Steve Bamford Golf Tips

Steve Bamford's Zozo Championship Tips 2020

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Congratulations if you backed Jason Kokrak last week at anything up to 100/1. Within the top 10 of my 8-week Strokes Gained Total tracker, there was plenty to like and post-event you read that he’d played 25 rounds or more at Shadow Creek over the years. Xander Schauffele made it 5 of the last 6 tournaments where this column had a 36-hole or 54-hole leader. And yes none have converted yet! Xander did little wrong shooting 66 on Sunday, but his poor play on Saturday when starting 3 shots clear highlights that the World Number 7 still has much to learn. Thankfully Joaquin Niemann (66/1) and Bubba Watson (100/1) scored each-way returns, but I’d have liked a 12/1 win to have made it a special week in Las Vegas.

We are in very similar waters to last week on the PGA Tour, with another displaced Asian Swing event in the United States. After the CJ Cup, this week sees the ZOZO Championship, which many of you will remember from last year, where Tiger Woods won at Narashino. This time around, the ZOZO Championship, which effectively replaced Malaysia’s CIMB Classic on the PGA Tour, will be played at Sherwood Country Club, in Thousand Oaks, California.

This is another short-field 78 player, no cut event. It features the top 60 available PGA Tour players from last season’s FedEx Cup standings, the best Japan Golf Tour talent, plus 8 sponsor’s exemptions. The purse is down from $9.75 million to $8 million this week, but another stellar field is in California for a bumper haul of both FedEx Cup and OWGR points in this no-cut tournament, which will be many players’ last outing before The Masters.

Before we talk the ZOZO Championship, the number of new visitors to Golf Betting System is increasing by the week, with The Masters the small matter of 3 weeks away. Welcome to you all and let me point you in the direction of our weekly Golf Betting System podcast (published Tuesday) the Golf Betting Show on YouTube and our hugely popular private group on Facebook – you can Join Here.

 ZOZO Championship – Featured Bookmaker:

Paddy Power are attacking this week’s ZOZO Championship and are offering a record-equalling (as per 2019) 7 places each-way at 1/5 odds on this short 78 man field. That’s incredible value! 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.

✅ £/€20 risk-free bet offer for new customers using code YSKAEE and this qualifying link
✅ Paddy’s most popular new customer offer for Golf Betting System visitors
✅ Offered 10 places each-way 1/5 odds at the 2020 PGA Championship, US Open & Masters

Paddy Power New Customer Offer: New customers only. Place your FIRST bet on any sportsbook market and if it loses we will refund your stake in CASH. Max refund for this offer is £20. Only deposits made using Cards or Apple Pay will qualify for this promotion. T&Cs apply. Paddy’s Rewards Club: Get a £10 free bet when you place 5x bets of £10+. T&Cs apply.

Course Guide: We visit Sherwood Country Club this week, which has never seen a regular PGA Tour event in its history. However it did host the Tiger Woods’ World Challenge from 2000 through 2013 and the Champions Tour Invesco QQQ Championship from 2016 through 2019.  The Nicklaus design is short at just a tad under 7,100 yards and plays as a Par 72, with 5 par-5s on the scorecard. Classical in its nature, the course features tree-lined fairways, multiple doglegs, plenty of elevated tees elevation changes galore. The course isn’t long by modern standards but the classical parkland style punishes errant drives and approach shots.

Sherwood Country Club, Thousand Oaks, California: Designer: Jack Nicklaus, 1989, renovation 2016; Course Type: Classical, Mountain Valley, Mid-Score; Par: 72; Length: 7,073 yards; Holes with Water Hazards In-Play: 8; Fairways: Bentgrass; Rough: Ryegrass 3″; Greens: 7,200 sq.ft average featuring 007 & Tyee Bentgrass; Stimpmeter: 12.5ft.

Course Designer Links: For research purposes, other Jack Nicklaus designs include:

  • Annandale Golf Club – (Sanderson Farms Championship through 2013)
  • Glen Abbey (2008, 2009, 2012, 2015 and 2016 RBC Canadian Open)
  • Montreux GCC – Barracuda Championship
  • Muirfield Village – Memorial Tournament
  • PGA National – Honda Classic
  • PGA West, Tournament Course – The American Express
  • PGA West – Nicklaus Private (Humana Challenge through 2015)
  • Valhalla Golf Club (2014 PGA Championship)

Course Overview: Unlike last week at Shadow Creek, Sherwood Country Club has hosted plenty of action in the past, although no actual PGA Tour tournament. Previously, Sherwood was the host venue for the Greg Norman inspired Shark Shootout from 1989–1999. When Norman moved the Shark Shootout to Florida, Woods brought his World Challenge charity tournament to Sherwood, where it was contested from 2000 through 2013. In 1999, Sherwood was also the site of a match-play challenge exhibition between Tiger Woods and David Duval, billed as the “Showdown at Sherwood.”

We’ve also seen plenty of recent competitive action here since the Jack Nicklaus renovation which opened in early 2016. The Invesco QQQ Championship was played here from 2016 through 2019, in late October, with the course playing as a 7,006 yard, Par 72. Tom Pernice Jnr, Bernhard Langer, Scott Parel and Colin Montgomerie were the victors over the Champions Tour 54-hole format.

Sherwood Country Club is a pretty unique format, especially in the United States. A short Par 72, which features 5 par-3s and 5 par-5s in-total. The back nine features 3 par-3s, 3 par-4s and 3 par-5s. Quirky! The first thing you notice about Sherwood is the fantastic elevation changes, huge trees and beautiful valley scenery. Fair off the tee but landing your approach shot on the right part of multi-tiered green complexes are crucial. Miss a green and top-short game is required. It’s a typical Jack Nicklaus design, which get’s tougher the closer you get to the hole. Set next to Lake Sherwood, the course also has plenty of water in-play via waterfalls, running streams and ponds.

Described as a shot-makers golf course, trouble is never too far away if you miss fairways, and the course undoubtedly requires strategy and placement. Low scores are more than possible, but you won’t overpower Sherwood Country Club. Instead excellent ball striking and a tidy wedge game will unlock opportunities. There have been some changes since the World Challenge tournament left here in 2013. A Jack Nicklaus renovation, which completed in early 2016, saw all green complexes re-built and re-bunkered. They were also re-grassed with 50% 007 Bentgrass and 50% Tyee Bentgrass. So the greens contain no Poa Annua, which they would have in the World Challenge days.

Best skill-set summary for Sherwood Country Club is strategic, patient, with great approach play with longer irons and wedges, plus the ability to make putts on Bentgrass greens.

zozo championship tips

Winners (Narashino Country Club): 2019: Tiger Woods (-19).

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 | Course Form | First Round Leader | Combined Stats.

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 Webb Simpson, Jon Rahm, Collin Morikawa, Russell Henley, Justin Thomas, Rory McIlroy, Tyrrell Hatton, Xander Schauffele, Joaquin Niemann and Rickie Fowler.

Recent Player Skill Rankings: These top 25 in the field rankings are based on an 8-tournament window that stretches back to the BMW Championship and UK Championship, which includes PGA Tour and European Tour events. Rankings are based on performance relative to the rest of the field:

  • Driving Accuracy: 1) Brendon Todd; 2) Tyler Duncan; 3) Matt Kuchar; 4) Kevin Kisner; 5) Adam Long; 6) Matthew Fitzpatrick; 7) Harris English / Satoshi Kodaira; 9) Sungjae Im / Rory McIlroy / Collin Morikawa; 12) Abraham Ancer; 13) Bubba Watson; 14) Corey Conners; 15) Tyrrell Hatton / Adam Hadwin; 17) Joel Dahmen / Adam Scott; 19) Kevin Na; 20) Scottie Scheffler / Webb Simpson / Michael Thompson; 23) Jon Rahm; 24) Brian Harman; 25) Russell Henley / Viktor Hovland Sebastian Munoz.
  • Greens in Regulation: 1) Jon Rahm / Bubba Watson; 3) Tony Finau; 4) Viktor Hovland / Ryan Palmer; 6) Russell Henley; 7) Sungjae Im; 8) Tyrrell Hatton / Rory McIlroy / Collin Morikawa; 11) Joaquin Niemann / Kevin Streelman; 13) Jason Kokrak / Xander Schauffele; 15) Scottie Scheffler / Matthew Wolff; 17) Corey Conners / Lanto Griffin / Mackenzie Hughes / Brendan Steele; 21) Abraham Ancer / Harris English / Matthew Fitzpatrick; 24) Justin Thomas; 25) Patrick Reed.
  • Scrambling: 1) Russell Henley / Webb Simpson; 3) Joaquin Niemann; 4) Hideki Matsuyama / Xander Schauffele; 6) Patrick Reed; 7) Patrick Cantlay; 8) Byeong Hun An; 9) Matthew Wolff; 10) Jon Rahm; 11) Tony Finau / Viktor Hovland; 13) Jason Day; 14) Daniel Berger / Brendan Steele / Justin Thomas; 17) Paul Casey / Tyler Duncan / Andrew Landry / Sebastian Munoz / Alex Noren / Brendon Todd / Bubba Watson; 24) Brian Harman / Adam Long.
  • Putting Average (Putts per GIR): 1) Xander Schauffele; 2) Adam Scott; 3) Justin Thomas; 4) Matthew Fitzpatrick; 5) Mackenzie Hughes; 6) Tom Hoge; 7) Rory McIlroy / Patrick Reed / Brendon Todd; 10) Tyrrell Hatton; 11) Cameron Smith / Gary Woodland; 13) Justin Rose; 14) Tony Finau / Hideki Matsuyama; 16) Scottie Scheffler; 17) Collin Morikawa; 18) Rickie Fowler; 19) Tommy Fleetwood / Jason Kokrak / Joaquin Niemann / Jon Rahm; 23) Daniel Berger; 24) Brian Harman / Harry Higgs / Matthew Wolff.

Recent Player Strokes Gained Rankings: These top 25 in the field rankings are based on an 8-tournament window that stretches back to the BMW Championship and UK Championship, which includes PGA Tour and European Tour events. Player’s rankings are based on performance relative to the rest of the field:

  • Top 25 SG Off The Tee: 1) Rory McIlroy; 2) Jon Rahm / Bubba Watson; 4) Joaquin Niemann; 5) Cameron Champ / Tony Finau / Tyrrell Hatton / Scottie Scheffler; 9) Sungjae Im; 10) Dylan Frittelli; 11) Viktor Hovland; 12) Harry Higgs; 13) Corey Conners / Harris English; 15) Jason Kokrak / Matthew Wolff; 17) Paul Casey / Billy Horschel / Carlos Ortiz; 20) Xander Schauffele; 21) Webb Simpson; 22) Jason Day / Tommy Fleetwood / Rickie Fowler / Hideki Matsuyama.
  • Top 25 SG Approach: 1) Bubba Watson; 2) Russell Henley; 3) Tony Finau; 4) Justin Thomas; 5) Jon Rahm; 6) Lanto Griffin; 7) Patrick Reed / Matthew Wolff; 9) Viktor Hovland; 10) Collin Morikawa; 11) Corey Conners / Xander Schauffele; 13) Byeong Hun An; 14) Matthew Fitzpatrick / Sungjae Im / Jason Kokrak / Kevin Streelman; 18) Daniel Berger / Tommy Fleetwood / Tyrrell Hatton / Brendan Steele; 22) Andrew Landry / Hideki Matsuyama / Cameron Smith; 25) Kevin Kisner.
  • Top 25 SG Around The Green: 1) Tony Finau / Webb Simpson; 3) Patrick Cantlay; 4) Adam Hadwin / Xander Schauffele; 6) Justin Thomas; 7) Russell Henley; 8) Viktor Hovland / Phil Mickelson; 10) Byeong Hun An / Rory McIlroy; 12) Harris English / Hideki Matsuyama / Cameron Smith; 15) Ryan Palmer / Matthew Wolff; 17) Jon Rahm; 18) Collin Morikawa / Sebastian Munoz / Bubba Watson; 21) Tommy Fleetwood / Joaquin Niemann / Michael Thompson; 24) Mackenzie Hughes; 25) Patrick Reed.
  • Top 25 SG Tee to Green: 1) Bubba Watson; 2) Jon Rahm; 3) Tony Finau; 4) Xander Schauffele / Justin Thomas; 6) Russell Henley / Rory McIlroy; 8) Viktor Hovland / Webb Simpson; 10) Matthew Wolff; 11) Joaquin Niemann; 12) Byeong Hun An; 13) Patrick Reed; 14) Patrick Cantlay / Tommy Fleetwood; 16) Collin Morikawa; 17) Tyrrell Hatton; 18) Harris English / Matthew Fitzpatrick / Jason Kokrak; 21) Hideki Matsuyama / Ryan Palmer; 23) Sungjae Im; 24) Sebastian Munoz; 25) Brendan Steele.
  • Top 25 SG Putting: 1) Brendon Todd; 2) Patrick Reed / Xander Schauffele; 4) Brian Harman; 5) Joaquin Niemann; 6) Jason Kokrak; 7) Adam Scott; 8) Rory McIlroy / Cameron Smith; 10) Webb Simpson; 11) Mackenzie Hughes / Justin Thomas; 13) Tyrrell Hatton; 14) Daniel Berger; 15) Alex Noren / Harris English / Billy Horschel / Viktor Hovland / Jon Rahm; 20) Matthew Wolff / Gary Woodland; 22) Abraham Ancer; 23) Matthew Fitzpatrick / Kevin Kisner / Richy Werenski.
  • Top 25 SG Total: 1) Xander Schauffele; 2) Tony Finau; 3) Rory McIlroy / Jon Rahm / Justin Thomas; 6) Webb Simpson; 7) Joaquin Niemann; 8) Patrick Reed; 9) Russell Henley / Bubba Watson; 11) Jason Kokrak; 12) Viktor Hovland; 13) Matthew Fitzpatrick / Cameron Smith / Matthew Wolff; 16) Daniel Berger / Patrick Cantlay / Brian Harman / Tyrrell Hatton / Hideki Matsuyama / Brendon Todd; 22) Tommy Fleetwood; 23) Harris English / Collin Morikawa; 25) Sungjae Im.

Winners & Prices: 2019: Woods 33/1. For a full summary of winner’s odds on the PGA Tour since 2010 click here.

Weather Forecast: The latest weather forecast for Thousand Oaks, California is here. We move 300 miles south west from Las Vegas to Thousand Oaks. Just 5 miles inland from Malibu on the Pacific Coast, Sherwood Country Club’s weather is intrinsically linked to the ocean and this week the main difference from Shadow Creek will be the temperatures. With a best of 22 degrees Celsius across the 4 days of the tournament, this will be relatively chilly by PGA Tour standards. However conditions will be sunny in the main, with light winds throughout.

Tournament Trends & Key Factors: Analysing the final stats of Invesco QQQ Championship winners since across 2016 through 2019 held here at Sherwood Country Club on the Champions Tour gives us a little more insight into the requirements for this test:

  • 2019, Colin Montgomerie (-14). 271 yards (36th), 82.1% fairways (11th), 77.8% greens in regulation (7th), 66.7 % scrambling (20th), 1.62 putts per GIR (1st).
  • 2018, Scott Parel (-11). 287 yards (8th), 71.8% fairways (37th), 79.6% greens in regulation (1st), 81.8 % scrambling (3rd), 1.77 putts per GIR (22nd).
  • 2017, Bernhard Langer (-11). 287 yards (10th), 84.6% fairways (12th), 57.4% greens in regulation (36th), 78.3 % scrambling (4th), 1.65 putts per GIR (4th).
  • 2016, Tom Pernice Jnr (-13). 267 yards (38th), 74.4% fairways (39th), 72.2% greens in regulation (11th), 66.7 % scrambling (18th), 1.54 putts per GIR (1st).

Tournament Skill Averages:

Driving Distance: 23rd, Driving Accuracy: 25th, Greens in Regulation: 14th, Scrambling: 11th, Putting Average 7th.

So let’s take a view from players as to how Sherwood Country Club sets up and what skill sets the course favours:

Tiger Woods: “You just have to make sure your misses are in the correct spots.  For a perfect example, 13, Graeme hits it in there, he’s right below the hole with an almost impossible bunker shot.  He can’t get it close, and I knew I had to throw it to the right and make sure I missed it to the right, and I did, and I had all the green in the world to work with.  That’s what you have to do around this golf course. I left myself in some good spots.  That’s the key.  The key to this golf course is you have to miss the ball in the correct spots, and when I did miss, it was 20 feet in the correct spot, and when I hit it good, it was under 10 feet but still in the correct spot.  As I said, I only made a couple downhill putts that were breaking.  Most of the putts were in the correct spots.

Rickie Fowler: “Yeah, I’ve been able to play Sherwood a few times when Tiger’s event was there. I mean, the golf course is I think very much straight in front of you, it’s a golf course that you have to get the ball in play off the tee. There’s a couple holes that can kind of sneak up and you attack the golf course kind of from the fairway. I think Tiger, you would put him up there as one of the best of being able to manage his game on any type of golf course. Sherwood’s the perfect example of get the ball in play and go play your game from there, and he’s been one of the best iron players over time. So get the ball in play and then go score from there. It’s a great fit for him, but hopefully we’re able to take down the defending champ next week.”

Padraig Harrington: “I’m always a little bit intimidated out there on this course. I’m a little bit afraid. There’s a lot of, I don’t think there’s a shot out there you can relax on, hardly a shot anyway. There’s a lot of intimidating shots. You know, a lot of big shots have to be hit. So I think I tend to do better on those sort of golf courses because it pushes me, and you know, when I have, I tend to play better with fear, and I certainly fear a lot on a number of the holes out there. There’s a lot of really tough shots, second shot into 2, the tee shot on 3, tee shot on 4. If you miss any of those, you’re making doubles. And there’s a lot of intimidation out there, and that kind of keeps me going, keeps me focused.”

Colin Montgomerie (2019 Post Nicklaus Renovation): “Always have felt comfortable on this course. I was two ahead playing with Tiger a couple of times there and of course he beat me, but I always felt comfortable on this course. It’s a driver’s golf course and you’ve got to put the ball in play. I drove the ball extremely well this week. I was playing yesterday, this is very much like a course I had great success on in Europe, a place called Valderrama, right, where we played the Ryder Cup in ’97. Very similar feel, very similar look, the rollingness, the tightness of the, and I loved it there and I love it here.”

Bernhard Langer (2018 Post Nicklaus Renovation): I’ve always liked Sherwood. I played here in the Shark Shootout and then I played in Tiger’s event a couple times and always enjoyed it. It’s a Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course, I believe, where you really have to think a little bit and place the ball. It’s demanding off the tee, it’s demanding second shots and putting, so there’s really everything there. You can get punished very quickly around here. Well, some courses you get off the fairway and you make bogey, but here if you do that, you can rake in a quick double or triple or whatever. It’s a dangerous place in that sense where you really have to be pretty straight and precise and I’ve always liked that. I’ve liked where you have to think and position the ball in certain areas and the greens are really, really good.”

Path to Victory: Below are the end of round positions for the CJ Cup winners:

  • 2019 – Tiger Woods: Round 1: 1st, Round 2: 1st, Round 3: 1st.

Shots From the Lead: Below are the winners and where they were positioned in terms of shots from the lead during the tournament:

  • 2019 – Tiger Woods: Round 1: level, Round 2: 2 ahead, Round 3: 3 ahead.

Incoming form of winners:

  • Tiger Woods: 37th BMW/WD Northern Trust/MC Open Champ/21st U.S.Open.

First Round Leader Analysis: First round leader(s), their wave and winning score since 2019.

  • 2019 – Woodland/Woods -9/6 – Both 45/1

For the record, here’s the breakdown of pure Bentgrass green PGA Tour victors in the field since 2008:

  • 7 – Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose.
  • 6 – Tiger Woods.
  • 5 – Jordan Spieth.
  • 4 – Jason Day, Phil Mickelson, Kevin Na, Webb Simpson, Justin Thomas, Bubba Watson.
  • 3 – Adam Scott.
  • 2 – Rickie Fowler, Brian Harman, Marc Leishman, Hideki Matsuyama, Patrick Reed, Xander Schauffele.
  • 1 – Daniel Berger, Patrick Cantlay, Dylan Frittelli, Billy Horschel, Kevin Kisner, Danny Lee, Joaquin Niemann, Kevin Streelman, Michael Thompson, Brendon Todd, Matthew Wolff.

First thing to point out this week at Sherwood Country Club is that quality tends to rise to the top here. Yes Tiger’s World Challenge has always been a ‘hit and giggle’ for the elite at the very top of the golfing tree, but his event here at Sherwood was won by himself (5 times), Graeme McDowell (twice), Davis Love III (twice), Zach Johnson (2013), Jim Furyk (2009), and Vijay Singh (2008) – every single one of them a Major winner.

We also have a number of professionals in this field who have played at the Hero World Challenge here at Sherwood over the years. I encourage you to look at our Sherwood course form statistics, I expect they are a rarity to find online.

Tyrrell Hatton 2pts EW 20/1 (7EW, 1/5) with Paddy Power

Tyrrell Hatton was mainly a 20/1 or 22/1 shot last week in Las Vegas. Fresh from a win at Wentworth, Hatton performed exceptionally well at Shadow Creek, leading after Thursday with an opening 65 and backing that up with 68 on Friday. But after openly admitting he was tired through jet-lag, he struggled in the Saturday leading group with Russell Henley and Xander Schauffele, before firing a Sunday 65 which was second only to winner Jason Kokrak. So I’m pleasantly surprised to still find Tyrrell at 20/1 this week, which I think is a top bet.

1st for Greens in Regulation, 15th for Total Driving, 6th for Ball Striking and 9th for All-Round in Las Vegas, Hatton in Strokes Gained parlance was also 9th for Off the Tee, 1st for Approach and 2nd for Tee to Green. Not a bad showing on his first ever visit to Las Vegas after a 12 hour flight and passing through 7 time zones.

So after another 4 days establishing himself on the Pacific Time Zone, I can’t see any real reason why he won’t thrive at Sherwood Country Club, with confidence at potentially a career high. Remember this is a guy with 3 worldwide victories and a further 5 top-6 finishes across his last 14 starts. Hatton carries form, we know that, and his win at Bay Hill, 7th at the Tour Championship and 3rd last week at the CJ Cup came against the very best on the PGA Tour. Mentally he knows he belongs at the top table.

And what about his compatibility for Sherwood Country Club this week? Well both Bernhard Langer and Colin Montgomerie have won here since the 2013 Nicklaus renovation on the Champions Tour. Langer, amidst 42 European Tour wins, won the Italian Open twice (1983 and 1997) and at Wentworth three times (1987, 1993 and 1995). Montgomerie amongst 42 European titles, finished 2nd in the 2003 Italian Open and also won at Wentworth four times (BMW 1998, 1999 and 2000 plus 1999 HSBC World Match Play). The Italian Open tends to visit, tight, old-style, tree-lined, parkland golf courses in northern Italy, and the same description is perfect for Wentworth.

Hatton is only 29 years-old, but has already won an Italian Open (2017) and the BMW PGA Championship, just 2 weeks ago. His PGA Tour win at Bay Hill in March doesn’t look too bad from a Tiger Woods perspective either. Remember Tiger is an 8-time winner at Bay Hill and a 6-time winner here at Sherwood Country Club. This will be Tyrrell’s last outing pre-Masters and he will be focused to stay strong this week and contend for his second victory in the United States, in what is undoubtedly a career-best season. RESULT: T28

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Patrick Reed 2pts EW 22/1 (7EW, 1/5) with Paddy Power

Patrick Reed has a decent enough record in the Golden State and I like the way he’s been hitting the ball of late.

Reed’s second of 8 PGA Tour victories was at the PGA West-hosted 2014 Humana Challenge. He’s also landed top-10 finishes across Pebble Beach and Torrey Pines, but it’s his Hawaii form that I really like this week. Across Sherwood Country Club winners, namely Tiger Woods (5 times), Graeme McDowell (twice), Davis Love III (twice), Zach Johnson (2013), Jim Furyk (2009), and Vijay Singh (2008), there’s an undeniable link with the Aloha State. Woods, Johnson, Furyk and Singh have all won on the Plantation Course at Kapalua. Davis Love III finished 2nd there in 2009, and Graeme McDowell has a 3rd there in 2011.

Reed’s record on Maui is also stellar, with 1st (2015), 2nd (2016), 6th (2017) and 2nd this year, where he lost in a 3-way play-off to Justin Thomas, which also contained Xander Schauffele. Furyk, Johnson and Singh have also won the Sony Open played at Waialae Country Club on Honolulu. Love III has finished 2nd and 3rd there, G-Mac has a 4th place finish there, and another Sherwood victor Luke Donald, has also finished 2nd at the Sony Open. Reed has played there just 3 times and was 13th in 2019.

But it’s not just an opaque Hawaii link that has forced Captain America onto my radar this week. Another plus point is Reed’s record in no-cut events. The 2015 WGC-Cadillac Championship, 2016 Tournament of Champions and 2020 WGC-Mexico Championship have all fallen to the 30 year-old Texan. Reed takes these opportunities very seriously, and like with Tyrrell Hatton, I also like Patrick’s form at Wentworth. 4th on debut there last year and 3rd there this year, highlights a player who thrives on tighter, tree-lined tests. I’ve already mentioned Langer and Montgomerie, but Luke Donald is also a 2-time winner (2011 and 2012) at European Tour HQ, with a further 3 top-3 and 2 top-5 finishes in Surrey. Padraig Harrington is another who has won at Sherwood (2002) and has a plethora of top results in Surrey.

It’s also worth remembering that Reed’s first PGA Tour win was at Sedgefield in 2013 and wins at Augusta National (2018) and Liberty National (2019) have been on Bentgrass greens. 1st and 8th for Driving Accuracy across East Lake and Wentworth, Reed ranks 25th in this field over the past 8 weeks for Greens in Regulation, 7th for SG on Approach, 12th for SG Tee to Green, 2nd for SG Putting and 8th for SG Total. If Patrick drives the ball well this week, he’s a live chance at the ZOZO. RESULT: T14

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Russell Henley 1.25pts EW 45/1 (7EW, 1/5) with Paddy Power

We always say that the autumn is a huge opportunity for players who come into form. A top 50 spot in the OWGR is massive for those who don’t make the Tour Championship, as it guarantees spots at the biggest tournaments in 2021. Jason Kokrak was a great example last week, as he was clearly in form after finishing 13th at the Northern Trust, 6th at the BMW Championship and 17th at the U.S. Open. He took his opportunity at the CJ Cup with aplomb and jumped from 53rd to 26th in the Official World Golf Rankings.

As recently at the Travelers Championship, Russell Henley was at 193rd in the OWGR. But since then a run of unbelievable tee-to-green excellence has generated 7th at the Workday Charity Open, 9th at the Wyndham Championship, 8th at the Northern Trust and, after last week, 3rd at the CJ Cup. Showing the power of these select 78-man fields, that equated to a 45 place jump in the OWGR and now the Georgia Bulldog ranks at 76, with a huge opportunity to gatecrash the top 50 in the world. And let’s be frank here – his recent play from tee to green is elite level. Across my 8 week trackers in this field, he ranks 28th for Driving Accuracy, 6th for Greens in Regulation and 1st for Scrambling. From a Strokes Gained perspective that translates to 2nd for Approach, 7th for Around the Green, 6th for Tee to Green and 9th for SG Total.

Now the putter is undoubtedly gaining momentum, and that’s explained by this quote from Russell last week, “I’m working with Ramon Bascansa on my putting and he’s really helped me. He’s kept it really simple with me, which is what I need. The work I’ve done with The Perfect Putter with him has really helped me. Pretty simple stuff, but just practicing the right way’s really helped.” The fruits of his labour are now visible 21st (Wyndham) 22nd (Northern Trust) and 3rd (CJ Cup) for Strokes Gained Putting, across both Bermudagrass and Bentgrass greens.

From a correlating course perspective, we know winners here at Sherwood at the World Challenge have played well at Kapalua, Waialae, Harbour Town and TPC River Highlands. Russell has finished 3rd at Kapalua (2015), 1st at Waialae (2013), 6th at Harbour Town and 6th at River Highlands (2018). Buoyant and confident this week is a huge opportunity for Henley. RESULT: T4

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✅ Paddy’s most popular new customer offer for Golf Betting System visitors
✅ Offered 10 places each-way 1/5 odds at the 2020 PGA Championship, US Open & Masters

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Justin Thomas 2.5pts Win Only 12/1 with William Hill

Regulars will know that I hate win-only bets. I’ve scored with Tiger Woods and Justin Thomas in the past, but as we know, I was on-board win-only with Xander Schauffele last week and he was the joint-leader teeing off on the 16th in the final round. Clearly trading as a very, very short favourite, a bad drive into the trees on the par-5 led to bogey, and Kokrak re-took the lead and went on to convert My P&L took a 3 point loss and that’s all she wrote!

But at certain times and in certain circumstances I’ll go win-only and this week I’m covering one of the tournament favourites in the betting. After all recent winners on the PGA Tour have cashed at 100/1, 275/1, 70/1, 200/1, 25/1, and 200/1. That trend has to come to an end at some point!  Truth of the matter is though, that the layers are well on-side this week with value taken away from the market. Where Bubba Watson was a 100/1 shot last week, he’s into 28/1 this week after a tied-7th finish at the CJ Cup. We were on-board Joaquin Niemann at 66/1 in Las Vegas, who obliged nicely with a full each-way payout. He’s been slashed to 35/1, and that’s too short for me in this high-class field. I’m bereft of fancies at bigger prices, although Talor Gooch at triple-digits has a west coast heritage and played beautifully at the CJ.

But instead I’ll cover off my favourite player and that’s Justin Thomas. As I stated in my introduction, the cream tends to come to the top at Sherwood Country Club, and no player has won more wraparound tournaments on the PGA Tour than JT. 9 of his 13 PGA Tour victories have come in no-cut tournaments and his last 5 consecutive victories have all come in these short field formats. I’ve explained the Hawaii link that previous winners here at Sherwood have and Thomas is a 2-time winner at Kapalua and also won at Waialae, with a record low score of -27/253.

He drove the ball nicely last week (his Achilles heel of late) and his approach play is on-song, which will be important with 5 par-5s on tap at Sherwood. Ranking 4th for SG on Approach, 6th for SG Around the Green, 4th for SG Tee to Green, 11th for SG Putting and 3rd for SG Total in this field across the past 8 weeks, I think Justin is in a good spot this week to add another Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course to his CV, after he won at PGA National in 2018. RESULT: T2

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Odds and bookmaker offers correct at 17:40BST 19.10.20 but naturally subject to fluctuation.