Welcome to Virtual Insanity, where we spend virtual money to try and win virtual money on golf betting. It's that simple!
It's been a frustrating start to 2023, with Rickie Fowler ending in a tie for tenth at the Phoenix Open last week, just out of the places. However, it's a long year and I have every faith that winners and profit will come.
So the virtual pot is at €900 from €1000 entering this week's PGA Tour tournament of focus, the Genesis Invitational in Los Angeles.
The tournament is played at the par 71 Riviera Country Club and bets should be placed by 2.30pm Irish time on Thursday.
This is going to be some event. The top six ranked players in the world line up in a field of 131.
Riviera is nicknamed 'Hogan's Alley', in tribute to legend Ben Hogan, who probably had the best ever swing in golf.
It used to be known as the Los Angeles Open, and it's where Tiger Woods played on the PGA Tour for the first time as a 16-year-old back in 1992. Woods is making his return to competitive golf this week after an injury lay off.
Riviera is a classic tree lined golf course, which requires solid ball striking and the ability to consistently hit the small greens or scramble successfully around them.
Be sure to shop around, with bookmakers such as Betfair, William Hill, Betway, Boyle Sports and SKY Bet offering 1/5 the odds for your pick to get into the top 8 places.
Other bookmakers are paying more places with skinnier odds, while there are those paying less places with more generous odds.
I am searching for the middle ground.
Our first selection is Rory McIlroy for €6 each way at 9/1. (1/5 the odds the first 8 places, SKY Bet).
It must be a little exasperating for Ireland's Rory McIlroy to play so well over the last 18 months and witness Scottie Scheffler return to the top of the world rankings, but that's how competitive it is at the summit of the game. I would treat McIlroy's middle ranking performance in Phoenix last week as just rust - he was playing his first tournament in the USA this year. Remember, the 33 year won in Dubai at the end of last month and his whole game is firing - with 3 wins as part of ten top 10 finishes in 16 starts on the PGA Tour last season. McIlroy also has a decent record at Riviera, with three top 10's in six starts. I think 9/1 is a solid price to make the frame and turn some profit, and if he wins, then it's an added bonus. McIlroy should have fire in his belly against the world's best and he is the headline selection this week.
Our second selection is Cameron Young for €3 each way at 30/1. (1/5 the odds the first 8 places, William Hill).
American Cameron Young is in a similar boat to McIlroy - he struggled in Phoenix last week after a good display in the Middle East - he was second in Saudi Arabia on his penultimate start. Young has played poorly and returned the following week to contend - last season he was second five times on the PGA Tour - including in this event on debut. He does need to play better on and around the greens, but I feel he's too talented to start drifting after a 2022 which saw him contend to win the PGA Championship and the Open. I feel a maiden PGA Tour title for Young is around the corner and being a big hitter suits around Riviera.
Our third selection is Wyndham Clark for €2 each way at 80/1. (1/5 the odds the first 8 places, Betfair).
Last week Wyndham Clark ended in a tie for tenth at the Phoenix Open, another good display in what was a seventh made cut in a row. He's another big hitter and past evidence of wins for Bubba Watson and Dustin Johnson at Riviera suggests that can be an advantage around here. Clark has also got two decent results in this tournament in his back catalogue - tied 8th two years ago and tied 17th in 2020. He can challenge for each way punters.
Our fourth selection is Taylor Moore for €2 each way at 110/1. (1/5 the odds the first 8 places, SKY Bet).
Another outsider worth considering is American Taylor Moore, who carries three top 15 finishes in a row into an event in which he was tied 21st on debut last year. He's shown a liking for poa annua greens which he will face this week and is getting more comfortable on the PGA Tour. He was a very consistent player on the Korn Ferry circuit before graduating to the 'big show'.
Our final selection is Patrick Rodgers for €2 each way at 125/1. (1/5 the odds the first 8 places, SKY Bet).
Last week Canadian Nick Taylor threatened to win at 300/1, so for every Rory McIlroy, there's a long shot that could make noise. Patrick Rodgers was a star golfer in college in California and is having his best ever season on the PGA Tour - he's 29th in the FedEx standings. That will give him comfort over his tour card and he can now chase his first win. He closed with a 65 in Phoenix last week and has two top 15 finishes on his resumé at Riviera. He drives it far and putts well - he just needs to sharpen his approach play and believe.
So that's €30 wagered virtually on this week's golf.
Please gamble responsibly, never bet more than you can afford, and good luck!
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