Welcome to Virtual Insanity 2023, where we spend virtual money to try and win virtual money on golf betting. It's that simple!
Happy New Year!
I am so excited about the challenge of making a profit for the third year running.
Last year, the Virtual Insanity feature for OTB Sports delivered a profit of 25%.
We started with a virtual €1000 for 2022 and ended up with €1250 after tipping winners throughout the year at prices of 80/1, 66/1, 25/1 (twice) and 16/1 (twice).
So I hope the articles inform your decision making around having a responsible punt on golf and hopefully we can end 2023 in profit!
Now we reset!
We start the year again with a virtual pot of €1000 and we will track our progress from that figure.
This is primarily a tipping feature for the PGA Tour, and we'll start our journey with this week's Sony Open in Hawaii.
Played at the par 70 Waialae Country Club, the event starts at 5pm Irish time on Thursday.
Japan's Hideki Matsuyama is the defending champion.
Be sure to shop around, with bookmakers such as Paddy Power, William Hill, Betfair, Boylesports, Ladbrokes, Betway and SKY Bet offering 1/5 the odds for your pick to get into the top 8 places.
Our headline selection is Corey Conners for €4 each way at 22/1. (1/5 the odds the first 8 places, Paddy Power, Betfair, William Hill, Betway).
The main pick this week is Canada's Corey Conners, an excellent ball striker who has shown a liking for this tournament. In four starts at the Sony Open, he has been inside the top 12 on three occasions. Conners is a very crisp iron player and in the last four seasons on the PGA Tour, he's been in the top 16 for strokes gained tee to green. The 31 year old's only Tour victory was at the Texas Open in 2019. That was played on Bermuda greens, which he will encounter this week, so it gives Conners an opportunity to contend and neutralise what has been his weakness - putting. The Sony Open has been played 24 times after the Tournament of Champions in Hawaii and on 17 occasions, the Sony Open winner has been in the field the week before. Conners had the opportunity to shake off rust and closed with a 6 under par round at Kapalua. I think everything is in his favour for a strong showing this week and a victory wouldn't surprise.
Our second selection is Keith Mitchell for €2 each way at 35/1. (1/5 the odds the first 8 places, William Hill).
American Keith Mitchell is another 31 year old with a decent track record at Waialae - he's posted four top 25s in five starts at the Sony Open - his best result was a tie for seventh last year. He's carded low scores at the Sony Open, with a 62 and two rounds of 63 in his back catalogue. Mitchell is a strong driver of the golf ball, who won the 2019 Honda Classic on Bermuda greens in Florida. He had six top ten finishes last season and another top ten followed in Houston in November. Complimented by Rory McIlroy for his ability in the past, he's good enough to return to the winner's circle.
Our third selection is Christiaan Bezuidenhout for €2 each way at 45/1. (1/5 the odds the first 8 places, William Hill).
One just needs to go back to Gary Player to recognise the mental strength of South African players - and Ernie Els and Retief Goosen have six major championships between them. I expect a PGA Tour victory from 28 year old Christiaan Bezuidenhout this season. He finished in a tie for second at the John Deere Classic last season en route to his best standing on the PGA Tour. He's a four time winner on the DP World Tour and had two top fives in South Africa last November, so he's in good shape. Bezuidenhout is a brilliant player around the greens and his lack of length won't hinder him this week. He can also play in the wind and has the chops to improve on his debut performance of a tie for 17th in this event last year.
Our final selection is Nick Hardy for €2 each way at 80/1. (1/5 the odds the first 8 places, Paddy Power, Betfair, William Hill).
Two years ago American Nick Hardy only played on the PGA Tour twice, and one of those finishes was a tie for 14th in this Sony Open. He had a brilliant 2020-21 season on the Korn Ferry Tour - with ten top ten finishes in 41 starts, aided by quality tee to green play. That season he was second in the ball striking stats and fourth in greens hit. However, his rookie season on the PGA Tour was poor until a wrist injury forced him to regroup. He went back to the Korn Ferry Tour, ended second in a tournament there last May and then returned to contend at the US Open in Boston where he eventually ended in a tie for 14th. That's given him renewed confidence and he posted a tie for fifth at the Sanderson Farms Championship in October. He should be able to attack this golf course from the right positions and he strikes me as one of the better outsiders.
So that's €20 wagered virtually on this week's golf. Please 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!