Saudi International Betting Tips
Robert Cobley is a maths graduate with years of experience in the sports betting industry. He has now teamed up with Bet UK to bring his golf betting tips to our readers.
Royal Greens Golf & Country Club - King Abdullah Economic City, Saudi Arabia - 7,010 Yards, Par 70
The European Tour continues the trend of major sporting events heading to this corner of the Gulf for the second staging of the Saudi International this week. Set on the Red Sea coast approximately two hours drive north from the city of Jeddah, this Dave Sampson designed desert track is one that is largely at the mercy of the players, short, and defended only by the elements. There are twelve par 4s averaging just 430 yards (against the 455+ Tour average). and four of those are under 380 yards long. There are few physical defences on a flat, treeless, short, desert golf course.
From the tee, the players drive into fairly generous paspalum fairways. Some of the holes have doglegs, but these mostly serve to help the longer hitters who can take on the corners and leave themselves just short iron or wedge approach shots to most greens. There is minimal rough, and the punishment for wayward drives is usually that the players will find themselves hitting their approach shots from the large, sandy, waste areas. The greens are large with minimal bunkering on the whole, although the waste areas do provide a minimal hazard to wayward shots. There are four small lakes that meet six of the putting surfaces, but they will punish only the loosest of approach shots.
Conditions in this part of the World, particularly on the coast, are guaranteed to be challenging, at least at times, and the winds from the Red Sea are really all that protects Royal Greens from record winning scores. Long hitters have a significant advantage, and I will be looking for players with a history of performing well on desert courses. Key stats are strokes gained off the tee, and a great wedge game.
Last Year’s Winners
The Market Leaders
Given the above criteria, married to the fact that he won here so convincingly last year, it is no surprise to see that Dustin Johnson (7/1) comes in as the clear market favourite this week. A second 61 was the highlight for Johnson in 2019, and his 19 under par winning score never looked under any real threat with only four players finishing within eight shots of the big hitting American. That game is what Johnson does best. He is a great driver of the ball, and an under rated wedge player. On courses like this where he can open his shoulders with little to no real risk, he is immensely hard to contain. Dustin has played just once in the last three months, although that was an impressive 7th placed finish at Kapalua, on a course that admittedly is equally as well suited to his strengths. With so little golf behind him, and in a strong international field, Johnson definitely represents a risk this week, but that is largely written into what seems a fair price. He isn't for me, but he cannot be ruled out.
Brooks Koepka (10/1) returned to competitive golf with a very solid 65 at the Abu Dhabi Invitational two weeks ago. That was not followed up over the following three days, and his 34th placed finish was disappointing and reflective of his career record when it comes to desert golf. Over eight events, Koepka has only one top 10 in the desert, both in the Gulf, and in the US and that, along with his limited number of starts recently, have combined for this unusually long price for the World number one. It's a hard one to really take a position on for me. If Koepka starts as he did in Abu Dhabi and gets a sniff of contention then it could be huge. Last year here however, Koepka only managed one round in the 60s as he missed the top 50 and for me that is enough to tip the balance away from him being a bet this week.
Patrick Reed (12/1) was in contention for most of the final round of the Farmers Insurance Open last week. His 6th placed finish was his 5th top 10 in his last seven events which really does represent an extraordinarily consistent run of golf. He will be disappointed not to have won in that time, and he is no stranger to playing good golf, and winning, in desert conditions. His 56th placed finish where he tied Koepka last year puts me off, as does the significant travelling from California to Saudi Arabia. Victor Perez (20/1) is a regular feature on European Tour leaderboards at the moment, and he will be eager to bounce back from a poor final round which saw him finish outside the top 15 last week despite entering just one stroke behind Ashun Wu's lead. Perez closed with a 64 here last year, and the improving Frenchman has every chance of gaining his maiden Tour win here. Sergio Garcia (20/1) had a year to forget in Saudi Arabia last year where he was disqualified and accused of causing damage to a number of the greens at the Royal Greens course. Garcia has put that down to struggles in his personal life, and insisted that we will see the real Sergio this week on a course that should suit the in form Spaniard. He also has a chance.
Rob’s Betting Tips
Headline Betting Tip
Reigning Open champion Shane Lowry didn't compete in this event last year, but the Irishman has been making waves recently with some excellent golf which has put him right on my radar for an event which should suit him down to the ground. Lowry loves this type of venue; what I would describe as a resort / links hybrid. Lowry has, of course, an exceptional record playing links golf, and that combined with wins at events such as the Portugal Open on flat Algarve courses make this windswept venue the ideal course for Shane to open his 2020 account. He finished 11th last week after a 2nd place two weeks previously, both following a strong end of season showing at the DP World Tour Championship.
Although not a bomber in the traditional sense like the Johnson's of the field, Shane is not short, and his wedge game is absolutely exceptional. With the short par 4s and the limited danger on the other holes, Lowry should be able to take advantage and put himself in a winning position. Added in to that is the fact that all four days are likely to be extremely windy, and Lowry really does have an edge on the field that he hasn't had in his other recent high finishes. For that reason he is my headline tip this week, and I am excited to recommend 3 points e/w at 22/1.
Other Betting Tips
Christian Bezuidenhout will still be kicking himself for the terrible error that he made on the 72nd hole last week. A wedge and two putts would have seen him take home the Dubai Desert Classic title, but the South African screwed his approach into the water, and despite a fantastic 18 foot putt to make the playoff, came off second best to Australia's Lucas Hebert. Christian is another who is a great wedge player, showcased no better than last year at Valderrama when he claimed his maiden Tour title; interestingly at a venue where Shane Lowry has also enjoyed success. Bezuidenhout is a very similar player to Shane. He has a fantastic wedge and short game, and as with all South Africans is exemplary in tough windy conditions. On the back of such an impressive performance last week (again in tough, blustery, 4th round conditions), it is a surprise to me to see Christian priced so much higher than a number of his fellow contenders here last year he missed the cut in this event, but that doesn't really concern me as his form was entirely different, and he was not a winner on Tour. I expect a lot from him this week and will be having 2 points e/w at 55/1.
For my final selection this week i have been back and forth a little over Ross Fisher and Ryan Fox, both of whom should be ideally suited to the type of test provided by the Royal Greens course. I have opted for Fisher given his slightly better iron play, and that he is in better form than Fox presently. Ross has been poking around the top of leaderboards for the past few weeks with top 10 finishes in two of his last four events, and at a venue where he finished 13th last year, i expect him to push on to challenge for a first victory in four years, particularly at this price. Fisher is a big hitting player who will give himself plenty of opportunities to attack the pins this week. If his wedge game and putting are at the level they have been for the last few weeks, Ross is a serious contender and I suggest backing him with 1 point e/w at 80/1.
Following a rolling profit of 463 points in 2019, I am looking for an even better 2020. Each week I will pick between 2 to 4 selections at each event on the European and PGA Tours, and suggest a suitable staking plan.
|European Tour||-31 Points|
|PGA Tour||+84 Points|
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*All odds from Bet UK’s online betting markets correct at the time of writing.
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