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!
No win at the Farmers Insurance Open, but each way profit accrued as a result of headline tip Tony Finau finishing in a tie for second at 20/1 at Torrey Pines. The second tip of the quartet, Will Zalatoris, also finished in the money - tied for seventh at a starting price of 50/1.
So the virtual pot is at €971 from €1000 entering this week's tournament of focus, the Waste Management Phoenix Open on the US PGA Tour in Arizona.
The tournament is played at the par 71 TPC of Scottsdale and it starts at 2.20pm Irish time on Thursday.
Rory McIlroy and Jon Rahm are among those in the field this week.
It's desert golf, with good approach play a must.
It's also a track that generates low scores, so it's important for contenders to keep the foot on the throttle on SuperBowl weekend. Conditions are expected to be fair, so this will be a week to make birdies.
Be sure to shop around, with bookmakers such as Paddy Power, Betfair, William Hill, SKY Bet and Boylesports offering 1/5 the odds for your pick to get into the top eight.
Our headline selection is Louis Oosthuizen for €4 each way at 50/1. (1/5 the odds the first 8 places).
Perhaps I am chasing 'Fool's Gold' by sticking with South African Oosthuizen, who only has one PGA Tour title to his name - the 2010 Open Championship at St Andrews. The 38-year-old doesn't win enough - but you can't fault the consistency that has him inside the top 30 in the world rankings. Oosthuizen has one of the best swings in the game and he's been in decent nick, finishing third at the US Open last year. He enters the Phoenix Open off the back of a top 30 at the Farmers last week. On his only appearance at the Phoenix Open in 2017, Oosthuizen finished in third place, just outside a playoff. So obviously there's a liking for the place. Sometimes I wonder if he's too passive - but the ability undoubtedly exists for him to contend. Oosthuizen famously has the record of finishing second in all of the majors. He's good and that can be forgotten when evaluating the field. Therefore, I am going out on a limb and predicting he might get it all together this week at a generous price.
Our second selection is Daniel Berger for €2 each way at 20/1. (1/5 the odds the first 8 places).
Would you be surprised if I told you Daniel Berger was 14th in the world ranking? That's a result of fantastic consistency shown by the 27-year-old American, the son of a tennis coach. Berger has a solid all-round game and started off the year with two top 10's in Hawaii. He won the first tournament back after the COVID-19 delay last summer at Colonial and has a healthy record in Phoenix - last year's tie for ninth was another decent showing. In 2017 Berger tied seventh in this event and 12 months later, he came home tied for 11th. He's a better golfer now and he has the temperament not to quiver in the shadow of big guns such as McIlroy and Rahm.
Our third selection is Max Homa for €2 each way at 66/1. (1/5 the odds the first 8 places).
One thing I have always felt about Phoenix is that it's a horses for courses track - the players that play well and contend continue to do so. Phil Mickelson, Mark Calcavecchia, Hideki Matsuyama and JB Holmes have all won the tournament more than once; and Webb Simpson, Rickie Fowler and Bubba Watson have been perennial contenders. Thus I was interested to see that Max Homa has taken a shine to Scottsdale. He finished in a tie for sixth last year, which followed a debut showing of tied 26th. American Homa played great for the first three rounds at the American Express before posting a tie for 18th at the Farmers Insurance Open. So he's in form and he's won on the merry-go-round before at the Wells Fargo Championship. He could be a decent each-way bet.
Our final selection is Doc Redman for €2 each way at 200/1. (1/5 the odds the first 8 places).
It could be a case of flogging a dead horse, but I just can't leave Doc Redman out of calculations at the moment. The former US Amateur champion has posted three top-four finishes since last August, in some cases improving dramatically on previous course form. The American is a lovely ball-striker who to date has blown hot and cold on the greens, resulting in a missed cut last weekend. A move to a Bermuda putting surface could enable Redman to improve on his respectable debut inside the top 35 in Phoenix last year.
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!