Welcome to Virtual Insanity for OTB, where we spend virtual money to try and win virtual money on golf betting. It's that simple!
The virtual pot is at €975 from €1000 for 2021 entering this week's tournament of focus, the Italian Open on the European Tour in Rome.
The PGA Tour's Tour Championship is an unappealing prospect this week due to the limited nature of the field and the staggered start, so I am switching focus to the Italian Open on the European Tour.
In 2023, the Ryder Cup will be played at the Marco Simone golf club in Rome, and this is the venue for this week's tournament.
This is a tree lined, parkland golf course which isn't very long, but also contains water and dog-legs, so accuracy is going to be just as important as big hitting.
The tournament starts at 6.30am on Thursday.
Be sure to shop around, with bookmakers such as Paddy Power, Betfair, SKY Bet, Betfred, Betway and Boylesports paying 1/5 the odds the first seven places each way.
Our headline selection is Martin Kaymer for €5 each way at 35/1. (1/5 the odds the first 7 places, Paddy Power, SKY Bet, Betfair).
German Martin Kaymer is a former world number one who has won two major championships, but he's probably better known for his winning putt at the 2012 Ryder Cup, the 'Miracle of Medinah'. Now 36 years of age, Kaymer is an unlikely pick for European skipper Padraig Harrington for this month's matches in Wisconsin, but playing at a future Ryder Cup venue may generate good internal memories. There was once a time when he was an assassin; a prolific winner of golf tournaments and someone who crushed a US Open field by eight shots. Amazingly, that triumph in 2014 was his last victory. Last week, Kaymer was tied for 18th in Switzerland. He's been knocking on the door in 2021 with a second place finish at the BMW International Open and a third at the Austrian Open. Kaymer is sixth in strokes gained approach this season, which may be important at a course that seems to require precision. I believe Kaymer has the requisite class to end this seven year drought and win again.
Our second selection is Sean Crocker for €2.50 each way at 35/1. (1/5 the odds the first 7 places, Paddy Power, Betfair, Betfred).
When there is not much course form to go on, it's sometimes wise to side with those who are tearing it up with hot play. American Sean Crocker is taking the Brooks Koepka route of plying his trade on the European Tour and his recent performances have been stellar. A tie for second place at the Czech Masters was followed by a tie for fourth at the European Masters last week. Crocker is knocking on the door of a maiden golf title and his statistics are impressive; eighth in strokes gained off the tee and second in approach. If his putter co-operates, he may get the job done this Sunday.
Our third selection is Matt Wallace for €2 each way at 28/1. (1/5 the odds the first 7 places, SKY Bet, Betway, Betfred).
To use a phrase from horse racing, England's Matt Wallace is one of the 'class horses' in the race this week. He's been competing on the PGA Tour, where he finished inside the top 125 in stronger fields. Wallace went close to winning the Texas Open back in April, before his American form tailed off somewhat. A decent player of tricky parkland golf courses, Wallace registered a top 10 in the recent Cazoo Classic on the European Tour. A four time European Tour winner, he certainly has the ability to remind Padraig Harrington of who he is this week.
Our fourth selection is Wil Besseling for €1.50 each way at 75/1. (1/5 the odds the first 7 places, Paddy Power, Betfair).
Dutch golfer Wil Besseling was playing on the Challenge Tour back in 2019, but he's been a notable improver over the last 24 months. Three times he finished either third or in a tie for third last year and he enters the Italian Open having posted five top 30 finishes in his last six events. Consistency and discipline may be required around this track; and if it turns out to be a more demanding golf test than expected, Besseling may have the doggedness to hang around.
Our final selection is Darren Fichardt for €1.50 each way at 90/1. (1/5 the odds the first 7 places, SKY Bet).
Richard Bland proved earlier this year that European Tour wins could be earned at the ripe old age of 48. Now 46, South African Darren Fichardt is enjoying a mini golf revival in 2021, sparked by a tie for second in Qatar at the start of the year. His closed with a 67 in Switzerland last week and his statistics make pleasant reading; eighth in stroke average, sixth in birdies, first in approach. I feel this five time Tour winner is one of the better outsiders.
So that's €25 wagered virtually on this week's golf. Make sure you bet less at home!
Please gamble responsibly, never bet more than you can afford, and good luck!