RBC Heritage Betting Preview – Thursday 14th April by @RobBanner_

RBC Heritage – Harbour Town, South Carolina

After an enthralling Major Championship, the PGA Tour heads to South Carolina for one of my favourite events of the year, the RBC Heritage. The Heritage has been part of the PGA Tour schedule since 1969 and Harbour Town Golf Links has played host to all 46 renewals.

A strong field has assembled itself for this year’s renewal, the world number one, Jason Day heads the betting and is followed by Paul Casey and previous winners of this event, Brandt Snedeker and Matt Kuchar. Jim Furyk won the 2015 edition of this event, but he won’t be defending his title, because he remains out of action with a wrist injury.

Designed by Pete Dye who was assisted by Jack Nicklaus, Harbour Town is one of the tougher venues on the PGA Tour. It’s a coastal links style track and the lack of wind last year saw Jim Furyk and Kevin Kisner reach 18 under par. However, Harbour Town tends to play much tougher and before 2015, no player had shot lower than 14 under par since Brian Gay in 2009. The course is a par 71 that measures 7,101 yards and features tree-lined narrow fairways. Subsequently, there’s a premium on positioning off the tee and as a result the accurate drivers of the ball have a rare advantage around this golf course. Simply take a look at the recent RBC Heritage leaderboards and you’ll notice that accurate drivers of the ball have dominated this event. Over the last three years, every player that has finished inside the top five has finished the year ranked better in driving accuracy than driving distance.

 

Harbour Town

 

The greens at Harbour Town are Bermuda grass and are some of the smallest on the PGA Tour. A good short game is therefore required to deal with the inevitable missed greens. You’ll notice that the last three winners of this event, Jim Furyk, Matt Kuchar and Graeme McDowell are all renowned for having excellent short games. Finally, the players that have performed well in this event have generally ranked well in the bogey avoidance statistic. The last three years has seen 16 players tie for 5th or better and eleven of those finished the season they recorded their top 5 finish ranked inside the top 33.33% of players in the bogey avoidance statistic.

Recommended Bets

Kevin Kisner – Harbour Town is the perfect fit for Kevin Kisner’s game and I was slightly surprised to see odds of 30/1 available. The American’s an accurate driver of the ball, he’s good around and on the greens and also ranks well in bogey avoidance. Furthermore, he grew up playing golf in South Carolina and is accustomed to putting on the grainy Bermuda greens. Last year, Kisner finished in second position in this event, behind Jim Furyk who he lost against in a play-off. Since last year’s event, Kisner has proved to be an excellent player and he notably recorded his first victory on the PGA Tour in November.

Each Way – Bet365 @ 30/1

 

Ben Martin – Like Kevin Kisner, Ben Martin is playing in his home state this week and he’s produced good results at Harbour Town previously. Martin has played in the RBC Heritage on three occasions and has finished 56th, 3rd and 37th which indicates it’s a good venue for his game. He’s an accurate driver of the ball and has seemingly found some form recently. In Martin’s last four PGA Tour starts, he’s made the cut on each occasion and has recorded finishes of 16th and 12th, thus suggesting that Martin is starting to find some form after a tricky year so far.

Each Way – Bet365 @ 70/1

 

Scott Brown – Last but not least is another South Carolina resident, Scott Brown. Like my other selections, Brown’s a golfer who should suit what is required around Harbour Town and a tie for 5th place in 2014, suggests it’s a golf course he is capable of winning around. Admittedly, the American made a slow start to the year however he’s showed some good form in recent weeks. In Brown’s last six events, he’s made six consecutive cuts and has recorded three top 10 finishes in that period of time. All in all, I think Scott Brown is a very good bet this week at 80/1 and bigger.

Each Way – BetVictor @ 80/1

Prices correct at time of writing.

By @RobBanner_

 

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Open de Espana Betting Preview – Thursday 14th April by @RobBanner_

Open de Espana – Valderrama

The European Tour heads to Spain this week for its first event of the year on European soil, the Open de Espana. This event has been part of the European Tour schedule since 1972 and this year’s renewal is hosted by the Sergio Garcia Foundation.

The tournament host, Garcia is the bookmaker’s favourite, although he’s worth opposing this week, despite his excellent record around this week’s venue, Valderrama. As the tournament host, Garcia will be required to fulfil many media duties, as Rory McIlroy did when he hosted the Irish Open last year and Rory went on to miss the cut. Furthermore, Garcia has failed to record a top 10 finish in his last three visits to Spain, despite being the overwhelming favourite on each occasion.

Described as the “Augusta of Europe”, Valderrama returns to the European Tour schedule after last hosting the Andalucia Masters from 2010 to 2011. It also notably hosted the 1997 Ryder Cup and the 1999 and 2000 WGC American Express Championship, which is now known as the WGC Cadillac Championship. The course is a par 71 that measures 6,991 yards which is short for modern day standards. The fairways are narrow, undulating and tree-lined, and as a result, accuracy off the tee is advantageous. Sergio Garcia won the 2011 Andalucia Masters at Valderrama and was followed by a number of accurate drivers, such as Miguel Angel Jimenez, Ritchie Ramsay and Shane Lowry.

The course is located just a few kilometres from the coast, and is therefore susceptible to windy conditions. Unsurprisingly, some very good wind players have a good record at Valderrama, such as Sergio Garcia, Graeme McDowell, Soren Kjeldsen and many more. Scoring is usually very tricky around this venue, particularly if the wind is prominent. In the last five events that have been held at Valderrama, no player has finished 9 under par or lower, thus indicating what a difficult venue it is.

Recommended Bets

Soren Kjeldsen – I’m not a fan of backing short priced favourites, however Soren Kjeldsen ticks all the boxes this week. He’s a short but accurate driver of the ball and ranked 27th in driving accuracy on the European Tour last season. Kjeldsen has the ability to shape the ball both ways, which is beneficial around Valderrama and unsurprisingly he has an excellent record around this golf course. In 2008, Soren won the Volvo Masters which was played at Valderrama and he’s also finished has the runner up on two occasions around this historic golf course, therefore it’s without a doubt a golf course that suits Kjeldsen game. Furthermore, the Dane has been playing some great golf, last year he won the Irish Open and recorded seven other top 10 finishes. This year he’s also played some golf and notably tied for 7th in the Masters last week, which indicates that his games in excellent shape ahead of this weeks, Open de Espana.

Each Way – Bet365 @ 16/1

 

Soren Kjeldsen

Soren Kjeldsen

Joost Luiten – Joost Luiten headed out to Spain a week early with his coach which is an added extra, but this isn’t the only reason I like him this week. Luiten’s been in great form this year, he’s played in seven events and has finished inside the top 15 on six occasions. Since 2011, Luiten has won four times on the European Tour and he’s got a great chance of making that five around Valderrama this week. The golf course suits his game, he tied for 5th in the Andalucia Masters in 2010 and he’s an accurate driver of the ball. The Dutchman is also a good player in the wind, he’s got a good record on links golf courses and won the KLM Open in 2013.  

Each Way – Betfair @ 25/1

 

Eduardo De La Riva – Eduardo De La Riva is an unlikely winner, but at 300/1 he’s worth a small wager. The Spaniard has a good record in his native country, he recorded his only Challenge Tour victory in Spain and has finished inside the top 10 in Spain in three of his last seven European Tour starts. This week’s venue should suit De La Riva’s game, he’s a short but straight driver of the golf ball which is what’s required around Valderrama. Admittedly, De La Riva is yet to win at this level but he came close on a couple of occasions last year, he finished inside the top three on three occasions. So why’s he 300/1? His form this year has been poor, but if you follow golf closely you’ll know that it’s very random and De La Riva hasn’t played a competition for nearly a month, therefore fingers crossed he’ll have been working hard on his game in this period of time.

Each Way – BetVictor @ 300/1

Prices correct at time of writing.

By @RobBanner_

 

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The Masters 2016 Golf Betting Preview – Thursday 7th April by @RobBanner_

The Masters 2016 – Augusta National, Georgia

The first and arguably the most eagerly anticipated Major Championship of the year gets underway this week, The Masters. The field consists of just 90 players and is therefore considerably smaller than the other Majors and regular PGA Tour events. Moreover, there are a number of past champions in the field who can be ruled out immediately, such as Larry Mize, Sandy Lyle and Ian Woosnam (there are more).

At the front of the betting is the in-form, Jason Day who is followed by Rory McIlroy and the defending champion, Jordan Spieth. A strong case can also be made for past champions, Adam Scott and Bubba Watson, and there’s a 50% chance that one of these five players win this week according to the bookmakers odds.

 

Jordan Spieth

Jordan Spieth – 2015 Masters Champion

Located in Georgia, Augusta National will be in immaculate condition for the 80th edition of the US Masters. Course form is crucial around this golf course, no player has won the Masters when making their debut at Augusta since Fuzzy Zoeller way back in 1979. The course is a par 72 that measures a lengthy 7,435 yards and distance is a big advantage. Zach Johnson won the Masters in 2007, although since then the event has been dominated by big hitters. This is due to the lack of punishment off the tee and the importance of scoring well on the reachable par 5’s. Finally, the greens at Augusta are Bentgrass and will be lightning fast. Those with a good record on quick Bentgrass greens should be considered and scrambling well has also proved to be important on the undulating surfaces.

Recommended Bets

Adam Scott – Adam Scott’s game has been in sensational shape this year and the switch to the short putter doesn’t appear to have phased him. The Aussie has already recorded two wins this season and he also finished as the runner up in the Northern Trust Open. One of Scott’s two victories notably came in the WGC Cadillac Championship, an event which consisted of the world’s best players. Onto Scott’s record at Augusta and I’m sure you’re all already aware that he has an excellent record in this event. He’s made the cut in each of his last six visits and won the Masters back in 2013. Furthermore, he finished in 2nd place in 2011 and has recorded a number of other top 25 finishes. All in all, given how well Adam Scott has played this year and his superb record at Augusta National, he’s a great bet at 12/1 this week.

Each Way – Betfair @ 12/1

 

Rickie Fowler – Unlike Adam Scott, Rickie Fowler is yet to win this year, although he’s played some very good golf. Fowler’s played in six strokeplay events and has finished inside the top 10 in five of those and that includes a 10th place finish in last week’s Shell Houston Open. He hit more greens in regulation than any other player in the field last week and made 21 birdies which indicates his games in great shape. As well as being in good form, Fowler ticks all the boxes as far as suitability to the course is concerned. The 27 year old hits the ball a long way, is great around the greens and putts well on Bentgrass. Unsurprisingly, Fowler has a good record at Augusta, he’s made the cut in each of his five Masters appearances and has tied for 12th and 5th in the last two renewals. Finally, this time last year I would’ve questioned Fowler’s ability to win a big golf event, however he quashed those doubts after last year’s Masters by winning the Players Championship and the Deutsche Bank Championship.

Win only – Unibet @ 20/1

Top 5 – Unibet @ 7/2

 

Chris Kirk – It’s very difficult to envisage Chris Kirk winning the 2016 US Masters, although I do think he’s a very good bet to finish inside the top 10. He’s a four time PGA Tour winner and is returning to form after a wrist injury resulted in him missing a large chunk of the 2015 season. In the Arnold Palmer Invitational a few weeks ago, Kirk tied for 12th position and reached the quarter finals of the WGC Match Play the following week, where he was eventually beaten by Rory McIlroy. The American has played in the Masters on two occasions and finished in 20th and 33rd position, therefore Augusta is golf course he can go well around. Moving the ball right to left is beneficial and that’s Kirk’s preferred shot shape. Admittedly, Chris doesn’t have the distance off the tee I’d like this week but he’s got a good short game and won the Crowne Plaza Invitational on Bentgrass greens last year.

Top 10 – Bet365 @ 14/1

Prices correct at time of writing.

By @RobBanner_

 

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