PGA Tour week 16

RBC Heritage

By Lewis Pacelli

We can look forward to another course of natural beauty

We can look forward to another course of natural beauty

One week on from another formidable Masters tournament, where one of our selections Adam Scott came out victorious after a tense playoff with Angel Cabrera. There could not be a more deserved major winner, so as the girls went crazy and the Aussies skipped work we can now move on to what we hope will not be an anti-climax at the RBC Heritage in South Carolina.

After the joys of watching one of the most beautiful courses in world golf last week, we are going to be spoiled once more as The Harbour Town Links is another stunning layout for purists and spectators.  Designed by the magician Pete Dye and Jack Nicklaus, it measures at around 6,970 yards, which is certainly short for the modern game, but the test will lie in accuracy with over 140 bunkers and water hazards that come into play on 9 of the holes.  The winner here will have to be an accurate and clean ball striker who can work their way round the tricky lay out, needing precision from tee to green.  Especially as the greens are guarded by shrubbery and trees and are infamous for being some of the smallest and tightest on tour.  Averaging at just over 3,700 square feet, each green will test every skill-set and with players like Brandt Snedeker, Matt Kuchar, Luke Donald and Jim Furyk, we could be in for a post-Masters treat.

Last year Carl Petterson came out victorious and he will attempt to regain his trophy, but with a rich history in winners, it is likely a new champion will emerge.

Matt Kuchar 18/1 (Coral)

Kuchar is in the form of his career

Kuchar is in the form of his career

“Kooch” was in with a shout for the big one last week going into the final day after a 69 on the Saturday, but he never looked like really troubling the leaders.  His four days were certainly a solid effort and his T8 finish showed how consistent his season is proving to be.  In fact his worst finish of the year is T38 at The Northern Trust Open…

We will admit how difficult it was to split Kuchar and a certain Brandt Snedeker, however we just felt more confident in the guaranteed performer that Kooch is and there were worries in how the latter will recover after a poor final day at Augusta.

Looking at the overall picture, the WGC Matchplay winner has a game that could really attack this course.  He has recorded two top 10’s here in previous years, when his form was nothing like it currently is and he is an accurate performer from tee to green, but it is on the green where he could excel.  24th in strokes gained putting and 20th for putts per round, whilst in proximity to the hole he lies 33rd – all key stats for this tricky challenge.  Scrambling will certainly come into play with such difficult greens to hit consistently and due to the fact his GIR have been under par at times this season, he is currently 10th in this department.  All in all we feel this could be a strong performance from Kooch and we all want to hear the fans screaming his name, don’t we?

Boo Weekley (40/1 Coral)

Boo picking up the unusual trophy back in 2007. He loves it

Boo picking up the unusual trophy back in 2007. He loves it

How can we ever forget that final round 63 at Tampa Bay? Boo once again showed how incredible he can be with his irons. His recent improvement in form has coincided with what he states as “Being at the right and comfortable weight”. He seems relaxed once again and when he is playing as well as he can, Boo is one of the best ball strikers in the game.  There is no doubting he can translate this new found freedom on a course that has brought triumph in the past.  Back in 2007 the Texan won his first PGA event after remarkably chipping in on both the 17th and 18th to beat Ernie Els by a single shot. He then returned in 2008 to dominate from round 1 and win by 3 shots. He hit a 63 and a 64 in that win and when you consider how well he is playing now, he could definitely do it again.  42nd for driving accuracy, 8th for GIR and 45th in proximity to the hole show how his tee to green abilities will aid him this week. If he can get his putting going, there is no reason a 3rd victory here could be on the horizon…Lets just hope he spent the past 2 weeks off, all relaxed on a fishing boat!

Charles Howell III (50/1 PaddyPower)

Much like Weekley, it is great to see another player starting to find their feet once again.  Once gracing the Worlds top 15, his return to form last year has transferred into 2013.  5 top 10s and 7 top 20s is not a mean feat and watching him fight for his life at The Shell Houston Open final round was a delight.  Shooting 66 in a last ditch attempt to make The Masters showed courage and determination and even though he fell just short, mainly thanks to Henrik Stenson finishing 2nd, he will carry confidence and a sense of injustice as he tees up on Thursday.  His accurate game will come into play as he attacks the small greens, 42nd for GIR on tour and at The Farmers Insurance Open he was 1st in this department for the week. (He eventually finished T9) He has always been considered as a solid player in and around the greens, 12th for strokes gained putting, 19th for putts per round and 2nd in scrambling could really help his challenge.  As we have stated before, every single player WILL miss greens along the way, so a solid scrambler will be near the top of the leaderboard come Sunday. At the challenging WGC Cadillac he was actually top of scrambling for the four days.

If there was a week where Howell can win his first title since 2007, this could really be the one..

Tim Clark (66/1 Coral)

The small South African will go into this week with every bit of confidence, after a wonderful performance at Augusta, where he was still in contention going into the final round on Sunday following a superb 67 the previous day.  As we have come to expect from Clark, his tee to green performance was superb and this is why we feel his odds are far too big going into a week where he could suit the course perfectly.  His overall season has been up and down, with 3 missed cuts, but a 2nd in Hawaii and only 4 rounds over par in 2013 show he has actually been unlucky.  5th for driving accuracy and 27th in proximity to the hole only add to his appeal, whilst being 27th in putts per round and 47th for scrambling have made sure money has already left the account… His history here has brought about a 7th place in 2006, whilst he has never missed a cut.  We can only re-iterate that odds as high as 66s, it seems silly not to take a punt on a very capable golfer.

Brian Davis (66/1 Various)

Brian Davis strutting his stuff

Brian Davis strutting his stuff

The 38-year old Englishman has come on a wonderful renaissance in recent weeks after a T6 at The Shell Houston Open followed by a T29 at The Valero Texas Open.  He may not have won since 2004, but this is the tournament he came so close to breaking that duck back in 2010.  He went into a playoff with DownThe18th stalwart Jim Furyk, however came up short on the first hole.  Following that 2nd he recorded a T21 and a T13, which shows how well he can play here and with the glimpses of form he has given us recently, there could be a big surprise on the cards.  27th for driving accuracy, 47th for strokes gained putting and 42nd for putts per round prove how his key attributes will help him round this challenging test.  Plus, it would be great for the British Isles to continue the winning streak and follow on from Martin Lairds wonderful win a couple of weeks ago….

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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!

PGA Tour Week 14

Valero Texas Open

By Lewis Pacelli + Andy Taylor

Well here we are, just 1 week away from the Masters and we hope you are as excited as we are! But first, we have the small matter of the Valero Texas Open. Played at the AT&T Oaks Course at TPC San Antonio, this is the fourth year it has been hosted here. The winner, if not already qualified, will get an invitation to the Masters, so anyone without a spot at Augusta will be desperate to do well here. This seems like one of those tracks where once you do well here, you continue to do so.

The course is 7,522 yards, so it’s no short track.  But just as it is long, it is narrow. It’s one of the toughest on the tour off the tee, with the rough being very severe in parts and native vegetation on most holes. So of course length off the tee combined with accuracy would be nice, but finding those fairways will be most important this week. After 2 tough previous years for the golfers, the course has been made easier in parts. 4 of the greens out there have been changed and flattened out (1,4, 10 & 12), whilst the fairways on 2 of the hardest holes, no.1 and no.4 have been widened. The rough is also 1 inch shorter this year whilst chipping areas around the greens have been lengthened to stop severe punishment for missed greens.

Green in regulation will be vital if you are to finish high here, with some bunkers as deep as 12 feet. Naturally this means the better scramblers out there will also fair better with bogey avoidance being key. This certainly won’t be a birdie-fest! As always on the longer courses, par 5 performance is something to look at as every birdie opportunity needs to be taken advantage of.

Hopefully one of our picks will be on the microphone this year!

Hopefully one of our picks will be on the winner’s microphone this year!

The weather is always windy here in Texas, but other than that, the sun should shine for all 4 days! Late entry Rory Mcilroy perhaps might regret his decision to play here with the constant wind and his naturally high ball flight leading to a very tough week. But if anyone can overcome the odds, it would be Rory. With all eyes on the Masters next week, it is hard to see any of the big boys having the passion to win here (Schwartzel is perfect for this course), so expect someone with odds of at least 25/1 or more to take this.

Fredrik Jacobson (25/1 Ladbrokes)

The stylish Swede loves it here

The stylish Swede loves it here

We have never hidden from the fact the big Swede is one of our favourite golfers on tour, his relaxed style and easy-going attitude towards the game is infectious. Plus, he is one of the meanest putters in the game.  In contrast to our 3rd pick this week, Freddie is so calm on the greens and you are at ease when he is standing over any putt, but especially the short 5-10 footers (15th on tour) and the longer 15-10 footers (2nd on tour).  The fact he is 6th for putts per round and 4th for strokes gained in putting, you realise how good he actually is.  This is why he is many peoples outside interest for that small tournament taking place next week.  He has taken a month out to work on other aspects of his game and it seems he feels confident enough to take on a course he has played at well in the past in preparation for Augusta.  T18 last year, T5 in 2011 and outright 2nd in 2010, shows how it is hard to ignore him this week. His driving stats are not hugely encouraging, but he is 5th in scrambling and if there is a bit of wind, it could be important to have an ability to draw the ball and Freddie is 4th for left tendency off the tee.  Once in the fairway he has the ability to put the ball where he wants to, 5th in proximity to the hole and even with the inconsistent length off the tee, he is 15th for par 5 birdie or better.

There could be the factor he will not want to exert himself too much, but after not playing for a while, we can only imagine his desire to come back and take on the course again.

Cameron Tringale (33/1 Bet365)

Lets hope his putter listens to him this week!

Lets hope his putter listens to him this week!

Cameron’s name has been on our lips the last few weeks and was unlucky not to make our picks for the Shell Houston. 3 top 30’s in 3 weeks including a 3rd place at the Tampa Bay Championship means Cameron is pretty much in the form of his life. He came into this last year with previous results of T46, MC and 8th, so 2013 has been much better for him. He ticks every box, with his course form reading 8th, 5th and 28th. Statistically, you can’t ask for much more than what the American offers. 18th in GIR, 55th in Driving Accuracy, 287 yards off the tee, 34th total driving and 24th all round ranking. He will have no problem getting birdies out there either, 8th in par 5 performance and 13th in total birdies whilst he is ranked 8th in scrambling and 28th in sand saves, so he’s got the all-round package for this course! We’ve got a few quick statistics from last week at the Shell Houston as well. Tringale was 1st in GIR and 8th in scrambling. He was also 1st strokes gained-putting 2 weeks ago at the Tampa Bay, so he’s definitely on it right now.  Expect him to go close.

Charley Hoffman (40/1 Various)

Keep that hat on Hoff!

Keep that hat on Hoff!

First things first, we must tell you that if you back Charley Hoffman, not to get confused with Morgan Hoffman when you look at the leaderboard on your return home from work.  If you get all excited then realise it’s the wrong one, it hurts. (We’re thinking of you Ross and Oliver Fisher…) Secondly, we would rarely back someone with the putting capabilities Hoffman possesses.  One of the most frustrating things in watching your bets is someone playing very consistently tee to green then missing putts for fun. (We’re thinking of you Lee Westwood…) BUT there are several signs that point towards him doing well this week and our gut instinct kept telling us he is a must.  He absolutely loves this course, his worst finish T13, which he achieved last year, after a T2 in 2011 and another T13 in 2010.  There is a reason the phrase ‘horses for courses’ exists!  His form this year has been relatively inconsistent, but he will definitely take confidence from a T20 on the difficult Redstone course last week.  After a 68 on the first day, he found himself T5 and even though he didn’t shoot over par at all, he never made a charge.  That confidence could really push him here though, at a place he knows so well.  And it is no surprise he plays well here, he regularly drives the ball 290 yards and is 40th for total driving, whilst he is 51st for scrambling, all pointing towards a potential high finish for the American. We are quietly confident on who we are now dubbing ‘The Hoff’ and if, IF he can putt well, a 3rd PGA title could be on the cards.

P.S We apologise in advance if The Hoff takes his hat off, the hair doo is not pretty underneath there…

Kevin Chappell (70/1 Bet365)

Chappell comes in as our 4th and final pick, and at 70/1 you can argue he is our outsider. But his statistics and form surely deserve lower odds than that, as we will show you. After a withdrawal last year at +4, Chappell managed to finish 2nd here on his debut in 2011. If you watched the Shell Houston last week, you would know the 6foot American was in great form, eventually finishing T6, just 3 shots off winner D.A. Points. That was his best finish since the back end of 2011. Kevin is one of those players who has short periods of great form, as previous to his 6th last week he had missed 5 consecutive cuts. But prior to that, he had 2 top 25’s in 3 starts, including a T8 at the Humana Challenge. His statistics that shone out to us last week at the Shell Houston were 5th in total driving, 27th in GIR and 17th strokes gained-putting. On the PGA Tour he seems to be good in all departments, 28th driving distance, 4th sand saves, 27th total driving, 24th scrambling, 11th par 4 performance (of which there are 8) and 1st in approaches from 50-125yards. If you wondered whether he can take advantage of the par 5’s, Kevin got 2 birdies and 2 eagles on the 1st round par 5’s here last year, the best of the day. Perhaps a gamble this one considering he has missed 5 cuts before last week, but he is one of those you have to jump on when he hits form!

Come on Kev!

Come on Kev!

Tale Of Our Woes

7th Edition (Shell Houston Open + Trophee Hassan II)

Sponsored by Colin Stuart Montgomerie, holder of 0 weeks at World Number 1 and the catalyst for every bit of our woe!

What we learnt this week:

  • When DownThe18th back D.A. Points he misses the cut
  • When DownThe18th don’t back D.A.Points, he wins a tournament – we’re not bitter
  • Henrik Stenson is back
  • D.A. Points uses his mother’s putter, to great effect as well
  • We had three 2nd places this week, that is surely unlucky?
  • Jimmy Walker is now coined ‘Mr Inconsistency’
  • Maximilian Kieffer had more bogeys than clubs in his bag
  • The Masters is only 2 weeks away!
  • We love the new trend ‘Dufnering’

What another rollercoaster of a week we had again! We ended up with 4 places from our picks this week, a tidy bit of money but still that bitter taste in our mouths. The week ended with D.A.Points picking up his 2nd PGA Tour title whilst the long haired German Marcel Siem picked up the title in Morocco on the European Tour. But forget all that, let’s look at the week from a DownThe18th perspective!

Let’s start in North Africa and the beautiful country of Morocco. A place perhaps not known for their golfing exploits, but they certainly put on a great few days for the ‘European’ Tour this week. We highlight the word European because it has been 6 months since there was actually an event in Europe now, all the way back on October 11th 2012 at the Portugal Masters. But we will brush that under the carpet as this was the 1st week on the 2013 calendar where we haven’t had to wake up at silly o’clock. There is always that nervous wait when you awake at 8am, load your laptop, and somewhere across the globe your picks will be finishing off their rounds, with us being none the wiser as to where they are! But this week was brilliant, a lovely 11pm tee off for most of our players and even some coverage on the TV for us to sit back and enjoy our Easter break.

Day 1, and things didn’t start well. Most of our picks where late starters and naturally the weather was gorgeous before any of our lads teed off. As soon as they heard DownThe18th had a few picks coming onto the 1st tee, the wind was summoned and it was like a scene from ‘The Day After Tomorrow’ (maybe a slight exaggeration). Marcel Siem posted a sun-drenched 64 to top the leaderboard and ultimately make it his own for the rest of the week.  Meanwhile Pablo Larrazabal, our number 1 pick, was frightfully unlucky at times eventually finishing level par, even being compared to a ‘young Seve’ from the commentary team. Perhaps a bit strong for someone who only has 2 European Tour titles to his name.

Onto days 2 and 3, and the leaderboard started to shape up. From a DownThe18th perspective, very nicely so. Larrazabal, David Horsey and Mikko Ilonen, all our main picks made up 3 of the top 4 places going into the last day, which is always good to see. Sadly, the long haired German at the top was not budging and it left our boys battling it out for 2nd spot. At times we were brought to the edge of our seats, at the start of both the final 2 days, Siem started with a bogey meaning he was only 1 shot in front, but always managed to pull himself together and consolidate that top spot. Ilonen found himself level with Siem on day 4 after a stunning front 9, but the notorious DownThe18th bottle came back to haunt us and a double bogey (something most of our picks inevitably pick up at some point) put pay to any chance he had of the €250,000 prize fund.  Quick mention to our other pick Maximilian Kieffer, +13 after day 2 and he had more bogeys than clubs in his bag. It appears we backed the wrong German! But all in all, not a bad return for us, Horsey and Ilonen both finished tied 2nd whilst Larrazabal was 2 shots back in 4th.

Now onto the PGA Tour and the Shell Houston Open, and most of our picks certainly didn’t come out of their ‘shell’ this week! Let’s start with Edward Norton look-a-like and general enigma Jimmy Walker shall we! 7 top 30’s in 8 starts he’s had this year, an animal on the par 5’s and was driving it superbly at Bay Hill! So naturally we back him and he finishes 50th… But that really doesn’t tell the whole story. He was our leading pick after day 1, sitting nicely on -4, 5 birdies and one bogey, not bad at all. Then day 2 came. 2 birdies to start off, lovely. Then from the 4th tee to 9th tee, he went bogey, bogey, triple bogey, par, double bogey. Ouch. Then on the back 9 he followed up with 4 birdies and an eagle, talk about rollercoaster! So day 3 came and he was still nicely poised. 6 bogeys on the front 9 and a bogey on the 11th is what he served up for us, you can imagine how we were feeling! When Ben Crane, no disrespect, is shooting a 67 on day 3, Jimmy Walker should not be coming away with a 78!

Carl Petterson, our outside pick, was never really involved but he’ll certainly remember his hole in 1 on the par 3 7th on day 2. Chris Kirk was very similar to Jimmy Walker, birdies here, bogeys there but perhaps not quite as extreme. Then we come to Keegan Bradley and Henrik Stenson. Now Keegan truth be told was always on the periphery of this tournament, but was always only a couple of shots behind and was our big bet of the week. So it was sad to see him +3 at one point on the final day, sad but expected when you’re a member of DownThe18th. In many respects it might not be a bad thing as we’ve also backed him for the Masters, and surely he couldn’t have won 2 tournaments in 3 weeks! He still finished a respectable 10th. Our Scandinavian friend Henrik Stenson on the other hand, went more than close! He found himself 2 shots back going into day 4, and he gave it one hell of a go. Spurred on by the prospect of a Masters spot, Stenson shot a -6 round of 66 and left himself on -15 in the clubhouse with a few boys still out there. One annoying thing had to be, Henrik ‘big hitting’ Stenson who loves to take advantage of par 5’s, somehow bogeyed the par5 13th to record his only dropped shot of the day, the  13th was unlucky for some eh? That eventually cost him his chance at a play off as D.A.Points (a man we backed a few weeks ago and subsequently missed the cut but we’re not bitter at all about that) got VERY lucky on the 18th and avoided bogey to claim his 2nd PGA Tour title at -16. And all this with his mother’s putter in the bag. It will have kids across the world scrambling to get their mother’s clubs after that performance.

As we said, with 4 places overall, we can’t grumble at this week, but as ever, it could have been so much better. We hoped you all followed our tips this week and it will be onwards and upwards to next week at the Valero Texas Open. Let’s win some more money!

Also, feel free to send us your ‘Dufnering’ pictures, we’ll get them on the blog

Here's Shell Houston Open winner D.A.Points 'Dufnering'

Here’s Shell Houston Open winner D.A.Points ‘Dufnering’

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.

PGA Tour Week 13

Shell Houston Open

After the inevitable brilliance from Tiger last week at Bay Hill, we move another step closer to The Masters and the famous green jacket (Our 2013 Masters Preview is available at the top of our blog). This week sees the PGA Tour move to the Redstone Country Club in Houston, Texas for the Shell Houston Open. This is the 1st time this tournament has not been held the week before the Masters (due to an agreement with next week’s Valero Texas Open). This tournament has always been billed as the Masters warm up event with the course very similar to Augusta in many ways. Emphasis on chipping and putting is even more crucial this year after changes to the course. 11 of the world’s top 25 will be competing this week so we are expecting some great golf. But as with any tournament before a major, be wary of people using this purely as a warm up!

The course yardage is almost identical to Augusta at 7,441 yards. For us this week, the par 5’s are where the tournament will be won and lost. Redstone features 4 par 5’s, which ranked 5th hardest on the PGA Tour last year, so ability on par 5’s will be crucial for anyone expecting to win this. The Greens are very ‘Masters-like’ and on many a 2-putt is more than adequate. Having said this, the tournament winner has averaged -16 since it was formed, with the record being -22, so obviously you need to find birdies and eagles out there! With the greens being as tough as they are, proximity to the hole is another factor that has to be taken into account. Course changes this year have included reduced bunkers and increased chipping areas around the greens, which makes GIR just as important as scrambling.

Redstone will play a lot like Augusta this week

Redstone will play a lot like Augusta this week

Of the big players this week, you have to say Rory Mcilroy will still be piecing his game together in preparation for the Masters, Snedeker (Our Masters main pick), is still coming back from injury, whilst Mickelson missed the cut last week at Bay Hill by some margin. Stricker, Mahan and Johnson of course can all do well here, but for us this week we have found value elsewhere. We have to say, this is the most confident we have felt about our picks for a few weeks now!

Paddy Power and BetVictor are paying 6 places this week as well, so keep that in mind!

Keegan Bradley (14/1 Ladbrokes)

Keegan is our big fancy this week

Keegan is our big fancy this week

We have never been the greatest of admirers of Keegan and he also failed to produce when we have previously backed him (1 shot off a place), but even we can’t look any further than him. He ticks every box. In his first outing here, he finished 51st and then weighed in with a 4th place last year, so his course form improvement is there for all to see. Other than Tiger, Bradley is the form man on tour right now, 3rd, 7th and 4th in his last three tournaments is some going. The figures are as simple as that. On top of this, the American’s playing style suits this course down to a tee. It is statistics galore. He is 5th in Par 5 performance and 7th in par5 birdie or betters this year, vital for those 4 par 5’s we were talking about. 8th in scrambling, 7th in total driving, 16th in driving distance (299 yards), 8th in scoring average, 7th in total eagles, 30th in total birdies and 4th in ‘going for the green’ shows what a class act this guy is. We are going big on Bradley this week, we really do fancy him.

Henrik Stenson (50/1 Stan James)  

Is the Swede back to his best?

Is the Swede back to his best?

Henrik is the type of player that when his swing works well, he will take some stopping. And last week at Bay Hill the Swede ranked 1st in driving accuracy and 2nd in GIR on the way to his 8th place last week. Now for someone who has comfortably averaged over 300 yards off the tee in his career, that is a lethal combination. It is well known that the last couple of years haven’t been kind to Stenson, suffering from injuries and problems with his swing. But saying all that, he still managed to finish 21st last year. Whilst when he was on form back in 2009, he finished 3rd… So he enjoys it in Houston. With only one missed cut this year and 4 top 25’s, it is clear Henrik is starting to enjoy his golf again. As mentioned, taking advantage of the par 5’s will be crucial and we all know he can do that averaging over 285 yards on the PGA Tour and also nearly 300 yards on the European Tour for 2013. But Stenson seems to have added even more to his game. On the PGA Tour he finds himself 1st in driving accuracy, 1st in GIR and 1st in the following 4 categories: GIR % 75-100 yards, GIR % <75 yards, GIR % 150-175 yards and GIR % <100 yards. Now for someone so good with the driver, those are some impressive iron stats, and they don’t stop there. 1st in ‘going for the green’, 3rd in scrambling and 1st in scrambling from the rough is enough to be really confident about him this week. Stenson also finds himself 53rd in the World Rankings, so he’ll be desperate for a big performance, a top 50 spot and a place at the Masters! Lets hope he hasn’t tired himself out at Tavistock Cup!

Chris Kirk (50/1 Ladbrokes)

Kirk is a young lad who we really like this week. His style again suits this course and he is used to shooting low scores. His only appearance here came 2 years ago and he came away with a 2nd place, so he’ll have no worries with the course. Other than one missed cut this year, his form has gone 5th, 24th, 2nd, 33rd, 51st and most recently 16th in a tough field at Bay Hill last week. In his 2nd place in 2011, Kirk shot 4 rounds in the 60’s and was unlucky not to win. What we like is how he certainly has a taste for low scoring, something you need when the winner averages -16 here. -16 at the Sony Open, -13 at the Waste Management and -17 at the Pebble Beach pro-am. Statistically, he is also very impressive. 6th in strokes gained by putting, 6th scoring average, 7th all round ranking, 1st in total eagles, 18th par 5 birdie or better, 4th par 4 birdie or better whilst he also averages 290 yards off the tee! He also finds himself 9th in proximity to the hole and 9th in scrambling, so enjoys getting it close! Kirk also finds himself 76th in the World Rankings, he will be pushing like mad to get a top 50 spot and a place at The Masters this week, it’s last chance saloon time for him. Again like our first 2 picks, we feel really confident about this guy!

Jimmy Walker (55/1 Stan James)

It was a close call between Stenson, Kirk and Walker and so he doesn’t really deserve to be this far down our list! Other than his course form, Walker is looking a mean prospect for this week. And even his course form is not awful, he has registered a 30th and a 44th here. But this year Walker has been a completely different animal, so don’t let course form affect you.  It is quite amazing how Walker has not recorded a victory yet, he has had 7 top 30’s in 8 starts, 2 of those being a 3rd and 4th and a very respectable 8th last week at Bay Hill. And just like Kirk, he loves shooting low scores! Last week at Bay Hill he was 1st in driving distance and combined that with coming 19th in strokes gained by putting, a lethal combination. Just like our other picks, his stats are again crazy good. 3rd in par5 performance, 2nd in par4 performance, 20th in driving distance, 7th birdie average, 7th scoring average, 11th all round ranking, 3rd total birdies, 22nd total eagles and 29th in strokes gained putting, all on the PGA Tour. Impressive. We think it is only fair we coin Walker ‘Jimbo’ this week after Furyk has let us down 2 weeks running! Jimbo does lie in 67th in World Rankings, so maybe a good showing here could grab a Masters spot. Also, does anyone think Walker looks like Edward Norton (Fight Club, Hulk actor)? We’ll leave that one with you…

Jimmy Walker?

Jimmy Walker?

Edward Norton?

Edward Norton?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Carl Pettersson (80/1 Bet365)

Our last spot was again a close call, Cameron Tringale and Ben Kohles came very close to grabbing it but the Swede’s all round game has edged it for us. Firstly, Carl finished 2nd here last year, after finishes of 50th and 71st in his 2 previous appearances.  Then last week he finished 21st at Bay Hill which is a good indicator of some form. His putter started to work as well last week, something that had not been there for him of late, he was 3rd in strokes gained putting and 5th in scrambling, so his game is definitely coming together. He has 5 wins already to his name on the PGA Tour so he’ll have no problem taking this title if his game works this week. Of course his stats will reflect the price that he finds himself at, but his performance at Bay Hill shows to us that he has turned a corner this season. The Swede averages 286 yards off the tee (his longest drive this year was 416yards!) so he’ll be more than happy taking those par 5’s on whilst in all areas of his game he is mid-range on the PGA leaderboards, but we expect him to make a climb up them after this week.

DownThe18th Double

Keegan Bradley + Pablo Larrazabal (345/1 Paddy Power)

DownThe18th Triple

Keegan Bradley + Pablo Larrazabal + Thongchai Jaidee (4485/1 Paddy Power)

The Masters 2013 Preview

The Masters 2013

Lets hope some of our bets are on that iconic leaderboard come Sunday

By Lewis Pacelli + Andy Taylor

The first major of the year is only four weeks away and after glancing at the odds in and around the web, we felt there was some real ante post value to take advantage of.  There are eight names we feel could really challenge at Augusta – four of which have a serious chance of winning and four outsiders who could upset the odds.  We will do a comprehensive preview the week of the tournament and compare how the eight of now are looking four weeks on.  The excitement is palpable and if you have some spare change, we do recommend dipping into the market early as odds will fluctuate significantly between now and the 11th April.

Some cheeky stats –

  • 69% or 24 of 35 players of the Top 3 finishers from 2004 through 2012 at Augusta were residents in the Southern United States.
  • Past 5 winners were averaging over 290 yards during the season.
  • With the fastest greens on tour, putting is a must at Augusta
  • The par four 1st was the hardest hole last year.
  • The average attempts before a first win is 6.
  • Youngest champion – Tiger Woods (21)
  • Oldest champions – Jack Nicklaus (46) – sorry Mr. Stricker but that means we cannot look at you!
  • The average age of the green jacket bearer is 32.
  • Only one man has won the tournament during his first trip to Augusta National, and that was Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979.
  • In the 75-year history of the Masters, only three men have ever won back-to-back titles: Jack Nicklaus—’65 and ’66, Nick Faldo—’89 and ’90, Tiger Woods—’01 and ’02.
  • In the 75-year history of the Masters, only 16 Europeans have ever won the event. The last being Jose Maria Olazabal

Ian Poulter (50/1 Stan James)

Birthplace: Stevenage, England

Residence: Buckinghamshire, England and Orlando, Florida

Sir. Ian has the ability to read any green

All sentimental feelings for Sir Ian aside, Poulter genuinely is in with a massive chance this year and with the years ticking by, he knows it’s now or never.  His passion for the game has been on show for many years now and it will be a real shame if he doesn’t get a major in his career.  If anyone watched him at the WGC Match Play this year, you will know he hasn’t lost his spark.  On both tours last year he was more than consistent.  (2012 PGA Tour stats) 285 yards driving average, 39th Driving accuracy, 52nd putting average, 2nd Scrambling.  (2012 European Tour stats) 9th Driving accuracy, 3rd GIR, 14th Putts per GIR, and 17th in Scrambling.  And his track record here is very impressive for someone without a major to his name.   He is very consistent and his natural abilities can really hurt this course.  And let’s be honest, we can all see Poults in the green jacket!

2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004
7th 27th 10th 20th 25th 13th 33rd 31st

Brandt Snedeker (20/1 with various)

Birthplace: Nashville, Tennessee

Residence: Nashville, Tennessee

With Brandt Snedeker being out the game for a little while, we are hoping he drops a bit in the market, which will certainly play into punters hands. How likely that is, we are not sure, as this is a man who has to be up there.  We don’t need to say much about him, everything is beyond obvious but at 20/1 currently, wait until next week, if he is anything more, get on him straight away! A man as lethal as him with a putter is going to have a formidable chance come the Sunday.

2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004
19th 15th MC 3rd 41st

Adam Scott (28/1 SkyBet)

Birthplace: Adelaide, Australia

Residence: Crans-sur-Sierre, Switzerland

Rewind the clock back to 2002 and a 22-year old Australian showed signs he will be challenging for majors in the future. Winning the Scottish PGA Championship by 10 clear shots and recording a top 10 in his first ever appearance at The Masters. Since then Adam Scott has always been on the radar.  His complete bottle at The Open last year was horrible to watch and also a shock for everyone in the game because he has such a level head.  But we cannot see him ever doing that again if he is in contention and we are sure he will be when it comes to the weekend. He has purposefully only played a few tournaments this year –10th at the Northern Trust and T3 at the WGC Cadillac where he interestingly shot an –8 on the last day.  All in all his game is a perfect match for the Augusta challenge and he is a major winner in the making.

2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004
8th 2nd 18th MC 25th 27th 27th 33rd MC

Charl Schwartzel (22/1 BetVictor)

Evidence how good Charl looks in the green jacket. Why would he not want another one?

Birthplace: Johannesburg, South Africa

Residence: Verceeniging, South Africa and Florida, USA

You can call this an obvious pick with the sort of form he has been showing in 2013, but he really does look like a mean prospect to once again don that famous green jacket.  Of course his credentials here do not need to be questioned, winning on his 2nd time out here.  At the start of the year the South African won 2, and had two 2nd places in his first 6 outings.  His form has dipped somewhat of late but has still managed to finish T9 at the Honda Classic and T16 at the Cadillac Championship.  His sights are certainly now set on the Masters.  Some stats to throw at you emphasising this form:  2nd Driving distance (307 yards) 25th Driving accuracy and 2nd GIR (European Tour).  Putting is a must at Augusta with the fast greens and 10th in Putts Per Round and 3rd Putts per GIR bodes well!  He also switches his residence from his native South Africa to Florida throughout the year, which is very interesting.

2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004
50th 1st 30th

The Outsiders who are worth a look.

Peter Hanson (80/1 Bet365)

Birthplace: Svedala, Sweden

Residence: Trelleborg, Sweden

Peter Hanson has been knocking on the door in recent years. He is an unassuming Swede who is arguably one of the most reliable putters in the game. Even though he may not have ever won a major or “flagship” event as of yet, last year he challenged.  5th at the Match play, 4th at the WGC Cadillac, 7th at the USPGA and the most interesting – 3rd at The Masters.  That sort of form is incredible and he hasn’t started this season too badly either, not finding himself outside the top 30 in any tournament yet. His attributes seem to suit Augusta – a level-head, lengthy drive and a putter that can make miracles happen.  His distances have consistently averaged over 290 yards off the tee, which is certainly healthy, where as his stats on the green are pretty much perfect. In 2012 he was 4th for putts per round and 1st for putts per GIR on the European Tour. To top it off he loves the sand as well, 24th last season and currently 15th this year.

At prices as high as 66/1 in antepost betting, it seems worth a look.

2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004
3rd MC

Fredrik Jacobson (150/1 Bet365)

Birthplace: Gothenburg, Sweden

Residence: Hobe Sound, Florida

Jacobson loves to dance his way around the greens

The big Swede has been very impressive so far this season, mainly due to his outstanding putting abilities.  In recent years he has not really performed to his true abilities, but there is a real sign of change. In late 2011 he began a revival, whilst a T16 at WGC Cadillac, T25 at The Honda, T3 at The Northern Trust Open and T7 at AT&T Pebble Beach show that Jacobson means business in 2013.

However, in the majors he has failed to make a top 10 for a decade.  In 2003 he climbed to 17th in the world rankings after a T5 at The U.S Open and T6 at The Open.  During that season he went into those majors in similar form as he is now and his putting was just as hot.  On the European Tour he was 3rd for putts per GIR, 30th for putts per round and 41st for one putts. Fast-forward 10 years and on the PGA Tour he is 5th for putts per round, 22nd for birdie or better conversion rate and 4th for strokes gained putting.  With crazy golf style greens at Augusta, he could putt his way into a place without doubt.

2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004
19th MC 17th

Charles Howell iii (145/1 Bet365)

Birthplace: Augusta, Georgia

Residence: Orlando, Florida

Charles Howell III cannot be ignored at the huge price he currently finds himself at.  The American is 150/1 with most bookmakers but some are recognising his chances, Paddy Power for instance now have him at 100/1.  For a man who was born in Augusta and resides in Orlando, Florida, he is an interesting prospect.  After 3 none appearances at Augusta (frankly due to some woeful form) Howell came back solidly last year finishing 19th.  He has always had the credentials to be one hell of a player, once holder of a top 15 world ranking spot and 2 time PGA Tour winner shows this.  Howell’s current form is something that cannot be ignored either.  His placing on the PGA Tour this year goes 3rd, T2, T9, T36, CUT, T29 (Honda Classic) and T12 (WGC Cadillac). The latter 2 are very impressive as they are on major-like tracks.  A few interesting statistics to throw in there, 20th in strokes gained through putting, 7rd in scoring average, 42nd driving distance (294 yards) and 31st in all round ranking.

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19th MC 30th MC MC 13th

 Michael Thompson (200/1 SkyBet)

Birthplace: Tucson, Arizona

Residence: Birmingham, Alabama

Michael Thompson picking up the Honda Classic Trophy

We simply cannot believe how this guy is putting at the moment.  From pretty much anywhere on the green he is finding the cup right now.  And at 200/1 (with SkyBet) it would be silly not to put a bit of e/w money on him.  Now of course you can argue he has had his win for this year, but we can see no reason why he can’t continue his form going into the Masters.   But we will be honest, how he has turned it on these past few weeks we don’t know!  Thompson went from CUT, T78, CUT, CUT to 1st at the Honda Classic and T8 at the WGC Cadillac, both of which are much harder tournaments than the previous 4!  Again interestingly he resides in Southern United States, which does seem to be a recurring theme in the winners of late!  Even more promising, Thompson finished T2 at last year’s US Open so majors certainly do not bother this man.

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