PGA Tour Week 9

Honda Classic

By Lewis Pacelli

After our big win last week where we won a 76/1 accumulator, a lucky 15 and had Matt Kuchar, Hunter Mahan and Sir Ian Poulter fighting it out on the last day, we bring our winnings to the Honda Classic starting on Thursday.

The 3 famous holes will try and trap every player that enters

The 3 famous holes will try and trap every player that enters

The Florida Swing begins with the tournament sandwiched in-between two WGC events, played at the National Champion Course, Palm Beach Gardens.  Redesigned by Jack ‘The Golden Bear’ Nicklaus in 1990, it is well known for its treacherous 15th, 16th and 17th holes, otherwise appropriately called “The Bear Trap”. The course was ranked as the second hardest non-major course on tour last year, with the field average at a staggering above par +1.  It will be playing at 7,110 yards Par 70 with Bermuda greens and 26 water hazards around the course.  On the Nicklaus website one sentence not only makes us laugh, but shows us how sure the great man is that this will yet again prove a tough test.

“This type of fairway has the tendency to make you feel uncomfortable”

The fairways are open and tight; proving how important accuracy from tee to green will be, whilst wind will most certainly play a key part in the outcome of the tournament.  All in all, we feel a solid all-round game and an ability to grind out birdies and pars will be vital.  We do not know about tee-times as of yet, which could be crucial on the first two days, as early starters may gain an advantage.

It is worth noting that Rory McIlroy has drifted out to a staggering 12/1 after winning here last year, however we still feel his game will not be right yet.  The inconsistency he showed again last week was worrying, but he is too good a player to be in this form for much longer, so we’ve decided to take one more look before taking a punt on the world number 1.  If he stays at those prices he could be intriguing.

PaddyPower is paying out for 6 places this week, so sign up and you could also get up £250 free bet, matching whatever you deposit!

Fredrik Jacobson (28/1 PaddyPower)

The big Swede has slowly warmed to us over the past month or so, showing how incredible his touch is on the green.  He always seems so calm and cool, making everything look easy.  Any player we watch who doesn’t make us have heart attacks (that’s you Mr. Westwood and Bubba!) is a player we are going to like.  And Jacobson fits the bill.

Jacobson dancing his way around the greens

Jacobson dancing his way around the greens

Last week at the matchplay he defeated Ernie Els and Marcus Fraser before losing to a fired-up Robert Garrigus, which is certainly no disgrace.  And in the two tournaments previous, he could not be found outside the top 10.  At the Northern Trust Open he finished a credible T3, but many say he should of made the playoff after a missed putt on the 18th.

As for stats, his driving doesn’t fill us with confidence, however he lies 24th in hit green % and 78th in GIR.  Yes, this is not great once more, but when he does get it on the green, he will be very close as he is 4th in proximity to the hole.

13th for scrambling will help his cause around the difficult course, but it is on the green where he could really prove his worth.  34th in one-putt % and 2nd for strokes gained putting shows his abilities with glove off and putter in hand.

Interestingly, he now resides in Florida – always useful when playing tournaments in the state.His form here since 2007 backs this up with a 5th in 2009 and 6th in 2010 followed by 29th and 16th last year.If Jacobsen throws everything he cane to get on the green, he really could be in with a major shout and we recently saw he is coming for some money across the bookies, so get on him quick!

Charl Schwartzel (12/1 PaddyPower)

It was incredibly close between the South African and Justin Rose for our second pick, as both look very appealing and suited to the course.  We could not go for both at such low prices (which nearly detracted us from them) but a few things pointed to Schwartzel.

He was very disappointing last week, losing to rookie Russell Henley in the very first round, however he has still had a phenomenal few months.  T3 at the Northern Trust Open, 2nd in Johannesburg and a win in December at the Alfred Dunhill.  Put simply, he loves it.  From tee to green there is very few better in the world at present – hence the price – and his striking is borderline perfection.  A temperament and game very suited to this test, we will be shocked if he doesn’t place, if not win the whole thing.  In European stats he lies 2nd in driving distance, 25th in accuracy, 2nd in GIR, 6th in scrambling and 3rd in putts per GIR.  The man literally has the incredible all round game needed to win this week.  We are ignoring the setback last week, mainly because it could turn out to be a blessing, having had a long rest from the torment and stress of matchplay.  In his only two outings here, he finished 14th in 2011 and 5th last year.  Going in the right direction surely?!

We do recommend at these odds to go all out and lump on the win, however we are confident enough to say he is worth a big stake if you prefer e/w terms.

Martin Kaymer (33/1 PaddyPower)

The former world number 1 has showed signs since that putt at Medinah, of why he reached the top, after months of horrific form.  He is clearly a talented player and we were impressed with what we saw last week.  Some of his approach play and touch around the green was exquisite once more, which made us instantly think this week could be key to Kaymer’s season.  Losing to Hunter on the Saturday, all be it quite convincingly, was not something to be ashamed of, as the American simply bombarded the course and continued an amazing unbeaten run in the format.   Let’s be honest though, he has the bottle, (you watch him squander a 7 shot lead on Sunday) he has the temperament and he certainly has the talent.

Kaymer loving the sand

Kaymer loving the sand

Even with a missed cut in Phoenix, on the European Tour he has been very solid so far this year with a T9 at the Qatar Masters and T6 in Abu Dhabi.  Just like last week, his iron play was a joy to watch in Asia.  If he gets everything going in Florida, as he has done and can, then certainly has a chance.

55th in driving distance, 18th GIR, 3rd in scrambling and 17th in Sand saves, proves what a player he is and how his game could easily adapt to ‘The Bear Trap’ et al. Whilst, with a liking for the Bermuda greens, he will be happy to get his putter in full flow.

Graeme McDowell (28/1 PaddyPower)

Well, well, well. Graeme McDowell.  At the back end of last year and at the Northern Trust Open, his form was pretty poor.  He looked jaded, even after a long break and missing the cut on his first 2013 outing stateside is not good enough for a player of his calibre.  However, last week the typical showing of grit, determination and character propelled him to the Quarterfinals before a bizarre performance against Jason Day saw him lose on the 18th.  Watching him with a short iron and recovering around the green is a delight and even though it may not be sexy, it is certainly effective.

We strongly feel that the Northern Irishman has a game that can adapt to most situations and if the expected winds ruin some players, it will not harm McDowell at all.  Last year on the European Tour, he finished 47th in scrambling, 21st in GIR and 23rd in driving accuracy; whilst on the PGA Tour, he was 6th in accuracy off the tee and 5th for proximity to the hole.  He has the tools to compete here, as proven by the recent form showed here.  9th last year and 6th in 2011 is more than impressive and an even bigger pointer towards potential success this week.

At the end of the day McDowell is a very dependable golfer and someone who you can rely on in the nerve-racking situations, whilst living in Florida will mean he is going to be used to the conditions and course.  Bring it on G-Mac.

Ted Potter Jnr (PaddyPower 100/1)

Prior to choosing our selections, we look through the odds and if any player seems very tasty with high prices, we thoroughly research reasons why the bookies could have missed a trick.  Ted Potter screamed out at a 100/1, falling into the ‘outsider bet’ category.  The American has been in consistent form this season, with 5 starts and 4 finishes inside the top 26.  Barring a blip at the Sony Open in Hawaii where he missed the cut, his gradual increase up the leaderboard is evident – T26, MC, T24, T16 ending in a T10 finish at the Northern Trust Open two weeks ago.  We are no mathematicians, but to us that means on Sunday evening he should be well inside the top 10. No?

His stats this year back up an increase in form, showing how deadly he really is with accuracy – a vital tool for this tournament.  12th in fairways hit, 13th in driving accuracy and 17th in GIR from off the fairway make for good reading.  As we have said before, scrambling around the difficult course could be a major attribute and he currently lies in 19th on tour.  Added to all this, the icing on top of the cake, is his ability with a putter – 6th on the board.  He just seems to good not to touch at those prices, whilst to add the cherry on top of the icing, he is Florida boy born and raised…We dare you.

Ted Potter could upset the odds here

Ted Potter could upset the odds here

DownThe18th Double

This weeks double comes in the form of Jacobsen and Van Zyl at a tasty 377/1! Get on it!


European Tour Week 9

Tshwane Open 2013

This week sees the European Tour once again team up with South Africa’s Sunshine Tour in the 6th and final event in the country for this season.  We have to start off by saying the Tshwane Open will probably be one of the toughest to call this year purely because it is a new event, so we have no previous tournaments or course form to go off.  But what we will say is 4 out of the last 5 tournaments played in South Africa have been won by a native.  So you can see why we have chosen the people we have.

The course itself, The Els Club Copperleaf, is rather long at 7,315 metres meaning there will be a few big hitters towards the top end of the leaderboard.  The fairways are quite wide too, which again will favour the big hitters.   But there is likelihood of wind, rain and even thunderstorms here and there this week meaning it will not be a stroll in the park.  Various tough bunkers surround most of the greens so a deft touch now and then will be needed as well as length off the tee.

Jaco Van Zyl (12/1 Paddy Power)

Hopefully he can make it 2 wins in a week!

Hopefully he can make it 2 wins in a week!

It is very, very rare that we at DownThe18th back the outright favourite but we’re finding it hard not to this week.  Van Zyl has been on our radar for some time and we think the time is right to get on him.  In his last 3 tournaments in South Africa on the European Tour he has finished T8, T11 and most recently T2 at the Africa Open.  So it is time you would say for him to record his first win.  One main reason Van Zyl finds himself favourite this week is because he won the Dimension Data Pro-am at the weekend beating players such as Fichardt, Fisher Jnr, Otto and Mulroy who find themselves in the field this week.  So he certainly has the taste for victory at the moment.  After the tournament Jaco himself said how he felt the time was right for him to bag his 1st European Tour win.  Statistically, the South African finds himself 16th in putts per round, 29th in putts per GIR, 32nd in sand saves, 37th in driving accuracy and averages 287 yards off the tee on the European Tour.  Because he finds himself at 12/1 we would strongly advise just betting to win this week.

Trevor Fisher Jnr (28/1 Paddy Power)

Again this guy keeps popping up on our radar every time the tour moves to South Africa.  We backed him 2 weeks ago at the African Open and he disappointed somewhat finishing down in T27.  He has always said though that the Africa Open is not one of his strongest with him missing the cut the year before.  But before that his form was very respectable, finishing T13, T31, T21 and then T6 at the Joburg Open.  It was at the Joburg where Fisher Jnr came properly to our attention.  In his first 3 rounds he hit 25 birdies and 2 eagles and but for a poor last round, the tournament would have been his.  As with any course putting is essential and Trevor is playing well on the greens, 10th in putts per GIR and 34th in putts per round shows this.  He is also 12th in birdies per round, 10th in eagles per round and also 17th in par5 scoring meaning he will know how to take advantage of these longer holes on this course.  The South African also finished 3rd at the weekend at the Dimension Data Pro-Am, 3 shots off the in-form Van Zyl so he is hitting the ball nicely.

Mark Tullo (50/1 Paddy Power)

The man from Chile hoping to upset the South African applecart

The man from Chile hoping to buck the South African trend

Now we did say it is likely to be a man from South Africa who wins here this week but if there is anyone from abroad who wins this thing we think this man could be in with a squeak.  He doesn’t fly off the page at you but recent form impresses us a lot for someone at 50/1.  Tullo finished T5 at the last European Tour event, The African Open, showing his current form is tasty.  At the weekend Tullo again finished just 5 shots off Van Zyl in T9, with Fisher Jnr and Fitchardt also above the Chilean.  So his last two turnouts in South Africa have been very respectable.   He has 2 Challenge Tour victories to his name, one was beating Matteo Manassero who finished 1 behind at the 2010 Rolex Trophy.  So he does know how to win.  Also statistically, Tullo has some impressive figures!  On the European Tour he finds himself 4th in driving distance (crucial for this long course and 2 of the people above him aren’t in the field), 19th in driving accuracy, 32nd in stroke average, 37th in putts per round and 26th in sand saves (because we all know Ernie Els loves a bunker).  Considering a lot of the big boys will be above him in those statistics, they are very impressive.  Worth an e/w punt for sure!

Jake Roos (125/1 Paddy Power)          

Now, we always enjoy backing an outsider here at DownThe18th and this week’s pick goes to 32 year old South African Jake Roos.  Now of course a lot of this is to do with gut instinct so tread carefully on this one.  But at the weekend Roos finished level with our last pick Mark Tullo in T9 which was only 1 shot off the likes of Fisher Jnr and Fitchardt who are very well fancied this week.  What impresses us more is that he finished off with a round off 66 at the Dimension Data Pro-Am and we are hoping he will take that sort of form into this week.   Roos also has 12 professional wins to his name, 5 times on the Sunshine Tour.  3 of his Sunshine Tour wins came in 2012 which clearly shows he is in some sort of form and definitely knows how to win.  Previous European Tour performances in South Africa go T46, T13 and most recently T32 at the Africa Open.  At 125/1 with that sort of track record, surely worth a punt?

In-form and with odds at 125/1.  Can he?

In-form and with odds at 125/1. Can he?

Tale Of Our Woes

WGC Accenture MatchPlay Championship

Sponsored by Colin Stuart Montgomerie, 0-time winner on the PGA Tour and major champion of woe

Matt Kuchar lifting the trophy after a strenuous week

Matt Kuchar lifting the trophy after a strenuous week

By Lewis Pacelli

By the time Sunday evening became Monday morning, the longest weekend of our year finally ended in another rousing triumph for DownThe18th.

Matt Kuchar ended Hunter Mahan’s unbelievable winning streak at the WGC Matchplay to pick up his first trophy of the season.  Watching two of our bets battle it out against each other in the final was a rewarding sight, especially as the 40/1 shot came out victorious!  Yet, to say that celebrations were muted seems bizarre, but because of the remarkable journey we went through since Wednesday, our voices had left us, our hearts could take no more and our blood pressure had only just simmered down.

Snow was the first winner of the week

Snow was the first winner of the week

On the first day, there was only one winner in the 64-man field – The weather.  Snow transformed the Arizonan desert into a white wonderland and play was postponed, forcing all the matches to squeeze together over the next few days. On Thursday, Shane Lowry dispatched number 1 seed Rory McIlroy, who looks a mere shadow of his former self, whilst Charles Howell III beat world number 2 Tiger Woods. In fact none of the top 4 seeds made it past the second round!

Our third pick, Charl Schwartzel lost to rookie Russel Henley in the first round, leaving us with 3 of the lucky 15 and singles left…

Every accumulator you lay, you have very little hope of it ever really coming in. Especially when there are over 4/5 bets.  Every Monday morning after the weekend’s sport, you hear a colleague or mate bragging about that “1 who let me down” or “I nearly won 4 figures”.  Let’s be honest, we have all done it but on Friday evening DownThe18th could proudly say that the 8-match accumulator at 76/1 came in.  But boy did we have to wait for it. Everyone was in the clubhouse apart from Jason Day and Bubba Watson, both of which let leads slip, taking their matches to playoffs.  Bubba missed 2 match-winning putts, yet sunk a 10-footer to stay in it against Jim “Mr.Consistency” Furyk. Once Day holed a 12 footer for the win, it was all up to Bubba and after letting a ridiculous advantage evaporate, he somehow found the courage to win on the 22nd hole.  We were screaming for joy and throwing Budweiser bottles in the air. (We don’t recommend doing that. They break…)

On Saturday we still had a chance for our Lucky 15 as three of our bets were in the hunt to win their brackets.  Sir Ian Poulter, Kuchar and Hunter all breezed past their opponents, before individually winning their brackets, causing yet more mayhem in our house.  Watching Hunter on the 18th was beyond horrendous, knowing how much money was on the line, as he stood over his putt for the match.  But this is what betting is about isn’t it? Any sport, any occasion, the thrill is when your bet is close to victory, yet could go either way.

One thing we really want to stress after this ridiculous weekend is how matchplay could really be the future for golf.  Purists will certainly disagree, however the sport needs to appeal to a younger generation, as they will be the ones watching and playing in the future.

What we learnt this week:

  • SkyBet offer a free £10 bet for any new customers. No deposit is required, so sign up and use it.  Certainly worked for us…
  • Next time you see your GP, ask for a subscription to blood-pressure pills, they would come in very handy
  • When one of your housemates keeps blabbering on about “He is gonna win this”, “He will hole this”, “No way is he losing this” or “He can’t fail from here” make sure there is wood in a reachable distance from you.  You will need to touch it.
  • Accumulators do occasionally come in
  • Betting on Bubba Watson is not good for the heart rate, but is certainly entertaining
  • Colin Montgomerie talks a lot of bollocks
  • Enjoy the moment when you win big bets, because likelihood is, won’t happen quite like it again, for a while
  • Don’t throw Budweiser bottles in the air


Amazing scenes for DownThe18th

Amazing scenes for DownThe18th as Hunter seals our Lucky15

By Lewis Pacelli

It was another day full of drama and tension as 3 of our main 4 picks were battling it out in the Quarterfinals.  But what a successful day it was! At the start of the week we put on the blog a lucky 15 involving them all to win their individual brackets.  The men involved were Charl Schwartzel, Hunter Mahan, Ian Poulter and Matt Kuchar.  Of course we lost Charl Schwartzel early on but the others battled on.  It was looking very lively once the latter two made it through with ease with Mahan and Simpson still out on the 14th green.  Watching Mahan finally seal it on the 18th against Webb Simpson did no good for our blood pressures, however it was all worth it once we saw that putt sink in the cup! It certainly made our betting account look a lot healthier!  It was also very pleasing to see a few people follow our selections on the blog this week and come out with quite a bit of money at the end of it.  Also with our 3 picks making up the final 4 of the it means DownThe18th has a guarenteed finalist at the Match Plays this week.

It turned out to be a very gutsy performance from Hunter Mahan, we were impressed with how he battled a formidable opponent and the American is now unbeaten in 10 matches in this format!  Our #1 selection Matt Kuchar outplayed Robert Garrigus to win 3&2, with neither really setting the course alight.  Garrigus was very wayward on the front 9, giving Kuchar too many chances to pull in front and once he did, it never looked like it would go any other way.  As for Ian Poulter, we are running out of superlatives for him at DownThe18th.   The Englishman shot numerous birdies and an eagle on his way to a comfortable victory over Steve Stricker.  He is rightly now installed as tournament favourite.  Quick mention to Jason Day, who dispatched Greame McDowell and now finds himself against the in-form Kuchar.

Of course today could go either way, but Poulter for us looks incredible and Mahan will have to play some quality stuff to even get close to him today.  In the other semi-final Matt Kuchar is favourite and you have to believe with the form he is in Jason Day will be someone he can overcome.

Semi Finals

Ian Poulter v Hunter Mahan

Matt Kuchar v Jason Day


Sir Ian.

Sir Ian.

Sadly the start of Day 4 did not bring another accumulator victory, which in many ways is a good thing for the sake of our blood pressures!   But we were desperately unlucky, just Bubba Watson letting us down on our 7-fold 46/1 accumulator.  But all matches were always going to be a tough call.

As for our 3 remaining selections this week, Day 4 could not have started better.  Ian Poulter, Matt Kuchar and Hunter Mahan all looked scintillating on their way to the 4th round.  Poulter has just been doing what he does best in match play this week and was once more convincing against South African Tim Clark winning 5 and 3.  Mahan overcame a massive test in Martin Kaymer 5 and 4 whilst Kuchar beat the big hitting Colsaerts 4 and 3.

Of course at the start of the week we did a lucky15 for all 4 of our main selections to win their brackets.  We now have 3 of them in the bracket finals meaning we already have guaranteed profit from that!  If any of the 3 do win their bracket finals, it also means an e/w place in our overall bets.

As for round 4, it brings about another bunch of tasty matches.   You have to fancy Sir Ian Poulter again with the way he is looking this week.  But his opponent and veteran Steve Stricker holed a gorgeous 31footer on the 18th to dispatch Scott Piercy.  Whether Stricker can keep going through 36 holes at the tender age of 46 remains to be seen.  But he is the birthday boy.    G-Mac against Jason Day could of course go either way, but you have to back the Irishman who always produces his best stuff when it matters. And as we write this, Robert Garrigus has shanked his tee shot way into the desert somewhere putting our #1 selection Matt Kuchar in the driving seat from the 1st.  Our third and final selection Hunter Mahan comes up against US Open champ Webb Simpson so of course it will be one hell of a match, but being the current holder you have to back Hunter in that one!

DownThe18th Day 4 Bets Part 2

Day 4 Match Accumulator

All to win: Poulter, Kuchar, Mahan and McDowell


Bubba and his unorthodox swing

Bubba and his unorthodox swing

By Lewis Pacelli

Day 3 in Arizona was one we will never forget, as we achieved our first big money win with the 8-fold accumulator at 76/1.  Bubba Watson and Jason Day made us wait for it however, after both their matches went down to playoffs after both players missed chances to win during the 18.  Bubba looked horrendous inside 10 feet, missing two putts to defeat Jim Furyk, whilst rookie Russell Henley produced an outstanding bunker shot on the 17th to be able to take the match “down the 18th ” before holing a 12 footer and squaring the match.  Our hearts were completely out of control and Budweiser bottle caps were strewn across the floor, watching the last two of our bets too and fro between winning losing.

Once Bubba holed his putt on the 22nd hole of their match, we screamed like you would at a football match, jumping like you would at a rave.  To us, matchplay can excite more than strokeplay and should be a bigger part of the tour.  It brings in a younger audience, because of its drama and even though purists may disagree, golf is changing.  The crowds were once again losing their heads yesterday, the atmosphere that can only be seen at this sort of event.

As for the other matches, Poulter looked in control once more, easing past Bo Van Pelt, whilst Mahan and Kuchar both shook off the challenges of Sterne and Garcia respectively.  Nicolas Colsaerts looks ominous, with his long hitting defeating Justin Rose and Irishman Shane Lowry absolutely battered Carl Petterson, adding to his scalp of McIlroy on Thursday.

As for proceedings today, the 3rd round matches are very interesting.  Kaymer Vs Mahan brings real intrigue, whilst the winner of Colsaerts and Kuchar could go all the way.  We do have a cheeky 7-fold accumulator, which we hope can bring as much as excitement as yesterday!

DownThe18th’s Day 4 Bets

Day 4 Match Accumulator

All to win:  Poulter – Watson – Stricker – Garrigus – McDowell – Mahan – Simpson  (Paddy Power 46/1)

We will also be posting up as soon as the 3rd round is complete for the Quarter-final matches.


Snow was the big winner on day 1

Snow was the big winner on day 1

What an interesting first couple of days it has been at the WGC’s this week.   Perhaps Phil Mickelson was right to take a week off with the family after all.  Day 1 saw some great golf being played, with a few people looking hot on the front 9.  Kuchar, Day, Van Pelt and Colsaerts impressed us in particular and will be ones to look out for in the 2nd round.  But just as the Irish pairing of G-Mac and Harrington stepped out onto the 1st, the heavens opened.  It looked more like a scene from the Winter Olympics than it did a golf event.  The debate will go on as to whether the desert here in Arizona is the right place to hold this event as it was a similarly snowy story 2 years ago.  But with some great work from all the ground staff at the Gallery, proceedings were back under way midway through day 2.

Of course all eyes were on the Nike duo and top seeds Mcilroy and Woods.  And they were right to be.  Neither looked convincing and for the most part it was their opponents, Lowry and Howell III respectively, that looked the top seeds.  Lowry  chipping in twice on the back 9 certainly helped!  But we always knew it would be risky touching the two big boys this week and we were proved right.  Number 66 seed Shane Lowry eventually beat Mcilroy 1 up whilst Charles Howell III beat Woods convincingly in the end 2 and 1.  It wasn’t exactly the day the home crowd were expecting either with D.Johnson, Dufner, Bradley, and Haas all crashing out.  It certainly opens up the brackets for a few of the more unfamiliar names now in round 2.

As for DownThe18’s picks this week, it was a solid start, 3 out of our 4 picks made it through to round 2.  Charl Schwartzel, man of the moment right now in world golf, got severely upset by the WGC rookie Russell Henley and was our only man to let us down.  With the South African being the big hitter he is, it was painful seeing him record quite a few bogeys out there.  Sadly him and Keegan Bradley let us down on the 10 player 47/1 accumulator!  American Matt Kuchar looked very solid against Japanese player Fujita whilst Ian Poulter looked imperious as ever cruising to victory over Dubai Desert Classic winner Stephen Gallagher.  As for our last pick Hunter Mahan, he will be delighted to see Tiger Woods go out as it leaves the Gary Player Bracket wide open following his win over young Italian Matteo Manassero.

DownThe18th’s Day 2 Bets

Day 2 Match Accumulator

All to win:  Poulter – Watson – Day – Garrigus – Colsaerts – Kuchar – Mahan – Kaymer  (Paddy Power 76/1)