Welcome to Virtual Insanity, where we spend virtual money to try and win virtual money on golf betting. It's that simple!
After a yo-yo year so far, the virtual pot is at €938 from €1000 entering this week's tournament of focus, the AT&T Byron Nelson on the PGA Tour in Texas.
Taking place a week before the US PGA Championship, this tournament will provide elite players such as Jon Rahm, Jordan Spieth and Bryson DeChambeau with the opportunity to fine tune their games for the second major of 2021.
It's also the chance for 156 players to win a prestigious tournament that was first held in 1944.
The host course this week is the TPC Craig Ranch, which is the venue for the Byron Nelson for the first time. It's a par 72 with generous fairways and it should suit the big hitters who will relish some reachable par-fours and par-fives in Dallas. That all said, it is a journey into the unknown without extensive tournament course form to rely upon in making selections.
The tournament starts at 1pm Thursday, Irish time.
Be sure to shop around, with bookmakers such as Paddy Power, Betfair, SKY Bet, Betfred and William Hill offering 1/5 the odds for your pick to get into the top eight places.
Our headline selection is Scottie Scheffler for €5 each way at 18/1. (1/5 the odds the first 8 places).
American Scottie Scheffler is from Dallas and Craig Ranch is located in the city's suburbs. The 24-year-old is ranked 21st in the world, but has yet to win on the PGA Tour. You'd have to think that will change soon and what better place than his own backyard. The course sets up well for Scheffler as he ranks high in strokes gained off the tee and birdie average. Remember that after two wins on the Korn Ferry Tour in 2019, he finished 5th in the Fed Ex Cup standings as a rookie last season, with six top-five finishes. His recent form includes a second at the WGC Matchplay in Texas. It's time.
Our second selection is Doug Ghim for €4 each way at 60/1. (1/5 the odds the first 8 places).
A student at the University of Texas, former college star Doug Ghim knows Craig Ranch, having shot 16 under par there for four rounds in a qualifier for the Korn Ferry Tour back in 2018. The ex-world amateur number one has found his way onto the main circuit, where it's been a learning experience. Chances to win at Bay Hill and the Players Championship evaporated with Sunday struggles, but I am backing this American youngster to come good. He's an excellent ball striker and lies 20th in the strokes gained tee to green statistics. Perhaps this week he can putt better on bent grass greens. Ghim has the talent to win on the PGA Tour and he has fond memories of the Byron Nelson, posting a tie for 12th in the event, albeit at a different course back in 2019.
Our third selection is Marc Leishman for €3 each way at 33/1. (1/5 the odds the first 8 places).
It seems that Australian Marc Leishman is once again being underestimated by the bookies. He comes into this week fresh from a victory in the team event in New Orleans with Cameron Smith. That followed a tie for fifth at the Masters. Leishman has finished second and tied for third twice in previous Byron Nelsons, but has yet to win the prize. He holds course form at Craig Ranch; a tie for seventh place in the Nationwide Tour Championship of 2008, and he's not afraid to go low. A very strong iron player, Leishman can handle the Texas wind if it gusts and the stars could be aligning for a seventh PGA Tour title for the 37-year-old.
Our fourth selection is Thomas Pieters for €2 each way at 66/1. (1/5 the odds the first 8 places).
Enigmatic Belgian Thomas Pieters is trying to get the win that will open doors for him in America. A four time European Tour winner, Pieters should be suited to Craig Ranch, as he bombs it off the tee and makes birdies. Once a Ryder Cup star as a rookie, Pieters has been at the business end of a Masters tournament in the past and he enters this week off four American starts this season, the worst of them a tie for 23rd. The 29-year-old has more talent than a lot of his peers and is a decent sleeper pick.
Our final selection is Kristoffer Ventura for €1 each way at 500/1. (1/5 the odds the first 8 places).
I didn't put up Patrick Rodgers in Virtual Insanity last week, but I did throw a few virtual shillings on him at 629/1 on Betfair. He shared the halfway lead before blowing up with a 79 on the Saturday. I felt sorry for him, but I half expected it to happen, so that's why he wasn't among the picks. It reminded me though that odds are just compilers opinions, they are not sacrosanct. And unlike in other sports, in golf, a 1000 to 1 shot can win.
Norway's Kris Ventura earned his PGA Tour card by showing his steel in winning two Korn Ferry Tour events in quick succession in 2019. Towards the back end of last year he finished in the top 10 twice; at the Safeway Open and in the Sanderson Farms Championship. His form has gone off a cliff since then. He does have a history at the the track; he was part of the group with Doug Ghim that made it through the satellite tour qualifiers at Craig Ranch in 2018. It was a week which included rounds of 66 and 69. Look, it's a flier, but I believe he is worth chancing for a euro each way.
So that's €30 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!