Welcome to Virtual Insanity, where we spend virtual money to try and win virtual money on golf betting. It's that simple!
Last week was bittersweet - Keith Mitchell - our headline pick, was placed at the AT and T Pebble Beach Pro AM - each way at 28/1 - so we got our virtual money back.
But the winner - Justin Rose - was the man we put up as the main bet last year - which was somewhat frustrating!
So the virtual pot is at €930 from €1000 entering this week's PGA Tour tournament of focus, the Waste Management Phoenix Open in Arizona.
The tournament is played at the par 71 TPC of Scottsdale and it starts at 2.15pm Irish time on Thursday.
World number one Rory McIlroy heads a field of 134, with eight of the world's top ten in the line up, including the in-form Jon Rahm.
Shane Lowry and Seamus Power are also in the field.
It's desert golf, with good approach play a must.
It's also a track that generates low scores, so it's important for contenders to keep the foot on the throttle on Super Bowl weekend. Conditions are expected to be fair, so this will be a week to make birdies. And one must deal with the intimidating crowds.
Be sure to shop around, with bookmakers such as Betfair, Boyle Sports, William Hill and SKY Bet offering 1/5 the odds for your pick to get into the top 8 places. Paddy Power, Ladbrokes and Coral are going to 10 places, but my selections are at 8 places because of the better prices on offer in that mid-range. One can get even better prices with other bookmakers paying only 5 places each way.
Our first selection is Patrick Cantlay for €6 each way at 20/1. (1/5 the odds the first 8 places, Betfair).
Last year American Patrick Cantlay, on his first appearance in Phoenix, lost in a play off to Scottie Scheffler, which was an impressive debut. The 30 year old is ranked fifth in the world, but perhaps due to his unassuming nature, he remains underestimated in the game. He has won 8 times on the PGA Tour since 2017 and has no real weaknesses. Just look at the statistics from last season - 9th in strokes gained total - 8th in par 4 performance, which needs to be good at the TPC of Scottsdale - 5th in birdie average and 6th in scoring average. I feel that Patrick Cantlay could be the world number one in time and he looks rock solid at 4/1 to be placed, but he's also the headline pick to win this week at 20/1.
Our second selection is Rickie Fowler for €4 each way at 55/1. (1/5 the odds the first 8 places, SKY Bet).
Is Rickie Fowler going to be the comeback kid of golf? Working with renowned coach Butch Harmon again will certainly help the former Ryder Cup player and Players Champion, who was such a fixture around the top echelon of the game in the last decade. It's important to remember though that Fowler is only 34 and seems in a good place with a young family. So there's plenty of time for him to bounce back. The American's last win was in this tournament in 2019, and his love for the Phoenix Open is also highlighted by a pair of solo seconds in this event. Fowler was tied 11th on his last start at Torrey Pines, one of three finishes inside that mark this season. He represents good each way value this week.
Our third selection is Corey Conners for €3.50 each way at 66/1. (1/5 the odds the first 8 places, Sky Bet).
Canadian Corey Conners may be one of the better selections in the mid ranking players to trouble the world's best in Phoenix this week. He skipped the laborious pro-am circuit to come here fresh off a tie for 12th in Hawaii, his fourth finish in a row inside the top 20. Conners is a brilliant ball striker and wonderful iron player. He was 5th in strokes gained off the tee last season, second in greens in regulation and 10th in par four scoring. He has been held back by his putter. However, his sole win on tour in Texas came on Bermuda Greens - and that's what he will face here in Arizona. He's also not afraid to mix it with the big guns - three top 10 finishes in succession at the Masters at Augusta points to his pedigree. He was tied 17th in this tournament in 2021 and can fare better now.
Our final selection is Ryan Moore for €1.50 each way at 400/1. (1/5 the odds the first 8 places, SKY Bet).
In horse racing they would call a 400/1 shot a rag, to be hung out with the washing. In golf, there's always a chance, no matter what the odds! So that's why I am taking a complete flyer on the former world amateur number one Ryan Moore, who caught the eye with a tie for seventh at Pebble Beach. Moore is now 40 years old and his best days look behind him, but he was never one to shy away from big names on a final day - he had a great battle with Rory McIlroy at the Tour Championship back in 2016. Moore is a five time winner on tour who has three top six finishes in Phoenix to his name. He's more likely to miss the cut, but my gut liked him at the price. He's 80/1 to place.
So that's €30 wagered virtually on this week's golf.
Please gamble responsibly, never bet more than you can afford, and good luck!
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