Welcome to Virtual Insanity, where we spend virtual money to try and win virtual money on golf betting. It's that simple!
Last week was a good week for the feature, as Rafael Campos, advised each way in advance at 175/1, finished in a tie for third at the Puerto Rico Open!
So with four second places and a tie for the third in the first two months, I feel I am showing good consistency and I hope the winners will begin to flow.
One Tweeter called me John 'Mayo' Duggan, such are the near misses. As a proud Dublin football fan, I don't want that moniker!
The Campos bet paid 35/1 for a place and has got us pretty much back to parity on the profit and loss.
So the virtual pot is at €994 from €1000 entering this week's tournament of focus, the Arnold Palmer Invitational on the PGA Tour in Florida.
The Arnold Palmer Invitational is played at Bay Hill, a par 72 with a lot of water in play. Greens are Bermuda and the course can be generous or biting, depending on the wind. A mixed weather forecast is due this week, with three benign days and a windy Sunday expected.
The tournament starts at 11.45am Thursday Irish time.
Be sure to shop around, with bookmakers such as Paddy Power, Betfair, SKY Bet, Bet 365, Betfred and William Hill offering 1/5 the odds for your pick to get into the top eight places.
Our headline selection is Matthew Fitzpatrick for €4 each way at 25/1. (1/5 the odds the first 8 places).
I find it hard to believe that England's Matthew Fitzpatrick has yet to win a PGA Tour event in the United States. The former US Amateur champion and world amateur number one is 16th in the world rankings, a result of great consistency. Fitzpatrick won the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai at the end of last year and that was his second victory in that event. He's also won the European Masters twice, so he has a liking for certain venues. The 26-year-old has proven his suitability for Bay Hill, with a second-place two years ago and a tie for ninth last year, his closing 69 coming in brutal conditions. Fitzpatrick is in form right now, with a tied 11th placing at the WGC event last week following up a tie for fifth the week before at Riviera. A strong putter, I think this may just be his time.
Our second selection is Christiaan Bezuidenhout for €2 each way at 70/1. (1/5 the odds the first 8 places).
It's always worth figuring out the golfers that know how to win, and South African Bezuidenhout has that knack. Now inside the top 40 in the world, he closed off 2020 with back to back European Tour victories in his native country. He possesses a good long game and has made giant strides on this side of the pond. Bay Hill was the site of his best US finish in 2020 - he fell away in the final round, but was fourth entering the last 18 holes. The 26-year-old blew off the cobwebs with a tie for 32nd last week and I believe he can contend on Sunday.
Our third selection is Talor Gooch for €2 each way at 80/1. (1/5 the odds the first 8 places).
Watching golf every week, as I have been doing since January makes one notice players rise and fall on leaderboards. American Talor Gooch was one such name at the Genesis Invitational; there or thereabouts, but not enough to be in the conversation. He ended in a tie for 12th, which followed two top five finishes earlier this year. Gooch has shown a fondness for Bay Hill - he was third at halfway in 2018 and last year posted a result inside the top 15 despite a second round of 80. Gooch is a decent putter on fast greens which he will encounter here and as he settles into being a solid PGA Tour professional, he could reward each way support this week.
Our fourth selection is Luke List for €1 each way at 110/1. (1/5 the odds the first 8 places).
It's all about the behaviour of the putter for American Luke List, who has an excellent long game. He seems to come alive at Bay Hill, with finishes of tied 10th, tied 7th and tied 17th in his three starts to date. List played one tournament on the secondary Korn Ferry Tour in 2020. It was at nearby Sawgrass and he won it. He's also a past runner-up at the Honda Classic, so Florida conditions suit. He hits it far and straight and has posted three top 30 finishes in 2021. If he can perform on the dance floor, watch out.
Our final selection is Patrick Rodgers for €1 each way at 150/1. (1/5 the odds the first 8 places).
One of the lessons of seeing Daniel Berger and Max Homa win the week after I tipped them this year is that one must keep the faith, even if faith is not rewarded. Patrick Rodgers, our headline tip at the Puerto Rico Open, shot a final round 66 to end in a tie for 30th. He posted a tied 7th finish at Bay Hill in 2018, so there is some recent course form. Rodgers' top 15 at the Genesis Invitational a fortnight ago was encouraging and I still think he has the talent and the putting stroke to win a PGA Tour competition. Only for a €1 each way punt, mind.
So that's €20 wagered virtually on this week's golf. Make sure you bet less at home! A euro each way will do!
Please gamble responsibly, never bet more than you can afford, and good luck!