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Latest Golf Tips
Get the best golf betting tips from Sam Harrop of Golf
Punters Guide, who will post his PGA tour picks on Tuesday or Wednesday every week of the US season.
Sam had three 50/1+ winners in 2012 to turn in a profit of over £1000 on the year, for a £10 bet on all selections. You can also follow Sam on Twitter.
The Crowne Plaza Invitational is next up for the PGA tour on the Texas swing, and it remains one of my favourite events from
a betting perspective as, unlike last week’s event, course form is a very useful indicator here – and there is also an intriguing
Masters trend to study.
Colonial Country Club is a shortish, traditional, tree-lined track that demands accuracy off the tee and a sharp short game – and it’s no great surprise to see the names of Zach Johnson, David Toms and Steve Stricker in the recent winners list on this basis. Furthermore, each of the last six winners (including the three names above) had shown previous form at Colonial before winning here, each finishing 13th on better in a previous visit, so it’s a definitely a horses-for-courses type of track.
Onto my Masters trend which, simply put, tells us that the winner should have finished 42nd or better in the current year’s Masters tournament. Although Colonial Country Club yields lower scoring than Augusta National, the courses share a number of similarities, and 12 of the last 13 winners here fit the trend mentioned above, so it’s worth more than a cursory glance.
Whilst Bo Van Pelt has flattered to deceive on the PGA tour in the last few years, he’s not a dissimilar type of player to Jason Dufner who had a similar reputation before winning twice in a short period just over 12 months ago. If Van Pelt is to add to his sole PGA tour win, I suspect it’s likely to happen in a weakened field like we see here, and there’s little doubt of his love for Colonial Country Club. Indeed, the 38-year-old notched top-10 finishes in 2010 & 2011 and was in 3rd place at the halfway mark in last year’s event before a poor weekend left him in a tie for 19th, so there’s every reason to expect another big performance this week.
Although Henrik Stenson’s best finish to date at Colonial remains a tie for 27th back in 2010, I believe the course should be right up his street, especially with his ball-striking stats looking better than ever, or indeed, better than anyone on tour as he currently leads the PGA tour in the official Ball Striking stats. Stenson has come close to adding to his PGA tour tally on two occasions already this year, firstly at the Shell Houston Open where he finished runner-up, and more recently at the Players Championship where he notched a top-5 finish having been right in contention on the weekend.
Having been a virtual unknown just 18 months ago, Texas resident John Huh now boasts a PGA tour win (at last year’s Mayakoba Classic) and an 11th place finish in the Masters (just over a month ago). It has not all been plain sailing for the 23-year-old however, as he has missed six cuts this year and boasts only a single top-10 finish to his name in 2013. Fortunately, that top-10 finish came in last week’s Byron Nelson Championship, which would indicate his game is in great shape heading to a course which should suit him even better than last week’s track. Indeed, a top-5 finish in last year’s event would suggest it does suit him here and his accuracy off the tee should pay dividends this week.
Fredrik Jacobson opened his PGA account at the 2011 Travelers Championship, and although his driving accuracy leaves a little to be desired this term, the Swede’s short-game makes him a real danger on a course like Colonial Country Club. Whilst his mid-table finishes in his last three starts here may not get the juices flowing, if we go back a few years we’ll see he posted top-20 finishes in both 2005 & 2006 with the latter featuring a round of 62 which is just one shot shy of the course record here.
My rank outsider for this week is Fort Worth resident Brian Gay who already boasts a PGA tour win in 2013. Although Gay has struggled for form since his win at the Humana Challenge (albeit with a top-40 finish at the Masters), I have a feeling he might just find something in his hometown this week. The 41-year-old has top-15 finishes here in both 2006 and 2008, and his combination of accuracy off the tee and excellent putting stroke should see him well this week.
The Players Championship is widely considered to be the biggest tournament outside of the major championships, and the event
consistently boasts the strongest field all year round. TPC Sawgrass, with its world famous 17th hole plays host, as ever,
and the Pete Dye design is a demanding course that requires accuracy off the tee and good scrambling ability.
Course form really is key here, with eight of the last nine winners having posted a top-17 finish in one of their two previous visits, and the ability to grind out a good score is also clearly imperative when you consider that the last six winners ranked inside the top-20 on tour in Scoring Average in the seasons of their Players Championship victories.
Ticking both of the above boxes and a whole lot more is Englishman Luke Donald. His strokeplay strike rate may have been under scrutiny in the past, but with PGA tour wins in each of the last two years, he is starting to get the hang of winning stateside and a shot-makers track like TPC Sawgrass is exactly the sort of venue where he should excel. Indeed, with finishes of 4th and 6th in his last two visits, he certainly likes something about the course, and with a 3rd place finish at Harbour Town in his last tournament start, he is something of a Pete Dye fan too.
One of the best drivers of the ball around, Bo Van Pelt certainly has the talent to win on a regular basis, but seems to struggle to get over the line. TPC Sawgrass is right up his street, however, as he has posted top-7 finishes in two of the last three years, and this is exactly the type of track where I would expect him to get himself back in the winner’s circle. Whilst his form in 2013 hasn’t been anything to write home about, his tie for 6th last week at Quail Hollow is a very promising sign, especially as Van Pelt is a player who tends to hold his form very well.
Eight years ago, Fred Funk won this event at the age of 48, so we shouldn’t write off PGA tour veterans on this type of layout, especially not someone who currently ranks inside the world’s top-10 like Steve Stricker. The 46-year-old is lightly raced in 2013 and makes his first tournament outing since the Masters, and unlike Augusta (where he finished tied for 20th), TPC Sawgrass is exactly the type of course which rewards someone with Stricker’s accuracy off the tee. Stricker is a great scrambler and currently ranks 12th on tour in Scoring Average, so there’s every reason to expect a big week.
I’m surprised to see Kevin Streelman available at such a big price given the fact that he bagged his maiden PGA tour title earlier this year and has top-6 finishes in each of his last two starts. He ticks a number of boxes here too as he currently ranks 10th on the PGA tour in Scoring Average and is an excellent driver of the ball. In fact, the 35-year-old is generally striking the ball very well at the moment and ranked 4th in Proximity to the Hole at Quail Hollow last week. He’s no slouch at TPC Sawgrass either having finished tied 19th in 2011, a performance which could have been even better were it not for a third-round 75.
My rank outsider for this week is another veteran in the form of David Toms. Whilst it’s been nearly two years since his last PGA tour victory, Toms certainly hasn’t been in terrible form lately – in fact a tie for 13th at the Masters would have surprised lots of punters with the course playing very long for a player who ranks 181st on tour in Driving Distance. Toms boasts top-10 finishes in three of last four visits to TPC Sawgrass so he clearly loves this track, and that’s no surprise when you look at his Driving Accuracy and Scrambling stats.
The PGA tour heads to Charlotte, North Carolina for the Wells Fargo Championship, and some big names will be teeing it up
for the first time since the Masters including Rory McIlroy and Phil Mickelson. Quail Hollow Club plays host, as ever, and
the 7,492 yard track is no push-over.
Looking at recent winners, it’s immediately obvious that good drivers of the ball tend to prevail here. The last six winners here all averaged a pretty healthy distance off the tee, and whilst not all are bullet-straight with driver in hand, accuracy certainly plays a part too.
I’ve stumbled across a possible course link with Firestone Country Club (host of the annual WGC-Bridgestone tournament). That is, five of the last seven winners at Quail Hollow (and last year’s playoff loser) had finished inside the top-25 in their last trip to Firestone. Whilst this might seem slightly tenuous, the courses share certain attributes such as a similar yardage, bentgrass greens and a ‘classic’ feel.
One player who certainly relishes the longer courses on the PGA tour is last year’s Masters Champion, Bubba Watson. The 34-year-old is without a win in 2013, but he’s certainly not been in terrible form having posted five top-15 finishes including at last week’s Zurich Classic. Although it was something of a rollercoaster of a week last week for Bubba, he finished on a high, posting a final round 66 and leading the field in Proximity to the Hole in the process. Watson finished runner-up here four years ago, and I think he has a great chance of going one better this time around.
Joining Bubba Watson in a tie for 15th last week was five-time PGA tour winner, Nick Watney who hasn’t quite found first gear in 2013 but has been steadily improving over his past few outings. Four sub-70 rounds last week marks the kind of consistency I like to see in a player heading to Quail Hollow, and with a number of decent finishes to his name going back through the years, Watney posted his best finish yet last time around, finishing solo 8th. Watney’s last PGA tour win came at the 7,468 yard Bethpage Black, so he has no issue handling lengthy tracks, and a top-20 finish at Firestone last time around is another ticked box.
One player who could have won on at least two occasions this year is Charlotte-born Bill Haas. For a player with a Fedex Cup title to his name, you’d think that getting over the line wouldn’t be a problem, but a series of poor Sunday outings this year raises a question-mark about how comfortable Haas is in contention. With top-5 finishes at Quail Hollow in both 2006 & 2011, I’m prepared to chance him, however, and having previously shot a 64 around here, the 31-year-old clearly loves something about this track.
I wouldn’t normally encourage backing debutants to win this type of event, but Rory McIlroy proved it can be done three years ago, and the talented Nicolas Colsaerts looks a decent price this week. Some golf fans expected Colsaerts to make an immediate impression in his switch to the PGA tour, but he hasn’t quite replicated the form that he’s produced in Europe over the past couple of years. A top-10 in New Orleans last week is a very encouraging sign, however, especially when you see that he ranked 8th in the field in Greens in Regulation, and the big-hitting Belgian should love this type of track.
My final pick is Australian Geoff Ogilvy who doesn’t exactly come here in great form having missed his last two cuts. We have seem glimmers of Ogilvy’s best in 2013, however, with his runner-up finish in the Honda Classic, and having talked openly about his struggles on Bermuda surfaces, he’ll be looking forward to the switch to bentgrass greens this week. There’s every chance that Quail Hollow will re-ignite the form of Geoff Ogilvy as he has finished no worse than 38th in his eight appearances here. A triple-figure price makes him well worth an each-way punt here.