fantasy golf

A glance back and a look ahead

Thriston Lawrence, for me, last week, really left me hanging off the edge of a cliff, unfortunately, we fell off. Three great rounds from Lawrence left us Tied 4th going into Sunday, and I was sure to cash even the each way by the skin of our teeth before we literally fell off that cliff, gutted. 

It was interesting on Sunday to see Tommy Fleetwood and Ryan Fox battling it out, both favourites at the start of the week and it confirms how hard this week it’s going to be with such a strong field ahead of us and expect we are not going to find anything past 30/1 to win in Dubai this week. 

Season’s Finale in Dubai

As ever, the DP World Tour Championship venue is the Earth Course at Jumeirah Golf Estates. The course is one of the biggest we see on all tours, to be honest, measuring at 7,675 yards. We have a mix of stunning par 3’s like the island hole, similar to what we see at the Players Championship. We have massive par 4’s like the 9th, which measures 500 yards and huge par 5’s, which surely means we need our picks to have some length here. 

The Greens are large and undulating, so we can also look for here some good putters, and we are not short, of course form round here, so I have no issue looking back at previous years. Each winner here has ranked in the top 10 for Driving Distance on the week, which undoubtedly comes into play here. To give an early indication of this, the top 5 on driving distance in this field are Rory, Arnaus, Fox, Mansell, and Kitayama. 

On the other hand, if you are good enough and straight enough, you can make a significant impact here even if you are not the longest. 

Rory McIlroy leads the DP World Tour rankings from Ryan Fox after the Kiwi’s runner-up finish last week at the Nedbank; no one else is really close enough to have a top 10 and impact those two at the top of the rankings unless they both have awful week’s, which is very unlikely. The closest player is Matt Fitzpatrick, in 3rd, whom we haven’t seen for a few weeks; who knows where his game may be at and whether he can make an impact on the finale and the big prize of the best player on the DP World Tour. 

So McIlroy heads the betting for this event outright, and it’s essential to factor in this a no cut event, so slow starters can come back from the pack and win this. However, with 10/3 looking as the likely best price for Rory, everyone is not expecting Rory to have a slow start. John Rahm is at 5/1 and is Rory’s nearest challenger in terms of the betting. John Rahm is a bit of a mentality monster at the moment, and his putter is hot enough to win this at a canter. I expect players like Matt Fitzpatrick and Viktor Hovland in behind to have an impact, and who would write off Ryan Fox with the form he has been in this year. Tommy Fleetwood comes into this with a recent win, much like Jordan Smith, who surely is a great price at 30/1. 

Previous Winners & Prices. 2021: Collin Morikawa, 15/2; 2020: Matthew Fitzpatrick, 16/1; 2019: Jon Rahm, 7/1; 2018: Danny Willett, 80/1; 2017: Jon Rahm, 12/1; 2016: Matthew Fitzpatrick, 66/1; 2015: Rory McIlroy, 5/1; 2014: Henrik Stenson, 17/2; 2013: Henrik Stenson, 11/1; 2012: Rory McIlroy, 6/1; 2011: Alvaro Quiros, 40/1; 2010: Robert Karlsson, 50/1.

So then, let’s get into the meat of it…

So for this I think we are looking at a winning score of around -20, I’m expecting, therefore, plenty of birdies and not many mistakes from those guys at the top of the leaderboard. I feel like I say straight and long every week in these previews but I for sure, expect the best players to be the ones putting the best numbers up Strokes gained Tee to Green over anything else recently. 

Length has to be a factor as mentioned earlier and Par 5 scoring also has to be a vital cog in the winner’s game this week. Putting the ball in the right place for the second shot, ‘the lay up’ on the par 5’s is going to be everything for those slightly shorter hitters and that aspect will really come into play, emphasis on both length and Par 5 scoring definitely in the model for me. 

  • SG Tee to Green
  • SG Off the tee
  • Driving Distance
  • Putting
  • Course Form
  • OWGR
  • Recent Form

Here is how that model looks for Top 25, along with their average betting odds; 

1. Rory Mcilroy 7/2

2. Matthew Fitzpatrick 9/1

3. Shane Lowry 14/1

4. Jon Rahm 9/2

5. Tommy Fleetwood 14/1

6. Adrian Meronk 70/1

7. Marcel Schneider 110/1

8. Eddie Pepperell 75/1

9. Jordan L Smith 28/1

10. Kurt Kitayama 33/1

11. Tyrrell Hatton 16/1

12. Minwoo Lee 33/1

13. Ryan Fox 28/1

14. Fabrizio Zanotti 100/1

15. Robert Macintyre 33/1

16. Adrian Otaegui 55/1

17. Thriston Lawrence 80/1

18. Richie Ramsay 70/1

19. Oliver Wilson 275/1

20. Richard Mansell 80/1

21. Jorge Campillo 200/1

22. Rasmus Hojgaard 28/1

23. Antoine Rozner 70/1

24. Sam Horsfield 75/1

25. Victor Perez 75/1

This week’s Tips 

Before I got into who I am backing this week I want to make something very clear. If Rory McIlroy gets beaten here someone has had to play very very good golf, even if he wasn’t no1 in the world right now, where his game is at and how well all parts of his game have come together every time he steps onto that first tee it’s almost unbeatable. If you can get some value on Rory this week, even if it’s just as cover it is advisable but let’s see if we can get him beaten by one of my 4 picks or even cashing in on the other markets, let’s go ! 

Viktor Hovland – 14/1 (3pts Win)

As you will notice, Viktor is not in my model, but he will not be in many models, just because most of his golf is played on the PGA Tour. In fact, he has only played on the DP World tour 4 times this year and what I saw of him at the Wentworth back in September in a similar field is enough for me to back him here at 14/1. That week at the BMW Champs, he finished tied for 4th and his approach game was just unstoppable. If we can get a repeat of that along with landing some putts, I see him giving a Rory a big head to head here on Sunday in Dubai. If you tie that along with the fact he is nearly as long as Rory and definitely as long as Rahm, 14/1 compared to the odds of the latter, it has to be a steal. If you look at Viktor’s last appearance here in 2020, he was runner up in total strokes gained against the whole field and he finished tied 3rd. If wasn’t for a couple of holes where Fitzpatrick was better around the green that year then certainly he would have won, I’m sure. Viktor has the game to win this and his around the green play has only got better since his last effort here, I really fancy him this week. 

Tommy Fleetwood – 18/1 (2pts Win)

I’m so happy to back the Hovland play with my main man Fleetwood. Tommy has just come off a win last week, morale will be through the roof and what I saw from him on Sunday, how calm and assured he looked even in spots where he didn’t want to be I am happy to have him in my card this week. Honestly, this spot could of been Ryan Fox who doesn’t stop winning but what I seen from Tommy a couple of weeks back in South Carolina, where he was putting the lights out, that all changes this 2nd pick for me. We had seen from Fleetwood in the past, the tougher the golf course, the higher up the leaderboard he could be, because he seemed to grind out the conditions, avoid bogeys and just shoot around 70 every day. But now especially from what I have seen from him last week, the CJ cup a couple of weeks ago, and even as far back as the Open, Tommy is beginning to shoot low numbers and compete with the very best, come on Tommy. 

Kurt Kitayama  – 35/1 (1pt ew) 

This one is simple for me. Kitayama, hits the ball as long as anyone, straight as anyone, and is a fantastic putter when he wants to be, especially on Bermuda grass. I also like the fact although he is normally playing on the PGA tour in recent times, he has experience around this Earth course in the past and put that together with recent form and you may find an absolute steal here at 35/1.  

Ewen Ferguson – 110/1 (0.5 ew)

Moving away from the course form or recent form I like Ferguson this week to land us something at a price I don’t believe he deserves to be. The scot is making his debut here but that’s not to say players on their debut haven’t performed well here. Ewen has won on tour twice this season, once being in the desert at the Qatar Masters not dissimilar to this week and he can can seriously dial it into pins when he is on form. His stats Tee to green are phenomenal this season, one of the best and as I said at the start of this preview, this really is the type of player I am looking for, this could just be the bet of the week!

RSM CLASSIC – Betting Preview & Tips

fantasy golf

Can Finau ever be called T2 Tony ever again…

Last week was a bit of a kick in the teeth for me; having Tony Finau on the wrong week is really annoying. In hindsight, I should have waited an extra week for him to get his eye in, and that is what makes the week just gone even worse. Not to mention this contest was basically over on Friday, big tone has become an animal, and I don’t think he will ever be called the bridesmaid ever again. As I mentioned last Tuesday, the numbers should have been around -15 for a winning score; Finau was -13 after two rounds; there is just nothing anyone could do to compete with that. 

On a positive note, I saw some excellent signs again with some of the golfers mentioned in last week’s preview, which gives me much more enthusiasm and promise for this week and into next year. Jason Day’s numbers continue to rise, Montgomery still looks like being the rookie of the year, and my each way play on Thompson was not far away; I will keep the theme of sticking to the models and keeping it simple moving into this week, especially with it being the last main PGA event of the year. 

Over to Sea Island, let’s attack this.

I was going to start this week saying it’s a tough week to pick out some value, mainly because of how good Tony Finau is; however, as we speak, he has withdrawn through injury, and we really can attack this week and find someone who suits everything about this place.

An excellent way to start my preview regarding the location is to mention that this course is on the doorstep of many players in the field this week. The likes of Bird, English, Griffin, Harman, Nesmith, Higgo, Johnson, Kuchar, Mitchell, Mullinax, Sigg, and Davis Love III, all live in and around this course; this, I feel is important as it is comfortable for these players and with exemptions and lots of FedEx points on offer it’s a tournament that would have been lined up for a while to gain a significant advantage before the big hitters return early next year.

The RSM Classic is played over two courses, with the plantation course next door being played once across one of the first two days. It’s worth pointing out that although both courses represent a similar test, or for that matter another birdie fest, the Plantation course is a par 72 (extra 2 shots to par) and therefore, with two extra par 5’s, I expect it will be much easier to score on.

The seaside course, where we should put our main focus because all players will have 3 rounds on there, is redesigned by Tom Fazio and is a coastal links type of course. It will be cold and wet on two days, and no doubt hold a stiff breeze at times across the weekend.

Both courses are around 7,000 yards which are short, so I don’t think that will impact players much in terms of length. Like we had two weeks ago, I expect most players here will have wedges into greens.

Bermudagrass putting surfaces here are the main focus. The greens are pretty challenging, as any putt within 10 feet is testing and difficult to read. The key to the RSM Classic is pounding greens in regulation and strong Bermudagrass putting, and therefore I believe proximity to the hole and avoiding bogeys are key here.

RSM Classic Winners: 2021: Talor Gooch (-22); 2020: Robert Streb (-19), 2019: Tyler Duncan (-19); 2018: Charles Howell III (-19); 2017: Austin Cook (-21); 2016: Mackenzie Hughes (-17); 2015: Kevin Kisner (-22); 2014: Robert Streb (-14); 2013: Chris Kirk (-14); 2012: Tommy Gainey (-16); 2011: Ben Crane (-16); 2010: Heath Slocum (-14).

Simple models this week

My model this week is going to be simple. I don’t expect the winner to be outside the top 10 in putting. The TifEagle Bermudagrass greens are not to every player’s liking, and conversion of putts from anything outside of 10 feet is tough, so I expect this week’s model to be able to narrow down not only the best putters but also the right putting strokes. The greens are not that small, and once again, as we had two weeks ago, fairways and greens in regulation are just going to put you in all the right places here, and it’s as simple as that for me this week. 

I expect the winning score this week to be nearer -25 than -15, so birdie or better percentages is a fundamental key component here; I don’t want to be tipping up anyone who can’t reach a low score. I also don’t want to be tipping up anyone who doesn’t like a stiff breeze or wants to fight with this Sea Island course; we got to find some players with some experience and who are comfortable in this change of environment. 

So to emphasise what I am looking for here, I want the best players who are just great at dialling it into greens with wedges in hand, very good at putting compared to the rest of the field and have had this event pencilled in the calendar for a while to take advantage of the fall season. 

• Event Experience

• Last Few Tournament’s form

• SG Approach

• SG Tee to Green

• Bermuda Positive

• SG Putting

• Proximity to hole

• Birdie or Better %

Here is how that model looks for Top 25, along with their average betting odds; 

1. Brian Harman 25/1

2. Tom Hoge 30/1

3. Webb Simpson 40/1

4. Brendon Todd 50/1

5. Andrew Putnam 55/1

6. Brian Gay 250/1

7. Joel Dahmen 33/1

8. Seamus Power 22/1

9. Jason Day 30/1

10. Patrick Rodgers 45/1

11. Denny McCarthy 33/1

12. Tony Finau 10/1

13. David Lingmerth 175/1

14. Troy Merritt 66/1

15. Luke List 80/1

16. Kevin Kisner 50/1

17. Matt Kuchar 45/1

18. Sam Ryder 110/1

19. Harris English 50/1

20. J.J Spaun 50/1

21. Kevin Streelman 160/1

22. Justin Rose 60/1

23. William Gordon 55/1

24. Vaughn Taylor 250/1

25. Mackenzie Hughes 40/1

Breaking it down and where my tips come from…

Many tipsters this week will have some big cross doubles to try and gain some value on Rory McIlroy, who, is almost guaranteed to come in the top 3 over in Dubai. My preview of which, by the way will be published tomorrow. But with Tony Finau now out, we can find a winner here at much bigger odds than expected.

For a change, I’m going to work backwards. I want to start with Akshay Bhatia; he came through Monday Qualifiers I noticed this morning for this tournament with a 52 at the course, and I really liked some of his game in the summer and at these shorter courses, someone to have a look at definitely at a huge price. Also, Brian Gay, another one at this course who has had some really low rounds and both these players coming in at 250/1, is appealing.

I think it’s essential to look at some players putting in the right numbers and having some excellent recent form. Players like Tyson Alexander, who last week had a top 3, Justin Lower, who has had some recent top 10’s and Austin Cook, who is definitely playing way better than anyone thought he would and amazingly has a win at this very event. These are all players at big odds. I expect to have big weeks.

Around the 100/1 mark, I also like players here that tend to play well in the fall season, mentions of names like Mullinax, Kizzire, and Buckley, all players that I tend to always associate with being good in lesser fields, another set of players worth focusing on.

As I’m putting much more emphasis on putting this week, I feel like I have to include one of two of the best putters in the field. These two are either Denny McCarthy or Brendon Todd. Both of which gain so many strokes on the green. I tend actually to prefer Todd this week, maybe that’s because I included Denny last week in my tips, but Todd, for me, has a much better approach game and when it counts, I see Todd making a lot less bogey’s than McCarthy might do.

Someone else that has massively improved with the putter I like is Mackenzie Hughes, he had a recent win on tour and less mistakes recently, I feel like it could be a week to capitalise on his odds in actually a lesser field than when he won a month or so ago.

Tom Hoge is another one this week; I can’t not mention; he is by far one of the best with a wedge in his hand, and if he can put 4 rounds together like he has done in the past, he is someone that could run away with this. My only reservation with Hoge this week will now be his price since Finau has dropped out; 20/1 may be a bit short for me.

Matthew Nesmith sticks out on all the models this week, someone I can see shooting like a -23, he’s done that before for sure, and his stats on approach into greens is so good you can’t ignore him. Another popping on all the models is Andrew Putnam, someone I don’t see getting as many birdies as Nesmith, mainly because his driving is off key, but a play on a top finish for him in a small field like this might be a great option for you.

Other notables in good form I like are; Will Gordon, playing the golf of his life, Matt Kuchar, who suits this course like a duck to water and Harris English, who with links to this course and location, is real pull at 50/1, all of which will be on the radar for me this week even if I don’t bet them.

There is one man that I bet in Houston that is getting another go on my tip sheet this week, and that is Davis Thompson. Thompson is really progressive as I said last week, he hits the ball so straight and accurate, and if it wasn’t for his around the green game in Houston, he would have made me a lot of money. I’m trusting Davis again, and I think we can cash in on him before these fields fill up with all the big names. Not to mention that his Dad is the commissioner for this tournament and he is bound to get a great draw for Day 1 and 2 here.

This week’s Tips 

Keith Mitchell – 28/1 (2pts Win)

Brendon Todd – 55/1 (1pt Win)

Davis Thompson – 90/1 (0.5ew) 6 places

Justin Lower – 100/1 (0.5ew) 6 places

Brian Gay – 16/1 (Top 10) 1pt

Ashkay Bhatia – 10/1 (Top 20) 1pt

Houston Open Betting Preview & Tips

Houston Open

Monkey off ball striking Russell’s back. 

Well, well, well… what a week Russell Henley had; he’s one of those players I have had on my dreaded DO NOT BACK list for a long time; there is something about him every time I look to him for some success; he doesn’t have it for me, maybe though that’ll change now. One thing I will say is that due to him not winning for 5 years, he drifted last week to a fantastic price and now demands more respect in the markets. Ironically something I will be touching upon in this week’s preview respect. 

Before I move on to this week, there are a few names I want to mention from last week that you really should be looking out for going into next year. Taylor Montgomery, the first, continues to be a force that is putting up incredible numbers, a win indeed on its way, I’m sure. Will Gordon and Ben Griffin, both great stories, had 40 birdies between them last week and will undoubtedly have significant rookie years ahead. Lastly, a quick mention of Tom Detry and Dean Burmester, both players we know from playing in Europe: their stats have been impressive the last few weeks, and I will undoubtedly not be ignoring them moving forward in PGA Tour fields.

fantasy golf

Feels like Christmas this week 

Well, this week is more exciting than it should be, mainly because we’ve had a month of no-shot data, and that is hell for anyone like me; this week, it’s back. The coverage is also better, mainly because we are in Houston, Texas, and we will get featured groups and everything in between. 

Memorial Park Golf Course is a course we’ve seen many times but has only held this event in the last few years. It’s a Par 70 and is much longer than we’ve seen in the past few weeks but don’t let that fool you. What you see in terms of yardage on paper or the scorecard for that matter, every year never seems to play as long as it says. This tells me tee positions have always been key here. So in terms of length, I would say this is a medium sized course, rather than what a lot of people are saying, it’s not long! 

Another factor of the course that I always look at is the number of holes to par. A vast five Par 3’s this week, varying from 115 to 214 yards, can play very tough and lead to bogies and doubles very sharply if you are not careful.

This means, for me this week, scrambling and your talent around the greens have to play a factor, something I have not seemed to add to my models for months. This also means we are not getting a birdie fest this week, a welcome change and I expect the winning score to be between -10 and -15. 

Previous winners at this event; I will only include the last two due to being a different venue in the past before that. Jason Kokrak (-10); 2020: Carlos Ortiz (-13).

Uneven lies and undulating greens are the natural defence of this course. Bermuda greens and tough sloping run-offs where you will see lots of players chipping from tight lies, so again, getting yourself out of trouble here will be a significant factor. The field this week, not too dissimilar to last week, World No2 Scottie Sheffler returns and is at ridiculously low odds (5/1) along with his mate; second favourite Sam Burns (13/1). The weather is not showing to be a significant factor this week as you would expect in Texas; however, as always, some stronger winds could impact the field, especially as the greens and fairways will be hard and fast as the week progresses.

What I am looking out for this week….

What you will get used to every week with my previews, I always base my tips on what the winner will get done well and what he will not be doing (It’ll be my catchphrase soon). I see the winner this week, having strong Tee to Green data and someone who strikes his irons well, from much further out. Compared with previous weeks, where we saw many wedges into greens, this week, we are looking at much bigger irons and yardages into holes. I know it sounds simple but avoid bogeys, and you will go a long way to being on top of this leaderboard. Tight lies, tricky putts and long irons create much more chance of high scores, and I will be looking for players who are great at avoiding bogeys this week. 

Strokes gained data Off the Tee I’m not that concerned with, mainly because length comes back as a factor and you can get away with not being as accurate if you are long. I am not saying you haven’t got to put your ball in the fairway, but I am saying that the closer you are to the green here, the fewer mistakes you will make and the more inventive you can be with your shots. An average PGA tour player this week who is 140 yards out rather than 175 yards out will have so many more shots available to them in their repertoire.

Bermuda greens are back and it’s nice to have a much more familiar surface, and of course, some players struggle with this surface, so I will look for some stronger Bermuda players. However, I am looking at avoiding bad putters as a whole item this week rather than the surface itself being the factor for a bad putting display. So sorry, Doug Ghim Reaper, you won’t be tipped up by me. 

I want to keep it simple as I can, and a don’t want to be missing another 55/1 shot.

My model for this week these are the trends I am looking for; 

  • Bogey Avoidance
  • Driving Length
  • SG Putting 
  • Approach + 175-200
  • Greens in Regulation
  • Scrambling
  • Some recent form

Here is how that model looks for Top 25 along with their average betting odds; 

  1. Andrew Putnam 66/1  
  2. Maverick McNealy 22/1
  3. Aaron Wise 16/1
  4. Taylor Montgomery 25/1
  5. Tony Finau 22/1
  6. Sam Burns 11/1
  7. Jason Day 30/1
  8. Taylor Pendrith 60/1
  9. Russell Henley               25/1
  10. Lee Hodges 80/1
  11. Denny McCarthy 33/1
  12. Matthew NeSmith 35/1
  13. Keith Mitchell             70/1
  14. Si Woo Kim             45/1
  15. Hideki Matsuyama 20/1
  16. Scottie Scheffler 6/1
  17. Emiliano Grillo 45/1
  18. Robby Shelton IV 90/1
  19. Joel Dahmen 35/1
  20. Seonghyeon Kim 150/1
  21. Brendan Steele 110/1
  22. Davis Thompson 100/1
  23. Martin Laird             125/1
  24. Chesson Hadley 125/1
  25. Patrick Rodgers 55/1

Breaking it down and my early thoughts…

I’ve got to be honest. Early on I have strong thoughts on a number of guys, so breaking down my final tips will be much more complicated than I first thought. Weirdly the guys I think are vital players, like Finau and Wise, were also two of the first mentioned last week in my preview. Whether that is a sign that maybe I had those thoughts on the wrong week or that all their data shows how well they are playing right now, that’s to decide as we go on through the week I think. 

I tend to want to ignore Big Tone Finau missing the cut last week, although his amount of bogeys does worry me. Sam Burns looks like a strong play, and that’s easy for me to say for the 12th-best player in the world, but he could show up here and have a similar effect to the way Henley did last week and run away with it. Taylor Montgomery, whom I began with as a player to watch, again shows up in all the right ways on all the models, another guy you will see many people put up in their content this week, and I tend to agree with those thoughts, especially while the putter is hot. Whilst we are on the subject of popular picks this week, one of those is going to be Jason Day. As I’m writing this on Tuesday morning, he comes in at 33/1, and he will only get shorter. He has good form here and hits long irons well, and I’ve read this week that he is hitting numbers he was shooting in 2017 when he was in the world’s top 5. It’s almost getting to the point where you have to back him purely down to FOMO (Fear of missing out).

Further down the list and players, I’ve had on my shortlist to back this week include great Irons players like Henley, Pendrith and Hughes, who will undoubtedly gain strokes purely down to their proximity to the hole stats. Still, I am worried about their lack of distance off the tee. 

There are also some great putters in the field here to consider that will suit these greens and just purely down to their strokes gained putting; McCarthy, Lower, Rodgers, and McNealy will all avoid bogeys just purely down to their putting, something to consider. 

I also liked some of what I saw last week of Davis Riley’s game; he seemed to put something together that looked like he was hitting some form again but maybe not something he can sustain over four rounds yet. Similar to players like Joel Dahmen and Si-woo Kim here, both players you would typically see me back on this type of course, but 4 rounds, nope not for me. They do gain lots of strokes off the tee and are always very direct, which prevents mistakes, maybe the first round leader market if you need some pointers in there. 

Supposedly if you’ve got this far down reading you read the start of this preview, I mentioned respect, and when I say respect, I mean some of these prices being offered and touted on two players, particularly this week. Two players; I can almost guarantee I will be back this week. 

Sepp Straka, the first I cannot ignore; he is 90/1 while I am writing this, yes 90/1, a player who has won on tour this year; at that price, it is disrespectful to me. Yes, we could get a little hangover from him, after not much golf has been played as we did with Finau last week, but at that price, he is someone you have to have something on before Thursday morning. 

Another one of those whom I believe is not getting the respect he deserves this week is Davis Thompson. Thompson, another 90/1 shot, which, if you did just a model on Tee to Green SG and Driving Distance and Accuracy, would be level on data with Scottie Sheffler; punch it in if you don’t believe me. I’m not saying he will win, because he probably won’t, but because of how long and straight he is, he has to be a selection this week. 

I hope if anything this week, this has given you a few pointers. I troll through hours of data to get these thoughts down so I am really happy to answer any questions or hear your thoughts, please feel free to message me on twitter at any time. 

This week’s Tips 

Montgomery/Day/McCarthy (Three Chances to Win) 3pts 

Arron Wise – 20/1 (2 pts win)

Sepp Straka – 80/1 (0.5pts ew) 8 Places

Davis Thompson – 9/1 (Top 10) 1pt

Dean Burmester – 8/1 (Top 10) 1pt

Sam Burns – 90/1 (Wire to Wire) 0.5pts

Nedbank Challenge Betting Preview

.The format of this event has changed many times since first brought to the world. It has evolved from a 30-man event in 2013, when it was first co-sanctioned, to now a big part of the calendar so people outside the bracket for the race to Dubai can jostle for position and find their way to the main event next week. 

It is now an excellent way for people to find some form going into next week, so expect surprises along the way. However, this event has not been seen for a few years because of covid, so defending champion here is the main man Tommy Fleetwood from 2019. What a delight to take us back and remember a world pre covid world ey! Also, a significant factor this week changes things slightly; this is a NO-CUT event. 

The venue is a massive 7,834-yard course in Sun City, South Africa’s number 1 holiday resort, and is aptly named Gary Player Country Club. The fairways are tight, and the greens, as I mentioned in my Houston Open Preview, are fast and hard and will test many players who struggle with the putter in hand. The difference here, though, to the PGA Tour this week is that the greens are bentgrass, and there are no tight lies around the greens like in Houston. Accuracy here is going to be more vital. 

Nedbank Challenge – What I’m looking for in a winner here…

As you can tell from my course preview above, the distance here is pivitol. You can say that being in altitude means it levels it out a bit, yes, it does, but looking at previous winners here, they’re all hitting it long off the tee, maybe, bar the exception of Alex Noren, who seemed to hit every green in regulation anyway. I also like, of course, accuracy, so this tells me I’m looking for strokes gained Off the Tee and some approach stats with my model for this challenge this week. I also have to factor in some scrambling and strong players who can get themselves out of trouble. There are plenty of trees here and lots of thick rough, so the course isn’t taking any prisoners if you are not in the right places. 

Form isn’t a big issue here; as mentioned above, you can spell a few surprises, and I’m happy to plunge on someone in the field who just fits this type of course rather than someone who is playing well. I take this mainly from the stats of previous winners coming into this tournament; no one was lighting it up before coming here. 

I do expect plenty of birdies here; however, the weather might cause a few problems as there are suggestions of some thunderstorms coming, but I take that, that maybe it’ll make the course softer and, therefore, easier rather than winds picking up and causing conditions as we might get in the UK. Birdies are also really getable in the four par 5’s, which look like great opportunities for the longer hitters; they are tasty. 

Previous winners at this event; 2019: Tommy Fleetwood, 14/1; 2018: Lee Westwood, 40/1; 2017: Branden Grace, 16/1; 2016: Alex Noren, 20/1; 2015: Marc Leishman, 66/1; 2014: Danny Willett, 25/1; 2013: Thomas Bjorn, 30/1.

My model for this, these are the trends I am looking for; 

  • SG Off the Tee
  • Proximity to the hole
  • Driving Distance
  • Par 5 Performance
  • Scrambling
  • Greens in Regulation
  • Putting

Here is how that model looks for Top 25 along with their average betting odds; 

  1. Thriston Lawrence 45/1
  2. Jordan L Smith 14/1
  3. Ryan Fox 16/1
  4. Antoine Rozner 28/1
  5. Eddie Pepperell 25/1
  6. Fabrizio Zanotti 50/1
  7. Edoardo Molinari 66/1
  8. Tommy Fleetwood 11/1
  9. Victor Perez 40/1
  10. Richie Ramsay 60/1
  11. Marcel Schneider 45/1
  12. Hurly Long 50/1
  13. Ewen Ferguson 70/1
  14. Mikko Korhonen N/A
  15. Matthew Southgate 90/1
  16. Thomas Detry 14/1
  17. Adrian Meronk 35/1
  18. Callum Shinkwin 50/1
  19. Paul Waring 66/1
  20. Richard Mansell 35/1
  21. Alexander Bjork N/A
  22. Justin Walters 125/1
  23. Lukas Nemecz N/A
  24. Connor Syme 55/1
  25. Oliver Bekker 55/1

Straight into the tips…..

Antoine Rozner – 28/1 (3pt Win) 

I feel like the french are producing some really great up and coming golfers, not that Antoine is new, he turned pro in 2017 but his stats are really turning a corner this year, racking up Top 20 finishes now at an incredible rate. I really fancy Rozner this week, his stats Off the Tee are really strong. He’s been in the top 10% for Driving Accuracy and Distance this year on many occasions and that gives me enough to really think he will suit this golf course and that is not even the strongest area of his game. He is gaining strokes with his approach into greens every single week and in with these softer conditions expected earlier in the week, he really can capitalise and get a good way ahead of the field. 

Thriston Lawrence – 45/1 (0.5pts ew)

There is a lot to say about Thriston Lawrence, his game is definitely on the up and I had tipped him earlier in the year at the European masters when he won for the second time in the space of a year, I like him again this week. 

His other win came last December at the Joburg Open where conditions will be very similar here, we know he can cope with the thinner air and tighter fairways and greens. 

One thing that really swayed it for me with this pick in relation to the course; was the times he has not done well, or missed the cut this season, he was still gaining strokes Off the Tee, which is going to be the key for me here and there is no cut for him to miss!

Hurly Long – 50/1 (0.5pts ew)

I’ve been lucky enough to watch Hurly Long up close and live at the Belfry this year at the Masters and I loved what I saw. Long hits the ball long and straight and I expect to see him on the PGA tour next year much more, crushing some fairways. 

He is really peaking with his game right now with two top 10’s in his last two visits, and I’m happy to trust Hurly can get us over the line. I have absolutely no worries about him putting the ball close to the pin and holing some putts, so if we continue to get this strong game off the tee then he could come very close here. Another strong factor is I believe he can reach all the Par 5’s in 2 and as I said in this preview, that is going to go a long way to bumping you up the leaderboard. 

fantasy golf

WTT Mayakoba Betting Picks & Tips – Tom Ford Golf Tips

Tom Ford I Golf Tips, opens his Waggle Duff account with a beauty of a preview as the PGA Tour heads to Mexico. Be sure to give him a follow on Twitter, which you can find here. He is big into Golf & Racing and will give Waggle Duff adhoc breakdowns of the upcoming tournaments. Welcome aboard Tom! Now let’s get into it….

Landing Jordan Smith…. Literally at last. 

Before we discuss the WTT Mayakoba betting preview. Jordan Smith, last week, cruised into victory and it was one purely tipped up on form, a win that, let’s be honest, was due after he had 13 out of 21 top 20 finishes in 2022, with two runner-ups. Around 20/1, in my eyes, was an absolute steal that I couldn’t ignore. He also looked scarily good once he got a few shots ahead, especially come Sunday; his accuracy off the tee was immaculate and something to look out for in the future. 

The Bermuda Championship, or the wind tunnel they were all in, was much more eventful, a two-horse race it looked like until Ben Griffin folded like a cheesy omelette. It seemed that nobody could deal with the wind off the tee, and there were some odd club selections down the back 9 for much of the field at the top. A late surge from Thomas Detry wasn’t enough to clear Seamus Power, who just limped over the line. 

I question here the amount of FedEx Cup points the PGA Tour has made available for a fall event that still doesn’t attract any big names. Not that Seamus Power will moan, but I wonder how much you can take from that event and whether it’ll affect the Fedex standings going into next year. 

We head to Mexico for the WTT Mayakoba Classic

This week we head to Mexico and back to Mayakoba for probably the last time on the PGA Tour. One of the factors that come to my head with this course and location this week is; we are still at a resort course, which is not dissimilar to what we saw last week in Bermuda. This means low scores, and being accurate is much more paramount than distance. The difference to last week is that this is more likely to be played in a vacuum than a wind tunnel; I expect to see a bunched Sunday full of top ball strikers. 

There is a bigger $7.2 million purse this week, so we see a field attracting 10 of the top 40 in the world, which will impact my picks, my thoughts and your lineups if you are looking at something like a Draftkings lineup. It’s a par 71, so we are missing a big Par 5, and the course is relatively short and does play as one of the easiest courses on tour. I want to be able to tell you here that we are going to find an absolutely big odds steal this week, bang for your buck kind of week. However, we are seeing the average odds of the tournament winner come down and down every week, no matter the strength of the field. We will find some great value this week with some strange betting lines to be taken advantage of. 

WTT Mayakoba Betting

Key trends for this week… 

When I start my analysis and trends every week, I always look for what the winner will do well and what he will not get wrong. This week apart from what I have already mentioned about distance not being a factor, for me, this week it’s going to be a ball strikers paradise. The conditions will be soft, we will get more rain on Thursday, and I fully expect the winner to be firing darts and being in the top 5 for Strokes Gained Approach. 

Also, part of my model is going to be driving accuracy; obviously, to be high up on the approach stats this week, you have got to put the ball in the fairway, and the winner here every year is always putting the ball in the right place, no one winning this tournament is going to be bad off the tee. 

As always, we much touch upon the greens and the putting. Paspalum greens are pretty rare on the PGA tour, so finding trends and players that putt well on this surface can be challenging. But I am happy to look back at previous tournaments here and the likes of other resort courses in Mexico and places like TPC Kuala Lumpa that have hosted tournaments with some of these players in the field to find some positives for vital putting stats on Paspalum surfaces. 

So to summarise to assemble my model for this week these are the trends I am looking for; 
  • Driving Accuracy
  • Soft Positive
  • Resort positive
  • SG Putting 
  • Paspalum Positive
  • Some recent form last ¾ weeks

Here is how that model looks for Top 25 along with their average betting odds; there certainly is a Waggle Duff fantasy League team within here. As many players reach over 50/1!

  1. Viktor Hovland 10/1
  2. Tom Hoge 28/1
  3. Andrew Putnam 66/1
  4. Billy Horschel 18/1
  5. Emiliano Grillo 35/1
  6. Brendon Todd 45/1
  7. KyoungHoon Lee 45/1
  8. Joel Dahmen 75/1
  9. Maverick McNealy 25/1
  10. Aaron Wise 18/1
  11. Hayden Buckley 75/1
  12. Tony Finau 16/1
  13. Taylor Montgomery 28/1
  14. Sam Ryder 200/1
  15. Kevin Streelman 90/1
  16. Jason Day 40/1
  17. Collin Morikawa 16/1
  18. Seonghyeon Kim 110/1
  19. Alexander Noren 55/1
  20. Brian Harman 45/1
  21. Mark Hubbard 90/1
  22. Ryan Armour 200/1
  23. Lee Hodges 75/1
  24. Harris English 60/1
  25. Scott Piercy 225/1

At the top

Let’s start at the top; I mean, why wouldn’t we right? So I’m not sure why Scottie Sheffler is ahead of Viktor Hovland here in the betting; I mean, yes, he is world number 2 now after Rory took the mantle two weeks ago; however, Hovland is on a three-timer here, and we know how much he loves these shorter courses and how well he normally plays in the fall season.

That being said, this week, yes, I prefer Viktor to Scottie. However, I am happy for both of them to be a fade of mine this week. Scottie’s putting is a problem currently; he can’t seem to find the cup, and Viktor is just not playing as strong as he was a year ago; I would like to see him in the top echelons of data for SG OFF THE TEE stats to even think about having a go on him at that price, just no value for me.

So with that being said, my thoughts this week come from the next set of guys, Morikawa, Big Tone Finau, Aaron Wise and Billy Ho; surely one of these guys has a great chance? Now I tipped up Billy Ho a few weeks back at the CJ Cup, and I did see some good signs from him but not enough to suggest he was pumped and raring to go like he was at Jacks’s place in the summer.

Morikawa, again for me trending in the right places and could really shoot something low this week but putting four rounds together right now, I don’t see happening. Wise and Finau are here for me, out of all the field at the top, the ones to really focus on. I expect one if not both, to be in my picks this week and will almost certainly be in plenty of others’ content in the next few days if you are looking about.

To see previous winners by the way at this tourney please have a look at @waggleduff preview and picks to see the full list.

Down the middle 

Now I want to talk about the middle of the market this week, mainly because I think this is where we are getting most of our value. There are ball strikers here like Hoge, Day, Todd, Detry, and Henley, who stand out to me. This group has a good mixture of finding fairways and greens consistently, which leaves me in a great place to lead, with one of these guys as my main pick. 

There are also some notable players that I have to mention here whom you can’t avoid looking at, mainly because this course suits them so much.

Emiliano Grillo, well, what can I say? Just look at his price, everything points towards him having a great week; he loves resort courses, loves short soft conditions, and his latest win coming on a resort course at the Fortinet Championship backs up his 4 out of 5 top 15 finishes here at Mayakoba in the past, worth noting. Brian Harman is another player who is perfect for these courses where finding the fairway is key and not being a bomber off the tee as important. Adam Long, great form here at Mayakoba in recent years, another you can’t ignore, and you’ll be getting a great price.

Looking at the model, the likes of Putnam, Montgomery, McNealy, Ryder, Streelman, and even SH Kim do pop off the list and I can see these players here going to shoot lows scores throughout this week. Niggling away though, there is just something about all of them that tells me they can’t get the job done across the four days and notably when it matters on a Sunday. However, I must mention these are the likes of players I would look at for First-Round Leads and DraftKings lineups if that is the markets you are looking in. 

My thoughts and plays

I want to hold out for another check on the weather this week due to some high winds, mainly at the beginning of the week and who could be on the wrong side of the draw. But this does not put me off Tony Finau or Arron Wise, to be honest with you. The latter of which, maybe not be strong enough with his putting like the former is recently, so I prefer big Tone for sure.

Tom Hoge ticks many boxes, his Irons could be hitting top form, and his driving accuracy is right up there. This week, most of the Par 4’s are around 420-450 relatively short yards, and Hoge will have wedges into many of these holes. In contrast, some of the other ball strikers in and around 30/1 will have more like a nine iron which can make a big difference between 10ft putts and 20ft putts, which as we know accumulates to more birdie chances.

I also really like some guys here that are coming under the radar a bit; KH Lee at 45/1 looks excellent value. Likewise, Brendon Todd, same price, and both these players are so accurate off the tee. I’ve had some looks at some higher prices; Matt Kuchar stands out as someone who could get a top 10 here, same with Sam Ryder, whom I mentioned earlier, who is at a massive 200/1 in most places. Jason Day at 40/1 could be a little too short for me here; I’d like the number to be around 60/1 to be comfortable to back him, however, plays on him along with Andrew Putnam for first-round leader are both something I am comfortable with doing. 

Picks and Tips

  • Tom Hoge 35/1 (3pt win) Bet365
  • Tony Finau 22/1 (1.5pt win) bet365
  • KH Lee 45/1 8 places (0.5pts ew)
  • Adam Long 75/1 8 places (0.5pts ew)
  • Emiliano Grillo Top 5 9/1 (1pt)
  • Matt Kuchar Top 10 7/1 (1pt)