Golf tournaments do not get much harder in which to find a betting edge than The Barclays, with the lack of recent and relevant course form making reasoned punting very difficult.
The Liberty National Golf Club is getting ready to host The Barclays, the first event of the FedExCup Playoffs, for the second time. Unfortunately, the first time was four years ago and the course has undergone more surgery than Jocelyn Wildenstein after many golfers criticised its layout.
Tiger Woods and others were far from complimentary about the Liberty National Golf Club in 2009 and their barbs prompted officials to make changes to 15 of the course’s 18 holes, including widening many fairways to aid against the winds that blow off the adjacent harbour and reducing the sharp inclines on a dozen greens. Consequently, punters cannot place their usual amount of emphasis on course form.
Betting on The Barclays, if one really wants to have a punt on one of the toughest tournaments of the year, is a matter of identifying some value in the 72-hole match bets that bookmakers are offering. Anyone who says there is a golden winner bet is kidding himself or herself. It is a case of finding golfers who are likely to play well whom bookmakers have paired with golfers who are unlikely to play well.
Ernie Els is a golfer with whom The Barclays punters should want to side. Els was one of four golfers who finished in a tie for second behind 2009 event champion Heath Slocum and he rounded out his Wyndham Championship effort last week with a final-round 65. Els is one of the world’s finest golfers in windy conditions, hence his record in the Open Championship. Els has won the British major title twice – 2002 and 2012 – and been in the top 10 on a remarkable 13 occasions. With the Liberty National Golf Club favouring superb wind golfers because of its location next to open water, Els is worth supporting in a 72-hole match bet.
Bookmakers have paired Els with Martin Kaymer and Graeme McDowell. Neither Kaymer nor McDowell has played at the Liberty National Golf Club before so that puts Els at a distinct advantage. There is little to choose between the Open Championship form of Kaymer and McDowell and the same goes for their recent performances. McDowell’s accuracy off the tee means that he is less erratic than Kaymer so back Els to get the better of the German at odds of around 1.91.
Jim Furyk is seriously surging, with his last three events resulting in three top-10 finishes. Bookmakers have paired Furyk with Charl Schwartzel, who missed the cut in the PGA Championship before having a week off. Furyk was solid in the 2009 edition of The Barclays, posting rounds of 69, 73, 70 and 69 to end up joint 15th. Furyk has course knowledge that Schwartzel does not possess and his recent form is so good that he is worth a 72-hole match bet punt at odds of around 1.91. Furyk may not win as many tournaments as he should but his consistency, assisted in no small way by his driving accuracy, is a boon for punters who support him in head-to-head betting options. Schwartzel is ranked 122nd in this year’s PGA Tour driving accuracy chart so he is much more likely to have a shocking championship than Furyk.
Jason Dufner won the PGA Championship on his last start but the laidback American looks worth opposing in The Barclays following the decision of bookmakers to pair him with Webb Simpson. Dufner missed the cut in the 2009 renewal of The Barclays by a reasonable margin and, also, he could suffer a letdown as he returns off the back of his maiden major win. Simpson finished eighth in The Barclays four years ago and his recent form figures are more than respectable. Simpson has placed 11th, 14th and 25th in his last three events so back him at 1.83 to defeat Dufner with SkyBet.
If one really cannot resist having a bet on the winner of The Barclays, Els is the most sensible play with Coral bookmakers at odds of 67.00. Els is trading at odds of around 2.70 to finish in the top 20, which will be a cracking play if inclement weather hits the Liberty National Golf Club.