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Saltire Energy Paul Lawrie Matchplay

Niall Lyons / Tuesday 28th July 2015 / 18:06

Saltire Energy Paul Lawrie Matchplay

Murcar Links Golf Club in Aberdeen is our host this week for the Saltire Energy Paul Lawrie Match Play event. Paul Lawrie has personally founded and promoted this event in order to put more Match Play golf on the schedule. This is a relatively low-key event with little in the way of prize money to tempt the higher profile players from attending. However, Paul Lawrie is widely respected in the game and many players high enough in the rankings are making their way to the Seaside Links in hope of notching a victory.

The format is straight knockout, just like how the WGC Matchplay used to pan out years ago. The draw has just been made but with co 20/1 favs I don't put too much an importance on the outcome. This is up for grabs and whoever can master the conditions will have a great chance of going deep into the event. The weather looks half decent with wind and rain forecast at various times throughout the week. Nothing as vehement as what can be felt in Scotland will face the players though and hopefully they should get an event free from the disruption we've seen on tour in the last few weeks. The course is very short so the bombers wil have little advantage as the course usually narrows towards the greens. I expect plenty of birdies, especially under this format, but the plodders might just be the ones to invest in this week.

The bookies can't really separate the field and from a punting perspective it isn't easy to decipher. Match Play events are always a conundrum and there is no doubt that an element of luck is involved in getting a winner here. We will have a few plays, but it is an event to tread very carefully with and not get too heavily involved before the off. There may be opportunities to have a few bets on the matches as the week progresses, and if there is I will be in touch.

There's no doubting my strongest selection and that is GREGORY BOURDY. The Frenchman has shown flashes of brilliance all year without ending up in the winners enclosure. He has been found wanting at the business end of many tournaments this term, most notably when he blew a lead on day4 of the Lyoness Open. His is a tidy game and while many others will be finding trouble around this tight track Gregory should be down the middle. In 2013 he became the first man to win all his matches at the Seve Trophy swotting away everybody who came to challenge him that week. That should give him the confidence needed to go far in this event.

He is up against a tricky opponent in Nicolas Colsaerts in round 1 but if he can scrape through that match he has the ability to go on to lift the trophy. With the each-way terms not appealing this week I will be going win only on the rest of my selections but with Bourdy I feel he warrants an each-way bet as I see him as a great chance to get to the semi finals.

Gregory Bourdy - 1pt e/w @ 45/1

Our second selection this week comes in the shape of one of the favourites in RICHIE RAMSAY. He was just drawn against Shiv Kapur so it is a generous first round opportunity. Interestingly he beat Shiv Kapur in a playoff to win his maiden European title in the South African Open in 2009. I was impressed with a T10 finish at Royal County Down a few weeks back and this only backed up his previous credentials on links. He has notched two top5 finishes in the Alfred Dunhill Links and another top20 finish at Portrush a few years back. The only bit of course form we have here is the 2006 Scottish Challenge on the Challenge Tour where Ramsay finished a creditable 4th early in his career. We will need luck in running no doubt, and stakes will kept pretty low for this event, but he represents the value in this field.

Richie Ramsay - 0.75pt @ 21/1

Considering RAPHAEL JACQUELIN'S form of two top 10 finishes in three weeks around some tricky tracks I feel he is worth something small for this event. His game is neat and tidy and I expect that to fit well to the Murcar Links. He has been putting very well of late and that will be one of the key aspects in getting deep into this tournament. He plays Seve Benson in round one and hopefully that shouldn't pose too much of a threat to our bet. He has a plethora of top10 finishes around Links or manufactured Links courses and with this in mind we'll support the Frenchman this week. Low stakes once again as Match Play outright markets don't lend themselves to heavy wagers.

Raphael Jacquelin - 0.75pt @ 33/1

Quickens Loan National

Niall Lyons / Tuesday 28th July 2015 / 15:35

Quicken Loans National

The Quicken Loans National changes venue this year to the Robert Trent Jones GC in Virginia. Most viewers will be unaware of this layout yet it is a hidden gem. This course hosted the President's Cup four times between 1995 and 2005. We basically have no form to go on from those renewals but that is no hindrance to us having some well-informed wagers here. Where there is little course form I see this as an opportunity to gain some value from the markets as the odds compilers will simply be pricing up on the back of rankings and recent form. We can dig deeper to see what type of player will do well at this course.

Built around Lake Manassis in Virginia this course is very easy on the eye. The course is 7,385 yards in length and a par 71. There are a few hefty par 4s here and I would suggest tentatively that the course may suit the longer hitters. The rough has been grown, as was the case when this event was held at Congressional. The greens look in great shape and with plenty of undulation it will give the tournament officials rope to play around with pin positions. Those who can accurately dispatch their irons at the pins may also hold an advantage over the others. I expect attacking golfers to make up the top of the leaderboard come Sunday evening. They may also get a bit of rain which should play into the hands of the longer hitters once again. With no course form to go on however we have little in the way of course stats to guide us towards narrowing our search.

Justin Rose goes down to post as the jolly at a top price of 9/1. He is worthy of the tag and has every chance of producing the goods on a course that should suit his game. He has won this event twice on two different tracks so he certainly has a fondness for it. I couldn't rule out a hat trick however he has played a lot of competitive golf in big events this year and with a few more to come in the next few weeks I would be looking a few points bigger price if I was to get involved this week. Rickie Fowler slots in next at 11/1 and although I consider him a better proposition to Justin I'm still not bowled over with the odds. His iron play wasn't as accurate at St Andrews as it has been all summer. It has been a tough summer for the kid with stern tests in Ireland and Scotland and I suspect he may run out of some puff this week.

Our top selection this week goes to BILL HAAS. First of all let's address the Missed Cut situation. He has got the guillotine in his last 3 events but this doesn't bother me an awful lot. Two of these were tough major championships with the Greenbrier sandwiched in between. A missed cut preceded his win here in 2013 and the same happened when he won the Bope Hope a few years back. Most importantly Billy shoots solid scores around these layouts in his sleep. His win here was at the tough Congressional layout where he shot a winning total of 12 under. Wins also at Riviera and more crucially at East Lake at the Tour Championship result in him being the best betting proposition of the week. The odds of 40/1 are quite enticing for somebody with such credentials. We would stake slightly more had he been posting some better finishes but the missed cuts do throw an element of uncertainty into the equation. He is a consistent driver of the ball and can go hunting pins which will certainly help this week.

Bill Haas - 1pt e/w @ 35/1

JUSTIN THOMAS is a rookie who hits the ball an absolute mile and there is no doubt that a win is around the corner for this lad. This year he has notched five top10 finishes which is extremely impressive for a rookie. Once again I highlight one of those at Torrey Pines earlier in the year which should suggest this type of test will suit Thomas. Slotting in behind Rose, Fowler and Walker in the betting it tells us how much the bookies think of him. Rookies that show this type of form usually go ahead and win at some point and with this somewhat lull in proceedings between some big events I expect him to consider this one of his best opportunities of the season. He ranks 18th in driving distance and this will likely be an important element to playing well this week. In the heat of battle there are still question marks surrounding how he will cope, but the talent that he has makes his stock worth investing in.

Justin Thomas - 1pt e/w @ 30/1

Next on our list this week is the Sea Island resident HARRIS ENGLISH. I was impressed by his performance earlier in the year when he was beaten in a playoff in the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines. Around the lake here this course will have elements of Torrey Pines, but has the look of a resort course in places also. Harris' form in events such as the Travelers and the Zurich Classic suggest he goes well on these types of test. I've also noted a top10 finish at Riviera. As ever, my approach is to link as much form course to course before looking at the market. His record in this event is modest at best although the change in venue should be to his advantage. With two wins in his relatively short career English will no doubt have plenty more in his locker before he hangs up his glove. The price of 55/1 is fair and worth a small investment. We won't go overboard in the staking this week as the change in venue keeps us in the shade a little and although I can put my own perception upon how it will play, the scores are always the proof in the pudding.

Harris English - 0.75pt e/w @ 55/1

The next golfer we'll go to war with is the underrated JAMES HAHN. He missed the cut two weeks back at the Open but either side of that we have strong finishes. A top10 in the Greenbrier was backed up with a T11 finish in Canada last week with an impressive final 3 rounds in the 60s. He showed his worth when he beat a feisty twosome in Dustin Johnson and Paul Casey in a playoff at Riviera in February. A result on a venue like that is no fluke and James certainly has a game. I was a bit surprised to see odds of 80/1 chalked up by the bookmakers and we'll certainly take a chance on him producing another fine performance on a venue which should suit.

James Hahn - 0.75pt e/w @ 80/1

Finally, a small investment on DANIEL BERGER. With nine top25 finishes on tour this year Berger is one of the hotter rookies out there. Once again, with the cat and mouse we are playing second guessing how this course will play my attention turns to his finishes at the Honda and Zurich. A top30 finish at Quail Hollow is also noted. I am certainly wary of his wobble at the Honda where he had his chance to win. However to be in a playoff at that event is an early feather in his visor and I'm prepared to have a small bet on him this week at hefty odds of 100/1.

Another who was close to making the staking plan was Russel Knox. His likeness for resort courses is worthy of note heading into this week. Knox is very inconsistent and although I like his game his results during his career so far are not good enough to warrant me getting involved. At this moment in time he is overrated by the bookies, and I'd be looking double the 50/1 on offer before parting with a few shillings of my own.

Daniel Berger - 0.5pt e/w @ 100/1

Golf Tips

Golf and betting have been two passions of Niall’s from an early age. He started working in the industry when he was 21 and has spent the last nine years honing his skills to gain an advantage on golf markets. Niall’s subscription service ‘LyonsDen’ has proved extremely profitable in recent years and Oddschecker users now have access to his valuable insight on a weekly basis. Follow Niall on Twitter @betgolfworld

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