SUNDAY JANUARY 15TH
Huge amount to cover today, late football and NFL in the second email, which I will send at around 14.00 UK time.
Brentford were terrible yesterday, Walsall were even worse and it is going to be a very long season for them. Uwe Rosler, made some odd tactical decisions yesterday, playing Forrester wide was just one, leaving Logan out another and they appear to be coming onto the pitch on home soil, expecting to struggle. A poor pitch didn't help much either..... oh dear !
Overnight Charles Howell III shot a 66 and is in a tie for 3rd place at the Sony Open, so let's start there.
The leaderboard looks like this .....
-10 de Jonge
-8 eleven golfers including Stricker, Bradley and O'Hair
Maggert is 47 years old and has won just twice in 547 starts, he has not led on the final day for nine years, or played well for four !
Every has only played 30 events, never come close to leading , the first is always the hardest and he has posted only one top ten, I doubt he slept well last night.
Wagner has two wins, but is very inconsistent and is not a golfer I am keen on.
de Jonge has never won, he has posted the most birdies on tour in the last three years, but needed seven yesterday to shoot three under, which tells you all you need to know, as the bogeys flow almost as freely. He did shoot a 62 on Friday and that is probably how he will eventually win a tournament, going ultra low early in the day, but he was ranked 135th on tour for round 4 scoring last year.
Points won the Pebble Beach Pro Am event last year, but that was his only ever win, it came in an "odd" event and he has posted just one top ten in 25 starts since, so it hardly kick started his career.
Waldorf is even older than Maggert at 49, he has not won since 2000, or posted a top ten since 2006 !
Steve Stricker ground it out again yesterday, said he once again felt sluggish and "didn't hit the ball well", but it could all come together for him and let's be honest, there is not much to beat !
That leaves us with CH3, his all round stats were much better yesterday and he continues to putt pretty well. He was ranked 14th on tour for Round 4 scoring in 2011 and 10th the year before. On his last big finish here in 2010 he shot 64 on Sunday and that would probably be enough to see him home today. If you twisted my arm , I would have to nominate him as the most likely winner at circa 6.50, but he is far from a prolific winner and with our Top 10 bet ( see below and now available to LAY at long odds on), there is no real need to get involved. The Round 4 match bets do not appeal.
The Australian Open tennis starts overnight and we will be involved later in the tournament, no selections today, but a few words about the Laura Robson- Jelena Jankovic match. The 13th ranked Serbian always looks vunerable early and has performed increasingly poorly here since a semi final appearance in 2007, losing in Round 4, 3, and in her second match last year, the fifth time she has not gone beyond the second round in Melbourne. Robson was on crutches a month ago, but is young and recovers quickly, she took JJ very close in their only previous meeting at Wimbledon in 2010, when just 16 years old. Robson is 18 this coming week and is said to be looking very good this week both in practice and coming through qualifying, very good actually. She is british, but was born in Melbourne and is a two time finalist in the Junior event here, so very comfortable in the surrounds and on the surface. Robson is circa 6.0 to win, that looks big and this is a potential upset.
In the EPL, Newcastle United face QPR without Cheick Tiote and Demba Ba, who are both at the ACN. They did see off Blackburn Rovers reserves last week in the FA Cup without the pair, but they have been integral to the Magpies success and Ba has scored 52% of all their league goals this campaign.He missed one match previously, the 1-0 win at Sunderland, so they can win without him, but it is hard to see the goals flowing whilst he is away. The visitors have now slipped into the bottom three, so will be looking for the point to take them out and new boss Mark Hughes, who is expected to be very busy in the transfer window, will want to start with a positive result and we can also expect the new boss effect to kick in .Rangers have kept things pretty tight on recent road starts, with a 1-1 draw at Swansea and 1-0 defeats to Arsenal and Liverpool. They have gone with a defensive mindset in each and I am sure that is how Hughes will set his team out today, with avoiding defeat as a priority. An early goal could blow this open, but baring that, it is hard to see either scoring twice and I do think the draw offers a little value, but just prefer the "under" 2.25 goal option at 2.20, as this also covers the two lowest scoring draws. Hughes always had not losing as a priority at Manchester City and in a game where a point will be so valuable to his team, I am sure that will be his approach today.
Written Thursday January 12th
Now for a bet and at very juicy odds....
The PGA Tour moves onto Waialae, the venue of the Sony Open, it is usually windy here, but it is a fairly consistent, steady wind, however it is useful to be able to keep the ball low and once again, like last week, an ability to "scramble " also comes in handy. Step forward, Charles Howell III, the 32 yo from Augusta loves it here and has posted five top five finishes in ten starts, including a tie for second in 2007, He has a very low trajectory off the tee and has been ranked inside the top seven for scrambling on tour in each of the last two years. He posted six top ten's in his last 14 starts in 2011 and comes here for his traditional seasonal opener. CH3 claims to be coming off " his best ever off season preparation" and with no concerns about the US Masters, having already qualified to play, in what, for a son of Georgia, born and raised in Augusta, is a very big deal, he has no other golfing distractions. Interspersed between those high finishes here have a been a few low placings, like his 68th placing last year, but he has always bounced back with a very high finish the very next year and it is hard to see that not being the case this year. He is not a prolific winner, just twice on tour, way below the number he should have posted by now, but he is very consistent and I feel he will win a couple more in what should now be his peak golfing years, his game steadied after the birth of his first child in 2010, we have discussed how this makes a golfer more focused previously and it is clear to see how much more steady CH3 has been since then, the second arrived in October, so he should be doubly focused now ! Charles Howell III to finish top ten 3.25 + , there is up to 3.75 on offer if you shop around. Just a single stake, but I would increase that slightly if the top 3.75 quote is available to you.