Saturday, January 07, 2012



The ten hour time difference between Hawaii and London is a bit of a killer with regard to following the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, but it was nice to find Steve Striker ( see below) in a share of second place this morning, he shot a five under par 68, just one stroke behind Jonathan Byrd and he has taken an early five shot + advantage over several players ( Watson, Watney and Woodland to name three) who were well fancied pre tournament.Lucas Glover did not start by the way, leaving us with a 27 man field. I have just watched some brief highlights and Stricker really hit some nice iron shots late in his round and looked comfortable in the wind.This event ends on Monday, so I will put it on the back burner until then, when I will take a look at the usually profitable, last day's play.

I have three flat stake football bets for today, to be honest, it is not the most interesting day of the season IMO and the Las Vegas oddsmakers and I agree ( for once) on the points spread for today's Wildcard games in the NFL, however, that is definitely not the case tomorrow, when I have a very solid pick, along with a FAR more exciting day on the football front and much as I love the NFL, when I say football, it is always the beautiful game and the round ball I am talking about !

In Division 1 ,Chesterfield have a massive game when they entertain Exeter City, the Spirites are at the foot of the table, six points from safely and the club currently sitting in that 20th spot in the table which is Nirvana for the teams in the drop zone, is City. The hosts have upped their game recently, without getting their just reward, they lost by the odd goal in five at Wycombe after leading twice and had chances to win drawn starts against Scunthorpe, Walsall and Oldham, again leading in two. Time is running out for them and they have two road games up next, defensively they look to have at least steadied the ship and are not shipping goals at the same rate they were earlier in the campaign and this is a side with goals in them, only Scunthorpe in the bottom ten have scored more and with regard to attempts on goal, they are 9th in the table, averaging over 2.5 per game more than City. They claim to have been "mentally stronger" in their last two games and this is absolutely vital, once teams lose confidence, it is incredibly hard to turn things around. The board have promised funds to strengthen and Liam Ridehalgh has joined this week from Huddersfield, via Swindon, the Robins were keen to keep him ( more of that later), but his parent club wanted him to play third tier football, he is a young player with potential whom Chesterfield tried to sign in the summer. This will further solidify the back line and surely boss John Sheridan will go for it today and play two up front, he has the prolific Jack Lester ( a goal every two games at the club) backfrom suspension today and he should return alongside the promising Jordan Bowery, Drew Talbot has been creating a lot of chances from the right and now in Lester, they have the right man to make the most of them. Chesterfield -0.5 ball 2.25 general quote.

Into the FA Cup 3rd round games and first up is the match between .................


No football for me today, but I do have a confident selection, next email will be sent on Friday morning.

The USPGA Tour gets underway today, with the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, at the Kapalua Plantation course on the North West coast of Maui. This, as the name might suggest, is for all 2011 Tour winners, 39 were eligible, but only 28 have entered, due to a variety of reasons, some better than others and only Steve Stricker and Webb Simpson of the top ten ranked players in the world are taking part.

It is Mr Stricker that I am interested in, he is a traditionally fast starter and prolific winner. He has finished top four on his seasonal debut in four of the last five years, including a 4th here last Janauary and second place finish in 2008, the only blip in that five year sequence was in 2010, when he was tenth here after a very poor start, he then finished third and first in his next two outings. He shot an opening round par score of 73 that year, basically giving up four strokes to the field and shot a very nice 66 on Sunday, in 2008 he also started slowly but finished like a train, with a 64 in Round 4. Last year he put things right in Round 1 and yes, you have guess it, slipped off the pace on Sunday with a 71, a 66 or better would have been enough for victory and he must feel that was a Tour win that got away. Time for him to put the fours rounds all together, on a course that clearly suits him.

The wide open and long fairways suit long hitters and Steve hit a 424 yard drive here in 2010, but key stats on these huge greens are scrambling ( last eight winners were all ranked within the top ten) and strokes gained putting ( seven of the last eight winners all ranked either first or second). Stricker was ranked second on tour for scrambling last year and inside the top 14 in each of the last four seasons, he was also second on Tour for strokes gained and he clearly ticks all the right boxes.

The injury concerns he had in November were put to bed, with a comfortable singles win in the Presidents Cup and a solid showing at the Franklin Templeton event in December, he has been practicing a lot in Arizona with Aaron Baddeley and Bubba Watson in the build up to this and looks primed to go well. He is favourite at circa 9.2 on the exchanges, but this is very much a reduced field and he is the highest ranked golfer on display and an eleven time winner on Tour, seven coming in the last three years alone and nine of them in the first half of the golfing year. Good course and stat form, a proven winner, who hits the ground running, hard to pick any holes in his chances. I am going to take 1.5 units on him to record another top 4 start to the season, this is on offer at circa 2.50 + pretty much across the board and for four figure liquidity at 2.80 + on the exchanges.

Good Luck.

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