Paul Krishnamurty looks for value bets among the players at 99-1 or better at this week's two events in the USA...
"Champion in 2011, Adam Scott has only missed the top-15 twice in his last eight Firestone visits."
Back Adam Scott @ [140.0]
This week's two PGA Tour events could barely be more different yet a fundamental rule applies to both - do not understate the importance of previous course form. Both Firestone Country Club, host to the final WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and Montreux GC, host to the Barracuda Championship, have provided annual fixtures for decades and both set-ups offer some very clear indicators to study.
Firestone demands should be perfect for Grillo
The Bridgestone is usually won by an elite player but leaderboards aren't always obvious. Several outsiders have contended in recent years, with Shane Lowry winning in 2015. That said, even with plenty of top-class characters to choose from at above 99/1, only three came in for serious consideration. For the record, the discarded player was Kyle Stanley at [150.0].
Grillo, also recommended in our each-way column by Dave Tindall, looks to have exactly the right skills-set for Firestone. Amongst this field, the Argentinian ranks 21st for strokes gained tee to green, 15th for strokes gained approach and eighth for strokes gained overall, with only elite characters above him in the latter.
In his detailed preview, Steve Rawlings notes the importance of greens in regulation and all-around stats, which largely explains the dominance of the best players (most memorably Tiger) at Firestone. Grillo may not be there yet, primarily due to recent failures in the biggest events but he retains world-class potential and will impact one soon. Having finished top-20 on debut in 2016 and shown promise at two correlating courses - Augusta and Muirfield Village - a place is perfectly realistic.
Scott hinting at a return to form
It may seem slightly perverse to back a perennially weak putter on greens measuring 12.5 on the stimp-meter but Adam Scott knows them well from a fine record at Firestone. Champion in 2011, he's only missed the top-15 twice in his last eight visits. On that basis this trade - effectively taking nine to one that he gets matched at single figure odds plus an extra for the win - doesn't seem like a massive ask.
Whilst Scott has been on a poor run, there have been definite signs of life. Take out a missed cut at the US Open and his long game has been outstanding, yielding top-11 finishes at Sawgrass and Trinity Forest, plus a solid 17th last time at the Open. Again, the former Masters champion's correlating form at Augusta is a big positive and he's fared well at Muirfield Village too.
Veterans with Montreux pedigree offer great value
The Barracuda will have to play second fiddle all week but don't disregard this excellent betting heat. Steve Rawlings explains in his preview how outsiders and veterans have thrived since this unique event, based at altitude, moved to a modified stableford scoring system. Granted, those winners were very difficult to find but a detailed look through past leaderboards reveals stacks of players that repeatedly fare well - or at least better than expected.
Among them, two massive priced outsiders particularly catch the eye. Between them, 47 year-old Stuart Appleby and 48 year-old Tim Herron have 13 PGA Tour wins between them. They may have been a long time ago but both have maintained their good Montreux form whilst their wider game went south. There's only room left for one pick here but I wouldn't deter anyone from a punt on Herron, who was fourth two years ago, at [500.0] on the exchange.
This offers a rare chance to have a plausible bet on one of my favourite players of yesteryear. Appleby was an absolute rock in contention at his peak and exactly the type of player to persist with at usually attractive odds. His last two wins came way back in 2010 but he popped up out of nowhere to finish runner-up at The Barclays in 2014 and often fares respectably in these 'second division' PGA Tour events.
Indeed if Stuart is to ever win again in the States, Montreux is surely the likeliest venue. Since first visiting in 2010, when already declining from his peak, the Aussie has registered four top-20s from six, with a best of fourth last year. 12th at the St Jude show he's not totally gone at the game and note the similar profile to 2016 champion Greg Chalmers.
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