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Congratulations to Bryson DeChambeau backers - I know there were plenty of you - who landed a rather juicy winner as 100/1 was available with Unibet on Monday. I grabbed a full each-way spot on Adam Scott at 45/1 who managed to eagle the par-5 17th on Sunday, keeping this column ticking over quite nicely.
DeChambeau's Northern Trust title was his 2nd title of 2018. It was a huge victory as it effectively sealed his spot in the Ryder Cup with Jim Furyk now sure to pick him. The 23 year-old also took the FedEx Cup Number 1 spot last week, in turn guaranteeing himself a top 5 position when he arrives at the Tour Championship in Atlanta. That's vital in the context of the FedEx Cup as the top 5 going into East Lake hold their destiny in their own hands. From a FedEx Cup perspective, Bryson now leads from Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, Tony Finau and Jon Rahm. Cameron Smith, guaranteed a spot at East Lake with a strong performance at Ridgewood last week, as did Billy Horschel and Aaron Wise; others though find themselves in different circumstances with Jason Dufner (100th), Branden Grace (91st), Kevin Chappell (88th), Matt Kuchar (74th) and Tyrrell Hatton (71st) all outside of the BMW Championship qualification cut. 98 players (no Rickie Fowler or Francesco Molinari) - will become 70 players after this week. As most of you will be aware, the Dell Technologies runs from this Friday to Monday 3rd September to mark Labor Day festivities in the US.
Over on the European Tour, Paul Williams previews the Made in Denmark - you can read his thoughts on that event here.
Paddy Power are attacking this week's Dell Technologies and are offering a market-leading 7 places each-way at 1/5 odds. If you haven't already got a Paddy Power account then new customers can access a £/€20 risk-free bet which is refunded in CASH if it loses. 18+, T&Cs apply: Promo code YSKA01 required – use this qualifying link to claim.
Course Guide: TPC Boston is a slightly different test to Ridgewood. The freshly extended 7,342 yard (course was extended 81 yards for 2014, another 55 yards for 2015 and yet another 45 yards in 2017), Par 71 - which is an original Arnold Palmer design - yields birdies, but only for those who are aggressive and seriously on their game. Winning totals of -17 (Thomas 2017), -15 (McIlroy 2016), -15 (Fowler 2015), -15 (Kirk 2014), -22 (Stenson 2013), -20 (McIlroy 2012), -15 (Simpson 2011), -22 (Hoffman), -19 (Stricker), -22 (Singh) and -16 (Mickelson) across the past 11 renewals show that the pure Bentgrass greens can produce low scores. Scoring tends to be dictated by the firmness of the greens though, so with a very wet July and August and light winds forecast, we may see a slightly lower winning total than Justin Thomas' -17/267 last year.
TPC Boston, Norton, Massachusetts: Designer: Arnold Palmer 2001, with Hanse re-design 2006, 2016; Course Type: Up-State, Resort; Par: 71; Length: 7,342 yards; Water Hazards: 4; Fairways: Princeville; Rough: Kentucky Bluegrass Fescue 4"; Greens: 5,800 sq.ft average featuring A-4 Penn Bentgrass; Stimpmeter: 11.5ft; Course Scoring Average 2012: 70.65 (-0.35), Difficulty Rank 31 of 49 courses. 2013: 69.21 (-1.79), Difficulty Rank 39 of 43 courses. 2014: 70.47 (-0.53), Rank 34 of 48 courses. 2015: 70.96 (-0.04), Rank 19 of 52 courses. 2016: 70.24 (-0.76), Rank 30 of 50 courses. 2017: 70.78 (-0.22), Rank 28 of 50 courses.
Fairway Widths (yards): Below are the fairway widths for TPC Boston and how they compare to recent courses that we've seen on Tour:
Course Designer Links: For research purposes other Arnold Palmer and Gil Hanse re-designs include:
Course Overview: TPC Boston is an Arnold Palmer original with recent Gil Hanse modernisation that's set up for eagle and birdie-making on key holes. 2 of the 3 par-5s on the scorecard play under 550 yards so are reachable for all bar the shortest of hitters. No surprise then that these holes, namely the 2nd and the 18th, yielded 21 eagles and 285 birdies last term. TPC Boston though, unless ridiculously soft, is no pure resort course style test like Waialae or PGA West. The course was toughened for 2017 as the par-4 12th, under the auspices of Gil Hanse, has been lengthened to 510 yards, which follows on from 2016's tournament change where the driveable par-4 4th was lengthened from 298 yards to 353 yards. Risk and reward on scoring holes is the nature of this course and those who average 295+ yards from the tee have a distinct advantage here. Mix of winners in the recent past include either short-game specialists or ball-strikers, with softer course conditions always linking to the -20 level scoring years.
A number of key statistics jump from the page when you look at TPC Boston over the past 3 renewals, which have been played with relatively firm conditions and enough wind to keep the scoring up. Par-4s here are more than attackable, with the 11 4-shot holes at TPC Boston playing as the 19th (2017), 7th (2016) and 20th (2015) easiest on Tour. Conversely the 12 looks at the par-5s over the course of 2015-2017 played as the 13th (2017), 11th(2016) and 6th (2015) toughest on the PGA Tour. With Going for the Green Birdie or Better conversion being 10th (2017), 3rd (2016) and 4th (2015) lowest across those last 3 renewals, TPC Boston is scoreable, but not the pure drag-strip we used to see.
Winners: 2017: Justin Thomas (-17); 2016: Rory McIlroy (-15); 2015: Rickie Fowler (-15); 2014: Chris Kirk (-15); 2013: Henrik Stenson (-22); 2012: Rory McIlroy (-20); 2011: Webb Simpson (-15); 2010: Charley Hoffman (-22).
Tournament Stats: We've published some key player statistics for this week's event that are well worth a look. Naturally they'll help to shape a view on players who could go well this week: Current Form | Tournament Form | First Round Leader | Top 20 Finishes. NEW! Combined Current and Course Form is now available here.
Published Predictor Model: Our published predictor is available here. You can build your own model using the variables listed on the left hand side. Top 10 of my published predictor are Justin Thomas, Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Jason Day, Rory McIlroy, Tony Finau, Jon Rahm, Justin Rose, Tommy Fleetwood and Gary Woodland.
Recent Player Skill Rankings: These rankings are based on a 10-tournament window that stretches back to the Travelers Championship / BMW International Open and includes both PGA Tour and European Tour events. Players must have played in a minimum of 2 Tour events to be included and rankings are based on performance relative to the rest of the field:
Winners & Prices: 2017: Justin Thomas 20/1; 2016: McIlroy 14/1; 2015: Fowler 40/1; 2014: Kirk 150/1; 2013: Stenson 28/1; 2012: McIlroy 12/1; 2011: Simpson 35/1; 2010: Hoffman 125/1. Average: 53/1. Past 4 Renewals Average: 56/1. For a full summary of winner's odds on the PGA Tour since 2010 click here.
Weather Forecast: The latest weather forecast for Norton, Massachusetts, is here. I'm expecting soft conditions yet again this week in Massachusetts - a theme we've seen across recent weeks. 234mm of rain across July and August is more than double the norm for this part of the east coast of the United States and with a 60% chance of rain on both Thursday (prior to the start) and tournament Monday, their should be a level of cut in the turf. Wind looks like it will be down on 2017. Friday could see medium gusts up to 20mph, with the strength of the wind subsiding over the course of the tournament. Temperatures will be a very pleasant peaking at 29 degrees Celsius on Monday.
Tournament Trends & Key Factors: Analysing the final stats of the last 8 winners here since 2010 gives us a little more insight into the requirements for this test:
Tournament Skill Averages:
So let's take a view from players as to how TPC Boston has played in recent years and what specific skills it requires:
Justin Thomas: "Yeah, the course being softer, it's going to play easier. But the ball is going so short. I still am bummed; the hardest probably is rained all day was on 18. It's 260 yards to carry that bunker and I hit a drive right on the screws and I didn't carry it. I usually carry a driver 300 yards, so I think you can do the math. Gracey and I were in shot when we walked up there and our golf balls hadn't cleared. That was probably the hardest part was just when it was a little into the wind, the ball just wasn't so short, I mean, just so short. I hit a really good one on two today and it went like 276 or something like that. So that was the hardest part, you know, when you would have 152 yards or something, where I would usually just be chipping a little 9-iron, I'd have to hit a decent 8-iron or something like that. Other than that, if you could dial that in, then it was, being soft, it was easier.
I just was seeing them a little bit better today. These greens are so hard to read to me. There's just so many times where it's breaking one way and at the end it will go the other way or vice versa. I mean, I had a triple-breaking putt today which is absurd. That just doesn't happen very often. Their the grainiest Bentgrass I've probably ever played on.
This week I've tried to get better at going each side, because you can really see the change in the colour of the grass, and I tried to do that the last couple days. I mean, today, it didn't too much because it was wet so it all looked the same. But yeah, I don't know, I had it in good spots, putting uphill to where I could be aggressive or I didn't have to be timid, kind of putting from above the hole. It's just one of those days where I was putting well."
Gary Woodland: "It definitely played tougher than it played the last couple of years. That northeast wind, it's a direction that we haven't seen in a long time out here. The par-5s are playing into the wind. The greens are very fast. And there were some tricky pins, as well. I'm happy with 3-under, I'm happy with the start I'm at. The wind is supposed to be the same direction the next couple of days so hopefully it's more of the same."
Jason Day: "Good day in some difficult conditions. Might toughen up a little bit this afternoon. I think as the week goes on, it's going to get gradually hotter, greens are going to start baking out a little bit quicker. Fairways are going to start baking out, as well. Today was difficult. It was really tough to get yourself below the hole. Really difficult to try to position yourself on the greens with how the wind was. It was very tough to see or feel where the wind was coming from. There was a lot of swirling there. And overall I'm very pleased with how it went today."
Charley Hoffman: "The wind didn't blow, one. There's still a few good pin placements out there. In the morning I wouldn't say it was soft, but receptive greens and they were as smooth as can be this morning for us. And I was able to make a good amount of putts."
Henrik Stenson: "Best way to summarise, there is a little bit of a breeze out there and if you're not playing great it's not the easiest course. Still birdie chances if you're doing well. And if you're struggling a little bit with your game you can drop one or two. Yeah, I thought the back nine with this wind that we had today which is southerly, I think the back nine was playing a little trickier. You've got 11, 12, 14 into the wind, so they play a little tougher. So I think it was probably a tougher wind on the back nine today than earlier in the week."
Path to Victory: Below are the end of round positions for the last 8 winners of this event:
Incoming form of winners since 2010:
First Round Leader Analysis: First round leader(s), their wave and winning score since 2010. Full First Round Leader stats are here.
For the record, here's the breakdown of pure Bentgrass green PGA Tour victors in the field since 2008:
In terms of other factors to look out for, since 2009 - when the current structure was put in place - this event has been won by players ranked 2nd, 59th, 4th, 4th, 13th, 17th, 22nd, 38th and 3rd in the FedEx Cup going into the tournament. Charley Hoffman (125/1) and Chris Kirk (150/1) provided big-price winners whereas Steve Stricker (22/1), Webb Simpson (35/1), Rory McIlroy (12/1 - 2012 & 14/1 - 2016), Henrik Stenson (28/1) and Justin Thomas (20/1) all carried real form momentum into the event guaranteeing themselves a top 5 spot in East Lake. Rickie Fowler (40/1) won with little immediate form but had played very well at the Quicken Loans National 4 appearances prior.
My selections are as follows:
Brooks Koepka 2pts EW 14/1 with Get a £30 welcome bonus* for new customers, 18+, T&Cs apply (6 places, 1/5 odds)
Brooks Koepka is a must-back for me this week. The reigning U.S. Open and PGA Champion is playing superb golf right now and this TPC Boston track should be right up his street. A course where power pays real dividends, I think Koepka is an ideal fit. 11th for Driving Distance, 2nd for Distance to Apex, 8th for Going for the Green, 4th for par-5 Birdie or Better Conversion and 6th for Birdie Average across the PGA Tour season statistics, these are numbers that challenge both market leaders Dustin Johnson and Justin Thomas. But where the World Number 1 is 9/1 and the defending champion is 10/1 (a defending champion has never won this tournament since it started in 2003), I was slightly surprised to see 14/1 about Brooks. And the omens for PGA Championship winners here are good: Rory McIlroy won at Kiawah Island in 2012 and then won this at 12/1. In 2014 McIlroy won at Valhalla and finished 5th here. 2016 Saw Jimmy Walker take the Wannamaker Trophy back to his Texas base and then finish 3rd here at 100/1. And 12 months ago, Justin Thomas won his first Major at the Quail Hollow-hosted PGA, finished 6th at The Northern Trust and then won this at 20/1. Even Henrik Stenson in 2013 finished 2nd at Oak Hill before winning this at 28/1. It happens!
I was also interested to watch Koepka's first outing after his Bellerive triumph. 67/65 across Thursday and Friday was good enough to tie the lead after 36 holes last week and many expected Brooks to run away with the Northern Trust. But the putter went cold on Poa Annua greens he has never thrived on over the weekend and the 28 year-old Floridian eventually finished a stress-free 8th. But a return to his favoured Bentgrass greens this week will be far more to his liking and that's exciting when you see that Koepka has been 1st (Firestone), 2nd (Bellerive) and 3rd (Ridgewood) for Strokes Gained Tee to Green. Motivators this week are two-fold: at 5th in the FedEx Cup standings, he needs to keep pressing to guarantee that all-important East Lake top-5 spot and naturally Brooks can take the World Number 1 spot away from Dustin Johnson, as can Justin Thomas and Justin Rose. I'll take Koepka though who was 12th here for Strokes Gained Putting 12 months ago. RESULT: T12
Tiger Woods 2pts EW 22/1 with New customers: Bet £10 get £30 & 30 free spins. 18+, T&Cs apply** (7 EW, 1/5 odds):
As regulars to the Golf Betting System Podcast and Golf Betting Show on YouTube are well aware, I am of the opinion that Tiger Woods will win one of these FedEx Cup Playoffs. As we know, I backed Tiger last week at Ridgewood but an ice-cold putter did for him. It was almost as if he'd spent so much time tinkering and practicing with his driver and fairway metals that the putter suffered as a result! Ultimately a 40th place finish was a huge disappointment, but in the context of the Dell Technologies Championship it was potentially a huge blessing. Winners here in the past have often won off a slow week in the Metropolitan area: 31st (McIlroy 2016), MC (Fowler 2015), 53rd (Kirk 2014), 43rd (Stenson 2013), 24th (McIlroy 2012) - hardly an endorsement for immediate red-hot form in the week prior to arriving in Boston. Yes Thomas finished 6th at Glen Oaks 12 months ago, but even that was very much a back-door performance. So it would be easy to move away from Tiger this week, but I actually think that could be a mistake. Indeed his game away from the putting surface was actually strong yet again last week: 17th for Strokes Gained Off the Tee (best since Valspar), 3rd for SG Approach and 11th for SG Tee to Green - Woods now has control of his golf ball. In his own words "Well, the fact that I played a lot better than my score indicates. I didn't make any birdies this week. I didn't putt well and at the end of the day, I found a piece of my game that has been missing, which is driving it well, but you have to make putts. That's the only way we're going to shoot low rounds. I didn't do it this week." Across my 10-week rolling statistics window, Woods sits 5th for Greens in Regulation and 7th for Putting Average - that's better than any player shorter in the market. Naturally he has form at all of the correlating courses you would want to see and he won here in 2006, has been runner-up twice (2004 & 2007) and was 3rd here as recently as 2012. That 3rd followed 38th at the previous week's Barclays. RESULT: T24
Jon Rahm 2pts EW 25/1 with New customers get £25 in free bets: 18+, T&Cs apply***. (7 places EW, 1/5 odds):
An open style of golf course, where powerful driving is a huge advantage, sounds like the kind of track that Jon Rahm will thrive upon. Yes, he may well have missed the cut at Ridgewood last week, but Ridgewood wasn't likely to be his cup of tea. Instead rewind 3 weeks to the PGA Championship at Bellerive where Jon was 12th for Driving Distance (315 yards), 15th for Greens in Regulation, 11th for Proximity to Hole and 12th for Strokes Gained Tee to Green. Those numbers produced a 4th place finish at the PGA Championship - his second top 4 finish in a 2018 Major Championship after 4th at Augusta National back in April. 7th after 54 holes the previous week at Firestone - he eventually finished 17th - Rahm is playing some good golf at present, so I'm happy to get onboard at a 25/1 price - the same as he was at the PGA Championship.
17th in Driving Distance, 7th in Distance to Apex, 3rd in Going for the Green, 3rd in Birdie Average and 3rd in par-5 Birdie or Better Conversion season-long PGA Tour statistics highlight a player who should find TPC Boston a compatible course. And 12 months ago Rahm on course debut shot 67-66 to be the 36 hole leader. Asked about the course he commented, "It does fit my eye. I mean, I think it's a great golf course. You can tell it's a ball-striker's course because on every green, there's little sections for the pin to be at, right. So being precise off the fairway, it's going to give you some close birdie putts, which luckily for me has been happening. It does fit my eye. You know, it's something I feel comfortable on, and I feel like I've adapted to it pretty good. So you know, hopefully I can keep playing the way I feel about it." Sure enough the Spaniard eventually finished 4th, but with softer conditions likely and less wind, I get the feeling that TPC Boston will fall right into his wheelhouse this week. Winning totals globally at -22, -24, -19 and -20 highlight where Rahm is at target score-wise and the young Spaniard will be desperate to improve his relatively lowly 17th spot in the FedEx Cup standings. RESULT: T43
Billy Horschel 1pt EW 45/1 with New customers: Bet £10 get £30 & 30 free spins. 18+, T&Cs apply** (7 EW, 1/5 odds):
Billy Horschel has always been a player to follow when he has momentum and 2018 has been by far his best year since his famous 2014 FedEx Cup winning season. It started with 11th at Kapalua which he played for the first time since 2015; he then had to wait until April for 5th at Harbour Town (a career best) and since then he's finished 11th at TPC San Antonio, 1st at TPC New Orleans (with Scott Piercy), 17th at TPC Potomac, 2nd at Keene Trace, 35th at Bellerive, 11th at Sedgefield and 3rd last week at Ridgewood. His performance last week was eye-catching: confident, chirpy and happy in the third from last group on Sunday with Adam Scott, Billy was playing some great stuff. Overall in New Jersey, he was 20th for Fairways Hit, 3rd for Greens in Regulation, 7th for Strokes Gained Tee to Green and 2nd for Scrambling. He was also burning plenty of edges, which if they had dropped would have taken him far closer to eventual winner Bryson DeChambeau. At 14th in the FedEx Cup standings, Horschel has guaranteed a spot at the Tour Championship, but you get the feeling with the University of Florida man, that he will want to keep pressing on with a place in the OWGR top 50 still very much a possibility. Correlating course form links with PGA National (8th 2016, 2nd 2017), TPC San Antonio (3rd 2013, 3rd 2015, 4th 2016), Muirfield Village (15th 2015, 11th 2015) and East Lake (1st 2013) are very strong. And I'm sure many can remember 2013 here at TPC Boston when he had the victory in his hands standing on the 18th tee. If the putter warms just a tad this week then he goes very, very close. RESULT: WD
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