BMW Championship 2013

Before we write, we would like to take this opportunity for you all to check out the website of a fellow golf guru, who has had a successful 2013 in various sports betting!

Take a peak at the golf only site when you get a chance!

It’s crunch time in the FedEx Play-Offs now as the final 70 golfers have battled their way through to compete in this week’s third leg. It is arguably one of the most exciting weeks of golf with battles being fought up and down the field as everyone scrambles to try and make the top 30 and gain a ticket to the end of season Tour Championship.

Our most-backed player Henrik Stenson finally bagged a win two weeks ago and nobody can say he did not deserve it. He has been the best player in the world over the past couple of months, and that’s with the likes of Mickelson and Woods on top form! There will be close interest in the current top five players in the FedEx Play-Off Rankings (Stenson, Woods, Scott, Kuchar, DeLaet) with the people occupying those spots automatically being able to win the whole thing with victory at East Lake next week. But there will be equal interest in people outside the top 30 looking to sneak their way in.

The BMW trophy

The stylish BMW Trophy

What is the course like? Well the Conway Farms Golf Club is new to the PGA Tour and will be hosting its first event this week, so we have no course form to look at (although this is Luke Donald’s home course!). The course is a links track and is very reminiscent of your average Scottish links course with undulating fairways, masses of fescue rough and lots and lots of sand. It’s a tight little 7,216 yard track. The course will need a lot of thinking and the ball strikers out there we feel will ultimately prevail. So people who have done well on tougher courses such as Crooked Stick are to be looked at as well as of course, links form.

With our picks this week, we have looked for value which is tough in a field where there are 9 golfers at 22/1 or below. If any one of those 9 walks away with this, we wish them all the best. But we are confident in our boys and should hopefully get you a nice return. WE HOPE!

Graham DeLaet (40/1 Various)

He is Mr Play-Offs it would appear

He is Mr Play-Offs it would appear

For the Canadian to be getting our number one slot coming into such a big tournament really does show how far this guy has come. With seven top 10’s already to his name in 2013, 5th place in the FedEx Standings and a place at the President’s Cup, all that is missing is that elusive first win!

With this being quite an unknown course, players who are just striking the ball well and being consistent are going to be the safe bets this week. And DeLaet is right up there, with 3rd and 2nd place finishes in each of the previous FedEx events. But if it is ball striking and accuracy that you want on this course, then look no further. He ranks 1st in ball striking, 1st in total driving, 3rd GIR, 28th driving accuracy, 20th driving distance and 34th scrambling. We’re exciting by DeLaet and this could definitely be his week.

Zach Johnson (40/1 Various)

Again this was a really easy and obvious pick for us this week. One of the greatest ‘plotters’ in the game and will be excited at the prospect of pitting his game against a new course. His well-documented lack of distance off the tee has forced him into becoming one of the greatest with the short irons in the game, and we reckon there will be a lot of those 75-100 yard distance left this week.

Prior to missing the Barclays to be at his brother’s wedding (We’ve got a lot of time for that) Johnson was up there with the Stenson’s and Woods’ in terms of consistency, with five top 10’s finishes in a row, four of those would have returned you some each way money. The American looked solid last week without ever challenging but a course like this will definitely take his eye and we can see him coming into his own over the four days.

Hunter Mahan (40/1 Various)

Perfect for this course

Perfect for this course

It appears since the birth of his child, performances on the course have not been what they once were a couple of months ago. He had recorded two top 10’s and WD from a tournament he ultimately could have won having been top after two days. But life as Daddy Mahan looks to be back on track and he has steadily been getting back to his consistent best, culminating in a 13th place finish last week.

All children aside, Mahan is known as one of the most accurate and consistent ball strikers in the game and will be able to take his swing onto any course. He will relish the challenge just like Johnson and will be more than happy taking irons off the tee all week. It is this sort of player that you will want to be looking at this week. Statistically he ranks 16th ball striking, 29th driving accuracy, 9th total driving, 25th strokes gained-putting and 5th GIR % below 125 yards. Definitely has the game for this place and is peaking just at the right time.

Ian Poulter (50/1 Various)

Playing well and will enjoy the course

Playing well and will enjoy the course

As we have mentioned, this course will have a British links feel to it and Poulter should feel right at home. Again he is one of those players renown for the accuracy and ball striking and will adapt to this course with ease.

What you also have to take into account is Poulter’s ability to play under pressure. He will know a good performance this week puts him in the frame for a lucrative week at East Lake and will shoot him into the top 30. What really brought the Englishman to our attention was his fine display two weeks ago where he eventually finished 9th, and but for a double bogey on the last would have been a lot higher! His ball striking was in fine touch and ranked inside the top 10 for both driving accuracy and GIR.

Poulter limits the amount of tournaments he plays every year and has done quite well to make it this far considering the people around him have played in more points scoring tournaments, so don’t be scared by his low ranking in the FedEx, Poults is pure quality.     

Graeme McDowell (80/1 Various)

Great price for a great player

Great price for a great player

The price that he finds himself at is still a weird one considering how dominant he has been this year, and yet Lee Westwood is half the odds… But regardless, we have thought there is no harm in plumping for the Irishman, with just a small stake still offering us good returns.

The reasons being this course could suit his eye just fine. McDowell loves nothing more than plotting his way around a course, finding ways to manipulate birdie chances when he can. He won the Open De France on the European Tour just a couple of months back where accuracy was the key and he won quite convincingly in the end. Now we understand his form is not the best, but his last two victories this year have come off the back of missed cuts! And we can’t forget his win on the PGA Tour this year either, the RBC Heritage was on a similar 7,100 yard course and he eventually overcame Webb Simpson in a play-off. For the game that he brings to the table and the price he is at, we can’t ignore this one.

Quick Mention:

We do love a bit of course form at DownThe18th and as mentioned in the preview this course is where Luke Donald (40/1 Various) has been a member for over a DECADE! This we just could not ignore. Chicago is his adopted home and he has played plenty of rounds at the Conway Farms Golf Course. It’s a course where your short game has to be on it and there is no better around than Luke. He even held the course record here until a couple of years ago when they lengthened it! Watch out for the Englishman.


The Barclays 2013

It has been one hell of a fascinating season, with shocks, breakthroughs, Tiger, Rory and three 1st time major champions.  Now, the golfing world turns its attention to the final stretch, to tie up the FedEx Cup in a 4-tournament playoff system.

And for some extra opinion on the FedEx Cup system, please do check out our weekly blog post for Golf Monthly magazine.

‘Its All About The Money – FedEx Cup’

A picturesque course with views of the Statue of Liberty

A picturesque course with views of the Statue of Liberty

The 1st of these events is at the stunning Liberty National Golf Course for The Barclays.  The top 125 in the rankings will be embarking upon New Jersey, all trying to earn a mouth-watering $10 million.  It is utterly ridiculous that these sort of sums are being shelled out, but it has helped to attract the cream of the crop during the final few months.

The course itself is a 7,400-yard par 71 and will be a difficult proposition for the field due to its length and narrow fairways.  If the breeze whirls off the coast it will be even tougher. With quick, small, bentgrass greens, putting will be vital and they could be compared to Augusta’s famous surfaces (obviously not sloping as much!).

Heath Slocum won here when The Barclays last came to town in 2009 and his victory came about with over 80% accuracy off the tee and even with its obvious length, that proves how important it is to be in the fairway as well.  Tee to green ball strikers will run supreme here and we do feel long hitters in a bit of form will have the advantage.

All in all it will be an exciting week, with picturesque views of the famous Statue of Liberty and Manhattan skyline.  We are yet to see this true ‘playoff excitement’ but lets hope that this first event brings us plenty of thrills and spills!

Jason Day (33/1 various)

Two of our picks, Jason Day and Luke Donald joking together

Two of our picks, Jason Day and Luke Donald joking together

We must say before we go on that it was a very difficult decision to leave out Rory McIlroy this week.  At 20/1 we just felt it was too short to warrant an e/w bet of big significance. We are sure he will do well this week though!

As for Jason Day, he is a phenomenal talent but has had a really peculiar year.  He has performed so well at the majors with a 3rd at Augusta, T2 at the US Open and T8 at the PGA a couple of weeks ago.  He had chances to win in all 3 but never had the bottle to properly finish the job and it has seemed that way in most tournaments where has been in contention this year.  When he plays well he is one of the elite, but there are understandable question marks about what goes on between his ears when the heat is on.  So why should we be plumping for the Australian?  Because we do feel he is very close to getting over the line and he has had enough experiences this year to understand where he is going wrong and improve.

He will also be on a real high after his heroics on the Sunday at Oak Hill – he charged up the leaderboard to put himself into contention and he is one of the few who are yet to miss a cut all year – that is impressive.

He did play here in 2009 when he finished T12 and that gives us extra confidence, even more so when you think how his game has developed and matured since then.  His a-game is a perfect fit for this course – a long hitting (21st driving distance) putting machine (12th 1-putt %, 26th putts per round). His irons accuracy stats do not fully reflect how good he actually is, because when he gets going he can be so pinpoint (1st for GIR when he was 6th at the AT&T Pebble Beach).

We have plenty of faith in Day to finally get that win and if he plays anything like we know he can, he will be in with a great chance.

Keegan Bradley (40/1 StanJames)

Keegan looking as perplexed as usual

Keegan looking as perplexed as usual

Another superb young talent, there is no doubting Keegan Bradley has carved himself into one of the elite golfers in the world.

His game can be absolutely devastating when everything clicks (on the flipside it can be just as disastrous when it isn’t!) and we feel this could be a course that can showcase his talents perfectly.

He didn’t play here in 2009 but with his long hitting and relatively accurate driving he will find good positions from the fairway often – 7th driving distance, 81st driving accuracy and 6th total driving.  Whilst his irons are very strong (59th GIR) and once his putter decides to work, he has the ability to hole anything (49th strokes gained putting).  Tee to green he has everything and there a few better ball strikers, so he should be challenging here.

Plus, what makes him even more exciting is the fact that he has found form again.  T15 at The Open where he was relatively consistent, T2 at the WGC Bridgestone where he perhaps should have won and a T19 at the PGA.  His 66 on the final day will have given him a lot of confidence going into this week and we have every faith he can replicate it over the 4 days at Liberty National.

Come on you quirky, strange and wonderful weirdo.

Jim Furyk (50/1 Ladbrokes)

We are sure that DownThe18th favourite Jim ‘Jimbo’ Furyk will be a very popular pick among gamblers and experts this week and it is understandable why.  He has performed superbly in the past few weeks, recording 3 consecutive top 10s including that wonderful 2nd place at Oak Hill.  Yes, he could have won, but Jason Dufner was so irresistible on the Sunday, constantly firing in perfect shots, not giving anyone a peak.  But throughout the four days Furyk was nearly perfect himself.  We all know how awful he can be with a putter, yet he seemed to hole ridiculous putts on a regular basis – at vital times as well.

The 5-10 footers have always thrown us off Jimbo sometimes, but he persistently chose to ignore previous form on the greens and perform miracles.  Let alone the unerring accuracy of his approach play.  His irons look in great shape at the moment and as a ball strikers course, he could really attack the pins and give himself opportunities regularly.  He may not be long off the tee but he lies in 8th for driving accuracy, 31st for GIR and 1st in proximity to the hole, so he will usually get there safely and accurately.

He was also T15 here in 2009, so has some sort of form on the course and with his recent performances, Jimbo could be in for the money once again.

Luke Donald (55/1 PaddyPower)

Luke Donald is one of those irritating English sportsmen who promise so much and have so much, yet sometimes just don’t deliver.  There is a reason he got to number 1 in the world yet there is also a reason he is yet to win a major – because his head gets in the way.  He finished T8 at the US Open even though he should have challenged more and he has missed the cut at the previous two.  However, The Barclays is a big tournament that has nowhere near the intensity of a major, but the lure of a lot of money.

We just feel that, even though he has been inconsistent of late, he has a chance to prove himself against the best once more.  This is the sort of tournament where someone like Donald does very well and shows his true class.

He did finish T31 when it was last held here in 2009 and even though he is not a long hitter, much like Furyk, he relies on his approaches and unlike Furyk, he has superb short game prowess.

Below 125 yards, there are few better and if he gets himself into the right positions, he will have the chance to attack the pins like we all know he can do.  Considering his lack of consistency this year, the fact he is 55th for driving accuracy, 59th in proximity to the hole, 21st in 1-putt % and 5th in putts per round is very encouraging.

He will not be afraid of the daunting fairways and greens, we just hope he is not afraid of the leaderboard come Sunday!

Matt Jones 150/1 Coral)

Matt Jones looking useful

Matt Jones looking useful

Australian golfers have had a successful 2013, which all kicked of with Adam Scotts heroic win at Augusta.  On many occasions we have seen a cheeky Aussie flag next to a name at the top of leaderboards and our 5th pick, Matt Jones has been one of them recently.

T2 at the Greenbrier Classic, T7 at the John Deere Classic, T40 at the PGA (after a 68 final day) and last week he finished T5 at the Wyndham Championship.  He shot a miraculous 62 on the Sunday, which will give him so much confidence going into this weeks tournament.  His recent form has warranted a deserved place at the first playoff event and there is no reason he can’t continue it at Liberty National.

He is a big hitter – 45th in driving distance, accurate off the tee – 44th driving accuracy and 7th total driving, whilst his approach play is also impressive – 40th GIR.  The fact that his putting stats are just as consistent – 48th strokes gained putting – is a remarkable sign of how efficient he is from tee to green.  There is no reason Jones shouldn’t be up there come Sunday and if he gets his game going, he could be an interesting outsider.

Rory Sabbatini (125/1 Coral)

The wonderfully bizarre Rory Sabbatini.

The wonderfully bizarre Rory Sabbatini.

The only way to describe our 6th pick is curiosity.  Rory Sabbatini has certainly had bizarre career. He finished T2 at the Masters in 2007 when he could have won, has 6 PGA Tour titles and he has created controversy for some of his outrageous outbursts along the way. (Just type in Rory Sabbatini outburst into google and a whole world of fun opens up!)

He then hit some really awful form until the past few months he has started showing signs of recovery with 3 top 10s in his last 6, including a T12 and T17.  He could be on a mini revival and having sneaked inside the top 125, he will have nothing to lose on a course that could suits his eye.  44th in driving distance, 18th for GIR and 12th in proximity to the hole all add up to an encouraging player who could challenge for a place as one of the ‘randomers’ we often see.

Few spare pennies? You know the rest…

John Deere Classic

One week before The Open Championship, many players will either be in Europe for the Scottish Open or preparing for a links style challenge that this tournament State side will simply not give.

Since 2000TPC Deere Run has been the host course and is a 7,268 yard par 71 with nearly 8- bunkers and 3 water hazards coming into play and bentgrass greens and fairways.

TPC Deere Run. Stupid name, clever course, easy scoring.

TPC Deere Run. Stupid name, clever course, easy scoring.

It has often been considered an easy scoring place – ranking 42nd out of 49 in difficulty on the PGA Tour last year, meaning the winner will have to shoot very low to stand any chance. 

For us, putting and GIR are the most crucial stats, alongside scoring averages – to win you will need to attack pins and hole your putts!

Steve Stricker obviously has incredible course form, winning 3 years on the trot before Zach Johnson stole his crown last year and both will be teeing up this year.  Could be an interesting week, but anyone who has a place at Muirfield will not want to be exerting too much come Sunday evening, which has to be taken into consideration.

Keegan Bradley (25/1 Various)

The awkward stylings of Mr.Bradley

The awkward stylings of Mr.Bradley

Keegan Bradley has had a peculiar year, dipping in and out of form, showing brilliance at times and bizarreness the rest.

He went on a run of four top 10s in a row, before missing 3 cuts in his last 7 tournaments, although that included a 2nd place at the Byron Nelson. Confusing? You bet.

His last outing was at the Travelers where he did shoot 3 rounds in the 60s on the way to a T18 finish.  So why do we feel we should be backing him for a tournament he has not played at before?

Because he has the class and potential to destroy the course.

Whilst many people will be saying how important course form is (including us in some ways) last year, both Scott Brown and Luke Guthrie found top 7s in their first outing here and no offence to them, Bradley is in a different league.

He is driving the ball longer this year, currently in 8th on the PGA Tour stats, which means he will have several short iron approaches to the pins and he has hit 93.3% of the greens from inside 75 yards (18th in the rankings).

Because this is a course where low shooting is so crucial, players will need to attack greens and he is one of the more forward thinking golfers – 3rd in going for the green.  Therefore his scoring stats come as no surprise – 17th in birdie average, 15th in scoring average and 16th for rounds in the 60s.

For us, he has struggled on the greens at times this year, but it is no surprise that when he has played well, putts have not stopped rolling in and he does lie in 42nd for strokes gained putting and 23rd in 3-putt avoidance.

If, he gets in a flow and decides to throw everything at this tournament, then there is no doubting he could win it at a canter, but a lot of it depends on how he sees this in terms of The Open next week.

But, not for the first time, in Keegan we trust.

Ryan Moore (33/1 Various)

Moore shot 4 solid rounds in the 60s last year to finish T8 but he was never really in contention on the Sunday.  He is yet to miss a cut at this venue and he will gain confidence from his recent showings – T7 at the Travelers and before a MC at Merion, he had a T13 finish at the Memorial.  He is a class player when he is in full flow and with that recent surge, he should be excited to get on to a course he has played well at before.

Stats wise he may not fit the bill completely, but across the board he is relatively consistent and after some woeful performances mid-season you would not expect anything else. Lying in 46th for 1-putt percentage, 55th strokes gained putting and 72nd in proximity to the hole, whilst he is 24th for driving accuracy.

Considering his talent and liking for the course, this could be an important week for Moore and we have every faith he will be challenging come Sunday evening!

Brendon De Jonge (50/1 StanJames)

The biggest, baddest, baldest nut on the PGA Tour.

The biggest, baddest, baldest nut on the PGA Tour.

If you have been following us this year, you will notice a few players that we just keep plugging for, knowing that they will win eventually, it is just a matter of which week.  (Paul Casey we are looking at you) Brendon De Jonge is certainly one of them but we feel this really could be the week.

He has impressive form at Deere Run, 19th last year, T7 in 2010 and in 2011 he was 2nd going into the final day before a 74 ruined his chances, eventually finishing T7 again.

He did shoot a 63 2 years ago whilst 4 rounds in the 60s last year all prove his liking for the course.

He has been in up and down form, not able to find a top 10 for a number of weeks now, but he has often been close before trailing away at the weekend, usually due to poor putting.  To say this is last chance saloon is underestimating the extremity of how we feel about the Zimbabwean.  We just say trust us!

As for stats, he is a perfect fit for this challenge, 32nd in strokes gained putting, 28th in scoring av. 1st for rounds in the 60s, whilst we all know how good he is tee to green.  38th in driving accuracy, 20th GIR, 16th in ball striking and 66th in proximity to the hole.

Back in 2011 5 of the top 6 were in the top 30 for GIR inside 75 yards and De Jonge lies in 17th for this category.

Basically, one last chance De Jonge. Do not let us down

Bryce Molder (100/1 StanJames)

Admittedly, Bryce Molder does not have the most incredible course form, but 2 30th places out of 3 is not the worst return.  (Especially considering he WD last year)

Whilst his form has not been great of recent times, a 67, 66 last week will give him an enormous amount of confidence going into a tournament where the course should really suit him. If his game is on…

12th in 1-putt percentage, 15th in 3-putt avoidance and 9th in strokes gained putting prove how incredible he has been with his putter, the only worry being whether his irons will get him into a scoring position.

He lies in 9th for rounds in the 60s and 58th in scoring av. Whilst he is 43rd in driving accuracy and crucially 55th for GIR inside 75 yards.

When you piece together all those stats, you would be foolish not to think about backing him, it’s just whether he can put it all together and get his irons working fully.

JJ Henry (175/1 Bet365)

J.J Henry looking rather confused at the blue lighting around him.  He will not be confused when he is winning come Sunday...

J.J Henry looking rather confused at the blue lighting around him. He will not be confused when he is winning come Sunday…

JJ Henry has also not been in the greatest form of late with 2 MC in a row but before that he did record a T5 finish at the Travelers which he will still hopefully be remembering!  Especially as TPC Deere Run has seen Henry produce some solid displays – 13th last year after putting himself into a good position after the first two rounds and a T5 in 2009, when he shot 4 rounds in the 60s.

Everything will depend on how he gets his putter working this week, because tee to green he is very proficient on a regular basis – 25th for GIR, 31st driving accuracy, 30th ball striking and 60th for GIR inside 75 yards.  Even with his poor putting at times, he does lie in 58th for the 3-putt avoidance and 77th for rounds in the 60s, which proves he has the capabilities to shoot low, but admittedly all of his game needs to be in tune and flowing.

But isn’t that the point in backing outsiders? They are high odds for a reason and you just never know!