The European Tour kicks off 2021 with the Abu Dhabi Championship and the PGA Tour moves to California to take in The American Express. Our man's back with outsiders to trade at both events...
"If we make the rash assumption that Kizzire will improve for the absence of ‘celebrities’ and the far faster pace of play, everything else looks in order. With recent form figures reading 24-11-10-32-7, the two-time PGA Tour winner is in fine fettle and few players are putting better."
Both this week's events, the Abu Dhabi Championship and The American Express, have a history of producing big-priced winners so I was quite keen to unearth some value at both. I'll start with the Abu Dhabi Championship, which I've previewed at length here.
The weather forecast has been consistent all week in Abu Dhabi, highlighting what could transpire to be a significant draw bias in favour of the Thursday's early starters and that was enough for me to scrub Renato Paratore off the list. The Dubai-based Italian is a multiple winner on the European Tour and he's shown a liking for desert golf but an afternoon tee-time on day one could be a sizable handicap to overcome.
Fellow Dubai-based Italian, Guido Migliozzi, who's also won twice on the European Tour already, is a very big price for such a promising player and he came close to inclusion too. He has the advantageous early start but his tee-to-green stats aren't quite strong enough and on his sole visit to date he missed the cut last year, so I'm chancing just one here - America's John Catlin.
Catch a bit of Catlin at a juicy price
Chris DiMarco won the inaugural edition of the Abu Dhabi Championship in 2006, Rickie Fowler won it in 2016, Tiger Woods finished third in 2012 and both Dustin Johnson and Phil Mickelson have finished second here, so American's have a very strong record and Catlin is an insultingly big price.
Having won four times on the Asian Tour, Catlin made hay in Europe last summer, winning twice, at the Andalucía Masters and the Irish Open, as well as finishing sixth in Wales and eighth in Portugal. Understandably, after such a hot streak, he finished the year with three poor efforts and this is his first look at the Abu Dhabi Golf Club but the 30-year-old Californian has based his game on a deadly accurate tee-to-green game that could easily pay dividends here. He also has the benefit of that all-important early start on Thursday.
The last two winners of The American Express went off at 500.0499/1 and 1000.0 and between 2008 and 2014, all seven winners went off at a triple-figure price too so this is an event where we could easily see a surprise.
As highlighted in the preview, I'm laying almost all the players trading below 100.099/1 before the off and I've had a devil of a job keeping my picks down to just three here.
I can see recent winner and column pick, Martin Laird, faring well here. He was a pick at the Sentry Tournament of Champions two weeks ago and he has a great record in desert golf events. Laird won the Shriners for a second time in October, he has four top-tens at the event that correlates best with this one - the Phoenix Open - and he was ninth here in 2017.
He came close to inclusion and so too did Dave Tindall's Austin Cook. Dave makes a great case for Cook and he would have been a column pick had Patton Kizzire not drifted to a triple-figure price...
Hot-putting Patton a confident pick
Patton Kizzire has weak event form figures reading 42-50-42-MC-MC but we may a see a few players put poor previous behind them this year. Ordinarily a pro am staged over three courses, this year's renewals is to be played over just two, with no amateurs present because of the pandemic and I'd bet my bottom dollar that - that's a blessing for more than 50% of the field, as well as an even higher percentage of TV viewers.
If we make the rash assumption that Kizzire will improve for the absence of 'celebrities' and the far faster pace of play, everything else looks in order. With recent form figures reading 24-11-10-32-7, the two-time PGA Tour winner is in fine fettle and few players are putting better.
Bold defence likely for Landry
Bill Haas was beaten in a playoff here in 2011, 12 months after winning the event for the first time and four years before his second triumph. That's as close as we've come to a defending champion winning but multiple event winners are fairly common and this year's defending champ, Andrew Landry, is worth chancing at a huge price given he also traded at odds-on in 2018 before losing a playoff to Jon Rahm.
He missed the cut in the Sony Open but that's often been a good pointer in the past and I expect a much better performance at a venue that clearly suits.
Swafford chanced again
Recent Corales Puntacana Resort and Club Championship winner, Hudson Swafford, performed admirably enough last week at the Sony Open when a pick at 230.0229/1 and I'm happy enough to chance him again in a tournament he won back in 2017.
The 33-year-old Floridian finished tied for 25th at the Sony and that was his best performance since his win in October. He telegraphed his 2017 victory with a 13th at Waialae and I thought 170.0169/1 was a fair price for a previous winner creeping into form.
I'll be back on Thursday with the In-Play Blog.
*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter
STEVE'S 2021 FIND ME A 100 WINNER P/L
Staked: 7.5 units
Returned: 0 units
P/L: -7.5 units
Abu Dhabi Championship
Back John Catlin 1u @ 500.0499/1
Place order to lay 10u @ 15.014/1 & 10u @ 2.56/4
The American Express
Back Patton Kizzire 1 ½ u @ 100.099/1
Place order to lay 10u @ 8.07/1 & 10u @ 2.01/1
Back Andrew Landry 1 u @ 150.0149/1
Place order to lay 8u @ 8.07/1 & 8u @ 2.01/1
Back Hudson Swafford 1 u @ 170.0169/1
Place order to lay 8u @ 8.07/1 & 8u @ 2.01/1