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 difficult to take, as 150/1 recommendation Rafael Campos was tied for second at the Corales Championship in the Dominican Republic.
Campos was tied for the lead with eventual winner Joel Dahmen on the 71st tee, made a bogey, and then missed a putt to force a playoff by inches on the final hole.
Hard luck story! And there have been many, with five second place or tied for second place finishes in 2021. That said, this 'Virtual Insanity' golf feature is now consistent with 7 weeks of a return from 12 tournaments this year. We are giving people a run for their money and if the winners start coming, profit should be healthy. Here's hoping!
The virtual pot is at €1002 from €1000 entering this week's tournament of focus, the Valero Texas Open on the PGA Tour in San Antonio.
The Oaks course, designed by Greg Norman, is a par 72 which requires strong driving and solid tee to green play. You need good ball strikers on your side and wind can also be a factor. So even though there are opportunities for birdies, your player needs to be 'on'. In-form players are a must then for any shortlist, in my view.
The tournament starts at 1pm Thursday, Irish time.
Be sure to shop around, with bookmakers such as Paddy Power, Betfair, Betfred, SKY Bet and William Hill offering 1/5 the odds for your pick to get into the top eight places.
Our headline selection is Jordan Spieth for €3 each way at 12/1. (1/5 the odds the first 8 places).
Tiger Woods is the greatest golfer I have ever seen, but I always loved Phil Mickelson's swashbuckling, gambling nature. Since Phil, my favourite golfer to emerge has been Jordan Spieth. The American has the X-Factor, I just love watching him play. Spieth won three majors by the age of 24; the Masters, US Open and Open Championship. That win at Birkdale in 2017 was his last win on Tour. A hand injury and slipping into a funk where everything seemed to fall off a cliff saw Spieth drop to 92nd in the world rankings. He's clawed his way back with a stock shot off the tee and his irons are dialled in. That's been demonstrated with three top five finishes on the PGA Tour in the last two months. When he is in the zone, Spieth putts like someone from outer space, making him a genuine box office watch. In examining the class acts at the top of the field - Spieth, Tony Finau and Scottie Scheffler, I had to pick one. All three have their eyes on the Masters next week, but I feel Spieth needs the win more. He's a Texan and he has finished runner-up in this tournament before. I think he'd be delighted to win this week and I believe he can end his drought.
Our second selection is Chris Kirk for €2 each way at 35/1. (1/5 the odds the first 8 places).
American Chris Kirk is on the comeback trail after some well-documented off-course issues, which he dealt with successfully. He was once ranked as low as 16 in the world and is a four-time winner on the PGA Tour. Kirk has played well in 2021, a tie for second in Hawaii one of four finishes inside the top 20. He is currently 21st on Tour in the strokes gained tee-to-green statistics. He also has three postings inside the top 13 in this tournament. It would be no surprise to see him lift the trophy on Sunday.
Our third selection is Harry Higgs for €2 each way at 66/1. (1/5 the odds the first 8 places).
Freewheeling, grip it and rip it American Harry Higgs has been coming back into form. He started the season with a second place at the Safeway Open at Silverado in California. Players who have played well there tend to also do nicely in San Antonio. Dallas resident Higgs had the best approach statistics at the recent Honda Classic, which followed a top 30 at the Players Championship. Inside the top 30 on approach and on the birdie stats this year, Higgs can be on the front page of the leaderboard if he takes to the course and makes some putts.
Our fourth selection is Doug Ghim for €2 each way at 80/1. (1/5 the odds the first 8 places).
American Doug Ghim is a player one has to keep on the right side of. Formerly the best college golf player in the USA, he starred at the University of Texas and is now finding his groove on the PGA Tour. A tie for fifth at the American Express was a sign; then Ghim had chances to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational and the Players Championship. Respective rounds of 81 and 78 put paid to those dreams, but he would have learned a great deal from playing with eventual champion Justin Thomas at Sawgrass. Ghim has buckets of talent, is good off the tee and lies 20th in the approach category this season. He's not a player to leave out of calculations, because I do think he is capable of winning a tournament before long.
Our final selection is Denny McCarthy for €2 each way at 80/1. (1/5 the odds the first 8 places).
Ranked the best putter on the PGA Tour in 2019 and 2020, American Denny McCarthy bounced back to form with a third on his last start at the Honda Classic. Playing so well at a tough golf track such as the PGA National is a good omen. He has a 20th at the Texas Open on his resumé and is looking for his maiden win on the circuit. If he wins, there will be no 'Denny you've got taste' jokes!
So that's €22 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!