Golf Betting 2015: Full in-contention analysis of the world's top 10

Jim Furyk – one to take on in-the-mix
Jim Furyk – one to take on in-the-mix

Steve marks your card for 2015 by taking a close look at the records of the current top 10 when contending - it's essential info for in-play punters so bookmark this page!

“Jim Furyk is on a long losing streak of eight straight loses when he’s led or been tied for the lead through three rounds and the longer that streak goes on, the bigger a deal it becomes.”

Trading on each and every PGA and European Tour event each week has given me a good feel for who's solid in-contention and who might be worth taking on.

But to add weight to my beliefs, confirm them, or to change them, I thought it would be nice to analyse some stats while there's a break in the schedule so with the help of tour-tips.com, whose stats date back to 1996, I've looked at the top-ten in the Official World Rankings to see how they shape up.


Rory McIlroy's overall win % when leading or tied for the lead 
After round one - 23.8% (one win from last nine)
After round two - 38.9% (converted four of the last six)
After round three - 53.8% (six wins and two seconds from last eight)

Rory McIlroy's 2014 record when leading or tied for the lead
After round one - 1 from 7
After round two - 2 from 4
After round three - 2 from 4


There was a spell during 2014 when everyone was wondering what was wrong with Rory McIlroy on a Friday. Time after time he failed to back-up a good first round but that's all been forgotten since he won the Open Championship wire-to wire. These stats are quite clear though - don't dive-in when Rors is leading after day one, indeed he's one to take on  at that stage. But the nearer he gets to the finishing line the more ruthless he becomes and he's developed into a player you can back with confidence in-the-mix over the weekend.


Henrik Stenson's win % when leading or tied for the lead
After round one - 28.6% (one win from last six)
After round two - 47.1% (won four of the last five)
After round three - 52.6% (on a streak of 3 from 5)


Henrik Stenson's 2014 record when leading or tied for the lead
After round one - NA
After round two - 1 from 1
After round three - 1 from 2


Henrik Stenson's stats are revealing. He's almost as prolific when leading at halfway as he is when in front with a round to go. He's a thoroughly professional in-contention player but on those stats, he'll represent much better value when leading at halfway than he will after round three. 

The Swede is 38 now so has plenty of experience and his stats show that he's a reliable in-contention performer but I'm still not sure whether he'll bag that elusive first Swedish major. 


Adam Scott's win % when leading or tied for the lead
After round one - 15.8% (just one win from last 15 day one leads)
After round two - 46.2% (beaten the last three but five from seven before that)
After round three - 65.4% (beaten the last three but 13 from 16 before that)

Adam Scott's 2014 record when leading or tied for the lead
After round one - 0 from 1
After round two - 0 from 2
After round three - 0 from 2


Although he did manage a win in 2014, coming from off the pace to take the Crowne Plaza Invitational in a playoff, Adam Scott hasn't looked quite himself since he lost a four-stroke third round lead at the Australian Open last year which cost him the chance of winning the Australian Triple Crown. His record when leading on day one is even worse than Rory's but if we're happy to gloss over the last three results when he's led after round three (finished 2-3-2) then he's one to go to war with when he's leading on day four.


Bubba Watson's win % when leading or tied for the lead
After round one - 16.7% (won just one from six in total)
After round two - 20% (only won twice but been runner-up six times)
After round three - 22.2% (poor strike rate but rarely far away)

Bubba Watson's 2014 record when leading or tied for the lead
After round one - 0 from 2
After round two - 1 from 2
After round three - 1 from 3

Given he's a player I quite like (given the right conditions); I was quite surprised at how poor Bubba Watson's stats were. In fact, given how poor the stats are when he's in front, I thought I'd have a look at his record when just off the lead after three rounds (trailing between one and three strokes) and they're not bad at all. He has strike rate of 18.8%, which is almost as good as when he has a clear lead.

You have to prepare yourself for the odd moment of madness with Bubba (just ask his caddy!) but he often represents value purely because he has a reputation for losing the plot. He can mess things up in style but he's also capable of sheer brilliance so you never know what you're going to get. These stats suggest he's one to be wary of with a lead but I wouldn't right him off when just off it. He's a bit of a hothead at times and he can explode if things don't quite go his way but he's a two-time major winner and a better performer in-contention than these bare stats suggest. 


Justin Rose's win % when leading or tied for the lead
After round one -15.8% (finished first or second five of last six occasions)
After round two - 23.5% (failed to convert last four but three from four prior)

After round three - 46.7% (won three of last six)
Justin Rose's 2014 record when leading or tied for the lead
After round one - NA
After round two - NA
After round three - 1 from 1

Although he did lead after round one twice in 2014, at the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship and the Arnold Palmer Invitational (finished runner-up in both), Justin Rose has developed into a notoriously slow starter, often ruining his chance of victory on a Thursday, but he's also developed into a fairly trustworthy in-contention player - although I'd prefer to play him just off the front rather than leading. 

Rose was impressive at the Scottish Open in July when he powered home with a final round of 65 but on the previous ten occasions he'd led or been tied for the lead with a round to go he only once shot a round in the 60s - when he finished fourth at the Children's Miracle Network Classic back in 2009.


Sergio Garcia's win % when leading or tied for the lead
After round one - 5.9% (only once won but even then was three back after third round)
After round two - 30.8% (converted just one of last eight)
After round three - 48% (OK record in smaller events but converted just one of last eight on the PGA Tour)

Sergio Garcia's 2014 record when leading or tied for the lead
After round one - NA
After round two - 0 from 1
After round three - 0 from 1


Sergio Garcia is one of most well-liked and talented performers in the world but he's far from reliable in-contention - especially in the States. His record in Europe (and Spain in particular) is OK but in the bigger events and on the PGA Tour in general, he's not one to put too much faith in.


Jim Furyk's win % when leading or tied for the lead
After round one - 19% (zero wins from last five but three from four before that)
After round two - 16% (not converted since 2010 Tour Championship - zero from six)
After round three - 34.8% (not converted since 2010 Tour Championship - zero from eight!)

Jim Furyk's 2014 record when leading or tied for the lead
After round one - NA
After round two - 0 from 2
After round three - 0 from 2

Jim Furyk did most of his winning when Tiger Woods was at the peak of his powers and although he was never anywhere near a ruthless closer like Tiger he was steady and reliable but Old Father Time appears to be catching up with Jim and he's now one to be wary of. He's on a long losing streak of eight straight loses when he's led or been tied for the lead through three rounds and the longer that streak goes on, the bigger a deal it becomes. He never seems to do much wrong but at the same time, he doesn't grasp the nettle either and I'd be reluctant to take a short price about him.


Jason Day's win % when leading or tied for the lead
After round one - 14.3% 
After round two - 0% (0 from 5)
After round three - 42.9%

Jason Day's 2014 record when leading or tied for the lead
After round one - NA
After round two - 0 from 3
After round three - 0 from 1

The injury-dogged but extremely promising Aussie, Jason Day, hung on grimly in high winds to win the Byron Nelson Championship in 2010, (his only PGA Tour stroke play win) having led after round one and again after round three but it wasn't impressive. He's also won on the Web.com Tour once and he won the World Cup in his homeland in 2013 but three stroke play wins for someone as talented as Day is poor. 

The painfully slow Day has never won when leading at halfway and he's never really impressed in-the-mix, so he's one to treat with caution but on the plus side, he's not been out of the front two on the last six occasions he's led or tied for the lead through three rounds and if he can stay injury-free, at 27, he could be set for a stellar year in 2015. I'll be erring on the side of caution with Day going forward but if he does start winning I wouldn't be surprised. I'd like to see him find a way to speed up because I'm convinced being so deliberate isn't helping.


Jordan Spieth's win % when leading or tied for the lead
After round one - 33.3% (1 from 3)
After round two - 38.9% 0% (0 from 3)
After round three - 25% 0% (1 from 4)
Jordan Spieth's 2014 record when leading or tied for the lead

After round one - 1 from 3
After round two - 0 from 2
After round three - 1 from 4

Very much the new kid on the block, 21-year-old Jordan Spieth has the world at his feet. His stats are fairly irrelevant given how few starts he's made but even in 2014 he improved considerably in-contention. He won his first PGA Tour event, the 2013 John Deere Classic, from off the pace and his early efforts when up on the pace didn't produce a win. Zach Johnson got the better of him in the Tournament of Champions in January, he was injured when he failed to convert a halfway lead at the Farmers Insurance Open and he perhaps got frustrated too quickly at the US Masters but he finished 2014 in fine style - winning the Australian Open and the Hero World Challenge is great style. 

I can't see anything but further improvement going forward and I have no doubts he'll continue be solid in-contention. 


Rickie Fowler's win % when leading or tied for the lead
After round one - 33.3% (1 from 3 - never outside the front two)
After round two - 20% 0% (1 from 4 - never outside the front two)
After round three - 33.3% (1 from 3)

Rickie Fowler's 2014 record when leading or tied for the lead
After round one - NA
After round two - NA
After round three - NA


Considering Rickie Fowler has now been on the PGA Tour since 2010 and that he finished inside the top-five at each of this year's four majors, it's incredible how few times he's won and how rarely he's led. 

He won the limited field Korea Open wire-to-wire on the OneAsia Tour in 2011 and he came from off the pace to Wells Fargo Championship a year later but that's it - just two wins worldwide

After his heroics at the majors this year, Fowler's being talked up as the man, along with Spieth, to put it up to Rory in 2015 but he's not a player to throw money at.  At 26, he looks set to take the world by storm but I'll need to see him be far more convincing in-the-mix before I start backing him.

*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter

Get a Free £/€20 Exchange Bet

  • Join Now - Open account using promo code VAL225
  • Bet - Place a £/€20 Bet on the Exchange
  • Earn We'll Refund You £/€20 If the Bet Loses

T&Cs apply.

Discover the latest articles