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Highlights on Off The Ball

Virtual Insanity! John Duggan's Golf Tips for the Puerto Rico Open

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 Puerto Rico Open

Welcome to Virtual Insanity, where we spend virtual money to try and win virtual money on golf betting. It's that simple!

This our second tournament preview of the week. We already have the selections made for the Arnold Palmer Invitational and you can find them here after you read this article.

The virtual pot will rest at €1154 from €1000 for the week after we place our virtual wagers on this week's second tournament of focus, the Puerto Rico Open on the PGA Tour.

The Puerto Rico open starts at 11am Thursday Irish time.

The Grand Reserve Country Club where the tournament is held is a par 72 golf course with generous fairways and manageable rough. As always, the biggest defence of this type of Caribbean golf course is wind, but your selection will need to make birdies and putt well.

Viktor Hovland's winning score in 2020 was 20 under par and Branden Grace went around in 19 under par to win last year.

The greens are Paspalum, so players who perform well in the other PGA Tour stops under these conditions in the Dominican Republic and Mexico are worthy of consideration.

Be sure to shop around, with bookmakers such as Paddy Power and Betfair offering 1/5 the odds for your pick to get into the top seven places. Other bookmakers via Oddschecker are giving better prices, but less places.

Our headline selection is Austin Smotherman for €3 each way at 40/1. (1/5 the odds the first 7 places, Paddy Power, Betfair). 

I noticed Austin Smotherman's strong finish to the Farmers Insurance Open in an elite field at Torrey Pines - a closing 66 earned him a tie for 11th. I then backed him personally at Pebble Beach where he was flying at halfway before fading. I get the sense the 27 year old has something about him - sometimes you notice that in players (Robert MacIntyre is another one) - and Smotherman may contend at an easier course this week where his solid ball striking can put him in position. He won on the Korn Ferry Tour last season and he's the headline pick.

Our second selection is Jarod Wolfe for €2 each way at 80/1. (1/5 the odds the first 7 places, Paddy Power, Betfair). 

With 120 players lining up at Bay Hill, the Puerto Rico Open is not far off a Korn Ferry Tour event in terms of the depth and quality of the field. To that end, I am looking for players that can close out tournaments - that know how to win. Jarod Wolfe won on the Latin American Tour and then claimed victory twice on the Korn Ferry Tour last season, including a comfortable success in the Bahamas on Paspalum greens. He hasn't set the world alight on the PGA Tour, but he did card a 68 before having the weekend off at the Honda Classic. He's the type of under the radar player who could spring a surprise. He's a value bet for me at four times the price of others.

Our third selection is Kelly Kraft for €2 each way at 66/1. (1/5 the odds the first 7 places, Paddy Power, Betfair). 

Amateur golf doesn't always accurately predict what's going to happen in the professional ranks - in 2011 Kelly Kraft beat Patrick Cantlay to win the US Amateur. Kraft has had a decent career, with three second places on the PGA Tour, but he would surely love to break his duck sooner rather than later. Kraft enjoys these types of coastal tests - he was tied for 15th on his only start here and he holds two top fives on his resumé from the similar test in the Dominican Republic. Kraft has undergone hip surgery in recent years and I spotted him play well at Pebble Beach. He may go all the way this week.

Our fourth selection is Ryan Brehm for €1 each way at 66/1. (1/5 the odds the first 6 places, Boyle Sports). 

A horse for the course in Puerto Rico is Ryan Brehm, who was tied for 11th last year, improving on tie for 35th the year before. He has made four cuts in a row on the Korn Ferry Tour, including a top ten. A lot of players in this field have a string of missed cuts beside their names, the golf equivalent of PU, and Brehm is not one of those players, so he has prospects of a top eight result or better.

Our fifth selection is Josh Teater for €1 each way at 80/1. (1/5 the odds the first 6 places, Coral). 

American Josh Teater may never win on the PGA Tour, but if there's one tournament that owes him one, it's the Puerto Rico Open. He lost in a play off in this event to Viktor Hovland two years ago, so he may be able to channel good memories. On his last start on the Korn Ferry Tour he tied for 13th place. The Kentucky native has an ability to go on scoring streaks when in the mood.

Our final selection is Rafael Campos for €1 each way at 125/1. (1/5 the odds the first 6 places, Coral). 

Last year, I put up Rafael Campos at 175/1 in this feature and the Puerto Rico native held a share of the 54 hole lead, ultimately ending up in a tie for third. He then nearly won the Corales Puntacana Championship in the Dominican Republic, losing by a shot to Joel Dahmen. I also put him up that week at 150/1. So it was painful for me and undoubtedly more painful for him to come so close. Campos has shown no form whatsoever going into this, but I can't resist a euro each way to ask the golfing gods for the dream result to happen. Go Rafa!

So that's €20 wagered virtually on the Puerto Rico Open.

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

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