Welcome to Virtual Insanity, where we spend virtual money to try and win virtual money on golf tips. It's that simple!
First of all, hats off to Phil Mickelson. What an incredible win at the US PGA Championship. I will be writing more about Phil in my column for OTB Sports this week.
Alas, after plenty of near misses and hard luck stories, Virtual Insanity is 'missing a few cuts' at the moment. Nobody feels worse about it than me. The intention is to finish the calendar year in profit. So it's a case of putting in the hard yards and hoping things turn a little. All it takes is a few good weeks.
After a disappointing US PGA Championship, where headline tip Rory McIlroy flattered to deceive yet again and both Joaquin Niemann and Viktor Hovland faded, the virtual pot is at €860 from €1000 entering this week's tournament of focus, the Charles Schwab Challenge on the PGA Tour in Texas.
This tournament is played at the iconic Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, a tight par 70 that has hosted this event since 1946. It's an old school, ball strikers venue where accuracy and a good touch around the greens are rewarded. It's great to see that it still matters to hit the fairway on certain courses, but technology is challenging these types of layouts and 15 under par was the leading 72 hole score last year.
The tournament starts at 1pm Thursday, Irish time.
Be sure to shop around, with bookmakers such as Paddy Power, 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 Collin Morikawa for €3 each way at 14/1. (1/5 the odds the first 8 places).
Sometimes as a punter you need a confidence booster, and I would find it hard to see 2020 US PGA champion Collin Morikawa out of the frame this week. He's the headline tip for a few reasons. He made his debut in this tournament last year and lost in a play off to Daniel Berger, so Colonial obviously suits him. It should, because it's a course that rewards good iron play. American Morikawa is the best iron player on the PGA Tour at present; he leads the strokes gained category on approach and tee to green. It's just a case of his putter cooperating. He's been happier with his stroke of late and finished with a 68 to move into a closing tie for 8th in the US PGA at Kiawah Island last Sunday. As a major winner at such a young age, he knows how to close the deal and was an impressive winner at the WGC Workday Championship in February.
Our second selection is Will Zalatoris for €2 each way at 25/1. (1/5 the odds the first 8 places).
It's a little bit of a shot in the dark to select American phenom Will Zalatoris this week, as he's making his Colonial debut, but this Texas based talent is likely to have seen the course at some stage prior to now. We all know about the second place at the Masters and Zalatoris' consistency remains highly impressive for a player still waiting to taste his first victory on the PGA Tour. Colonial should be right up his alley, as his irons are razor sharp. He is second in the approach statistics behind Morikawa this season and also finished in a tie for 8th at last week's US PGA.
Our third selection is Emiliano Grillo for €2 each way at 45/1. (1/5 the odds the first 8 places).
I put up Argentina's Emiliano Grillo as one of last week's US PGA tips and he finished respectably, in a tie for 38th, closing positively with a 70. Grillo is a tee to green machine who has not won as often as he should have, held back by indifferent putting. The flat stick has been better behaved this season though, and he was joint runner-up at the Heritage, a narrow golf course similar to Colonial. Grillo was third in this event back in 2018, one of three top 25's he has posted in Fort Worth. He's on the record as saying that he loves this course and the 28-year-old is well capable of challenging for the title.
Our fourth selection is Doc Redman for €1 each way at 125/1. (1/5 the odds the first 8 places).
Regular readers of Virtual Insanity would know that former US Amateur champion Doc Redman is popular in this tips feature. I left him out of calculations for the Byron Nelson and he was in a tie for ninth at the end. American Redman has three top 10's on tour this season now and it's a case of him putting all of his talent together. He's an excellent ball striker and his putting has improved in recent showings. He might not be sighted, but has the ability to vastly improve on a tie for 58th on his Colonial debut last year.
Our fifth selection is Andrew Putnam for €1 each way at 200/1. (1/5 the odds the first 8 places).
American Andrew Putnam is another golfer, like Grillo, who has professed a liking for Colonial. He put some ordinary form behind him to contend in 2019, finishing in a tie for third. Once again, he enters this week in mediocre form, but his tour card should be secure after three top seven places earlier this season; in Phoenix, Puerto Rico and at Bay Hill. Perhaps missing the grind of the US PGA will help Putnam, who won the 2018 Barracuda Championship, so we know he can seal the deal if the opportunity presents itself.
Our final selection is Rafael Cabrera Bello for €1 each way at 200/1. (1/5 the odds the first 8 places).
Spain's Rafael Cabrera Bello is finding his way on the PGA Tour, and he was an eye-catching performer at the Byron Nelson, finishing in a tie for 21st after opening with a 64. He's an accurate player and his debut at Colonial last year yielded a tie for 23rd with four rounds in the 60's. Cabrera Bello is a three time winner on the European Tour and a consistent sort who has spoken about needing to sharpen his iron play. If he can, he may be a lively outsider. He rounds up this week's tips.
So that's €20 wagered virtually on this week's golf. Make sure you bet less at home!
Please gamble responsibly, never bet more than you can afford, and good luck!