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22nd April 2024 10:29 pm

“A difference of opinion is what makes horse racing and missionaries."

Tuesday’s Ascot proves too strong a siren call

These Donors Are AMAZING Thank You

William S – MEJi – Peter N – Nigel B – Ken C – Mark S – James D – William M – Fiona M – Julian A – Jonathan H – Mrs V.M – Pete BN – Gavin C – Thom S – Sarah C – Mark S – Sam H – James R

Lunch with chums near Malmesbury on Sunday, and I ran into David Lloyd-George, who will know by the time you read this whether he is to be (reinvested – reignited – reinterred? I’m sure there’s some particular name for it), admitted to the House of Lords to take up a spare hereditary seat for the Lib Dems. A hereditary peer is typically elected solely by the other hereditary members of their party, but this particular vote has to be put to the whole House, because Viscount Falkland, who is retiring, was chosen by all members of the House of Lords in 1999 to serve as deputy speaker. The Peers have had two days to interview the candidates, get taken for lunch, be told who to vote for and to check whether they have any tattoos. David is up against two others, one of whom is inevitably another of The Hons’ myriad Plantagenet cousins, and Earl Russell (who he: Ed). I hope it’s David; he is a good egg and has no known tattoos.

I, too, had carefully mapped out plans for the next week. Plans that The Hon had inscribed and set on tablets of stone. Then Charlie emailed to say he hadn’t seen me for three years and that he’d be in the usual place on Tuesday at Ascot, starting at the pub by the station at about ten for a sharpener. I used to share a house with Charlie, and I have skied and shared hotel rooms with him. I have pulled him off a mountain black-bagging when too drunk to walk and known every one of his wives and live-in partners. He is one of my top ten most dangerous people to be sociable with – but I cannot let a chum down when called on. Then Nicki texted to say that she had arranged a picnic on Tuesday, and if I wasn’t doing anything, I could join her and her daughter for lunch at midday. I love her to death, but she would be close to a top 20 MDPTBSW – the mother, not the daughter. Then Mary WhatsUpped and said she had a lunch party on Tuesday and Sarah, Lucy, Jane, and Caroline would all be there and would I come as they were short of men. Then a different Fiona said, come to the Trainers for drinks at about 11:30. Meanwhile, three other invites arrived for various lunches during the week – but they were all addressed to the Hon.

Up to this point, fully a week before the Tuesday of the Royal Meeting, I had no intention of going. The Hon had made it clear. Every day, bar Tuesday, we had an engagement at or involving Ascot, and fun and frivolity had to take a back seat to common sense.

“Nothing strange in that Kneesup”, I hear you say. “Ascot has always been terribly sociable”.

Hmm.. you’re right, of course, but here’s the thing. Four of the week’s invites and engagements are, in fact, At Homes. They are all accompanied by the general observation that, at £150 a pop, £300 for the pair, £500 with a haircut and hat, £1000 when you feed a half dozen in the car with some decent munchies – you might as well spend it on a dozen chums at home and not have the sweat of dressing up, getting frightened by the leering drunks, see all the racing and have somewhere comfy to sit. Three years ago, during the lockdown and when Boris was outrageously breaking the law, which made us all frightfully cross, I remembered that there were at least three local invites to Ascot Lunches where no MPs or SpAds were to be found. That mood has stuck, and instead of doing five days of Ascot, most of my chums now seem to be doing two days, with a party at home. That isn’t falling out of love with racing – that’s a warning cry to the so-called Premier League racecourses when it comes to admission prices.

Having made my dash to save His Majesty’s and racing’s financial bacon by attending one extra day, however, I need to pay for it – perhaps with one of these US Open selections, which starts tomorrow.

I thought you might be interested to see the following records of some of the last 10 U.S. Open winners in the key PGA statistics:

  • Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee Matt Fitzpatrick: +1.24
  • Strokes Gained: Approach-the-Green Collin Morikawa: +1.23
  • Strokes Gained: Putting Jon Rahm: +0.80
  • Bogey Avoidance Scottie Scheffler: 76.8%
  • Birdie or Better Conversion Percentage Bryson DeChambeau: 21.8%

Every one of those ten had made the following stats:

  • Off-the-tee: They have all averaged over +1.00 strokes gained off the tee.
  • Approach-the-green: They have all averaged over +1.00 strokes gained on approach shots.
  • Putting: Strangely none of the last ten had exceptional putting stats, compared to some of their other dominating stats. They have all averaged around +0.50 strokes gained on the greens, which is a solid performance but not a major advantage.
  • Bogey Avoidance: This shouldn’t surprise but they have all been very good at avoiding bogeys. They have all averaged over 75% bogey avoidance, which is impressive.
  • Birdie or Better Conversion Percentage: Again no surprise, but all of the last ten averaged over 20% birdie or better conversion percentage.

Stats and trends aside, you’re down to just four and all four are entirely predictable and we’re not going to get rich:

SCOTTIE SCHEFFLER: Four straight top-fives and no finishes worse than 12th since October and surely he’s due for a victory, with his last coming in March. He is the best ball striker in the world and his PGA tied-second place was impressive… but. The price is shy of sexy, like so much in life.

PATRICK CANTLAY: Seems to have been loitering around the top of the leaderboards in the Majors, and solid precision and distance figures off the tee will help him this week. Cantlay has finished in the top 15 in his past two Opens, and California is his home state – making this his best chance to date.

VIKTOR HOVLAND: The Norwegian is on the rise and he just missed his first major at the PGA after a double-bogey on 16. He got his fourth career victory two weeks later at the Memorial. He finished in the top 10 at the Masters and Players.

BROOKS KOEPKA: If Brooks wins this week, he will equal Phil Mickelson’s 6 Majors total and he will only be 33 years old – an age at which old Lefty had still not won his first. Koepka won his fifth at the PGA Championship at Oak Hill last month, and he comes in with an astonishingly good U.S. Open record. From 2017-21, Koepka beat or tied 616 of a possible 620 (99%) of all his U.S. Open opponents.

If you Dutch all four of them at today’s prices with say Victor Chandler, you’ll be getting approx. 9/4 about your money.

Those fours aside I’m also thinking of adding a brace of wild cards, who I think might outperform the stats.

BRYSON DE CHAMBEAU: I think the market – which means we punters – are still treating BDC as something of a braggadocio – a man with a huge hit and over-engineered kit.  His recent LIV results and his fourth-place finish at the PGA Championship however suggest he is confident, comfortable in himself and is thus value

TYRRELL HATTON: Surely to God, Tyrrell is due a victory – so why not this one? He tied for third at the Canadian Open, with a pair of 64’s, making that his sixth straight top-20 finish. He is in the top 10 in strokes gained tee to green and putting, so he meets many of the traits needed to win an Open.

However, if I do that and Dutch all 6 of them, I’m going to be getting around 7/4. I think the play is to Dutch the first four for 10 pts on Betfair – allowing you to trade out if warranted and to play the other two for 2 pts e/w each on the market where you can get anything between 8 and 12 places. Bet Victor however is 5 places for ¼ odds and Sporting Index for 7 places at 1/5 odds and similar odds.  With five places, there is less chance of a tied e/w at the price.

Apropos of nothing, I also think that 2/1 for XANDER SCHAUFFELE to make a top 10 is outstanding value and as he’s top 5 in his last six appearances, I’m not going to ignore his chances of doing so again. If you fancy any of the following then also consider covering bets for Top 10 finishes. PATRICK REED 6 – SI WOO KIM 6 – RUSSELL HENLEY 8 – MITO PEREIRA 7 – SEPP STRAKA 14

SCOTTIE SCHEFFLER 7.8/1 – PATRICK CANTLAY 21/1 – VIKTOR HOVLAND 20/1 – BROOKS KOEPKA 14/1 Dutch to 10 pts Betfair at prices shown

BRYSON DE CHAMBEAU 45/1 – TYRRELL HATTON 30/1 2 pts e/w for 7 places with Sporting Index

XANDER SCHAUFFELE 5 pts Win 2/1 Top 10 finish

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