TIGER WOODS is in to 4.7 favourite to win the first Major of the season – the US Masters – after returning to the top of the world rankings with a smooth success at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

Woods led the field by two going into the weather-interrupted final round at Bay Hill, a course where he had won seven times previously and never really looked in any danger as he strolled to a two-stroke victory over Justin Rose.

He was matched at a high of 9.0 In-Play to win the tournament for an eighth time when he trailed by six shots during the early part of his third round.

The victory is Woods' third win on the PGA Tour this season following victories in the Farmers Insurance Open and the WGC Cadillac Championship – perhaps significantly at venues where he was already a multiple winner – and it moves him to No.1 in the world rankings for the first time since October 2010.

Woods' rise back to the top of his profession will be all the more satisfactory coming just a week after he publicly announced he is in a relationship with American skier Lindsey Vonn.

It is now apparent the “new” Tiger plays his best golf at venues where he has previously enjoyed success so the fact he is a four-time winner at Augusta National will add further confidence to those who have already backed him at prices up to and including 14.0.

However, Woods has failed to don the famous Green Jacket since 2005 nor has he been able to add to his tally of 14 Major titles for nearly five years an that has to be a worry.

Tiger's main rivals according to the Betfair Winner market appear to be the man Woods replaced as world No.1 – Rory McIlroy (12.0) – and three-times Masters champion Phil Mickelson (15.5).

The US Masters tees off on Thursday, April 11.

Milesey (Betfair)

  1. Milesey 11 years ago

    Tiger Woods today became the 13th American winner in-a-row on the PGA tour and that’s the first time Americans have won the first 13 events since 1989. Whilst on the European Tour, Kiradech Aphibarnrat won the Maybank Malaysian Open – an event reduced to 54-holes.

    My Bets
    Having backed Woods from the outset, it’s been a profitable week but it could have been better. It looked as though it was going to be a very lucrative one at one stage but as detailed in the In-Play Blog, Charl Schwartzel played poorly in the third and final round in Malaysia.

    Tiger’s benchmark win
    Before Woods’ win in the Arnold Palmer Invitational a year ago, he was without a victory anywhere in three years and he was languishing right down in 58th place in the Official World Rankings.

    Here we are twelve months later and today’s win really was a benchmark success. It takes him to the top of the 2013 FedEx Cup standings and far more importantly, back to number one in the Official World Rankings. It was his 15th win in Florida, his third win of the season, and his 6th in his last 20 PGA Tour starts. It was also his eighth Arnold Palmer Invitational win, a feat that equals Sam Snead’s record of wins at a single event. It’s been some twelve months for Tiger Woods and some comeback.

    What have we learnt for next year?
    Fast starts are essential at both events. I wrote in both previews that history suggested that a flying start was required and it proved to be the case again.

    Tiger sat in a tie for 5th after round one and Aphibarnrat won wire-to-wire.

    At Bay Hill, Par 5 Performance was yet again the key stat. Tiger dominated the long holes, playing them in 14 under-par.

    Recent Florida form is important. In each of the last four years, the winner at Bay Hill had already recorded a top-5 finish in the Florida Swing that year.

    In Malaysia, it may sound crazy after a Thai Asian Tour player has won the event but I’d be inclined to overlook the locals. I’m pretty sure Aphibarnrat wouldn’t have won had the event been over the full four rounds and the European Tour players usually outclass their Asian counterparts. Kiradech may have won this week but China’s Ashun Wu was the only other Asian Tour player in the top-21.

    Take a really good look at Rafa Cabrera-Bello next year. He absolutely loves this venue and his tied 22nd this year may look like a disappointing effort but when you consider his crazy journey to Malaysia, it was a decent performance. Providing he has a less stressful time of it beforehand in twelve months time, he could be the one to be on.

    Player to follow
    Also finishing the week tied for 22nd was Malaysian amateur Gavin Green, who looks like a player to keep an eye on. Although only a young man, Green is an old hat at this golf lark – he played in the Johor Open way back in 2007, aged just 13! He unsurprisingly missed the cut quite badly then but he’s caught my attention a few times since and the New Mexico sophomore student looks to have a big future.

    With Tiger taking a few weeks off before the US Masters, it’s over to Rory now. Can he win this week’s Shell Houston Open and nudge Woods back off the top? I’ll be back tomorrow or Wednesday with a preview of that event, as well as one for this week’s European Tour tournament – the Trophee Hassan II.

    Milesey ( betfair )

    • Milesey 11 years ago


      It wasn’t so long ago that the US Masters was widely regarded as Europe’s best chance of winning a major. During the 1980s and 1990s, players from our continent wore the Green Jacket no fewer than 11 times. This during an era when Americans dominated the world rankings and, although Europe proved their equal in Ryder Cups, they tended to be upsetting the odds in doing so.

      Nowadays, the situation is completely reversed. In world ranking terms, European golf has never been stronger. Prior to Tiger Woods regaining the number one spot last week, the last four men to hold that title were all from either Britain or Germany. Europe has now won seven of the last nine Ryder Cups, including that amazing comeback last September at Medinah. Yet for all their wider success, and that includes all the other three majors, there hasn’t been a single European champion at Augusta this century.

      Time for a change? Don’t bet on it, for the first quarter of 2013 could barely have gone worse for our big guns. Rory McIlroy began the year with the world and a huge Nike contract at his feet, before flopping absymally. The new world number two starts favourite for this week’s Houston Open, needing a big performance to reassure punters who took down to 6.2 for the Masters over the winter. Another non-challenging performance will probably see his odds drift markedly from the current 11.5 in favour of other challengers in better form.

      The news regarding the other three Europeans to have recently held the number one spot is no better. Luke Donald’s slow start to 2013 was compounded by missing the cut at last week’s relatively low-grade Malaysian Open, for which he started a short-priced favourite. Lee Westwood, meanwhile, finished a miserable 63rd at Bay Hill and hasn’t won anywhere in the world since last June. From being number one just over two years ago, Martin Kaymer is now outside the top-30 and in any case, has an awful Augusta record.

      Slightly stronger cases can be made for Ian Poulter and Graeme McDowell. The former was outstanding at his favourite event, the World Matchplay, although two strokeplay starts since have yielded little. Nonetheless, Poulter is developing a reputation as a man for the big occasion and was seventh last year at Augusta. Gmac has yet to contend in a Masters, but was superb in the other three majors last year and a recent third place at Doral points towards more of the same.

      Nevertheless, with all due respect, Poulter and Gmac are relative outsiders for Masters glory. trading at 50.0 and 65.0 respectively. Among the market leaders, only one European inspires any confidence right now. By finishing second to Tiger Woods at Bay Hill, a course where the great man is almost invincible, Justin Rose was in effect winning a prestigious tournament. Doing that for real is the least Rose deserves after a splendidly consistent run. Since winning the WGC event at Doral 12 months ago, he’s been runner-up no fewer than five times, all in big events, and notched another 11 top-tens during that period. He also has a decent Augusta record, finishing a contending fifth in 2007 and making the last three top-20s.

      However, as much as those impressive numbers are not to be argued with, there must be a doubt about Justin’s ability to finish the job. He had the Bay Hill crown at his mercy over the weekend and seemed to fall apart under the pressure, only coming again once the tournament was lost to Woods. His performance certainly did not scream ‘major-winner-in-waiting’. Rather, Woods’ latest victory means that all 13 of this season’s PGA Tour events have been won by Americans. Unless Rory can find his touch very quickly, it is hard to see anyone from Europe breaking that run at the Masters.

      Milesey ( betfair )

  2. Milesey 11 years ago

    The two previous renewals of the Trophee Hassan II that were played on this particular layout offer some very useful clues. First and foremost, one cannot overlook the fact that all of last year’s top-five were from the British Isles. So for that matter were two of the three play-off candidates in 2011.

    Secondly, there is a marked correlation between results here and another couple of sometimes European Tour venues – Oitavos Dunes and Porto Santo Golfe, previously home to the Estoril Open and Madeira Island Open respectively. For example last year’s champion here, Michael Hoey, had previously won at both venues. Runner-up Damien McGrane also had form at both.

    A third clue is the weather, because the wind can change significantly here, creating a sort of linksy-feel which may explain the success of UK and Irish players. This year’s forecast suggests the wind will get up every afternoon, so an early tee-time on Thursday could offer an advantage in so far as many afternoon starters will effectively lose the tournament on day one. The first two of this week’s three picks meet the tee-time criteria, with the third picked nonetheless for wider reasons. All are from the British Isles.

    First up, while McGrane hasn’t done anything lately, he is obviously well suited and a very big price at 130.0 given last year’s effort. Damien is widely known to be a wind specialist.

    Next at 270.0, Graeme Storm is among the earliest starters and at his best, would tick all the right boxes. He finished top-25 in the last two renewals and has been third at Oitavos Dunes. Again, the lack of recent form must be a worry, but 21st on his penultimate start in South Africa offered enough encouragement to support a small risk at huge odds.

    Finally, 250.0 chance John Parry qualifies despite a late tee-time. Its less than three years since Parry was rated one of Europe’s hottest young prospects following a superb streak which yielded victory at the Vivendi Trophy and a competitive third in the Dunhill Links. After losing the plot and a spell on the Challenge Tour, Parry is back and contended till halfway on his penultimate start. He’s talking a good game this week and two top-nine finishes in Madeira add to his case.

    The trading plan is to stake four units in total, then place lay orders on each player at 10.0 and 3.0 to bank a minimum of 11 units profit should any one of our trio hit the first target.

    Recommended Bets

    Back Damien McGrane 2u @ 130.0
    Back John Parry 1u @ 250.0
    Back Graeme Storm 1u @ 270.0


    Tournament History
    Although the Trophee Hassan II has been in existence since 1971 and this will be the 40th staging, it’s only been an official European Tour event since 2010. Prior to that, it was a limited field invitation only jolly and form prior to 2010 is largely irrelevant.

    Golf du Palais Royal, Agadir, Morocco.

    Course Details
    Par 72, 6,844 yards, stroke average in 2012 – 71.70

    In addition to the last two renewals of this event, the Golf du Palais Royal also hosted the Moroccan Open six times in the 1990’s. It’s an undulating, variable Robert Trent Jones design with small greens, surrounded by deep bunkering, running at around 10.5 on the stimpmeter. Some fairways are tree-lined and some exposed and generously wide. Water is in play on five holes.

    It’s a tricky track, close to the Atlantic Ocean, and it’s made decidedly more difficult when the wind blows.
    All the players speak highly of the venue and Rhys Davies last year described it as a ‘hidden gem’, before adding that it was a “special privilege to play there.” And here’s what England’s John Parry has said about it in his blog.

    “While many of the holes are tree lined with a parkland feel, there is one stretch which runs along the coast that has dunes and is definitely more links style. Being alongside the Atlantic, the whole course can be exposed to very difficult crosswinds. In such a lovely and spectacular setting it’s impossible to do anything but look forward to the week ahead.”

    Useful Sites
    Event Site
    Course Details
    Tee Times
    Weather Forecast
    Alternative Weather Forecast

    TV Coverage
    Live on Sky all four days – 11.00am and 3.30pm on Thursday and Friday, 1.00pm on Saturday and 2.00pm on Sunday

    First three winners
    2012 – Michael Hoey – 17
    2011 – David Horsey -13 (playoff)
    2010 – Rhys Davies -25

    What will it take to win the Trophee Hassan II?
    Although the fairways are fairly generous, if players do stray very wide a lot of trouble awaits. There are five metres of maintained rough (6cm high) either side of the fairways but any wider and they’ll encounter unmaintained ground with bushes and ice plants. An accurate game is very much what’s required this week.

    Greens In regulation was the important stat when the Moroccan Open was played here and of the top-five players in the last two years, only Jaco Van Zyl (ranked 22nd in 2011) didn’t rank inside the top-seven for Par 4 performance on the week.

    Current form hasn’t been at all important in the last two years so don’t be afraid to back someone that isn’t on the top of their game coming in to the event.

    Is there an angle in?
    I fancy this venue plays very similar to a number used on the European Tour rota, either past or present. East London, home of the Africa Open, Royal Portrush, which hosted last year’s Irish Open, Oitavos Dunes in Portugal, once the home of the now defunct Estoril Open all have form lines tying-in with Golf du Palais Royal and I’m pretty sure Lake Karrinyup, home of the Perth International will prove a great guide in the fullness of time.

    Hong Kong Golf Course is another tree-lined tight venue and an even more tenuous link could be Wentworth. Again, it’s tree-lined and often wind-affected.

    Is there an identikit winner?
    Brits have a great record here. They filled the first five places last year and David Horsey and Rhys Davies, along with South African, Jaco Van Zyl, fought out the playoff in 2011.

    In-Play Tactics
    The draw may prove pivotal. There isn’t an awful lot of wind forecast but what there is arrives in the afternoons so an early start on day one when the course will be at its spectacular best, could prove beneficial.

    If you’re playing in-running, the last hole is tricky and last year it ranked the toughest on the course but the back-nine is definitely easier than the front-nine.

    Looking at the 2011 renewal, it looked as though a fast start was required – the first four home were all in the top-ten after day one but last year, Michael Hoey came from a country mile back to win and there may well be opportunities in-running on both Friday and Saturday as players come from behind before Sunday’s final round.

    Market Leaders
    An out-of-form Francesco Molinari heads a tightly-packed market, where a whole bunch of players trading below 50.0 have outstanding claims. His brother, Edoardo, Richie Ramsay, Pablo Larrazabal, 2011 winner, David Horsey, and Raphael Jacquelin were all players I was interested in but they were all too short, and, with the exception of my first selection, I’ve cast my net a bit further afield.

    I backed Gregory Bourdy at the recent Africa Open, at East London, because he had form at both Oitavos Dunes (winner there) and Portrush (led at halfway) and he very nearly obliged. He was going to be left out on account of price but given he tees off nice and early on the back-nine, I felt I ought to have him onside, albeit modesty, from the get-go.

    All the players mentioned above, as well as a number of others that are yet to get off the mark on the European Tour, are all considerably shorter than multiple winner Alvaro Quiros and I’ve felt compelled to take a chance on the Spaniard.

    This shouldn’t really suit the massive hitter but he handles windy conditions very well and he has bits of form at both Wentworth and the Hong Kong Golf Course, so he can play tight, tree-lined venues. He returned to the fray following wrist surgery just two week ago at the Avantha Masters and there were real signs of progression last week in Malaysia where he made 13 birdies over the last two rounds. It’s a bit of a just-in-case wager but with the exception of Francesco Molinari, he’s the class-act in the field and he might just contend.

    I simply couldn’t leave out last year’s winner Michael Hoey, who I was lucky enough to be onboard twelve months ago. Like Bourdy, Hoey is also a winner at Oitavos Dunes and considering he trailed by nine after day one and that he won by three, he clearly loves this gaff. He hasn’t been in great form this year but he’s been preparing nicely in Dubai and he’s more than capable of finding form from nowhere.

    Of all my picks, Emiliano Grillo, at 130.0, looks the best value. He led in Perth last year before being overhauled by Jason Dufner and Bo Van Pelt and he finished inside the top-ten at the Africa Open too, so he should be suited by this venue. He has a very solid all-round game and I can see him going well this week.

    After that, I’ve chucked in four big-outsiders in Freddie Andersson-Hed, Rhys Davies, John Parry and James Morrison.

    Gregory Bourdy @ 40.0
    Alvaro Quiros @ 60.0
    Michael Hoey @ 76.0 (Fixed Odds Market)
    Emiliano Grillo @ 130.0
    Freddie Andersson-Hed @ 130.0
    Rhys Davies @ 160.0
    John Parry @ 240.0
    James Morrison @ 290.0

    Milesey ( betfair )

    • steve 11 years ago

      Love your info. I usually follow racing and football outlook tips, but your info is second to none. going off golf. do you think Feyenoord are a good price at 5-1 to win the dutch league. Their last 6 games are against bottom half opposition and psv and ajax play each other. 3 points separate the top 4 teams. Thanks

    • Milesey 11 years ago

      The Shell Houston Open

      Tournament History
      For the last five years, the Shell Houston Open has been played in the week before the US Masters but a change in the schedule means that this year it’s being played a fortnight before the year’s first major championship. This will be the 66th staging of the event.

      Redstone GC Tournament Course, Humble, Texas

      Course Details
      Par 72, 7457 yards, stroke average in 2012 – 71.45

      A Rees Jones design, Redstone was built to host this event and will be doing so for the eighth year in-a-row this time around. It’s a long track, with water in play on ten holes. Greens are slightly larger than average and in an attempt to simulate conditions at Augusta National, home of the US Masters in two weeks time, they’ll be playing very fast – around 13 on the stimpmeter.

      TV Coverage
      Live on Sky all four days, starting at 8.00pm on Thursday

      Last Five Winners
      2012 – Hunter Mahan -16
      2011 – Phil Mickelson -20
      2010 – Anthony Kim -12 (playoff)
      2009 – Paul Casey -11
      2008 – Johnson Wagner -16

      What will it take to win the Shell Houston Open?
      Length isn’t the be all and end all despite how long the track is. Although three of the last four winners were all ranked in the top-ten for Driving Distance for the week, three of the seven champs here, Stuart Appleby, Johnson Wagner and last year’s winner, Hunter Mahan aren’t renowned for their length off the tee. Driving Accuracy is absolutely irrelevant but hitting greens is imperative, as scrambling is tough here and a missed green often results in a bogey or worse. The stats to look at are Driving Distance and Greens In Regulation.

      Is there an angle in?
      Texans or anyone with a connection to the Lone Star State, have a very solid record in the event and six of the seven winners at this venue have been well-known multiple winners, with the exception being Wagner – although he too is now a multiple winner.

      Trading tip for the week
      Although we have another event before the US Masters, next week’s Texas Open, there are bound to be some dramatic moves in the US Masters market this week as players perform well or flop here, and if you’re nice and quick you can get yourself some good positions ahead of the year’s first major in a fortnight’s time. Very few, if any, of the main Augusta protagonists will be lining-up at the TPC San Antonio next week and I suspect the market will take shape this week.

      Tiger Woods is currently trading at 4.8 for the Augusta showpiece but that price will change one way or the other depending on how Rory McIlroy and Phil Mickelson (in particular) play this week. If Rory gets into gear the 11.5 currently available about him will vanish in no time and Phil will shorten-up drastically if he plays well again here.

      In-Play Tactics
      In the first few years at Redstone, a fast start was essential but in the last two years, Phil Mickelson won from seven back after day one and five back at halfway in 2011 and Hunter Mahan was four back after both day one and day two last year.

      Don’t expect the event to be won with a final hole birdie. With water very much in play, the par 4 18th is the toughest on the course at 488 yards and if you’re selection’s in front after 71 holes, play it safe and lay a bit back. I was on Stuart Appleby in 2007 when he looked sure to defend the title but I’m sorry to say I wasn’t cautious enough and when he found water from the fairway bunker, all my potential winnings sank along with his ball. Not a great feeling.

      Market Leaders
      Just days after Tiger Woods overtook him at the top of the Officail World Rankings, Rory McIlroy has a chance to return to the top. And it seems Woods is keen to keep their friendly rivalry going, as he seems to be getting the most out of it. Apparently he sent a text to Rory today telling him to “get his finger out of his ass and win this week”. Charming! Let’s see if he’s inspired!

      It’s very difficult to know what to expect from Rory, he looked like he was starting to turn the corner at Doral last time out, after a poor first round, but I’d like to see a bit more evidence before backing him and I still wish he’d play more tournament golf.

      Keegan Bradley and Steve Stricker are challenging for second-favouritism and I can see why. Coming off a tied 3rd at the Arnold Palmer last week (his third top-seven finish in-a-row) and his tied 4th in this event twelve months ago, it’s impossible to dismiss Keegan readily. And the same can be said of Stricker…

      He’s finished 2nd in both stroke play events played this year, he reached the quarter finals of the WGC World Match Play and he has a very respectful record at Redstone too, having finished inside the top-11 in four of his six visits here. I couldn’t put anyone off either of them but they’re both just a tad short for my liking.

      Phil Mickelson is a mercurial and fascinating character and I can’t wait to see how he performs this week. At Bay Hill last week he was dreadful, four-putting from four feet on one occasion and playing just about as bad as he can but this is a difeernt week and a different venue. He hasn’t performed at Bay Hill in a very long time, and the week before, he looked in good order at Doral.

      He’s had a good old moan about the fact that this event doesn’t immediately preceed the Masters this year and I couldn’t help but smile when I read it, you can often expect something special after a Mickelson moan.

      When interviewed after this event in 2010, just days before he won his third Green Jacket at Augusta, he said that for him, this wasn’t an ideal course to prepare for Augusta. Stating that because he had to use his driver all week to prepare for the Masters, with all the water in play he knew he was going to put himself in lots of trouble, and he did! He finished down the field in a tie for 35th.

      Here we are a few short years later and he’s now moaning that this event isn’t being used the week before but I for one am pleased that it doesn’t. I fancy his chances are enhanced for both events as a result.

      With Redstone form figures that read 23-MC-35, he bumbled along with two opening rounds of 70, twelve months after his negative comments and his 35th placed finish before appearing to suddenly ‘get’ Redstone. Weekend rounds of 63 and 65 saw him blow the opposition away but it also blew his chances of a fourth US Masters and a successful title defence. He had unquestionably peaked seven days too soon.

      Then last year, having opened up with 65 to lead on day one, he drifted along for three days, eventually finishing fourth. It’s just possible he was subconsciously protecting himself for Augusta, given what had happened a year earlier. Maybe I’m looking into it far too deeply, maybe I’m not, but one thing I am absolutely sure off, is that this place, just like Augusta, suits Phil’s game perfectly. The risk, as always though, is which Phil turns up on Thursday?

      It’s perfectly possible that he hasn’t yet shook off his horrid form from last week but I wouldn’t be in the least bit surprised to see him bounce back and if that’s the case, he’s a very fair price right now for both here and the US Masters and I’ve got him onside for both.

      Graham DeLaet ranks highly for both Driving Distance and Greens In Regulation, he’s been in decent order so far this season and he very nearly did me a massive favour here in 2010 when he finished third after I’d backed him at 600.0! He’s not a massive price this week but I couldn’t leave him out.

      Texan, Ryan Palmer also ticks all the stats boxes nicely and has an improving record in his home state with three top-tens there in his last five outings.

      And last but not least, I’ve thrown a few pounds at in-form Boo Weekley at a big price. He’s certainly not the longest on Tour but when he’s dialled in, as he most certainly was on the final day of the Tampa Bay Championship two weeks ago, few are more deadly with their irons.

      Phil Mickelson @ 18.5
      Graham DeLaet @ 120.0
      Ryan Palmer @ 120.0
      Boo Weekley @ 170.0

      Milesey ( betfair )

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