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 so close.
One of our quintet of selections at the Pebble Beach Pro-Am, Maverick McNealy, finished second at odds of 80/1.
Another pick, Max Homa, recommended at 33/1, ended in a tie for seventh.
So with three second places in six weeks, I do feel a win is around the corner. Hopefully this week.
The virtual pot is at €954 from €1000 entering this week's tournament of focus, the Genesis Invitational on the US PGA Tour in California.
The tournament is played at Riviera, nicknamed 'Hogan's Alley', in tribute to legend Ben Hogan, who probably had the best ever swing in golf.
It used to be known as the Los Angeles Open, and it's where Tiger Woods played on the PGA Tour for the first time as a 16-year-old back in 1992.
The event starts at 2.40pm Thursday afternoon Irish time and the field of 120 includes eight of the world's top ten.
Riviera is a classic tree lined golf course, a par 71 which requires solid ball striking and the ability to consistently hit the small greens.
Be sure to shop around, with bookmakers such as Paddy Power, Betfair, William Hill, Bet 365, Betfred and SKY Bet offering 1/5 the odds for your pick to get into the top eight.
Our headline selection in the Outright Market is Rory McIlroy for €4 each way at 12/1. (1/5 the odds the first 8 places).
Rory McIlroy will always be to my mind the most naturally talented player in golf, but he's a streaky player when it comes to wins. That's a lot down to the behaviour of his putter, and while his record in majors in recent years is disappointing, McIlroy is capable of winning anytime, anywhere. He has played some good rounds in 2021, with the opening show in Abu Dhabi and closing round in Phoenix coming immediately to mind. McIlroy has shown a liking for Riviera - he was in contention to win last year before a triple bogey derailed his chance. In the end he was tied fifth. The year before, he shot a 63 en route to a tied fourth place finish. A firm, fast Riviera this week should suit McIlroy's high-ball game. The County Down native hasn't won on the PGA Tour since November 2019, but I think that will change soon, and I am predicting it will be this Sunday.
Our second selection is Tony Finau for €2 each way at 25/1. (1/5 the odds the first 8 places).
Tony Finau will just pulverize a field one of these weeks, he's just too good not to. The American now has 36 top tens on tour since his sole win in Puerto Rico back in 2016. On his last PGA Tour start, he ended in a tie for second at the Farmers Insurance Open, before occupying the same position in Saudi Arabia on the European Tour. His temperament is good and ball striking sublime - Finau just needs more putts to drop. He ended in a tie for second at Riviera in 2018. Ranked 15th in the world, he's a good man to have onside for an each way return.
Our third selection is Charl Schwartzel for €2 each way at 250/1. (1/5 the odds the first 8 places).
One of the pleasures or tortures of watching Sunday night golf again is seeing past champions come out of nowhere and win. Stewart Cink did just that at the Safeway Open last year, his first success on tour since the 2009 Open Championship. South African Charl Schwartzel is a bit of a forgotten man in the game these days, a decade on from his triumph at the Masters. His game hasn't gone to pot though - a 68 in the final round at Torrey Pines for a top 20 recently caught my attention. Last year Schwartzel finished in the top five twice, so I do think he is capable of putting it together. A 15 time winner around the world, Schwartzel has two top fives to his name in this event at Riviera. I felt 250/1 was generous and I have had a bit of real money on myself.
Our fourth selection is Doug Ghim for €1 each way at 200/1. (1/5 the odds the first 8 places).
American Doug Ghim was the runner-up in the 2017 US Amateur at Riviera, so he saw a lot of the course that week. Collin Morikawa and Viktor Hovland have parlayed crack amateur form into success on the PGA Tour and I am watching Ghim with an eagle eye. He has posted six top 25 finishes in ten appearances this season, the best of them a tied for fifth at the American Express. He closed with a 68 at Pebble Beach last Sunday and is playing well. Ranked the best college golfer in America in 2018, Ghim could surprise a few people this week.
Our final selection is Doc Redman for €1 each way at 225/1. (1/5 the odds the first 8 places).
The man who edged Ghim to win that US Amateur at Riviera four years ago was Doc Redman, who will have fond memories of 'Hogan's Alley'. Redman is a fine ball striker with a calm temperament. I get the sense that the tougher the test, the better his chance. Since August he has finished in the top five three times on the PGA Tour. The ex-Walker Cup player is still new to this game at the age of 23 and is an outside punt for an each-way play.
That's the outright market.
I am also recommending from the virtual pot two each way bets in the First Round Leader market.
Boylesports are offering 1/5 the odds the first eight places for this market and I am recommending €1 each way on Doug Ghim at 80/1 and €1 each way on Doc Redman at 100/1.
It haunted me for a long time that Michael Thompson finished runner-up at the 2007 US Amateur at the Olympic Club and was then first round leader at the same course at the US Open in 2012. I didn't back him and it was a missed opportunity. So I can't let Redman and Ghim go unbacked in the first round leader market at those terms.
So that's €24 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!