THE avalanche of money behind Tiger Woods’ bid for a fifth US Masters title shows no sign of stopping after none of his closest rivals made a meaningful bid for the Houston Open which instead went to rank outsider DA Points.

Matched at the maximum odds of 1000.0 pre-tournament, Points became the fifth triple-figure priced winner from the last seven PGA Tour strokeplay events. Given the other two were won by Woods, with some ease, it’s hard to argue with the market.

To be fair it wasn’t all bad news for leading Masters candidates. Phil Mickelson, Lee Westwood and Louis Oosthuizen all flirted with contention which they will doubtless take as a decent warm-up for Augusta.

Dustin Johnson was the biggest market mover, shortening 20 points to 34.0 for Augusta after a closing 65. More significantly, Tiger’s nearest rival at the top of both the world rankings and the Masters market was conspicuous in his absence from weekend leaderboards. In keeping with the rest of his terrible start to 2013, Rory McIlroy could only muster 45th place, 12 shots off the lead.

In response, the world No.2 has opted in to this week’s Texas Open, claiming he felt his game was coming together but felt rusty and needed extra tournament practice.

If McIlroy’s only problem really is rustiness one has to question his highly-paid advisers for arranging a strangely light schedule. Steve Rawlings pointed out the madness of this strategy weeks ago on these pages, free of charge.

According to the early market, punters haven’t lost faith in Rory, installing him as 10.5 favourite. For my money, however, he represents terrible value.

The “rust” argument is almost certainly true but it cannot tell the whole story. It should not make the difference between being the standout best player in the world at the end of 2012, to making just one top 20 this year.

Of course he’ll be back soon, as with all great players going through a bad patch, but without evidence of marked improvement there’s no reason to assume it will be this week.

Furthermore, even if Rory does find some form this opposition will be no pushover. The likes of Charl Schwartzel, Matt Kuchar and Ian Poulter, for instance, have their own realistic chance of Augusta glory. Based on all recent evidence it’s hard to see why Schwartzel should be four points bigger than McIlroy.

Finally, there is a specific reason to oppose the favourite this week – the course. The last two renewals at San Antonio have yielded big-priced winners amidst strong winds.

Long-term Rory watchers will know he has a terrible record in very windy conditions, struggling to alter his usual high ball flight. I can envisage Rory struggling from the off, soon regretting the decision to play a course he never previously planned to and losing interest. The best way to profit from such a scenario is to lay McIlroy for both the top-five and top-10 markets at around 4.0 and 2.0 respectively.

Recommended Bets

Lay Rory McIlroy for a top-five finish

Lay Rory McIlroy for a top-10 finish

Schwartzel 12.5

Kirk 40.0

English 100.0

Gay 110.0

Woodland 110.0

Fisher 130.0

Beljan 170.0

Milesey

4 Comments
  1. Milesey 8 years ago

    With just one week until the Masters, top stars are flocking to the Texas Open in pursuit of a confidence boost. The tournament history, however, points towards yet another shock winner….

    On the bare stats, one couldn’t ask for a better place to find a 100.0 plus winner than this week’s Valero Texas Open. The last two champions met the criteria, as did the majority of top-five finishers in those renewals. Moreover, five of the last seven PGA Tour winners started as triple-figure outsiders, although anyone who backed D A Points or John Merrick pre-tournament deserves a medal.

    There have been many course changes ahead of this year’s renewal so previous form at San Antonio is of limited value. Nevertheless, there is one core characteristic we know about this course – it’s exposure to the wind. The forecast isn’t for extreme wind speeds but it is expected, as usual, to be a factor throughout.

    That premium on excellent wind-play could spark a revival from one of European golf’s forgotten men, former Ryder Cup star Ross Fisher, at odds of 130.0. Whilst understanding the economic logic, I was always sceptical of Fisher’s decision to swap the European Tour, where was a regular contender, for the much more competitive and arguably less suitable PGA Tour. So it has turned out, with Ross yet to register a top-20 in his rookie season despite some impressive greens in regulation numbers.

    This week’s test, however, may well bring out his best as Ross is one of the most proficient wind players around – to the extent that I haven’t given up hope on him as a future Open Championship winner. Who could forget his spreadeagling of a world-class field at a windy London Club? Or for that matter the first three rounds of the windswept 2009 Open at Turnberry, before one disaster hole transformed him from hot favourite to also-ran.

    In addition to backing Fisher, one rank outsider makes the plan. Texans always warrant respect in their home state and amongst their number, Shawn Stefani catches the eye at 300.0. Twice a Web.com Tour winner at the tail-end of 2012, Stefani made his first meaningful impact at the higher level on his penultimate start when finishing seventh at the Tampa Bay Championship.

    The trading advice is to stake three units in total, then place orders to lay both players at 15.0 and 3.0. If either hits the first target, we’ll be guaranteed seven units profit.

    Recommended Bets

    Back Ross Fisher @ 130.0
    Back Shawn Stefani @ 300.0

    ———————-
    Valero Texas Open 2013
    ———————-

    Lay Rory McIlroy for a top-five finish @ 2.0
    Lay Rory McIlroy for a top-ten finish @ 4.0

    CHARL SCHWARTZEL 12.5
    CHRIS KIRK 40.0
    HARRIS ENGLISH 100.0
    BRIAN GAY 110.0
    GARY WOODLAND 110.0
    ROSS FISHER 130.0
    CHARLIE BELJAN 170.0

    Milesey ( Betfair )

  2. Bruce Robertson 8 years ago

    Valero Texas Open

    Venue: La Cantera
    Yards: 7,522
    Field: 7 of the world’s top 30 tee it up
    Weather: Fine all week

    You would think that this course should favour the longer hitters but that has not been the case. The stats point towards players with high driving accuracy and greens in regulation

    This is the course on which Kevin Na took a 16 on one hole after losing his temper in the undergrowth! There’s hope for us all

    I reckon this week is one to avoid the favourites (McIlroy, Schwartzel) as fine tuning their games for Augusta will be the priority

    No 1 Freddie Jacobson 25/1 e/w

    I like his course form with 8 of his 12 rounds under par, and his current form is also encouraging. A great player with the flat stick and this course should provide him with plenty of birdie opportunities. Freddie doesn’t win as often as he should but one to be on this week

    No 2 Jimmy Walker 40/1 e/w

    A much improved player in good form this year.Three top 10 finishes and he lives in Texas. Will win soon in my opinion and where better than in his home state

    No 3 Bud Caulay 60/1 e/w

    A player I have admired for a while and when he does break though I can see him being a mulitple winner. A return to form when 16th last week at The Shell Houston Open and 18th last year shows a liking for the course

    No 4 Brendan Steele 50/1 e/w
    If you like horses for courses, Brendan’s certainly the man to back this week. Won this event in 2011 and was tied fourth last year. His putting has improved this year so Steele could strike again at a reasonable price

  3. Daryl Cruickshank 8 years ago

    3 e/w places with Stenson, Baldwin and Horsey meant a good week for me.

    this week,

    huh
    cauley
    stroud
    walker

  4. John Henderson 8 years ago

    Chris Stroud at 150/1 (1/4 1,2,3,4,5 general) – Loves the area and shown enough to suggest he could be a factor.

    Cameron Percy at 250/1 (1/4 1,2,3,4,5 general) – Winning form under these types of conditions in Australia so should thrive.

    Justin Hicks at 250/1 (1/4 1,2,3,4,5 Sky Bet) – Solid form in Texas and pieces of form in 2013 gives him a shout.

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