US Open 2013 Preview 2

OUR FINAL PREVIEW IS NOW AVAILABLE HERE:

NEW – DownThe18th US Open 2013 Final Preview

Published 29/05/2013US Open 2013

Tournament: US Open 2013

Location: Ardmore, Pennsylvania

Course: Merion Golf Club (East Course)

Distance: 6,996 yards

Current Champion: Webb Simpson

Dates: June 13 – 16

After we published our 1st preview for the US Open a couple of weeks ago, we feel the time is right to release our inital picks. These are guys that if you do fancy an antepost bet you should be seriously looking at.  As there are still a couple of tournaments between now and Merion these golfers are subject to change. So be sure to come back here the weekend before the US Open to see our final selections for the week. Our extensive Merion course guide and statistics breakdown for all the fancied players is on our Preview 1 which can be found on the link below.

DownThe18th US Open Preview 1

We have also produced a very detailed breakdown of all tournaments  held on courses under 7,100 yards as well as the the last 7 majors held on shorter tracks. This has made for very interesting reading and quite a few players do stand out! We will be releasing these statistics and players over the next few days, so watch this space! – available below

DownThe18th US Open Preview 3

Steve Stricker (50/1 Various)

Stricker - the go-to man for putting right now

Stricker – the go-to man for putting right now

Steve is definitely one to look out for at this year’s US Open. It has been well documented his schedule this year is very thin and it is because of his focus on the big tournaments, as well as spending a bit more time with the Stricker family. But we have highlighted how your short game has to be in top shape round Merion and there is not a man in golf right now that you would want over the ball from 100 yards or less than Steve. With age becoming more of a factor for the American and length off the tee perhaps not what it was, he will be doubly focused on gaining his shots around the green. It is also key to mention that his putting is widely regarded as the best in the game with various PGA golfers taking advice from the man himself, including a certain Tiger Woods! Taking into account his statistics and short-course performances, Stricker has a real, real chance.

Last 6 tournaments with course under 7,100 yards

The Open 2012 US Open Sony Open 2012 The Barclays 2011 Sony Open 2011 Sony Open 2010
T23 T15 T38 T24 T9 3rd

Crucial statistics needed for Merion

Stricker US Open stats

Phil Mickelson (28/1 Various)

Will want to bag major number 5 at Merion

Phil will want to bag major number 5 at Merion

Phil needs no introduction, we all know what the man is capable of. Now comfortably in his 40’s, there has been no relenting in his game with his dominant victory at this year’s Waste Management Phoenix Open showing the American still has a lot to offer. His long game perhaps is not what it was but we can assure you, put an iron in his hands and expect him to get up and down. Phil has that touch and imagination around the greens to consistently get it inside 6 feet, which will be absolutely vital at Merion. And but for a wayward tee shot in the 3rd round of the Wells Fargo a few weeks back, Phil would have been celebrating victory number 2 of 2013. A tournament in which his short game really came to the fore. But with 3 Masters titles and one PGA, Phil will be itching to add to his major collection with victory at Merion.  And with Tiger being as dominant as he is, Phil’s odds will be very inviting in the run up to the event. You can see from his statistics the kind of form he is in!

Last 6 tournaments with course under 7,100 yards

Pebble Beach 2013 Humana Challenge 2013 The Open 2012 US Open 2012 Pebble Beach 2012 Humana Challenge 2012
T60 T37 MC T65 1st T49

Crucial statistics needed for Merion

Mickelson US Open stats

Brandt Snedeker (28/1 BetVictor)

Only a matter of time before Snedeker bags his 1st major

Only a matter of time before Snedeker bags his 1st major

Well here we are again, talking about one of our favourite golfers to win a major.  We were inconsolable when we decided against backing Sneds for the Masters (and then seeing him challenging against our own Adam Scott) but we felt he hadn’t fully recovered from a wrist injury and we knew that in just over 2 months, a tailor-made course would be awaiting his presence at the US Open.  With the short nature of Merion, there are few better than the American, whose game relies on his pinpoint accuracy and razor-sharp putting.  He has also recorded two top 10s at US Opens and his form is once again on the rise, after another top 10 at The Players.  If Sneds is going to win his first major soon, this will be the perfect one.

Last 6 tournaments with course under 7,100 yards

RBC Heritage 2013* Pebble Beach 2013 Humana Challenge 2013 RBC Canadian Open 2012 The Open 2012 Humana Challenge 2012
T59 1st T23 T34 T3 T8

Crucial statistics needed for Merion

Brandt Snedeker US Open stats

Graeme McDowell (33/1 Coral)

G Mac looks very dangerous for Merion

G Mac looks very dangerous for Merion

McDowell has had a very odd season, recording some impressive performances (T3 WGC Caddilac, 1st RBC Heritage and 1st Volvo World Matchplay) but also showing his inconsistency by missing several cuts. (The Masters, BMW PGA Championship and The Players) Yet when it comes to the US Open, an on fire McDowell could really challenge for the title.  His superb accuracy tee to green and scrambling is the thing of legend and if there was ever a course that will suit the former champion, it is Merion – grinding, difficult and a challenge = McDowell.  Plus, his performances on short courses in recent times is nothing short of outstanding.

Last 6 tournaments with course under 7,100 yards

RBC Heritage 2013* World Challenge 2012 The Open 2012 US Open 2012 The McGladrey Classic 2011 Andalucia Masters 2011
1st 1st T5 T2 MC 54

Crucial statistics needed for Merion

GMAC US Open stats

Matt Kuchar (40/1 WillHill)

Kuchar is another who surely has to win a major

Kuchar is another who surely has to win a major

Kuchar is one of the elite players in world golf who has yet to win a major.  He has won the Players and WGC Match play, but not yet found the formula in one of the big four.  He has recorded 3 top 10s in his last 5 major appearances and is ever edging closer to that elusive win. So, when it comes to the US Open and a short course like Merion, Kuchar will definitely be up there come the Sunday.  He has a technical game to compete on difficult courses and his approach play from the sort of distances that he will have are up there with the best in the game. In and around the greens there are few better and you would always trust Kooch with the short stick.  If he was going to win one this year, this is it

Last 6 tournaments with course under 7,100 yards

RBC Heritage 2013* Humana Challenge 2013 Sony Open 2013 The Open 2012 US Open 2012 RBC Heritage 2012
T35 T16 T5 T9 T27 T44

Crucial statistics needed for Merion

Matt Kuchar US Open stats

Tim Clark (100/1 WillHill)

Can a another belly putter win a major?

Can a another belly putter win a major?

There are not many outsiders in the ante post market this year, with most falling short of the triple figure mark.  However, one of our favourite South Africans is at a stunning price considering his technical attributes that could really suit Merion.  From tee to green Clark is unerringly accurate and precise, never afraid to attack pins, making up for his lack of distance.  Around the greens he has a great touch and is trustworthy with the putter.  He did finish T3 back in 2005 and his last two major appearances have both ended T11.  We can really see an upset happening here.

Last 6 tournaments with course under 7,100 yards

RBC Heritage 2013* Pebble Beach 2013 Humana Challenge 2013 Sony Open 2013 Nelson Mandela Champs 2012 RBC Canadian Open 2012
T24 T46 MC 2nd T4 T15

Crucial statistics needed for Merion

Tim Clark US Open stats

Zach Johnson (100/1 Various)

Zach has one of the best short games on tour

Zach has one of the best short games on tour

Zach has been slowly but surely improving this year and will definitely be peaking at just the right time for the US Open. We all know Zach is not the longest off the tee (Although he has been bombing it relatively this year) and has always relied on his inch perfect short game to get him by. 9 PGA Tour titles including a Masters victory would suggest he does it very well! Zach’s eyes will have lit up when he saw where the US Open was being held as he thrives off short tracks. Just like Mickelson and Stricker, his game from 100 yards or less is outrageous so he will enjoy pretty much all of the holes at Merion. He will be sleeping very closely with that pitching wedge. Perhaps the least inviting short-course form and statistics of our lot, but keep an eye on him over the next couple of weeks and watch his short game! An outright 3rd place last week shows how well he’s striking the ball right now.

Last 6 tournaments with course under 7,100 yards

RBC Heritage 2013* Humana Challenge 2013 Sony Open 2013 The Open 2012 Travellers Champs 2012 U.S Open 2012
T48 T23 MC T9 T64 T41

Crucial statistics needed for Merion

Zach Johnson US Open stats

*RBC Heritage – course is 7,101 yards

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The Memorial Tournament

The PGA Tour moves to ‘Jack’s Town’ in Ohio this week for the Memorial Tournament held at Muirfield Village.  Nicklaus had to design a course in his backyard and it is widely considered to be his baby.

The glorious Muirfield Course

The glorious Muirfield Course

It is an interesting layout – a par 72, measuring at 7,300 yards and as always with a Nicklaus track, the challenges will lie on the approach and in and around the greens.  The fairways are relatively wide, so the big hitters can loosen their arms slightly, but if completely brash and wayward off the tee, you will have absolutely no chance in finding even a greenside bunker.  But the scoring will need to be found on the 4 par 5s on offer, so anyone who gives themselves chances for eagle will have a chance come Sunday.  With the difficulties of finding the tight greens, scrambling will certainly play a part, up and downs to save par or find a birdie will go along way. There are water hazards on 13 holes, so as always, we feel top quality iron players will prosper.

The PGA Tour website had an interesting paragraph in their build-up that you might find very useful

“Muirfield Village ranked seventh-lowest in greens hit in 2012 at 58.05 percent. Adding to the challenge is that it checked in at fifth in scrambling (51.61%) and fifth in conversion percentage (85.52) inside 10 feet. Its scoring average of 73.677 was second-highest among par 72s in non-majors.”

As for the field, we will be able to see Tiger in action alongside McIlroy who will be looking to bounce back from a disappointing missed cut last week.  Tiger has won here 5 times and as we have seen this year already, he is playing out his skin on tracks he loves. So, we will be honest with you.  He could absolutely batter this tournament!  We have tried to find some real value in an otherwise tough field, so lets be hoping Tiger decides to leave his game at home with the new misses.

Matt Kuchar (22/1 BetVictor, w/o Woods 12/1)

Kuchar showing off his wonderful bald nut.

Kuchar showing off his wonderful bald nut.

“Koooch” is a player that can definitely be considered one of the ‘top’ boys in the game, made evident by his relatively low odds in a top class field.  His form this season has warranted this – no missed cuts, 5 top 10s, a win at the WGC Match play and a 2nd place at the Crowne Plaza Invitational last Sunday.  He only made 4 bogeys all week and probably should have won, but his game really looks slick at the moment.  He will be confident with his irons coming into this tournament, having been T9 for GIR last week, especially on a course that he has played well at before.  His last 4 outings have all returned top 10s, 2nd back in 2011 and 5th in 2009 being his highest.  However, most crucially he is 14th for scrambling on tour and you would trust Kuchar to get up and down and he may need to be doing that on this course.  He is also 27th in proximity to the hole and 5th in par 5 birdie or better leaders but it is his putting abilities that set him apart even more.  21st in putts per round, 20th in one-putt % and 55th in putting inside 10 ft.  Out of all the big names competing, we feel confident Kuchar will give us all good value and a run for our money.

Bo Van Pelt (70/1 SportingBet, w/o Woods 40/1)

We have backed Van Pelt a few times this season and he has never quite got up there to get a return, however this just feels like the right week to stick our necks out once more and plump for the American.  He is available at superb odds considering his talent and ability on a course he has consistently played very well at.  13th the last 2 years, before a 3rd in 2010 and a 3rd back in 2005.  His recent form has been up and down but a T6 a few weeks ago at the Wells Fargo Championship and a solid T31 at the Crowne Plaza will help his confidence.  Although his stats do not excite, Van Pelt is a naughty prospect on this course, his mid season form will have let him down in the rankings.  Still, 36th in proximity to the hole, 59th in par 5 birdie or better leaders and in 55th driving accuracy certainly help the cause!  An interesting prospect…

Matt Every (125/1 BetVictor, w/o Woods 90/1)

Matt Every and his futuristic putter.

Matt Every and his futuristic putter.

Matt Every has had a mixed season, missing the cut 7/17 times so far.  However, 4 stunning rounds in the 60s last week will give him unheralded confidence as he embarks upon the Nicklaus challenge – a course that he played for the first time last year and finished T6.  He wasn’t driving the ball particularly well in this tournament and neither is he this year, but he finished 10th for GIR in 2012 and he is currently 44th on tour this season.  He is also 18th in proximity to the hole and 39th in going for the green, so he will attack at most opportunities and if he swings like last week, he will be in the with a big outside chance.  There Every chance he could end Sunday looking back at his big name rivals.

Bubba Watson (66/1 various, w/o Woods 40/1)

If you were to tell us this time last year that Bubba would be 66/1 for a PGA event in 1 year’s time, we would have told you to eat some skittles, stay in a corner of the room and wait for the psychiatrist.  He is an incredible talent, who should be tailor-made for this course but his history here has actually not been hugely encouraging.  He is yet to make a top 10 but there is no reason he shouldn’t this week when you think he is 13th for driving distance, 37th for ball striking, 6th GIR and 4th in going for the green.  And even though he has not been impressive recently, he has hardly been playing awfully. T15 at the Zurich Classic and T14 at a very difficult Arnold Palmer track, show there is that mercurial genius hiding away somewhere.  Put it this way, if Bubba brings his a-game then he could run away with it, arguably like only Tiger can in this field.  Plus, we all love watching Bubba, don’t we?!

Brendan de Jonge (100/1 various, w/o Woods 66/1)

Probably our favourite PGA tour picture...

Probably our favourite PGA tour picture…

For someone that has been as low as 33s this season, the 3-figure odds of de Jonge look too good to turn down this week.  He is a player we have looked at many times in 2013, but his all-round ability from tee to green really excites us for this particular challenge.  89th in driving distance, 32nd driving accuracy, 26th in scrambling, 12th for ball striking, 17th GIR, 67th proximity to the hole and 42nd for par 5 birdie or better leaders.  Basically, those stats are outrageous for someone of such high odds and pedigree.  He hasn’t been in the worst form either; T22 last week after a superb 66 start, but no round over par will help the confidence.  He was also T15 at The Players Championship on a relatively similar layout, so the South African could really cause an upset this week

Another one of our ‘quick mentions’ must go to Jason Kokrak (250/1 various) who could be a very interesting outsider.  He played very consistently last week to finish T18 and with his power off the tee, anything can happen.  8th in driving distance, 43rd in GIR, 27th going for the green and 4th par 5 birdie or better leaders. You never know!

Nordea Masters 2013

If you’ve been a follower of DownThe18th you will know Scandinavia holds a big place in our hearts, so it’s a great honour this week to be previewing the Nordea Masters in Sweden! It is a shame that tournaments like this are losing their appeal to the top golfers out there with the purses being no comparison to those on the PGA. Peter Hanson, Francesco Molinari, Manassero, Donaldson and Paul Lawrie are the only representatives from the world’s top 50 here this week. But fear not as this does make for an interesting few days with a lot of outside bets looking very, very tasty.

What a great setting

What a great setting

The tournament has been played on the 7,607 yard Bro Hof Slott Golf Club for 3 years now, with Swedish nationals Richard S Johnson and Alexander Noren claiming the title for the first two years before Lee Westwood romped to victory by a massive 5 shots in 2012. Now it seems like stating the obvious on a course with such long yardage, but emphasis really will be on distance off the tee this week! This is where the top 10 ranked in driving distance in last year’s event. Westwood (2), Fisher (13), Garcia (4), Hanson (10), Ilonen (18), Lagergren (14), Aguilar (52), Singh (23), Sterne (11), Edberg (1). Only Felipe Aguilar (ranked 32) of the same golfers ranked outside the top 20 in putts per GIR as well, so you better be hot with the short stick. Even Lee Westwood managed to come 3rd in putts per round in 2012. Like most weeks, GIR will be key. Accuracy of the tee would be nice, but it is not essential.

Lets have a great 4 days in beautiful Sweden!

Peter Hanson (25/1 Various)

The main man this week on home soil

The main man this week on home soil

It is only fitting that we start off proceedings with Mr Sweden Peter Hanson. The 6-time European Tour winner will be itching to do well on home soil and his statistics are a great fit this week. Apart from the World Golf events, this is the 1st time Hanson has participated on the European Tour since late January, so he will really mean business. The Swede finished 34th here in 2010 before a 3rd place last year. On the way to his finish last year Hanson ranked 10th in driving distance (295 yards), 9th in GIR and 3rd in putts per GIR. On the PGA Tour this year he ranks 31st in driving distance and 21st in strokes gained–putting. Meanwhile on the European Tour he ranks 19th in driving distance, 2nd putts per GIR, 3rd putts per round and 30th in stroke average.  Hanson is the man to beat this week.

Mikko Ilonen (40/1 Ladbrokes)

Mikko will want to continue his fine form

Mikko will want to continue his fine form

Of course we are sticking with the Scandinavian theme again, this time in the shape of Mikko Ilonen from Finland. Mikko was relatively unknown to us a few months back but has done nothing but impress us since!  Question marks were raised by us as to whether he could do it on the bigger stage and he certainly proved that last week with a T12 finish at the BMW PGA in which he was 2nd place at the end of day 1. But with the Fin recording a T3 here last year and his current form reading very healthily, it would be silly for us not to go with him this week. Last year he ranked 18th in driving distance, 2nd in GIR and 12th in putts per GIR. Mikko had not even registered a top 15 last year coming into this event, so he is a very dangerous and different prospect considering the 3 top 10’s he has already recorded this year. His putting on the tour this year also needs a quick mention, he is 5th in putts per GIR and 10th in putts per round. Safe to say he loves it on the greens. Mikko is a great prospect for this week.

Morten Ørum Madsen (100/1 Various)

Madsen is a very talented golfer

Madsen is a very talented golfer

Pick number 3 and you guessed it, Scandinavian number 3. The man from Denmark is fast becoming a recognised name on the European circuit after a string of impressive performances this year. His latest effort was a 2nd place a couple of weeks ago at the Madeira Islands Open behind American Peter Uihlein. And most recently over the past 2 days, Madsen has been involved in the US Open Qualifying event. The Dane impressively booked himself a place at Merion in a few weeks time, he shot -5 to be just 2 shots off the winner Simon Khan and finish outright 4th place! You can’t ask for better form from him right now. One thing that could worry you is that he has never played in this tournament but Morten has the ability, youthful exuberance and form to overcome any challenges a new course throws at him. And don’t worry about his ability off the tee either, Madsen averages it easily over 300 yards! He ranked 2nd place in driving distance in his last outing, averaging over 314 yards whilst he also came 5th in GIR. Get on the Dane this week.

Joakim Lagergren (125/1 Various)

Local lad Lagergren

Local lad Lagergren

Now it is always nice to back a local in these events across the globe, and Joakim gets the nod from us this week. The Swede was born and raised in Stockholm which is a mere 45minutes from the course and will have definitely had a few rounds on this track in his time. The 21 year old finished 6th here last year on his 1st try and was certainly not fazed by the likes of Westwood and Garcia in the field. And his statistics that week were definitely impressive. He ranked 14th in driving distance and 1st in both putts per GIR and putts per round! The Swede certainly has some local knowledge on these greens. That alone is enough for us to want to back him this week. His last 2 outings have been a 21st and most recently a 30th in Portugal where he was in contention for the most part. That week again he ranked 7th in putts per round, so watch out for his talents on the greens.

Roope Kakko (150/1 Various)

It is only fitting that we that we ‘finish’ off our picks this week with another man from Scandinavia. The man from Finland really stood out to us after studying recent form, his last 4 starts read 9th, 5th, MC and 7th! The performances have been on the Challenge Tour but either way it is hard to deny that he is playing great golf at the moment. His 5th place at the co-sanctioned Madeira Islands Open shows he can mix it with the best of them. And last week his 9th place finish was only 3 shots off the eventual winner. If you are worried whether he can hack it around this course, well he did come T17 last year! It seems the locals have a knack for putting on these surfaces, Roope ranked 6th in putts per GIR and 15th in putts per round. He also importantly ranked 8th in driving distance for the week which will be vital over the 4 days. Quick fact for you, Roope is married to LPGA star Minea Blomqvist, which is arguably the perfect scenario for any golfer. What better way to practice for this event than a few rounds with your wife! Perhaps a win could be a step too far, but definitely look out for a top 10 from Kakko this week.

The golf clubs at their wedding was a great touch!

The golf clubs at their wedding was a great touch!

BMW PGA Championship 2013

Finally after 78 rounds of golf on the European Tour, it is the turn of England to host what will be the flagship event this season.  The BMW PGA Championship has a rich history and the Wentworth Club in Surrey is a course that has held the Ryder Cup and constantly attracts the best from the continent.  Whatever the motives of the “PGA exiles” may be (money, closer to home, historic event) it should not matter because it will be a week of pure golf.  And for all UK residents, you get to watch it on terrestrial T.V. listening to the dulcet tones of Peter Alliss. Bliss.

A glorious finishing hole, with water in the way

A glorious finishing hole, with water in the way

The course itself is a 7,302 yard par 72 and has often been described as a long-hitters track, but Luke Donald has won twice in a row and put pay to that theory.  With relatively spacious fairways, you can understand why a bomber could do well here, but if you are completely reckless and constantly find the thick stuff, birdies will be hard to come by.  Course resident Ernie Els has made the course more difficult, meaning good ball strikers and ‘thinkers’ will prevail.  But the greatest challenge will come with the weather, as there is expected to be tough winds before the cut on Saturday.  Anyone who can handle the pressures of a prestigious event alongside torrid weather will be at the top of the leaderboard come Sunday.

PLUS many bookmakers are offering 6 places this week, so it would be foolish not to get involved.  Check out who has the best odds and offers via Oddschecker.

We must note that the ‘top boys’, i.e the Donalds, Rose’, Westwoods etc are pretty much untouchable at their odds, so we are looking elsewhere, but we really feel there is value further down the field! Also, the British media will be going barmy and most probably biased for the English contingent; therefore we have kept a real impartial view at the whole field.

Don’t forget to check out our Crowne Plaza Invitational preview!

Martin Kaymer (33/1 various)

Could need that snood this week...

Could need that snood this week…

The former world number 1 had a well-documented nightmare for much of last season before pulling off the winning putt in the Ryder Cup at the backend of the year.  Beginning the 2013 season, there was hope he would continue from that and push on back up the rankings and although he hasn’t excelled, there has been signs of the talent we all know he has.  4 top 10s this year have shown that and last week at the Byron Nelson his T5 finish was a joy to watch; the ball striking was back and formidable iron play looked to good to go unnoticed this week.  He shot 4 rounds in the 60s and considering he was T55 in putting for the week, he could have challenged further.  He ended T11 in GIR and T13 for driving accuracy, whilst averaging 299 yards off the tee, all of which will be a lethal combination for Wentworth.  Now, he may not have a top 10 here yet but his T15 last year should have perhaps been better, but his poor form and awful putting put pay to any chances of a win.  There are few better when the German is full flow and if he can get his putter going, he could genuinely run away with this.

Branden Grace (55/1 StanJames)

Grace is the first of our South Africans who we fancy this week and when you think of his calibre, 55s is a very high price.  His first trip to Wentworth last year ended with a finish for 5th, in what was a very solid performance tee to green, no lower than 36th in any stat across the board.  Admittedly his outstanding form last year has not been reciprocated into 2013, but trips over to the PGA have not helped matters, playing in many new tournaments and surroundings.  He still finished T18 at the Masters and last week, back in Europe, got to the semi-finals at the match play.  He began to look back to what he produced in 2012 and at a course that does suit; he really could prove to be good value.  He currently lies 29th in driving distance on the European Tour and 38th Stateside, 34th in stroke average and 23rd in one putts in Europe.  Plus, if the wind blows we are sure he will be able to handle it, as he is a ready-made links player, whose putting can keep him out of trouble at the crucial times.

Richard Sterne (66/1 Coral)

Sterne with the Joburg Trophy, he will want to get his paws on another

Sterne with the Joburg Trophy, he will want to get his paws on another

Our second South African comes in the form of Richard Sterne, who has had a superb 2013 so far.  He won in Johannesburg back in February and barring a MC at the RBC Heritage, his worst finish is T25…at the Masters.  What is really encouraging though is the fact that his only appearance at Wentworth was last year where he ended in 6th, in a performance that averaged only 259 yards off the tee.  Even his driving accuracy was poor, which shows how well he played with his irons and around the green. But going into the tournament this year he is averaging 295 yards and over 62% accuracy, which could be an interesting recipe for success.  He is also 19th in GIR, 2nd in stroke average, 4th putts per GIR, 14th in putts per round and 40th in scrambling.  Basically the guy loves it when he is shooting into the green and once he is there, you can trust him to find his putts.  Lets hope he produces a stern performance…

David Horsey (70/1 StanJames)

You look at the ball David

You look at the ball David

Without wanting to contradict ourselves from earlier, it would not be right to exclude every Englishman would it? David Horsey is an outsider that we have followed throughout the European season and he could upset the home nation applecart this week.  Firstly, he is an excellent wind player; a battler in every condition who produced a superb performance in Morocco to end T2, in what was horrendous weather for a couple of days.  That finish was in the middle of what is a great run for the lad from Stockport, with a T6 before and T4 in Spain after.  He will be buzzing to get out onto a course he had a T7 finish at back in 2011, in which he really could of placed higher had it not been for a 73 on the Saturday.  The conditions in 2011 could be similar this year and with an even tougher course laid out, Horsey will thrive.  He currently lies in 34th in driving accuracy, 30th in putts per GIR, 38th putts per round and 55th for scrambling.  Basically, if you want to steer clear of Westwood, Rose et al and fancy an English outsider, Horsey is your man!

Thomas Aiken (100/1 StanJames)

Our third South African is a man who is in glorious form of late.  Aiken won the Avantha Masters in March at an absolute canter, before a T11 in tough conditions the following week and a semi-final appearance at the match play last week.  Considering such high odds, it seemed foolish not to jump on him, when we have seen him as low as 16s previously.  (Understandably without the stellar field on show this week) He is currently 16th for stroke average, 44th in driving distance, 11th in GIR, 51st putts per GIR and 18th in driving accuracy.  And looking back to his T10 finish here in 2009, his driving accuracy was horrendous, finishing 59th in the field for the week, so if he brings his on-fire game to the course, he could be well worth a punt, especially at such high odds.  For all-round stats, you will not find someone better than the South African.

Quick mention to 48-year-old James Kingston who can be found at a staggering 300/1 by some bookmakers.  The fourth  South African we looked at has been playing well of late and considering he has finished T6 here 3 years ago, if you have a few spare pennies, don’t waste them on the lottery, waste them on Kingston.  16th driving accuracy, 23rd stroke average, 12th putts per round and 16th in scrambling are all stats that make you sit up and take notice.  He also won on his last outing…

Go on James, more fist pumping at 300/1 please.

Go on James, more fist pumping at 300/1 please.

Crowne Plaza Invitational 2013

After Sang-Moon Bae impressively walked away with the Byron Nelson Championship a few days ago and with it his maiden PGA Tour title, we move onto the 4th Texan event on the PGA Tour in 2013. The Crowne Plaza Invitational played at the historic Colonial Country Club is one of only five tournaments that have invitational status, which shows you the high regard this event is held in. If you are wondering about all the talk surrounding the late Ben Hogan, he won this tournament five times and considered Colonial to be his home course.

Colonial - A place of great tradition

Colonial – A place of great tradition

Colonial itself does have a bit of a major feel as it is a challenge to all parts of your game, with tight fairways, a few doglegs thrown in and small bentgrass greens. The course is a par 70 and will be playing 7,204 yards this week. Some have compared this tournament to the Open Championship for the sort of test it does give you.  The kind of golfers that have done well here in previous years tells you what sort of course it is with Zach Johnson, Phil Mickelson, Matt Kuchar and Jim Furyk all either winning or coming close to doing so. With many of Europe’s top golfers over in England for the BMW PGA Championship (See our preview) it will give one of the lower ranked players a chance this week. The highest ranked player in the field is WGC Accenture Match Play winner Matt Kuchar, who comes in ranked 12.

A recurring theme of late seems to be accuracy off the tee and this week is no different. The big hitters will have no real advantage off the tee. Getting the ball in play and giving yourself chances is paramount. Putting as well will be key. Greens in regulation are nice but if the short stick isn’t working they count for nothing. Just ask Charl Schwartzel last week. He ranked 1st in GIR at the Byron Nelson but still ended up finishing 3rd when he should have won quite comfortably! Last year, winner Zach Johnson ranked T37 in GIR but 1st in putts per round and 2nd in putts per GIR. This event will be won and lost on the greens.

Harris English (50/1 Stan James)

The 23 year old really impresses us this week

The 23 year old really impresses us this week

Now this is a bold 1st pick from us this week, but we really, really fancy English! We’ll start with his current form, which reads 6th, 33rd and 17th most recently. That finish last week did not do justice to how well Harris played over the first 3 days, and but for a +4 on the last day, the tournament could well have been his. So he will be wanting to put things right this week. At the Byron Nelson he ranked T30 in driving accuracy, T35 in GIR and a really nice T6 in putting average. It was his efforts with his short stick that really made us want him as out 1st pick, as we have said the tournament will be won and lost on the greens. Some say this event is not one for the younger generation, but Harris came here first time out and finished 5th last year. And his form leading up to it was nothing short of awful on the PGA Tour. This year he enters with confidence at an all-time high and the smell of that maiden PGA Tour victory in his nostrils.

Tim Clark (50/1 SkyBet)   

For someone of the South African’s ability, we really do think we would be mad to miss out on such high odds! He really took our fancy when researching for the US Open in a few weeks (Our preview is now available) as he is a player who will keep the ball in play and regularly have birdie opportunities. Then we saw his course form at Colonial! Clark came runner up two years consecutively back in 08 and 09, so he will want to put those bad memories to rest. Last year he finished 19th showing he still has what it takes to play well around this vintage course. It is also said a good finish at the Masters will hold you in good stead this week, and Tim finished a very respectable T11. His statistics are incredibly suited for this course, 3rd in driving accuracy, 38th sand saves, 29th proximity to the hole, 36th total putting and 48th scrambling. A great bet for such high odds this week.

Hunter Mahan (40/1 Paddy Power)  

Hunter a few weeks back hit one of the worst spells of his career which turned many people, including ourselves, right off him. But fear not, Mahan has been on the range and working with his coach and the results are paying off. The American looked really good 2 weeks ago at the Players where a 19th place finish did not do him justice. We watched all 4 days and Mahan was always in with a shout, of course till Tiger showed up. But as courses go that Hunter is suited for, this is right up there. He loves course management and plotting his way around, which is exactly what you need this week. His last two performances here have been 10th and 37th, which is more than respectable. He finds himself 32nd in driving accuracy, 8th in total driving, 18th ball striking, 1st in GIR 75-100 yards and 51st strokes gained putting. For someone of his quality, 40/1 in a field weaker than usual is too good to miss, so get on Mahan this week. We love his acting as well by the way…

John Huh (45/1 Bet365)

Now we apologise in advance for backing him purely because his last name always draws a laugh whenever you say it. The film Rush Hour always pops into our heads… For someone who is only 22, his performances have stayed under the radar somewhat and perhaps deserves more credit for what he has done. Just like English, on his maiden appearance here last year he also finished 5th, which is some going on a tough course. John definitely likes to manipulate his way around the course, something perhaps lacking from the younger generation with many just wanting to ‘bomb’ it off the tee. Like with all our picks, the statistics are really good for this course. 31st driving accuracy, 26th scrambling and 56th putting 15-25’. But just like English again, his performance at the Byron Nelson is what really convinced us. His T8 finish was really good to watch, he ranked T4 in driving accuracy, T3 in GIR, T14 in sand saves and T15 in putts per GIR. He is definitely peaking at the right time entering Colonial.

Josh Teater (200/1 Sky Bet)

Teater-ing on the edge of greatness?

Teater-ing on the edge of greatness?

We are writing this on Monday night and as we do, Josh Teater currently leads the British Open Qualifier at Gleneagles Country Club by 1 shot over Luke Guthrie. By all accounts Teater played some stunning golf in round one to post a -6 64 in very windy conditions. Now all being well Teater will continue to play well and carry that form onto Colonial! He will be buzzing with confidence after booking his place at this year’s open at Muirfield in July. We would also advise to jump on him while his odds are that high, because once word gets out about his performance at the qualifier, his odds will shoot down. His form before that on the PGA Tour is mixed, but he has made both of his last two cuts. And before making the cut here last year, he did in fact finish 16th in 2011. So maybe it is this time of year he loves!  His statistics for someone at high odds are really respectable, 22nd total driving, 22nd all round ranking, 48th GIR, 17th total birdies, 25th ball striking and 54th in total putting. A cheeky shout this week at 200/1.

Quick Mention

This week marks the start of the 1st of five majors on the Champions Tour. The US Senior PGA Championship is always a great watch and we have had a look through to see if anyone would catch our eye. And they did! So if you are a gambling man, have a look at these 3 selections.

Rocco Mediate (20/1 Stan James)

Bart Bryant (50/1 Paddy Power)

Ian Woosnam (150/1 Paddy Power)

We love you 'Woosie'

We love you ‘Woosie’

US Open 2013 Preview 1

OUR FINAL PREVIEW IS NOW AVAILABLE HERE:

NEW – DownThe18th US Open 2013 Final Preview

 

Published 18/05/2013

US Open 2013

Tournament: US Open 2013

Location: Ardmore, Pennsylvania

Course: Merion Golf Club (East Course)

Distance: 6,996 yards

Current Champion: Webb Simpson

Dates: June 13 – 16

You can check out our 2nd preview + our initial picks here –

DownThe18th Preview 2

Preview 3 is also available here: DownThe18th Preview 3

The second major of 2013 is only 4 weeks away and as we did with The Masters, we have decided to publish the ‘1-month’ preview.

This years US Open will be played at Merion Golf Club (East course) in Philadelphia and for the first time since 2004, the distance will be under 7,000 yards, making it a very different challenge for all the players.

16th at Merion

16th at Merion

The average driving distance on tour this year is 290 yards, therefore we will do a calculation of what yardage could potentially be left from the average drive on the par 4s.

Here is a run through of the 18 holes –

No. 1 – Par 4 – 350 yards – 60 yards left
No. 2 – Par 5 – 556 yards
No. 3 – Par 3 – 256 yards
No. 4 – Par 5 – 628 yards
No. 5 – Par 4 – 504 yards – 214 yards left
No. 6 – Par 4 – 487 yards – 197 yards left
No. 7 – Par 4 – 360 yards – 70 yards left
No. 8 – Par 4 – 359 yards – 69 yards left
No. 9 – Par 3 – 236 yards
Out – Par 36 – 3,736 yards
No. 10 – Par 4 – 303 yards – 13 yards left
No. 11 – Par 4 – 367 yards – 77 yards left
No. 12 – Par 4 – 403 yards – 113 yards left
No. 13 – Par 3 – 115 yards
No. 14 – Par 4 – 464 yards – 174 yards left
No. 15 – Par 4 – 411 yards – 121 yards left
No. 16 – Par 4 – 430 yards – 140 yards left
No. 17 – Par 3 – 246 yards
No. 18 – Par 4 – 521 yards – 231 yards left
In – Par 34 – 3,260 yards
Total – Par 70 – 6,996 yards

From this you can ascertain that the key areas will be approach shots inside 100 yards and between 125-150 yards. (approx.)  Basically, the golfer who is solid with a short iron will prosper at Merion.

The course itself has very tight fairways, so accuracy off the tee is arguably the most crucial asset to have.  Accuracy will also be vital when going for the green with hazards surrounding pretty much every hole, bringing into play proximity to the pin. One miscalculation can be the difference between birdie and bogey – not to mention the undulating greens which will play consistently hard throughout the week.  As always the short stick gurus will end up near the top of the leaderboard come Sunday on these tough greens.

It is likely every player will miss several greens throughout the four days, meaning anyone who can scramble will give themselves a chance as well.

After doing more extensive research, we found and calculated several trends that past US winners have had – and here they are.

  • 17 of the last 18 U.S. Open winners had made at least two previous U.S. Open starts.
  • 41 of the last 43 U.S. Open winners had a top-10 finish on the PGA Tour that year.
  • The past 9 U.S. Open winners made the cut in the previous year’s British Open.
  • 16 of the past 19 U.S. Open winners had a previous top-14 U.S. Open finish.
  • 8 of the last 11 US Open champions made the cut at that years Masters

Therefore, we have created a table of the 19 golfers who met the above criteria and have included what we feel will be the key stats for the week.  (Even though Jason Day, Henrik Stenson, Ryan Moore and Robert Garrigus did not play in the Open and Geoff Ogilvy did not play in the Masters it seemed rather unfair to exclude them because they have all had a top 10 US Open finish in recent years.)

We have also researched all the tournament stats we could find (7/11) since 2012 that played under 7,100 yards, which gave for some interesting reading. 

  • The winner of these 7 tournaments under 7,100 yards has on average been 14th in driving accuracy. (So we will be looking at the top 30 in this category)
  • The winner of these 7 tournaments under 7,100 yards has on average been 10th in GIR. (So we will be looking at the top 40 in this category).
  • The winner of these 7 tournaments under 7,100 yards has on average been 16th in strokes gained putting. (So we will be looking at the top 40 in this category).

So, with all of this in mind, what are we actually looking for?

  • Top 30 driving accuracy
  • Top 40 GIR
  • Top 40 strokes gained putting
  • Top 50 ball striking (computed by totaling a player’s rank in both total driving and GIR)
  • Top 40 approach 125-150 yards
  • Top 40 approach inside 100 yards
  • Top 30 proximity to the hole
  • Top 30 scoring average
  • Top 30 sand save %
  • Top 30 scrambling
  • Top 30 strokes gained putting
  • Top 30 putts per round

Anyone who meets the above criteria we will highlight their stats in green.

US Open STATS 1US Open STATS 2As you can see, one of our favourite players Brandt Snedeker is the perfect fit as he ticks 10 out of the 11 categories. You can currently get him at 25/1 with various bookmakers if you are interested in a cheeky ante post bet.

Two more golfers that we like and fit over 50% of the categories are:

Steve Stricker (50/1 Various)

Matt Kuchar ( 40/1 William Hill)

Also below we have a table of players who did not meet the original trends however their stats were just too good to ignore! Take a look.

US Open STATS 3We will follow this up with preview number 2 in a couple of weeks, hope you enjoy!

Volvo World Match Play Championship 2013

If you were following us a few months back you would have seen our unbelievable week at the WGC Accenture Match Play’s. So the Volvo World Match Play is a tournament we have been looking forward to for some time now.  That week we had an 80/1 accumulator come in and 3 out of 4 win on a lucky15. So we will be giving you some interesting bets this week in hope of a repeat performance.

The Format

This is different to the WGC Accenture version and is not too dissimilar to the Champions League seen in football. For the first 2 days we will have 8 groups of 3 players, and these 3 players will all play each other. The top 2 of each group will then qualify into straight knock-out rounds starting Saturday morning. The markets we will be focusing on will be individual matches, group winners and of course outright.

The Draw

Ballesteros Group                            Gabriellson Group                          Woosnam Group

Graeme McDowell                              Sir Ian Poulter                                    Branden Grace

Chris Wood                                          Thongchai Jaidee                               Nicolas Colsaerts

Stephen Gallagher                               Thomas Aiken                                   Kiradech Aphibarnrat

Palmer Group                                    Larson Group                                  Norman Group

Peter Hanson                                       Bo Van Pelt                                        Henrik Stenson

George Coetzee                                   Richard Sterne                                   Franceso Molinari

Shane Lowry                                        Geoff Ogilvy                                       Felipe Aguilar

McCormack Group                           Player Group

Thorbjorn Olsesen                              Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano

Carl Pettersson                                     Jamie Donaldson

Scott Jamieson                                     Brett Rumford

The Course

This is the first year it has been played on the beautiful Gary Player designed Thracian Cliffs Course in Bulgaria. It is a controversial location for one of golf’s most prestigious events and one which is a “geographical area of interest” for its sponsors. Bulgaria after all are not known for their golfing exploits or players. But one thing we will say, this is a great course! Set against the Black Sea, the course is playing 7,291 yards this week.

It seems a lot of the courses we have spoken about of late are ones where accuracy is crucial, and this is no different. 8 of the holes run alongside the Black Sea which means wind will definitely come into play whilst the prospect of going into water will loom large. The fairways are average size with lots of bunkers providing food for thought for the players off the tee. The 9th tee is the feature hole, a small island that is built in the sea, not too dissimilar to the 17th at TPC Sawgrass.

How beautiful is that!

How beautiful is that!

But if we are very honest, the course will not play a huge factor for the winner this week. Match play is all about the mind-set of the golfer and how they can handle the pressure of going head to head against their opponent. Once you get deep into the knockout stages, it will boil down to who can hold their nerve, and we have a few players in mind that can do just that!

What you will also find with match play is that the odds are not attractive. So we will provide you with our fancied players, but then also give you a few accumulators where you will find more value!

Picks

Sir Ian Poulter (15/2 Various)

Mr Ryder Cup.  Mr Match Play.  Sir Ian Poulter

Mr Ryder Cup. Mr Match Play. Sir Ian Poulter

As you can tell, we like Ian Poulter at DownThe18th, a lot. If there is one man in the world you would want in match play, it is the Englishman. We could talk all day about what he has achieved in this format, and we will. Ian reached the 3rd place play-off in the last match play event, the WGC Accenture (Of course we backed him that week). Before that, there was the small matter of the 2012 Ryder Cup where Poulter single-handedly stole the show. He won all of his matches and his inspiration alone pulled Team Europe through. His Ryder Cup history is incredible. 2004 was his first appearance for Europe and they came out on top, with Poulter getting the winning points.  2008 Europe lost, but Poulter was top points scorer for either side.  And then 2010 saw Europe regain the title and of course Ian was part of it, winning 3 of his 4 matches.

He won this tournament 2 years ago in Spain, and then finished 9th the year after. As for the WGC, he won that too in 2010. So his credentials can’t be questioned. As for his stroke play performances this year, he has not been at his best! But Ian openly admits this format is where he thrives and we are sure he will be very involved this week! And the course is one for accuracy, which Ian will certainly give you a lot of. We are rooting for Sir Ian this week.

Graeme McDowell (8/1 Various)   

Come on G Mac!

Come on G Mac!

McDowell is another player who has the perfect mentality for this format. He reached the quarter finals of the WGC tournament in February when his form was very average, losing to 3rd place man Jason Day. His Ryder Cup involvement cannot be ignored either, being part of Europe’s 2010 and 2012 winning teams. He has won 50% of his matches in Ryder Cup history and more importantly, only ever lost 1 singles match. So he knows how to avoid that losing taste. He has also played part in other match play team events, winning the Seve Trophy in 05 and 09, and the Royal Trophy in 06.

In the Tavistock Cup a few weeks back, McDowell’s team Lake Nona came 2nd place where he also came 2nd in the individual standings to Webb Simpson and won closest to the pin on hole 5. Very impressive match play statistics from the Irishman. His stroke play form is not bad either, Graeme picked up the PGA RBC Heritage title 3 weeks ago on a course reliant on accuracy. Ironically he won that via a play-off against Webb Simpson, another indication of his match play talent! Would be nice to see a Poulter-G Mac final this week

Nicolas Colsaerts (10/1 Bet365)

'The Belgian Bomber'

‘The Belgian Bomber’

Defending champion Colsaerts will have every reason to think he has a chance this week. He started off 2013 very poorly but has started to show glimpses of what we all know he can do in recent weeks. His T8 at the Zurich Classic a month ago showed that ‘The Belgian Bomber’ is back playing great golf. Like Poulter, Colsaerts seems to be one of those players who really enjoy match play style events. In his two appearances here so far, he as finished 3rd in 2011 and then of course 1st last year. We have to mention his involvement in last year’s Ryder Cup, with his performance on day 1 arguably keeping Europe alive. Colsaerts carded 8 birdies and 1 eagle as his partner Lee Westwood watched and admired whilst Belgian claimed Europe’s only point on the afternoon of day 1. A point which proved vital in the Miracle at Medinah. Nicolas will be an formidable opponent for anyone with him being arguably the biggest hitter in golf, driving it comfortably over 300 yards every time. This has also helped him reach 25th in GIR on the PGA Tour, a statistic that is crucial to any match play event. Watch out for him this week.

Henrik Stenson (8/1 Various)

The Swede is on fire right now

The Swede is on fire right now

The only thing that would put you off the Swede this week is his intense involvement in the last day of the Players Championship. Other than that, Henrik has all the tools to win this thing comfortably. He has always been regarded as a potential major winner and it is because of the form he finds himself in right now. Like Colsaerts, Henrik is one of the biggest hitters in the game and has combined this recently with pin point accuracy too! A deadly combination. 1st in GIR and 2nd in driving accuracy on the PGA Tour is amazing. If he can bring that to Bulgaria this week, it is hard to see anyone beating him. He is also 1st in total driving, and a lot of the pressure in match play comes from the tee, so the Swede should be just fine. As we have mentioned his form is incredible without actually grabbing a win, 8th, 2nd, 18th, MC and 5th have been his last few performances.

As for match play, he is pretty impressive in that format too. The Swede finished 3rd at this in 07 and then 9th in 09. He also won the WGC Accenture Match Play in 07, and that year his form was very similar to this! He also represented Europe in the 2008 Ryder cup winning side. As long as he can handle the flight from America, Stenson will go close this week.

Also a quick mention must go to Geoff Ogilvy this week, his stroke play form has not been great but he is definitely a guy who enjoys match play! He is 2 time winner of the WGC Accenture and also reached the final in 07, losing to Stenson. His win at the 06 US Open proves he is one of the biggest golfers in the field this week and the only other major winner alongside McDowell.

Group Winner Betting Accumulators

Eight-fold (700/1 Coral)                                   

Graeme McDowell  –  Ian Poulter  –  Nicolas Colsaerts  –  Henrik Stenson  –  Thorbjorn Olesen  – Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano  –  Geoff Ogilvy  –  Peter Hanson

Six-fold (97/1 Coral)

Graeme McDowell  –  Ian Poulter  –  Nicolas Colsaerts  –  Henrik Stenson  –  Thorbjorn Olesen  – Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano

Four-fold (18/1 Coral)

Graeme McDowell  –  Ian Poulter  –  Nicolas Colsaerts  –  Henrik Stenson

Day 3 Match Win Accumulator

Six-fold (50/1 Coral)

Henrik Stenson –  Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano  –  Ian Poulter  –  Branden Grace  –  Peter Hanson – Graeme McDowell