FIRST staged back in 1964 and won by Arnold Palmer, the Volvo World Match Play Championship is now a different event to the old autumnal Wentworth treat that many will remember with much fondness.

It was oh so easy back then – a collection of the world's best would turn up at Ernie Els's gaff, saunter round Surrey's finest for a few days and Els would collect the trophy and all those who followed the most obvious selection in the golfing calendar collected their winnings. Halcyon days indeed.

But like many good things in life it didn't last forever and for reasons best known to others it was decided the event required a complete overhaul and now we have a different format in a different country at a different time of year.

The first half of the tournament, Thursday and Friday, is spent whittling 24 players down to 16. Surely they'd be better off just having 32 entrants and a straight knockout from the start but no, that's far too simple.

Instead the top 16 players have been seeded and have been put into eight groups of three, with each group containing one of the eight unseeded players.

Seed one has been paired with seed 16, seed two with seed 15 and so on and so forth. The two seeds in each group play each other on Thursday afternoon and then each seeded player takes on the non-seed in their respective groups on Friday.

First and second in each group of three then advance to the last 16 and they play on Saturday morning. The quarter-finals are on Saturday afternoon and the semi-finals and final are staged on Sunday morning and Sunday afternoon. All matches are over 18 holes.

Judging by some of the pictures and videos, we're in for a real treat this week at the Thracian Cliffs Beach Resort in Kavarna, Bulgaria.

Course designer Gary Player declares “you will not find a golf course like this anywhere else on the planet” and he may have a point. Nicknamed the Pebble Beach of Europe the Black Sea is in view on every hole.

As a rule of thumb, if you're backing someone with no form in this event, the WGC World Match Play or the Ryder Cup, think very carefully before you press the blue back button.

Don't concern yourself with temperament when it comes to weighing up match play wagers. Last year's victor Nicolas Colsaerts gets in his own way in stroke play events and with just one win in well over 200 European Tour starts is rarely a value proposition but match play is different.

You only have to concern yourself with what your opponent's doing and many a wobbly stroke play exponent has excelled in this format. There was plenty of value about on Thursday and Friday at last year's event as there was in 2011 and I'm pretty sure it will be the same this year.

Over the last two years, layers didn't seem to fully grasp that losing your first match is far from fatal and both the last two winners traded at handsome prices in-running.

Ian Poulter, in 2011, like last year's champion, Colsaerts, managed to win the title despite failing to win either of his first two matches. Poults drew both his round-robin matches two years ago and Colsaerts fared even worse 12 months ago.

After drawing with Charl Schwartzel on Thursday, he lost to Retief Goosen on Friday morning and spent the afternoon sleeping. A surprise win by the Goose over Schwartzel meant that that the big Belgian needed waking for a sudden-death playoff with Schwartzel, which he duly won.

It's also worth scanning the market while the early matches, in particular, are in progress. I see from last year's notes I backed eventual runner-up, Graeme McDowell, at a decent price, the moment he was guaranteed a place in the next round when Martin Kaymer lost to Richard Finch. It's laborious but it can be worth the effort.

It's no surprise to see first and second seeds, McDowell and Poulter, vying for favouritism. G-Mac is an experienced Ryder Cupper with event form to boot -he lost last year's final to Colsaerts. Having only just won the RBC Heritage in the States he's in better form than Poulter but I prefer the Englishman.

Poulter almost single-handedly won the Ryder Cup last year, is arguably the best match play exponent in the world and is impossible to discount in any match play tournament. I know he's missed his last two cuts and hasn't looked great all year but you can never discount him in this format.

The 2007 WGC World Match Play champ, Henrik Stenson, is in fine form (tied fifth at The Players Championship on Sunday) but I'd be a bit worried about the effect a weekend in-contention will have and I'm not mad keen on the defending champ either.

It's never easy to defend a title and those that do so are usually mentally strong, something I'm not convinced the big-hitting Belgian is. Colsaerts was perfectly suited to last year's especially long venue and although he could very well take to this one too, at just 12.0, he's definitely not for me.

I fancy the best way to play any knockout event is to pick out a player from each quarter and to aim for the perfect scenario of getting all four semi-finalists onside but I'm going to put a slight twist on that tactic.

I've played just two from the start, one from each side of the draw, and I'm going to try and back a couple more in-running. As detailed above, opportunities often arise during the event and I was able to back both last year's finalists' in-play, at odds of 11.0 and 38.0.

First up is Poulter who I simply can't leave out from the start. The price isn't spectacular but Poults' match play record is and if he gets on a roll he could be impossible to stop.

My only other pre-event pick is Bo Van Pelt, or as he's often cruelly dubbed, Bo Van Melt. There are pros and cons about the American this week but I fancy the pros outweigh the cons nicely and I thought he was a great price at 23.0 – I'll start with the cons.

As his nickname suggests, Bo is far from the greatest in contention and given his unquestionably immense talent it's almost criminal he's only won just one official PGA Tour event but as detailed above, that means diddly-squat in this format.

The other negative is his lack of match play pedigree. He won a few amateur events but hasn't exactly shone as a pro, having never got past the second round in three attempts at the WGC Match Play tournament, but if you dig a little deeper, maybe he's been a little unlucky at that event.

All three opponents to knock him out there, Mark Wilson, Poulter and Matt Kuchar, went on to reach at least the semi-finals so on each occasion, he clearly bumped into a tough adversary.

On the positive side, unusually for an American, Bo clearly likes to travel and is seen in a much better light away from home. He won the Honda Perth International on the European Tour last October and a year earlier, he won the CIMB Asia Pacific Classic in Malaysia, on the Asian Tour.

He's the No.4 seed here and the 26th best player on the planet, according to the world rankings, and I fancy he's a fair price at 23.0.

Recommended Bets

Ian Poulter @ 9.8
Bo Van Pelt @ 23.0

Milesey (Betfair)

  1. ellis 7 years ago


    As you know I am a massive NBA fan and I am tempted to massively hit the NEW YORK KNICKS tonight at 3.0 away. I know they havnt had a great series so far, but, in my eyes they need this or the tie has been lost in my opinion, it needs to be tied at 2-2. they have a great team and the potential to go all the way in my opinion

    I also think Van Gerwin to win the premier league outright tomorrow is a great bet at 11/10

    Any help ASAP would be appreciated



    • Mr Fixit 7 years ago

      Ellis, darts tips have been posted by Milesey earlier.

  2. ellis 7 years ago

    Thanks Mr F, could do with some direction on this basketball, Milesy is doing well at the moment, hoping the luck can rub off, I did have £50 on palace to qualify last night which was a result however

    • Mr Fixit 7 years ago

      Ellis, hopefully Milesey has come to the rescue, I’m not a big basketball fan.

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