This week's column takes in the Phoenix Open, an event which Paul Krishnamurty believes has the perfect set-up for trading outsiders in-running...
"In his short career, Jonas Blixt has won twice on the PGA Tour, more than most top-class Europeans, and finished top-four on his first two major attempts."
There are many more prestigious fixtures on the PGA Tour schedule, but this second leg of the West Coast Swing is always one of the most attractive betting heats. The field is ultra-competitive, making for huge odds about most players, plus form students can call upon a vast bank of past course numbers to find clues. Indeed, it's one of those weeks where reducing a shortlist to single figures is no mean feat.
Moreover, the risk-reward nature of Scottsdale GC is perfect for in-running trading. Leaderboards tend to be bunched here and change very fast, because almost every hole is a very realistic birdie or bogey. The most dramatic Phoenix Open turnaround was Brandt Snedeker's collapse from final day leader to 43rd! Back in the early days of this column, I have bitter memories Scott Piercy blowing a four-shot lead in quick time.
A whole slew of outsiders came in for consideration this week, including Snedeker when he was briefly available at 100.099/1 on Monday. Tony Finau, one of Steve Rawlings' picks, was reluctantly excluded. However under these conditions, even his generous 140.0139/1 odds were too short for my liking, compared to the following trio who can be backed very cheaply at huge odds, without requiring an in-running miracle to hit our lay target.
The common thread between all three is that the market seems to be over-reacting to the limited amount of 2015 form in the book. After just two events at most, it would be ridiculous to draw strong conclusions about their wellbeing and all offered enough last season to make a mockery of these odds.
First, a streaky yet high-class player who is often underestimated. In his short career, Jonas Blixt has won twice on the PGA Tour, more than most top-class Europeans, and finished top-four on his first two major attempts. Hardly the form of a 250.0249/1 chance, especially considering he was in decent form before Christmas. Blixt is one of the best putters around, (always a key stat here), and is easily forgiven missing the cut on last week's seasonal debut.
Morgan Hoffman must be rated one of the likelier first-time winners after making real progress during his second PGA Tour season. The 25 year-old particularly caught the eye during the FedEx Cup play-offs, finishing ninth at The Barclays and third at the BMW Championship. He was also a highly encouraging 15th on his Scottsdale debut. Hoffman is another excellent putter, well worth a small interest at dismissive odds of 350.0349/1.
Finally, I'm taking a chance that another streaky player will step up significantly on recent efforts now he's presented with an ideal test. Matt Every hasn't done anything since finishing third in June's St Jude Classic, but he had earlier beaten an elite field at Bay Hill to cap a strong early season run. Course form generally stands up well at Scottsdale, so it's significant that Every has twice made the top-ten in three attempts. Again at 360.0359/1, the odds are too big to ignore.
The trading plan is to stake 3.5 units in total on our trio, then place lay orders on each at 16.015/1 and 3.02/1 with a view towards banking a profit in-running. If any of them just hits the first target, we'll be guaranteed to at least quadruple our money, with substantial extra profits still running.
Back Jonas Blixt 1.5u @ 250.0249/1
Back Morgan Hoffman 1u @ 350.0349/1
Back Matt Every 1u @ 360.0359/1
Place order to lay each player 14u @ 16.015/1
Place order to lay each player 20u @ 3.02/1