Made In Denmark

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

Winner’s Share – €250,000

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Peter Uihlein 40/1 Coral

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

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

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

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

Chris Paisley 100/1 PaddyPower 

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

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

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

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

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Wyndham Championship 2015

Prize Fund – $5,400,000wyndham

Winner’s Share – $954,000

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Brandt Snedeker 20/1

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

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

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

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

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

Ryan Moore (40/1 various)

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

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

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

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

Decent shout.

Vaughn Taylor (125/1 various)

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

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

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

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

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

Hudson Swafford (200/1 various)

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

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

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

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

Why not?

PGA Championship 2015

Prize Fund – $10,000,0002015_PGA_CHAMPIONSHIP_TICKE

Winner’s Share – $1,800,000

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Not bad ay?

Not bad ay?

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

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

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

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

Here’s the five left –

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

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

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

Rickie Fowler (22/1 various)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Henrik Stenson (28/1 various)

Another big chance for the Swede

Another big chance for the Swede

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

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

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

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

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

Brooks Koepka (45/1 PaddyPower)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Branden Grace (80/1 various)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Danny Willett (100/1 various)

Has everything in his locker for this sort of track

Has everything in his locker for this sort of track

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

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

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

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

Robert Streb (90/1 various)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The real deal here.

WGC Bridgestone Invitational 2015

BridgestonePrize Fund – $9,250,000

Winner’s Share – $1,530,000

Course  Firestone CC (7,400 yards par 70)

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

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

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

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

Courtesy of PGA Tour

Courtesy of PGA Tour

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

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

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

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

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

Hideki Matsuyama (25/1 Various) Matsuyama

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

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

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

Matt Kuchar (45/1 Coral) He grinds.

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

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

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

Marc Leishman (50/1 Coral)

Andrew Redington/Getty Images North America

Andrew Redington/Getty Images North America

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

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