THERE is top quality golf everywhere you look at the moment, with LIV heading over to Europe for an event at Valderrama, the British Masters at the Belfry, and the Rocket Mortgage Classic in Detroit.
With most of the top PGA Tour players taking a week or two off before flying to the UK for the Scottish Open, followed by the Open at Hoylake, the LIV event boasts most of the star power this week.
Open champion Cameron Smith and five-time Major winner Brooks Koepka head the market at Valderrama. But it would be no surprise if they are already thinking ahead to another tilt at the Claret Jug.
Valderrama is an incredibly tough test. It requires a combination of shot-making skill, intense concentration, and incredible levels of patience.
If things start to go wrong it can quickly unravel, which could catch out another strongly fancied LIV player, Dustin Johnsion.
He has a tendency to make mistakes that lead to big numbers – think back to his quadruple bogey eight in the second round of the US Open.
So my fancies for the LIV event are two other Major winners: one with plenty of form at Valderrama, and one who is an out and out grinder, with the short game skills you need at the treacherous Spanish track.
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4. Place Your Bet – now it’s time to navigate through your sportsbook’s odds where they will offer a variety of options including outright winners, or top finishing positions, such as top 10 or 20, or even to make the cut. For the event this week each way odds are generally paid on the top eight players.
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No-one in the game knows Valderrama better than Sergio Garcia, who has won three times on his favourite course.
He has also been runner-up there twice and has finished outside the top ten only once in 15 competitive appearances.
Throw in the fact that home support is bound to bring out the best in him, and the 2017 Masters winner looks sure to go well at 14-1.
The man who succeeded him as Masters champion, Patrick Reed, also looks a great fit for Valderrama. His odds of 22-1 look pretty tempting.
The small, raised greens at the Spanish track are notoriously difficult to hit, and Reed’s scrambling skills will be invaluable. He gives the impression he could get up and down on a green the size of a dinner plate.
Detroit Golf Club, where the Rocket Mortgage Classic takes place, is another course with small greens. So accurate players tend to get rewarded more than bombers or great putters.
The course was lashed by a storm that brought 80mph winds to the Motor City on Sunday and Monday, but the course avoided any serious damage, apart from a few trees being uprooted.
There is more bad weather forecast for a couple of the tournament days, although the winds will be nowhere near as fierce as they were at the start of the week.
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It is still going to be another test of patience, and an ability to hit plenty of greens in regulation will be a big plus.
Defending champion Tony Finau ranks just inside the top ten on the PGA Tour’s greens in reg category, and he disputes favouritism with the rejuvenated Rickie Fowler at around 14-1.
But Tom King is a couple of spots higher than Finau on the GIR list. At 18-1, he is the player who jumps out.
Kim finished seventh in his Detroit debut last year, closing with a brilliant 63. That showed what a quick learner he is. With that experience under his belt, he will be tough to beat this time.
Cameron Davis, the 2021 Rocket man, looked like winning again soon after he finished a close fourth at the USPGA Championship.
So it was a surprise to see him miss three cuts in a row after that Major, but he got back on track with a decent performance at the Travelers Championship.
This event will suit him far more than the Connecticut birdie-fest, and he confirmed his liking for the course with a T14 finish as defending champion last year. At 33-1, he is worth following.
Most of the players at long prices do not have much to recommend them – although 200-1 shot Callum Tarren finished in the top twenty here last year, and the Englishman has turned in encouraging efforts in his last two outings.
A rather more famous English golfer, Justin Rose, is the class act at the British Masters. He is a strong favourite in a weak field at 9-1, but the in-form Min Woo Lee – a 12-1 shot – could be the man to beat
Defending champion Thorbjorn Olesen is not the most consistent golfer in the game – which is putting it mildly. But last year’s win showed his game suits the Belfry, and at 33-1 it is hard to ignore his chances.
This is another event where the outsiders look to be outsiders for a reason. But 100-1 chance Marcus Armitage looked like finishing a lot higher than T21 last year before a closing 76 sent him tumbling down the field.
The 2021 European Open winner produced his best performance in ages with a top ten finish at the Italian Open. A repeat of that form would surely be good enough to put him in the mix here.
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