Commercial Bank Qatar Masters 2015

qatar_masters_logo

Prize Fund – €2, 500, 000

Winner’s Share – €353, 257

Course – Doha Golf Club (7,400 yards par 72)

Our 2014 Picks – Rafael Cabrera-Bello (T3), Thomas Aiken (T5), Stephen Gallacher (T28), Hennie Otto (T37), Andy Sullivan (MC)

A pretty poor start from us on both sides of the Atlantic last week, so we’re itching to get things back on track – admittedly bottles from Martin Kaymer and Tim Clark at a combined final day total of +7 don’t help anyone…

Moving swiftly on and we’re into the second of this Persian Gulf tri-series of events, now in Qatar.  The Doha Golf Club hosts the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters for the 17th time, which certainly helps all of us from a betting sense.

Since 2006, the lowest winning score has been -14 by Thomas Bjørn in 2011 and we’ve seen the likes of Adam Scott reach -20 (08′), so there is plenty of scoring to be had here.

The par 72 course plays at a deceivingly long 7,400 yards, which on paper makes it look like a bombers track.  Now, you cannot deny you will need distance here, but you won’t need to be prodigiously long that’s for sure.  If you look at recent winners, there is length yes, but it is not bombing galore –

Sergio Garcia – 295.225

Chris Wood – 295.2

Paul Lawrie – 299

Thomas Bjørn – 281.85

Whilst if you have a look at the GIR stats from those same years, you can see it’ll be important to get the irons working.  This is the average position they were for GIR amongst the field –

Sergio Garcia – 33.25

Chris Wood – 15

Paul Lawrie – 11

Thomas Bjørn – 8.75

All this shows that it will be key to hit the ball a fair distance, but be a players whose irons are fluid and consistent, you can even just tell that by those 4 names above.  There is plenty of water along the fairways and around the greens, hence why that accuracy is important – especially on 3 out of the 4 par 3’s where there’s daunting water to contend with.

The exposed fairways are eye-catching but were tightened a couple of years back with the rough coming in, hence why players like Alvaro Quiros who won in 2009 haven’t fared so well since.

We are in for an interesting tournament, with the likes of Garcia, Stenson, Justin Rose and Charl Schwartzel making the trip over, so after plenty of deliberation, this is where our money is going…

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!

Charl Schwartzel (22/1 Coral)

Hopefully Charl can finally produce for us!

Hopefully Charl can finally produce for us!

If you’ve followed us over the past 18 months or so, you will know how we feel about Charl Schwartzel.  He has rarely made it into our plans simply because we are unable to trust him with the putter (mainly in recent times) and when we have gone there, he’s been sublime tee to green but once again failed with the short stick.  Now that is highly frustrating.

However, our heads were swayed for a couple of putting reasons.  Firstly, in his last 3 outings here he bounced around the 7th-25th positions for putting average on all 4 days of each tournament.  That shows he had an eye for the contours and green structures.

Secondly and more importantly, he has been putting very, very well in the past couple of weeks.  He finished T9 last week, averaging 3rd for putting stats at the weekend, whilst his playoff defeat the week before he didn’t leave the top 15 in putting for the final 3 days.

That encourages us so much to think he could be getting some sort of rhythm going.  Yes, there was a 5-shot bottle from him in that defeat to Andy Sullivan in South Africa and you can’t help but be worried about that, however it doesn’t take away from how well he played on the whole.  It also didn’t effect him the week after when he made another top 10, so hopefully it’s out his system because this is a track that should suit him down the ground with his length, iron play and apparent increase in putting ability.

Not a bet for the feint-hearted, but a solid 22/1 nonetheless.

Alexander Levy (35/1 Coral)

What a player this lad is turning out to be

What a player this lad is turning out to be

What a year Alexander Levy has had.  We’ve followed him with great intrigue since he won us some healthy returns when he finished 2nd at the BMW Masters.  Then we went to the French and got to witness him first hand.  He may have gone on to have a shocking Sunday, completely dropping out of the running, but so did most players that day and we were in awe of his charisma, unflappability and all-round game.

Tee to green, on his day, he is a monster.  Throughout 2014, he was 14th for driving distance and 28th for GIR.  Combining that brute force is deadly for a course like this.  Admittedly he’s only played here once and that was when he missed the cut last year, but we are taking that with a pinch of salt.  He is a different animal now and confidence/form are two attributes you cannot underestimate.

Just look at Victor Dubuisson – he missed the cut horrifically 2 years in a row for the Abu Dhabi, but went on to finish T4 last week.  When you build up that rhythm, style and arrogance, you can attack courses completely differently.  And that is what we feel Levy will do here.

He gave in a solid performance last week to finish T20.  He had a pretty poor final day 74, but the previous 3 days there was some top quality golf.  He looked like he’d be in the hunt at one point.

Basically, the Frenchman has everything to go far and we will not be surprised if this is another defining year for him.

George Coetzee (55/1 StanJames)

An interesting mid-range bet comes in the form of George Coetzee.  He has all the tools to play some fantastic tee-to-green golf, all be it he can at times not show it.

He has seemed to of lost some of his length over the past couple of years, but he still averages over 290 yards, which will suit the track.  His iron game hasn’t been as great as we would expect in recent weeks, but he will be coming onto a course where he has played magnificently in the past couple of years.

He shot a gorgeous 64 in the 1st round last year to take an early lead, but a 73 on the Saturday cost him a probable win.  The other 3 rounds were of top quality and when you think he only finished 2 behind playoff winner Garcia, you can’t help but wonder what could’ve been.

Then, as we remember so well, he almost pushed Wood over the line to force a playoff in 2013.  We had him that year and the 65 he shot on the Sunday meant he was so close.  He propelled up the leaderboard into 2nd and if he can replicate that sort of form, he will have a chance again.

We do have a good record with the South African as well – he won for us at the Joburg Open last year to go alongside that 2nd place.

Thomas Aiken (80/1 various)

Don't forget the club...

Don’t forget the club…

Weirdly enough, to follow on from Coetzee, we had Thomas Aiken at both the same Qatar Masters and Joburg Open and he got us returns finishing T5 in both.  Weird, weird, weird omens to start off there…

The second South African on our list has the perfect game for this track.  He averages the ball at 295 yards, is straight and has an unbelievable iron game.  He was 1st for GIR throughout 2014, 68th driving distance and 8th driving accuracy.  That is one meaty combination.

We know he missed the cut last week, but he showed his true game in South Africa the event before, where he finished T5.  He was consistently inside the top 30 for all the key stats for the final 3 days and because he’s coming onto a course where he’s had a couple of top 10s in the past, he should be full of confidence.

A solid player for the odds he’s at.

Oliver Fisher (150/1 Coral)

Our final pick and big outsider is the highly talented Oliver Fisher.  The young Englishman has a similar game to Aiken, in that he is consistent across the board tee to green.

He has never found a top 10 here admittedly, although he came close with a T11 in 2007, but we are intrigued by his recent under the radar form and type of game that should theoretically suit the track that’s had it’s changes since he last played here.

Last week he finished T12 and he was playing some very decent golf.  He found himself inside the top 8 on the final 3 days for driving distance and barring an indifferent opening round, was solidly inside the top 20 for GIR.  His putter worked here and there, but the idea of him putting more of it together over the 4 days here excites us and is certainly worth a punt at 150s.

_______________________________________________________

Golf Monthly £10 ChallengeGM_masthead-630x176

We will be 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 do 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.

So, for this Commercial Bank Qatar Masters our £10 against Golf Monthly will be as follows –

£3 win on Charl Schwartzel at 16/1

£1.60 e/w on Alexander Levy at 33/1

£1 e/w on George Coetzee at 50/1

£0.45 e/w on Thomas Aiken at 80/1

£0.45 e/w on Oliver Fisher at 150/1

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

Find the Golf Monthly Preview and their £10 picks here – (http://www.golf-monthly.co.uk/news/tour-news/qatar-masters-golf-betting-guide-2-64390)

Current Standings after 1 weeks

DownThe18th                                 Golf Monthly

European Tour: £-3                       European Tour:  £0

PGA Tour: £-7.88                             PGA Tour: £-10

Total: £-10.88                                   Total: £-10

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The Open 2014 Preview 2

the open www.coral.co.uk
We promised another preview for this years Open Championship before our main one and we would never go back on our word!

PLEASE DO CHECK OUT OUR 3RD AND FINAL PREVIEW WITH ALL OUR PICKS AND SELECTIONS!!

Our 1st preview looked into everything links.  We detailed recent history on those seaside tracks and courses that have a similar feel, pinpointing a few players who have consistent finishes.  Please do have a read to help gauge more about where you should be putting your hard earned money!

As for this 2nd write-up we have looked into the trends and stats that are required to combat Hoylake and win on a links course.  Every Open Championship track has different attributes, there’s no denying that, but on the whole their similarities in terms of a classical links test make it worthwhile to look into previous years.
What trends and stats we will be looking into? 

  • Only Ben Curtis (2003) has won on debut since 1975
  • Tiger hit 85.71% of fairways (1st) and 80.56% GIR (2nd) to win in 2006 (when it was last held at Royal Liverpool, Hoylake) Therefore, we will be looking at top 75 for driving accuracy and GIR (Last 5 winners were also all inside the top 75 for GIR before the tournament)
  • Last 5 winners were inside the top 50 for scoring average – (We will look at the top 75)
  • Only 5 managed to finish Par 4s in red numbers in 2006 – Therefore we are looking at around the top 75 for par 4 performance (PGA TOUR ONLY)
  • 4 par 5’s – Tiger shot -14 and Carl Pettersson shot -16 to finish T8 – Therefore we are looking at around the top 75 par 5 performance (PGA TOUR ONLY)
  • Since 1980, every winner barring Ben Curtis, Paul Lawrie (1999), Justin Leonard (1997) have won at least 7 professional titles before winning The Open.
  • Barring Jon Daly (1995) and Ben Curtis, the past 20 champions have either won on the PGA or European Tour or finished in the top 10 at one of the two previous majors.
  • 64% of winners over the last 15 years played the course at least once before winning.
  • Only Ben Curtis in the last decade didn’t have at least 8 years experience as a pro before winning.
  • Average age of the last 10 winners is 33.8 but in the past 5 years that has increased to 38.

So, what we are going to do, similar to our Masters previews, is break down the majority of the field and see which players, if any, are left by fitting all these stats and trends.  The names you see under each title have not made that respective category and will not be considered further.

Only Ben Curtis (2003) has won on debut since 1975

Ben Curtis winning The Open. That was a genuine shock.  Photo by Nicolas Asfouri, GettyImages

Ben Curtis winning The Open. That was a genuine shock. Photo by Nicolas Asfouri, GettyImages

Patrick Reed, Brendon Todd, Chris Kirk, Chris Stroud, Brendon De Jonge, Cameron Tringale, Tommy Fleetwood, Matt Every, Ben Martin, Erik Compton, Brendan Steele, Chesson Hadley, Shawn Stefani, Billy Hurley, Roberto Castro, Kristoffer Broberg

Top 75 in Driving Accuracy

PGA Tour –  Tiger Woods,Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose, Phil Mickelson, Jordan Spieth, Lee Westwood, Dustin Johnson, Rickie Fowler, Bubba Watson, Ian Poulter, Hideki Matsuyama, Charl Schwartzel, Ernie Els, Paul Casey, Angel Cabrera, Louis Oosthuizen, Jimmy Walker, Keegan Bradley, Bill Haas, Gary Woodland, Jonas Blixt, Padraig Harrington, Harris English, Marc Leishman, Charley Hoffman, JB Holmes, Ryo Ishikawa, Brooks Koepka, Freddie Jacobson, Gonzalo Fdez-Castano, Stewart Cink, Ryan Palmer, Matt Jones, Russell Henley, Scott Stallings, Jon Daly, George McNeill

European Tour –  Thomas Bjorn, Jamie Donaldson, Mikko Ilonen, Victor Dubuisson, Joost Luiten, Matteo Manassero, Robert Karlsson, Stephen Gallacher, Thongchai Jaidee, Padraig Harrington, Branden Grace, Shane Lowry, Chris Wood, George Coetzee, Michael Hoey, Rafa Cabrera-Bello, Richard Sterne, Thorbjorn Olesen, Brooks Koepka, Pablo Larrazabal, Paul Lawrie, David Howell, Darren Clarke, Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Peter Uihlein, Brett Rumford, Victor Riu

Top 75 Greens In Regulation

PGA Tour – Jason Day, Luke Donald, Brandt Snedeker, Hunter Mahan, Billy Horschel, John Senden, KJ Choi, Kevin Streelman

European Tour – Miguel Angel Jimenez

Top 75 Scoring Average  

PGA Tour – Nick Watney, Boo Weekley 

European Tour  – Bernd Wiesberger

Top 75 Par 4 Performance

Kevin Stadler

Top 75 Par 5 Performance

Jason Dufner, Jim Furyk, Graeme McDowell, Martin Kaymer, Henrik Stenson, Sergio Garcia

At least 7 professional titles before winning The Open

Francesco Molinari, Matthew Baldwin, Oliver Fisher, Kevin Na, Ryan Moore, Chris Stroud

At least a win on the PGA Tour or European Tour this season OR a top 10 at The Masters or US Open

Edoardo Molinari, Grégory Bourdy

64% of winners over the last 15 years played the course at least once before winning

Matt Kuchar

Only Ben Curtis in the last decade didn’t have at least 8 years experience as a pro before winning – With the average age of 33.8 as well.

Believe it or not, after all that we have got 2 names that have survived.  Two players who are certainly no mugs and unsurprisingly have a cracking links history.
www.coral.co.uk


Zach Johnson (50/1 Ladbrokes)

A Major champion already, how about one more then?

A Major champion already, how about one more then? Photo by Peter Casey

Recent Open History

2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008
T6 T9 T16 T76 T47 T51

Links History in the past 2 years

Won Top 5 Top 10 Top 25 Made Cut Missed Cut
1 1 3 2 3 1

Stats

Driving Accuracy GIR Scoring Average Par 4 Perform. Par 5 Perform. Pro Titles 2006 Open Finish
6th 30th 30th T45 T24 26 MC

Now 38, Zach Johnson has already had a remarkable career.  He has a major title in his locker (the 2007 Masters) and is one of the most consistent performers on tour.  Even with everything he’s achieved he has seemed to have found an extra gear again in the past year or so and to think you can get him at 50/1.  Very intriguing.

He had an amazing start to the season, winning the Hyundai Tournament of Champions and recording 6 top 10s.  Yes, he hasn’t been finding the 1st page of leaderboards in the past month, but at the time of writing he is just a couple of shots behind the lead at the John Deere Classic, which will give him plenty of confidence.

He is one of those players who suits the challenges of links golf.  He has consecutive top 10s in the Open and his ability to manufacture ball flight and push the ball exactly how he wants makes him a prime candidate every year.  His tee to green efficiencies and short game prowess is a really, really dangerous combination.

Sports Welcome Bonus 120x60

 

Adam Scott (18/1 Coral BEST PRICE)

 

Scott was left devastated after that 2012 collapse. Oh how things have changed. Photo courtesy of Harry How/GettyImages

Scott was left devastated after that 2012 collapse. Oh how things have changed. Photo courtesy of Harry How/GettyImages

Recent Open History

2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008
T3 2nd T25 T27 MC T16

Links History in the past 2 years

Won Top 5 Top 10 Top 25 Made Cut Missed Cut
3 2 1

Stats

Driving Accuracy GIR Scoring Average Par 4 Perform. Par 5 Perform. Pro Titles 2006 Open Finish
63rd 31st 4th T2 T67 27 T8

The number one golfer in the world and the most consistent player of the past 2 years or so.  If anything, since that horrendous collapse at Royal Lytham & St.Annes in 2012 to finish one shot behind Ernie Els after a 75 final day score.  He was destined for great things, no doubt, but losing that trophy seemed to really kick-start his assault to the golfing summit.  Let’s just put this into perspective.  Here is his form since that Open Championship.

Won Top 5 Top 10 Top 25 Made Cut Missed Cut
6 7 8 9 7

What an unbelievable return that is, it is no wonder he is now looking down at the rest of the world in the rankings.  It is madness how consistent that is and a lot of those top 10/5/wins are in very big tournaments as well.  Well, he rarely plays in anything but the biggest tournaments.  As for his links game, you cannot ask for anything more.  A swing that will never deviate and his abilities to manoeuvre the ball with ease make him one of the best links players.  3 of his European Tour wins have come on very traditional links tracks and his Open record is clearly impressive.  The fact he finished T8 here in 2008 as well, only add to his appeal.

What a player.

Honourable Mentions 

Graeme McDowell (33/1 Coral BEST PRICE) and Henrik Stenson (16/1 Coral, WillHill, Ladbrokes)

No need for introductions with either of these top players.  Gmac is a proven links guru and the only category he failed to tick was the par 5 performance.  BUT you have to remember this is only on the PGA Tour and he is a regular both sides of the pond.  He plays the longer holes with a plotting head because of his lack of length.  He has played here before (T61) and is in fantastic rhythm following his win in Paris a few weeks ago.

Henrik Stenson is one of the hardest workers in the game. He completely went off the boil for a couple of years, but toiled and toiled and toiled, to eventually find his rhythm and do the unthinkable – win the FedEx and Race To Dubai in the same season.  Madness.  He is such a long hitter and when he is straight, he can be untouchable.  His major form in recent seasons is outstanding as well – a worst finish of T21 in the past 6 years, which includes 3 top 5s.  He will be a top challenger once again this year.

Luke Donald (50/1 Coral BEST PRICE), Matt Kuchar (40/1 Ladbrokes), Justin Rose (12/1 WillHill) and Jim Furyk (66/1 Ladbrokes) all ticked many of the categories, but didn’t quite make it.

That’s it for our 2nd preview, as we say our final write-up with all our selections will be on the site tomorrow night (GMT).  Happy World Cup Final Day. 

The Open Championship

Muirfield 2013

Course: Muirfield Golf Links

Date: 18-21 July 2013

Current Champion: Ernie Els

The third major has finally arrived and this is a week many golfing professionals, aficionados and experts will be most excited about.  The Open Championship.

The 142nd edition of the famous tournament is being held at one of the greatest tests of links golf anywhere in the world.  Muirfield has been primed, prepped and improved since it last hosted the championship in 2002 and whatever the weather, we are all in for a 4-day, Christmas-come-early treat.

As we have done with previous majors, there are two in-depth, statistical and informative previews if what we write is just not enough to quench your gambling thirst. So please do check them out!

The first one is on the trends and brief links specialists –

https://downthe18th.wordpress.com/2013/07/02/the-open-championship-2013/

The second one is all about Muirfield and the challenge players will face, with a look at the key statistics needed.

https://downthe18th.wordpress.com/2013/07/10/the-open-championship-2013-preview-2/

You can also check out our column on the Golf Monthly website about the farce of Open Qualifying

http://www.golf-monthly.co.uk/tours-and-news/opinion/tour-talk/531565/golf-blog-the-open-qualifying.html

Also a look at Outsiders and the ridiculous offers of bookmakers  for Golf Monthly

http://www.golf-monthly.co.uk/tours-and-news/opinion/tour-talk/531646/open-championship-2013-blog-bet-on-the-outsiders.html

So what happened back when it was last held here in 2002?  Reigning Open champion, Ernie Els defeated Thomas Levet, Steve Elkington and Stuart Appleby in a playoff to secure his 1st Open and 3rd major trophy.  That particular year the weather was beyond brutal on the Saturday, with unforeseen storms and torrential rains hampering scoring for the majority of the field.  Our favourite 2nd-place guru Colin Montgomerie infamously shot 74, 64, 84 in his first three rounds, letting slip another opportunity.

Ernie Els chipping out the bunker at Muirfield in 2002. This was one of the iconic moments of the whole tournament and an outrageous shot

Ernie Els chipping out the bunker at Muirfield in 2002. This was one of the iconic moments of the whole tournament and an outrageous shot

The long list of champions that Ernie added himself to is full of big names, the very best the sport has produced – from Sir Nick Faldo to Lee Trevino, Gary Player to Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson to Walter Hagen – the greats who have littered golfing history books.  But all of them during four days in the Scottish summer conquered the prestigious test of Muirfield.  What does that say? No mug is going to be taking home this trophy, the cream is likely to rise to the top come Sunday evening.  However, that does not mean it would be foolish to look elsewhere for an outsider, as many bookmakers are offering 6 places, whilst PaddyPower are paying out for 7 and BetVictor are (rather astonishingly, if you ask us) offering 8 places!

http://www.betvictor.com/sports/en/the-open-8-places?banner_home_1107

http://www.paddypower.com/bet/golf/open-championship?ev_oc_grp_ids=34304#area=sb&AFF_ID=10063836

So with outsiders you are certainly looking for e/w returns and as long shot Englishman Gary Evans proved 11 years ago, sneaking a place (and nearly winning the whole thing) is not uncommon for the touring pro.

With all that history malarkey out the way, what are we actually looking for in terms of player and attributes to take on Muirfield?

If you are errant off the tee, you can kiss goodbye to any birdie and most times, even a par.  The thick rough is virtually impossible to hit out of, therefore accuracy will be so crucial.  But it is not just the cabbage that needs to be avoided – strategically placed pot-bunkers litter fairways and valiantly protect greens.  Although every player will at some point find themselves lingering in the sand, how you play yourself out will be just as important as how few times you get trapped.

This does means better bunker players will save shots, but general scrambling, which is always a key component in any Open, will be vital.  It seems obvious to say it but GIR and approach play will be key, because this is where the strategists can work out when to attack and when to sit back, take par and run to the next tee.  If you’re too attacking – disaster, if you’re strategically attacking – lower score.  Simple as that.

Once on the undulating, sloping greens, putting is often the difference between 1st and 2nd.  To win majors, you have to be consistent with the short stick throughout the week and it will be no different here.  Rose putted well at Merion, Scott at Augusta and the player lifting the claret jug on Sunday will have been incredible on the greens as well.

However, at the end of the day, the really important factor to consider is the good old British weather.  Ability to keep your head in the game whilst winds blow in all sorts of directions – every hole at Muirfield is facing a different direction to each other, so wind will come from all angles – and play just as well in the rain as in the sun will be more crucial than anything.

We hope you have enjoyed our previews and found them useful, if you want to give us any feedback so we can improve for future majors, please do contact us at downthe18th@hotmail.co.uk.

So if you are in Britain, enjoy the wonderful and rare BBC coverage.  If you are anywhere else in the world, have fun watching four days of the most competitive golf and if you are lucky enough to have a ticket, well you’re a wanker.

Our picks –

The Favourites

Luke Donald (30/1 StanJames)

Luke Donald at the Masters in 2011 after he chipped in on the 18th. If he can get this fist pumping and passion going then we could have a second English major winner in 2013

Luke Donald at the Masters in 2011 after he chipped in on the 18th. If he can get this fist pumping and passion going then we could have a second English major winner in 2013

Wouldn’t it just make sense? Scott then Rose then Donald. If perfect symmetry was the sole factor for finding the 2013 Open champion then Luke Donald would be joint favourite alongside Sergio Garcia and Lee Westwood – and we personally cannot handle anymore gruelling Westwood performances, our brains and hearts are not strong enough, although would never begrudge him a win.

As for Donald, he has admitted himself that it has not been a great season for him, after 2 incredible years of unerring consistency.  In his last three competitions he has finished T42, T8, and T21.  That T8 was at the US Open, where he went into the final day with every chance of taking the title but faltered away, allowing player partner and good friend, Rose, to capitalise.

In his last 10 major outings he has managed 7 top 32s, including 4 top 10s and you just get that sense he is on the verge of joining the major elite.

Even recent Open performances give you confidence in Donald, T5 last year with four consistent rounds and in 2009 a final day 67 put him 2 shots of a playoff place.  When you think of his playing style, it is no surprise that he finds himself at the top of various major championships.  But for us Merion and Muirfield have presented him with the best opportunities yet – a superb tee to green player, reliably accurate, a phenomenal scrambler and bunker player and when he starts holing putts he is so dangerous.  That combination is perfect for links golf and we feel very confident in our main man.

He was number 1 for a long time and his name is more than good enough to join that elite list of former winners.  In Donald we believe and trust.

Links form since 2010

Won Top 5 Top 10 Top 25 Made Cut Missed Cut
1 4 5 8 10 2

Recent Open Championship History (Including 2002 Open at Muirfield)

2012 2011 2010 2009 2007 2002
T5 MC T11 T5 T63 MC

PGA Tour Statistics

Luke Donald Stats

Graeme McDowell (25/1 various)

You can sample all the alcohol in the world if you win Gmac. It will be on us...

You can sample all the alcohol in the world if you win Gmac. It will be on us…

Yes he was our main man for Merion and yes he missed the cut, but that has not put us off one of the very best scramblers and tee to green players in the game.

It has been well documented, by both himself and the media, that it has been a very bizarre season.  3 wins in a single year is an incredible achievement, but 6 missed cuts doesn’t make a great deal of sense, especially with a usually consistent performer like McDowell.

Every time he has shown his true class and deservedly walked away with a trophy, he misses the cut the following week but we are sure it will not happen this time around, on a course that suits the Northern Irishman perfectly.

He was superb at the French Open two weekends ago, leading the field for GIR and lying in 15th for driving accuracy – two crucial Muirfield attributes.

And now he will be going into the third major, having missed the cut at Augusta and Merion in the knowledge that if he can make it to Saturday there is every chance he will be in contention.  He has made 7 cuts this season, only finishing outside the top 10 in one of those tournaments.  When his game is on, it is on and we would not be worried if the weather turns vile because his adaptable game can work in any conditions.

We really feel McDowell has the game for links golf (as shown by his history on such courses) and if he decides to turn it on, then he will have at least held one hand on a second major trophy.

Links form since 2010

Won Top 5 Top 10 Top 25 Made Cut Missed Cut
1 4 4 8 10 1

Recent Open Championship History

2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007
T5 MC T23 T34 T19 MC

European Tour Statistics

Driving Distance Driving Acc GIR Scrambling Sand Saves Putts Per Round
152nd 15th 85th 46th 167th 63rd

PGA Tour Statistics

Graeme McDowell Stats 1

Sergio Garcia (28//1 various)

This is when Sergio had the world at his feet, jumping round like a ballerina.  Lets hope he can get back to that mindset and dance his way to the title

This is when Sergio had the world at his feet, jumping round like a ballerina. Lets hope he can get back to that mindset and dance his way to the title

You can read one half of DownThe18ths column for Golf Monthly on ‘The Curious Case Of Sergio Garcia’ here –

http://www.golf-monthly.co.uk/open-2013/blog/531615/the-curious-case-of-sergio-garcia.html

Sergio Garcia.  A confusing yet irresistible golfer who has an opportunity to resurrect his fortunes, correct the wrongs of foolish comments and finally win his first major.  We really feel that this is his best chance for a long time on a course that has a lot of history for the Spaniard.

Back in 1998 Garcia won the Amateur Championship, a matchplay format, which was held at Muirfield.  Then in his 4th year as a pro, he finished T8 in the Open proper – also held at Muirfield and at the time was his highest finish in the Championship.

He has openly admitted how much he loves the historic course and cannot wait to get back there for another attempt at a trophy he has recorded 7 top 10s in.

Obviously, as there always is with Sergio, worries about his mental state will play on the mind of every gambler throwing their hard earned money at the Spaniard.  The collapse at The Players was a horrendous watch, whilst the second day 76 at Augusta was a frustrating relapse after a glorious 66 on the Thursday.

But people do often forget how incredible and unlucky he was in 2007, after nearly going wire-to-wire before painfully losing in a playoff to Padraig Harrington.  He lipped out the winning putt on the 72nd hole and we cannot imagine how painful that must have been.

Yet, just like all our top 5 picks, we really feel a sense of everything coming together for Sergio.  All the stars are aligned and as we all know, his game is simply perfect for any links challenge, so if you have the guts to go through whatever he may bring for one more week then let the fun begin.

Links form since 2010

Won Top 5 Top 10 Top 25 Made Cut Missed Cut
0 0 1 3 5 2

Recent Open Championship History (Including 2002 Muirfield)

2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2002
MC T9 T14 T38 T51 T8

PGA Tour Statistics

Sergio Garcia Stats

The Mid-Rangers

Brandt Snedeker (40/1 various)

How dapper does he look in this brown suit?! What a hero.

How dapper does he look in this brown suit?! What a hero.

Finally, the man who inspired us to originally begin DownThe18th has made it past the ‘initial’ picks and found himself 4th on our list for The Open.  We have made no secret of the fact that he is one of our favourite players, but we have a feeling that this is now the right time to back him for a major.

At the beginning of the season, he was the form man in golf.  He looked irresistibly impressive and we were so excited to back him for the Masters.  But then came his rib injury and a run of horrendous performances.  Yet he went to Augusta on medication and managed to get in the running up until late Sunday afternoon, eventually finishing T6.  Whilst he went on to miss 2 cuts following the T8 at The Players, he recorded a T17 finish at the US Open and his last appearance at the AT&T National resulted in a T8 finish, which give us confidence he is back, but should be a great sign for the man himself.

He has shown ability on links courses in the past and last year finishing T3 after shooting an outrageous 66, 64 on the first two days.  He is more than capable of winning majors and with length not really needed on this course, his game has all the components to keep the ball in play and find the putting surface, where he is arguably the best in the world.  The short stick guru represents great value at 40s considering his ability, so jump on him whilst you can.

Links form since 2010

Won Top 5 Top 10 Top 25 Made Cut Missed Cut
2 3 3 5 7 3

Recent Open Championship History

2012 2011 2009 2008
T3 MC MC MC

PGA Tour Statistics

Brandt Snedeker Stats

Henrik Stenson (45/1 888sport)

Henrik Stenson showing he is not afraid to get down and dirty back in 2009.

Henrik Stenson showing he is not afraid to get down and dirty back in 2009.

After the very lengthy discussions in deciding our final picks, we came across Stenson and thought he was completely overpriced by Ladbrokes at 66/1.  Many bookmakers had him at 40s, which is roughly where he should be and after delving into his statistics, form etc. we chose to jump at Ladbrokes’ offer.  Subsequently he shot a 64 on the Friday at the Scottish Open and his prices slashed.  He went on to shoot 66 the following day, taking a two shot lead into Sunday, however a +1 73 meant he ended in T3, with Mickelson lifting the trophy.

We can only apologise for our 5th pick being at odds nearly half what we staked, but we do have an inkling that the Swede is back to form and in complete control of his game at the moment – even with the slight break down at Castle Stuart.

His tee to green abilities are up there with anyone and considering he has enormous power as well, he can challenge on any course at any tournament.

But he has shown a liking for links golf, with an admirable recent record, whilst two T3 finishes at The Open prove he can compete with the best.  In both 2008 and 2010 he rallied home on the final day to surge up the leaderboard, but without ever really contending.

Whilst he finished well at the Masters and US Open (T18 and T21 respectively) and he has only ever made the cut at both opening majors once – back in 2009 when he finished T13 at that years Open.

In all honesty, he should be higher up this list, because he has only missed 2 cuts all year, with four top 10s and if his putter gets going, he will be incredibly dangerous.

Links form since 2010

Win Top 5 Top 10 Top 25 Made Cut Missed Cut
1 4 7 12 18 3

Recent Open Championship History

2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2002
68th T3 T13 T3 MC DNP

European Tour Statistics

Driving Distance Driving Acc GIR Scrambling Sand Saves Putts Per Round
9th 67th 8th 118th 162nd 148th

PGA Tour Statistics

Henrik Stenson Stats

The Outsiders

Jamie Donaldson (125/1 Bet365)

NO this is NOT Brandt Snedeker, it is his long lost brother, Jamie Donaldson

NO this is NOT Brandt Snedeker, it is his long lost brother, Jamie Donaldson

Considering this is a man who is currently 38th in the world rankings, won on the European Tour this year and has a solid links record, 150/1 is outrageously over-priced.

Donaldson has impressed us throughout 2013, showing his ability tee to green and there have been few better scramblers.  If and when he finds trouble around Muirfield, the Welshman is the exact player you have every confidence in turning trouble into fortune.

In his last 2 outings he ranked 3rd for GIR in France (T6 finish) and 7th for GIR in Ireland (T10 finish).  We are aware that his overall stats do not jump out, but we feel they do not represent fully the excellent golf he has been playing over recent weeks.

At the end of the day this is a heavy outsider and with plenty of places on offer from PaddyPower and BetVictor, it would be foolish not to get involved with Donaldson, who has every capability of mixing it with the best and finding the top end of leaderboards at majors.  And for us, the Open represents the competition that will suit his style the most.  Don’t forget, he did finish T7 at the PGA last year, so he does have major pedigree…

Links form since 2010

Won Top 5 Top 10 Top 25 Made Cut Missed Cut
1 2 7 9 11 6

Recent Open Championship History

2012 2006
T60 MC

European Tour Statistics

Driving Distance Driving Acc GIR Scrambling Sand Saves Putts Per Round
85th 153th 122nd 2nd 88th 43rd

Our other outsiders we have looked at are Richard Sterne (100/1 various) and Mikko Ilonen (125/1 various)

Both guys have been winners on the European Tour this year – Sterne at the Joburg Open and Ilonen at the Nordea Masters and we were on them both times!

But intriguingly they have good links form and Ilonen made the cut here back in 2003, the year after he finished T9 at the Open.

Sterne has recorded 3 top 10s in his last 9 links tournaments and won the Alfred Dunhill Links back in 2009, whilst Ilonen has 2 top 10s.

If you prefer looking at outsiders and value, then these 2 guys are top professionals who will be used to the type of course, weather and conditions, whilst arriving in good form.  If you think they are the top end of the market for most European competitions – they are at the top of their game.

Masters 2013

By Lewis Pacelli + Andy Taylor

Before we start just a quick mention to check out our Masters preview on Oddschecker as one half of DownThe18th joins the punditry team at Sport Authority.  Click on The Masters and enjoy!

Well here we are, The Masters is upon us. The best 4 days on the golfing calendar and arguably the sporting calendar!  All the golfers that tee it off on Thursday will be dreaming of donning that famous green jacket and putting their names in the history books.

Played at Augusta National Golf Club, the Masters is the 1st of 4 Major Tournaments in the year, and the best if we’re honest. The par 72 will be playing all of 7,435 yards this week and is one of the hardest courses around. Narrow, long and not very forgiving! If one facet of your game is off this week, you will barely make the top 25. Not to mention the putting surfaces, 2 putt your way around here and you’ve done well. The greens won’t be easy to find this week either, expect to see a lot of scrambling.  If you had to pinpoint where to excel, very accurate iron play + driving, scrambling and holing lots of putts will be absolutely crucial.

Masters 2013 is here

Masters 2013 is here

If you haven’t already seen over the last couple of weeks, at DownThe18th we’ve managed to piece together various trends of previous winners that have helped us pick who we fancy this week. And here they are:

  • Each of the past 13 winners made the cut at The Masters the year before
  • The past 15 major winners had a previous top-10 in the same year
  • Past 5 winners were in the top 60 for driving distance on Tour and averaging 290 yards throughout the season
  • Past 6 winners have been inside the top 63 for scoring average on Tour
  • 7 of the past 8 winners finished in the top-25 at the previous years PGA Championship
  • Changes were made in 2008 to combat a certain Tiger and since then every winner hit GIR of at least 68% during the 4 days. We therefore are factoring in GIR of around 60% on Tour for the season
  • The last 5 winners had driving accuracy of at least 58%, so we feel around 55% accuracy of the tee is required
  • 9 of the last 11 winners were inside the top 20 for putting average during the tournament, so we are looking at around the top 75 in putting stats.
  • The most crucial holes where you need to find birdies are the par 5’s. The past 5 winners have hit a combined under par average, so around top 75 on par 5 scoring average and par 5 birdies or better % – The last 4 winners have played their combined 64 Par 5 holes in –38
  • There’s been only one first-time PGA Tour winner at the Masters since 1948: Bernhard Langer in 1985.
  • 69% or 24 of 35 players of the Top 3 finishers from 2004 through 2012 at Augusta were residents in the Southern United States
  • The average age of the green jacket bearer is 32
  • The average attempts before a first win is 6
  • 9 of the last 11 winners were inside the top 20 for putting average during the tournament, so we are looking at around the top 75 in putting stats.

So obviously, anyone who fits all of those categories is in for a great chance this week.

The beauty of this tournament is that you can make cases for a large majority of the field. Even more exciting is how everyone is coming into some sort of form. Who can forget how well Tiger is playing, Rory Mcilroy is looking ominous once again after a 2nd in Texas whilst 3-time winner Phil Mickelson already has a PGA title to his name this year. Let alone all the other people who have titles to their name in 2013. We are certainly in for 4 outstanding days.

Finally, over the previous month our minds have swayed from one player to the next. Our initial ‘4 week plan’ changed considerably to our ‘2 week plan’ (Both available in the ‘Masters 2013 Preview’ tab) and then eventually we ended up with our final few players.

We have a great week in store

We have a great week in store

If you do feel Tiger Woods is just too hard to back against, then there is a without Woods market with some very good odds available. Considering the form he is in, it could be a very popular route. Paddy Power, SportingBet and 888Sport are also paying 6 places on e/w bets this week, so bet wisely!

JUSTIN ROSE – (20/1 PaddyPower + w/o Woods 14/1 PaddyPower)

Previous Masters Form –

2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007
8 11 20 36 5
Rose is ready for his 1st Major

Rose is ready for his 1st Major

Justin Rose has been in superb form this season, finishing in the top 25 in each of his previous 13 tournaments and it looks like his irons are back to what his amateur days had promised.  And they promised so much.  That T4 at The Open as an amateur was incredible, but turning professional the day after was certainly too soon, missing 21 cuts in a row and having to regain his card through European qualifying school 2 years on the trot.  Fast-forward a decade and the much lauded Englishman is now number 3 in the world going into the first major of the year with EVERY chance of winning it.  Last year he led both the PGA and European GIR % and won the WGC Cadillac Championship by a stroke from Bubba Watson.  From tee to green he is the perfect golfer, able to hit it long and accurate, whilst his putting is improving by the week.  The putts on the final 3 holes against Phil Mickelson at The Ryder Cup last year showed not only his capability but also his bottle.  He has long been considered a ‘flop’ when it comes to the crunch and that is a fair assumption, but this is a new man. Even big Phil turned round at the time and could only mutter one word – “Wow”. He has been first round leader twice at Augusta (2007 + 2008) and failed to assert himself come Sunday but he seems to have an aura of calmness now and why wouldn’t he?

Just look at his stats and Masters form, he likes the course and is clearly a perfect fit – we are trying our hardest not to be sentimental, but this could be the year England have their first major winner since Sir Nick Faldo back in 1996. It could be a very rosy week for Justin…

 Recent Form –

Arnold Palmer Invitational WGC Cadillac Honda Classic WGC Matchplay Qatar Masters Abu Dhabi Golf Champs
2 T8 T4 T17 T16 T2

Statistics –

Residence Driving Distance Driving Accuracy GIR % Scoring av. Par 5 Scoring av. Par 5 Birdie + Strokes Gained Putting Putts Per Round Best Finish 2013 Attempts + Average Finish
London and Orlando 301 y (8th) 57.14% (121st) 65.74% (94th) 68.675 (2nd) 4.38 (2nd) 57.50% (8th) 106th 25th 2nd 7 +20

Note bold indicates where they match the trends of past winners

ADAM SCOTT – (28/1 Various + w/o Woods 25/1 Bet Victor)

Previous Masters Form –

2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007
8 2 18 MC 25 27
Time for Scott to fulfill his potential

Time for Scott to fulfill his potential

Back in 2002 a 22-year old Australian showed signs he would be challenging for majors every year, winning the Scottish PGA Championship by 10 clear shots and recording a top 10 in his first ever appearance at The Masters.  He has always been earmarked as being one of the best and this could be the breakthrough year.  Firstly, lets be honest, he should have won The Open last year, leading by 4 going into the last day before a final round +5 let Ernie Els sneak in to win another major.  It was a shock to see, as he has always oozed calmness and authority – it was certainly a shock for everyone in the game.  Since then he has recorded 9 top 20s and cut down his schedule in 2013 in a bid to attack the majors this year. His T3 at The WGC was a joy to watch, shooting –8 on the Sunday is no mean feat and was great to see him enjoying his game, however at Tampa Bay his putting was uncharacteristically poor and he has gone on to work hard in time for Augusta.  He simply ticks every box of recent Masters winners and his game is tailor-made for the challenge. He is the right age, experienced, drives it long, accurate and can attack pins – the all round package. Plus with Steve Williams, Tiger Woods ex-caddie on the bag, he will have a professional and experienced voice in his ear throughout the week and he could prove to be a big difference between winning and a top 10. He will have grown and matured from that collapse last year, he is NOT the sort of player to do that again.  And when the great Arnold Palmer agrees, you know its true

“Adam Scott has performed like Usain Bolt at Augusta the last two years, starting sluggishly before finishing like an express train. If he can get out of the blocks a little quicker this time, he will take all the beating. Expect Scott to be focused, eager to avenge his collapse at [the British Open] last year, and look for him to overpower the Cathedral in the Pines.”

Recent Form –

Tampa Bay Champs WGC Cadillac WGC Matchplay Northern Trust Open
T30 T3 T33 T10

 Statistics –

Residence Driving Distance Driving Accuracy GIR % Scoring av. Par 5 Scoring av. Par 5 Birdie + Strokes Gained Putting Putts Per Round Best Finish 2013 Attempts + Average Finish
Switzerland 302.9 (5th) 54.88% (152nd) 62.9% (149th) 69.239 (2nd)   70.45% (1st) 73rd 3rd 11 +26

KEEGAN BRADLEY – (30/1 StanJames + w/o Woods 22/1 PaddyPower)

Previous Masters Form –

2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007
T27
Great talent and a great opportunity

Great talent and a great opportunity

Keegan has kept impressing us at DownThe18th, not just with his golfing ability but with the way he conducts himself on and off the course. He’s a very likeable character and someone who is freshening up the game.  Has he got what it takes to win around here? Of course he has! 4 top 10’s in his last 4 tournaments, including a 4th at the Honda Classic and a 3rd at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, both very similar layouts to Augusta. So he’s in fabulous form. One thing that could put people off is that he only made his debut here last year, but finished a very respectable 27th. And who can forget his 1st ever Major appearance, a stunning victory in the PGA Championship. So if anyone with little experience around here can win this, it will be the American. Another big factor for picking Bradley is his love for big occasions. Who can forget his antics with Mickelson at last year’s Ryder Cup, fist pumping practically every shot. He certainly wears his heart on his sleeve, which we love! Statistically as you can see, Bradley looks very, very promising and if we’re honest is very unlucky to only get slot number 3 in our Masters picks this week. He’s also a connoisseur of the controversial belly putter, so it would be very ironic if someone who putts that way won this week, considering the hype surrounding them right now. Can easily win this week.

Recent Form –

Shell Houston Open Arnold Palmer Invitational WGC Cadillac Honda Classic WGC Matchplay Northern Trust Open
T10 T3 7 T4 T33 T16

Statistics –

Residence Driving Distance Driving Accuracy GIR % Scoring av. Par 5 Scoring av. Par 5 Birdie + Strokes Gained Putting Putts Per Round Best Finish 2013 Attempts + Average Finish
Jupiter, Florida 298 y (16th) 61.12% (79th) 67.6% (59th) 69.671 (8th) 4.40 (4th) 57.61% (7th) 49th 78th 3rd 1 +27

SERGIO GARCIA – (45/1 StanJames + w/o Woods 35/1 Bet Victor)

Previous Masters Form –

2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007
12 35 45 38 MC MC
Sergio is back to his best

Sergio is back to his best

We’ll start this one by saying it’s the 30th anniversary of a certain Spaniard’s 2nd Masters title, Mr Seve Ballesteros. If you are one for superstitions, wouldn’t it be fitting if Sergio Garcia won here this week?

The Spaniard after completely losing his game for a couple of years is back, we can tell you that. We have watched a lot of him this year, and we have been very impressed. Sergio this year has managed 5 top 20’s from 7 starts including a 2nd, 3rd and 7th place. That elusive win still evades him this year and what better place to get it? And talking of elusive wins, Garcia somehow has yet to win a Major, which is a travesty for someone with his talents! He has recorded three 2nd places, a two 3rd places, a 4th and two 5th places in Majors so far. So he certainly knows how to perform in majors! Interestingly, when Sergio was at the peak of his game 10 years ago, he recorded an 8th and 4th at Augusta in 3 years. Again, his pedigree around here cannot be questioned. Last year, with his game ever improving, he finished tied 38th. But Sergio is a different animal now. If you do look through the betting market, Garcia is arguably the best player at those sort of odds, 45/1 for a player of his calibre needs to be taken advantage of. Again he is a massive shout for at least a place here, and could quite easily win this.

Recent Form – 

Arnold Palmer Invitational Tampa Bay Champs WGC Cadillac WGC Matchplay Northern Trust Open Dubai Desert Classic
W/D T7 T3 T17 T13 T17

Statistics –

Residence Driving Distance Driving Accuracy GIR % Scoring av. Par 5 Scoring av. Par 5 Birdie + Strokes Gained Putting Putts Per Round Best Finish 2013 Attempts + Average Finish
Borriol, Spain 292.1 (41st) 61.17% (76th) 69.2% (31st) 69.276 (4th) 51.79% (31st) 31st 2nd 14 + 12th 34

HENRIK STENSON – (66/1 StanJames + w/o Woods 55/1 Bet Victor)

Previous Masters Form –

2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007
40 MC MC 38 17 17
In form and just sneaked into Augusta

In form and just sneaked into Augusta

Henrik is someone we expect a lot of people to be backing this week and it was hard for us to stay away from him. He was never in our plans 4 weeks ago, but has certainly earned his place in our picks this week. He is a player that feeds off confidence and someone who needs to be jumped on when he hits form. The big hitting Swede came to everyone’s attention 2 weeks ago with a great 2nd place at the Shell Houston Open (which gave us a much appreciated e/w return) that followed a T8 finish at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. Those 2 performances came after some pretty average golf by his standards, 39th, MC, 64th were his finishes in the tournaments prior to 3 weeks ago. So the confidence and form is there for all to see right now. Stenson in years gone by has often been known as a ‘big hitter’ and perhaps lacks skill with his irons. But that is certainly not the case anymore! Henrik ranks 1st in quite a few iron statistics on the PGA Tour now but is still averaging nearly 300yards off the tee. That is a pretty lethal combination. And in his 2nd place two weeks ago, the putting looked great too.

During the Swede’s best years in 08/09, he managed two 17th place finishes at Augusta which is more than acceptable round here! He also managed a T3, T4, T6 and 9th in the other 3 majors during those 2 years. He enjoys the Majors shall we say! But at 66/1, Henrik is a great outside bet and has a great opportunity for at least a place with the kind of form he’s in right now. Interestingly, Stenson’s 2nd place a couple of weeks ago sneaked him into the World top 50 Rankings, without that he wouldn’t be here this week! So it would be very interesting if he went close after leaving it so late to qualify.

Recent Form –

Shell Houston Open Arnold Palmer Invitational Puerto Rico Open Honda Classic WGC Matchplay Dubai Desert Classic
T2 T8 T39 MC T33 T26

Statistics –

Residence Driving Distance Driving Accuracy GIR % Scoring av. Par 5 Scoring av. Par 5 Birdie + Strokes Gained Putting Putts Per Round Best Finish 2013 Attempts + Average Finish
Orlando, Florida 285.5 (95th)(298 on European Tour) 74.29% (1st) 76.6% (1st) 70.440 (31st) 50.00% (40th) 173rd 8th 7 + 46

PETER HANSON – (80/1 PaddyPower + w/o Woods 66/1 Coral)

Previous Masters Form –

2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007
3 MC
Our outsider this week. Can he better his 3rd last year?

Our outsider this week. Can he better his 3rd last year?

Peter Hanson is our outside shot because he has impressed us over the last year or so.  A T3 at Augusta last year showed the world he has the game to really compete at the highest level and he could have challenged for the win had he not shot +2 on the second day. The –7 on the Saturday was simply outstanding and the best round in the field.  He also won twice at the end of 2012 at the BMW Masters and KLM open destroying both fields with ease. And his form has not stopped there, he has continued into 2013 with confidence, barring the blip at the Northern Trust Open, he has finished no lower than 22nd in any tournament. All this culminated in a superb final day last Sunday in Texas where he shot –6 to climb back up to T22.  His round included 7 birdies and an eagle on a long par 5 which will fill him with the self-belief that he can attack the dreaded par 5s at Augusta. Averaging the ball over the needed 290 yards and having a trusted putter by his side, Hanson is a real prospect at such high odds.  In fact, he has 3 top 10s in his last 8 majors which is certainly better than a lot of players in the field. In Hanson we trust.

Recent Form –

Valero Texas Open WGC Cadillac Honda Classic WGC Matchplay Northern Trust Open Qatar Masters
T22 T8 T13 T17 78 T22

Statistics –

Residence Driving Distance Driving Accuracy GIR % Scoring av. Par 5 Scoring av. Par 5 Birdie + Strokes Gained Putting Putts Per Round Best Finish 2013 Attempts + Average Finish
Trelleborg, Sweden 292.8 (38th) 53.90% (156th) 59.60% (175th) 70.179 (19th) 54.55% (12th) 27th 8th 2 +36.5

It is also worth looking at several other markets, which the bookmakers offer during the 4 majors.  Top Scandinavian, Top English and Top South African are particularly appealing, but Top Debutant is the stand out special market for us.  We would have said Thorbjorn Olesen all day long, but he was in a car crash last week (how dare you Thorbjorn) and has not practiced for 10 days, for your first time at Augusta, it is worse preparation than the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.  And that is saying something. Side Note – Fredrick Jacobson has odds at 125/1 (StanJames) and it is far too intriguing not to spare some saved up change on a Swede who is one of the best putters in the world. When you are 4th for strokes gained putting, 6th for putts per round, 3rd for scoring average and 25th for par 5 birdie + you have a real outside chance at Augusta. As we said, any change you can spare, it would be rude not to have a dabble.

So look out for the big hitting Nicolas Colsaerts (11/2), Russell Henley (8/1) and an in-form Richard Sterne (8/1)

Good luck and enjoy the Masters!

Masters 2013

Masters 2013 Stats and Preview

By Lewis Pacelli

It would be far easier to find the fairway Bubba...

It would be far easier to find the fairway Bubba…

Our initial “four week” preview before The Tampa Bay Championship has now developed and things have become a lot clearer before the first major, now only TWO weeks away!Brandt Snedeker simply does not look right sadly and even though he has drifted out in the market, his game will not hack Augusta in its current state. We never thought we would say that! Charles Howell looks very likely to not make the field sadly and Charl Schwartzel is too up and down for us.  He is definitely one of those with the capabilities but his inconsistency per round makes us slightly uncomfortable!

We wanted to share a system with you in  how we picked our initial players, as there are many trends at this major mainly due to the fact it never moves…

Previous Trends

  • Each of the past 13 winners made the cut at The Masters the year before
  • The past 15 major winners had a previous top-10 in the same year
  • Past 5 winners were in the top 60 for driving distance on Tour and averaging 290 yards throughout the season
  • Past 6 winners have been inside the top 63 for scoring average on Tour
  • 7 of the past 8 winners finished in the top-25 at the previous years PGA Championship

This criteria cut the field down considerably, so we then added other key stats

Adam Scott is one of those players that can really drive it far

Adam Scott is one of those players that can really drive it far

  • Changes were made in 2008 to combat a certain Tiger and since then every winner hit GIR of at least 68% during the 4 days. We therefore are factoring in GIR of around 60% on Tour for the season
  • The last 5 winners had driving accuracy of at least 58%, so we feel around 55% accuracy of the tee is required
  • 9 of the last 11 winners were inside the top 20 for putting average during the tournament, so we are looking at around the top 75 in putting stats.
  • The most crucial holes where you need to find birdies are the par 5’s. The past 5 winners have hit a combined under par average, so around top 75 on par 5 scoring average and par 5 birdies or better % – The last 4 winners have played their combined 64 Par 5 holes in –38

This pretty much cancelled out the whole field and left us with only a few golfers, but for safe measure, we incorporated the following variations

  • There’s been only one first-time PGA Tour winner at the Masters since 1948: Bernhard Langer in 1985.
  • 69% or 24 of 35 players of the Top 3 finishers from 2004 through 2012 at Augusta were residents in the Southern United States
  • The average age of the green jacket bearer is 32
  • The average attempts before a first win is 6

With all of those trends considered, we were left with just 3 players.

  • Tiger Woods

Now it is no real surprise to be left with the new number 1 golfer in the world.  He ticks every single box and has been on majestic form this year.  The only things stopping Woods is the fact that the number 1 has not won here since 2002. Guess who that was though?

  • Justin Rose

His odds have been cut down by many bookmakers for obvious reasons – he is finally in the major-winning form his amateur days promised.  Tee to green he is technically superb and his putting is getting better.

  • Adam Scott

Now there is one thing that isn’t in the Australians favour – he does not live in Southern United States. However, when everything else is is a perfect fit, you cannot ignore him.  He is a definate major-winner and he will want to avenge last years collapse at The Open.

Special mention must go to Sergio Garcia whose stats are a perfect match, however he missed the cut at the PGA and also lives back in Europe. Funnily enough one of his houses is next door to Scott!

We will be publishing our 6 initial picks this week before a final preview the Monday of the actual tournament.  For now, here is our stats pack that you may find very helpful in making your decision!

Stats masters 1stats masters 2

On the European circuit –

euro stats

In terms of the stats, Peter Hanson, Hunter Mahan, Keegan Bradley, Henrik Stenson and Charles Howell stand out in particular, with good all round games from tee to green.