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Sometimes it’s almost embarrassing to crow about a winning tip and I was closer to tears for poor Danny Willett than joy at 16/1 selection Max Homa being gifted a successful defence of the Fortinet Championship.
One ahead standing on the last tee, the 2016 Masters champion had looked a certain winner when Homa failed to find the last green, a par five, in three, while the Englishman stood just 3ft 7in from the pin in the same number. But Homa holed his chip for birdie and the startled Willett jammed his tiddler 4ft 8in past and missed the return. It was more like a scene out of Caddyshack than real life.
So not even a playoff for Willett on a anti-climactical Sunday for two Yorkshiremen with Matt Fitzpatrick, put off by a camera click on the first extra hole at the Italian Open, unable to match Bob MacIntyre’s immaculate birdie four on next year’s Ryder Cup course outside Rome.
And what an important (and overdue) victory it was for the talented young Scot whose heart had been set on gaining a place in Luke Donald’s squad. To do so at the expense of the US Open champion and Europe’s star player Rory McIlroy with Donald in attendance and at magnificent Marco Simone was mega.
Yet, as he admitted, his game “had been all over the place” for a good while, hence his odds of 50/1. Now “Bobby Mac” will be odds-on to face the fearsome Americans who themselves will be odds-on next September to repeat last year’s shellacking at Whistling Straits - although nowhere near the price they are for this week’s Presidents Cup at Quail Hollow.
This biennial contest against The Internationals - in other words the Rest of the World minus Europe - has always been a pale imitation of the Ryder Cup because why would a Canadian be busting a gut for a South Korean partner who can’t even understand him or a South African being overly concerned if his Argentinian partner misses a putt?
But Americans love team sport and they love winning and this invention, which started in 1994, has fitted the bill admirably on both counts. Out of 13 encounters, they have won 11 and tied one. And it provided useful matchplay practice and solace in the dark years when Europe were whipping their butts home and away.
This renewal, one year delayed because of Covid, has degenerated into near-farce with those Johnny-Come-Latelys from LIV Golf having further undermined whatever chance Trevor Immelman’s Internationals had with their latest signings of Open champion Cameron Smith (winner on his second LIV start in Chicago on Sunday) and brilliant Riviera winner Joaquin Niemann (pipped in a playoff by Dustin Johnson on his LIV debut in Boston).
Added to earlier defections to the Saudi money men by Abraham Ancer, Marc Leishman and South African aces Louis Oosthuizen, Charl Schwartzel and Branden Grace, it has left the Internationals with a mountain higher than Everest to climb and although David did slay Goliath and Leicester City won the Premier League, the bookies say it’s 8/1 against anything like that happening in Charlotte, North Carolina, this weekend.
Already the high-rollers have been in for the early 1/5 on Team USA who are now mainly 1/7 but as short as 1/9 with one bookmaker. For those looking for a chink in their armour, the favourites are of course without DJ. So you’d have him over last-man-in Kevin Kisner in an ideal world and Will Zalatoris if he were fit but it’s doubtful if rebels DeChambeau, Reed, Koepka or Gooch would have strengthened what looks a bombproof side that Davis Love will lead into battle on Thursday (not Friday).
Yes, unlike the Ryder Cup, this is a four-day affair and with 30 points at stake rather than 28. Paying customers get little for their money for the first two days as there are just five foursomes on the opening day and five fourballs on Friday. Saturday is more hectic with four foursomes in the morning and four fourballs in the afternoon, with 12 singles on Sunday.
This gives Immelman the chance to shield his weaker players and on present form Mito Pereira (missed four cuts in a row since blowing the PGA Championship), Si Woo Kim (no top-ten this year), Sebastian Munoz (last top-ten in May), Cam Davis (missed Fortinet cut) and Christiaan Bezuidenhout (like Pereira has never won in the States) are likely to struggle.
Even though Hideki Matsuyama is the highest-ranked International at 17th, Sungjae Im is their man in form with a great end-of-season run, second places at 3M, Wyndham and Tour Championship, plus top-15s at St Jude and BMW.
As he did well in Melbourne in the last Presidents Cup, scoring three points in the narrow 16-14 defeat, and is never happier than on the golf course, expect him to play more than the injury-prone Matsuyama and be top scorer at 6/1 provided he gets a good partner, hopefully the exciting new kid on the block, 20-year-old fellow South Korean Joohyung “Tom” Kim whose iron play and hot putter have produced some dazzling results.
Much will be expected of Adam Scott as the senior member of the team in his tenth Presidents Cup but with a W4-L9-H4 record in fourballs the omens are not that bright in that discipline.
Corey Conners and Taylor Pendrith as the two Canadians look a likely pairing but hardly intimidating to an American team with no obvious weak link. No prizes for guessing the home team’s likeliest partnership - great mates Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele, easy winners of the Zurich pairs event in New Orleans. They aren’t too shabby at singles either and at 13/2 could end of as joint top points scorers for the USA. The trouble with betting on that market are that there are one or two others likely to go unbeaten so the win dividend could be diluted.
Sunday’s fortunate winner Homa is a Cup debutant but thrilled to represent his country for the first time. As a past winner at Quail Hollow (2019 Wells Fargo) and now a three-time winner in the past 12 months, expect Love to make plenty of use of him. He could be top overall wildcard at 15/4.
Top scorer and winning margin, plus the individual daily matches - the opening foursomes match-ups won’t be announced until Wednesday - will be the main betting options unless you fancy piling your savings on the USA at 1/7. It’s 14.14% interest and they pay out in four days! Just saying.
The 7517-yard par 71, longtime home of the Wells Fargo and 2017 host to the PGA Championship (won by Justin Thomas) is not quite the one we’re used to as it has been re-routed to ensure that the infamous Green Mile, the ultra-tough 16th, 17th and 18th, gets plenty of use.
That stretch becomes 13, 14, 15, hopefully more an integral part of each match (unless there’s a 7&6 annihilation) rather than be wasted because of early finishes. Unless Scottie Scheffler and the other US stars get too cocky, underrate the opposition or take pity, there are surely going to be a good few of those.
The last time the Cup was staged in the States, in 2017, the scoreline was 19-11. This time it could be even more one-sided. Have a go at 19.5-10.5, 20-10 and 20.5-9.5.
But wait till you have all available information. There is little point in playing the top-scorer markets until we see Thursday’s line-up. You are giving the bookies a one-up start if you bet now and your fancy sits out day one (only eight of the 12 play). Both captains are likely to throw their best players into the first series to get an early lead, so keep an eye on who is going out with whom in practice.
One last tiny word of hope to the underdogs: although ten of the 12 Americans are rated ahead of the top International, the world rankings are predominantly based on form in 72-hole strokeplay. This is 18-hole matchplay, a very different beast. There are bound to be upsets. Remember that the 2002 Ryder Cup swung on Phillip Price, probably Europe’s weakest link, defeating mighty Phil Mickelson!? Who’s going to step up to the plate for poor Immo?
Scheffler, Cantlay, Schauffele, Thomas, Burns, Finau, Homa, Horschel, Young, Morikawa, Spieth, Kisner
Matsuyama, Im, Si Woo Kim, Joohyung Kim, Scott, Conners, Davis, Bezuidenhout, Munoz, Pereira, Pendrith, KH Lee
Very hot and humid on day one (34C) with possible thunder. Sunny and warm (24-28C) for the weekend
Presidents Cup golf betting tips 2022
- 1pt each USA to win by 9, 10 and 11 at 12/1, 11/1 and 12/1
- 3pts win Sungjae Im Internationals top scorer at 6/1
- 1pt win Patrick Cantlay USA top scorer at 6/1
- 1pt Max Homa top overall wildcard at 15/4
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Celebrating my 52nd year tipping and writing about golf. Tipped more than 800 winners (and more than 8000 losers!). First big winner Lee Trevino at 8-1, 1972 Open at Muirfield. Biggest win £40 each-way Ernie Els at 80-1 and 50-1, 2012 Open. Most memorable: Giving the 1-2-3 at 33-1, 50-1, 33-1 out of 4 tips from a field of 180 in 2006 Pebble Beach Pro-Am. According to one bookmaker “Undoubtedly one of the greatest tipping performances of all time”. And, of course, putting up a 150/1 winner with Stewart Cink in my very first column for Golf Monthly. Lowest handicap 9 Present handicap 35.6. Publications tipped for: Sporting Life, Racing Post, Racing&Football Outlook, Golf World, Golf Weekly, Golf Monthly, Fitzdares Times. Check our Jeremy's latest tips at our Golf Betting tips home page
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