Find Me a 100 Winner: Outsider picks for Qatar and Bay Hill

Golfer Talor Gooch
Talor Gooch produced an eyecatching Bay Hill debut in 2018

Check out Paul Krishnamurty's analysis of the best outsider value in both of this week's main golf events...

"Gooch enjoyed a great debut here in 2018, positioned in the top-six for 54 holes before blowing up on Sunday. He strikes me as likely to break through somewhere."

Back Talor Gooch 0.5u @ 220.0219/1

Last week was a funny one for the column. Only one pick, Maverick McNealy, ever even reached the fringes of contention, yet all three made the top-20 and it ultimately felt unlucky to end up with merely a tie for tenth from Grant Forrest.

Both are very much on my radar again this week - Forrest is my each-way selection in Qatar, while McNealy only misses out on selection due to shorter odds. 150.0149/1 is still fair for a very good prospect who has now made his last 11 cuts.

Wind likely to be a big factor in both events

The lack of evidence and information available about the new venue for the Qatar Masters is far from ideal and a shame because it seems a likelier source of outsider value than the Arnold Palmer Invitational, which is usually won by an elite player.

It seems that Education City GC will present many of the same challenges as Doha GC, so my sole bet is based on the same fundamental criteria - ability to handle wind.

Back Matthieu Pavon 2u @ 170.0169/1
Place order to lay 20u @ 14.013/1

Long-term readers will know I'm a big fan of Matthieu Pavon in such conditions. He's repeatedly produced his best when the wind is up, whether that be at Dundonald, in a super breezy Scottish Open, the Irish Open, Portugal or Mauritius.

Pavon underestimated on recent numbers

The Frenchman went backwards after a strong start on the European Tour but he's in fair form right now. Pavon finished 11th in consecutive Gulf events, in Saudi and Dubai, and has hit at least 72% of greens in regulation on four of his last five starts.

My alternative pick in Qatar was one of only two players to finish ahead of Pavon in that 2017 Dundonald event. The fact Callum Shinkwin 180.0179/1 crashed from serious contention on Sunday puts me off but he too should be well suited to the test.

Gooch rates cracking value from dream draw

Wind is also expected to be a critical factor over at Bay Hill, with high speeds forecast throughout. As Steve Rawlings explains in his comprehensive preview, there could be an advantage for those drawn early/late.

Back Talor Gooch 0.5u @ 220.0219/1
Back Talor Gooch for a Top Ten Finish 1.5u @ 15.014/1

On the current forecast, that especially applies to *very* early starters such as Talor Gooch, who is in the first group out. I'm pleasantly surprised that his odds haven't totally crashed yet, despite being put up by Ben Coley over at - who deserves 'Godlike Genius' status after bagging both of last week's winners!

Gooch earned the column a profit from odds of 899-1 with a top-ten on his penultimate start at Riviera, and remains underestimated. The 28 year-old enjoyed a great debut here in 2018, positioned in the top-six for 54 holes before blowing up on Sunday. He strikes me as likely to break through somewhere and worth persevering with.

Higgs looks another top emerging prospect

Back Harry Higgs 1u @ 330.0329/1
Place order to lay 10u @ 25.024/1

Back Harry Higgs for a Top Ten Finish 1u @ 17.016/1

So too does Harry Higgs on the basis of his early PGA Tour numbers. He's made eight of his last nine cuts, with best finishes of second in the Bermuda Championship and ninth at Torrey Pines.

There isn't much wind form to examine but, living in Dallas, he must get plenty of practice. Moreover his stats appear perfect for this test - fourth for ball-striking among these over the last three months, first for par-four scoring over the past year. The latter stat tends to prove more important than is normal for a par-72.

I've a horrible feeling that McNealy will deliver a week after being selected and he has the right early/late tee-time. First reserve, however, is course specialist Kevin Chappell at 430.0429/1. He's yet to achieve much since returning from injury but went well for 36 holes at Pebble Beach on his penultimate start.

Follow Paul on Twitter @paulmotty


2020: -4.5 units
2019: +70.5 units

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