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Highlights on Off The Ball

Virtual Insanity! John Duggan's Golf Tips for the Honda Classic

Welcome to Virtual Insanity, where we spend virtual money to try and win virtual money on golf be...

Virtual Insanity! John Duggan'...

Virtual Insanity! John Duggan's Golf Tips for the Honda Classic

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 good start to the year for our tipping column, but last week we came up empty handed at the Genesis Invitational.

Headline tip Rory McIlroy was tied for 10th, Xander Schauffele was tied for 13th, Robert MacIntyre was tied for 15th, Doc Redman was tied for 61st and Doug Ghim missed the cut.

So profit is at 22.8% for 2022 as the virtual pot is at €1228 from €1000 entering this week's PGA Tour tournament of focus, the Honda Classic in Florida.

The Honda Classic is played at PGA National, a tough golf course that hosted the 1987 PGA Championship. It's a par 70, requiring strong tee-to-green play. There's water to be negotiated and it can get windy.

This week's event starts at 11.50am Irish time on Thursday.

Shane Lowry and Padraig Harrington are in the field.

Be sure to shop around, with bookmakers such as Paddy Power, Betfair, Ladbrokes, Coral, Betfred, William Hill and SKY Bet offering 1/5 the odds for your pick to get into the top 8 places.

Our first selection is Keith Mitchell for €3.50 each way at 33/1. (1/5 the odds the first 8 places, William Hill). 

Let's keep this simple. American Keith Mitchell is playing well. In his last four starts he's been inside the top twelve three times. PGA National requires good ball striking and Mitchell is 3rd on Tour in strokes gained off the tee. He is second in this field for bogey avoidance in his last 24 rounds, which is important at this treacherous course. Mitchell putts better on Bermuda than other surfaces. He won the Honda Classic in 2019 and he's the headline pick to repeat the feat.

Our second selection is Tommy Fleetwood for €3 each way at 28/1. (1/5 the odds the first 8 places, William Hill). 

It is somewhat surprising that England's Tommy Fleetwood has never won in America. A strong ball striker, Fleetwood has lined up at the Honda Classic twice, finishing solo fourth in 2018 and solo third in 2020. His form has not been at the levels of 2018 and 2019, when he came second in the US Open and Open Championship in consecutive years, with a wonderful Ryder Cup performance in Paris added in for good measure. Fleetwood won't be afraid of the wind and he comes into this event off the back of a tie for 12th in Dubai and a tie for 8th in Saudi Arabia. I tipped him in this tournament two years ago when was 12/1. A price of 28/1 looks decent enough if we are about to catch Fleetwood on an upward curve.

Our third selection is Denny McCarthy for €3 each way at 50/1. (1/5 the odds the first 8 places, Paddy Power, Betfair, William Hill, SKY Bet, Ladbrokes, Coral). 

The best putter on tour statistically in 2019 and 2020 was American Denny McCarthy, who is a brilliant reader of the Bermuda surfaces he will encounter here. The former Walker Cup player has improved his long game since the new season began and leads the strokes gained statistics for the last 24 rounds as per the Fantasy National website. McCarthy was also tied for third in this tournament last year, so there are a lot of positive trends in his favour. He's been in the top 15 in five of his last seven starts and could well win his maiden PGA Tour title this Sunday.

Our fourth selection is Greyson Sigg for €1.50 each way at 100/1. (1/5 the odds the first 8 places, Paddy Power, Betfair, Betfred, William Hill, SKY Bet). 

The Korn Ferry Tour is the secondary circuit which feeds the PGA Tour with mostly younger players looking to make the big time. 27 year old Greyson Sigg won twice on that Tour last year and finished second in the standings. The Augusta born native is a naturally talented player who hits a lot of greens and scrambles well. Sigg has made the cut in his last four starts and contended for a high placing on his last appearance at Pebble Beach before fading with a final round 75. PGA National requires shot making and for that reason, Sigg worthy of consideration.

Our fifth selection is Vince Whaley for €1.50 each way at 150/1. (1/5 the odds the first 8 places, William Hill, SKY Bet). 

One of the contenders I spotted while watching a windy final round of the Bermuda Championship in October was Vince Whaley, who finished inside the top 10. That was followed by a top 20 at Waialae in Hawaii, and those courses are not too dissimilar to PGA National, although this week's venue is much more difficult. Finding his feet on the PGA Tour, Whaley made 10 cuts in a row last year and finished in a tie for 36th on his debut at the Honda Classic, a performance which included two rounds in the 60's. The 26 year old may be inspired to contend by his close friend Scottie Scheffler, who won the Phoenix Open a fortnight ago.

Our final selection is Nick Hardy for €1.50 each way at 200/1. (1/5 the odds the first 8 places, William Hill, SKY Bet, Ladbrokes, Coral, Betfred). 

Of last year's Korn Ferry graduates, the two I picked out were Lee Hodges and Nick Hardy and I nearly went into meltdown when unbacked Hodges almost won the American Express tournament last month. Hardy had ten top tens on the Korn Ferry Tour last season, aided by some quality ball striking (he was second in that category). That form hasn't translated so far to the PGA Tour, but his track record suggests a liking for Bermuda greens and perhaps a change in scenery can spark a performance to kick start his 2022.

So that's €28 wagered virtually on this week's golf.

Please gamble responsibly, never bet more than you can afford, and good luck!

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