We’re not used to blowing our own trumpets here at Golf Betting System, but last week was a real triumph with both our PGA and European Tour Predictors coming up with a 207/1 winning double! I also tipped up Bo Van Pelt at 25/1 and that was my 6th win of 2011 following on from Sabbatini/Honda Classic (80/1), Stricker/Memorial (28/1), McIlroy/US Open (22/1), Simpson/Wyndham (20/1) and Molder/Frys.com (40/1). Indeed my tips are +169 points in profit from the first week of March through to now. Why not sign up for our weekly tips email, plus you can follow my tips on Twitter @GolfBetting
The HSBC Champions at the Sheshan Course in Shanghai could be classified as Asia’s Major Championship, but the emergence of last week’s 'unofficial' Shanghai Masters where Rory bagged $2 million and the utter disrespect shown by top Americans puts a downer on this claim. A field without qualifiers Donald, Garcia, Stricker, Mickelson (now outside the World’s Top 10), Dustin Johnson, Simpson, Kuchar, Bubba and Jason Day all of whom have turned down invitations for varying reasons doesn’t smack of a WGC event to me and whilst the tournament remains co-sanctioned with the PGA Tour, the Shanghai-based World Golf Championship event will always be the weakest of the 4 tournaments.
The winners list of the WGC tournaments since 2008 reads like a who's-who of the PGA Tour: Ogilvy-Woods-Singh-Mickelson-Ogilvy-Mickelson-Woods-Mickelson-Poulter-Els-Mahan-Donald-Watney-Scott. The eagle eyed amongst you though will notice the omission of last year’s HSBC winner Francesco Molinari who captured the crown for the European Tour at 55/1 with a 269/-19 total. Both Molinari and Westwood (-18) were on a different planet to the rest around Sheshan last year with 3rd placed Ramsay and Donald being a further 8 shots back. Longer priced players have a habit of contending round here so it’s well worth reading Paul Williams' Long Shot tips this week and Golf Betting System has a knack of uncovering some gems like Darren Clarke at the Open!
The Sheshan course is a 7,266 yard Par 72 which features 11.5 stimp undulating bent grass greens. Accurate bombers will have a distinct advantage this week as the Bermuda over-seeded rough is shorter for 2011. Ball-strikers Molinari and Westwood prevailed last year on the basis that they hit fairways and greens and there is no doubt that the undulating bent green conditions at Sheshan aid those who have a weakness in their putting. Decent history at Par 72 tests like Augusta, Quail Hollow, Doral, Houston + TPC Boston (Bent/Par 71), East Lake (Par 70) and Doha/ Oceânico Victoria on the European Tour. Winds of up to 15 mph are forecast and rain could well dampen conditions throughout the 4 days. So what’s the strategy this week? The bleeding obvious sometimes pays dividends in golf betting and after a year of crazy results I won’t make any apologies for my top tip this week. Form players to the fore and a smattering of high quality players who have goals to aim for.
I’ll get the saver in early this week and let’s face it you really can’t avoid 'Rors' this week. A McIlroy win would cover this week off so I’ll grab the 5/1 that’s on offer which will look a lot better Sunday morning if he’s fighting for the win. A true Par 72 and Bent green master, his win at the monstrous 7,585 Par 72 at Lake Maleren last week was hardly a surprise. Naturally his wins at Congressional and Quail Hollow in the past 2 years stand out and then you see multitudes of Top 10, Par 72 finishes at Muirfield, Bethpage Black, Doral, St Andrews, Kuala Lumpur, Emirates GC, Abu Dhabi and the Earth Course in Dubai. We won’t mention Augusta! Put simply, like Garcia last week at Valderrama, McIlroy just has to be covered off especially as he is our Predictor Model No.1 Pick.
Next up is Australian Geoff Ogilvy who falls into the same category as recent tips John Rollins and Rory Sabbatini – temperamental! Naturally the enigma that is John Rollins finished a single place out of the payout in 6th at Disney (!) but I have a feeling that Geoff could well be in for a great week. The talented Aussie has slipped to 39th in the World Golf Rankings from 26th at the turn of the year and quality players never want to slip outside of the Top 50 for obvious reasons. Indeed amazingly (written in a sarcastic tone) his recent rise in-form coincided with a slip to 51st in the OWGR after a MC at Plainfield. Since then Boston yielded 25th, the tight Cog Hill 3rd (guaranteeing a Fed Ex Cup Top 30 finish) and interestingly for this tipster Ogilvy returned 11th at East Lake – his best ever at a course that has never suited. So with the motivation of guaranteeing a Top 50 OWGR spot, allied to playing well in time for the Melbourne-based Presidents Cup, it was no surprise to see Ogilvy turn out at Shanghai last week to shake off the rust and deliver a 'throttle off' 12th place, as he wants to peak this week. His 2 Sheshan appearances have yielded a 3rd and 10th and remember Ogilvy finished 3rd at the ultimate fast Bent Par 72 test that is Augusta in April. One look at his CV highlights a Par 72 specialist whose wins at The Lakes, Kapalua x2, Doral, Dove Mountain (World MP) and Tucson were all on Par 72 formats.
PGA Tour regular Choi has had his best season since his peak year of 2007 when he was in the World’s Top 10. Indeed Choi has jumped from 47th to his current 13th in the OWGR and that rise has been driven by his Players Championship victory back in May allied to another 7 Top 10 finishes on the PGA Tour – impressive. May’s Sawgrass triumph was his first on the PGA Tour since 2008 (he won the Johor Open, Indonesia in 2009) and inevitably June through mid September saw a lull in results bar a great 2nd behind Watney at Aronimink. However a recent form line of 10 (Cog Hill) – 3 (East Lake) – 5 (behind Casey at Shinhan) – 1 (beating Kim and Noh at his own tournament hosted on a Par 72) – 7 Lake Maleren, is truly impressive and Choi’s game is razor sharp right now. He’s never won a WGC event mainly because Dove Mountain, Doral and Firestone simply don’t suit as they are too long. However Sheshan at circa 7,250 yards is well within the honorary Texan’s compass. Remember one fact: you don’t finish 3rd, 4th and 8th at Augusta or 1st, 5th and 8th at Muirfield if you can’t play fast bent greened Par 72 set-ups.
If I told you that you could get over 12/1 for a Top 5 finish on a player who has finished 2nd and 6th at the past 2 HSBC Champions tournaments and who finished 4th on their last PGA Tour outing you’d snap the bookmakers hand off. Well you better get to Ladbrokes quickly (open an account and you’ll also get £50 in Free Bets) because they offer the South African at 50/1. Other bookmakers quite rightly are as short as 35s on the Big Easy. Ernie’s WGC record and Par 72 record in general is first class and that includes wins in Durban, Doral, Bay Hill, Muirfield and Dohar. Yes Steve, but Ernie has played poorly in 2011 I can hear dissenting voices stating. Naturally that’s true but slowly he’s finding his way with the belly putter and Sheshan specialists Westwood and Molinari are hardly the best with the flat-stick. On-top of that I’m not relying on Ernie’s past glories with this tip because he faces a real challenge that by the looks of his 4th at CordeValle last time out is very much in his mind. It’s paramount that he stays in the World Top 50 (he sits 47th) until the close of this season otherwise his Masters appearance next April is in real jeopardy and towards that end he still hasn’t sewn up a spot at the Dubai World Championship. So for me the combination of a par 72 set-up, fast bent greens and a real motivation to play well this week will see Els in the mix at a super each-way price.
Remember hot players tend to thrive at Sheshan and you can’t say that the Great Dane isn’t hot in 2011. Bjorn’s return to prominence in 2011 reminds me of Lee Westwood’s return to glory in so many ways and the Scandinavian at 40 years of age is only 2 years older than Worksop’s finest. However the bookmakers continue to underestimate Bjorn who has grossed 19 career wins and that’s just fine by me. His 4 year barren spell was ended with his Estoril win last year and 2011 has delivered 3 more in Doha, Gleneagles and Crans-sur-Sierre. Bjorn has risen from 124th to 27th in the World and the fact that he’s back at golf’s top table was confirmed by his fantastic 4th (tipped by us at 250/1 EW) at Sandwich in July. So what’s happened since his victory in Switzerland where he beat Kaymer, McIlroy, Westwood and Jimenez? 8th at Oceânico Victoria and 15th at Valderrama last week doesn’t smack of the wheels falling off, especially when you look at his numbers last week, where he hit an amazing 79% of fairways and 69% of greens. Remember Sheshan, especially with wind and rain forecast, suits ball strikers and if Bjorn finds his putting stroke this week I’m expecting a huge performance. I’ll close by saying this: Bjorn is a World Top 10 player who is intent on a return to the Ryder Cup next year - he’s already 5th in the Ryder Cup standings and finished 5th here in 2005. You’ve been warned!
I’ll close this week with a sneaky Each Way punt on St Simons Island, Georgia resident Jonathan Byrd. He sits joint 6th (with Els) in my calculations this week and can be a class act on the right courses. This week will be his debut at Sheshan but Byrd loves Par 72 set-ups where there is a little width off the tee. His win at the season opening PGA Tour Champions event at Kapalua in January highlights that fact perfectly and his 10th at the WGC Cadillac tournament at Doral was then backed up with a play-off defeat to Lucas Glover at Quail Hollow. A 22nd finish on the PGA Tour Money List allied to a career 2nd appearance at East Lake has him locked into both The Masters and US Open next year. However I’ve always been impressed with Byrd who I think is more than just a PGA Tour pro and with 3 of his 5 PGA Tour career wins being on fast bent greens I think that Byrd will see this week as a huge opportunity to perform at a world level tournament and cement a season ending Top 50 OWGR spot. Byrd hates tight Par 70 type set-ups so his 20th at The Mines Resort last week on a course that was never going to suit suggests that his game is close and like Moore in 2009 he could spring a contending debut surprise.
Odds and bookmaker offers correct 20:00GMT 1.11.11 but naturally subject to fluctuation.