Welcome to Virtual Insanity, where we spend virtual money to try and win virtual money on golf betting. It's that simple!
It was a slightly frustrating start for the feature in 2023 at the Sony Open in Hawaii, as headline tip Corey Conners finished tied for 12th, just a shot outside the places, while the other three picks also disappointed.
So the virtual pot is at €980 from €1000 entering this week's tournament of focus, the American Express in California.
This tournament is a pro-am, with three courses used in rotation - the Pete Dye designed Stadium Course, the Nicklaus Tournament Course and La Quinta Country Club.
This is not the U.S. Open!
This is stadium golf in the desert, with a score in excess of 20 under par required for victory. Your selections must be able to make birdies and maintain momentum throughout the four days.
The field is headed by Masters champion Scottie Scheffler and five of the world's top seven players compete this week - the others being Jon Rahm, Patrick Cantlay, Xander Schauffele and Will Zalatoris.
The tournament starts at 4.30pm Irish time on Thursday.
Be sure to shop around, with some bookmakers offering 1/5 the odds for your pick to get into the top 8 places.
Our first selection is Cameron Young for €3 each way at 20/1. (1/5 the odds the first 8 places, Paddy Power, Betfair, William Hill, SKY Bet, Betfair, Boyle Sports).
It's a matter of when, not if American Cameron Young wins on the PGA Tour - in his rookie season last year he finished either second or tied for second five times. He enters this week off the back of a 64 in the final round of the Tournament of Champions in Hawaii a fortnight ago. Young isn't afraid to go low, he hits it a mile off the tee and he'll have plenty of chances to attack the flags this week. Last year he was tied 5th going into the final round of this event but faded with a 77. However, his first three rounds on the variety of courses were decent - so I think he's worth another shot. He was also 6th in birdie average on the PGA Tour last season. It may be his week and I rate him the best of the principals at 20/1.
Our second selection is Sahith Theegala for €2 each way at 50/1. (1/5 the odds the first 8 places, Boyle Sports, SKY Bet).
Another player who was doing well before a poor final round last year was American Sahith Theegala, a Californian who brims with natural talent. He was tied for 11th entering the Sunday, but finished in a tie for 33rd. Theegala then went and burst onto the scene in Phoenix, where he was unlucky not to win. He subsequently ended in a tie for second at the Travelers Championship and his good performances continued towards the back end of last year - three top tens, including another tie for second - this time at the RSM Classic. Forget about stats with Theegala - this guy is all about feel and he was formerly the top college golfer in the USA. Making the Tour Championship in his rookie year and securing a Masters spot was notable and he should be a winner this season.
Our third selection is Adam Hadwin for €2 each way at 55/1. (1/5 the odds the first 8 places, SKY Bet).
Course form does matter in golf betting and Canadian Adam Hadwin has done everything in this tournament but win. This is the record - tied for second in 2019, tied for third in 2018, second in 2017 and tied for sixth in 2016. When last spotted on Tour in November he was tied for seventh in Houston, his second top ten finish of the season. He only has one win on the PGA Tour and should be adding to that, especially given his liking for desert golf.
Our fourth selection is Denny McCarthy for €2 each way at 80/1. (1/5 the odds the first 8 places, Paddy Power, Betfair, SKY Bet, William Hill).
American Denny McCarthy finally cracked this tournament last year - his worst round was a 68 and he tied for sixth. Five top tens last year and a best ever finish of 37th in the FedEx Cup is a reflection that his long game is far better than it was. McCarthy was the best putter statistically on the PGA Tour two years running and was second in those stats last year. He is deadly on Bermuda Greens which he will encounter this week. He had three good rounds in Hawaii last week and I think the breakthrough is around the corner for this former Walker Cup player.
Our final selection is Lee Hodges for €1 each way at 125/1. (1/5 the odds the first 8 places, Paddy Power, Betfair, William Hill, SKY Bet).
If we are looking at players who like this stadium, desert course environment, it's worth taking a second glance at American Lee Hodges, whom I felt could have won this event last year. Sharing the 54 hole lead, he could only close with a 70 and ended in a tie for third. He was a decent player on the feeder Korn Ferry Tour with a win and 9 top ten finishes in 37 starts. I feel with him that it's just about getting the putts to drop. He had no form in the book before his performance last season and he's been in better nick 'in the fall' as they say - with one top ten already. He strikes me as one of the better outsiders.
So that's €20 wagered virtually on this week's golf.
Please gamble responsibly, never bet more than you can afford, and good luck!
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