Welcome to Virtual Insanity, where we spend virtual money to try and win virtual money on golf betting. It's that simple!
Last week's PGA Championship picks only delivered one place; Rory McIlroy, who finished 8th. A frustrating week, but well done Justin Thomas and well done Southern Hills for hosting an entertaining major championship at a fair golf course.
It means the virtual pot is at €1056 from €1000, a profit of 5.6% for 2022 entering this week's tournament of focus, the Charles Schwab Challenge on the PGA Tour in Texas. As I am still betting with virtual house money, I have decided to spread the stakes across seven players this week, some of them at larger odds. The lesson of Mito Pereira's near miss at 175/1 last week is that odds are just that - just an opinion. In golf, they don't discount someone from winning, even if Pereira failed to close the deal.
This tournament is played at the iconic Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, a tight par 70 that has hosted this event since 1946. It's an old school, ball strikers venue where accuracy and a good touch around the greens are rewarded. It's great to see that it still matters to hit the fairway on certain courses, but technology is challenging these types of layouts and 14 under par was the leading 72 hole score last year. It is forecast to be windy this week, which could test the players.
The event starts at 1pm Thursday, Irish time.
Be sure to shop around, with bookmakers such as Paddy Power, SKY Bet, Betfred, Betfair, Boyle Sports, Ladbrokes, Coral, Betway 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 Sungjae Im for €4 each way at 33/1. (1/5 the odds the first 8 places, Ladbrokes, Coral, William Hill, SKY Bet, Betway).
Korea's Sungjae Im was unfortunate to miss the US PGA Championship - he contracted COVID-19 and had to isolate in the Far East. So he arrives in Texas fresh and has posted five top ten finishes in 16 starts this season. The 24 year old won the Shriners Children's Open back in October and played really well at the Masters. An excellent iron player, Im tied for 10th in this tournament in 2020 with four rounds in the 60's. I feel he is underrated in the world of golf and if the putts drop this week, 33/1 will look generous. He's the headline selection.
Our second selection is Abraham Ancer for €3 each way at 35/1. (1/5 the odds the first 8 places, William Hill).
One of the top performers last week was Mexico's Abraham Ancer, who tied for ninth at the US PGA. He is a very tidy player who won the WGC Fed-Ex St Jude Invitational against an elite field last year. Colonial suits Ancer - he has been tied 14th on his last two appearances in Fort Worth. Third on the PGA Tour in the driving accuracy statistics - the 31 year old found something in his game last week and that could propel him to contend on Sunday.
Our third selection is Patrick Rodgers for €3 each way at 150/1. (1/5 the odds the first 8 places, William Hill).
I felt Southern Hills was a gruelling test for a lot of players last week, so I am keen to have fresh players on my side. One of those is American Patrick Rodgers, who has posted three top ten finishes this season, the last of them in Mexico earlier this month. He then shot four rounds in the 60's at the Byron Nelson tournament, so his form is coming around again. A long hitter and a good putter, Rodgers was tied for 14th in this tournament two years ago. He was once the best amateur in the world, but he has yet to parlay that talent into PGA Tour victories. Still only 29, I do believe Rodgers has the ability to win on the circuit, a bit like last year's Charles Schwab champion Jason Kokrak, who took ages to win and then reeled off a bunch of tournaments.
Our fourth selection is Doug Ghim for €2 each way at 100/1. (1/5 the odds the first 8 places, Paddy Power, SKY Bet, Betfair, Betway, Betfred, William Hill).
This is a course for ball strikers and one of the better players on tour from tee to green is former crack amateur Doug Ghim, who has been held back by his putter this season. The forecast winds do accentuate the importance of hitting the ball well, which Ghim did when posting a top ten at the Players Championship. He will need to putt a lot better, but it's interesting that he finished in a tie for 14th in this event last year.
Our fifth selection is JT Poston for €2 each way at 125/1. (1/5 the odds the first 8 places, SKY Bet, William Hill).
I watched the Heritage tournament at Harbour Town closely and noticed a return to form by American JT Poston, who missed the first six cuts of the season. Poston closed with a 64 for a tie for third at Harbour Town and then notched a tie for ninth on his last start at the Wells Fargo Championship. It's a bit of a feast or famine with the 28 year old, who missed the cut in this event last year after finishing in a tie for 10th in it the previous year. He's always been able to putt - he was ranked second on tour in that category last season - and his progressive finishes of late may be an omen ahead of this week.
Our sixth selection is Austin Smotherman for €2 each way at 200/1. (1/5 the odds the first 8 places, SKY Bet).
A rookie I have been keeping an eye on this season is American Austin Smotherman, a winner on the Korn Ferry Tour last season who lives in nearby Dallas and has posted two finishes of tied 25th in his last two starts. His strength is his ball striking - in the strokes gained stats this season he lies 30th off the tee and 21st in approach. His short game needs work, but the example of Will Zalatoris is that it's better to be consistently giving yourself putts rather than having to scramble around. Smotherman had five top tens on the Korn Ferry Tour last season and at 40/1 to place, he's worth a dart as an up and comer.
Our final selection is Vince Whaley for €2 each way at 300/1. (1/5 the odds the first 8 places, Paddy Power, Betfair).
I am taking a chance for small money with my final pick this week - American Vince Whaley, who shot four rounds in the 60's at the Byron Nelson in early May. He's a consistent player, making ten cuts in a row in his rookie season last year. I remember him playing well in the wind in Bermuda back in October and he tied for 20th on his Colonial debut last year. He strikes me as an interesting sleeper selection to potentially make the frame.
So that's €36 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!