Paul Krishnamurty's planned route to profit at the World Matchplay is to back outsiders in weaker parts of the draw, reach the quarter-finals, take the lead, then start cashing out. Check out his three picks here...
In any form of betting, one should always be prepared to change your mind when facts change. To tweak, or even radically alter, a strategy that has served you well over the years. In over two decades of betting on matchplay golf, I've consistently employed the same method with great success but the first two World Match Play renewals at Austin Country Club suggest a rethink is in order.
This tournament has particularly vindicated my fundamental philosophy - that 18-hole matchplay is the biggest leveller in golf. All sorts of unimaginable outsiders have won the event and the early rounds used to be littered with upsets. Sure Tiger Woods won it three times but, even at his peak, he lost in this to the likes of Jeff Maggert, Peter O'Malley, Nick O'Hern (twice).
In contrast, the two renewals here have been highly predictable. Last year it genuinely never looked like anyone would get near Dustin Johnson or Jon Rahm until they met in the final. In 2016, three of the semi-finalists were proven major champions.
Part of the reason is surely the change in the early format - with what was once two straight knockout rounds in the last-64 and last-32, to 16 four-man groups, which usually gives the favourites to recover from one early defeat. The other is that this course appears to offer a significant advantage to longer-hitters, with few short and straight types emerging from the group stages.
In the past, I wouldn't have even contemplated backing the market leaders but, after last year, I wouldn't deter anyone from backing Dustin or Rahm and note that our PGA Tour guru Dave Tindall makes the Spaniard his headline selection. Nor indeed Steve Rawlings' main pick - the resurgent McIlroy - at single figure odds.
However certain principles can still be applied, such as emphasising the importance of past matchplay form. This head-to-head format presents a very different test to strokeplay and evidently from a range of tournaments, favours some much more than others. In a field of this calibre, in this format, of course the outsiders can win. It just isn't as likely as pre-2017 renewals.
Also, unlike any other event of the year, we are working from a pre-set draw. There are always angles to be found from trying to project how the draw will pan out and we know pretty much what is required to make a profit. As laid out below, the plan with all three picks is to set the first lay target at 10.00. Reach the quarter-finals, take the lead, and that should be hit.
Potentially world class Frittelli one to follow
Back Dylan Frittelli 3u @ 130.00 Place order to lay 25u @ 10.00 Place order to lay 20u @ 3.00
All three picks are in the second and third brackets, thus avoiding Rory, Dustin and Rahm until at least the semis. If they fall by the wayside before that, the odds about everyone left in the other two sections will tumble.
One big-gun I'm happy to take on is Justin Thomas, who has won only one from six matches here. Sergio Garcia is another, having only once made the semis in 14 attempts in this event. Besides them, Paul Casey is the only player trading below 85.00 in the quarter.
From Garcia's group, Dylan Frittelli looks very much one to follow. Every leading South African to emerge in recent decades has either won or gone very close in majors, with most becoming consistently world-class. The 27-year-old went to university in Austin, where he had a fine matchplay record and retains a residence in Texas. Twice a winner and twice a runner-up on the 2017 Race to Dubai, Frittelli has settled in very quickly on the PGA Tour, finishing 11th at the Honda on only his second start.
Recent form suggests Smith is a big player
Back Cameron Smith 2.5u @ 160.00 Place order to lay 25u @ 10.00 Place order to lay 20u @ 3.00
There's plenty of quality in the second section but they could carve each other up early. Most notably, Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed are pitched in the same group. So instead, I'm focused on one that looks very winnable.
Smith is drawn against Hideki Matsuyama, Patrick Cantlay and a no-hoper in Yusaka Miyazato. While the first two are respected, neither have any pedigree in the event. I rate Cameron to be a genuinely world-class prospect and the Aussie really came of age over their winter season. He's started 2018 well with four top-20s from seven and was sixth at Riviera last month.
Take advantage of wrong odds
Back Patton Kizzire 1.5u @ 250.00 Place order to lay 25u @ 10.00 Place order to lay 20u @ 3.00
These odds about Kizzire are simply wrong. He's long enough off the tee and much improved since winning a tough group involving two bombers here in 2016. This is a player with six top-15s, including two wins at the Sony and OHL, in his last 11 starts.
Emerging from his group will be a tough ask with Thomas in opposition but the other two - Luke List and Francesco Molinari - are hardly daunting opponents. The former is in good nick and long off the tee, but making his debut. The latter is surely too short off the tee to contend and has a dismal record in the event.
Finally as always, a few words regarding alternatives. In the same section as Kizzire and Frittelli, Gary Woodland is an interesting 100.00 option. This bomber was runner-up to McIlroy at Harding Park in 2015 and opened last year with a big win, before tragically having to withdraw after his pregnant wife lost one of their unborn twins.
In the same section as Smith, Tony Finau100.00 and Brendan Steele160.00 came in for consideration. And whilst I'm swerving the top quarter, last year's quarter-finalist Ross Fisher looks overpriced at 160.00.