Welcome to a new feature for thegolffamily.com in the way of each-way cross-doubles across the two main events of the week.
With Tom and Steve doing a terrific job in covering the tournaments in full, there should be no need to go into minute detail and this will be a simple case of picking 3-per-event with a few lines of reasoning. There may also be Top-10/Top-20 cross-doubles.
The column will appear as the calendar allows, with a regular go at the ‘get rich quick, die trying’ scheme, and stakes will remain constant through the whole season.
Be lucky, or go skint trying.
For this week and ease of calculation, prices used are Skybet as they are betting w/o the front 4 in South Africa and 7 places in the Sony. Clearly others are bigger on some players but you concede places. Swafford, for example is 90-1 in a place but mixing them up between bookmakers would make this a very (more?) confusing article.
9 x 0.2 points e/w doubles = 3.6 points
SONY OPEN (Each-way 1/4 1-7)
Brian Harman 18/1
Jason Dufner 40/1
Hudson Swafford 66/1
SOUTH AFRICA OPEN (w/o the front 4 1/4 1-5)
Jordan Smith 20/1
Aaron Rai 50/1
Oliver Bekker 90/1
4 x 0.5 doubles Top-20 = 2 points (Betfair Sportsbook)
Harman picks himself after a cracking effort in Hawaii last week, on a course that favoured length in the end. He improved from his first start there (17th) and may further improve his consistent stats here. This is a more suitable test for a player with superb accuracy stats and with course figures of 20/13/13/17 since 2015. Only one round over 69 in his last 16 round Waialae he is preferred to Leishman at the top of the market.
Duffers is a legend in golf circles, often seeming non-plussed about the whole thing, but still managing to win a handful of titles since 2012. Perfectly adept in windy conditions, he caught the eye last week before collapsing on Payday, being one of just four players to shoot over par and falling from 4th to outside the top-10. Thats unusual for him and he carries plenty of course experience, a best of 9th his highlight a couple of seasons ago. Winners here often come off the Tournament of Champions and he has always ranked high in par-4 performance, something that helps in a big way this week.
In contrast to the two above, Swafford found himself down the field last week but he gets the benefit of the doubt, certainly on price. A Florida native, his efforts in windy conditions reads fine and it may be the new switch of clubs that found him out round Plantation. It’s a fluke that he is picked as a winner at PGA West (the year after Dufner won a dramatic title) but equally no coincidence. Form here reads 13/9/mc/8 and like many players, we may find the change of club manufacturer provokes sudden improvement. I felt 90/1 was far too big.
Picking from the top lot in SA was tough. Frittelli looks obvious and should probably be a touch shorter but fortunately Skybet allow us to ignore both he and Grace alongside Schwartzel and Burmy, so I’m confidently expecting a return from Jordan Smith, hugely impressive through his Challenge Tour win and who has come on again to win his maiden Euro event in Germany. Accurate off the tee and ultra-aggressive on the greens, it is no surprise he was 3rd here on debut last year and has infinite improvement to come. His sole double-bogey of the week last year (7th hole final round) probably cost him the chance of a play-off at least and with his game expected to mature over the next season or two, we have a serious player on our hands. Form fell away after his victory in July but he ended the season with a final round 66 at the DP Tour Championship in Dubai and has been happy with practice recently in the same country. High-up in the ‘most eagles’ category, if he gets the chances, expect fireworks!. He is certainly expected to win again this year, why not here?
Although Aaron Rai finished only fourth in last seasons R2O title on the Challenge Tour it is quite clear he was up there with the very best, even if missing a good dozen events due to capturing his ET card in July. Impressive in all his three victories at that level, including a masterclass in Kenya, he can again show the talent that is ready to emerge from the UK. Not disgraced in his main tour exploits through the summer, top 10-s in Denmark and at the brilliant Valderrama show he can compete at the highest level on a tree-lined track and he seems to like this part of the world, being always prominent for a 7th in the 2017 Joburg Open and following that with a top-20 at the same venue a month ago.
Final pick was tough. I struggled between South African place specialist Aiken (need to ignore recent form though) and Matt Wallace, who stormed to victory in Portugal on only his 4th outing at that level. However, you can’t bet in South Africa without backing a home player, so Oliver Bekker got the call.
Hard to read for a number of years, the 33-year-old is still very much a winner although at a slightly lower level. However, he openly admits he was in a better state of mind through 2017 and that showed in his golf, with three wins and a couple of placed finishes. Maybe playing for the Sunshine Tour title through the close season was too much but there is little wrong in the 13th in the Joburg Open when he proved just one-paced after an opening 66. Form at Glendower is sporadic and reads far better in the days when this was the BMG Classic but he is certainly a different player now and a chance is taken at the price, whilst an early tee-time would seem a particular help for him.