Welcome to Virtual Insanity, where we spend virtual money to try and win virtual money on golf betting. It's that simple!
The Masters was a strange tournament for this feature. First of all, congratulations to Scottie Scheffler. An incredible run in 2022 by the American, who was a deserved winner of the green jacket, his first major title.
Our headline pick Patrick Cantlay wasn't part of the conversation after Thursday, which was disappointing, and second selection Thomas Pieters flopped. So we were left with Rory McIlroy, who finished second, and Shane Lowry, who ended in a tie for third to salvage 81 percent of our stake.
It all means the virtual pot is at €1126 from €1000, a profit of 12.6% for 2022 entering this week's tournament of focus, the RBC Heritage on the PGA Tour at Hilton Head in South Carolina.
The Harbour Town Links course is a beautiful old fashioned venue, a par 71 designed by Pete Dye with tree lined fairways, small greens, water and wind as a defence. Length isn't a prerequisite here, but accuracy and good scrambling abilities are. Buzzed by the Masters the preceding week, I have watched this tournament for years. It suits tidy tee to green specialists who can build momentum on the putting surfaces.
The tournament starts at 11.50am Thursday, Irish time.
Be sure to shop around, with bookmakers such as Paddy Power, Betfair, Ladbrokes, Coral, Betway, Betfred, SKY Bet and William Hill offering 1/5 the odds for your pick to get into the top eight places.
I highlight the best terms and bookmakers offering them beside each recommendation below.
Our headline selection is Matt Fitzpatrick for €6 each way at 20/1. (1/5 the odds the first 8 places, Paddy Power, Betfair, William Hill).
England's Matt Fitzpatrick hasn't won as a professional in America, which is surprising for the former US Amateur champion who has twice won the DP World Tour Championship. Fitzpatrick produced a solid display at the Masters, where he ended in tie for 14th, closing with a 70. He is in consistent form at present - with 7 top 20 finishes in his last 8 starts. Always a fantastic putter, Fitzpatrick has improved his approach play this season and lies 13th in that statistic this season. In fact, he tops the strokes gained total statistics on the PGA Tour right now. He is on the record as saying that Harbour Town is his favourite course on Tour, so much so that he has a head cover for his driver to resemble the red and white lighthouse symbolic with the place. A tie for 4th in this tournament last year followed a tie for 14th in 2020 when all of his rounds were in the 60's. He's not the longest off the tee, but he doesn't have to be here. To my mind, Fitzpatrick has an outstanding chance this week and he's a strong headline tip to gain a deserved first PGA Tour victory.
Our second selection is Doug Ghim for €3 each way at 125/1. (1/5 the odds the first 8 places, SKY Bet, William Hill).
We selected American Doug Ghim in this event last year and he was flying in the final round, 7 under through 10, before easing off for a 66 and a tie for 33rd. Ghim was a Walker Cup team-mate of Scottie Scheffler and Will Zalatoris and arguably a better amateur, but he hasn't translated that early promise onto the PGA Tour as of yet. Ghim did finish in a tie for sixth at the prestigious Players Championship last month, where he got the worst of the weather. Sawgrass is also a Pete Dye track, and Ghim plays these courses well. He remains a top ball striker who needs to score better to make his mark on the circuit. It is forecast to blow at Hilton Head this week and that may suit Ghim, who would have the ability to control irons better than most. It's a strong tee to green game that's pushing me back towards Ghim this week and I do believe he is over priced.
Our third selection is Patrick Cantlay for €2 each way at 20/1. (1/5 the odds the first 8 places, William Hill).
I now believe American Patrick Cantlay came into the Masters under cooked after a missed cut at the Players and a group exit at the Match Play. He played well on Thursday and Sunday at Augusta, but two solid rounds wasn't good enough for someone of his ridiculous talent. I know, I watched a lot of his shots! That all said, at a similar price to last week in a weaker, if larger field, Cantlay is worth another go. He has spoken before of his love for Harbour Town, where he has three top seven finishes in four starts. Cantlay is hitting the ball well and he's an elite scrambler, which is what's required at Hilton Head. After a brilliant autumn and start to 2022, he can bounce back with a strong finish this week.
Our final selection is Denny McCarthy for €2 each way at 100/1. (1/5 the odds the first 8 places, SKY Bet, Betfred).
American Denny McCarthy is playing much better than this time a year ago, when he closed with three successive rounds of 67 to post a tie for 13th at the Heritage. He stands 49th in the FedEx Cup standings and is 45th in the strokes gained statistics, having been 108th in that category last season. The former Walker Cup player is still trying to break through for his first PGA Tour victory, but if you putt well as he does, it's surely only a matter of time. McCarthy topped the putting statistics on Tour in 2019 and 2020. He has 7 top 25's in 16 starts in this campaign, including a tie for 18th in Texas on his last appearance. Unlike a lot of players who played Augusta, he enters this tournament fresh and I think he can contend.
So that's €26 wagered virtually on this week's golf. Make sure you bet less at home! A euro each way will do!
Please gamble responsibly, never bet more than you can afford, and good luck!