Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open

244525_M09

Prize Fund –$3,182,925

Winner’s Share – $627,002

Course – Gullane Golf Club (7,133 yards Par 70)

Our 2014 Picks – Paul Casey – T14 Robert Karlsson – T8 Rafael Cabrera-Bello – T27 Ryan Palmer – T51 Russell Knox – T27 Scott Jamieson – T8

Well, well, well. One week away from the third major of the year and everything just seems slightly barmy right now.

Firstly the obvious and astonishing news that Rory McIlroy announced – rupturing his ankle ligaments by playing football with his mates. Definitely out of the Scottish and 99.99% likely out of The Open. Craziness.

Just as shocking as his statement, the Northern Irishman said ‘Soccer’ instead of Football. You’ve been in America for only a short while Rory, come on, it’s FOOTBALL!!

And away from that debacle is the fact that we have never, ever seen a field quite like the one we’ve been served on the European Tour this week. A simply, star-studded line-up will be bombarding on a new track to the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open rota – Gullane Golf Club.

Here’s just a few of the cheeky names that have made the trip over to the north west of Scotland…

Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Jimmy Walker, Phil Mickelson, Matt Kuchar, Brooks Koepka, Ryan Palmer, Ian Poulter, Ben Martin, John Senden, Daniel Berger, Russell Knox, Cameron Tringale, Martin Laird and even David Duval.

Aaaaannd breathe.

Simply put, what a truly spectacular couple of weeks of true links golf we’ve got ahead.

So what do we know about Gullane then? Well, honestly, not a lot. It did host Local Open Qualifying back in 2013, when Matt Fitzpatrick, Oscar Florén and Ben Stow secured a Muirfield berth.

Only Fitzpatrick is in this field, but more on that later…

It stands at 7,133 yards and has only two par 5’s, however the 16th does measure at a monstrous 599 yards. All in all, there’s mid-range par 4’s that could be out fought by big hitters if they’re on their game.

Proper Links

Proper Links

The famous East Lothian track will be using 16 holes from the No.1 course and 2 from the No.2 and it’s set over an enormous expanse of land next to the beautiful mountainous seaside. Everything about it says Links though – long fescue rough, open fairways guarded by severe bunkers and sloping greens that are protected by even more severe bunkers.

Basically, stay out the bloody bunkers. All the varied uphill and downhill lies on the undulated fairways mean that it’s important for the players to have complete control and manoeuvre the ball how and when they want.

You’ll be looking for the traditional wind specialists and those that have a solid links record.

Enjoy.

Ian Poulter (40/1 PaddyPower)

Sir Ian.

Sir Ian.

An interesting bet this week Ian Poulter. One we go into with slight trepidation, but one that could bear the fruits of some top winnings.

Firstly, he was out in japan for the ISPS Global Cup last week where he finished T4 and apparently played some very good golf. Now you can look at that like he’s had some heavy travelling, or you can think, well he’s going to be happy with the shape of his game at the moment.

Evidently, we’re going for the latter.

But all in all, it’s been a pretty solid few months for the Englishman, having recorded some impressive finishes.

A mediocre outing at Chambers Bay followed up a T5 at the Crowne Plaza, which he arguably should have come closer to winning, whilst there was 3 finishes inside the top 34 and then a T6 at Augusta.

It’s the first time we’ve seen Sir Ian back in the UK since the Ryder Cup and there’s no denying he’ll feel he has a massive point to prove.

Tommy Fleetwood (50/1 BetVictor)

Going to be kissing way more trophies in the near future...

Going to be kissing way more trophies in the near future…

Tommy Fleetwood instantly jumped off the page when we saw the odds because a lot of the mid-rangers don’t have the same sort of links pedigree and recent form.

The Englishman recorded a T11 on his last outing in Germany and even finished T27 at the very challenging Chambers Bay. The other two biggest events of the season in top quality fields, he put in quality performances as well. T6 at the BMW in Wentworth and T5 at the WGC Match Play – and that is the best 64 players in the world.

So, he’s proven he can mix it with the big boys and he’ll have to do it here for sure. His recent form on Links tracks is highly impressive, having grown up in the Southport area, that’s no surprise.

T21 in Ireland, T17 at the Trophee Hassan, T2 at this event last year, T2 in Wales and his only European Tour win coming at the Johnnie Walker Classic at Gleneagles.

The boy’s got game in the wind.

Russell Knox (66/1 various)

He will love it if things get naughty weather wise

He will love it if things get naughty weather wise

We seem to do it every time Russell Knox is over on Scottish shores, but it’s just too tempting. Especially at 66/1.

We’ve consistently seen the specialist all-rounder in and around PGA Tour leaderboards and challenging for an e/w return. A T8 at the FedEx St. Jude Classic shows that he’s not far away and whilst there was a worrying withdrawal last week, the fact he was over par and sighted an ‘unknown illness’ to us means that he’s absolutely fine.

He probably just wanted to get over here quicker and get into the swing of things on his home turf.

His game is well suited to links golf and having gained so much experience and stature over in the States, there’s no reason he can’t replicate his outstanding tee to green game and give the leaders a run for their money.

Matthew Fitzpatrick (125/1 various)

Not bad..

Not bad..

Firstly, we know that Matthew Fitzpatrick has missed the last 2 cuts and in fact missed 3 out of the last 4 cuts, but there’s still been enough golf in recent outings to warrant selection this week.

T3 in Austria before a very impressive T8 in Ireland on a very demanding Links course.

And that is where our main arguments lie. Links golf. He clearly has a natural love for coastal tracks – he even finished T23 at the RBC Heritage last year, one of the only links courses in the States.

But what draws us most to the young Englishman, is the fact that he is one of the only men in the field to have actually played Gullane in tournament conditions. He sailed through ‘Local’ Open Qualifying in 2013 before going on to win the Silver Medal. This place will hold good memories for him and if he can get his game going like we’ve seen in the past, there’s no reason why he can’t be in and around at the weekend.

David Horsey (225/1 StanJames)

Horsey with horsey.

Horsey with horsey.

Sorry, but at 225/1 it’s 100% worth a punt on wind and rain specialist Dave Horsey.

The Englishman has shown his liking to links tracks many times in the past and there’s absolutely no reason he can’t mount a challenge for a place this week.

He missed the cut last time out in France, but a T11 at the BMW gives some indication that he’s knocking it all right and for a specialist on these type of layouts, 225 seems very healthy.

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  –

£1.75 e/w on Ian Poulter at 40/1 (BetVictor)

£1.43 e/w on Tommy Fleetwood at 50/1 (Ladbrokes)

£1.00 e/w on Russell Knox at 66/1 (PaddyPower)

£0.50 e/w on Matthew Fitzpatrick 125/1 (StanJames)

£0.32 e/w on David Horsey 225/1 (StanJames)

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:  £45.50
PGA Tour: £-19.00
Total: £26.50
DownThe18th
European Tour: £-100.62
PGA Tour: £23.80
Total: £-76.82
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FedEx St. Jude Classic 2015

The PGA Tour moves onto Memphis this week as we enter the final few hurdles before the US Open makes its big mark on the season. Do check out our 1st preview when it’s published in a few days!

Basically, the players are now just gearing up for Chambers Bay, using the next couple of weeks as a warm up and for some this will be their last outing before that next major.

The field isn’t particularly mouth-watering, but there’s still enough big names to get the juices flowing – Dustin Johnson (who considering what the course is like, miraculously won here in 2012!), Phil Mickelson (again, decent form considering his wayward tee game), Webb Simpson, Brooks Koepka, Harris English et al are some of the ‘bigger names’ at the event.

TPC Southwind is an unusual track in some ways, because it can certainly cause players difficulty with it’s abundance of lakes, ponds and hazards in general. However, on the surface it doesn’t look like a place that should be too challenging.

The Par 70 stands at 7,239 yards and requires the ball to be kept in play. Looking at the players who have won here in recent history, you can see that they’ve had their iron game in absolute control, as well as being hot with the putter.

Ben Crane, English and DJ all struck the ball beautifully during their wins, whilst found the knack of holing putts. When we look at last years stats, there are correlations with accuracy and putting – barring Matt Every who finished in a tie for 3rd, everyone inside the top 6 were consistent across the board for driving accuracy, GIR and putting.

Interestingly. Only Brian Harman finished outside the top 30 for putting stats from the guys who were inside the top 11…

It’s also worth keeping in mind that scrambling could play a part from around the difficult greens, because obviously you aren’t going to hit the dance floor 100% of the time!

Webb Simpson (18/1 various)

Gunning for another victory on a tough course

Gunning for another victory on a tough course

Webb Simpson is obviously one of the favourites and understandably so considering his recent outing and finish here last year. For those of you that follow us regularly, you will know that we rarely go for the top end of the market, but this time it’s too appealing.

When it comes to requirements for this track, Webb fits the majority of them. He is 11th in total driving and 19th for GIR, which is simply the perfect tee to green combination for Southwind.

We all know how impressive he can be with his irons. Last time out at the Wells Fargo he finished top of the driving accuracy stats for the week and 38th for GIR.

But the big mark against him at the moment is his putting, however this is the main reason we have decided we want to go with him… He finished 11th for total putting at Quail Hollow ending the tournament in a tie for 2nd.

That is much better form and shows he actually started holing some putts. If he can bring that here, he’ll be in a fantastic position to challenge – plus he finished T3 on this track last year…

Luke Donald (40/1 Coral)

Time for some success from the Englishman

Time for some success from the Englishman

Now, considering the 40/1 price, this is a risky bet. However, Luke Donald just has that duel feeling of ‘what if’ and ‘close but no cigar.’

The Englishman has been pretty average for quite a while now and without his absolutely ridiculous short game, he would have missed cuts galore.

And that is the main reason we fancy him this week. At the BMW he was simply awful at time off the tee – but his scrambling, touch and putting saved him on several occasions.

Moving on one week, he looked a bit better tee to green and that got us thinking he might have a say come the end of the tournament.

He finished in a tie for 18th and on the Sunday he was 11th for driving accuracy, 26th GIR and 10th putts per round, whilst on the Saturday he was 18th driving accuracy, 15th GIR and 19th putts per round.

If that doesn’t make you want to go there, nothing ever will.

Scott Pinckney (90/1 Coral) 

Scott Pinckney seems like a very interesting outsider this week. He is only 26 years old and spent some time over in Europe with not a great deal of success, but he is still a promising talent.

He’s supposedly mates with the world number one – not hugely sure how that helps – but we have seen 4 top 12’s since March which is decent form for anyone.

But last time out he shot 2 64’s at the Byron Nelson to finish in a tie for 2nd which is very exciting.

He’s 97th for driving accuracy, 54th for GIR and 42nd strokes gained putting and simply seems like a decent pick considering the field and odds!

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  –

£3.50 e/w on Webb Simpson at 18/1 (PaddyPower 6 Places)

£1.00 e/w on Luke Donald at 40/1 (StanJames)

£0.50 e/w on Scott Pinckney at 90/1 (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 19 weeks

DownThe18th                                 Golf Monthly

European Tour: £-71.95                  European Tour:  £-50.62

PGA Tour: £-25.94                           PGA Tour: £23.75

Total: £-97.89                                   Total: £-26.87

Golf Monthly leads by: £70.02

 

Zurich Classic of New Orleans 2015

Prize Fund – $6,900,000cefgiorwy459

Winner’s Share – $1,242,000

Course – TPC Louisiana (7,341 par 72)

Our 2014 Picks – Everyone missed the cut barring Stuart Appleby (T17)

It was great to Jimbo Furyk back in the winners circle last week, an unbelievable effort in the playoff when he’s so often bottled in recent years! But moving onto a new week and we’re in New Orleans.

The Zurich Classic has been a mainstay of the PGA Tour for a number of years now, with TPC Louisiana being the host track since 2007. The Pete Dye course is one of the most well-known during the calendar and often provides us with some entertaining action.  Over 100 bunkers, water hazards on 8 holes and 5 par 4’s measuring in at under 400 yards shows that there’s plenty to attack and defend during the 4 days. You can clearly overpower a track of this nature, with brute force propelling you to needing just a short wedge game and top scoring on the greens, but if you go to askew, then the bunkers, water or rough will eat you alive.

Courtesy of bunkersparadise

Courtesy of bunkersparadise

There is a definite need to be relatively straight and outstanding with your irons – proven by past winners here – The likes of Noh Seung-Yul, Billy Horschel, Jason Dufner, Bubba Watson, Jerry Kelly have all won here which shows that is an iron players course. You can hardly say big hitters suit it because the comparison between Bubba and Kelly are beyond ridiculous and just don’t exist.  If you are long, you have to be straight and if you are short you have to be consistent and challenging pins on every approach. A fascinating prospect ahead and for us, it’s best to take a look at total driving, GIR and scoring because the last 3 winners have come in with at least -19…

The steely concentration of Keegan Bradley

The steely concentration of Keegan Bradley

Keegan Bradley (22/1 Stan James)

Keegan Bradley has been in and out of form this season, but has shown enough glimpses for us to think that he’s due a big, big performance. On this sort of track where a top tee to green game is required, he suits everything on paper. He is 1st in total driving and 90th for GIR, which is a very decent and interesting combination.

He hits the ball long and straight and has done for most of the year, but his putting is currently letting him down. His switch to a shorter putter started very well in the first few weeks, but consistency over the long term hasn’t been the same.

Even 76th in scoring average shows that he has the ability to go low and we were impressed with a relatively solid outing at Augusta – T22 and a top performance at the Shell Houston Open – T5.

Whilst last year at this event, he finished T8, when in all probability, he should have ended much nearer the top. A +3 final day completely ruined his opening brilliance which included a 66 and 65.

We are sure he has the perfect match for the Louisiana track and we are desperate for someone to actually score under par on a final round – surely he wouldn’t do it 2 years on the trot?!

Daniel Berger (66/1 Various)

New generation - courtesy of ESPN

New generation – courtesy of ESPN

Okay, so Berger is one of these young players who you feel uncomfortable backing at short odds given the pressure they have to undergo when challenging for their first PGA title! For some, that pressure is too much. Just look at Graham DeLaet and Brendon De Jonge. But this guy it seems is a little different.

We were on him when he missed out to Padraig Harrington of all people earlier in the year but to even get to a play-off in your first few months on Tour is some going. Over the years this tournament has been won by all sorts of golfers but Berger is someone who could overpower it and make a ton of birdies.

Statistically speaking it’s hard not to get excited really – T14 ball striking, 6th par 5 birdie or better, 4th total birdies, 2nd rounds in the 60’s. Those are essentially saying he’s unbelievable tee to green and has no problem holing the putts either.

We see many youngsters come and go on the tour but this guy seems like he’s a class above and a win here would certainly show that.

John Peterson 50/1 Various

PetersonIt’s not pretty seeing the American at these odds so the bookie’s must have buzzed off him as much as we do. None the less we’re not going to let odds grab us by the balls, we like him and we’re chucking our money on him.

Why? He’s played 3 times here, 2 missed cuts but then an 8th in 2013 – there is some liking for the track. His current form is as good as you’ll ever get for this man in current times, 18th RBC and 11th Valero Texas. No missed cuts in 5 events either. So plenty of boxes ticked.

The stats – 22nd ball striking (which takes into account GIR and total driving if you were unfamiliar), 40th total birdies, 28th rounds in the 60’s.

And last week at the RBC Heritage, Peterson was comfortably first in GIR finding over 80% of greens! All of which tells us tee to green his game is there, all we ask for is a red-hot putter for at least 3 days and he’ll be in the mix

Lucas Glover (100/1 Various)

Glover celebrating his win here in 2011 with his mother. A lovely mothers day present!

Glover celebrating his win here in 2011 with his mother.

What a bizarre career Lucas Glover has had. Three PGA Tour wins, one of which includes the US Open. Many of his outings are fighting for a pay check, sticking perilously close to the cut, but he is, in paper, a major winner.

This season the struggles have continued, with a best finish of T15 at the Humana, but we did see some sort of decent effort at the Heritage last week.

He actually managed to shoot to rounds below 70 which should give him plenty of confidence, whilst he was inside the top 27 for both driving accuracy and distance and 2nd for GIR. So, that makes it obvious what is letting him down – the short stick. When does it not?!

But we are looking past that simply because this is a track he has played so well at before. Four top 10s in his last 8 outings here, including a T4 a couple of years back when he was in appalling form.  He actually went into the final day with a 2-shot lead but completely bottled it. We’re just hoping he can draw on that experience and challenge once again.

Jason Bohn (110/1 BetFred)

Quality outsider

Quality outsider

If you followed us a few weeks back Jason Bohn was almost our number 1 pick for the Shell Houston which shows how much he featured on our radar. So we come to the Zurich Classic where he won one of his two PGA Tour titles back in 2010 – it would be rude not to have a nibble.

His aforementioned victory here is the major factor in backing him. And this season we have seen a new and improved Jason Bohn. The fact that he has already earned more money this year than he did for each of 2011, 2012 and 2013 tells the story.

Coming into this event he has a pair of top 20 finishes in his last 4, no missed cuts. For the season he ranks 64th ball striking (28th GIR), 27th total birdies and 21st rounds in the 60’s. Like Peterson, also had a healthy GIR% last week, ranking 14th.

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  –

£3.50 WIN on Keegan Bradley at 18/1

£1.25 e/w on Daniel Berger at 60/1

£1.00 e/w on John Peterson at 50/1

£0.40 e/w on Lucas Glover at 100/1

£0.60 e/w on Jason Bohn at 80/1

Each way bets ¼ odds for top 6 finish. Prices sourced from Paddy Power

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

Current Standings after 14 weeks (and it makes for horrible reading…)

DownThe18th                                 Golf Monthly

European Tour: £-38.70               European Tour:  £-53.75

PGA Tour: £-69.38                           PGA Tour: £58.50

Total: £-108.08                                   Total: £4.75

Golf Monthly leads by: £112.83

Shenzhen International 2015

Prize Fund – $2.5 million

Winner’s Share – €386,168

Course – Genzon Golf Club (7,145 par 72)

Our 2014 Picks – No Tournament

The European Tour heads to the east this week after a 2-week break (obviously The Masters does count towards RTB though!)

Not many from Augusta have made the trip over, but surprisingly Bubba Watson is heading the market and taking a plunge at European glory, probably because he’s won in China recently – the WGC HSBC Champions last year.

It’s a new tournament and track, but we did get to see everyone at Genzon GC at the Volvo China open last year when Alexander Levy came out on top with a solid 4-shot victory.

GenzonHis sheer distance and GIR abilities outshone the field and you can definitely expect more of the same. Everyone inside the top 13 had ridiculous GIR stats and those that didn’t hit the ball particularly long, were very good around the greens.

Although the track is clearly short at 7,145 yards, there’s were obvious signs that you can overpower the course. Levy, Alvaro Qurios, Henrik Stenson and Rafa Cabrera-Bello finished inside the top 8 and all tanked the ball, however the likes of Ian Poulter, Anders Hansen and Mikko Ilonen also finished high and don’t even come close to their big-hitting counterparts.

That basically suggests a variety of players could do well here and you can make a case for several.

We’re hoping we can find the value and winner in what should be quite a decent tournament.

Pablo Larrazabal (25/1 Various)

Larrazabal FourIt’s a price that we’re a little apprehensive about given his recent showing in Morocco and proven performances in China, it’s one that is duly warranted.

Despite an un-inspiring 36th on this course last year, you delve a little deeper and you see that the Spaniard loves it in in the far east and China in particular. His 2 appearances in the HSBC Champions, in China, have been 14th (2014) and 20th (2011). He has a 5th place in 2013 at the BMW Masters and most impressive are his China Open showings – 5th (2013), 18th (2012), 10th (2011), 8th (2010). His form in Dubai isn’t too shabby either, his win at the Abu Dhabi HSBC last year epitomising that.

So he loves the area, but what shape is he in at the moment? His 3rd at the Trophee Hassan in his last outing had a blend of what he is all about. 14th GIR, 15th driving distance and of course a few missed putts along the way. But if there’s one thing we’re really confident on is that one top 5 with this guy usually manifests itself into a couple more in the coming weeks.

Morten Orum Madsen (40/1 Various)

Outrageous jumper

Outrageous jumper

For someone who is in decent form, one of the few to have played this track and hits the ball a mile.

He shot a 68 and 69 at the Volvo China Open last year, on his way to a T19 finish and that previous knowledge of this track will stand him in great stead. You can definitely say that since then, he has become a far more mature and all-round player, so it is quite exciting to think what he could do on his 2nd trip to the course.

Six finishes inside the top 25 this season, including a T3 at the Africa Open and T4 in Dubai.  Everything seemed to stem for a solid outing in Portugal last year where he ended in T4 as well.

Most recently he played at the Investec Cup in Africa, where he finished T18 and kept his run of form going. He hasn’t dropped outside the top 20 in 3 starts and we have some real he can continue that and go even higher in China. 24th in driving distance and 28th in putts per round add to the appeal.

Alvaro Quiros (66/1 Various)

alvaro-quiros-5Of all tipsters/betting lovers, whatever you want to call it, there’ll be few people that have put as much faith in an Alvaro Quiros return to form as us.

We’re sure many want to see it and we are certainly top of that list because here you have a player with a ridiculous amount of potential. His star quality has been seen on bigger stages than this already, so it must be frustrating for him and his team that he hasn’t got back to the top quite yet. There’s been signs, don’t get us wrong and one of those signs came on this course a year ago.  At the Volvo China Open, he recorded an impressive T3 finish – one of his highest since his injury – and that just proves he took a liking to this track.

It would seem simply foolish not to at least think about the Spaniard once again this year because he has played for a longer period now and whilst his performances have been poor this season, it’s definitely worth the risk on this sort of track. He hits the ball a ridiculous length and has irons that can be so fluid.  Why not.

Maximilian Kieffer (80/1 Various)

The German leaves no putt un-checked

The German leaves no putt un-checked

The German when he first burst on the scene was all about distance but over the past year or so we’ve seen considerable improvement in his iron play. It seems he has found the right balance. All he needs now is start churning out some big money finishes.

His T32 on this track here showed signs of promise, ranking top 20 for putting and 8th driving distance. Now like we said, Kieffer has become a lot more consistent from the fairways and at the Trophee Hassan it really started to show – he ranked 4th GIR for the week. It’s also good to note he played in the BMW Masters in China at the back end of the year, so he’s no stranger to the environment.

Michael Hoey (90/1 BetFred)

Knows how to get the job done!

Knows how to get the job done!

Despite not being a monster off the tee, Hoey is never usually lower than top 20 when it comes to distance. And his ability from the fairway is well documented as one of the best in the business on his day.

You’ll always find him at this sort of price which tells the story, consistency is often missing. So with no real performance this year of note we’re looking at his T8 on this course last year. He ranked inside the top 25 in all facets of his game and enjoyed the track. Like one of our other picks, Kieffer, the Northern Irishman gave a good account of himself at the BMW Masters finishing T34.

His Trophée Hassan performance does not thrill us but top 30 in both GIR and driving distance certainly isn’t bad. We’re looking for his game to finally all click on a course that will bring back good memories from last year.

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  –

£3.00 WIN on Pablo Larrazabal at 25/1

£1.50 e/w on Morten Madsen at 40/1

£0.75 e/w on Alvaro Quiros at 66/1

£0.75 e/w on Max Kieffer at 80/1

£0.50 e/w on Michael Hoey at 80/1

Each way bets ¼ odds for top 6 finish. Prices sourced from Paddy Power

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

Current Standings after 13 weeks (and it makes for horrible reading…)

DownThe18th                                 Golf Monthly

European Tour: £-28.70               European Tour:  £-43.75

PGA Tour: £-59.38                           PGA Tour: £68.50

Total: £-88.08                                   Total: £24.75

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The Masters 2015 Preview Two

For the past 2 years we have extensively looked into the Masters, working out who is playing the sort of golf to challenge at Augusta.

As you can see in our 1st preview – check it out!!! – we took a peak at trends and stats of recent winners to see which players fit the bill in 2015.2015 Masters

For this 2nd preview we’ve decided to take a mixture of the last 2 years but and produce a write-up that gives a few of our opinions but is more of a database for all of you out there to decide where your hard earned money should be going this year!

One of the main reasons we’ve decided to do this is that we really feel that this years event will be one of the closest and toughest to call in recent history. There are so many top, top players in ridiculous form and with the attributes to put together a real challenge for the green jacket.

Jordan Spieth – 3-time winner this season, Rory McIlroy going for a 3rd Major in a row, Bubba Watson – winner in 2015 and double Masters champion looking to retain his jacket, Jason Day finally recorded a solid victory not long ago and has a cracking record here, Dustin Johnson – WGC Cadillac champion and on his day can destroy any course, Patrick Reed – nearly a double winner this year, let alone the bundle of others in cracking form. We don’t mean to leave anyone out but we could be here for ages if we carried on!

We will then take a small peak at a few of the names who stand out in multiple categories and have a closer look at their recent Masters form.

Hope you enjoy the read and find it useful, please do get in touch with us if there’s any questions or something you simply want to get off your chest!

Our email is downthe18th@hotmail.co.uk and twitter @downthe18th

Happy researching and more importantly, happy punting!

Key:

– The stats in bold indicate that the player in question fits the corresponding trend
– The stats highlighted in blue indicate that this stat is from the European Tour – it’s wherever that player in question has ‘played’ the most in the corresponding category.

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Rory McIlroy (6/1 various)

If Rory doesn’t win at Augusta in a few weeks’ time, he’ll win next year. And if he doesn’t win next year, then he’ll win it the year after. His game is perfect for that golf course. He’s going to win there. It’s only a question of when, he’s that good. 

Darren Clarke on Rory McIlroy in the Independent this story by Karl MacGinty in the Independent.

The World number one. The man of the moment. The golfer with his sport in the palm of his hands. Rory has won the last two majors and will be looking to give himself a chance of creating history by owning all four in a row.
His form has been ridiculous throughout the past 18 months – 6 wins to his name – so the fact he is at 6/1 is more than understandable.
That is some feat to even dream about but he clearly has every chance because his game suits Augusta perfectly.

Well, to be honest it suits most tracks, but we all saw his potential here in 2011 when he went into the final day with a 4-shot lead. The idea of him bottling from that position now is simply unthinkable.

Stats: Right, so in our original trends for recent winners, McIlroy missed out in driving accuracy. He was as low as 55% for the season which is pretty poor considering how you associate him with a ridiculous game off the tee.

But his last outing at the Arnold Palmer has changed that and pushed him up to 60%, meaning he now FITS EVERY SINGLE STAT AND TREND – very ominous if you ask us…

Martin Kaymer (80/1 Coral)

I was never able to hit a draw, but now I can hit a draw without a problem, so that was the biggest thing.

Martin Kaymer talking about his own game last year

This statement makes interesting reading because the well-known ‘draw factor’ is so vital to overcome the challenge at Augusta. Martin Kaymer will surely know that the rest of his game has the perfect fitting to match this famous track, so adding a draw could be a massive help in his quest for victory.

A half decent season, barring that obvious bottle in Abu Dhabi, but as a 2-time major winner, he has all the credentials. Not the greatest form here admittedly, but if that draw is working, he could really put something together this year.

Stats: Considering his inconsistent season, may be surprising to see that he fits absolutely everything in the stats department. However, he does possess a top quality all-round game. It was still a surprise to see he ticked all the boxes, so the fact you can get him at 80’s should appeal…

Henrik Stenson (20/1 PaddyPower)

I would think Henrik is one of a few players who can win tournaments on ball striking alone. He’s certainly got the game. There are quite a few players who deserve to win majors, but unfortunately you have to win them.

Henrik Stenson’s swing coach Pete Cowen

As his swing coach Pete Cowan rightly alludes to – Stenson has one of the most incredible ball striking games in the world. If he’s on it, then he can destroy any course, even Augusta.
He may not have played particularly well here in terms of overall finishes, but he has shown brief rounds of ability around the notoriously difficult track. He lead for 17 holes of the first round in 2012 buy a quadruple bogey on the 18th completely ruined him and meant he could never quite recover. 

A slight bottle at the Arnold Palmer may deter a few, especially with his odds being cut in half, but don’t discount the big hitting Swede.

Stats: In our original trends and stats method, Stenson failed to meet the requirement in putting stats, however after an outrageous performance at the Arnold Palmer, he shot right up to 2nd in strokes gained putting on the PGA Tour.

This does now mean HE NOW FITS EVERY TREND of recent winners and makes him so much more backable.

Bubba Watson (10/1 various)

When you’re playing a hook it usually takes off. But that ball danced like it had a lot of backspin on it. I saw that ball hit the green, and I said, ‘Wow.’ That was something.

Not only did he play the shot, but he played the shot and ended up with control at the end of the shot – which I thought was the amazing part. That will go down as one of the great shots ever played in the game.

Jack Nicklaus on Bubba Watson’s shot to help win the Masters playoff in 2012

One of the great mavericks in world golf. Bubba has picked up two green jackets with his unique and bombing displays. He would be the first player since Tiger to win back to back Masters and what an achievement that would be.

His season has had it’s ups and downs, but a win recent enough at the WGC HSBC will still give him confidence, along with a couple of top 10s since.

Don’t back against Bubba.

Stats: Fits everything barring greens in regulation, which is incredibly surprising. A lot of his game is built around his prowess with the irons, so that might put you off.

Or you may think it doesn’t matter at all because this course clearly suits his eye so much…

Jason Day (14/1 everywhere)

I’ve loved the way he’s refocused and rededicated himself to the game of golf. He’s playing extremely well and he’s managed his schedule extremely well coming into it.

I think he’s primed, he’s fresh and ready to go. His game suits Augusta National

Greg Norman talking about Jason Day

This recent crop of Aussies do seem to enjoy Augusta. Whilst Scott won here, Leishman and have shown plenty of promise in previous years. The latter has an enviable record considering his limited time at the top of the game, but he very much a part of this new crop of young, emerging talent.

A big factor with the 26-year old is that he’s bagged himself another win. A good win as well – the Farmers Insurance Open is never an easy title to get.

That would’ve silenced a few doubters and you cannot argue with how incredibly consistently he’s playing this season and that hasn’t really happened before coming here…

Stats: As you can imagine, fit everything except for driving accuracy. We’ve all seen him spray a ball into the middle of nowhere before, but he’s shown that on his day, his tee to green abilities can propel him to the top of leaderboards.

Patrick Reed (40/1 BetVictor)

I believe in myself and – especially with how hard I’ve worked – I’m one of the top five players in the world

Patrick Reed, talking about himself after winning the WGC Cadillac last year

A confident man who caused plenty of controversy last year with this outlandish comment. He would have upset an applecart or two after saying this, but few would have predicted his continued rise into the highest echelons of the game.

Currently 15th in the world and preparing for only a 5th start in any major, Reed shouldn’t be dismissed easily.

He went to University in the area and has previous knowledge of the courses as a junior and we saw for half a round last year how devastating he could be at Augusta.

A win at the Hyundai and nearly a double at the Valspar shows what sort of form we’re talking about here.

Stats: Misses out in two areas. He obviously missed the cut last year, but you can look past that if you consider how well he played before Amen Corner.

He also fails in driving accuracy which has seemed to be his downfall at times.

Adam Scott (22/1 Coral)

It will not surprise me if he wins more major championships than any other Australian golfer in history. Adam’s an incredible competitor. He’s not a guy that wants to sit back and relax and rest on his laurels. He has incredible fire within his system

Greg Norman on Adam Scott after his Masters victory in 2013

Adam Scott will have a big place in our hearts for many years after becoming our first big, big win when he wore the green jacket a couple of years ago.

He has gone from strength to strength since then, recording a further 4 top 10’s in 7 major outings. He may not have won this calendar year, but his form is still consistent enough to make you really think about plumping on the Aussie.

Stats: Fits everything barring putting. Completely understandable when you consider his change with the short stick recently, attempting to use the shorter putter.

We are lead to believe he will use his trusted anchor version for Augusta, so don’t be surprised to see him with it. Potentially a big game changer in whether to back him or not, so keep an eye out in pressers, on twitter and general news sites.

Jordan Spieth (12/1 Ladbrokes)

It’s clear as a bell to me, he gives you a look I’ve never seen before. It’s like a mean look, but not really mean. It’s a look of I-know-where-I’m-going.

It’s not cocky. It’s confident. It’s wonderful to watch what he’s doing.

Ben Crenshaw talking about Spieth

The next protagonist in this new bundle of leading youngsters. After an outrageous start to his professional career, who would back against him adding his first major, especially after a superb first effort at Augusta last year – pushing Bubba the whole way.

His form this season has been absolutely ridiculous and record-breaking. No one has produced more wins than the 21-year old this season (3) and he became just the fourth player since 1940 to record 2 PGA Tour victories before turning 22.

With one of the most complete all-round games in world golf and a T2 finish last year, Spieth really is one of the danger men.

Stats: Bizarrely, he fits everything but GIR. You would expect his approach stats would be right up there, but across the season he just misses out because of that.

He does have a remarkable scrambling game though, so missing the odd green won’t really effect his chances. However at 12/1, you have to be really, really, really confident on his abilities…

Jimmy Walker (30/1 PaddyPower)

He just works hard, has a lot of talent, a good demeanour. I think we’re just seeing the tip of the iceberg with this guy.

Coach Butch Harmon after his win at the AT&T Pebble Beach in 2014

Some may argue that this is a surprise inclusion in our quick peak at some of the players from the stats table but just look at his results.

Firstly, at the time of writing, he is right in the hunt for another win in Texas, whilst he recorded 4 victories since the beginning of last season.

That’s not bad going for someone who was widely considered a journeyman! But the legendary touch of Butch Harmon has clearly galvanised the American and now a major challenge doesn’t seem far away.

By far his best performance in majors came last year with 3 top 10s – his only top 10s to date – so he is clearly on the cusp. A long game that suits Augusta and form that smells of a Major champion.

Stats: Right, he also fits everything barring driving accuracy and that is certainly understandable. We’ve all seen him spray a few at times, but when he is on it, his drivers are ludicrously dominant.

That’s how he can win tournaments, especially with a very, very consistent game around the greens. Although at 30’s, you’ve gotta have real faith in him because there’s some top players in and around those odds that may be preferred.

Rickie Fowler (40/1 Coral)

The one thing that’s so good about Rickie if you watch him is his mind. His mind is the best part of his game. His physical game is great, but his mind is so good.

He’s gonna fight to the end, and he’s not gonna let bad swings or bad putts or whatever creep in his mind. He’s gonna just keep fighting.

Bubba Watson talking about Fowler in 2010.

It’s not been a good season for Rickie Fowler. By any means. He doesn’t actually fit the stats in 3 areas, which therefore seems ridiculous to even think about writing a Fowler spiel.

However, he has to be thought about because of how he performed in the big events last year.

4 top 5’s prove he has all the credentials and we can’t help but think his game has the perfect hallmarks for Augusta – if it’s working properly.

Stats: As we said above, misses out in 3 areas, but that shouldn’t deter you from seriously thinking about putting your money on the young American. He has already gone out to Augusta and got plenty of practice in, so it’s whether you feel he is worth it at 40/1 with Coral…

Hideki Matsuyama (66/1 Coral)

I think you’ve just seen the start, of what’s going to be truly one of your world’s great players over the next 10 or 15 years.

Jack Nicklaus on Matsuyama after his win at The Memorial in 2014

Now, we backed Hideki Matsuyama at 80/1 for The Masters about 10 months ago. We thought he was going to go on and blow away all sorts of records, therefore find himself at 33’s/40’s. Whilst he hasn’t quite delivered, you can hardly say his form and performances have been poor.

He won in Japan at the back end of last year and came so close at both the Waste Management and Northern Trust Open. He had a putt to get into a playoff in Phoenix and the ball brushed the hole, simply not wanting to drop, so he has shown his form.

Won the leading amateur at Augusta in 2011, but hasn’t shown anything again since, which may worry a few, but his game is so consistent that you wouldn’t back against him.

Stats: That missed cut here last year means he doesn’t fit everything; otherwise he would have done quite easily. Not surprising considering how talented his all-round game is, so definitely one to consider as a mid-range outsider.

Lee Westwood (50/1 various)

Lee is one of the best drivers of the ball, he has been there a couple of times coming down the stretch and he knows what it takes, he just has to get over that factor of not winning a major tournament

Ian Woosnam talking about Lee ahead of Augusta a couple of years ago

Clearly the surprise package of all the players who made the trends. In fact, we nearly had a heart attack. But, when you look at it deeper, you can understand.

The perennial bottler who will top many peoples list as the ‘best player never to have won a major’ Lee will have to do a lot for all of us to even consider putting our money on him.

Although in his last 5 outings at Augusta, his worst finish is T11 and that includes 2 inside the top 3. Ridiculous form.

As for this season, he won in Thailand at the back end of last year and has a couple of top 10s in Europe.

Stats: Obviously, he fits everything – including putting! He is actually 17th for strokes gained in America, which is just madness. He has still shown the odd bottle over the short putts recently, but there’s been a marked improvement.

Louis Oosthuizen (66/1 Ladbrokes)

He’s an incredible talent and has that unflappable temperament that you need to win big tournaments. I believe he will win more majors in his career. Ernie Els, 2012

The 2010 Open champion has one of the smoothest swings in the game. Because of his injury issues and time off, people have generally completely forgotten about Louis. But do that at your peril.

5 appearances this season and 4 top 10s. The Arnold Palmer and WGC are notoriously difficult tracks and generally contain the crème de la crème, so the fact he finished strongly in both outings, shows where he’s at when he gets on the course.

Famously came 2nd here in 2012 when Bubba beat him with that ridiculous shot in a playoff, so he’s shown he can do it round here.

Stats: Actually fits everything barring putting. He would do if it was calculated on the European Tour though and he has shown his short stick can perform when he gets in a groove.

But his game is more about the tee to green brilliance and at 66/1, you can’t help but think he’s a decent mid-ranger.

Webb Simpson (150/1 PaddyPower)

Webb had such natural instincts as well as natural talent, he learned the game from the green back to the tee. He was making 30-foot putts all the time when he was 10 and 11 years old.

Once Webb filled out, he got his distance, and then he got even better

Webb’s coach Ted Kiegiel, who has been with him since he was nine years old

Another major champion, but by far and away the highest odds of anyone in this list. You can find him at 150/1 with some, which is madness considering his background.

Admittedly, he has never really performed here, but his overall abilities could overcome the Augusta challenge if he brings his a-game.

3 top 10s this season show that he isn’t in the worst knick and widely regarded as one of the best in and around the greens.

Stats: The main reason we couldn’t help but write him down here. The only stat he doesn’t fit is the fact he missed the cut here last year.

He ticks all the other boxes and has shown that he’s got the perfect game for many courses, let alone Augusta.

But at such high odds, it may be worth looking into him at great length.

The Masters 2015 – Preview One

us-masters-3

Here we go again.  The one every golfing lover looks forward to.  The one that captures the imagination of those sporting fans who ‘don’t mind golf.’  The one that makes a superstar from a field of stars.  This is the 2015 Masters.

For those that have followed us over the past few years, you will know that we like to preview the Majors once or twice before our ‘main’ preview with finalised selections.  This year will be no different and we begin with this naughty treat looking at the trends and historic stats at Augusta.

Obviously, the field has not been officially finished, but we do know the majority as it stands, so we’ve grabbed all those players and whittled them down those that don’t meet the criteria to see who we’re left with.

The players listed below the bolded trend or stat, are the guys that have failed to achieve whatever is being said and after our research, we were left with 3 golfers.  One of them is relatively obvious, whilst 2 are complete shocks to us and will probably be to you.

As we’ve said, we have done this the past couple of years and looking at the players who’ve matched all the trends/stats and where they finished makes for interesting reading –

2013 – 

Tiger Woods – T4

Justin Rose – T25

Adam Scott – WON

2014 –

Adam Scott – T14

Jason Day – T20

Rory McIlroy – T8

Dustin Johnson – MC

Looking at those guys, it clearly shows you will get someone who gives you a run for your money.  Last year, all these guys barring DJ had one round that cost them, but were in the mix.  Obviously 2013 says it all.

But anyway enough drivel, here’s that magic list:

Each of the past 15 winners made the cut at The Masters the year before –

Ryan Moore, Victor Dubuisson, Sang-Moon Bae, Luke Donald, Sergio Garcia, Marc Leishman, Ernie Els, Branden Grace, Phil Mickelson, Webb Simpson, Charl Schwartzel, Harris English, Ian Woosnam, Graeme McDowell, Zach Johnson, Dustin Johnson, Hideki Matsuyama, Graham DeLaet, Mark O’Meara, Patrick Reed, Angel Cabrera, Trevor Immelman, Keegan Bradley, Jason Dufner, Tim Clark, Tom Watson, Ben Crenshaw

The past 23 Major winners had at least one top 10 in the same year – so far this year, will update weekly. (Bear in mind that the last 12 Major winners all had MULTIPLE top 10s before their win…)

Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose, Tiger Woods, John Senden, José María Olazábal, Vijay Singh, Mike Weir, Darren Clarke, Ernie Els, Thomas Bjørn, Jonas Blixt, Kevin Stadler, Ben Crane, Brian Harman, Billy Horschel, Chris Kirk, Hunter Mahan, Ben Martin, Seuny Yul Noh, Kevin Streelman, Camilo Villegas, Morgan Hoffmann, Geoff Ogilvy, Cameron Tringale, Mikko Ilonen, Marc Leishman, Joost Luiten, Steve Stricker 

There has only been one first-time PGA Tour winner at The Masters since 1948. (Bernhard Langer in 1985) –

Anirban Lahiri, Benrd Wiesberger, Alexander Levy, Erik Compton, Shane Lowry, Danny Willett

Only one person in the modern era has won at Augusta on the first attempt (Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979) –

Brooks Koepka, Robert Streb, Brendon Todd,

Changes were made in 2008 to combat a certain Tiger Woods and since then every winner hit GIR of at least 68% during the 4 days. We are looking at players with at least 67% GIR on either Tour for the season. 16 of the top 20 for GIR over the 4 days in 2014 finished inside the top 20 

Bubba Watson, Jordan Spieth, Bill Haas, Pádraig Harrington, J.B Holmes, Brandt Snedeker, Russell Henley, Kevin Na, Jamie Donaldson, Ian Poulter

Past 7 winners were in the top 60 for driving distance on Tour and averaging 290 yards throughout the season  

Miguel Angel Jimenez, Jim Furyk, Thongchai Jaidee

The last 7 winners had driving accuracy of at least 57%, so we feel around 57% accuracy of the tee is required. 8 out of the top 14 averaged 70% of fairways hit last year 

Rory McIlroy, Louis Oosthuizen, Jimmy Walker, Jason Day, Gary Woodland, Freddy Couples

10 of the last 13 winners were inside the top 20 for putting average during the tournament, so we are looking at around the top 90 in putting stats. 5 of the top 6 finished inside the top 20 for putting stat 

Henrik Stenson, Charley Hoffman, Ryan Palmer, Stephen Gallacher

The last 8 winners have been inside the top 63 for scoring average across the season 

No one. (that’s not a player that’s simply just no one………)

So that shows the magic list of players and we have been left with 3 guys.  We will be updating this post over the coming days to write a full description in regards to these 3 players, the guys that came close and a full description of the entire field.

So, for now here is the 3 stalwarts who ticked every box –

Adam Scott (20/1 Coral)

The iconic phot of Scott's career... Photography by: Scott K. Brown

The iconic phot of Scott’s career…
Photography by: Scott K. Brown

Third year in a row the Australian has made it through these trends and who would deny him another fight for the jacket?  Change of putter yes, but his stats at Doral on the greens were ridiculous.  He has since gone on to miss his first cut in 45 starts (a current record) and was 141st out of 144 for putting.  A real mixture.

2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009
T14 WON T8 T2 T18 MC

Martin Kaymer (50/1 various)

Well, this is Kaymer's iconic career photo...

Well, this is Kaymer’s iconic career photo…

On paper it seems a massive surprise.  But when you properly look at it, you can’t deny that he has been playing some good golf.  We will all remember that horrific collapse from a 10-shot lead in Abu Dhabi, but the German is still an absolute monster on his day.  He’s number 12 in the world for a reason.  He is the reigning US Open champion for starters and during that week shone through as someone who can completely charge away if his game is on.

2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009
T31 T35 T44 MC MC MC

Lee Westwood (66/1 Coral)

Certainly not the 'iconic' Westwood photo, but probably sums it all up...

Certainly not the ‘iconic’ Westwood photo, but probably sums it all up…

We nearly fainted.  Realising the perennial putting perpetrator made it through the trends gave us a complete mix of joy, sadness and confusion.  Should we back Lee?  Should we ignore everything he’s done in the big tournaments previously and join the ‘it’s this year’ bandwagon?  Some real conundrums to think about.  But one thing is for sure, the Englishman suits every trend for this years Masters and to be fair his form has been so consistent it’s understandable.  Couple of top 10s and even his putting hasn’t been that bad… Plus don’t forget a worst finish of T11 in his last 4 appearances at Augusta…

2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009
7th T8 T3 T11 2nd 43rd

Honourable Mentions: (the lads who only missed out by one or two trends)

  • Rory Mcilroy
  • Henrik Stenson
  • Ryan Palmer
  • Bubba Watson
  • Jason Day
  • Brooks Koepka
  • Charley Hoffmann
  • Stephen Gallacher

So, that is all for now, but do check back across the coming week to see our 2nd preview, which will be a complete, in depth look at the whole field and what trends/stats they fit!

Joburg Open 2015

Prize Fund – €1,300,0002015_logo

Winner’s Share – €206,050

Course – Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club (7, 590 yards par 71)

Our 2014 Picks – George Coetzee (WON), Magnus A Carlsson (MC), Thomas Aiken (T5), Roope Kakko (T10), Graham Van Der Merwe (MC)

How would you even begin to describe the madness of last week?  There were bottles flying absolutely everywhere but in India it was great to see Anirban Lahiri produce another remarkable display winning his 2nd trophy of the month.  Some going sir.

But now we enter the South African tri-series of events where the European Tour moves across the country for the next 3 weeks – all be it with the WGC coming in between.

We head to J’burg, Joburg, Johannesburg, whatever you want to call it, first off and one of the more prestigious courses and events in this part of the world.

The Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club (try and say that quickly) plays host and there’ll be two tracks in use alternately over the opening couple of rounds.  Brilliantly named the East and West courses,  both have major similarities and pose the same requirements.  Accurate iron player and lengthy drives will certainly help but there is plenty of marsh land with lakes and rivers running right through the complex and god knows how many varying types of trees and plants.

They are both beautiful tracks, but the East course is the more famous of the 2 and will take over the full running at the weekend.  Measuring a whopping 7,590 yards, on paper, the par 71 seems like it will require monster ball striking.  Whilst this is true in many ways, if you look at those who’ve done well here, some don’t hit it far at all.

The gorgeous course that host the tournament this week

The gorgeous course that host the tournament this week

We feel that if you’ve played here regularly, know the course and understand when and where to plod, attack, lay up etc, there’s no reason why a lack of length should halt you.  An interesting few days though lie ahead and we have found it tough to find value or many that really catch our eye.

The field and therefore the odds is not the prettiest, mainly due to the WGC on the horizon and players who are wanting to acclimatise and prepare for that.

However, we’re very happy with the names we’ve got…

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!

Justin Walters (50/1 various)

Cracking value and great chance to grab that first European Tour win Courtesy of Gallo Images

Cracking value and great chance to grab that first European Tour win
Courtesy of Gallo Images

When we came together and discussed our picks, the first name that came up was Justin Walters.  We saw him at 100/1 with StanJames and scrambled our way to their site only to find he’d already dropped to 66s.  He was still at 80s with Coral and we did manage to get him at that price, so we are absolutely buzzing about him here!

Now, it didn’t even need much discussion because we fancied the South African hugely and having chatted to others, it seems he’ll be a popular bet this week.

It was interesting to see that he went over to the Sunshine Tour last week in preparation for this string of events coming up.  He finished T9 in the Dimension Data Pro-Am and apparently putted very well across the 4 days.  He was T8 for putts per round and we are certain that he’ll be feeling confident coming to his homeland after managing to put together a few decent rounds.

He had struggled in his last few outings before then, but when you think he averages the ball over 300 yards and 50th for GIR, he could really do well here.  He’s played the tournament every year and that finally payed dividends when he came T2 last year, although he went into the Sunday joint leader.

Big opportunity in a relatively weak field.

Thomas Pieters (33/1 various)

A new young Belgian Bomber is on the block. Photo by Tracy Wilcox

A new young Belgian Bomber is on the block.
Photo by Tracy Wilcox

In just one year, Thomas Pieters has climbed over 1,000 places in the world rankings.  He’s truly entered the fray on Tour and is fast becoming a true player to watch.  Now, that clearly translates in his price within a field like this, but we are fine with that because these are the sort of events top young guys make their breakthrough.

He mainly played on the European Tour last year, not finding a great deal of consistency, but his playoff defeat in Spain sparked some real signs of ability.  Yes he let slip a 2-shot lead going into the final round but he’d only made the cut twice before that all year (one of which was  T8 in Malaysia) and the lad was only 22.

Now, after some real bedding in, this year the Belgian has come to the fore.  In that T4 in Abu Dhabi at the beginning of the year, he hit the ball an absolute country mile and showed real class in and around the greens.  He looked a highly capable player with the short stick as well as with the longest and he could be a real force this week.

He did play here last year,  missing the cut in the process, but we are looking at it as a learning curve.  Bare in the mind that if you fancy him any week for the next few months, he probably missed the cut last year…

Johan Carlsson (70/1 Coral)

A lovely Swedish smile... Photo by Katja Elvå

A lovely Swedish smile…
Photo by Katja Elvå

Johan Carlsson is a young player in a smiler mould to Pieters.  He is flamboyant, aggressive and hits the ball too far for us mere mortals to even comprehend.

During his breakthrough year on the European Tour, he also struggled with consistency, but like the Belgian above, he shone in particular events when his driving capabilities came to the fore.

His first top 10 with the big boys came in South Africa at the beginning of last season at the SA Open Championship and tee to green there were few better than him across the week.  Inside the top 25 for both driving distance and accuracy as well as GIR, showed us what he can potentially do.

He’s then started this year with a couple of top 22 finishes before his last outing in Thailand where he finished T7.  In a way you can draw similarities with the courses because of the marshy rough and his irons were in cracking shape there, which gives us the hope he can bring that over here.

Ben Evans (250/1 various)

Passing over the royalty?  Evans won the U21 Faldo series twice in a row and here he is with Sir Nick.

Passing over the royalty? Evans won the U21 Faldo series twice in a row and here he is with Sir Nick.

Ben Evans didn’t have a particularly flamboyant year on the Challenge Tour last season, but when he did make the cut, he usually went on to finish very high up the leaderboard.  To us that means he’s just ‘one of those’  – a hit or miss.  But for starters, he’s a 250/1 hit or miss and that is a risk worth taking.

We were firstly intrigued by the fact the young Englishman has played here 3 times.  He missed the cut twice in a row before finishing T13 in 2011.  He went into the final round in T5, just 2 shots behind eventual winner Charl Schwartzel.  He shot a 66 and 2 67’s before that Sunday and that shows he will know a bit about this track and how to score here.

Fast forward a few years and he’s back on the European Tour coming into this South African stretch off the back of an interesting performance in India last week.  He finished T12 in Delhi and his tee to green stats were beyond ridiculous.

Driving accuracy, distance and GIR were inside the top 15 every day and that proves he is in a good place with his game and tells us that he hits it a country mile as well.

Cracking outsider.

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  –

£1.75 e/w on Justin Walters at 50/1

£1.75 e/w on Thomas Pieters at 28/1

£1.00 e/w on Johan Carlsson at 66/1

£0.50 e/w on Ben Evans at 250/1

Each way bets ¼ odds for top 5 finish. Prices sourced from Paddy Power

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

Current Standings after 6 weeks

DownThe18th                                 Golf Monthly

European Tour: £14.30                European Tour:  £-50

PGA Tour: £-22.63                           PGA Tour: £37

Total: £-8.33                                      Total: £-13

DownThe18th leads by: £4.67