Welcome to Virtual Insanity, where we spend virtual money to try and win virtual money on golf betting. It's that simple!
Last week's American Express tournament yielded no joy from our selections, but that's going to be the nature of this feature all year. There will be barren weeks when you are dealing with fields of 144 or 156 golfers!
So the virtual pot is at €960 from €1000 entering this week's PGA Tour tournament of focus, the Farmers Insurance Open in California.
The tournament is played at two courses at Torrey Pines; the easier North Course and the more testing South Course. The North Course is used for one round - the South Course for three.
This week's show contains five of the world's top ten - the in-form Jon Rahm, who has won his last two events - Xander Schauffele, Will Zalatoris, Collin Morikawa and Justin Thomas.
The South Course is a test that suits big hitters that possess a touch of class and can putt smoothly on the poa annua greens.
One needs to hit the golf ball well around Torrey Pines and one must scramble efficiently around the small undulating greens at the South Course. Conditions can get windy, so it really does test many skills on the 'West Coast Swing' of California.
Please note! The tournament starts at 5pm on Wednesday, with action beginning a day earlier than usual so there's no clash with the NFL action on Sunday.
Be sure to shop around, with bookmakers such as Paddy Power, Betfair, William Hill, Boyle Sports and SKY Bet offering 1/5 the odds for your pick to get into the top 8 places.
Our first selection is Maverick McNealy for €5 each way at 30/1. (1/5 the odds the first 8 places, Boyle Sports, SKY Bet).
American Maverick McNealy is the headline pick this week. He was the former world amateur number one so he has plenty of natural ability. He has spoken recently about how everything in his game is coming together and that's illustrated by his results - he has posted three top ten finishes in seven starts this season. On his last appearance he was tied for seventh in Hawaii. McNealy is the best putter in this field on poa annua greens and he is second in scoring average on the tour this season. He has performed well in the Farmers Insurance Open in the past - 15th in 2020, he was tied for 8th going into the final round last year before slipping away. A long hitter, I feel he is primed to upset more fancied players and win this week.
Our second selection is Will Zalatoris for €3 each way at 16/1. (1/5 the odds the first 8 places, Paddy Power, Betfair, William Hill, Boyle Sports).
In last year's Farmers Insurance Open, Will Zalatoris produced an incredible ball striking display before losing in a playoff to Luke List. His putter then behaved at the FedEx St Jude Invitational in August, as he won his first tour title. That followed stellar performances at the US PGA (second) and US Open (tied second). Zalatoris hurt his back after his win in Memphis, but he says he's healthy now and has shot 8 rounds in the 60's so far in 2023. He likes the South Course and I feel he's the pick of the top names, with Rahm (at 9/2) short enough odds for a 156 runner event.
Our third selection is Taylor Pendrith for €2 each way at 66/1. (1/5 the odds the first 8 places, SKY Bet).
Canadian Taylor Pendrith has the long game for Torrey Pines; he was ranked 10th in both driving distance and greens in regulation last season. He posted five top 13 finishes in six starts when returning from a rib injury last July, including a tie for second at the Rocket Mortgage Classic. Pendrith showed up well on his first appearance in the Farmers Insurance Open last year - a tie for 16th was respectable. He's a decent each way price.
Our fourth selection is Patrick Rodgers for €1 each way at 100/1. (1/5 the odds the first 8 places, Paddy Power, Betfair, William Hill, SKY Bet).
American Patrick Rodgers is a long hitter and sure putter who is not under pressure for his card right now - he nearly won in Bermuda in October and has four top 16 finishes in nine starts so far this season. Rodgers was a college phenomenon, but his talent has yet to generate a PGA Tour win. He does like Torrey Pines, especially the South Course - he shared the 54 hole lead in this event in 2017 before ending in a tie for 4th and he also was tied 9th another year. He played well at the 2021 US Open. Rodgers missed the cut last week - one hopes that was rust more than anything.
Our fifth selection is Will Gordon for €1 each way at 125/1. (1/5 the odds the first 8 places, SKY Bet).
Will Gordon has only missed one cut this season - which was last week, but on a second look he's worth considering. He's found his feet on the PGA Tour and was tied third at Mayakoba in November. The 26 year old is 19th in strokes gained off the tee and showed a liking for Torrey Pines when ending in a tie for 21st in 2020. He's playing much better now.
Our sixth selection is Doug Ghim for €1 each way at 300/1. (1/5 the odds the first 8 places, Paddy Power, William Hill, Betfair).
Last week Doug Ghim closed with a 66 at the American Express before practicing at Torrey Pines after missing the final round cut. Once the world's best amateur, he's struggled on Tour - changing his swing and being perplexed on the greens. However, if one believes talent is a thing, he can still be part of the conversation. A tie for 20th was his best result in the Farmers Insurance Open, where he's made all the cut on each of his three visits.
Our seventh selection is Harry Higgs for €1 each way at 300/1. (1/5 the odds the first 8 places, Paddy Power, William Hill, Betfair).
Last week Harry Higgs demonstrated a flicker of his ability - firing a 62 en route to a tie for 18th at the American Express. He hasn't had the best of runs - but the freewheeling American who is popular with the crowds can turn it on occasionally. He was tied for 4th in Phil Mickelson's PGA win of 2021 and was inside the top 15 at the Masters last year. You won't find encouragement in his statistics, but one crumb of evidence for his chance was his tie for 9th in this event in 2019. It will be feast or famine.
Our final selection is Doc Redman for €1 each way at 300/1. (1/5 the odds the first 8 places, Paddy Power, William Hill, Betfair).
Doug Ghim's conqueror in the 2017 US Amateur was Doc Redman, who shot four rounds in the 60s in Hawaii. He needs a career reset after stalling, having looked a sure fire winner after collecting two seconds and three third places in his early days on the tour circuit. I remember him flying at one stage on the leaderboard in the Farmers Insurance Open last year - he would eventually tie for 25th. His price is reflective of his chance, but stranger things have happened.
So that's €30 wagered virtually on this week's golf.
Please gamble responsibly, never bet more than you can afford, and good luck!