Welcome to Virtual Insanity, where we spend virtual money to try and win virtual money on golf betting. It's that simple!
This is the second column this week. My Irish Open selections can be found here.
When the Irish Open picks are taken into account, the virtual pot is at €920 from €1000 for 2022 entering this week's second tournament of focus, the John Deere Classic on the PGA Tour in Illinois.
This tournament is played at the TPC of Deere Run, a par 71 golf course that rewards accurate approach play and good putting. Making birdies is important at this track; an average of 20 under par tends to be the winning score.
The event starts at 12.45pm Thursday, Irish time. It's expected to be windy for round one, with perfect conditions to follow for the weekend.
Be sure to shop around, with bookmakers such as Paddy Power, Boyle Sports, Ladbrokes, Coral, Betfred, SKY Bet and Betfair offering 1/5 the odds for your pick to get into the top eight places.
Our headline selection is Adam Svensson for €3 each way at 50/1. (1/5 the odds the first 8 places, SKY Bet).
There are a lot of mid ranking players in this week's event and while any golfer who is able to get on the PGA Tour has vast talent, there are journeymen in the field. A winning mentality is thus important and Canadian Adam Svensson has that - he won twice on the feeder circuit - the Korn Ferry Tour - last year. He's in decent nick, finishing in the top 25 on his last two starts. It's interesting that when he was not the player he is now - back in 2019, he finished in a tie for 18th on his only start at the John Deere. He went back to the drawing board and was one of the best ball strikers on the Korn Ferry Tour last season - finishing 7th in the all round ranking. He's not overly long off the tee, but what's important in this tournament is approach play and that's arguably the best part of Svensson's game. He just needs the putts to drop and if they do, he has every chance of breaking his PGA Tour duck. He's the headline selection this week.
Our second selection is Doug Ghim for €2 each way at 50/1. (1/5 the odds the first 8 places, Paddy Power, Betfair).
A native of Illinois, former top amateur in the world Doug Ghim favours tight tracks where approach play is rewarded - it's why he's contended at the Players Championship for the last two years. In 2021, he tied for 18th on his first full start in a John Deere Classic (he withdrew on the other occasion) and he was inside the top 20 on his penultimate start in Canada. One of the mistakes I have made in this feature recently was not sticking with Matt Fitzpatrick, who I tipped a bunch of times before he won the U.S. Open. He went on to win at Brookline and I didn't pick him. There is a risk in hoping someone will come good, but I do believe Ghim has the ability.
Our third selection is Patrick Rodgers for €2 each way at 30/1. (1/5 the odds the first 8 places, SKY Bet).
I am using the same argument in keeping the faith with Patrick Rodgers, who at one stage was the leader of the U.S. Open on Saturday. The Indiana native is playing much better on the PGA Tour this season - with three top 10 finishes and only one missed cut since March. Long off the tee and a good putter, his approach play is much improved and that gives him a chance of winning a first PGA Tour title. He nearly won the John Deere Classic in 2017, overhauled down the stretch by Bryson DeChambeau. Of course, DeChambeau is now a LIV golfer, so that's one thing Rodgers doesn't have to worry about this week. Rodgers was one of the best college golfers in America and turns 30 this week. Maybe it's finally his time.
Our fourth selection is Matt Wallace for €1 each way at 80/1. (1/5 the odds the first 8 places, Paddy Power, Ladbrokes, Betfair, Coral, SKY Bet).
There are glimpses of a return to form for England's Matt Wallace, who had a chance to win the Dutch Open before finishing fifth - and then tied 18th at the European Open. He does know how to get the job done as a four time winner on the DP World Tour, but a victory on the PGA Tour has been so far beyond him. He closed with a 66 on Sunday at last week's Travelers Championship and is not afraid of a big stage - he was tied for third at the 2019 US PGA and contended at last year's Texas Open. He's certainly capable of making his presence felt.
Our fifth selection is Hayden Buckley for €1 each way at 100/1. (1/5 the odds the first 8 places, Boylesports, Ladbrokes, Coral, SKY Bet).
Another player that caught the eye at the US Open was Hayden Buckley, who was 4 under par at halfway before slipping into a tie for 14th. Perhaps the exertions caught up with him as he faded at the Travelers Championship last weekend, but his display in Boston will have injected confidence. Buckley, like Svensson, won on the Korn Ferry Tour in 2021 and started his PGA Tour life with two top 10's in his first three starts. His Korn Ferry resumé will show he is a confidence player and he's decent off the tee, so perhaps he can give himself the platform to attack this TPC from the fairway. He rates as an interesting outsider.
Our final selection is Doc Redman for €1 each way at 150/1. (1/5 the odds the first 8 places, SKY Bet).
I do believe that natural talent matters in golf, and although American Doc Redman has missed four cuts in a row, the 24 year old has a habit of coming out of nowhere and contending. He posted three top five finishes last season and was third in the team event with Sam Ryder in New Orleans earlier this year. Redman's tie for 37th on his first appearance at the John Deere in 2019 could have been much better - he got to 8 under par at halfway. Perhaps his confidence is low and another missed cut is on the cards, but I have seen enough evidence that he's able to find his game and do well. A euro each way is a conservative recommendation on the former U.S. Amateur champion.
So that's €20 wagered virtually on this week's John Deere Classic. Make sure you bet less at home!
Please gamble responsibly, never bet more than you can afford, and good luck!