Main Bet: Back Hideki Matsuyama each-way @ 11/1
History, both recent and from the back end of last year, should tell us that Hideki Matsuyama must have a huge chance of becoming the first Japanese male player to win a major this week.
The 25-year-old's final-round 61 to win the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational by five shots on Sunday was an absolute masterclass and the confidence he gained from finishing runner-up in the last major on American soil - June's U.S. Open - would have jumped several more notches.
Matsuyama has won two of the last four WGCs by big margins; now it's time to grab a major.
Dustin Johnson had two World Golf Championship wins to his credit before making the big breakthrough with victory in last year's US Open so it's fair to see WGCs as a natural stepping stone to the majors.
An obvious question to ask is whether Matsuyama can keep this going. But rewind to October last year and he went on a run of 1-2-1-1-2. Evidence that when he gets hot he stays hot.
Okay, there were a couple of Japanese Tour events in there but undoubtedly he was the planet's in-form player at the time and his sequence included victory in the HSBC Champions, his first WGC win.
It actually seems to be a trend over the last few years with those at the very highest level (McIlroy, Spieth, DJ, Day) proving that it's possible to win back-to-back and rack up sequnces.
Matsuyama is in that same category and you'd fancy him anywhere right now. The good news is that Quail Hollow really does look a great fit.
For starters, he's got some useful history there with progressive form of T38 in 2014, T20 in 2015 and T11 in 2016 (he was also third at the Wyndham Championship on his last start in North Carolina).
Secondly, Kerry Haigh, the PGA of America's course set-up man, revealed on Monday that the rough wouldn't be overly long: "We don't want to make it too thick to where you can't move the ball. We want zero control. We try to bring bunkers into play. If you're going to build new bunkers you don't want rough in the way to stop balls from running in."
Quail Hollow is a venue that has always suited big hitters as recent wins for Rory McIlroy, J.B. Holmes and Rickie Fowler prove.
Now lengthened to 7,600 yards and the threat of storms making the fairways softer, that advantage could be exaggerated.
Matsuyama sits a very healthy 22nd in Driving Distance and should also benefit from the course switching all 18 greens from Bentgrass to Bermuda.
On the Future of Fantasy website which measures performances on various putting surfaces since 2014, Matsuyama ranks seventh (2.25 Strokes Gained) and he won on such greens in Phoenix (for the second time) earlier this season.
Ranked 1st for greens in regulation at Firestone CC last week, Matsuyama's imperious ball-striking should set up numerous chances and it's hard to see how he doesn't contend heavily.
He's already shown he's very good in majors - six top 10s - but I'm more than happy to take the 11/1 that this is where he joins the winners' club.
Next Best: Back Daniel Berger e/w @ 55/1
If back-to-form Rory McIlroy (two Quail Hollow victories) wins this week, would I kick myself?
Possibly, but he's just 13/2, only performing in patches and, whilst acknowledging that he could win this by five, I'd rather have a punt on some bigger prices.
One that I'm keen on is Daniel Berger at 55s.
There's a well-quoted stat that every time the US PGA has followed the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, records show that the Wanamaker trophy had been in the top 22 at Firestone seven days earlier.
Another strong trend is that 15 of the last 18 US PGA winners had already posted a win in the season of their victory.
Berger fits the bill there as he landed the St. Jude Classic in June so, as I had him on my shortlist for this, I was secretly hoping he'd make the top 20 at Firestone.
He did just that, posting T17 after four solid rounds of 71-68-68-70 and continuing a great run of form since St. Jude which also shows second place at the Travelers Championship, T5 in the John Deere Classic and T27 at Royal Birkdale.
Berger is now up to 19th in the world rankings and has adapted quickly to majors, finishing T28 in his very first one (2014 US Open) and taking T10 on his Masters debut last year. He was also T27 at Augusta National this year.
Sometimes players can win a major before building up too many thoughts and overthinking it (Keegan Bradley won this event on debut in 2011) and Berger could be in that mould.
The man from Florida should be happy to see the putting surfaces at Quail Hollow changed to the Bermuda he grew up on and, interestingly, it was his performances on the old Bentgrass ones here that held him back.
Yes, Berger has had two previous looks at Quail Hollow and shown up well with T28 on debut in 2015 and T17 in 2016.
He was outside the top 50 in putts per rounds on both occasions (also 41st and 51st in putting average) so the switch to Bermuda could be the missing piece in the jigsaw for him to really thrive there.
Looking at the stats, he's 6th in Strokes Gained: Approach-The-Green this season, 26th in Strokes Gained: Putting and a healthy 55th in Driving Distance (averages 297 yards off the tee).
With eight places to go at, I'm happy to take him at 55/1.
Final Bet: Back Kevin Chappell e/w @ 80/1
Again, eight places makes me look beyond the obvious but a quick mention of some of the other market leaders though.
Dustin Johnson has lost the Midas touch, trying to complete the career Grand Slam adds an extra layer of pressure to Jordan Spieth, whose price looks short.
I do really like Rickie Fowler and although it's the numbers that have picked him out in my 10-year trends preview, my head is saying the same.
Quail Hollow was the scene of his first PGA Tour win and basically he's been playing excellent golf all year.
As I'm on him each-way in that preview, I'll leave him here and dip down to 80/1.
Basically, I'm looking for a big hitter with a win this year who is coming in off a top 20 at Firestone.
Step forward Kevin Chappell.
The 31-year-old scored his maiden victory in April's Valero Texas Open and has since posted T4 at St. Jude, T8 in Canada two weeks ago and T13 in the WGC-Bridgestone where he carded 67-68-69 over the final three rounds.
Driving Distance? Yes, he packs plenty of that and currently slots in at 23rd on the seasonal stats.
Also 31st in SG: Approach-The-Green, the obvious weakness when checking his stats is the ugly 185th in SG: Putting.
However, he had positive SGP figures in Canada (actually 1st for Putts Per GIR) and the final three rounds in Firestone and this will be no putting contest. "I've been working hard on the putting and saw a difference," he said in Canada.
Because majors test other skills, Chappell has a pretty promising record at this level.
In his very first major, he was an excellent T3 to runaway winner Rory at Congressional in the 2011 US Open and he followed that up with T10 the following year.
Adding to that is T13 in this event at Valhalla in 2014 and T7 at this year's Masters.
The next piece of the puzzle is his form at Quail Hollow.
Chappell has been a regular there and in two of the last three years he's made an impression with T11 in 2014 and T16 in 2015. Last year he opened with a 67 before fading.
Also T23 in this year's US Open, the American made a play-off in last year's Tour Championship so he has a history of thriving when the elite gather.
I can see him getting involved in this so the 80/1 really does appeal.
Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm, both 25/1, are monster hitters likely to appear on the final leaderboard while recent winner Xander Schauffele (17th in DD) could have another trick up his sleeve at 125/1.
But it's Matsuyama for me this week, with Berger and Chappell offering me an interest at bigger prices.
0 nhận xét Blogger 0 Facebook
Post a Comment