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.

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Madeira Islands Open 2015

logo-torneioPrize Fund – €600,000

Winner’s Share – €100,000

Course – Clube de Golf do Santo da Serra (6,826 par 72)

Our 2014 Picks – No Picks

Right then, so after an incredible couple of month’s golf in Europe which ended with a superb win for Danny Willett in the Swiss Alps, we now move onto a week that we doesn’t whet the appetite greatly. The idea of the Paul Lawrie Match Play and re-run of the postponed Madeira Islands Open hasn’t made us jump off our seats in excitement like recent events, but still there is some money to be made we think.

And that brings us to our first point for Europe this week – we are simply not going anywhere near the Match Play. The field is far too random, admittedly there’s some decent players there, but it really isn’t worth it in our opinion. We are big advocates of this format and love watching a 1 vs 1 battle, but there’s too many factors here that make it too tough to call, the main reason being it’s straight knockout style.

By all means go ahead if you fancy it, our recommendation would be some cheeky in-play bets on specific matches and even an accumulator – something we may consider further in the tournament’s progression.

So, we are going to re-visit Madeira for our betting plans and ignore Lawrie and his chums for now. Plus, we were one of the many who had JB Hansen enjoying a nice lead when the heavens opened on the Portuguese Island a few months ago, so we feel like we’re owed something here.

As we wrote back then, Santo de Serra is a shot 6,826 yard par 72 that is perched on top of a mountain, with quite generous fairways and significant elevation changes all leading up to the tightly compact and undulating greens.

 

getimage.ashx

courtesy of visitmadeira

The Trent Jones family is not only the designer across the pond this week, because this is another one of his fine creations. He’s developed a place that relies on the Atlantic coastal winds for protection, because on a calm day, anyone with distance can rip this place apart – 4 reachable par 5’s and 7 sub 400-yard par 4’s. That says it all really.

You only have to look back to 2013 when the big-hitting Peter Uihlein (who only found 40% fairways) grabbed his maiden win here. The likes of Madsen, Henry, Benson are names just at first glance who have enjoyed success here and are certainly not shy off the tee.

We’re only plumping for a team of 4 here though because the odds aren’t the greatest, but let’s hope our boys prove to be good value…

JB Hansen (33/1 various)

Big hitting JB

Big hitting JB

We couldn’t not really could we?! JB Hansen was leading before the postponement and his form is actually better now then it was then, so it seems stupid not to chuck our money on the 24-year old again.

His lowest finish in his last 6 outings is T26, including 3 top 10’s, which proves how well he’s playing at the moment.

He hits the ball a long way and has the ability to overpower this track, as he showed a few months back.

33’s for a regular Challenge Tour player may seem short, but he has, without doubt, some of the best form of anyone in the field and the fact he’s already shown what he can do round here, it seems a no brainer in our eyes.

Carlos Del Moral (45/1 BetFred)

Yet another hot caddie wife! Courtesy of European Tour

Yet another hot caddie wife!
Courtesy of European Tour

Carlos Del Moral is an intriguing player this week and considering he is one of a few who’ve been playing regular European Tour golf this season, his odds are incredibly appealing.

Firstly, he is one of the bigger hitters on the circuit – averaging over 302 yards (15th for driving distance). Secondly he showed some real class at the BMW in Germany when he recorded one of his highest finishes on the main Tour so far – T4. His 65 on the Saturday propelled him up the leaderboard and was an exhibition in raw power off the tee (1st for distance on the day), impenetrable irons (22nd GIR) and holing those chances you create (4th putts per GIR.)

Basically, it’s perfect golf and the fact he went on to play a similar brand on the Sunday, proves to us that he could have a major say on Madeira this week. Plus, he’s finished 4th here before as well…

Chris Paisley (50/1 BetFred)

Nice smile Christophe.   Courtesy of Zimbio

Nice smile Christophe.
Courtesy of Zimbio

Chris Paisley is mainly a Challenge Tour play, but he has plenty of experience at the higher level to know what it’s all about. He has that feel of one of those players who knows what it would mean to win here. The benefits are endless and it could be a major career-turning point for anyone of his current level.

Much like Del Moral, Paisley showed some of his potential in Germany where he actually went one better and finished solo 3rd. He was in the final group on the Sunday, just a couple of strokes behind James Morrison, but neither could capitalise on their early efforts. His putting throughout the week was incredible – he never left the top 10 for each round, whilst he was averaging just over 290 off the tee and playing well with his irons.

All in all it was a decent outing, which he’s backed up with a solid T44 in Switzerland last week and the fact he’s had 3 finishes inside the top 22 here proves he knows the track.

Jens Dantorp (80/1 Coral)

Cracking attire

Cracking attire

Our final pick this week comes in the form of a young Swede, Jens Dantorp. The Scandinavian country seems to be churning out decent players at the moment and this 26-year old seems like another one who could achieve a few things in his time.

He won a ridiculous 8 Nordic Golf League titles and broke through on the Challenge Tour in 2013 at the prestigious Rolex Trophy, but since then it has all been relatively quiet.

In fact he didn’t even feature inside the top 10 again till this year when he came T8 in Turkey back in May.

A solo 2nd followed before he announced himself again in front of his home crowd at the Nordea Masters.

Along with young amateur star Markus Kinhult, Dantorp found himself propped at the top of a leaderboard containing names with far more credential sniffing below.

He was averaging 300 yards off the tee and didn’t drop outside the top 10 for putting stats across those 2 days. Obviously he tailed off slightly at the weekend, but to keep himself in the hunt as long as he did in a big event, shows the potential he has.

Sadly, he’s gone on to miss 3 out of his next 4 cuts on the Challenge Tour, but we are going to look past that because he does suit everything on paper and at 80’s is definitely worth a punt.

Quicken Loans National 2015

2019231_origPrize Fund – $6,700,00

Winner’s Share – $1,170,000

Course – Robert Trent Jones GC (7,385 yards par 71) – New Course

Our 2014 Picks – Jason Day (MC), Nick Watney (T30), Hunter Mahan (T24), Angel Cabrera (T24), Shawn Stefani (2nd)

Another week down on the PGA and everything is really hotting up ahead of what we think we will be a fascinating Presidents Cup and FedEx Cup finale. Yes Jordan Spieth is quite a bit ahead of others, but the 2nd string are beginning to really crowd up now – there is just a couple of decent finishes from Bubba Watson right through to 16th place Brooks Koepka and that is exciting. But everyone is going to have to take advantage when the golden boy isn’t playing and Jason Day did just that last week, now it’s the turn of Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose and Jimmy Walker to have their say (can we say Tiger Woods still or…?)

Undoubtedly they’re the 3-pronged superstars spearheading the field this week but taking them out the equation and we have a fairly ordinary line-up to stick our claws into.

The Quicken Loans National 2015 (in association with the Tiger Woods Foundation) is generally a top event that has attracted some pretty impressive winners in recent years – Rose and Tiger have won it twice, whilst Bill Haas, Nick Watney, Anthony Kim and KJ Choi have all picked up the trophy as well.

At the time of their wins, they were all in the higher bracket of players and some of that definitely has to do with the courses they were playing on. Congressional is a US Open track, whilst Aronimink has hosted majors from amateur through to Senior. But we will not be on either track for the 2015 edition, because we’re moving to a beautiful course in Virginia called Robert Trent Jones Golf Club.

Absolutely no prizes for guessing who designed it though, but the man who brought us Congressional, Firestone, Spyglass Hill and Hazeltine among a whole host of others, stated that this was one of his finest. And that is really saying something.

The 7, 385 yard Par 71 is a typical Jones course. Meandering round Lake Manassas in Gainesville, water is brought into play on 9 holes, making accuracy instantly a thought to ponder.

Plenty of water in play

Plenty of water in play

We’ve seen a lot more death-defying tree-lined fairways across the season, but there are still plenty to to make everyone think off the tee, especially with the strategically placed bunkers dotted around (and the water of course!) The greens are large and characteristically undulating, making them tough reads and at times, very pacy.

It’s imperative that the guys get their eye in during the practice rounds to work out the better pin positions to attack and where the uphill putts are. If the rain comes as forecast however, the fairways and greens could hold up the ball, making it target practice for those who are on it tee to green.

We are basically looking for those that can hit the ball a relatively fair distance, but have a decent Total Driving combination, ball strikers and longer iron gurus, because of the three Par 5’s and four Par 3’s that await. If you can scramble, that of course is a bonus…!

All in all, this will be a debut PGA Tour event for Robert Trent Jones Golf Club, but it does have experience of hosting big events, having been the home to the Presidents Cup on four occassions – 95′, 96′, 2000 and 2005. Some useful insight there if you fancy having a cheeky gander.

So, after Brian Harman decided a collapse (he shot a clear worst 76) on Saturday was necessary having been 1 behind the leader, let’s hope for slightly more this week…

Will Wilcox (60/1 Coral)

Big celebrations. Courtesy of PGA Tour

Big celebrations.
Courtesy of PGA Tour

It’s unusual for our headline act to be at such high odds, but with the top 3 priced out and us not really fancying the chasing pack, Will Wilcox is someone that has a big appeal this week.

First of all his form far exceeds that of his price. Just look at those at higher odds – Bill Haas (33’s) has missed 3 cuts in a row, Justin Thomas (30’s) has one top 10 in amongst a best of T54 in 2 months, whilst Tiger (40’s) has, well, we’d rather not say.

Then we jump to Wilcox, 2 top 10’s in a row and some low shooting to boot. Last time out he finished 2nd outright at the Barbasol Championship (runs alongside The Open) which ironically was held at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail – another course that filled the great man with pride and joy…

Before that he finished T8 at the John Deere and if you look at his individual rounds, he has shot below 70, 16 out of his last 20 outings. That dates back to May.

So Basically this lad is in good knick and whilst we understand he’s yet to win on the PGA Tour, he’s proven he can handle the pressure by winning on the Web.Com and it’s only his 2nd year in the big time.

Plus, he simply suits the stats perfectly. 5th for Total Driving (59th distance, 16th accuracy), 6th GIR, 3rd ball striking, 50th strokes gained putting and just for good measure – 7th for scrambling. If he can continue his form and shoot as well as he did on another Trent Jones favourite, we could be in for a right treat this week..

Jason Bohn (50/1 various)

Now, Jason Bohn is a slightly different player to Wilcox in that he lacks the same sort of distance with the driver, but tee to green, you cannot argue they are strong candidates and should suit this sort of track.

He lies in 4th for driving accuracy and 42nd in ball striking, which proves he is imperious at finding fairways and greens alike.

His form has been impressive over the past couple of weeks as well – T12 at the John Deere, which included a final day 64 and T13 at the Greenbrier which included a ridiculous 61. His performance on the Sunday was the difference between a win and where he ended up, but it does show he’s hitting the ball well and scoring freely – plus it was his lowest ever career round and put him back in that leading position again. More lessons learnt.

No denying he hasn’t had a win since 2010, but the Greenbrier should give him some confidence back, and he showed that with his following performance, so this feels like a good week to jump on the American, especially in an average field.

Johnson Wagner (66/1 BetVictor)

Loves a tash

FanTASHtic

Johnson Wagner is another mid-ranger who fits most of the bill and is playing some pretty decent golf at the moment. After losing out in a playoff at the Shell Houston Open, he went on a horrific run of 6 missed cuts in 7 outings.

But he seems to have genuinely turned that around now, making 4 cuts in a row, including 3 top 18 finishes and even a T5 at the John Deere. He was very much in contention again last week in Canada, but fell off at the weekend with a couple of average rounds. Much like Wilcox though, his individual rounds have been very impressive – 11 of his last 16 outings, he’s shout 68 or below – that isn’t bad going at all..

He is decent across the board stats wise as well, 69th total driving, 18th GIR, 36th ball striking and 71st strokes gained putting, plus he is 47th for approaches from 200 yards +.

Very encouraging and don’t forget, he is a 3-time PGA Tour winner…

Stewart Cink (80/1 various)

A classic Cink your head into your hands moment.

A classic Cink your head into your hands moment.

Oh my have we not been here several times throughout the season? A sort of refusal on our part to admit that Stewart Cink may not win again. There are many who have fallen in similar displays of sorrow before and there’ll be many more to come. But since that 2009 Open victory, we haven’t truly seen the best of a truly quality player.

So, why on earth are we going there again? Well, firstly, he is still an iron guru – 4th GIR, 70th ball striking – and he has the sort of game that could do well. Plus, he is one of a very limited number of guys who have actually played tournament golf here. He was part of the victorious American teams in the Presidents Cup back in 2000 and 2005. In 00′ he won all 4 of his points on offer and whilst it wasn’t as smooth sailing in 05′, he still came away with 1 ½ points to his name.

Finally and potentially most crucially, he would of actually won us all some money last week…! A T5 finish in Canada will surely give him the world of confidence coming into this event, especially having finished with a 66.

He also recorded an impressive T20 at The Open, so you cannot argue that he’s in good knick. Why not ey?!

Outsiders

Retief Goosen (100/1 various) and Jim Herman (200/1 BetVictor)

The Goose loves it.

The Goose loves it.

A couple of cheeky outsiders to consider this week, coming in the form of Retief Goosen and Jim Herman.

Firstly, we’re going to check out the Hermanator. His form hasn’t been particularly mind-blowing, but an intriguing T22 finish over in Canada last week made up our minds to back the 37-year old with a few spare coppers.

He is back on the Tour after graduating again last year and is the sort of player who could do well here – 18th Total Driving, 5th GIR, 6th Ball Striking and 18th in approaches from 200 yards. The ol’ saying applies here – ‘Why not?.’

Then we have the Mighty Goose. (poor pun there for any fans of a certain Ice Hockey film…Poor)

Much like Cink, we’ve gone there a few times with the South-African, but we’ve actually reaped a few rewards and recently as well. He grabbed us a decent return in his T4 finish over in Germany at the BMW a few weeks ago. He played some decent golf to put himself in contention, shooting a 69 and 67 to close the tournament. He was inside the top 10 for GIR across the 4 days, which is hardly a surprise, so doubled with the fact he also managed T20 at The Open, we mutter those words once again. ‘Why not?’ PLUS he turned up at The Presidents Cup as well, winning 4 ½ points out of a possible 5 in 2005, including a 2 and 1 win against Tiger, whilst he managed 2 out of a possible 4 in 2000. He certainly knows the track…

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RBC Canadian Open 2015

RBC-Canadian-Open-LogoPrize Fund – $5,800,00

Winner’s Share – $1,026,000

Course – Glen Abbey Golf Course (7,273 yards Par 72)

Our 2014 Picks – Jim Furyk (2nd), David Hearn (T53), KJ Choi (T66), Tim Clark (WIN)

There’s no denying Zach Johnson was a worthy winner of the Open last week but we can’t hide our disappointment at not seeing Spieth do it again. His 4-putt on 8 would have broken the best of us – but not this guy. What a player and what a future he has. We’ve spoken about the Spieth/McIlroy rivalry for a while now but just sit back and imagine those two in a Sunday final pairing at a major.

As ever, we move quickly and swiftly on in golf. The Tour rocks up at Glen Abbey, the Canadian Open’s home if you were. With the odd exception, the tournament was held here for over 25 years until the early 2000’s where appearances became more sporadic.

We have somewhat of a love/hate relationship with this event with Hunter Mahan dropping out while leading in 2013 to attend the birth of his baby girl. But Tim Clark addressed the balance for us last year with a stunning display of putting.

Having read tons about the course, it’s all about the total drivers out there. The rough alongside the fairways won’t hurt you and getting it within wedge distance is key. We’re going to see plenty of approach shots from the 75-125 yard mark.

Courtesy of PGATour

Courtesy of PGATour

One thing we also know is the rough gets a lot tougher around the greens. It makes GIR stats more vital than ever. For that inevitable miss around the greens, scrambling is of course going to be key and we’ve definitely factored that into our research. Also worth noting that Brandt Snedeker gave us a putting masterclass in 2013 having been relatively average tee to green.

Arguably the biggest factor coming in this week is the Open. Usually, the Canadian is one where guys who have done well at the Open can continue to do so here but we all know how crazy St Andrews was. A Monday finish and endless waiting around makes preparation for the Canadian tough. Naturally, these guys are good and can certainly go again but we won’t be touching anyone who made the cut in Scotland.

DON’T FORGET – Our weekly competition with renowned magazine Golf Monthly continues, take a peak at the end of our selections to see how our stakes have been distributed this time.
Twitter

You can follow us throughout the week on Twitter @downthe18th for the latest news, betting + banter. Please get in touch and let us know what you think of our picks and who you fancy as well!

CHappell 2Kevin Chappell (66/1 Various)

This is the 3rd time we’ve backed Chappell in recent times and rightly so in our opinion. He’s fully fit, settled into family life and striking the ball as good as ever.

His 8th at the John Deere was recognition for the hard work he had put in over the last few months – finally his consistency is starting to pay off. So when we come to Glen Abbey, a place where total drivers thrive, the American is right up there for us.

Negatives would be that he’s only played here once and finished 68th but we know this is a course that suits his eye and when he’s striking the ball as good as he is at the moment, he can transfer that to any track.

Chappell also ranked 3rd putting at the John Deere which is ominous when paired with his tee to green game.

Brian Harman (70/1 Stan James)

All smiles again this week - courtesy of brianharmangolf

All smiles again this week – courtesy of brianharmangolf

On reflection, it was a poor pick going with Harman last time out to defend his John Deere title. Fulfilling plenty of media obligations prior to the week meant the American couldn’t prepare as well as he would want. He was also paired alongside Jordan Spieth for three rounds – and we all know what he did on the 3rd day.

So after a missed cut at St Andrews, Harman will travel to Canada with a lot of weight off his shoulders. He’s expressed in the media how well he is striking the ball and is just waiting for that little spark that would see him win PGA title number 2. Tee to green he’s ideal for Glen Abbey.

It has to be said his T24 as defending champ two weeks ago was very admirable and quite frankly if he had holed some putts, he would have contended. To put into perspective: ranked 2nd GIR but 70th (out of 73) in putting. We’ll put that down to the pressure… It’s a case of getting the putter working this week for Brian, because everything else is firing on all cylinders.

Roberto Castro (175/1 Coral)

Roberto Castro acknowledges the gallery after finishing the final round of the AT&T National golf tournament on the 18th green at Congressional Country Club, Sunday, June 30, 2013, in Bethesda, Md. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

Md. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

We like this one. Castro qualified on Monday for the Canadian, shooting a 65, alongside three other guys. This makes for a good few weeks as we’ve seen a pretty rapid rise in form since two missed cuts in June.

Last week’s T23 at the Barbasol saw him finish T17 GIR and 15th putting – everything seems to be in good order. The final piece in the jigsaw was his 6th at Glen Abbey he recorded in 2013. A couple of rounds in the 60’s saw him finish just 4 shots behind Snedeker, on -12. Roberto is also renowned for his wedge play and currently ranks 5th on tour for approaches from 50-125 yards.

Rory Sabbatini (100/1 Stan James)

Rory-Sabbatini-PGA-Championship-Preview-Day-p3SKQriLk-llWe are reluctantly going with the South African purely on the amount of factors he ticked. We can’t say there’s a real passion for Sabbatini but as we’ve shown the last couple of events with Lee and Wagner, stats matter.

His last two appearances at Glen Abbey, seperated by 13 years, were 6th and more recently 12th. Very recent form is nondescript but has recorded two top 10’s in his last six events.

Then we look at stats – 11th scrambling, 24th 50-125 yards and 35th tee to green.

Ultimately he ticks every box from a betting perspective. Our hands are tied, we’re going with him.

Omega European Masters 2015

logo_main_enPrize Fund – €2,700,000

Winner’s Share – €450,000

Course – Crans-sur-Sierre Golf Course (6,848 yards Par 70)

After a truly outstanding week at St Andrews, we move on to one of the most breathtaking courses in world golf.

Crans-sur-Sierre is simply mind blowing.  Built smack bang in a skiing town, this magical track weaves through the side of a mountain resulting in some of the most picturesque scenes you could ever imagine.

One half of DownThe18th has luckily been over there this week (one of the reasons for this late preview!) and having spoken with a lot of the players, they all share the belief that this is a truly unique tournament.

The 7th hole is pretty ridiculous..

The 7th hole is pretty ridiculous..

The course isn’t the most challenging you’ll ever find, as proven by some of the winning scores, but it sure is made up for by the intriguing layout.  On the face of it, you have a tree-lined and undulating short track that requires some thought off the tee with quite a few narrow fairways.

The bigger hitters can definitely reach a couple of the par 4’s – 6 and 7 – and eagle opportunities are rife with the right tee-shot.  With the thin air, the ball travels a lot further though, meaning the course can be over-powered but you can be punished within the trees if you are too wayward.

An ampi-theatre-esque hole that was designed by the one and only Seve Ballesteros

An ampi-theatre-esque hole that was designed by the one and only Seve Ballesteros

The winner will definitely have had a solid week tee to green and given themselves the opportunity to attack pins, but we are certain this is a course where you have to push and hold back depending on your drives and approaches.

A decent field has been assembled with the move back to July, so expect a really fascinating week.

Advised Bets

Victor Dubuisson (25/1 Paddy Power)

Tyrrell Hatton (50/1 BetVictor)

Alexander Levy (60/1 Paddy Power)

Alejandro Canizares (110/1 BetFred)

Outside Bets

Mike Lorenzo-Vera (150/1 Coral)

Lionel Weber (300/1 Paddy Power)

John Deere Classic 2015

jdeere_webPrize Fund – $4,700,000

Winner’s Share – $846,000

Course – TPC Deere Run (7,268 yards Par 71)

Our 2014 Picks – Brendon De Jonge (T45), Billy Hurley III (MC), Jerry Kelly (T3), Kyle Stanley (T63), Jason Bohn (MC)

For those of you who read the blog on a weekly basis, we’re sure you would have been as annoyed as us over the last few months – no winners and money seeping out of every orifice.

So to see Danny Lee (150/1) win the 4-man play-off on Sunday was an emotional moment. And by emotion we mean get the beers out.

In honour of the great man we’d like you to watch this video.

It’s always tough to follow up big win but we’re going to ride the crest of this wave and see if we can bring in some money just in time for the Open.

The John Deere is renowned for birdies, pure and simple. The last 6 winners have shot at least -19 with Stricker, who loves it here, reaching -26 for his win in 2010. So how do we make birdies? Finding fairways. Holing putts.

Brian Harman would have been a tough pick last year having missed the cut in his two previous tournaments. But he did record a top 20 two years prior. Of the last 8 winners, only Jordan Spieth didn’t have a top 20 coming in. It’s likely Spieth will be the exception in many stats over the next few years… All of this means course form is essential.

It’s by no means a long track, at 7,200 yards, which means any sort of player can win here. If you’re finding greens and holing putts, it doesn’t matter how you’ve got there. Inevitably it will boil down to getting in done over the weekend on the greens – any Lucas Glover’s out there, steer clear.

Courtesy of SBNation

Courtesy of SBNation

DON’T FORGET – Our weekly competition with renowned magazine Golf Monthly continues, take a peak at the end of our selections to see how our stakes have been distributed this time. Twitter

You can follow us throughout the week on Twitter @downthe18th for the latest news, betting + banter. Please get in touch and let us know what you think of our picks and who you fancy as well!

Steven Bowditch (60/1 Coral)

In form - Courtesy of golfwrx

In form – Courtesy of golfwrx

The Aussie deservedly grabs our number one spot this week. The last couple of years have seen Bowditch take it to a whole new level, picking up 2 wins (the last of which was 2 months ago at the Byron Nelson) and a top 30 at Augusta, at the first time of asking.

After inevitably going off the boil for a few weeks post-victory, Steve has returned 2 top 15’s in his last 2 starts. Look closer and you’ll find that he also ranked 2nd in putting last week, behind Danny Lee. It will be a putting contest on Sunday, no doubt about it, so this confidence on the greens will be huge.

Currently ranks inside the top 50 in birdie %, par 3 and par 4 scoring. He knows how to shoot low and his 4 rounds in the 60’s last week shows he’s more ready than ever. Has also finished inside the top 12 in his last two John Deere Classics, ticking the all important course form box.

Brian Harman (40/1 Stan James)

All smiles again this week - courtesy of brianharmangolf

All smiles again this week – courtesy of brianharmangolf

If there is a course you can go back-to-back on it seems like it’s this one. A win at the John Deere breeds confidence to go again. Ask Steve Stricker – he won 3 years on the trot. Let alone Zach Johnson who has only finished outside the top 3 once in 6 years.

We’ll admit that the aforementioned Johnson worries us but at 10/1 what can you do? Otherwise, the people above Harman in the market don’t scare us which makes 40’s good value.

We said in the preview Harman missed two cuts coming into this last year. This tells us TPC Deere Run sparks something in his game. Well, Harman finished 3rd at the Travelers 2 weeks ago – ranking 2nd GIR and 13th putting. That tells us the spark is already there. If he can merge his current form with the performance he showed last year, there’s no doubting he’ll go close.

Scott Langley (100/1 Stan James)

golf2We’ll rattle through these last 4 picks, all of whom find themselves at three figures. Up first is Langley who made it into our selections by the skin of his teeth.

Has finished 27th and 33rd here the last two years which shows there’s at least some affinity with the track. But more important is his current form. 25th at the Travelers and 13th last week.

He ranked 8th GIR and 23rd putting at the Greenbrier and was even better two weeks ago – 2nd GIR. Interestingly, he was the 5th worst putter to have made the cut at the Travelers which shows he regained some of his mojo with the short stick last week.

Jhonattan Vegas (150/1 Coral)

Looking to build on his 3rd last year

Looking to build on his 3rd last year

Since shoulder surgery at the back end of 2013, we’ve not seen a lot of Vegas. Every now and then he reminds us of what he’s all about though and we definitely saw that at the Greenbrier. But for a horror Saturday, where he shot 76, Vegas would have been right in the mixer. Perhaps being in contention going into the weekend was a bit much but the fact he shot 67 on Sunday shows he picked himself back up and found his game.

Vegas playing well excites us and what excites us more is the fact he finished 3rd here last year – particularly impressive when you see his best finish here prior to that was 68th. Then we delve into his Greenbrier stats and see he ranked 4th GIR. All he needs is the putter to get hot and what better place to do it – that 3rd place last year was his best finish since his T3 at the 2011 Farmers Insurance Open, and hasn’t bettered it since.

Johnson Wagner (175/1 Paddy Power)

Loves a tash

Loves a tash

Very much like Danny Lee last week, we’ll end on a couple more stat-motivated picks.

After 5 missed cuts in a row, Wagner played a whole lot better at the Greenbrier last week. He ranked T2 GIR and shot all 4 rounds in the 60’s. Like Vegas, the putter was nowhere to be seen. But he too had a very successful 2014 at the John Deere, finishing 7th. Delve deeper and you’ll find he ranks 39th hole proximity, 34th ball striking and 4th par 3 performance. He also ranks 6th for putts inside 10 feet – we like this stat the most.

Billy Hurley III (200/1 Paddy Power)

This guy can hole a putt or two

This guy can hole a putt or two

This guy is in the Jason Bohn mould for always ticking boxes when it comes to stats. But when you see they’ve done well previously on a certain courses it always grabs your interest. Billy finished 8th here in 2012 which he won’t have forgotten about. That was his 6th best-ever finish on the PGA Tour.

The American finished 37th last week with 67’s in his first and last rounds. One thing you’re always guaranteed with Hurley is straight hitting and consistent putting and the Greenbrier was no different with him ranking 3rd in putting.

If he can combine his putting with the other stats we see him doing well in (12th hole proximity, 24th par 3, 37th driving accuracy) then 200/1 is an absolute snip.

Golf Monthly £10 ChallengeGM_masthead-630x176

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

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

Our £10 against Golf Monthly will be as follows  –

£1.25 e/w on Steven Bowditch at 60/1 (Coral)

£1.75 e/w on Brian Harman at 40/1 (Stan James)

£0.75 e/w on Scott Langley at 100/1 (Stan James)

£0.50 e/w on Jhonattan Vegas 150/1 (Coral)

£0.40 e/w on Johnson Wagner 175/1 (Paddy Power)

£0.35 e/w on Billy Hurley III 200/1 (Paddy Power)

Each way bets ¼ odds for top 5 finish unless stated otherwise.

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

Current Standings after 25 weeks
Golf Monthly
European Tour:  £45.50
PGA Tour: £-19.00
Total: £26.50
DownThe18th
European Tour: £-100.62
PGA Tour: £23.80
Total: £-76.82

Greenbrier Classic 2015

704x422Prize Fund – $6,700,000

Winner’s Share – $1,170,000

Course – The Old White TPC (7,287 yards Par 70)

Our 2014 Picks – Webb Simpson (3rd), Brendon De Jonge (T64), Chris Stroud (T4), Morgan Hoffman (MC), Andres Romero (T45)

Love him or hate him, Bubba Watson is good. He’s now racked up 8 career PGA Tour titles, the last of which came over the weekend, sealing his 2nd Travelers title. And he will have certainly been in contention for ‘Thug-life’ video of the week after pitching one to 4 feet when one patron suggested a punch shot would be better. Have a look:

Paul Casey’s re-emergence overseas continued with his 2nd play-off defeat in 2015. Both tee it up again this week in West Virginia and head the way in the betting.

It’s been a tough few weeks, months even, when it comes to picking winners at DownThe18th. So perhaps a tournament renowned for outsiders doing well is where our luck will change. The last few winners have been thus: Angel Cabrera (100/1), Jonas Blixt (125/1), Ted Potter Jnr (500/1) and Scott Stallings (175/1). Significantly, the last three winners have also been first-timers at the course. All of which suggests nightmare for punters.

What we do know is that the course is a track for all players. The trends are pretty solid though – people with extra distance off the tee thrive. From there, you need to find plenty of birdies (Stuart Appleby banged in a 59 round here in 2010) and be adept and doing so on par 4’s! We always like to follow these roughly but by no means take these trends as gospel.

As ever with flat tracks, putting is essential. Angel Cabrera was dominant tee to green in 2014 but it was much the same on the green – he ranked 3rd in putting for the week. 2013 winner Blixt ranked 1st in putting for the week when he won.

Also worth noting both Cabrera and Blixt had a top 15 finish in one of their three previous events leading up to the Greenbrier.

The Old White TPC Course looking delightful

The Old White TPC Course looking delightful

DON’T FORGET – Our weekly competition with renowned magazine Golf Monthly continues, take a peak at the end of our selections to see how our stakes have been distributed this time.

TwitterYou can follow us throughout the week on Twitter @downthe18th for the latest news, betting + banter. Please get in touch and let us know what you think of our picks and who you fancy as well!

Daniel Berger (70/1 Stan James)

New generation - courtesy of ESPN

New generation – courtesy of ESPN

Every sentence we added to our preview, Daniel Berger’s named just screamed at us. This event is perfect for someone to grab their first PGA win and properly announce themselves on the world stage. We could have made a similarly strong case for Tony Finau but at 40’s we felt it marginally short – not writing him off by no means though.

Berger’s season has been up and down as you would expect for a rookie but 5 top 10’s including a play-off defeat at the Honda shows this guy has a big future. When you think of some of the rookies down the years who have won in their first year, Berger’s potential far outweighs most of them. He deserves a win and this is the perfect course for it.

He’ll be looking to rekindle the form that saw him finish T10 two starts ago at the Byron Nelson. For the season his relevant stats read: 16th driving distance, 22nd GIR, 29th birdie average and 22nd par 4’s.

Kevin Chappell (66/1 Paddy Power)

5 cuts made in a row

5 cuts made in a row

Although it seems any prior form around this course gets written off, two top 20’s here for the American shows he can get it going on this track. We’ve seen a completely different attitude from him of late, becoming a father has matured him no end. With this new-found maturity, he has made the cut in each of his last 5 events.

On his day, he is one of the best ‘total drivers’ around and his length off the tee will help around this course. Naturally after a bleak campaign his stats are nothing to write home about but on his last start he ranked T19 GIR and T16 putting. In other words, things are getting back to where they once were.

Seung-Yul Noh (70/1 Stan James)

We Noh he's got a good chance

We Noh he’s got a good chance

The Korean is definitely one of our less backed players but the more we looked into him the more we like the look of his chances this week.

Firstly, his last 2 starts have seen a vast improvement from a mid-season slump he was enduring. He followed up a 3rd at the St.Jude Classic with a T20 last week. Both events he looked very tasty. The stats back this up – 1st GIR, 13th putting (St.Jude) and T6 GIR, 22nd putting (Travelers). If he can continue these trends this week he is going to make a ton of birdies. Incidentally, he ranks 45th in birdie % on Tour this season.

He also finished a respectable 27th 3 years ago on this track. He started like a train too, with 3 rounds in the 60’s on his first ever look at the course.

Jon Curran (125/1 Coral)

Another young guy staking a claim

Another young guy staking a claim

Another rookie that could use the Greenbrier to catapult himself into world recognition. It’s been a pretty rapid rise for the American who’s jumped up over 1000 places in the world rankings, now #168.

He comes to the Greenbrier in decent form with two top 10’s in his last three starts. He particularly caught our eye when he finished T6 at the Byron Nelson, ranking 2nd in GIR. For the season his relative stats are healthy – 25th in fairways hit, 56th in GIR and 29th in scrambling. Also T6 in proximity to the hole and 16th in bogey avoidance.

It also seems Curran has the taste for winning right now, having won the CVS Health Charity Classic alongside Keegan Bradley on Tuesday, taking home $150,000 each in the process. That has to be a good omen, right?

Danny Lee (150/1 Coral)

Lethal on the greens

Lethal on the greens

We’ll finish with another outsider and definitely the most ‘stat-motivated’ pick of the week.

Has actually been really solid of late with three top 25’s in his last 6 starts, the best of which coming at the Crowne Plaza, T10. Then we delve deeper and find out he’s one of the best putters on tour, 35th strokes gained putting. With quality like that on the greens it’s no wonder he also ranks 36th in birdie %.

To accompany his recent form, the New Zealander, born in Korea, finished 16th in this event last year. Not bad value in this field.

Golf Monthly £10 ChallengeGM_masthead-630x176

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

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

Our £10 against Golf Monthly will be as follows  –

£1.50 e/w on Daniel Berger at 70/1 (Stan James)

£1.25 e/w on Kevin Chappell at 66/1 (Paddy Power)

£1.00 e/w on Seung-Yul Noh at 70/1 (Stan James)

£0.75 e/w on Jon Curran 125/1 (Coral)

£0.50 e/w on Danny Lee 150/1 (Coral)

Each way bets ¼ odds for top 5 finish unless stated otherwise.

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

Current Standings after 24 weeks
Golf Monthly
European Tour:  £55.50
PGA Tour: £-9.00
Total: £46.50
DownThe18th
European Tour: £-90.62
PGA Tour: £-60.95
Total: £-151.57
Golf Monthly leads by: £198.07