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Open D'Italia and Houston Open
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by @betdetective

Our man @betdetective did an interview for BestBookmakersUSA.com this week. Here it is.

PGA and European Tour Golf

This week we welcome Mark Phillips aka the Bet Detective (twitter @betdetective) who has kindly agreed to share his thoughts on this week’s golf on the PGA and European tours.

Mark has been involved in the betting industry for close to three decades as both an offline and online bookmaker/odds maker, professional punter and sports betting consultant.

BBU: Hi Mark and welcome to BestbookmakersUSA. Please tell our readers a little bit about your methodology when trying to find winners on the golf?

BetDetective: Hi and thanks for having me. I spent many years as a recreational golf punter just betting on the Majors and bigger events and freely admit to being a loser on golf betting for a long time. I never bet more than i could afford and understood that the less I bet the less i’d lose for the most part. Around nine years ago i decided to record my bets in a simple spreadsheet as i’d started to bet into more golf tournaments and if i wanted to continue i needed to sharpen up my betting, or quit.

From analysing my own bets as well as a host of free golf tipping and analysis sites and results of events on the PGA and European tours over a 10 year period I came to three main conclusions.

  1. There is more value in the top end of the market than most people think

  2. Course form is over-rated

  3. Golf tournaments are won off the tee and with approaches to the green rather than with the putter.

So many punters avoid backing golfers at under 10/1 and prefer to back 100/1+ golfers. My analysis pointed to there being more value than generally perceived in those golfers and less value in those at 200/1+ odds, may of whom should be 1000/1.

Almost every golf betting site I analysed concentrated on players with good previous course form. This means one thing: golfers with obvious course form are over-backed and therefore over-rated by the market.

It’s much more lucrative to dig a bit deeper into a player’s course form such as trying to identify players with a bit of hidden course form like a player who has finished out of the top 20 in a few attempts at a track but upon closer inspection has simply had one bad round in four each time or in many cases a couple of bad holes on the back 9 on Sunday when a player is trying to contend by attacking pins when normally they’d play safe.

Strokes gained data is a relatively new tool in golf analysis and my research shows that players that are long off the tee (as well as relatively straight) and that can hit greens win golf tournaments. It’s common to hear golf commentators on TV say things like “drive for show, putt for dough”. This is actually the opposite of the truth when looking for the most likely winner of any golf tournament.

Compare the players in the list of top 5 in strokes gained tee to green to the top 5 in strokes gained putting in 2019 taken from https://www.pgatour.com/stats/stat.02674.2019.html

Tee to green

  1. Rory McIlroy

  2. Justin Thomas

  3. Hideki Matsuyama

  4. Adam Scott

  5. Patrick Cantlay


  1. Denny Mccarthy

  2. Jordan Spieth

  3. Dominic Bozzelli

  4. Graeme McDowell

  5. Andrew Putnam

The top list is a who’s who of prolific winners worldwide. The bottom list, well, isn’t, with only McDowell a winner in 2019 of a very weak event on the PGA Tour.

It can be frustrating watching players like Adam Scott and Hideki Matsuyama who seemingly miss too many 5 footers but they have won 27 and 14 tournaments worldwide respectively so they obviously sink a few too!

BBU: Who are you backing this week in the Houston Open and Italian Open?

BetDetective: I’ll be concentrating mainly on the Italian Open as the Houston Open looks like somewhat of a lottery with my odds making Henrik Stenson a poor value favourite but a whole heap of players between 20/1 and 100/1.

I’ll throw a few dollars at Lanto Griffin for a top 10. He won on the Korn Ferry tour in April and has top 20 finishes in 6 of his last 8 starts. An unlikely winner who can land a top 10 finish at odds of around 5/1 if you shop around.

I always look at the Australians playing in Texas as they are used to very similar conditions in their homeland and Matt Jones won this event at tasty odds in 2014. Jones is too short at 40/1 due to that win but both Cameron Davis and Rhein Gibson are decent value speculative win bets at 150/1 and 200/1 respectively.

I’ll also be backing Scott Brown who I tend to like in these weaker events at 200/1+.

In the Italian Open my best bet is Paul Casey who can be backed at 10/1 with MyBookie. My odds suggest Casey is more of a 7/1 shot to win this so 10/1 (+1000) is a good bet. He’s in good form and is our favourite over fellow Englishman Justin Rose who is also backable at 11/1 (+1100) with Sportsbetting. Not many punters will be backing both of these players to win, and this is a good reason to do just that. I’d be surprised if one or both aren’t in contention come Sunday.

Others i like are Rory Sabbatini at 50/1+ and Christiaan Bezuidenhout at the same or similar odds.

BBU: Thank you very much. We might even back a couple of those ourselves. One last question. If you had to back three players blind every week until the end of 2020 who would they be?

BetDetective: That’s a tricky one. John Rahm is playing the best golf in the world right now so he looks a safe bet to win a couple of times before the end of 2020. Whether backing him every week is +EV im not sure but for the purposes of the question let’s make him our #1. Another golfer i really like is Scottie Scheffler who dominated on the Korn Ferry Tour last year and looks like a winner waiting to happen on the PGA Tour and lets go with another Korn Ferry Tour graduate in Kristoffer Ventura who looks set to follow fellow young Norwegian gun into the winners circle very soon.

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