One of the quirks of team matchplay is that there can be a substantial discrepancy between the odds of players whose fate is largely dependent on one another. If for instance, a pairing stays together throughout the foursomes and fourballs, they will begin the final day singles with identical points. There is precisely such a differential between the two players whose partnership is widely expected to form the backbone of Europe's bid - Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell.
Whereas Rory starts as 6.0 favourite to be top European scorer, his likely partner is an 10.0 chance, which must represent better value. Of the two, McDowell actually has a superior matchplay record, having starred on both previous appearances, famously holing the winning putt at Celtic Manor. Even if Jose Maria Olazabal...
[u]06:30 3 Ball - Estes - O Hara - Jones[/u]
Estes - Whole of the first round bogey free - that is an impressive achievement.
O'Hara - A triple at the 15th cost him any chance of a reasonable score.
Jones - Will feel good after finishing with a pair of birdies
[b]Selection: Jones will move away the other two.[/b]
[u]06:41 3 Ball - Pagunsan - Pinckney - Cullen[/u]
Pagunsan - Will be encouraged by an opening 71. Might be as good as it gets.
Pinckney - Only hit 5 fairways so how he scored 68 is amazing.
Cullen - Going so well until he triple bogeyed the last. That isn't going to make his task any easier.
[b]Selection: Go with Cullen to overcome his last hole blues.[/b]
[u]06:52 3 Ball - Alker - Slattery - Thompson[/u]
Alker - Decent long game and isn't overly fazed by the occasion.
First staged at Prestwick, way back in 1860, the Open Championship is the oldest of the four major championships and it's the only one played outside of the USA. Still regarded as the biggest and best of the four, it's always played out on a seaside links course. This will be the 141st staging of the Open Championship.
Royal Lytham and St Annes, Lancashire, England
Par 70, 7086 yards
Lytham opened in 1897 and the original course design is accredited to the then course pro, George Lowe, but Harry Colt, in 1919, Ken Cotten, in 1952, and most recently Martin Ebert, have all put their mark on the course too.
Lytham's been used for the Open Championship on ten previous occasions and every winner has been top-class.
Barring the Ryder Cup, the Open Championship has to be my favourite tournament of the year. Not least because it's the only chance we Brits get to watch a Major championship during daylight hours!
There's also something really schadenfreude about watching spectators, players, and officials reach a state of hyperthermia, in supposedly the height of summer, whilst you're watching from an armchair with a hot drink and a pork pie in your hand. It doesn't have to be a pork pie of course, but the pleasure's still the same.
So who likes the cold, who likes links golf, who can hit a straight shot with rain belting into their faces, and just who can get around Royal Lytham & St Annes four times in the least shots. No-one at this stage knows the exact answer, but an in-form player is usually...
[b]Keep a relentlessly close eye on the weather forecast[/b]
At risk of stating the obvious, watching the weather is never more important to golf betting than during an Open Championship. A good or bad draw as regards wind speed can make the difference between shooting 65 and 75 and often proves a fatal handicap. Moreover, a change in wind direction requires radical changes to any in-running plan. The current forecast predicts relatively light winds and plenty of rain both before and during the event, suggesting no significant draw advantage over the first two rounds. Keep checking though, as forecasts change fast.
[b]Greens in regulation is the key stat to follow, supported by driving accuracy and putting[/b]
Britain's wet summer means the Open layout will be as penal as ever, with...
There's only two weeks until the Open Championship at Royal Lytham St Annes, but much can change in that time. Those players winning tournaments or even contending strongly over the next fortnight will likely see their odds shorten markedly, so rather than risk missing the boat, it makes sense to back long-range fancies now. Here's four contenders who are likelier to shorten rather than drift, and are recommended as immediate bets.
[b]Rickie Fowler @ 50.0[/b]
Rickie has been my leading fancy for this major ever since finishing fifth last year at Sandwich. Considering his inexperience of majors, especially in treacherous British weather, his performance was nothing short of superb. Fowler is obviously a natural when it comes to coping with fierce winds, which can normally be relied...
The BMW PGA Championship is the European Tour's flagship event. In existence since 1972, the event moved to its now permanent home of Wentworth in 1984. It's the only non-major event in England all season and given the dominance the Brits have on the game at present that's both disappointing and perplexing.
Wentworth (West Course), Surrey, England.
Par 72 -7,302 yards
Stroke Index in 2011 - 73.47 (Par 71)
Opened in 1926 and designed by Harry Colt, the West Course, also referred to as Burma Road, has undergone a series of alterations in recent years, under the supervision of Ernie Els, and the tinkering continued in 2012.
All the greens were remodelled in 2009/10 but the biggest change of all came on the par five...
There is something of a bandwagon forming for Keegan Bradley, his price has been steadily contracting for weeks now. He's certainly a player with a lot of nerve and a bright future but I'm surprised he is available at the same price in his three-ball as defending champion Charl Schwartzel 2.14. This is Bradley's debut at Augusta, Charl's extra experience will be hard to match on day one. No disrespect to amateur Kelly Kraft (the third member of the three ball) but this one looks a match.
Charl's great friend Louis Oosthuizen 2.86 suffered an unfortunate collapse on Sunday last week when leading the Shell Houston Open, however, he bounced back well towards the end of his round to finish solo third. That event is seen as a great warm-up for Augusta, it's a fairly similar test so I'm happy...
We've seen it time and time again, whether it's the WGC - Accenture Match Play which starts on Wednesday, the Volvo-sponsored version or in team competitions like the Ryder Cup. Matchplay golf is a refined art, quite distinct from strokeplay. Some players thrive under head to head conditions, others hate it.
Below is my Masters and Mugs, four matchplay experts and four who haven't exactly excelled in this format in recent years.
Tournament record: Won 16, Lost 6
Outright odds: 19.0
No prizes for originality here, but the defending champion's wider matchplay record confirms his status as the man to beat in Arizona. Donald was also runner-up in last year's Volvo World Match Play, and has won two out of three singles matches at the...