Audio Betting Guide for August 16th

Is this a chance for Shane Lowry to force his way into the Playoffs

After just one event to attract betting attention last week there are many for consideration this week but we focus our thoughts on the Wyndham Championship in Greensboro, the LPGA Tour’s Indy Women in Tech in Indianapolis, and the European Tour’s Nordea Masters in Gothenburg in Sweden.

Click to listen to my thoughts on the possible prospects.

Bucket-list Opportunity for Aussies at US Amateur

Pebble Beach Golf Links – the 7th hole courtesy of USGA J.D Cuban

Imagine, if you will, the chance to play one of the USA’s most iconic golf courses as part of a subsidised trip to the US to play significant amateur events over the northern hemisphere summer.

Well tonight in the US when the U.S. Amateur Championship gets underway eight Australians and one New Zealander have that very opportunity when they tee it up at Pebble Beach Golf Links and Spyglass Hill Golf Club in the opening two rounds of stroke-play at the game’s most significant amateur event.

Playing Pebble Beach, in particular, is on the bucket list of most golfers although for many the cost alone makes it out of reach. It is, though, a public facility and if you can stump up with the US$500 or so you can play a course steeped in history and as American as ‘Apple Pie’.

All 312 competitors at this year’s US Amateur Championship get the chance to play Pebble Beach Links on at least one occasion this week but for those lucky enough to make it into the leading 64 who qualify for the match-play they face the very juicy prospect of playing the five-time US Open venue and the home for the 2019 US Open more often.

Some of golf’s most memorable moments have come at Pebble Beach Golf Links, including the 1 iron from Nicklaus at the par 3 17th in 1972 en-route to his victory over Bruce Crampton which hit the flagstick, the pitch in from left of the green on that same hole by Tom Watson in 1982 to beat Nicklaus and the simply stunning 15 shot win by Tiger Woods in 2000 to win his third major title and his first US Open.

That 1 iron in 1972

For many in this week’s field their mere existence would have been but a figment in their parents imagination when many of those same events transpired but they will have been exposed to the stunning Pebble Beach from afar throughout their golfing lives to date and will be excited by the prospect of just playing the venue never mind that it is in such a significant event.

The highest ranked Australasian in the field is West Australian Minwoo Lee, followed by the ever-improving David Micheluzzi, Dylan Perry, Zach Murray, Shae-Wools Cobb, Blake Windred, Charlie Dann and Nathan Barbieri while Daniel Hillier carries New Zealand hopes.

Barbieri, Dann and Windred claimed their places in the field via the demanding qualifying process while the others have earned the right to play via their standing in the World Amateur Rankings.

First played more than 120 years ago, the US Amateur Championship has seen only two Australians and one New Zealander win the coveted trophy, Nick Flanagan (2003) and Curtis Luck (2016) the Australians and Danny Lee (2008) the New Zealander.

20 year old Minwoo Lee is competing in his third consecutive U.S. Amateur and his fifth USGA championship. He defeated Noah Goodwin, 2 and 1, in the 36-hole final to win the 2016 U.S. Junior Amateur.

Lee became the fourth international champion of the Junior Amateur and the first male Australian in 10 years to win a USGA title. His sister, Minjee, won the 2012 U.S. Girls’ Junior and owns four LPGA Tour victories.

They are the first brother-sister tandem to win USGA junior championships. Min Woo reached the Round of 32 in the 2018 Australian Amateur and was the 2017 runner-up in the same event. He won the 2018 South Australian Amateur by six strokes on March 22.

Minwoo Lee – with his US Junior trophy – courtesy of USGA

Victorian Micheluzzi was the runner-up to Keita Nakajima in this year’s Australian Amateur after defeating Shae Wools-Cobb in the semifinals.

He advanced to the quarterfinals of the 2018 Amateur Championship in Britain, losing to Conor Purcell, 3 and 2. Micheluzzi, who is competing in his first USGA championship, won the Australian Master of the Amateurs by five strokes at Royal Melbourne with a four-round total of 270. In 2017, he captured the Port Phillip Open Amateur and the Victoria Amateur (by 11 strokes) on Dec. 13.

23 year old Perry 23, of NSW but now based in Queensland, advanced to the Round of 32 in last year’s U.S. Amateur at The Riviera Country Club, his first USGA championship.

In 2017, he was the runner-up to Harry Ellis in The Amateur Championship, conducted by The R&A, losing in 38 holes, and tied for 10th in the European Amateur. He advanced to the Round of 32 in the Australian Amateur in both 2017 and 2018.

Last year Wools-Cobb of Australia, advanced to the Round of 16 in last year’s U.S. Amateur, his then first USGA championship. The Sunshine Coast (Queensland) golfer tied for sixth in the Porter Cup on July 21 and fired a second-round 65 in the process.

He reached the semi-finals of the 2018 Australian Amateur, losing to David Micheluzzi, and tied for 19th in the Australian Master of the Amateurs. In 2017, he tied for sixth in the Asia-Pacific Amateur, held at Royal Wellington in New Zealand.

Of much interest this week will be the appearance of Gary Nicklaus who of course is the son of the man with whom many people associate Pebble Beach, Jack.

Nicklaus Jnr returned to the amateur ranks in 2007 after many years as a professional and several of those playing the PGA Tour. His main claim to fame during that period was when runner-up to Phil Mickelson after a playoff at the Bell South Tournament near Atlanta.

The winner of the US Amateur potentially sets himself up for a professional career, starts at the Masters, the US Open Championship and the Open Championship just part of the spoils of victory.

The winner also elevates his status and profile in the world of golf to the extent that gaining invites to PGA Tour events becomes a lot easier as does the attraction of potential sponsors ahead of turning to the professional ranks.

Whether one of the nine Australasians in the field can match the deeds of Flangan, Lee or Luck in winning this most coveted title remains to be seen but the opportunity to play at such a treasured golfing venue alone makes the week one they will never forget.

 

 

Tiger Woods – can he make it 15?

Tiger Woods today – courtesy of PGA of America

Tiger Woods is preparing for his 19th PGA Championship this week, four of the previous 18 which he has won, and ahead of Thursday’s start at the Bellerive Country Club in St Louis he fielded a wide range of questions from the media.

Woods last win at the PGA Championship came in 2007 when defeating Woody Austin at Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa although he did also finish runner-up in 2009 after returning from knee surgery when being run down by Y.E. Yang.

Woods form in 2018 has given strong indications that a fourth PGA Championship and 15th major title is not beyond him this week and, as so often been the case since he turned professional, Woods’ appearance in the media centre was the most anticipated and attended.

Woods has not played the golf course at Bellerive since playing an exhibition clinic in 2001 ahead of the WGC Championship which was subsequently cancelled due to the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

In 2008 when the only other PGA Tour event since (The BMW Championship) was played Woods was undergoing recovery from the knee surgery he undertook after his stunning 2008 US Open victory.

“I literally haven’t step foot on this golf course since that week in 2001,” said Woods today. “Didn’t get up here pre British Open, and yesterday I took the day off.

“So today we only got in five holes and didn’t really get a chance to see a whole lot, but I only remember a couple of the holes, but I didn’t really remember the first five that I played today. And so I’ll have to do some more homework tomorrow and get a good feel for what’s going on for the rest of the week.”

While Woods believes he can contend and possibly win this week he is happy just to be back competing again in the manner he has in 2018.

“Well, just the fact that I’m playing the TOUR again, it’s been — just for me to be able to have this opportunity again is — it’s a dream come true.

“I said this many times this year, I didn’t know if I could do this again, and lo and behold, here I am. So just coming back and being able to play at this level and compete — I’ve had my share of chances to win this year as well, and hopefully I’ll get it done this week.”

When asked what part of the come-back has been the most difficult – the mental or physical side of the game he was quick to answer.

“Well, definitely more physical. I know how to play the game of golf. It’s just what are my limitations are going to be. And as the year has progressed, I’ve learned some of those things. Certainly can’t do what I used to do 10, 15 years ago, but I’m still able to hit the majority of my shots, and I’ve had to learn a golf swing that is restricted.

“I’ve never had a spinal restriction before, and I played all those years without it. Now, I’ve had a bum knee most of those years, but I could wheel it around that. But having a fixed point in my spine is very different.”

A question came from an Australian journalist regarding the expectation on Jason Day and whether or not Day has over or underachieved in terms of major championships.

“Well, it’s not easy to win major championships. What he’s done, and I think that — I think Jason said it best is that he should be very proud of that he was able to win a major championship after having a family.

“That’s a very different thing. Also, the struggles and the things that he had to endure and his upbringing, and he’s fought tooth and nail to get to where he’s at, and he should be very proud of winning a major championship because it’s not easy to do.”

Woods has missed only two of thirteen cuts in 2018 and with top six finishes in two of his last three starts including when hitting the front during the final round of the Open Championship then perhaps his chances adding that long awaited 15th major are not as unrealistic as some might have predicted earlier this year.

His last of fourteen majors came just over ten years ago and if he was to ‘get it done’ this week then the 16th 17th and 18th to match Jack Nicklaus’ great record are perhaps not as wild a dream as was being suggested six months ago.

Reflecting his standing in the game’s history, Woods, despite being ranked only 51st in the world, will tee it up with the world number 2 and 5 this week when he joins Justin Thomas and Rory McIlroy at 8.23 am on Thursday.

 

 

THE PGA CHAMPIONSHIP AUDIO BETTING GUIDE

This week’s PGA Championship at the Bellerive C.C in St Louis brings to a close the 2018 major championship men’s golf season and will there be another first time major winner or will it be one of the more fancied players with a major championship already to their name?

Very little separates the leading players in 2018 and there appears no real standout although Dustin Johnson seems to contend nearly every week and will start as the favourite and deservedly so.

I take a look at the leading chances and the Australasians in the field.

 

Audio Guide to Golf Betting August 2nd

Photo: Royal Lytham & St Annes – courtesy of Ladies European Tour

This week we take a look at the Women’s British Open at Royal Lytham and St Annes, the WGC Bridgestone Championship in Ohio and the Barracuda Championship in Nevada.

WGC Bridgestone Championship – A Look At The Prospects

I take a look at some of those in the field for this week’s this week’s WGC Bridgestone Championship event in Akron in Ohio and try an sort out those who could do well.

Headed by Dustin Johnson the US$10 million event leads into next week’s final major of the year at the PGA Championship at Bellrive C.C in St Louis.

The appearance of eight time winner Tiger Woods adds another dimension to the event following his showing at the Open Championship.

 

Ian Stanley – a Fine Golfer And a Great Character

Huntingdale Golf Club where Ian Stanley honed many of his amateur and early professional skills

The news today that Victorian golfer Ian Stanley has passed away at the age of 69 after a long battle with illness makes for another sad day in Australian golf so soon after the passing of one of its greatest, Peter Thomson.

Stanley, or ‘Stan’ as he was known to his friends, won events on the European and European Senior Tour, including perhaps his greatest moment when defeating Bob Charles in a playoff for the Senior Open Championship at Royal County Down.

I caddied in Europe in 1973, 74 and 75 and was often exposed to the golfing and social exploits of Stan. He was a great character and one of those people who can say something and get away with it when others might find themselves in a lot of grief. That’s not saying he did not have his share of grief and that he got away with it all the time.

My traveling companion in Europe caddied for Stan for the first half of 1973 but at the Open Championship they had a bust up during the second round and I was asked if I would caddy for him after he had made the first cut at the Open Championship at Royal Troon that year.

He did not progress any further as in those days there was also a 54 hole cut and so that was my one and only exposure to Stan from a caddying point of view.

I did, though, caddy for Bob Shearer on a regular basis in those early years and, together, they along with Jack Newton and Stewart Ginn were very much the ‘likely lads’ as they played and ‘ploughed’ their way through Great Britain and Europe.

We would often load the Spalding bag and clubs of Stanley and those of Shearer into our mini as they travelled by other means to the next event barely leaving enough room for our own gear as we drove between tournaments.

In 1975 Stanley won his only European Tour event when he defeated Christy O.Connor Jnr in a playoff to win the Martini International at the amazingly historic Westward Ho in Devon.

Finishing one behind him in a share of 3rd in that event was his good mate Bob Shearer.

He would also finish runner-up behind Seve Ballesteros at the 1977 French Open.

He was a prolific winner of titles domestically including the Victorian, Tasmanian and Queensland Opens amongst others. He also won the 1988 New Zealand Open.

Stanley played a role in television commentary in Australia for some time but was never really able to break into it on a regular basis and in 1999 headed to the relatively fledgling European Senior Tour to try his luck.

He was an almost immediate success having kept his game in shape through until the age of 50. He did not win in his first season although recording several top tens but he would win in 2000 and 2001 culminating in what was his great win in Northern Ireland where he defeated a star studded field.

He would also win the Senior PGA Championship that same year but played just another four years before his last season in 2005.

I will remember Ian Stanley as a cheeky, likeable rogue and quite the character. He could at times be irritating but also very funny.

The one story of many that sticks in my mind when I think of Stan was during practice rounds for the Sumrie Fourball Championship at the delightful Blargowrie Golf Club in Perthshire in Scotland.

Stanley was teamed with Shearer for the week and during a practice round when neither Ian, Bob or the rest of us had seen the course he asked the question on a dogleg left par 4 as to what line he should take  from the tee.

An older Scotsman was standing behind the tee observing what was going on and suggested, in his broad Scottish accent, Stan should hit it at the ‘forking’ (divided) tree on the corner. Well Stan didn’t need any more ammunition than that and quickly retorted in an aggressive manner that there was no need for the man to swear.

You kind of had to be there but it was one of those typical Stanley moments when he was having a laugh with someone and he quickly diffused the situation by going over and engaging in a warm way with the spectator.

Ian Stanley might not have received the accolades of Jack Newton, Bob Shearer and even Stewart Ginn amongst the likeable rogues of the day but he was a very successful player all the same.

He is very much part of the rich history of Victorian and Australian golf.

 

 

 

 

Audio Betting Guide for Week Commencing July 23rd

The golfing world returns to some level or normality this week with the PGA Tour’s RBC Canadian Open, the European Tour’s Porsche Open and the LPGA Tour’s Aberdeen Standard Investments Ladies Scottish Open the focus of our attention as we try and find a winner or two amongst the myriad of chances in each of the events.

Dustin Johnson, Patrick Reed and Ariya Jutanugarn head the respective fields in terms of favouritism but we delve deeper in order to try and find some better value.

 

Francesco Molinari – The Game’s Hottest Player

Molinari – file photo

Francesco Molinari’s brilliant victory at Carnoustie today has swept him inside the top 10 in the world for the very first occasion and he is undoubtedly the game’s hottest player right now.

Molinari has now won or been runner-up in five of his last six starts in events in the US and the UK and jumped from 15th place last week to 6th place as a result of his two-shot win.

Molinari’s previous best ranking was when 14th following his win at the 2010 HSBC Championship in China, his second European Tour victory following his win in his own national open in 2006.

“It’s a big relief to be honest,” said Molinari following his win. “I knew I was coming in with some good golf but my record around here was terrible so that didn’t make me too optimistic about the week  but I just tried to not think about it and focus on hitting good shots. To go the weekended bogey free was unthinkable to be honest.

“Very proud of today very proud of playing with Tiger which was another challenge.

“Tiger himself was great today. Really good sportsmanship playing with me.”