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.
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.
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
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.
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!
Sir Ian Poulter (15/2 Various)
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)
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)
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 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