Back to the Home of Golf this week, as it is time to crown the Champion Golfer of the Year. St. Andrews gives us an opportunity to make a few bucks as I see some early value and predictable lines. Coming off Chambers Bay, the casual fan was introduced to Branden Grace and Shane Lowry. The slightly less casual fan was re-acquainted with Louis Oosthuizen. As expected, all three are overvalued this week.
Spiethmania has taken over golf. McIlroy is out with an injury, Tiger is still a question mark and Fowler shot his load in Scotland (look for the letdown) so who can the morons at ESPN babble about all week? Spieth! That’s right, all Jordan, all the time. One of my golf pools has even taken the step of eliminating him from the field because the pool manager expects all 400 entries to include Spieth. I guess he doesn’t understand variances and outliers. He also kills an important edge for smart players in large format tournaments.
Let’s get the Spieth talk out of the way. He’s amazing. Spieth exhibits a remarkable will to win and an equally remarkable ability to flip a switch when it is time to start playing. Spieth plods along for about 65 holes then he wakes up, puts it in gear and runs down the rest of the field. (John Deere Classic, QED.) Week in and week out, Spieth is mediocre tee to green but he chips and putts the light out. He’s not long, he not even straight but he makes 6 footers. And 12 footers. And 25 footers. And they all go in the middle of the hole. He’s like Brad Faxon with 13 other clubs.
This is a weaker than usual major field and Spieth feeds on the pressure. I like the kid. A lot. I like his mental make-up. A lot. And I like his chances, just not at 5-1. That line says Spieth has to beat the field 16.667% of the time for you to break even betting him. I don’t care how well he is playing. There is no value.
What about the course? We’ll hear all week about brown grass, the Principal’s Nose, the Road Hole and a bunch of other goofy shit that really doesn’t matter. How do you beat St. Andrews? Hit it low and miss it left. It is really that simple. Hit it low and miss it left. Oosthuizen won in 2010 by wearing out the middle of the fairway but there is no reason to be so precise. John Daly won in 1995 by hitting a monstrously long hook for 72 holes. On Thursday, he hit his tee shot on 18 into the grandstand on 1. He sent his tee shot 340 yards downrange, turned it about 80 yards left (across two fairways), got a free drop and hit a soft wedge on to the green in regulation. If you avoid the bunkers, you don’t give up shots to the field. If you don’t give up shots to the field, you win the tournament. Between Long John and Louie, Tiger won here (twice) with a more surgical but equally effective game plan. Tiger hit stingers into the wind and he tried to drive every green downwind. He missed all the bunkers and he won impressively both times. A little local knowledge helps but you really need to hit it far, keep it low and turn it left. Rinse, repeat, pick up Claret Jug.
I’m still busy crunching numbers but I want to get a head start on the opportunities I see. (Updates to follow as the week goes on).
To win it all:
Stenson +2,200 (1/2 unit)
Casey +3,300 (1/2 unit)
Woods +3,500 (1/4 unit) — strictly betting on course management and local knowledge
Wiesberger +8,000 (1/4 unit) — as always, a wide open field and there is a lot of value at the bottom of the draw. I can’t take them all so I pick the one I like best.
Head-to-Head, Tournament (1 unit each unless otherwise stated):
Stenson +103 over Scott
Casey +118 over Stenson
Casey +124 over Scott
Casey +102 over Oosthuizen
Garcia -119 over Watson
Matsuyama -119 over Watson
Woods +155 over Day
Woods +130 over Kaymer
F Molinari +104 over Furyk
Schwartzel -119 over McDowell
Horschel +101 over Bradley
Palmer +107 over Haas
Reed -109 over Walker
Stay tuned for more and set that Thursday morning alarm for 3 AM EST.
Best of luck,