The most anticipated week in golf is finally here as the players head to Augusta for the 1st major of the year. The betting for this event is very different to your average PGA Tour event as the betting market was opened months in advance rather than a few days as you get with most tournaments. The odds have shifted over that time as players seemingly go in and out of form. Big name former winners here, Bubba, Phil and Tiger have shortened dramatically over the last few months as their form improved.
The only major played at the same course each year. Augusta is a 7,400 yard Par 72 that plays longer due to the way the grass is mown. The fairways are wide and easy to hit, while the rough is so short it is not a real obstacle so driving distance is a big key this week. Missing fairways is not a huge problem unless you are spraying it all over the place.
Good form has shown to be important leading up to the event and while Augusta is a true test of all aspects of a player’s game, these are the main key stats we are looking at:
· Par 5 Scoring
· Proximity from 200+ yards
· Driving Distance
· Birdie-or-Better %
· Greens in Regulation %
Spieth, Mcilroy, Thomas and Dustin Johnson are at the top of the market all between 10-12/1. There has been times over recent months when Spieth and Rory were priced slightly higher and may have represented value but they are probably about right now. Tiger is just behind them @ 14/1 but he has struggled driving the ball since his return so is tough to trust unless he has figured that out since his last tournament. Many people’s tip Justin Rose is next up @ 14/1 and he has a great track record here. He’s finished 2nd twice in the last 3 years and has Top-25s in each of his last 7 trips here. He has a great chance but the value may be gone and we will have a look at some players who are more under-the-radar at this point to see if we can find value.
Jon Rahm @ 25/1 WH 7 places e/w 1/5 odds. Unibet 6 places 1/4 odds
The Spaniard is the 3rd ranked golfer in the world but we are getting about double the odds from the other top guys. This may be due to his inexperience at Augusta as this is only his 2nd visit, he finished 27th last year. The course is a good fit for him though. He is a bomber who is 2nd in this field in Stokes Gained:Off-The-Tee and Proximity from 200+ yards over the last 12 months. He has a win 5 tournaments ago at the Careerbuilder challenge but his form has cooled off a bit since then, mainly due to his iron play not being as sharp. Despite this his long iron play from 200+ yards has still been solid which is more important here. He makes a lot of birdies but the question is whether he knows the course well enough to avoid costly mistakes.
Hideki Matsuyama @ 35/1 Bet365 8 places 1/5 odds
A wrist injury has caused Hideki to drift but should finish well if he is 100% fit. An elite ball-striker at his best it is often putting that lets him down. At Augusta we have seen a number of lower ranked putters do well (think Sergio and Rose last year, Bubba with 2 wins, Adam Scott 1 of the worst putters on tour also with a win). He has played well here finishing in the Top 11 the last 3 years. The greens here are very tough to hit so chipping is vital to avoid bogeys and keep momentum which Hideki excels at. Often saves his best form for majors shown by Top 15 finishes in each Major last year. A good each/way shout.
It is well documented that course experience is important here. Only 2 1st timers have ever won here the last coming in 1979. That trend will surely be broken at some point but recently we have seen 1st timers perform well without winning. Spieth finished 2nd on his 1st appearance here and last year Thomas Pieters was 4th. There are 2 who we think provide each way value:
Xander Schauffele @ 90/1 PaddyPower 8 places 1/5 odds.
The Masters layout should suit the 2017 Rookie of the year. Over the last 12 months he is 7th in this field in Driving Distance and 11th in Par 5 scoring. In 2018 he has improved his long approach play and if he can get back to his prolific Par 5 scoring he can play well here. He loves putting on fast bentgrass greens which we have here and we have already seen he can rise to the big occasion when he won the last event of the FedEx Cup playoffs last year The Tour Championship.
Tony Finau @ 100/1 WH 7 places 1/5 odds. 90/1 Bet365 8 places 1/5 odds
Another bomber who putts much better on bentgrass greens. Finau leads the tour in driving distance this year. Surprisingly it has been Par 5 scoring which has held him back this year and probably cost him the victory at The Genesis Open. He is 2nd in the field in Par 5 scoring in the last year and he will definitely get back to his level soon. 4th In ball-striking and birdie% the key for him will be avoiding bogeys and keeping momentum. Has the profile of a winner here which may be more likely in future years but can certainly get a high finish this year.
Charley Hoffman @ 100/1 Bet365 8 places 1/5 odds
Despite not being the longest driver he is outstanding Off-The-Tee and scores very well on Par 5s. Good course history making the cut each time. He finished 10th 3 years ago and although he only finished 22nd last year he led by 4 after the 1st round and was only 2 shots back going into Sunday. Tends to perform better on hard courses with fast greens. Has played well Tee-To-Green so far in 2018 without putting well. Maybe the move to fast bentgrass greens can heat up the putter. More a 1st round leader bet, but I think the bookies are on to this so his odds are quite low. Maybe someone to trade.
Gary Woodland @ 150/1 Unibet 6 places 1/4 odds. 125/1 WH 7 places 1/5 odds
Despite not having a great pedigree here at Augusta Woodland has the profile of someone who can play well. He looks a better player now than when he arrived here in previous years. He missed the cut last year but was dealing with tragic circumstances off the course. He has a win this year after so many close calls in recent years so should bring confidence into the event. 9th in Driving Distance, 6th in Proximity from 200+ yards and 3rd in GIR% over the last 12 months bode well. The key for Gary will be scrambling and putting, areas where he can struggle. Has not performed well since his win but after a few weeks off hopefully he can get back to his best here.
Kevin Chappell @ 125/1 WH 7 places 1/5 odds. 110/1 Bet365 8 places 1/5 odds.
For us the best value on the board is Kevin Chappell. The only minor issue is a potential back injury after he pulled out of the WGC Matchplay but that appears to have been just a precaution. Has played consistently since last summer missing only 1 CUT since the Open Championship in July. He has gained strokes off-the-tee and on approach in each of his last 4 events with 2 Top 10s in that time. 3rd in Driving Distance, 4th in ball striking and 5th in Proximity from 200+ yards in the last year are good indicators. In 2018 he has improved his scrambling which will be vital at times here. Has slightly over-performed his baseline in major championships and has made the cut in both his appearances here. He finished 44th in 2012 and 7th last year. He has been trending up in the last couple years finally getting his 1st win at the 2017 Valero Texas Open after so many near misses. Scoring on the Par 5s will be crucial and if he can hole a few 10ft par putts he will have a chance to be there on Sunday.
Top 20s: Alex Noren has been in outstanding form recently finishing lower than 21st once in his last 7 events and Bryson DeChambeau was in contention for 3 rounds as an amateur in 2015 and is an elite Par 5 scorer who likes hard courses. Their odds have come in recently and may not present enough value for the outright win.
One of the most open tournaments in years, there are plenty others we like to do well but you can’t back the whole field J. Just sit back and enjoy…
Congratulations to Patrick Reed on a great tournament and particularly his performance on Sunday being able to hold off all the big names in the chasing pack to earn his 1st major and a green jacket. He is a very interesting character and despite not being the most popular winner ever at Augusta the win was fully deserved, holing tough putts at vital times and fighting well.
This week the PGA Tour heads to Hilton Head Island on the South Carolina Coast for a course that could hardly be more different than Augusta National. Harbour Town Golf Links is a 7,100 yard Pete Dye design with Bermudagrass greens. It is a short tree-lined course where keeping the ball in play and on the right side of fairways is important to give yourself a chance to attack the pin. Most players will not hit many drivers and the emphasis is hitting the fairway and nailing the approach. The sole similarity from last week is that the greens here are tough to hit. These are the smallest greens on tour so getting up and down for par to keep momentum will be vital.
Key Stats we are looking at this week:
Stokes Gained: Tee-to-Green
Strokes Gained: Short game (putting/chipping)
Par 4 Scoring
Proximity 150-200 yards
The leading contenders are Dustin Johnson, Paul Casey and Matt Kuchar. DJ has played here twice and never made a cut but is playing here for the 1st time since 2009. He is only playing here as he is sponsored by RBC so we have to question how focussed he will be and therefore cannot be backed at less than 10/1. Paul Casey and Matt Kuchar should go well here where it will all depend on the putter for them, but it is tough to take guys with there strike rates below 20/1.
It wouldn’t be an RBC Heritage Preview without mentioning Luke Donald. The former world no.1 has an incredible record here with 7 Top 3 finishes in the last 9 years without winning. That would suggest each way value and it would not surprise us to see him contend but the form is not there for a recommendation from us. Even his trusty iron game is struggling, losing strokes on approach in his last 3 tournaments. Here are some players we think provide value:
Marc Leishman @ 33/1 BetStars 5 places e/w 1/4 odds
The Australian is coming off a good masters week that he will feel could have been so much better having sat 2nd at the halfway point. He struggled off the tee at Augusta but was dialled in with the irons and putted very well. That could bode well for this week where he can leave the driver in the bag. 6th in this field in SG:Tee-2-Green over the last year and has gained strokes around the green in 12 of his last 15 tournaments so we know he can get up and down when he misses the green. The course setup looks to suit. Being Australian he is used to playing in the wind and has performed well on coastal courses. Top 10 finishes in his last 2 stroke-play events show he has the form to contend.
Adam Hadwin @ 40/1 Coral 7 places e/w 1/5 odds
Another player who has been in excellent form recently. 8th in SG:T2G and 2nd in bogey avoidance in 2018 the thing holding him back from a big finish has been putting. This is a bit of a surprise as that has historically been the strongest part of his game. No real course form to speak of but his approach play from 150-200 yards has been outstanding in the last 2 months and if the putter heats up he will be there or thereabouts.
Ian Poulter @ 50/1 PaddyPower 7 places e/w 1/5 odds
We know the Englishman is in good form, the question is does he have enough left in the tank for another good week. At 50/1 we are willing to take a chance that he does. Over the last 12 months he is 9th in this field in SG:T2G and 4th in proximity from the important distance of 150-175 yards where a lot of his approaches will be played from this week. His approach play from 175-200 has been outstanding the last month and the week he made some putts he was able to get the win. He is a Pete Dye specialist who plays his best golf on bermudagrass. Has solid form on this course with Top 20s in 2 of the last 3 years here when he wasn’t playing as well as he is right now.
Ollie Schniederjans @ 66/1 Unibet 5 places e/w 1/4 odds
Ollie looks well suited here as he has played his best golf on coastal courses with bermudagrass greens. He is 7th in the field from 150-175 yards and has really improved his short game recently, gaining strokes around the green in 6 of his last 7 events. 3rd here on debut last year and has good finishes at similar layouts, 2nd at The Wyndham Championship and 6th at The RSM classic last year. He is known for hitting low stinging irons off the tee -which we hope to see this week. OS will have plenty of support out there.
Chris Kirk @ 100/1 Skybet 8 places e/w 1/5 odds
Chris Kirk is a player who is slowly getting back to his best form. Since the turn of the year he is 10th in this field in SG:T2G, 11th in Driving Accuracy and 16th in bogey avoidance. He performs very well on Pete Dye designs and has been consistently excellent from 175-200 yards for months now. A multiple winner at his best, it seems only a matter of time before he finds the winners circle again.
Longshots to consider:
Kelly Kraft @ 125/1 Betfair/PaddyPower 7 places e/w 1/5 odds
Kraft is another player in form with 2 Top 10s in his last 4 events. He likes colder, windier coastal conditions, but struggles with the driver. Consequently these shorter courses suit him. He has been hitting it close from 150-200 yards lately and has always been a solid putter.
Vaughn Taylor @ 200/1 Betfair/PaddyPower 7 places e/w 1/5 odds
Vaughn Taylor has been solid this year, making the cut in 4 straight tournaments with 2 Top 20s. He is 5th in the field in Driving Accuracy and Top 10 in proximity from 150-200 yards. He is an excellent chipper but struggles to make putts. No real pedigree on Pete Dye courses but if he finds some form on the greens he could go well at a big price.
Blayne Barber @ 250/1 Betfair/Coral/PaddyPower 7 places e/w 1/5 odds
Another Pete Dye specialist who is arguably the best putter on tour on bermudagrass greens. A good wind player who may have found some form with the irons over the last month.
2nd April 2018
A great win last week for Satoshi Kodaira at the RBC Heritage to earn his PGA Tour card. It was an exciting week of golf but Si Woo Kim backers will not be happy with how he played down the stretch, appearing to give the tournament away after missing a number of short putts. This week will be another tough test in windy conditions, but that is probably where the similarities end.
TPC San Antonio is a long 7,435 yard Par 72 with fairways and greens that are very tough to hit. It is a Greg Norman design with plenty of trees lining the fairways. The rough is not too thick here but the trees and native area can lead to trouble as Kevin Na knows all too well after making a 16 on the Par 4 9th in 2011.
The main key stats we are looking at this week:
Xander Schauffele @ 33/1 Skybet 8 places e/w 1/5 odds
A great driver of the ball who leads this field in Strokes Gained: Off-The-Tee and 8th in Driving Distance over the last 12 months. Loves a long course and his ball-striking has been on form for a while now, gaining strokes both off-the-tee and on approach in his last 5 tracked events. Won twice last year in stronger fields than this so looks to go well here on a course that should suit.
JB Holmes @ 60/1 Unibet 6 places e/w 1/5 odds
Another long driver, JB has finished in the Top 16 in 3 of his 5 visits here. He is an outstanding wind player who is showing signs of getting back to his best ball-striking form after falling away towards the end of last year. He has gained over 12 strokes on approach in his last 3 events and but poor putting has cost him a good finish. He has putted well at times here and if he performs well on the greens this week he should go well.
Long Shots to consider:
Aaron Wise @ 125/1 Betfair/Coral/PaddyPower 7 places e/w 1/5 odds
Aaron Wise has been playing solid in 2018 without any really good finishes. He is 14th in Driving Distance and 8th in BoB% in 2018. He looks to be a good wind player. A highly rated prospect who is poised to come good if he can get all his game together at the same time. Was consistently hitting it close from 175-225 yards from November-February so if he can back to that form can contend.
Brandon Harkins @ 150/1 Coral 7 places e/w 1/5 odds
Another player who has shown flashes this season without really breaking through. 11th in Driving Distance, 16th in BoB% and 28th in SG:T2G in 2018 bode well for this test. 25th at The Sony Open, 8th at Careerbuilder, 12th at Farmers and 15th at Pebble beach show that he knows how to play in windy conditions. The main weakness in his game is his around the green play so he will need to continue his outstanding iron play from 150-225 yards.
Robert Garrigus @ 200/1 Coral, BoyleSports 7 places e/w 1/5 odds
An elite ball striker coming in 8th in Driving Distance, 7th in Bob% and 4th in proximity from 175-200 yards this year. The issue with Garrigus is often putting where he is one of the worst on tour. He has actually gained strokes putting in 2 of his last 3 events including an outstanding putting performance at another Texas course in Houston. The overseeded green surfaces in Houston have a similar make-up to the ones found here so if we are being hopeful another good putting performance could lead to a good score.
The PGA Tour returns to North Carolina. Quail Hollow is a venue which last hosted the 2017 PGA Championship. The course was set up slightly different than normal for that week and we expect it to be back to its usual conditions for this week. The rough was much tougher to play from last year, meaning that missing fairways often led to big trouble. This year it will not play nearly as difficult, with early spring conditions allowing easier contact from off the fairway.
Last year this championship was held at Eagle Point Golf Club so those results are of less significance. The field is absolutely stacked with 8 of the World’s Top 15 in attendance as well as a resurgent Tiger Woods. This should be a great event and in being awarded hosting rights, shows that Quail Hollow truly is one of the great golf courses. The course will provide a true Tee-2-Green test.
A 7,550 yard Par 71 with very hard to hit fairways, and overseeded Bermuda grass greens., means that players will need to use a Driver off the tee a lot. Furthermore any golfer you back will need to cope with greens that are generally slightly faster than tour average. With a lack of rain in the area recently, the course looks like it will be very firm. This could reduce the advantage 'bombers' generally have, but we still think Distance is still an important criteria. It's likely that players who gain strokes off the green will perform well this week.
Key stats we are looking at this week:
Daniel Berger @ 66/1 Coral , BoyleSports 7 places e/w 1/5 odds
A solid all-round player who is quietly putting some consistent form together. He has Top 20s in 6 of his last 9 starts. 15th in SG:T2G and 3rd in Par4 450-500 yard scoring bode well for a player who should enjoy these conditions. 14th in this field over the last 2 years in Bermuda putting and he actually leads the field in total strokes gained on courses with Bemuda. A solid putter generally these greens should really suit him and his improved scrambling this year could help him save a few pars to maintain momentum. He will be hoping he can add to his 2 PGA Tour wins this week.
Luke List @ 66/1 SkyBet 8 places e/w 1/5 odds
List has come so close to winning this season many feel the win is just around the corner. 3 Top 10s in his last 7 tournaments; he shaved the hole on the 18th at The Heritage to miss a playoff by 1 stroke and lost a playoff to world number 2 Justin Thomas at The Honda Classic in February. A real bomber: he leads this field in Driving Distance, SG:OTT and SG:T2G over the last 12 months. 3rd in 200+ proximity and Par 5 scoring he can use his length to set up easier approach shots. This year his chipping is much improved and we have seen him make some extraordinary recovery shots. Putting often lets him down but he has performed well on overseeded Bermuda in the past which is a strong sign as just an average putting week would give him a great chance.
Gary Woodland @ 90/1 Bet365 5 places e/w 1/4 odds
Another long driver who has been up and down this season. Woodland has struggled since winning The Phoenix Open in February missing 3 of 5 cuts, but his driving has stayed at an elite level and this could be the course to get him back on track. 9th in SG:T2G and 200+ yard proximity and 1st in GIR bode well here and he has a strong history at Quail Hollow since 2014. 18th, 4th, and 24th were his finishes, as well as 22nd at The PGA last year. This shows Gary knows the layout well. Hard to hit fairways help his game and overseeded greens have brought out some of his best putting in the past.
JB Holmes @ 100/1 SkyBet 8 places e/w 1/5 odds
JB, a former winner of this event looks worth chancing @ 100/1. Always a great driver and strong ball striker, he has struggled to put consistent play together mainly due to putting, because he has lost strokes on the greens in 8 straight tournaments!! He knows this layout though and has putted extremely well on these greens. Since 2014 when the Bermuda was introduced he has gained 12.8 strokes in 3 tournaments which is phenomenal.
Xander Schauffele @ 100/1 Unibet 6 places e/w 1/5 odds
X continues to be underrated. Arguably the best driver on tour he is an elite Par 5 scorer who also ranks 19th in this field in Par 4 450-500 yard scoring and is a sneaky good scrambler. Long driver heavy courses will always suit him and we know he can win in strong fields after his Tour Championship success at the end of last season.
Jamie Lovemark @ 100/1 SkyBet 8 places e/w 1/5 odds
Another long driver, Lovemark is 20th in the field in SG:T2G and 22nd in Par 4 450-500 yard scoring. He has made 7 cuts in a row since getting his driver back on control and is an excellent scrambler which should help him limit mistakes. His approach play has been superb over the last 2 months and the wildcard is the putter, however we are placing less emphasis on putting here as a number of lower ranked putters have won this tournament in recent years.
Lucas Glover @ 100/1 SkyBet 8 places e/w 1/5 odds
Another former winner of this event, Glover has been one of the tour’s elite ball strikers and worst putters over the last 2 years. This season his approach play has not been as stellar but his putting has improved. His driving remains outstanding, gaining strokes in 10 straight events. He played well in the team event last week and the key this week will be avoiding costly mistakes. Improved putting will help as he has gained strokes on the greens in 3 straight events and Bermuda has always been his preferred surface. Found the water on 18 2 years ago to finish 8th so hopefully he can go slightly better this week.
Keith Mitchell @ 250/1 Bet365 5 places e/w 1/5 odds
Mitchell looks worth a flutter at really high odds here. His driving has been outstanding recently gaining a crazy 12.3 strokes off-the-tee in his last 3 events. His chipping has been superb as well leading to Top 10s in 2 of his last 4 events.
Luke List found the water on the 72nd hole yesterday to miss out on a place by 1 shot. Jason Day was the winner with a ridiculous chipping and putting performance, gaining over 13 strokes with his short game! It would have been difficult to project as he hit less than half the fairways and only 57% of GIR for the week, but this can be overcome when you make every putt.
This week the ‘best field in golf’ head down to TPC Sawgrass in Jacksonville for another true golfing test. The course is a 7,200 yard Par 72 Pete Dye design with Bermuda greens. The test will be different to Quail Hollow as this is a ‘less than driver’ course where finding the fairway is more important. GIR rate drops dramatically here when playing from the rough and short game will be vital due to these greens being much smaller than average.
Key Stats we are looking at this week:
Despite a relatively poor history here, it still feels like a course that should suit Spieth’s game. He finished 4th on his first visit here but has missed the cut in each of the last 3 years. In the last 12 months he ranks first in the field in SG:T2G, 2nd in SG:APP, 3rd in Bogey Avoidance and 14th in scrambling. It may come as shock to casual golf followers but his problem in the last year has been with the putter. He has spoken about struggling to figure out these greens in the past but you would have to expect it will come back at some point. The lack of course history is giving us a good price for the win. He plays well on Pete Dye courses and often produces his best form on shorter tracks where using the Driver is not as important.3rd place in his last 2 starts show that the game is almost there.
Henrik Stenson 29/1 Skybet, BetStars, Betway 8 places 1/5 odds
The 2009 winner here, Stenson is in excellent recent form with Top 6s in his last 3 starts. For stats he ranks 5th in Driving accuracy, 5th in Bogey Avoidance and 10th in SG:APP over the last 12 months. He is also 9th in Bermuda Putting over the last 18 months. The main concern is with chipping where he has struggled this year but he has elite GIR stats which should mean he has to scramble less than most of the field. His last start was at the Masters where he came 5th having poor previous form at Augusta. Coming to a course where has has an excellent record could help him to play better and get the win.
Webb Simpson @ 100/1 Paddy Power 10 places e/w 1/5 odds
Webb is another player with in good recent form who looks a good fit for TPC Sawgrass. 22nd in SG:T2G, 2nd in Bogey Avoidance, 3rd in Par 3 Scoring and 1st in Scrambling in the last 12 months. His putting has improved dramatically over the last year or so. He ranks 25th in this field in Bermuda Putting over the last 18 months, 5th over the last 12 months and 3rd in 2018. 3 Top 10s in his last 6 strokeplay events he came 21st last week but was very close to putting a complete performance together. He gained 5 strokes on approach and was solid with chipping and putting. Driving was below par but that should not be a big problem this week where finding the fairway is more important than bombing it out there.
Chris Kirk @ 125/1 Paddy Power 10 places e/w 1/5 odds
Chris Kirk is a solid all-round player who is back to playing well. We backed him at The Heritage and the reasoning will be similar here. Kirk plays very well at Pete Dye courses but only finished 55th at The Heritage as he had an uncharacteristically poor week with his irons. Finished 8th last time out at Valero at a course that is not a clear fit for his game. In 2018 he is 18th in SG:T2G, 20th in Bogey Avoidance, 28th in SG:APP and 21st in Scrambling. Solid history at this course finishing 13th, 13th and 12th in 3 of the last 4 years(in 2016 he was forced to withdraw).
Chez Reavie @ 200/1 Paddy Power 10 places e/w 1/5 odds. 250/1 Bet365 6 places e/w 1/4 odds
Chez was on fire in February with back-to-back 2nd places but has really struggled since then. He has taken a month off since the Masters so hopefully can start getting back to form here. A shorter more accurate hitter, he is 2nd in Driving Accuracy over the last year and even in his recent slump he was still finding fairways. A solid iron player, he also ranks 5th in Bogey Avoidance, 7th in Par 3 scoring and 24th in Scrambling in the last 12 months. Doesn’t have a great record here or at other Pete Dye courses but he has the game to do well at his best and worth a shot @ 200/1+.
The Historic Colonial Country Club is the host for the PGA Tour this week. It's a classical 7,200 yard Par 70 with a lot of trees and a number of dogleg holes. Use of the driver will be reduced this week and players will have to master the bentgrass greens if they want to compete. The fairways are tough to hit and the greens are much smaller than most PGA courses so players will have to be have their short game on form.
Key Stats we are looking at this week:
Rickie Fowler @ 20/1 Betfair 7 places e/w 1/5 odds
Surprised to see Rickie as high as 20/1 in this field. He is priced shorter for the US Open next month. This course should fit his game well. He ranks 10th in the field over the last 12 months in SG:T2G, 2nd in Scrambling and Par 4 scoring, and 10th in 150-175 yard proximity. He has struggled at times with the putter this year but over longer samples he is one of the best on the greens and we expect that to rebound soon. He has also performed slightly better on courses with bentgrass greens, highlighted by his 2nd place at the recent Masters.
Zach Johnson @ 35/1 Marathon 5 places e/w 1/4 odds. 33/1 generally available
Zach Johnson has played well at this course with 3 Top 20s in his last 5 visits. He keeps the ball on the fairway, is an elite Par 4 scorer and excellent with mid-to-long irons. Zack consistently performs well in Texas and as an Open Champion can easily adapt if the wind starts to blow. Johnson is also 2nd in Bentgrass putting over the last 2 years and looks a great bet to compete @ 35/1.
Chez Reavie @ 70/1 Bet365 5 places e/w 1/4 odds
Chez Reavie showed a slight return to form at TPC Sawgrass 2 weeks ago but still was not able to put his complete game together as he really struggled with his chipping. Chez has a solid all-round game: 2nd in Driving Accuracy and 3rd in Par 4 scoring in the last year. His 'around the green' game has been poor for a couple of months but he is 11th in scrambling over the last 12 months which suggests with a bit of work he can find his form again. Has some good finishes at similar courses in recent years and looks good to go well here again.
Charley Hoffman @ 80/1 Bet365 5 places e/w 1/4 odds
Texas Charley will be happy to see the tour back in The Lone Star State where he always seems to perform well. 11th in SG:T2G and 6th in Par 4 scoring are good stats for someone @ 80/1. A strong wind player who will want conditions to be difficult. Short game can be inconsistent but if his ball striking is on it will not be needed as much.
Pat Perez @ 100/1 Coral 7 places e/w 1/5 odds
This looks a big price for a good all-round player who has proven he can win on tour. Poor recent form of 3 missed cuts in a row has inflated his odds. Up and done course history includes a Top 5 in 2015. An accurate driver, solid scrambler and good with the mid-to-long irons. 11th in this field in Par 4 scoring and an outstanding wind player which could come into play at some point this week.
Ben Martin @ 400/1 Coral 7 places e/w 1/5 odds
Ben Martin has played well at Colonial making the cut in each of the last 4 years with 2 Top 20 finishes in that time. He has struggled with his game of late but has still been excellent from 150-175 yards and is 11th in this field in Bentgrass putting over the last 2 years. Hopefully a return to a course where he has good memories could bring him back into some form.
The PGA tour heads to Mexico this week with a strong field for the WGC. 49 of the world's top 50 are playing. It seems the tour took a position on the US Election last year moving this tournament from the Trump owned Doral course and playing it in Mexico .It is a tough week to judge with no course history and little known about how the course will play. For that reason slightly lower stakes than normal are advised.
The course sits at a very high altitude meaning the ball will travel further and may make the course play very short. With Poa Annua greens in play World Number 1 Dustin Johnson rightly leads the betting @ 7/1 but we will be looking at slightly higher prices this week.
Sergio Garcia E/W @ 28/1
Sergio has an excellent record at altitude. He lives in the Swiss Alps where the Omega European Masters -1 of the highest altitude golf tournaments- is played. He is a former winner there and also has 4 top 6 finishes in 5 tries. His form is excellent and he's already won this year at the Dubai Desert Classic. Last week he struck the ball excellently, ranking 3rd in Strokes Gained Off the Tee(SG:OTT) and 4th in Strokes Gaines Tee to Green(SG:T2G). The problem, as often is the case with Sergio, was on the greens where he lost 2 shots to the field. Bermudagrass is his least favoured surface so hopefully he can fare better this week. Never the best putter on any greens, Segio's ball striking form will keep him in contention and if he can hold his own on the greens looks a good selection here.
Jimmy Walker E/W @ 70/1 Betfred
The PGA Champion is coming off 2 solid weeks and will hope to further improve here. With the course likely to play short, accurate short-iron and wedge play becomes all the more important. Jimmy has been in the top 20 in proximity to the hole from 50-125 yards in each of the last 2 years including 8th last year. That combined with his excellent putting should provide a number of birdie opportunities. The issue for Jimmy is his accuracy off the tee. Wayward drives will be punished on this tree-lined course so he will have to perform well here and perhaps club down to ensure he hits fairways. Despite being a long hitter he has played some of his best golf at short courses.A major champion last year can win vs these strong fields and has the game to contend @ 70/1.
JB Holmes E/W @ 100/1
JB is another who has performed well at altitude in the past. Sometimes it seems JB Holmes is mis-cast as someone who can only do well at bombers courses so can get overlooked on shorter tracks. He is excellent with short-irons and wedges which should help him this week. JB has a lot of 20th-30th position finishes in recent months. He can put great stretches of play together but always seems to have 1 bad round per tournament. Sometimes his aggressiveness gets the better of him but hopefully that can work in his favour this week. The key will be avoiding the big numbers. If he can do that for the most part, he looks good value @ 100/1
My tip for this week is the match between Bedford Blues (9th out of 11) and Ealing Trailfinders (4th) in the RFU Championship.
Bedford are coming into the game off a win vs. Rotherham, who are 10th in the league, a game they would have expected to win. Prior to this, you would have to go back to the 26th December for Bedford's last win. In my eyes, this game can be completely discounted, as their opponents Jersey were struggling with injuries and were forced to fly to Bedford at 7am on the day of the game - not ideal circumstances! Before this, the last game in the league that Bedford picked up points from was in mid-November; a long barren spell that looks to continue! Their record this season vs. top 6 opposition reads: played 8, winning 1 (the Jersey game) and losing 7 - makes tough reading!
Ealing on the other hand are currently playing a great brand of rugby, their only loses in the last 5 games have been to the top two in the league - teams that in my opinion are miles better than the league that they are in. This form bodes well for Ealing as they push to retain their playoff spot (top 4 go into a playoff for promotion) and confidence around the club seems at an all-time high! Ealing are back to full strength this week with flanker Kieran Murphy coming back into the starting XV after recovering from an injury. Ealing have been lucky with injuries and have been able to put out a regular core to their team which has gelled well.
I can only see this game going one way, and although Ealing have never won away at Bedford, I believe (and the facts dictate) that this should be the game that changes that run.
My bet - Ealing Trailfinders to win @ 2.25 with Betfair
Honda Classic Golf
The PGA tour this week moves on to Florida for the Honda Classic played at PGA National. A combination of the course layout and the usual windy conditions make this the toughest non-major of the year in most seasons. Adam Scott is rightly favourite for the event as the returning champion, with Thomas, Garcia and Fowler also in the teens in terms of odds, but we would like to take them on with higher priced players this week.
Daniel Berger E/W @ 33/1 SkyBet 6 places Each Way 1/4 odds
This Florida State graduate will be happy to make a return to where he plays a lot of his best golf. Berger will certainly gain psychological comfort from being at a course where he's been "a million times" since his teenage years. A missed cut here last year was disappointing but he will have fonder memories from his debut at this tournament in 2015 when he lost in a playoff to Padraig Harrington. The forecast for the early rounds suggest it may not be as breezy as previous years will it will still have an effect especially on Sunday when it matters most. Berger is one of the better performers in the wind and we know he likes the course so should perform well down the stretch. With only 2 Par-5s on the course scoring on Par-4s takes on more importance this week. Berger was 14th on the tour in Par-4 scoring last year and 23rd in Strokes Gained:Approach to the green so should create good birdie opportunities.
Lucas Glover E/W @ 100/1 SkyBet 6 places Each Way 1/4 odds
Lucas Glover is always a name to look out for on Bermudagrass greens. He has been playing really good golf for a couple of years without getting that breakthrough performance. He is currently 16th in scoring average but this could be the course for him to do it. Looking at his performance here recently makes for mixed reading, 3 missed cuts and a 4th. Last year he ranked 2nd in Total Driving and 28th in Strokes Gained Tee to Green which shows how well he has been striking the ball. It is just when he gets to the green that he struggles with his chipping and putting. 8 of the last 10 winners here ended the season ranked worse than 118th in Strokes Gained Putting, so this course allows good ball strikers to rise to the top. He's a former US Open winner so we know he can play well at tough courses, he ranked 7th in Bogey Avoidance last year and if he can make a few putts more than normal could make a challenge here.
Alex Cejka E/W @ 300/1 SkyBet 6 places Each Way 1/4 odds, PP 7 places Each Way 1/5 odds
The German is someone whose best years are definitely behind him but it looks like this course sets up quite nicely for him. Last year he ranked 1st in bogey avoidance and 10th in Strokes Gained Approach to the green. He also scored well on Par-4s. These stats combined with the fact he is one of the best players on tour in windy conditions make us believe he can play well here. He is also an excellent chipper and with greens hard to hit this week could come in handy and allow him to avoid bogeys and keep momentum. He hasn't won since 2015 and his odds reflect that it is very unlikely he will win here. He has 2 top 20 finishes in 7 tries here, with a 21st and 26th also so backing him to finish in the top 20 looks good.
Alex Cejka to finish in the top 20 @ 10/1
David Hearn to finish top 20 @ 14/1 Bet365
The Canadian has missed 4 of his last 5 cuts. He has also missed 4 cuts in 5 tries at this tournament although the other time he finished 6th. He has solid bogey avoidance and Par-4 scoring stats and performs much better in the state of Florida. The world number 196 is struggling for form but did have 6 top 20 finishes last year. This is worth a small investment.