US Open 2015

2015-US-OPEN_LOGO

Prize Fund – $9,000,00

Winner’s Share – $1,620,000

Course – Chambers Bay (7,585 yards Par 72)

Our 2014 Picks – Jordan Spieth – T17, Luke Donald – MC, Charl Schwartzel – MC, Hideki Matsuyama – T35, Keegan Bradley – T4, Brooks Koepka – T4

The US Open is just a week away now and the excitement is gathering momentum. It’s been a truly remarkable year in golf with big names doing big things and you can only really think that the majors will produce outstanding drama in 2015.

And we can expect drama befitting of the West End or Broadway for this years US Open. The USGA are taking a completely different approach by selecting Chambers Bay and in our eyes, all stats, history and trends can pretty much be flung out the window – in some respects.

Of course, it’s still good to have a look at US Open form however unique the course is, because the correlation of tough, grinding track will certainly cross over.

So, our major preview this year is going to rely on incredibly different aspects to usual and an in-depth look at the track that is causing various degrees of mayhem, controversy and excitement.

#14 Pano

Chambers Bay

Primarily, what do we actually know about the place?

Well it is in Washington, which is a first in itself and has been built and moulded on top of what was an old quarry site. Whilst we’ve seen coastal type golf at Pebble Beach before, never have we witnessed anything like this. It’s a bonafide links track, never really seen in the States, but very common in the UK.

Designed by the legendary Robert Trent Jones Jnr, he pretty much had next-to-no restrictions on how he was able to construct the layout because of it’s history. That’s why there are intriguing holes, tough contours and uneven ground.

We’ve been lucky enough to spend some extended time with one of the guys who helped in the construction, agronomist John Clarkin. He, like many others, was drafted in from a British and Irish background knowledge of Links tracks to help grow and design this unprecedented place.

Clarkin stated how Links-like it is and that you can draw pretty much no comparisons with any US courses – it’s simply like extracting a British seaside course and plonking it on a Washington coastline.

The rough is full of fescue and overgrown, natural grass that will pretty much mean a drop shot if you’re hacking out of there. However, the fairways are slightly wider than we could expect, which brings to the argument that big hitters will fare well. However, if you are spraying it all over then you are going to have absolutely no chance.

The second cut will not be particularly long either and alongside the fact there are no real fringes around the greens, the whole course just manoeuvres and meanders around itself, flowing into one mammoth challenge.

Iron play is going to be absolutely vital as well – the best player from tee to green will without doubt be in the mix. But obviously we have to factor in the sloping and rapid greens (potentially around 12 on the stimpmetre) that will cause havoc and 3-putts galore.

Just to throw even more of a spanner in the works, there’s a bunker being ingeniously coined ‘Chambers Basement.’  It’s a 10-foot deep pot bunker, slap bang in the middle of the 18th.  Expect to see a few hacking out of there and it could be like Adam Scott at The Open when Ernie Els sneaked in to grab victory…

That looks like a fun bunker doesn't it?

That looks like a fun bunker doesn’t it?

But the main thing to really look out for, as with any Links course we’ve ever bet on, is the weather. Wind being the main source of potential destruction. At the time of writing, the wind will not be particularly horrendous, but simply due to the exposed nature of some of the holes, a slight breeze can still be tough to deal with.

http://www.theweathernetwork.com/forecasts/golf-report/7-day-weather-forecast/united-states/washington/chambers-bay

The last big thing to think about is the fact that whilst the par 72 stands at 7,585 yards – we’ve already been told that the USGA are going to play around with several holes on various days, making each one completely unique.

We could have anything playing rom 7,350 right up to 7,800. That is simply madness for players and caddies, but amazing for us as spectators.

So, all in all, what sort of player should you be looking for?

  • Someone who has Links form is an absolute must for us. If you’ve never performed on a coastal track, you will find it difficult to suddenly come to a US Open and win against the very best
  • A tee to green proficiency and understanding of when to attack and when to defend
  • Ability to manoeuvre the ball and play different when the conditions change and when the USGA alters the layout
  • Obviously putting is ultimately the difference at the majors…
  • Some sort of recent form. We feel you can discount pretty much anyone who has not been playing well in recent outings, because you need to be in good knick before a US Open (even Lucas Glover had a T2 a few weeks before his victory in 09’)
  • When the US Amateur was held here in 2010 (Peter Uihlein won the event) the scoring average was 79.25.  That shows you need a grinding nature when the going gets particularly tough…

Chambers Bay from everyone else’s perspective:

Mike Davis, USGA Executive Director:

“Virtually every hole out there we will be playing from different teeing grounds on different days. In some cases we may end up putting tee markers on slight slopes as opposed to you think, well, you’re always going to have teeing markers on very flat areas. But there may be some where we give the players a little downhill slope, a little uphill slope, a side slope. So that’s interesting.”

Ian Poulter, social media maverick:

“Well several players have played Chambers Bay in prep for US Open. The reports back are its a complete farce. I guess someone has to win.”

Phil Mickelson, Mr.America (and hopeful contender for inclusion in the new Rory McIlroy PGA Tour game):

“I really like it. The first time you play it, it’s like St. Andrews. You don’t know where to go. You don’t know what mounds do what to do the ball.”

Jordan Spieth, everyone’s hopeful successor as Mr.America (speaking after the US Amateur):

“The course was ridiculously difficult”

Tiger Woods, a fan of Miss.America’s:

“We don’t see this even at the British Open because the greens aren’t banked like this.”

Jason Day, husband to a very attractive wife:

“It’s a little funky.  More Links kind of style golf course, I’m excited to see how it shows it’s teeth”

Henrik Stenson, Swedish Meat-ball-playing, tee-to-green guru:

“It’s a tricked-up links course. It’s got some high elevations, some five, six holes that we normally don’t see on a regular links course, and then we’ve got some more severeness, I’d say. It’s going to be different and it’s quite tricky in places. It’s going to be so much down to the weather as well. If the wind blows and if you were to add a bit of rain, you don’t want to stand there on a 240-yard par-three down to a postage stamp. You need to be sharp with your short game there, it’s going to be tested.”

Brooks Koepka, the lady-lover (according to his Instagram):

“If you just hit a bad golf shot, you’re going to be screwed”

And Finally,

Bubba Watson sinking a ridiculous putt during a practice round…

https://twitter.com/bubbawatson/status/609418048106139648/video/1

So if you’re able to work any of that out and have a few players in mind, we’d say go with your hunches.

We have a few lads that we are quietly confident can be up there challenging, but before we showcase the might six, we must stress that Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth and Justin Rose all have (obviously!) ridiculous appeal, but are slightly too short for us…

Our Picks

Phil Mickelson (22/1 BetFred)

World Number 19

Phil getting those fists pumping.  Come on! Phot Courtesy of USA Sports Today

Phil getting those fists pumping. Come on!
Phot Courtesy of USA Sports Today

Sometimes you’ve just got to believe things will happen for a reason. 2015 could finally see Phil’s tumultuous affair with the US Open finally come to an end. The guy has 10 top 10’s and 6 runner-ups with Chambers Bay being his 25th start at this major!

After visiting the course for the first time a few weeks back Mickelson said it “resembled a course you would find in Britain” and that he’s “excited” about Chambers Bay. Looking at his Scottish double back in 2013, we know he has exactly what it takes on these sort of tracks.

The fairways being slightly more generous than usual will only go to help him and if the wind picks up we know he’s got a few low stingers in his locker.

As we’ve mentioned, winning a US Open needs recent form. He’s only missed one cut (The Players) in his last 8 events and has a T4 at the Wells Fargo and T2 at the Masters amongst them. Has posted some solid rounds in recent weeks but just hasn’t put 4 rounds together – Chambers Bay and the electric atmosphere of the US Open is where he finally could. Phil produces on the biggest stage.

Open Championship Form since 2003 and European Tour ‘Links’ tracks since 2012:

WIN Top 5 Top 10 Top 25 Made Cut Miss Cut
2 4 4 10 13 2

Plus a T9, T60 and WIN at Pebble Beach since 2012

Last 6 Results:

FedEx St.Jude Classic Memorial Tournament Wells Fargo Champs The PLAYERS The Masters Shell Houston
 T3 T65 T4 MC T2 T17

Rickie Fowler (22/1 Stan James)

World Number 8

Focused - courtesy of golfweek

Focused – courtesy of golfweek

Rickie Fowler showed everyone last year that he has the game to really contend at the Majors.  Followers of DownThe18th will know that we’re big fans of him and have often spoken about his exciting brand of golf.

Winning the Players Championship a few weeks ago (and saving our pretty poor betting season) really cemented his place amongst the big boys, dispelling the ridiculous myth that he’s an overrated player.

He was absolutely superb on the back nine stretch which included 4 birdies and an eagle, then keeping his bottle to win in a playoff.

So, whilst he missed the cut last time out at the Memorial, his form this season is still more than good enough to warrant huge Major appeal.  But one of the biggest reasons we really fancy him for his maiden victory is because of the perfect fit with the track.

He has proven his ability on Links courses and actually has a decent track record.  He’s not been scared to come over to the UK for European Tour events in the past – a T8 at the Scottish Open last year and T30 in Ireland in 2015.  That T30 was pretty much ruined in one hole though, when he was very much contending going into the last day.

He is one of the best drivers of a ball – T23 total driving and his irons can be devastating.  But his scrambling and never-say-die attitude is simply perfect for a course like this, when there will be times you’re hacking out of rough and struggling for a tough up and down from a bunker.

This could be the ultimate message to everyone in golf that we are going to have a 4-pronged future with McIlroy, Spieth, Rose and Fowler.

Open Championship Form since 2003 and European Tour ‘Links’ tracks since 2012:

WIN Top 5 Top 10 Top 25 Made Cut Miss Cut
0 2 3 4 6 1

Plus a T6 at the 2013 Hyundai Tournament of Champions

Last 6 Results:

Memorial Tournament Irish Open The PLAYERS WGC Cadillac Match Play Zurich Classic The Masters
MC T30 WON T9 MC T12

Jim Furyk (40/1 Paddy Power)

World Number 3

 

Jimbo Courtesy of Daily Mail

Jimbo
Courtesy of Daily Mail

We all know about how many near-misses Jimbo had before he won the RBC Heritage back in April. But that win could give him the extra confidence in his mid-forties to find himself another major win.

In 2003, Furyk won the the US Open at Olympia Fields making light work of the field winning by 3 shots. 10 top 10’s since and he still hasn’t won another major. But 2014 was arguably one of his most consistent ever years in the majors (T14 Masters, T12 US Open, 4th Open, T5 PGA). And it’s that sort of form that has seen him rise to 3rd in the world golf rankings. In any sport, 40/1 for the guy ranked 3rd in the world is value.

So what’s going to endear the American to Chambers Bay? Well not only is he brimming with confidence after his RBC win, combined with a 4th in the WGC Match Play and T5 at the Memorial, but his style of play is perfect for this course. Jim finds fairways. He puts the ball where he wants and hits plenty of greens. And when he doesn’t find the dance floor, he’s one of the best at getting up and down (23rd in scrambling on Tour).

It’s hard to see Jim not contending with the way he’s striking the ball at the moment – he’ll know the majors are running out where he can compete with the likes of McIlroy and Spieth so he’s going to be giving 110% this week to win US Open #2.

Open Championship Form since 2003 and European Tour ‘Links’ tracks since 2012:

WIN Top 5 Top 10 Top 25 Made Cut Miss Cut
0 3 3 4 7 5

PGA Tour ‘Coastal’ tracks:

WIN Top 5 Top 10 Top 25 Made Cut Miss Cut
1 1 3 3 6 0

Last 6 Results:

Memorial Tournament Wells Fargo Champs The PLAYERS WGC Cadillac Match Play RBC Heritage The Masters
T5 MC T56 4th WON MC

Ian Poulter (80/1 Paddy Power)

World Number 25

Sir Ian.

Sir Ian.

Okay, so we might not be getting the best feeling out of the Poulter camp regarding his views on Chambers Bay having claimed he will let everyone know his thoughts on the course after “holing his last putt”. If his Wentworth views are anything to go by, Chambers Bay isn’t likely to be making his bucket list.

But quite frankly this is a major, the ultimate in golf and Poults will be buzzing for it. Time and time again we talk about his Ryder Cup exploits but they really do show that the Englishman has it in his locker when needed.

2015 has seen him play arguably as good as he ever has in America, T6 HSBC WGC, T3 Honda Classic, T6 Masters (his best performance at Augusta) and T5 in his last appearance at the Crowne Plaza. The swing is looking immaculate and there can’t be any complaints about the way he’s playing.

Chambers Bay will have a British Open feel to it and Poults is more than capable on these sort of tracks. He’s finished T3 and T9 in 2 of his last 3 Opens and has his best ever major finish at the Open, 2nd to Padraig Harrington in 2008.

A few concerns have surrounded his bottle of late (as much as he won’t like us saying it) given the disastrous 4th round at the Honda but he’s confident in his own ability and we think this week is as good a chance as he will ever get at a major.

Open Championship Form since 2003 and European Tour ‘Links’ tracks since 2012:

WIN Top 5 Top 10 Top 25 Made Cut Miss Cut
0 2 3 5 8 5

Last 6 Results:

Crowne Plaza Invitational The PLAYERS WGC Cadillac Match Play RBC Heritage The Masters Arnold Palmer Invitational
T5 T30 T34 T18 T6 T21

Danny Willett (150/1 BetVictor)

World Number 36

Has everything in his locker for this sort of track

Has everything in his locker for this sort of track

The Englishman was spoken about in the same breath as fellow lads from the UK Donaldson and Lowry but we’ve plumped for Danny and we’ll tell you why.

Firstly, 2015 has seen the birth of Willett on the world stage. Not many American’s will have cared about who he was 6th months ago but they do now. He finished T12 in only his 4th WGC event at the Cadillac back in March which for us, was such a big result for him. But then came the WGC Match-Play. He looked unbelievable winning 6 out of his 7 matches, only losing to Gary Woodland in the semis. He defeated the likes of Reed, Moore, Westwood and Furyk on the way to his 3rd place and 2nd biggest pay cheque of his career. It also catapulted him into the top 40 in the world. All of that means Willett, now with temporary status on the PGA Tour, has to be taken very seriously for this event.

Tee-to-green is where the Englishman earns his bread and his game will be a perfect fit for the British feel of Chambers Bay. His career best major finish was a T15 at the 2013 Open, in what was only his 3rd major start.

The US Open more than any other major seems allow players with no previous major form to come in and contend and Danny is the perfect mould for that.

Open Championship Form since 2003 and European Tour ‘Links’ tracks since 2012:

WIN Top 5 Top 10 Top 25 Made Cut Miss Cut
0 1 2 4 5 4

Last 6 Results:

Irish Open BMW PGA Champs THE PLAYERS WGC Cadillac Match Play The Masters Shell Houston Open
T6 T38 MC 3rd T38 MC

Alex Noren (250/1 Coral)

World Number 70

Red-hot

Red-hot

There are certainly a lot worse bets out there than this one! Last week the Swede won his 4th European Tour title and his first in 4 years. After injury woes put pay to any sort of form in 2014 it seems Noren has come back fitter and better than ever before.

His standout attribute is his ability with irons from the fairway and this week at Chambers Bay, that will help him out tremendously. The putter too in recent weeks has got hot, so no surprises that when he ranked 3rd putts per GIR at the Nordea Masters, he won by 4 shots.

His best major finish to date was a T9 at the Open and has only played in the US Open (2012) twice before. But Noren is a confident character and you have to envisage these players in a potential final pairing with the likes of McIlroy and Spieth – how would they cope? For many of the European Tour stalwarts you’d say not very well, take Wiesberger at the PGA last year for example. But Noren seems like the kind of guy who won’t be phased at all.

At 250/1 and a recent winner, we’re looking for his confidence to continue and put him in contention this week.

Open Championship Form since 2003 and European Tour ‘Links’ tracks since 2012:

WIN Top 5 Top 10 Top 25 Made Cut Miss Cut
0 1 2 4 4 3

Last 6 Results:

Nordea Masters Irish Open BMW PGA Champs Open de España Volvo China Open Shenzhen International
WON T21 T8 T56 T26 T44
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Dubai Duty Free Irish Open 2015

Take out Patrick Reed, but still a formidable line-up... Although doesn't McDowell's face look really super-imposed?

Take out Patrick Reed, but still a formidable line-up… Although doesn’t McDowell’s face look really super-imposed?

Prize Fund – €2,500,00

Winner’s Share – €416,660

Course – Royal County Down Golf Club (7,186 yards Par 71)

Our 2014 Picks – Stephen Gallacher – MC, Rafa Cabrera-Bello – T26, David Horsey – T49, Matthew Fitzpatrick – T29

One of the most highly anticipated events on the European Tour has arrived and what’s even more special is the fact it comes straight after the flagship tournament at the BMW. Rory McIlroy and his foundation are hosting the event and as the posters state – ‘creating history’ in the meantime. It is undoubtedly a stellar field – Martin Kaymer, Sergio Garcia, Lee Westwood, GMAC, Jamie Donaldson and the best of European Tour.  But everyone will be drooling at the prospect of seeing the two young starlets battling it out – McIlroy and Rickie Fowler.  We’d be shocked if they aren’t paired together for the opening two days because ultimately, that’s what everyone wants to see.

In terms of betting, it’s clearly going to be difficult because only a handful of tournaments have been played here and not many players will know the track particularly well.  ALTHOUGH, the top two boys both played here at the Walker Cup in 2007 – McIlroy both won and lost against Billy Horschel in the singles, whilst only picking up a half in the foursome.  Fowler won his first 3 matches with absolute ease, before being defeated by Rhys Davis on Sunday afternoon.  Only Danny Willett and David Horsey will be in this field who played during that week, whilst Graeme Storm actually won the Amateur Championship round here in 1999…  Only other names of note during that week were Simon Dyson and Marcel Siem.

Courtesy of discovernorthernireland

Courtesy of discovernorthernireland

But from our research, there’s plenty to ponder and you can envision the sort of player that’ll potentially conquer this jewell of a course. Firstly, how this isn’t an Open venue we will never know.  Royal Portrush is due to enter the rotation, but this is another cracking track that will get the global attention it deserves this week. The infamous Old Tom Morris painted and weaved out this gem in the Murlough Nature Reserve, sitting on the backdrop of the Mountains of Mourne.  Running alongside Dundrum Bay, few consecutive holes go in the same direction, as the fairways intertwine and bend from the shoreline back to the clubhouse. Harry Colt and Donald Steel have both overlooked redesigns, leaving behind very fast greens that will test even the best putters on Tour.

There’s an abundance of blind tee shots, which make it imperative everyone teeing off is prepared for the wind and understand the course during the practice days.  You can’t just turn up and play round here.  The thick, long grass and heather is synonymous with traditional links venues and here it’s no different.  Some of the layered greens are surrounded by ‘proper’ rough and will destroy anyone who tries to hack their way out. The bunkers are pretty horrendous to deal with as well – if you find any on the fairway, you’ll be staring down the barrel of a bogey.  So, accurate, scrambling, wind-loving, links specialists will be the kings of Royal County Down.

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!

Shane Lowry (22/1 Stan James)

He looks mean and is ready to go.

He looks mean and is ready to go.

With so much value at the bottom end of our picks, we can afford to throw in one of the main contenders for the week, big Shane.

He’s someone who’s grown up on links tracks and is an ideal fit. He’s spent most of the season over in America and certainly hasn’t disgraced himself, we’ve even backed him a few times! So it’s no surprise the first time he comes over on European soil, he starts producing his best stuff. Very similar to Francesco Molinari in Spain. Wentworth has been good to Lowry down the years and last week was no different, finishing T6.

It was clear over the first couple of days he was adapting to being back on Britain and his short game really bailed him out. But once things started clicking into place, we saw what Shane is all about. The Irish Open in 2009 was the scene of his first victory, as an amateur, so the week will definitely bring back happy memories. Really good to note his recent links form as well – T9 2014 Open, T4 2014 Scottish Open.

Chris Wood (50/1 Coral)

Coming into some form

Coming into some form

We watched plenty of the tall Englishman last week up close and personal and it’s safe to say he’s back right at the top of his game. He’s had a few niggles over the past season or so and that’s obviously reflected in his form. But he’s a player that loves to string big finishes together, so now is the right time to get on board.

Stat-wise, he was arguably the most consistent in the field last week. 15th driving accuracy, 2nd driving distance, 15th GIR, 4th putts per GIR. Everything is firing on all cylinders. Like Lowry, always good to check their recent links performances too – T23 2014 Open, T8 2014 Irish Open.

Robert Karlsson (125/1 Coral)

Unbelievable guns.

Unbelievable guns.

Good value this one. Without doubt last season Robbie’s best stretch was when the Tour hit the links courses. He was T8 Scottish Open, T12 Open and even a T4 over in France where the wind gets up.

So it was really interesting to see Karlsson playing well at Wentworth a week prior to the Irish. He finished day 1 tucked in behind Molinari and ranked 3rd driving accuracy and 3rd putts per round. Okay he dropped off from then on but it’s safe to say the BMW has never been on the Swede’s Christmas card list, with just one top 10 in over 20 years. So he won’t mind a T27 at all. He still managed to finish the week 19th GIR and 12th putts per GIR, the latter really important given his well documented putting yips.

David Horsey (150/1 Paddy Power)

Big Dave

Big Dave

We actually chatted with Horsey a couple of weeks back and we have to say he looked and spoke about how good his game was at the moment. Tough, horrible, windy conditions are where Dave’s game comes to the fore, he’s just one of those players who loves it in that weather.

So a MC at Wentworth doesn’t fill us with confidence but a T15 at the Spanish Open does. His short game in particular was working well, 8th putts per round. Like Karlsson, Horsey has only ever had 1 top 10 around Wentworth so the MC won’t be a bitter blow.

Most interesting about this long shot was his appearance here for the Walker Cup. He beat Webb Simpson TWICE in the singles and looked imperious throughout the week (apparently). It might not be the best course form we’ll talk about coming into a tournament but it will be advantageous and invaluable none the less.

Outsiders

Graeme Storm (300/1 Coral)

You won’t get many 300/1 shots better than this. He won the Amateur Championship played around here back in 1999 so he more than anyone will have happy memories coming back. That alone is interesting. But, as if by magic, the week prior to the Irish Open the Geordie finds a bit of form, T22 at Wentworth. The finish itself is good but in spells Storm was ripping it up last week, at one point he had 8 birdies in 11 holes during round 2. His stats were more than impressive too – 1st driving accuracy and 10th putts per GIR. Get on this one.

John Parry (250/1 Coral)

Loves a links track

Loves a links track Courtesy of BBC

Always interesting to look at the major qualifying and this week at Walton Heath, US Open qualifying has taken place. At the time of writing this, Parry sits T3 at 9-under which is an impressive couple of rounds given the prize at stake.

This alone shows he’s playing well. 2015 has been okay, T5 in Mauritius and T6 at the Africa Open. But one thing we really remember about the Englishman was his display in the 2013 Scottish Open. It was the first time we had really seen what John was all about and his game seemed to suit links golf perfectly, his game around the greens was particularly impressive. Sadly he found himself up against an American called Phil Mickelson…

Kristoffer Broberg (250/1 Paddy Power)

An interesting final pick that we have followed for some time. Three years ago he was an exciting prospect on the Challenge Tour and big things were expected when he made the step up to the Europe’s elite tier. It’s been undeniably tough but last season’s displays on links tracks made us sit up and think. He was T2 Scottish Open, T23 Open, T3 Irish Open and T12 Open De France. That was some going. Just like this week, he came into that period with no form whatsoever. Except this week we do have some form – he currently sits T17 in US Open Qualifying at Walton Heath…

Golf Monthly £10 ChallengeGM_masthead-630x176

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

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

Our £10 against Golf Monthly will be as follows  –

£2.25 e/w on Shane Lowry at 22/1 (Stan James 6 Places)

£1.00 e/w on Chris Wood at 50/1 (Coral)

£0.50 e/w on Robert Karlsson at 125/1 (Coral)

£0.35 e/w on David Horsey at 150/1 (Paddy Power 6 Places)

£0.30 e/w on Graeme Storm  at 300/1 (Coral)

£0.30 e/w on John Parry at 250/1 (Coral)

£0.30 e/w on Kristoffer Broberg at 250/1 (Paddy Power 6 Places)

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

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

Current Standings after 19 weeks

DownThe18th                                 Golf Monthly

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

PGA Tour: £-25.94                           PGA Tour: £23.75

Total: £-97.89                                   Total: £-26.87

Golf Monthly leads by: £70.02

NEW – Players to Watch (PGA + European)

We’ve decided to remodel this section to make it more interesting for both you and ourselves. We have each assembled a team of ‘Players to Watch’ from each tour. Lewis will be PGA TourAndy will be European Tour. We have created a point system so you can track how each player has been doing. And come December 2013, you will be able to see which tour’s rising stars have performed the best!

Look at this as DownThe18th’s Ryder Cup – where dreams will be fulfilled, putts will be sunk and titles held aloft in this battle of tours across the pond.

Team PGA (Lewis) Points Team Europe (Andy) Points
Henrik Stenson (C) 0 Alexander Noren (C) 0
Rickie Fowler (VC) 0 Francesco Molinari (VC) 0
Charles Howell III 0 Ross Fisher 0
Ryan Palmer 0 Pablo Larrazabal 0
Kyle Stanley 0 Brooks Koepka 0
Cameron Tringale 0 Peter Uihlein 0
David Lingmerth 0 Morten Ørum Madsen 0
Jordan Spieth 0 Shane Lowry 0
Graham DeLaet 0 Romain Wattel 0
Kevin Chappell 0 Victor Dubuisson 0
Total 0 Total 0

How the scoring works: Win (50 Points), Runner-up (25 Points), Top 6 (15 Points), Top 10 (10 Points), Top 20 (5 Points), Top 40 (2 Points), Missed Cut (-5 Points) (C) Captain earns double points

Team PGA Captain - There is a lot of pressure on the Swede

Team PGA Captain – There is a lot of pressure on the Swede

Team Europe Captain

Team Europe Captain – Alex Noren, a leader of men

Team Profiles:

Players To Win

Henrik Stenson (C) – The big hitting Swede has found rhythm with his swing once again and his iron play has looked fantastic.  Will be surprised if he is not challenge a couple more times this year. Alexander Noren (C) – Playing too well not to bag a win in 2013. Only finished outside top 40 once this year, no missed cuts and five top 6 finishes!
Rickie Fowler (VC) – With only 1 Tour win to his name, it is remarkable how Fowler is so often talked about as 1 of the elite players.  He has had a topsy-turvy year but I will be shocked if he is not challenging for several competitions, ultimately he is too good not to. Francesco Molinari (VC) – Back to near his best after he lost his way a bit at the start of the year. Two top 10 finishes in May and is coming onto a few courses where iron-play is key, and there are few better than the Italian.
Charles Howell III – has not won on Tour since 2007, having gone through a horrendous dip in form.  He came close this year, losing in a playoff at the Humana Challenge, but his consistency and swing are coming back and will not be long before he wins again. Ross Fisher – Slowly getting his game back together, really been impressive in May and June. A win is not far away, and will do well on the links courses coming up later in the year.
Ryan Palmer – Palmer has not won on Tour since 2010 and now at 36, age is slowly running away from him.  He has had an inconsistent season, but there were signs of a revival at The Players.  Could definitely challenge before the new year. Pablo Larrazabal – Just like Noren, playing too well not to have won. Four top 6 finishes already to his name in 2013, and has really been looking good. Some call him a ‘Young Seve’.

Players To Watch (Under 26)

Kyle Stanley – He may have already won last year, but people will often forget that Stanley is still only 25.   He has a stellar career in front of him and is definitely one of the leading youngsters in the game. Brooks Koepka – Absolutely ripped up the Challenge Tour, won 3 times already and has earned automatic promotion to the European Tour. Will definitely want to prove himself, and has booked a place at Muirfield next month.
Cameron Tringale – has recorded only 1 top 10 this year, but now being in his 3rd year on Tour, he should be used to life in the high leagues.  He is far too talented to not be challenging more often – expect to see him surging. Peter Uihlein – Has won a European Tour co-sanctioned event already, but will want to push on and win one of the bigger ones. Hasn’t missed a cut all year and is in the form of his life. These 2 American’s look very dangerous.
David Lingmerth – In only his 2nd start on the PGA Tour, Lingmerth finished joint runner up at the Humana Challenge, after losing to Brian Gay in a playoff.  The Swede has gone on to be inconsistent, but do not be surprised to see his name near the top of leaderboards Morten Ørum Madsen – Big favourite of ours, three top 10’s this season including a 2nd behind Uihlein in Portugal. Was T28 at the US Open. Comes from the same club as Danish legend Thomas Bjorn, has a big future. 
Jordan Spieth – I first saw Spieth at the Tampa Bay Championship where he finished T7.  He looked like a supremely talented youngster who belied his age (Turned 20 in July) and had an incredibly efficient game from tee to green.  He will be around a few more times this year and for many years to come. Shane Lowry – The Irishman is starting to come into real form and usually plays his best stuff at the back end of the year. Will be confident of adding to his 2 European titles he has already 

Players to Breakthrough

Graham DeLaet – Tough choice between the Canadian and Brendon De Jonge, but with DeLaet’s length off the tee, he just edged it.  Has been impressive as the year has gone on. Will be surprised if he has not challenged at least once before the season is finished. Romain Wattel – 22 year old has big future, two top 4 finishes to his name in 2013. Was T3 a couple of weeks back at the Lyoness. Was successful as an amateur and will be looking to do the same as a pro
Kevin Chappell – The 26-year old American is slowly forging an assault to the top of the game, having another consistent year.  He could easily make his breakthrough win this year having already come close. Victor Dubuisson – At 23, it feels like the Frenchman has been round for a while now. Has four top 10’s in 2013 but will want to get that elusive first European title

Travelers Championship

Well here we are after a weekend of incredibly tense, exciting, gruelling golf, we were left with winner Justin Rose, who became the first Englishman since Sir Nick Faldo in 1996 to win a major.  Even though he pushed out our man Phil Mickelson, (and cost us quite a bit of money!) we could not help but feel emotional as one of our favourites picked up a very deserved trophy and gave a speech of genuine class.  A true champion.

He is supposed to be lining up for this weeks Travellers Championship, however the likelihood of seeing Rose hitting any shots come Thursday is very slim, as is Hunter Mahan after his exertions.  To be fair, most of the other US Open players will tee up, therefore making it a very competitive field – names such as Lee Westwood, Bubba Watson, Rickie Fowler and Keegan Bradley.  There are plenty of players to look at, although the odds are inconsistent throughout, which is where we will hopefully come in and discover a little gem!

The beautiful TPC River Highlands course

The beautiful TPC River Highlands course

The course itself was one of the ‘short’ tracks we looked at as part of our US Open research.  At 6,841 yards, TPC River Highlands invites the best short iron players and putters to shoot as low as possible under the par 70.  It is consistently ranked as one of the easier courses on Tour and you can expect low scores within the top 20.  There are over 110 bunkers and 5 water hazards, making previous course knowledge important – so the players recognise where to hit their approach shots and safely attack pins but ultimately the guys who can shoot low, have a ridiculous wedge game and can sink putts will end up winning come Sunday.

Jason Dufner (25/1 StanJames)

Dufner will hopefully be getting ecstatic this weekend

Dufner will hopefully be getting ecstatic this weekend

As your archetypal laidback American has not had the year many thought he would have done after a stellar 2012, which included 2 wins and 7 top 10s.  He has only missed 2 cuts all year, however there has only been 1 top 10.

But that was at last weeks US Open after a phenomenal –3 final day, propelling him up 21 places.  What has seemed to be letting him down this year is his putting, yet on Sunday he was holing everything with ease on very difficult greens.  The surfaces at River Highlands will not be anywhere near as challenging and if he can continue that form, he could really attack the leaderboard.  Even with his lack of top 10s, his short iron game has never waned, whilst tee to green accuracy is as good as it was 12 months ago.  With the short nature of this course, his wedge work could be very influential – 10th in GIR from 100-125 yards, 44th inside 125 yards and 26th in 150-175 yards.

John Rollins (40/1 Coral)

37-year old John Rollins has had a misleading year when you look at his finishes.  He has only missed 4 cuts and in the tournaments he has made the weekend, only twice has he finished outside the top 24.  However, there has only been 2 top 10s and charges on the real top end of the leaderboard, but what is exciting is that they have both come in the last 2 appearances.  At the Crowne Plaza Invitational he shot a 63 on the first day, but when you haven’t won a tournament since 2009, going wire-to-wire was always going to be a difficult challenge – eventually finishing T4.  Then his T6 at the FedEx St.Jude Classic warranted only one round (the Thursday again) outside the 60s.  He has shot 8 out of his last 11 rounds in the 60s – he really is in good knick and we have a feeling his consistent accuracy could come together with his proven ability of being able to shoot low and find birdies.

13th in ball striking, 3rd in GIR 150-175 yards, 9th GIR, 63rd 3-putt avoidance and 29th stroke average are stats that will suit this short course, but it is his form on a track where he has had previous success that really makes you sit up and take notice.  T4 last year and only 2 shots behind Marc Leishman, whilst a 63 on the final day last year propelled him to T2 and just one shot behind eventual winner, Freddie Jacobson.

Charley Hoffman (50/1 Various)

We have said it before, but please keep that hat on Hoff.....

We have said it before, but please keep that hat on Hoff…..

Charley ‘The Hoff’ Hoffman has consistently been on the radar in recent weeks, finding himself challenging regularly and finally getting his putter going – although his hair is still as mental as it was before.  He was T8 going into the weekend last week, although, like so many other players, fell behind and he eventually finished T45 – which is no shame at a very tough US Open.  Hoffman has found 4 top 10s in 2013, 3 in his last 7 and his irons do look exciting at the moment.  His approaches 100-125 yards he lies in 22nd, whilst he is 67th in ball striking, however the fact his putting has improved so much is recognition of how he is holing everything at the moment.  27th in strokes gained putting and 28th in stroke average, which added together, could really help him go far this week.  The Hoff did finish T2 last year as well and was probably unlucky not to win, after Leishmans final day 62.  He can shoot low though, is charismatic; putting well, in confident mood and his hair is magnificent.  What more could you want when you are putting money on someone?!

Tim Clark (66/1 Coral)

One of DownThe18th’s favourite players, Tim Clark, has been backed quite a few times this year (including last week) getting us a return half of the time.  At the US Open, we were really excited after the 1st day – a solid 70 and T6, even with quite a few missed putts, his irons looked fluent.  Then a 79 on the second day and a MC was so unexpected and disappointing, from what we could see, nothing was happening for him, 10 bogeys is a hideous return and shows the rut that Merion can get you in.

We all know what his short course form is like (disregarding US Open) – 5 appearances and 4 top 5s, including a T4 finish on this track last year.  His irons and (usually) his putting are so consistent and impressive, that his lack of distance off the tee doesn’t take effect when on the shorter tracks.  He has got 3 top 10s this year and will definitely want to be avenging his missed cut last week.  If its stats that make you tick, then this will make fascinating reading – 3rd in driving accuracy, 16th GIR from 100-125 yards, 52nd GIR inside 125 yards, 56th strokes gained putting, 4th in 3-putt avoidance and 45th in stroke average.  If that does not make you realise his potential, especially at an outrageously over-priced 66/1, then nothing will.  We must say Clark is driving in our last chance saloon, but we strongly feel he could challenge over the weekend.

Jerry Kelly (125/1 PaddyPower)

Excitable Jerry Kelly is a solid outsider this week

Excitable Jerry Kelly is a solid outsider this week

Jerry Kelly may have only had 1 top 10 this year (5th at the RBC Heritage) but he has been consistently plugging away, just struggling to find the top of leaderboards.  Yet, what caught our eye this week, was his course form.  He clearly has a liking for the course, because he plays it nearly every year and has 2 top 10s in his locker.  Then when you add together his accuracy stats, Kelly seems like the perfect fit for an outsider here.

6th in driving accuracy, 29th for GIR in 100-125 yards, 24th for GIR in 150-175 yards, 40th in strokes gained putting, 28th in 3-putt avoidance and even 56th in stroke average.  Kelly can shoot low and for someone at 110/1, it would be foolish not to grab some pennies and get down to your local bookies.

PGA Tour Week 17

Zurich Classic 2013

After we endured our inevitable slump last week after success at the Masters, we move to New Orleans now for the Zurich Classic. Played on TPC Louisiana, the course is 7,425 yards and is one where you can’t pinpoint one particular attribute that will get you round this course. Jason Dufner who won here last year did not excel in any category other than putting. Dufner was 9th in putts per GIR and T2 in putts per round. So anyone who’s hot with the putter right now will be one to look out for. The 2012 leaderboard tells the story, Luke Donald and Steve Stricker represented the ball strikers whilst J.B.Holmes and Ryan Palmer, two of the bigger hitters, made it into the top 15. But someone in a bit of form, hits it at least 290 yards off the tee (Dufner averaged 291 yards for the week in 2012) and is hitting his irons well will go well this week. The winning score last year was -19, so birdies will be a must this week also.

Last year's winner Jason Dufner in front of a packed crowd

Last year’s winner Jason Dufner in front of a packed crowd

As with any Pete Dye layout, course management is vital as well as distance control. The place has a very similar feel to Kiawah Island’s Ocean Course, with wind going to be prevalent all week. For that reason also, it might be worth a quick look back at the 2012 PGA Championship which was held on that course.

http://www.pga.com/pgachampionship/scoring/leaderboard – 2012 PGA Championship Final Scores

Bet Victor and Stan James are again paying 6 places this week, so keep an eye on them.

Rickie Fowler (22/1 Coral)

We can’t believe that Rickie only has 1 PGA title to his name so far, and yet he is regarded as one of the best in the game. So it’s definitely about time he picked up his 2nd. We have been watching quite a bit of Rickie of late, and he’s ready this week for sure. He is currently 22nd in strokes gained-putting, 16th scrambling, 15th all-round, 46th total driving and 9th sand saves for those 71 bunkers out there.  His form is respectable all round, 38th at Augusta and then 3rd, 35th and 13th the weeks before that. Around here he has gone 26th and then 10th in 2012. Other than his last PGA Championship performance, Rickie fits the bill this week.

Thorbjorn Olesen (33/1 Coral)

Olesen is playing the golf of his life

Olesen is playing the golf of his life

It feels so good to be finally backing undeniably one of our favourite players in golf. And it certainly feels like the right time to do so. He was our number 1 Player to Watch at the beginning of the season and he certainly has not disappointed. I’m sure most of you saw his rapid climb up the leaderboard in Augusta 2 weeks ago. The Dane went from +6 on day 1 to -4 at the finish, tying for 6th spot with Brandt Snedeker.  Olesen has 4 top 10’s in 8 starts this year now. We never expected him to push this quickly, but we definitely want to get on board this week. He is 24th driving distance (296 yards), 21st driving accuracy whilst also being 8th in GIR < 100 yards. Olesen has all the attributes to close this week and it is very exciting.

Graham Delaet (80/1 Coral)

The Canadian if we’re honest should really be our number 1, we really fancy him this week. Barring a missed cut last week on a tough course, Delaet has gone 31st, 50th, 17th, 18th and 9th in 5 starts. He was also 4th in this last year which is very interesting. But not only is his form impressive, his stats are too. 10th driving distance (300 yards), 3rd GIR, 3rd total driving, 24th scrambling, 43rd scoring av. 8th par 5 performance and 29th rounds in the 60s (13). Not much else to say, he ticks every box.

Brendon De Jonge (40/1 Coral)

The Zimbabwean is one of the most consistent performers on the tour this year, but has yet to find that elusive win.  He impressed us a lot in the RBC Heritage where he ended up T9 in conditions that could be very similar to this week. He was T2 for GIR that week. 9th, 22nd and 10th have been his last 3 finishes on the tour whilst he has a very respectable 18th and 26th on his last 2 tries in Louisiana. Hoping for at least a place this week from Mr consistency.

Matt Jones (125/1 Coral)

Our outsider this week comes in the form of Matt Jones. The Australian will hope to keep his country’s great form going after good weeks for Scott, Day and Leishman. For someone with his odds, his form is really respectable. 30th, 38th and 50th have been his last 3 starts on tour. Whilst his course form reads 45th, 6th and 10th. A course he definitely plays well at. Statistically we can’t complain either. 40th driving distance, 4th total driving, 59th GIR, 74th strokes gained putt, 29th scrambling, 34th scoring av, 19th par 5 performance are all great figures. Really do think he probably deserves lower odds than this, so take advantage of the three figures while you can.

Jones is a great outside shot this week

Jones is a great outside shot this week