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Opinion & Analysis

2022 American Express: Best prop bets

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Alongside Matt Vincenzi’s chief betting article, here I breakdown this week’s best side bets for the American Express.

 2022 American Express best props

Lucas Glover Top-20 +400

The 2009 U.S open winner has certainly has had his trials and tribulations both on and off the course, but he looked in good shape when finishing in fifth place at the Sony last week and can put up a similar display this week.

When winning the John Deere last year, the 42-year-old broke a 10-year losing streak, and came via a closing best-of-the-day 64 and a tournament ranking of 3rd and 4th for strokes-gained-approach and tee-to-green.

Nothing much changes for Glover in that regard, and it was good to see him return to that standard of play at Waialae when leading the approach stats and ranking second in tee to the short stuff. That he was 30th off-the-tee gives a further boost to his iron game at present and he showed last year that he can keep the game going when finding form – T21/T0/T21/T23 – through the Charles Schwab, RBC Heritage, Travelers and Rocket Mortgage, at least two of those courses with a correlation to this week’s test.

A couple of top-six finishes at The Players show a further liking for Pete Dye designs, and whilst he will never win the prize for best putter, 2016 winner Jason Dufner showed that a solid tee-to-green game can keep you in contention, whilst they both have form at Colonial and at Sawgrass.

Glover’s first four starts here yielded two top-20 and one top-30 finish, whilst I’ll ignore the two recent missed-cuts given they were his first outing of the 2020 and 2021 seasons.

The vast majority of winners have played at least two recent competitive rounds before coming to the American Express (and its various guises) and Glover can take encouragement from the vast progress made when down the field at Maui.

Russell Knox Top 20/Top 40 +300 +130

The Scotsman is another that fits with the Dufner/Glover/Henley genre of player.

With an always impressive iron game, it is always encouraging to see players rank highly in approach and greens-in-regulation even if finishing lower than their overall game warranted.

Take, for example, 2021 finishes of 40th and 58th at the RSM and Fortinet. At both, he ranked top-10 for finding the short stuff and continued that form with the irons at last week’s Sony Open, where he ranked 4th for greens, 10th in approach and 8th for overall tee-to-green.

One swallow doth not make a Summer and all that, but he ranked 7th in putting average and inside the top-30 for strokes-gained-putting, a figure that will certainly help him gain his fourth consecutive top-40 here in as many starts.

Alongside finishes of 29th and 37th at this event Knox can also boast a couple of top-20 finishes, the latest 16th a figure that should have been better given a final round 73, he has a win at the Pete Dye River Highlands, and high finishes at Colonial, Harbour Town and Scottsdale.

After a 12-birdie weekend, he comes here in the form that makes me believe anything better than field average on the greens will land the bet.

Luke List Top 10/Top 20 +550/+250

It’s a trio of excellent tee-to-green players this week, and whilst here is another player that often lets himself down with the putter, the case for him to do well is strong enough to make him my play of the week.

Start with his current form, which reads 7th at the Zozo, 11th at Houston and 10th at the Sea Island course. We don’t have full stats for the first-named, but, at the other two, the 37-year-old has ranked top four off-the-tee, and 12th and 17th for approaches, figures that combine to give a ranking of top-four at both for tee-to-green. Also worth noting is that, at both, Luke was inside the top-10 going into Sunday.

That isn’t unusual for the former U.S Amateur runner-up, and once again, it has been the short stick that has let him down. However, rather like the two players above, List should only need to be field average in putting to put up a good show at a course at which he has a best finish of 6th in 2016 and a 21st last year, when a final round 72 saw him fall from an overnight 13th.

List also carries some of the most guarded Pete Dye form, his last win in 2020 being at TPC Sawgrass at Dye’s Valley Course, whilst in 2012 he won his first Korn Ferry event at the South Georgia Classic.

That event was held, until 2014, at Kinderlou Forest on a course designed by Davis Love III, a player that thrived on Dye courses, winning The Players on two occasions and at Harbour Town a total of five times.

Take a deeper dive into a few of the top two finishers at the Georgia track and Brian Stuard, Will Wilcox, Blayne Barber and runner-up Alex Prugh all have form at one or two of either The Heritage, Pheonix, Sawgrass, River Highlands and here at the Bob Hope, as it once was.

In an event that has seen many shocks, and that might be subject to the weather as they rotate around the three courses, I’m happy to be with a player with far more current positives than many at a shorter price.

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Opinion & Analysis

2022 Charles Schwab Challenge: Best Outright Bets

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After an exciting 2022 PGA Championship, the PGA Tour heads back to Texas to play the Charles Schwab Challenge.

Colonial Country Club is a 7,209-yard par 70 and features Bentgrass greens.  The difficulty of the event this week could be influenced by course setup or wind. It can play relatively easy or relatively difficult depending on pin locations and firmness of the greens, but the last three seasons have all produced winners with scores between -13 and -15.

The Charles Schwab Challenge is an invitational that will host 121 golfers this week, and the field is very strong considering despite it being the week after a major championship. Some notable golfers in the field include Scottie Scheffler, Justin Thomas, Collin Morikawa, Viktor Hovland, Xander Schauffele, Jordan Spieth, Abraham Ancer, Will Zalatoris, Sam Burns, and Tony Finau.

2022 Charles Schwab Outright Bets

Jordan Spieth (+1500) (FanDuel):

Spieth was my headline bet at the Byron Nelson a few weeks ago, and although he didn’t get it done in the end, he did nothing to dissuade me from believing that a Texas win is imminent.

Course history has proven to be extremely important at Colonial, and there is no one better at the course (or even close) than Spieth. In his past six trips to Fort Worth, he has six Top-10 finishes, including a win and three runners-up. His form overall in the state of Texas is nothing short of immaculate.

Spieth’s performance at the PGA Championship wasn’t his best showing, but statistically, he continued his strong ball striking. He gained 8.6 strokes from tee to green, including a solid 4.7 strokes on approach.

He’s still struggling on the greens, as he lost 3.2 strokes on the field with the putter.

In his past four starts at Colonial Country Club, Spieth has gained 7.1 (2021), 8.6 (2020) and 7.5 (2019). If there were ever a place that the 28-year-old can find his putting stroke, it’s here.

Daniel Berger (+3500) (Bet365):

Berger is as predictable as it gets in regard to which courses fit his skill set. Shorter, Par-70 tracks — where accuracy is at a premium — have always suited the 29-year-old. He’s a fantastic iron player, but tends to struggle on long and difficult courses, which is why it’s no surprise that he didn’t do well in last week’s PGA Championship.

Colonial Country Club is an excellent fit for Berger’s game. The small greens give him an advantage over the field due to his accuracy on approach. He edged out Collin Morikawa — who also is one of the most accurate iron players on TOUR — here in a playoff in 2020.

Despite his poor showing last week, he still ranks in the top-10 in the field in Strokes Gained: Approach. Last week’s statistics may be a bit unfair, as well, as Berger was caught in the difficult AM/PM draw.

It’s certainly arguable whether or not Berger is in the best of form right now, but it feels as though we are getting a discounted price this week, making it worth the risk.

Webb Simpson +4000 (DraftKings):

It’s been a rough year for Simpson. Last week’s 20th-place finish at the PGA Championship was his first Top-20 finish of 2022. He’s missed plenty of events due to injury, but the six starts he had between Top-20 finishes was one of the longest stretches of poor form of his career.

Despite the brutal season, there seems to be some reason for optimism. Simpson gained strokes off the tee, on approach, around the green and putting at Southern Hills. That was the first time the 36-year-old has gained strokes in all four of those categories in an event since February of 2021.

Webb is also a strong course fit for Colonial, and has two Top-5 finishes here in his past four trips.

It was encouraging to see Simpson turn in such a well-rounded performance on a course that would typically be difficult for him due to its length. The fact that he hung around all week tells me he’s finally starting to round into form. His strong play could he attributed to his recent iron switch. He gained 2.6 strokes on approach, which is his best performance of the season thus far. When speaking about the switch, Webb made some encouraging comments.

“ I haven’t been hitting my irons great. Approach to the green is typically a strength for me; this year it’s been a weakness, and I’ve struggled out of the rough. I keep getting told that these the irons I’m playing are better out of the rough, better with distance control, better with mis-hits, and so I guess I was being stubborn but finally listened and I really like them.”

If he’s back, this is a small price to pay for the win equity the seven-time PGA TOUR winner possesses.

Justin Rose +6600 (bet365):

Rose came out of nowhere last week to finish in 13th place at the PGA Championship.

The timing of his game starting to come around couldn’t be at a better spot in the schedule, as Colonial is a course that “Rosie” has been sensational at throughout his career. The Englishman won the event in 2018 and finished in 3rd in 2020.

Rose’s statistics were perhaps even more impressive than his result last week. He gained over five strokes on approach at Southern Hills, which is something he’s done only one other time since August of 2020.

He also gained 4.2 strokes putting and is one of the best Bentgrass putters in the field.

His combination of strong iron play and putting make Colonial an ideal fit.

I believe Rose has another PGA TOUR win in him, and this event is one of the most likely spots for him to get it done.

C.T. Pan +10000 (Bet365):

Before withdrawing from the Byron Nelson a few weeks ago with an illness, C.T. Pan was playing some great golf. He’s gained strokes on approach in his past seven starts and has gained strokes from tee to green in his past eight starts.

The bronze medalist can’t contend on every course on TOUR, but he’s one of the better players if the course is short enough. In his past 24 rounds, he ranks 13th in the field in Strokes Gained: Total on par 70s that are under 7,200 yards.

Pan finished in 3rd place here in 2019 and was the only player in the Top 5 to shoot all four rounds in the 60s (68-67-68-69). His recent run of consistency paired with his quintessential course fit make him an ideal triple-digit target this week.

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Opinion & Analysis

Charles Schwab Challenge and Dutch Open: Best prop bets

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Once again, this column leaves the outright betting to Matt Vincenzi and concentrates on the best of the rest – the side bets.

Most bookmakers offer prices for the PGA and DP World tours for finishing positions and that is, once again, where we are headed this week.

Here’s five of the best….

Kevin Na – Top-20 +180 (FD)    

Up against a quote of just +130 from DK, one oddsmaker must be wrong and I reckon it’s the bigger quote that is out of line.

It was a close pick between previous Colonial winners Kokrak and Na, and whilst they both appear in relevant Greenbrier form, I just get the impression that Na is the player more on the up after a solid effort at Southern Hills, another track designed by Perry Maxwell.

The 38-year-old turns up at the same classic courses (he can’t compete with the length at the 7600-yard tracks) and wins here and at The Old White, alongside top finishes at Muirfield, Riviera and Copperhead all give reason to be ‘on’ should he arrive at a favoured track in any sort of form.

The best of his four weekends in a row includes a 14th place finish at The Masters whilst 26th at Harbour Town point again to his liking of trickier, wind-affected, tree-lines courses.

Unusually, Na missed the Byron Nelson, an event he does well at, but did well to finish in the top-25 in last week’s major given he was never really on top of his game.

In 14 starts at Colonial, the 2019 winner also has four top-10s, a pair of top-20 finishes and only two missed cuts and again overcame a poor driving performance in 2021, to rank top-10 in all other stats on his way to a place just outside a top-30.

Na shouldn’t have to worry too much about bombing it this week, and his tidy game and excellent recent approach stats should see him land the top-20.

Sebastian Munoz – Top-20 +200 (DK)

29-year-old Columbian Munoz is an obvious play for this type of market, having finished third here last season, and filling the same place at the Byron Nelson and Greenbrier Classic.

Not only does he bring in correlative form, but he is sneakily making his way inside the top-50 in the rankings, having been outside of the top-100 in 2019 and 66th at the start of the year.

Despite his claims in the book, his form is actually a tad better than the final figures suggest having led at Craig Ranch for three rounds, been top-3 throughout the RSM led into Sunday at the John Deere and been always prominent here in 2021.

Munoz hasn’t missed a cut in his last eight 72-hole events, efforts that include five top-30 finishes, many in events with an overall deeper field.

Over the last three months, the 54th best player in the world according to the OWGR, ranks 23rd for total driving, 9th for ball-striking, 10th for greens-in-reg and 15th for par-four performance, a huge factor in all the last five runnings of the event.

Nate Lashley – Top-20/Top-40 +600/+200 (DK)

Shock winner of the 2019 Rocket Mortgage Classic, Lashley, is never the most obvious pick in any market, but that allows us to nab a better price than he should be.

Another player that simply cannot compete on the longer courses, over the last three months he ranks 130th for distance off the tee but just outside the top-50 for accuracy, paving the way for solid approach shots and green-finding (2nd in GIR).

Impressively, the 39-year-old ranks tied-second for par-four performance over the same period, tied with Jordan Spieth and Brandon Wu and just behind the recent PGA champion, Justin Thomas.

Form wise, the pick of the season’s form is a 7th at Puerto Rico, 15th at Corales, 11th in Mexico and more significantly a pair of top-20 finishes in Texas – 18th at the Valero and a last time effort of 17th at the Byron Nelson, when a final round 64 lept his name up the board.

At the sole victory in Detroit, Lashley beat Rory Sabbatini, a player with significant form here, whilst he can also boast career finishes of tied-third at the Pheonix and Greenbrier and a top-20 in Houston, where many of the top-10 feature heavily in most Texas events.

It isn’t insignificant that Lashley’s best figures for approach and tee-to-green have been at recent events in the state, and he can add an eighth career  top-40 to his Texas record.

Marcus Armitage – Top-10/Top-20 +600/+290

The DP World Tour visits the Bernardus golf course for the second time in succession, but the Dutch Open is now a pale shadow of one of the classic European Tour events, the KLM.

Still, there are profits to make and with a very open field, backing one of the best iron players on the tour will often reap rewards.

34-year-old Armitage took a long time to win his first European Tour event, some five years after his sole Challenge Tour win, but with 10 top-10 finishes and the same amount of top-20s in his last 56 starts, this is a chance for him to add yet another single-digit number to his record.

Armitage has missed just one cut in his last nine starts since a second-round 79 ruined an opening 70 in Abu Dhabi, and in that period alone has finished in the top-20 on five occasions, the highlight being a top-5 in Qatar.

A bit of a bomber off the tee, he should be able to club down enough to keep his accuracy, before building on that with the regular iron play that has seen him rank 16th for greens-in-reg over the last six months. Indeed, since March, he has tee-to-green figures of 23/1/9/7/25 and similar stats for his iron play.

This is his level, and he looks terrific value for both bets.

Richie Ramsay – Top-10/Top-20 +700/+320

It’s been a long time since Ramsay was ranked inside the top-100, but there have been enough signs recently to be with him on a track that has enough links-like quality for him to thrive.

In nine events this season, the Scot has three welcome top-30 finishes, but crucially his most recent outings have resulted in a tied-third at The Belfry and top-15 last time in Belgium.

Sadly, the effort at the British Masters has a tale.

After leading a ‘home’ event for most of the final round, Ramsay hit a poor second shot to the water at the front of the green, ultimately recording a six, and a two-shot loss.

As covered in an interview with The Scotsman, that hurt an awful lot and it is to his credit that he recovered to finish well inside the top-20 at the Soudal Open, after his opening two rounds left him in 53rd at the cut.

Ramsay’s method is to play a game of accuracy over brute power and there may be significance in the record of courses at which he plays well.

Shock 2021 winner Kristoffer Broberg, had past form at the Dunhill Links (T9), Crans (T10) and at Le Golf Nationale (T12 twice and t16) and Ramsay can at least match that with a win at Crans, two high finishes at the Links and top-five placings in France.

That may be something and nothing, and whilst the former US Amateur champion admits he is coming to the twilight of his career, finding fairways consistently will always give him a chance. Third for driving accuracy and first and sixth for greens over the last two events certainly gives hope that perhaps his last win is not behind him. Either way, he can certainly take his place in the higher echelons of this field.

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TG2: Shooting Tiger Woods’ Clubs with Greg Moore, legendary GolfWRX PGA Tour photographer

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Greg Moore is the man who provides you with all the WITB photos from the PGA Tour on GolfWRX. He shares some stories about handling Tiger’s clubs and his relationship with Joe LaCava. He lets us in on who is the hardest to photograph and shooting prototype gear on Tour.

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