Welcome to Virtual Insanity, where we spend virtual money to try and win virtual money on golf betting. It's that simple!
With our selections at the Corales Championship drawing a blank, the virtual pot is at €1170 from €1000, a profit of 17% for 2022 entering this week's tournament of focus, the Valero Texas Open on the PGA Tour in San Antonio.
The Oaks course, designed by Greg Norman, is a par 72 which requires strong driving and accurate approach play. You need good ball strikers on your side and wind can also be a factor. So even though there are opportunities for birdies, your player needs to be 'on'. In-form players are a must then for any shortlist, in my view.
The tournament starts at 1pm Thursday, Irish time.
Be sure to shop around, with most bookmakers offering 1/5 the odds for your pick to get into the top 8 places. I highlight the best terms and bookmakers offering them which I can see beside each recommendation below.
Our headline selection is Rory McIlroy for €5 each way at 8/1. (1/5 the odds the first 8 places, William Hill).
We know the Masters starts next week, so there will not be a scintilla of pressure on Ireland's Rory McIlroy at this week's Texas Open. Not an iota, not one jot. He's clearly the best player in the field, he was second on his only appearance in this tournament in 2013 and the course with its premium on strong driving and imagination in the run off areas around the greens should yield good rounds from McIlroy. He needs to have three of them rather than one to win - he opened with a 65 at Bay Hill and closed with a 66 at the Players Championship. McIlroy has spoken about the importance of being free with his swing and this may be a better preparation for the Masters than sitting at home and thinking about the career Grand Slam. I considered past champion Corey Conners as the headline tip, but he had seven rounds at the Matchplay, a tournament McIlroy skipped. It's McIlroy who is the fresh horse this week and he's the headline pick.
Our second selection is Anirban Lahiri for €3 each way at 100/1. (1/5 the odds the first 8 places, Paddy Power, Betfair, William Hill Betfred).
I couldn't get my head around the price of Anirban Lahiri at first show this week and I still can't. The Indian golfer played brilliantly at the Players Championship, finishing second behind Cameron Smith. That was his last start, so he comes here fresh and when I watched this tournament last year, he was part of the conversation, finishing fifth behind Jordan Spieth with his last three rounds in the 60's. Yes, Lahiri's form is spotty, but he's now surely wrapped up his PGA Tour card for next season and if momentum is anything in sport, he can parlay that into another good finish in Texas.
Our third selection is Chris Kirk for €3 each way at 33/1. (1/5 the odds the first 8 places, William Hill).
I put up Chris Kirk as a selection for this tournament last year and I am keeping him onside again. The American is a four time winner on the PGA Tour and before a missed cut at the Players Championship, he had notched three top 15 finishes in a row. He ranks 15th in strokes gained total this season and his form at the Texas Open is not shabby either - a tie for sixth last year was one of three top ten finishes in his last six starts in this tournament. He's due a win on Tour almost seven years after his last victory (also in Texas) and it could come this Sunday.
Our fourth selection is Kevin Streelman for €1.50 each way at 50/1. (1/5 the odds the first 8 places, William Hill).
Veteran American Kevin Streelman is in form - he was tied for seventh at the Valspar Championship on his last start after a tie for 22nd at the Players Championship. His record is this event is also strong - he was sixth on his last appearance at the Oaks Course in 2019 and tied for eighth the year before that. He doesn't win very often (only twice), but he makes a lot of cuts, had four top 10's last season and should once again give you a decent run for your money.
Our fifth selection is Dylan Frittelli for €1.50 each way at 80/1. (1/5 the odds the first 8 places, Paddy Power, Betfair, Ladbrokes, SKY Bet, Coral, Betfred).
There is no rhyme or reason to South African Dylan Frittelli's form - he won the John Deere Classic in 2019 out of nowhere and then posted a tie for fifth on his Masters debut in 2020. He followed that up with a fifth place finish at the Open Championship last year. I can't get those strong displays out of my mind. The Austin resident doesn't have far to travel to this tournament and he holed the winning putt for the University of Texas when they won the 2012 NCAA Championship, the top prize in US college golf. Frittelli enters this week off the back of making four cuts in a row. He's also made two cuts at the Texas Open, tying for 20th in 2018. He is well capable of a first top ten of the season or better.
Our final selection is Paul Barjon for €1 each way at 300/1. (1/5 the odds the first 8 places, Betfred).
French golfer Paul Barjon progressed through the Canadian circuit and Korn Ferry Tour to play on the PGA Tour. Like a lot of full season rookies, he's found it a challenge, but he held a share of the 54 hole lead at the American Express in California earlier this year before fading into 10th place. Barjon missed the cut at the Corales Championship, but his second round was a 69. I am interested that he finished in a tie for second at the Oaks Course in a Korn Ferry Tour event in 2020, so he should have good memories. He's one of the better outsiders at 60/1 to make the top eight. If he wins, we'll be making a trip to the Masters!
So that's €30 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!