC, Wen Chong Liang – T54, Grégory Bourdy – T19

We are staying in China for the 2nd week running and once again we’re off to relatively unknown territory for the Volvo China Open. The Tomson Shanghai Pudong Golf Club has hosted European Tour events before – between 2004 and 2008 when the Asian Open came to town.  When you list the winners, you get a real sense of what type of player will do well here and on first glance, you think that only iron gurus will be challenging for the trophy.

2008 – Darren Clarke

2007 – Raphaël Jacquelin

2006 – Gonzalo Fernández-Castaño

2005 – Ernie Els

2004 – Miguel Ángel Jiménez 

If you ever wanted a list full of GIR specialists, that would be it.  When any of these guys are playing their best golf, they tend to have the ability to attack pins and do it regularly – just look at Ernie’s opening 2 rounds at The Masters – his irons were simply sumptuous. And looking at Clarke and Raphaël’s victory, there was an obvious trend over the 4 days that they were inside the top 10 for GIR every day, but both hitting the ball relatively long considering what we might imagine these days. What they were for definite though, is straight off the tee.  They both regularly found the fairway, giving themselves the chance to attack the greens and that is clearly an important ability to possess for this track.

Courtesy of European Tour

Courtesy of European Tour

Looking at the pictures, there’s plenty of water in play and long, glowing white sands surrounding the fairways and protecting the relatively large greens. The winning scores were not particularly high, but you get the feeling there is a low number there for someone who goes out and attacks. It is one of those weeks were it will be a slight hunch galore, but one we are certainly hoping can break our horrendous form that we simply cannot get out of at the moment!

Peter Uihlein (40/1 Paddy Power)

UihleinIt wasn’t too long ago that we were talking about this guy as one of the hottest prospects for American golf having come over to Europe and shown what he was all about. But Brooks Koepka and Jordan Spieth later, it’s all gone rather flat in the Uihlein-camp.

But he’s still got it, we know that, he just needs to regain his confidence on the course and his last few showings have seemed to show that. T13 Dubai Classic and a T16 in Malaysia were the first glimpses of his old self. And then last week his T4 in China was the best finish he’s had on the European Tour since the Alfred Dunhil back in 2013!

It wasn’t just his finish but the putter was working and he wasn’t too shabby from the fairways either. He’s sure to be a much-fancied pick this week as we all know the American can go on a roll. The only worry would be his accuracy off the tee on a course where finding fairways is vital.

Wade Ormsby (45/1 Coral)

OrmsbyWade Ormsby has been in pretty decent form of late. 4 top 11’s in his last 5 outings show that he is on the cusp of something pretty special.

Last week he started poorly but managed to turn it around with a fine weekend performance – a 67 on Saturday and 66 to finish. That shows his game is in fine fettle and we feel it’s the right time to lump on the Aussie on a course that should actually suit.

He may not be particularly long, but just look at those previous winners. His tee to green accuracy more than makes up for his lack of length – 6th for driving accuracy and 9th for GIR on Sunday show his form.

His T9 result at the Trophee Hassan a few weeks back prove that he can play in varying conditions and on difficult tracks, whilst the fact he’s played here before really makes the appeal greater.

One MC and a T20 don’t make the most incredible reading, but he’ll be on of a few that have 6 rounds on this track!

Mikko Ilonen (55/1 Various)

Mikko IlonenWe haven’t seen a lot of the Fin in the last few weeks and that’s reflected in his odds. For someone who fits the course perfectly, this is good value.

So you look at his form and think that’s not the best but when you delve deeper those finishes were at the Masters, Shell Houston and WGC Cadillac, where he did finish T23 at the latter. Let’s be honest, he’s been competing at a far higher level than a lot of the guys in the field this week.

To do well on this course you need to hit it long and straight and be a demon from the fairway, well that’s exactly what Mikko does.

He did also turn up here in ’07 and ’08 but failed to perform. Even so, that will give him vital course knowledge. We like this one.

Gregory Havret (80/1 BetVictor)

So the Frenchman is someone who rarely gets into our selections and it’s pretty refreshing to see him here. In short, he has finished 18th and 15th in 2 of his last 3 starts where last week he was firing on all cylinders from the fairway. 2nd GIR and 9th driving accuracy – this will get it done on most courses but particularly this one. And then like Ilonen, Havret has also had a few rounds here back in ’07 and ’06 finishing a best of 33rd.

Lucas Bjerregaard (125/1 BoyleSports)

Beast.

Beast.

We were incredibly excited about Lucas Bjerregaard when we first saw him break onto the scene last year and we thought we could have a proper player on our hands.

He is yet to really fulfil his long-hitting destiny, but we are plumping with him again on a track that could suit.

Last week he finished T15 with a complete miss-match in rounds.  Two 67’s either side of some poor rounds, makes it rather confusing about where his game is at.

However, during his final round he was, as expected, ridiculously long and 27th for GIR, but most interestingly, he found himself 16th for driving accuracy.

We are adamant that someone with the potential to hit the ball as far as Lucas will be ridiculously dangerous if he’s hitting it straight as well.

This sort of track could be over powered by that sort of treatment and the big Dane could take it apart.

Golf Monthly £10 ChallengeGM_masthead-630x176

Every week we’re running a weekly betting competition on both Tours with esteemed magazine Golf Monthly.  It is a bit of fun between us and them to see who has the better tipsters!  We have £10 to put on each tournament and will write up a weekly post for their site detailing the horrors we are sure to endure throughout the year – so keep an eye out.

It will also (for the first time from us at DownThe18th) show some sort of staking plan we have for out bets.  Obviously, this isn’t the exact stakes we will put on our players, some weeks we won’t even enter a couple of our picks, but at least it can be shown roughly where our thoughts are money wise.

Our £10 against Golf Monthly will be as follows  –

£1.25 e/w on Peter Uihlein at 40/1

£1.50 e/w on Wade Ormsby at 35/1

£1.25 e/w on Mikko Ilonen at 40/1

£0.60 e/w on Gregory Havret at 80/1

£0.40 e/w on Lucas Bjerregaard at 100/1

Each way bets ¼ odds for top 6 finish. Prices sourced from Paddy Power

Find the Golf Monthly Preview here (http://www.golf-monthly.co.uk/news/tour-news)

Current Standings after 14 weeks (and it makes for horrible reading…)

DownThe18th                                 Golf Monthly

European Tour: £-38.70               European Tour:  £-53.75

PGA Tour: £-69.38                           PGA Tour: £58.50

Total: £-108.08                                   Total: £4.75

Golf Monthly leads by: £112.83

Zurich Classic of New Orleans 2015

Prize Fund – $6,900,000cefgiorwy459

Winner’s Share – $1,242,000

Course – TPC Louisiana (7,341 par 72)

Our 2014 Picks – Everyone missed the cut barring Stuart Appleby (T17)

It was great to Jimbo Furyk back in the winners circle last week, an unbelievable effort in the playoff when he’s so often bottled in recent years! But moving onto a new week and we’re in New Orleans.

The Zurich Classic has been a mainstay of the PGA Tour for a number of years now, with TPC Louisiana being the host track since 2007. The Pete Dye course is one of the most well-known during the calendar and often provides us with some entertaining action.  Over 100 bunkers, water hazards on 8 holes and 5 par 4’s measuring in at under 400 yards shows that there’s plenty to attack and defend during the 4 days. You can clearly overpower a track of this nature, with brute force propelling you to needing just a short wedge game and top scoring on the greens, but if you go to askew, then the bunkers, water or rough will eat you alive.

Courtesy of bunkersparadise

Courtesy of bunkersparadise

There is a definite need to be relatively straight and outstanding with your irons – proven by past winners here – The likes of Noh Seung-Yul, Billy Horschel, Jason Dufner, Bubba Watson, Jerry Kelly have all won here which shows that is an iron players course. You can hardly say big hitters suit it because the comparison between Bubba and Kelly are beyond ridiculous and just don’t exist.  If you are long, you have to be straight and if you are short you have to be consistent and challenging pins on every approach. A fascinating prospect ahead and for us, it’s best to take a look at total driving, GIR and scoring because the last 3 winners have come in with at least -19…

The steely concentration of Keegan Bradley

The steely concentration of Keegan Bradley

Keegan Bradley (22/1 Stan James)

Keegan Bradley has been in and out of form this season, but has shown enough glimpses for us to think that he’s due a big, big performance. On this sort of track where a top tee to green game is required, he suits everything on paper. He is 1st in total driving and 90th for GIR, which is a very decent and interesting combination.

He hits the ball long and straight and has done for most of the year, but his putting is currently letting him down. His switch to a shorter putter started very well in the first few weeks, but consistency over the long term hasn’t been the same.

Even 76th in scoring average shows that he has the ability to go low and we were impressed with a relatively solid outing at Augusta – T22 and a top performance at the Shell Houston Open – T5.

Whilst last year at this event, he finished T8, when in all probability, he should have ended much nearer the top. A +3 final day completely ruined his opening brilliance which included a 66 and 65.

We are sure he has the perfect match for the Louisiana track and we are desperate for someone to actually score under par on a final round – surely he wouldn’t do it 2 years on the trot?!

Daniel Berger (66/1 Various)

New generation - courtesy of ESPN

New generation – courtesy of ESPN

Okay, so Berger is one of these young players who you feel uncomfortable backing at short odds given the pressure they have to undergo when challenging for their first PGA title! For some, that pressure is too much. Just look at Graham DeLaet and Brendon De Jonge. But this guy it seems is a little different.

We were on him when he missed out to Padraig Harrington of all people earlier in the year but to even get to a play-off in your first few months on Tour is some going. Over the years this tournament has been won by all sorts of golfers but Berger is someone who could overpower it and make a ton of birdies.

Statistically speaking it’s hard not to get excited really – T14 ball striking, 6th par 5 birdie or better, 4th total birdies, 2nd rounds in the 60’s. Those are essentially saying he’s unbelievable tee to green and has no problem holing the putts either.

We see many youngsters come and go on the tour but this guy seems like he’s a class above and a win here would certainly show that.

John Peterson 50/1 Various

PetersonIt’s not pretty seeing the American at these odds so the bookie’s must have buzzed off him as much as we do. None the less we’re not going to let odds grab us by the balls, we like him and we’re chucking our money on him.

Why? He’s played 3 times here, 2 missed cuts but then an 8th in 2013 – there is some liking for the track. His current form is as good as you’ll ever get for this man in current times, 18th RBC and 11th Valero Texas. No missed cuts in 5 events either. So plenty of boxes ticked.

The stats – 22nd ball striking (which takes into account GIR and total driving if you were unfamiliar), 40th total birdies, 28th rounds in the 60’s.

And last week at the RBC Heritage, Peterson was comfortably first in GIR finding over 80% of greens! All of which tells us tee to green his game is there, all we ask for is a red-hot putter for at least 3 days and he’ll be in the mix

Lucas Glover (100/1 Various)

Glover celebrating his win here in 2011 with his mother. A lovely mothers day present!

Glover celebrating his win here in 2011 with his mother.

What a bizarre career Lucas Glover has had. Three PGA Tour wins, one of which includes the US Open. Many of his outings are fighting for a pay check, sticking perilously close to the cut, but he is, in paper, a major winner.

This season the struggles have continued, with a best finish of T15 at the Humana, but we did see some sort of decent effort at the Heritage last week.

He actually managed to shoot to rounds below 70 which should give him plenty of confidence, whilst he was inside the top 27 for both driving accuracy and distance and 2nd for GIR. So, that makes it obvious what is letting him down – the short stick. When does it not?!

But we are looking past that simply because this is a track he has played so well at before. Four top 10s in his last 8 outings here, including a T4 a couple of years back when he was in appalling form.  He actually went into the final day with a 2-shot lead but completely bottled it. We’re just hoping he can draw on that experience and challenge once again.

Jason Bohn (110/1 BetFred)

Quality outsider

Quality outsider

If you followed us a few weeks back Jason Bohn was almost our number 1 pick for the Shell Houston which shows how much he featured on our radar. So we come to the Zurich Classic where he won one of his two PGA Tour titles back in 2010 – it would be rude not to have a nibble.

His aforementioned victory here is the major factor in backing him. And this season we have seen a new and improved Jason Bohn. The fact that he has already earned more money this year than he did for each of 2011, 2012 and 2013 tells the story.

Coming into this event he has a pair of top 20 finishes in his last 4, no missed cuts. For the season he ranks 64th ball striking (28th GIR), 27th total birdies and 21st rounds in the 60’s. Like Peterson, also had a healthy GIR% last week, ranking 14th.

Golf Monthly £10 ChallengeGM_masthead-630x176

Every week we’re running a weekly betting competition on both Tours with esteemed magazine Golf Monthly.  It is a bit of fun between us and them to see who has the better tipsters!  We have £10 to put on each tournament and will write up a weekly post for their site detailing the horrors we are sure to endure throughout the year – so keep an eye out.

It will also (for the first time from us at DownThe18th) show some sort of staking plan we have for out bets.  Obviously, this isn’t the exact stakes we will put on our players, some weeks we won’t even enter a couple of our picks, but at least it can be shown roughly where our thoughts are money wise.

Our £10 against Golf Monthly will be as follows  –

£3.50 WIN on Keegan Bradley at 18/1

£1.25 e/w on Daniel Berger at 60/1

£1.00 e/w on John Peterson at 50/1

£0.40 e/w on Lucas Glover at 100/1

£0.60 e/w on Jason Bohn at 80/1

Each way bets ¼ odds for top 6 finish. Prices sourced from Paddy Power

Find the Golf Monthly Preview here (http://www.golf-monthly.co.uk/news/tour-news)

Current Standings after 14 weeks (and it makes for horrible reading…)

DownThe18th                                 Golf Monthly

European Tour: £-38.70               European Tour:  £-53.75

PGA Tour: £-69.38                           PGA Tour: £58.50

Total: £-108.08                                   Total: £4.75

Golf Monthly leads by: £112.83

Shenzhen International 2015

Prize Fund – $2.5 million

Winner’s Share – €386,168

Course – Genzon Golf Club (7,145 par 72)

Our 2014 Picks – No Tournament

The European Tour heads to the east this week after a 2-week break (obviously The Masters does count towards RTB though!)

Not many from Augusta have made the trip over, but surprisingly Bubba Watson is heading the market and taking a plunge at European glory, probably because he’s won in China recently – the WGC HSBC Champions last year.

It’s a new tournament and track, but we did get to see everyone at Genzon GC at the Volvo China open last year when Alexander Levy came out on top with a solid 4-shot victory.

GenzonHis sheer distance and GIR abilities outshone the field and you can definitely expect more of the same. Everyone inside the top 13 had ridiculous GIR stats and those that didn’t hit the ball particularly long, were very good around the greens.

Although the track is clearly short at 7,145 yards, there’s were obvious signs that you can overpower the course. Levy, Alvaro Qurios, Henrik Stenson and Rafa Cabrera-Bello finished inside the top 8 and all tanked the ball, however the likes of Ian Poulter, Anders Hansen and Mikko Ilonen also finished high and don’t even come close to their big-hitting counterparts.

That basically suggests a variety of players could do well here and you can make a case for several.

We’re hoping we can find the value and winner in what should be quite a decent tournament.

Pablo Larrazabal (25/1 Various)

Larrazabal FourIt’s a price that we’re a little apprehensive about given his recent showing in Morocco and proven performances in China, it’s one that is duly warranted.

Despite an un-inspiring 36th on this course last year, you delve a little deeper and you see that the Spaniard loves it in in the far east and China in particular. His 2 appearances in the HSBC Champions, in China, have been 14th (2014) and 20th (2011). He has a 5th place in 2013 at the BMW Masters and most impressive are his China Open showings – 5th (2013), 18th (2012), 10th (2011), 8th (2010). His form in Dubai isn’t too shabby either, his win at the Abu Dhabi HSBC last year epitomising that.

So he loves the area, but what shape is he in at the moment? His 3rd at the Trophee Hassan in his last outing had a blend of what he is all about. 14th GIR, 15th driving distance and of course a few missed putts along the way. But if there’s one thing we’re really confident on is that one top 5 with this guy usually manifests itself into a couple more in the coming weeks.

Morten Orum Madsen (40/1 Various)

Outrageous jumper

Outrageous jumper

For someone who is in decent form, one of the few to have played this track and hits the ball a mile.

He shot a 68 and 69 at the Volvo China Open last year, on his way to a T19 finish and that previous knowledge of this track will stand him in great stead. You can definitely say that since then, he has become a far more mature and all-round player, so it is quite exciting to think what he could do on his 2nd trip to the course.

Six finishes inside the top 25 this season, including a T3 at the Africa Open and T4 in Dubai.  Everything seemed to stem for a solid outing in Portugal last year where he ended in T4 as well.

Most recently he played at the Investec Cup in Africa, where he finished T18 and kept his run of form going. He hasn’t dropped outside the top 20 in 3 starts and we have some real he can continue that and go even higher in China. 24th in driving distance and 28th in putts per round add to the appeal.

Alvaro Quiros (66/1 Various)

alvaro-quiros-5Of all tipsters/betting lovers, whatever you want to call it, there’ll be few people that have put as much faith in an Alvaro Quiros return to form as us.

We’re sure many want to see it and we are certainly top of that list because here you have a player with a ridiculous amount of potential. His star quality has been seen on bigger stages than this already, so it must be frustrating for him and his team that he hasn’t got back to the top quite yet. There’s been signs, don’t get us wrong and one of those signs came on this course a year ago.  At the Volvo China Open, he recorded an impressive T3 finish – one of his highest since his injury – and that just proves he took a liking to this track.

It would seem simply foolish not to at least think about the Spaniard once again this year because he has played for a longer period now and whilst his performances have been poor this season, it’s definitely worth the risk on this sort of track. He hits the ball a ridiculous length and has irons that can be so fluid.  Why not.

Maximilian Kieffer (80/1 Various)

The German leaves no putt un-checked

The German leaves no putt un-checked

The German when he first burst on the scene was all about distance but over the past year or so we’ve seen considerable improvement in his iron play. It seems he has found the right balance. All he needs now is start churning out some big money finishes.

His T32 on this track here showed signs of promise, ranking top 20 for putting and 8th driving distance. Now like we said, Kieffer has become a lot more consistent from the fairways and at the Trophee Hassan it really started to show – he ranked 4th GIR for the week. It’s also good to note he played in the BMW Masters in China at the back end of the year, so he’s no stranger to the environment.

Michael Hoey (90/1 BetFred)

Knows how to get the job done!

Knows how to get the job done!

Despite not being a monster off the tee, Hoey is never usually lower than top 20 when it comes to distance. And his ability from the fairway is well documented as one of the best in the business on his day.

You’ll always find him at this sort of price which tells the story, consistency is often missing. So with no real performance this year of note we’re looking at his T8 on this course last year. He ranked inside the top 25 in all facets of his game and enjoyed the track. Like one of our other picks, Kieffer, the Northern Irishman gave a good account of himself at the BMW Masters finishing T34.

His Trophée Hassan performance does not thrill us but top 30 in both GIR and driving distance certainly isn’t bad. We’re looking for his game to finally all click on a course that will bring back good memories from last year.

Golf Monthly £10 ChallengeGM_masthead-630x176

Every week we’re running a weekly betting competition on both Tours with esteemed magazine Golf Monthly.  It is a bit of fun between us and them to see who has the better tipsters!  We have £10 to put on each tournament and will write up a weekly post for their site detailing the horrors we are sure to endure throughout the year – so keep an eye out.

It will also (for the first time from us at DownThe18th) show some sort of staking plan we have for out bets.  Obviously, this isn’t the exact stakes we will put on our players, some weeks we won’t even enter a couple of our picks, but at least it can be shown roughly where our thoughts are money wise.

Our £10 against Golf Monthly will be as follows  –

£3.00 WIN on Pablo Larrazabal at 25/1

£1.50 e/w on Morten Madsen at 40/1

£0.75 e/w on Alvaro Quiros at 66/1

£0.75 e/w on Max Kieffer at 80/1

£0.50 e/w on Michael Hoey at 80/1

Each way bets ¼ odds for top 6 finish. Prices sourced from Paddy Power

Find the Golf Monthly Preview here (http://www.golf-monthly.co.uk/news/tour-news)

Current Standings after 13 weeks (and it makes for horrible reading…)

DownThe18th                                 Golf Monthly

European Tour: £-28.70               European Tour:  £-43.75

PGA Tour: £-59.38                           PGA Tour: £68.50

Total: £-88.08                                   Total: £24.75

Golf Monthly leads by: £112.83

RBC Heritage 2015

Prize Fund – $5,900,000RBC2

Winner’s Share – $1,062,000

Course – Harbour Town Golf Links (7,101 par 71)

Our 2014 Picks – Zach Johnson T6, Luke Donald 2nd, Billy Horschel T68, Stewart Cink T61, Justin Hicks T38.

There’s few better ways to cure our post-Masters emotions than being treated to another outstanding tournament on the PGA Tour. Absolutely incredible performance from Jordan Spieth last week, who officially came of age.   You could not deny the young American’s intense display, as he went on to hole pretty much everything.

But we can now move on to one of our favourite tournaments in the year, which is some feat considering it usually takes place straight after the first major of the season. The RBC Heritage has often attracted some of the best names and this week it’ll be no different – At the time of writing, last weeks champion Spieth will be teeing it up alongside Zach Johnson, Patrick Reed, Ian Poulter, Jim Furyk, Webb Simpson, Kuchar, Louis Oosthuizen to name but a few. The 18th Hole, Harbour Town Golf LinksPlayed at the Harbour Town Golf Links, it’s one of Pete Dye’s best and has that classic mix between a links and parkland style. At 7,101 yards, it’s undeniably short and will require a superb all-round game to post good scores.   Accuracy off the tee is evidently vital because if you miss the fairway, there’s little chance of you attacking pins and finding the dancefloor. The greens are remarkably small, so difficult to hit and as we saw last year when Matt Kuchar and Luke Donald went toe-to-toe, scrambling and bunker play is so important.

To be honest, just look at the winners, they’re all iron/short game gurus; Graeme McDowell, Kuchar, Boo Weekley, Jimbo Furyk. It’s a shot makers paradise out there! Usually you’ll never find players that found themselves at the top of leaderboard at Augusta challenging here, but Kuch changed that last year which shows you should just look at the type of golfer and what their abilities are on this sort of track. Time for us to find a winner and continue the momentum from Hideki Matsuyama’s 5th place finish last week!

Russell Knox 80/1

Loves a tough track - courtesy of PGA Tour

Loves a tough track – courtesy of PGA Tour

Russell Knox has been in and out of form this season, but has shown enough glimpses to suggest he could do well on a track that should suit. His T3 at the Honda Classic proves he is more than adept on difficult courses and interestingly it was also a place he did well at last year, much like Harbour Town this week. He finished T9 in 2014 when it could have been a lot better barring a poor 72 on the Friday.

He has the qualities to be a really consistent tee to green player because he hits it far enough and is regularly finds the right position in the fairway to utilise his incredible iron skills – 52nd driving accuracy, 38th ball striking, 22nd GIR and T10 proximity to the hole. With his background on the shores of Scottish links tracks, his scrambling and bunker play is incredibly accustomed to the finer details around the greens on these sort of seaside courses – they’re just so much different to traditional American bunkers/fringes. If he’s able to get all his game going, then there is no reason the Scot won’t be up there and at 80s, he’s definitely worth a punt.

Webb Simpson 40/1

Gunning for another victory on a tough course

Gunning for another victory on a tough course

Tee to green there are few better than Webb Simpson. His uncanny abilities to put the ball in the right place is there for all to see, so we definitely think he could have some say in the outcome this week. He showed some class during periods at Augusta in his T28 finish, but he wasn’t able to consistently keep it going. The main part of his problem surprisingly lies with the short stick. Now, that may be risky in this sort of tournament, but we saw him hole a few last week to give us confidence. Admittedly, he also missed a few…

We just have a feeling that if he could get his putter moving, there could be something really special in motion this week. He has a great record here with a couple of T14 finishes before a playoff defeat to McDowell in 2013. That week he played some sublime golf and it makes us think even more that he should do finally well because it hasn’t been plain sailing in 2015 for the American. Couple of top 10s at the WGC and Humana Challenge are the only high finishes, but we are adamant that will change this week. 9th ball striking, 15th GIR, T14 proximity to the hole, 45th sand save and 12th scrambling all add to his ridiculous appeal. Luke Donald – Up to you man, prefer Simpson, but do like the look of Donald.

Kevin Streelman 70/1

Not quite sure what's happening in this photo. Bizarre, but his sponsor Wilson seem happy with it. (It's on their site by the way...)

Not quite sure what’s happening in this photo. Bizarre, but his sponsor Wilson seem happy with it. (It’s on their site by the way…)

Winner of the par 3 contest at Augusta and cracking value for this week. Kevin Streelman has plenty to offer after an impressive showing at The Masters and his all round game suits the demands of Harbour Town. He has played a lot of golf this season for not a lot of return, but to go out and win at the par 3 contest then finish T12 in the main event, shows he is starting to find a bit of form. He finished 10th for GIR and 3rd in driving accuracy across the week, which is a simple and clear indication his game is back to its best. The fact he was also 4th for sand saves tells us he has every chance going onto a track where he’s played well before.

A T3 finish in 2013 here when it should have probably been more, were it not for a +1 round on Sunday. Another very intriguing outsider that has every chance.

Rory Sabbatini (100/1 Paddy Power)

Certainly not in the best of form but a horses for courses pick if there ever has been one. Has never finished outside the top 17 in all of his 5 appearances at the course but equally has never kicked on. Like so many on the Tour, you’re never going to get consistent top 5’s out of Rory but he’s always got one or two in the locker.

Statistically speaking he ticks all the boxes – 17th ball striking, 12th approaches 50-125yards and 17th sand saves.

Ernie Els (100/1 Various)

An impressive T22 for the South African last week at the Masters and an even more impressive first day 5-under-par total. A few cheap errors cost Ernie a big finish around Augusta but he openly admitted after Spieth’s ominous lead meant the guys out there had to keep attacking and shooting at pins.

Not a lot has happened for Els in 2015 but even as the years tick by, he’s always a guaranteed to contend in one or two. Tee to green this year is where he’s been nowhere near as consistent but around the greens his touch remains – 6th approaches 50-125 yards and 17th sand saves. Was runner up in 2007 and had 3 top 10’s around this track before that. 100/1 for an Ernie Els who showed real signs of his best around Augusta seems like good value to us!

Golf Monthly £10 ChallengeGM_masthead-630x176

Every week we’re running a weekly betting competition on both Tours with esteemed magazine Golf Monthly.  It is a bit of fun between us and them to see who has the better tipsters!  We have £10 to put on each tournament and will write up a weekly post for their site detailing the horrors we are sure to endure throughout the year – so keep an eye out.

It will also (for the first time from us at DownThe18th) show some sort of staking plan we have for out bets.  Obviously, this isn’t the exact stakes we will put on our players, some weeks we won’t even enter a couple of our picks, but at least it can be shown roughly where our thoughts are money wise.

Our £10 against Golf Monthly will be as follows  –

£1.75 e/w on Webb Simpson at 40/1

£1.50 e/w on Kevin Streelman at 40/1

£0.75 e/w on Russell Knox at 66/1

£0.50 e/w on Rory Sabbatini at 100/1

£0.50 e/w on Ernie Els at 80/1

Each way bets ¼ odds for top 6 finish. Prices sourced from Paddy Power

Find the Golf Monthly Preview here (http://www.golf-monthly.co.uk/news/tour-news)

Current Standings after 13 weeks (and it makes for horrible reading…)

DownThe18th                                 Golf Monthly

European Tour: £-28.70               European Tour:  £-43.75

PGA Tour: £-59.38                           PGA Tour: £68.50

Total: £-88.08                                   Total: £24.75

Golf Monthly leads by: £112.83

The Masters 2015

Prize Fund – $9,000,000Masters logo

Winner’s Share – $1,620,000

Course – Augusta National (7,450 par 72)

Our 2014 Picks – Jason Day – T20, Sergio Garcia – MC, Dustin Johnson – MC, Hunter Mahan– T26, Bill HaasT20, Graham DeLaet – MC, Fred Couples T20, Bernhard Langer – T8

So then, here we are. The week has finally arrived and excitement is beyond palpable. One of the biggest, most exhilarating and awe-inspiring tournaments in sport is upon us.

It’s time for The Masters.

For those that don’t know, we have produced two pre-previews over the past couple of weeks, so please do check them out.

The 1st preview – We looked at historic trends and stats from past winners here and broke down the entire field to see if anyone fit them all. Three did….

Click Here to Read!

The 2nd preview – We produced a table of over 50 names, detailing all their relevant stats and results that need to fit the mould of a Masters winner. Clearly shows who you should be looking at. There’s a brief description on several top players and what the stats mean.

Click Here to Read!

Now, after these two previews that give our over-riding feeling and non-concrete DT18 opinion, this 3rd piece will be finally showing our exact thoughts and where we’re placing our money this year!

But before we get to that, a little bit about the relatively unknown course – Augusta National.

Masters-Golf-Tournament-WGIYou can follow us throughout the week on Twitter @downthe18th for all things Masters!

Measuring in at 7,450 yards, this par 72 is infamous for catching out every player at any moment. Whether it be the infamous tree-lined fairways, the luscious second cut, ridiculous tornado-like wind on the par 3 12th (Bubba Watson shot 10 on this hole a couple of years ago….), anywhere on Amen Corner and of course the crazy, sloping and rapid greens.

As we’ve already stated, it’s imperative to be 100% on your game tee-to-green and those that drive the ball well, will be constantly setting themselves perfectly for birdie challenges. And if you are hot with your putter, then anything is possible, because these greens are generally known as some of the most difficult in the game.

Finally, before we run through our picks, we just want to quickly talk about that man and the field itself.

Regardless of how he plays it's so good to see him back!

Regardless of how he plays it’s so good to see him back!

Tiger announced he’ll be playing which will be welcome news to Rory McIlroy, because some of the pre-tournament heat has suddenly been taken off him.

Many people think he won’t stand a chance and we’re pretty much in the same position. You can get him at EVENS to miss the cut, if that’s a bet you fancy. There’s also an interesting market that BetVictor have produced – Missed Cut Insurance Bet. Tiger is at 35’s here, so if you’re a fan of the guy and don’t want to bet on him to be awful, you’ll have the insurance here of that likely scenario where he doesn’t make the weekend.

As for the field itself, we have to say that the odds are some of the most inconsistent and disappointing we’ve seen in any Major.

There isn’t a great deal of value from the top boys to be honest and a big reason for that is because so many are playing some outrageous golf at the moment.

Rory McIlroy 13/2 – It’s Rory, we know what he’s about

Jordan Spieth 11/1 – 3-time winner this season and on course to go close this week.

Bubba Watson 12/1 – 2-time winner here and won the WGC HSBC this season

Jason Day 14/1 – Actually coming into one of his favourite Masters with a win this season

Dustin Johnson 18/1 – Outrageous winning return (WGC Cadillac) from a long layoff

Henrik Stenson 20/1 – 4 top 10’s and won the DP World Tour Championship at the end of last year

Adam Scott 20/1 – Winner here and 4 top 5 finishes this season

Phil Mickelson 22/1 – Awful season, but loves it here and shown a slight return to form this week

Jimmy Walker 25/1 – 2-time winner in 2015 and has Butch Harmon in his ear-hole.

Then there’s a break to Matt Kuchar, but it’s madness to see 9 players at 25’s and below. All of which are in very decent form. Plus, it’s not as if the low to mid-rangers are in bad form either.

Basically, what we’re trying to say – this is by far one of the hardest Masters to call in recent history. So many could win and the bookies are likely to make a lot of money.

It makes everything really exciting, but we are sure we have names that should be in and around come Sunday and we’re absolutely buzzing.

WEATHER UPDATE

Everything we have written about so far still has the upmost importance, Augusta is one of the toughest courses you will play and that will never change. But looking at the weather forecast for all 4 days, we certainly have to look at things again. Here’s the forecast –

CB5Fe-3UEAEt31e.jpg-large

 

So what does this tell us? It’s going to be soggy, miserable and filled with plenty of delays – a Monday finish is certainly not out of the question. A wet track at over 7,400 yards immediately points at the bigger hitters gaining the upper edge, namely Rory, Bubba and DJ. But then we look back to 2007, the last real weather-hit Masters. Zach Johnson, notorious short hitter, won at +1. The score in particular is something we need to take not of – In recent times we’ve seen Watson (-10), Schwartzel (-12), Mickelson (-14) and Cabrera (-12) all reach double figures. Johnson’s over par total was over 10 shots lower than the average winning score. It tells us when the weather gets tough players need to GRIND.

Who plays well in bad weather? One trend that is always talked about is the European golfer fairing much better in poorer conditions. Now it’s not an exact science but you only have to look at the last 2 rain-affected majors (2013 US Open and 2014 PGA) where British pair Rose and McIlroy came out on top. The only way to properly show who performs well is by looking through the last couple of years at events that we know were affected by weather.

WGC Match Play 2013Leaderboard

US Open 2013Leaderboard

Pebble Beach Pro-Am 2014Leaderboard

WGC Cadillac 2014Leaderboard

FedEx St. Jude Classic 2014Leaderboard

PGA Championship 2014Leaderboard

Honda Classic 2015Leaderboard

And… The Masters 2007Leaderboard

Now these leaderboards make for some very interesting reading and without going into too much detail, here are the names who regularly perform in poor conditions:

Hunter Mahan (100/1), Phil Mickelson (25/1), Jimmy Walker (25/1), Matt Kuchar (40/1), Paul Casey (80/1), Ian Poulter (80/1), Jason Day (16/1), Luke Donald (125/1), Padraig Harrington (150/1), Patrick Reed (33/1).

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.

TwitterYou 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!

Here’s our troops:

Jason Day (16/1 Ladbrokes)

World Number 5

“Everyone knows that you just don’t get anywhere in life without working hard and putting in the dedication to the profession that you love. I feel like I should be winning more. But it’s a process and I’m just really happy with how things have started this year. Everything’s trending in the right direction for the majors.”

We went with Jason Day last year and it didn’t go too well. He simply didn’t get going till too late in the week. Fast forward one year and our feelings about the Australian have not differed, only grown much stronger.

JD

JD

Yes, he added the WGC Match Play last year, but he didn’t play a great deal in strokeplay events. This year he has finally added another PGA title, claiming the Farmers Insurance Open a couple of months back.

He has added a few more competitions to his schedule and we just have that feeling about him once again. No denying that 14s is incredibly short and we admittedly did question whether it was too low. However, so many boxes are ticked with Day and we would just feel horrendous if he was up there and we hadn’t backed him.

As you can see in our 2nd preview, he fits all the stats barring driving accuracy, which proves how set up he is for this course. He hits it a long way, has the ability to draw the ball and can be devastating with his irons. Some cracking outings at Augusta in recent years and (he ended only 7 shots behind last year after that poor start…) a new lease of injury-free life, means Day has every chance to don that green jacket come Sunday.

2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009
T20 3rd WD T2
Arnold Palmer Invitational WGC Cadillac AT&T Pebble Beach Farmers Insurance Open Sony Open Hyundai Tourn. Of Champs
T17 T31 T4 1st T17 T3

Patrick Reed (40/1 Stan James)

World Number 15

“I’m very comfortable out here.  I like playing a little draw, so it sets up really well for the golf course as well as I’ve worked really hard on being able to hit a controlled cut, as well.  So in case you need that, because you do need that on a couple holes out here.”

Talented. Controversial. Confident.

Probably the three words you would use to describe the nature of Patrick Reed. He is one of these young guns who has catapulted himself into the limelight recently. Many of the youngsters have become favourites for majors and Reed is definitely one of them.

Top 5 player in the world - he actually is looking like one

Top 5 player in the world – he actually is looking like one

His form this season has been ridiculously impressive. A win that kick-started 2015 at the Hyundai, whilst 5 top 10’s and no missed cuts is pretty damn good.

He may have only played The Masters once, missing the cut in the process, but when you look a bit deeper at his background, you can’t help but think he has a big chance. He went into the turn leading during the first round, even beginning Amen Corner at the top, however 3 bogeys on the trot really set him back and he, admitting it afterwards, never recovered.

Then, you realise he was a graduate of Augusta State University. He has played here several times as an amateur and has some experience. We then think that these past 12-15 months have been such a meteoric rise, his standing in the game is completely different, even to the moment he teed it up at Augusta last year.

He has the perfect all-round game and on his day can be so consistent tee-to-green. His scrambling is up there with the best we’ve seen this year, he simply finds a miraculous way to get the ball back in play and close to the pin. He only missed out in 2 trends as well, so he does tick most boxes. Another risk at 33s, but you can see the reasons behind this bet!

It’s also good to note he excels in poorer conditions but did suffer a slight knee injury throughout the Shell Houston last week.

2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009
MC
Shell Houston Open Valspar Champs WGC Cadillac Honda Classic AT&T Pebble Beach Waste Management
T2 T23 T7 T29 T40

Matt Kuchar (40/1 BetFred)

World Number 16

Kuuuch is a late addition to the line-up having been considered throughout the build-up but failing to 100% convince us. But then we heard about the weather. Matt Kuchar donning a beanie is like Lewis Hamilton donning a crash helmet, you know they’re going to produce something.

Hear his thoughts on the week (Courtesy of Golf Channel):

Matt Kuchar in the bag Augusta interview

He grinds.

He grinds.

His first ‘big’ win came at the 2013 WGC Championship in some really tough conditions. Quite simply, he’s one of the best grinders in the game. He has a taste for the tougher tracks too when you look at his career wins – Honda Classic, Players, Barclays, Memorial and RBC Heritage.

His recent form over the past couple of months has been questionable but all preparation will have been for this week and his T15 in Texas showed all of his game was firing. And just look at his last 3 years around Augusta…

2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009
T5 T8 T3 T27 T24
Shell Houston Open Valero Texas Open Valspar Champs WGC Cadillac Waste Management Humana Classic
70th T15 T33 T23 T30 T2

Paul Casey (70/1 BetFred)  

World Number 48

You know, I feel like I’ve got the shots to get around Augusta. I’ve clearly played some very good rounds of golf around there. I love the golf course. I think it sets up beautifully for my game. I think I’ve got a way of getting around it. I’ve put myself in a good position probably a couple of times back in 2004. You know, for me, I didn’t have enough experience. It was great playing with Langer in the final round in the penultimate group. I just didn’t have it to sort of get up there and challenge Phil and Ernie coming down the stretch.

Paul.

Paul.

Playing really well again this week, used to America again and cracking tee to green game. Has 3 finishes inside the top 11 here as well, when he was in his heyday. Fit quite a few stats as well. He led in 2007 FIVE holes into the final round…. He called a penalty shot on himself at the 6th after the ball moved slightly when he went to putt it – cleeeeeearly affected him.

When you also factor in Paul’s ability in tough conditions, especially off the tee, we REALLY like the Englishman.

2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009
MC T38 MC T20
Shell Houston Open Arnold Palmer Invitational WGC Cadillac Honda Classic Northern Trust Open Farmers Insurance
MC T38 T3 T2 MC

Louis Oosthuizen (50/1 Paddy Power)

World Number 34

He’s an incredible talent and has that unflappable temperament that you need to win big tournaments. I believe he will win more majors in his career. Ernie Els, 2012

The South African has unfinished business with Augusta. Just take a look at the image below to see what Bubba had to do to beat him in 2012…

Courtesy of The Masters

Courtesy of The Masters

Louis’ swing is up there with the best in the game and it’s that consistency that means he’s never far away from the top of the leaderboard in any event he plays. Question marks have surrounded his health throughout this year but when he has played, look at his results! But his T9 at the Arnold Palmer and 2 more competitive rounds in Houston means fitness-wise he’s back in good shape.

At the Arnold Palmer he ranked T10 GIR, T15 putting and was as good as ever off the tee – top 30 in both driving distance and accuracy stats.

Despite not featuring in our ‘poor weather players’ section, we know he has a game that can adapt to any conditions. Come rain or shine, the South African has a great chance this week.

2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009
25th MC 2nd MC MC MC
Shell Houston Open Arnold Palmer Invitational Valspar Champs WGC Cadillac Alfred Dunhill Champs Nedbank Golf Challenge
MC T9 MC 6th 2nd T7

A couple more names for you to ponder over:

Lee Westwood (50/1 Stan James)

World Number 30

“But you must understand it means more to me than anyone else; nobody wants it as much as I do. And the fact I’ve come near so often only reinforces to me that it’s within my grasp if I do the right things at the right time.”

The Englishman has featured heavily in all of our research and previews and has forced his way into our staking plan. His recent form combined with his love for Augusta is too good not to have a dabble on. We know he will be as good as anyone tee to green it’s just whether the hard hours he’s put into the short game will pay off. If the weather gets poor, which it’s likely to, Lee will use that good old English grit to fight his way into contention.

2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009
7th T8 T3 T11 2nd 43rd
Valspar Champs WGC Cadillac Honda Classic Maybank Malaysian Open Omega Dubai Desert Thailand Golf Champs
T17 T12 T25 T5 T9 1st

Hideki Matsuyama (70/1 BetVictor)

World Number 16

 I think you’ve just seen the start, of what’s going to be truly one of your world’s great players over the next 10 or 15 years – Jack Nicklaus on Matsuyama after his win at The Memorial in 2014

Hideki was our first bet for this event over 6 months ago and our feelings are perhaps not as strong given his lack of appearances of late – even so, he knows his body and the schedule he picked will have been with the intention of being in the best possible shape for this event. In just these first couple of years in America, he’s proven what a player he is and will be up there with the Spieth’s and McIlroy’s in years to come, that we are sure of. Statistically speaking, he’s one of the best players in 2015. To be precise, he ranks 3rd in all-round ranking behind Jason Day (1) and Webb Simpson (2).

2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009
MC T54 T27 (la)
Arnold Palmer Invitational WGC Cadillac Northern Trust Open Farmers Insurance Open Waste Management Sony Open
T21 T23 T4 MC T2 T78

You can follow us throughout the week on Twitter @downthe18th for all things Masters!

Golf Monthly £10 ChallengeGM_masthead-630x176

Every week we’re running a weekly betting competition on both Tours with esteemed magazine Golf Monthly.  It is a bit of fun between us and them to see who has the better tipsters!  We have £10 to put on each tournament and will write up a weekly post for their site detailing the horrors we are sure to endure throughout the year – so keep an eye out.

It will also (for the first time from us at DownThe18th) show some sort of staking plan we have for out bets.  Obviously, this isn’t the exact stakes we will put on our players, some weeks we won’t even enter a couple of our picks, but at least it can be shown roughly where our thoughts are money wise.

Our £10 against Golf Monthly will be as follows  –

Picks and staking plan to follow…

Shell Houston Open 2015

Shell

Prize Fund – $6,600,000

Winner’s Share – $1,188,000

Course – Golf Club of Houston (7,441 par 72)

Our 2014 Picks – Keegan Bradley – T43, Graham DeLaet – T19, Charley Hoffman – T37, Chris Stroud – T12, Matt Jones – WON, Aaron Baddeley – MC

Just one week to go before the first major of the year and many peoples attention will be towards Augusta. We have produced 2 previews detailing all sorts of information including trends, stats and history surrounding The Masters, so do check them out!

However, it would be foolish not to have a look at what will be happening in Texas for the Shell Houston Open. A pretty cracking field is assembling for one last push to get themselves ready for next week. Jordan Spieth, Henrik Stenson, Jimmy Walker, Patrick Reed, Matt Kuchar, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Sergio Garcia, Louis Oosthuizen, Phil Mickelson, Bill Haas, Martin Kaymer, Keegan Bradley and Charl Schwartzel are all teeing it up and by simply listing those names, it shows this has turned out to be one of the best fields of the season so far.

It’s completely understandable why so many are using this as preparation because the similarities between the Golf Club of Houston (formerly Redstone Country Club) and Augusta are there for all to see.

Have a guess who sponsors this event - we'll give you 3 go's.

Have a guess who sponsors this event – we’ll give you 3 guesses.

Playing at 7,441 yards, the par 72 has ridiculously quick greens, with sloping run offs and large collection areas that will require some nifty scrambling, whilst the fairways are long and incredibly tight (although not half as tight as Augusta) – sound familiar?

There doesn’t seem to be as much of requisite for big hitters here compared to Augusta, shifting more importance on putting. One of our winners last year, Matt Jones, came top in putting stats, whilst 8 of the top 12 finished inside the top 20 in the same category.

He was also 2nd in GIR and 2nd placed Kuchar finished 1st for that category, so you can see the trend of what’s needed here.

The par 5’s are ranked amongst some of the most difficult on Tour, therefore we’ve put greater emphasis on total driving and par 5 scoring stats, whilst the main stats to look out will be putting, GIR and scrambling.

Be warned though, rarely will you have players considered ‘major contenders’ challenging properly the week before, unless they find themselves in the hunt going into the weekend. It’s more of a fine-tuning process, so do be careful on that front.

Although on the other hand, we’ve rarely seen a field of such magnitude the week before either….

Jason Kokrak (40/1 Various)

He knows how to drive a ball - courtesy of golfwrx

He knows how to drive a ball – courtesy of golfwrx

In a field where there is actually a bit of value flying around, we’ve decided to ignore it and go with this fella at 40’s. Despite his unappealing price (considering Rose is 40’s, Kaymer 66’s etc) we can’t get away from the fact he is a perfect fit for Houston. Not only does he bomb it but he finds plenty of fairways too.
So then you look at his recent form – 7th Valspar, 6th Arnold Palmer, 11th last week (where he ranked 13th GIR). The guy is playing some of the best stuff in the field and he’ll take even more confidence from his performance here in 2013 where he finished 9th. And don’t be fooled by Jason’s exterior either, he possesses a deft touch around the greens – ranks 30th scrambling and 49th strokes gained-putting.

Shawn Stefani (50/1 Paddy Power)

Shawn Stefani showing his prowess off the tee Scott Halleran/Getty Images North America

Shawn Stefani showing his prowess off the tee
Scott Halleran/Getty Images North America

This man really is a quality driver of the ball. T18 total driving and T13 ball striking tells its own story really. Again, question marks could be raised about his price but when you consider so many of the names above him in the market will be loosening up for the Masters, it’s the perfect opportunity for someone like Shawn.
His 5th here last year gives us confidence but what really gets us going was his effort with the short stick in Texas last week, ranking 6th in putting. If there’s one thing we can argue at Shawn it’s his short game. So if we can suddenly marry up that putting with his ever-consistent ball striking, we could be on to something here.

Jason Bohn (200/1 Various)

Quality outsider

Quality outsider

Now, with Augusta literally around the corner we, like you, are looking to save a few pennies and go big next week. That said, we’ve done our best this week to find top players and ridiculously high odds – up step Mr Bohn.
The American quite simply is a stat man’s dream – 60th ball striking, T6 hole proximity, 36th scrambling, T58th 1-putts. For this course for someone at these odds, you’re not getting better. Then you look at his course form – 19th 2004, 6th 2009 and 11th 2010. Again, on a course as tough as this that’s pretty impressive. And then to complete the package Bohn actually comes in with a bit of recent form with his 17th at the Valspar 3 weeks ago.

Jonas Blixt (200/1 Various)

Can he produce one of the weeks we know he can

Can he produce one of the weeks we know he can

Value pick number 2. The Swede, as we’re sure you are aware, played out of his skin at last year’s Masters. That performance showed us not just the quality he has but also his liking for tough tracks. We cannot forget that this man has 2 PGA Tour titles.
So you have to wonder why he’s at this price. Quite simply, his form has been poor of late. Having started off the season like a relative train, T13 CIMB and T14 HSBC, lately things haven’t been as fruitful. But his runner-up at the Masters last year came in similar fashion off the back of 2 missed cuts. If he can get things going tee to green then 200/1 could look very healthy come the weekend.

Stewart Cink (300/1 Paddy Power)

6-time PGA champ 300/1 shot - courtesy of golfweek

6-time PGA champ 300/1 shot – courtesy of golfweek

His bald nut shining in the sun is a joy to behold when he gets things going on the course. Like Blixt, the American hasn’t enjoyed an amazing 2015 but we all know he has a big finish in his locker when the time is right.
He’s only played here 3 times and finished an impressive 6th in 2013 ending 3 shots off the pace – a better final round and the title could have been his. Despite his near miss, it shows he has what it takes around this track. T63 ball striking and T12 hole proximity is all we can muster up stats-wise but now aged 41, big finishes are becoming few and far between. You need to pick your week wisely with Cink and if his 6 PGA titles tell us something it’s that if he is up there on Sunday afternoon he’s certainly not going to shy away.

Golf Monthly £10 ChallengeGM_masthead-630x176

Every week we’re running a weekly betting competition on both Tours with esteemed magazine Golf Monthly.  It is a bit of fun between us and them to see who has the better tipsters!  We have £10 to put on each tournament and will write up a weekly post for their site detailing the horrors we are sure to endure throughout the year – so keep an eye out.

It will also (for the first time from us at DownThe18th) show some sort of staking plan we have for out bets.  Obviously, this isn’t the exact stakes we will put on our players, some weeks we won’t even enter a couple of our picks, but at least it can be shown roughly where our thoughts are money wise.

Our £10 against Golf Monthly will be as follows  –

£1.75 e/w on Jason Kokrak at 40/1

£1.50 e/w on Shawn Stefani at 50/1

£1.00 e/w on Jason Bohn at 150/1

£0.45 e/w on Jonas Blixt at 200/1

£0.30 e/w on Stewart Cink at 300/1

Each way bets ¼ odds for top 6 finish. Prices sourced from Paddy Power

Find the Golf Monthly Preview here (http://www.golf-monthly.co.uk/news/tour-news)

Current Standings after 11 weeks (and it makes for horrible reading…)

DownThe18th                                 Golf Monthly

European Tour: £-26.60               European Tour:  £-46

PGA Tour: £-47.28                           PGA Tour: £76.25

Total: £-73.88                                   Total: £30.25

Golf Monthly leads by: £104.13