As the Open Championship heads to the historic links of St Andrews this week, there is one man who will be eyeing a piece of history of his own.
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This weekend we have an absolute feast of betting for the sports enthusiast.
Top of the bill are the men’s and women’s finals from Wimbledon.
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The US Open comes to the Pacific Northwest for the first time in its history as it heads to the Chambers Bay course just outside Seattle in Washington this week.
The course certainly seems to have split opinion amongst the pros, with some like Ryan Palmer calling it “ridiculous” and Ian Poulter saying it was a “farce” before he had even seen it.
There are multiple elements about this course that have upset some of the pros and cast this as perhaps the most controversial US Open in recent history.
So what is getting the players in such a froth?
What it is about this course that is getting so many of the pros into a lather?
Well, firstly the fairways will be wide, which is unusual for US Opens. Secondly, the greens have some huge slopes on them which will make putting difficult and some shots nigh-on impossible if you miss the greens.
But what is really unusual about this venue is that it will have some very quirky features – sloping tee boxes, blind shots and perhaps most controversially of all, some holes that will play up to 100 yards different in length depending on which tee box is used, so some days holes will play as par fours and another day as par fives.
Whilst some pros have blasted the course however, some are more complimentary. Phil Mickelson, for instance, said he thought it was “wonderful,” adding “It’s not going to be your typical US Open, hit and hack out of tough. You’re going to be able to control it much more like British Opens than I’ve ever seen, where there’s a lot of room and a lot of firm fairway cut.’
As Jack Nicklaus said, they do not build golf courses to suit your game, you have to suit your game to the course. So it may be the player who manages their game and enjoys the unusual challenge that Chambers Bay presents that triumphs this week.
It appears to be an advantage this week to have visited the course and learnt some of its quirks. The Director of the USGA, Mike Davis, certainly thought so when he said – in a statement that generated a lot of controversy – that:
“I would contend that there is no way — no way — a player would have success here at Chambers Bay unless he really studies the golf course and learns it. The idea of coming in and playing two practice rounds and having your caddie just walk it and using your yardage book, that person’s done [and] will not win the US Open.”
Players like Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods have been following Davis’s advice and visiting the course in preparation for this week’s events.
It will be interesting to see come the end of the week whether Davis’s comments turn out to be true or whether someone can come here “fresh” and still win the trophy.
Whatever does happen, it seems a player with imagination and who can handle adversity is most likely to triumph at Chambers Bay.
As Jack Nicklaus also said, he always enjoyed it when other players moaned about a course because for every one that did, he knew it was one less player he needed to beat that week.
The big question this week then will be – how many players will beat themselves and fall foul of this mighty course’s demands?
Watch out for our full betting preview later today.
In 2011, it appeared to everyone that the stars had aligned to allow Germany to claim an unprecedented third consecutive World Cup victory. They were playing the tournament as the hosts and favourites, and as they walked out onto the field to take on a Japanese team who had impressed in the group stages, it’s fair to say there were few people inside the Volkswagen-Arena in Wolfsburg who predicted the upset that would follow.
Japan would go onto become the first Asian winners of the Women’s World Cup, not only downing the hosts but the USA too – the two teams that have occupied the positions as favourites for this year’s World Cup that has just got underway in Canada. But what are the chances for this year’s crop of dark horses? Is there a legitimate case for any of the outsiders to cause a second consecutive tournament upset for both Germany and the US? Below, we outline the teams with the best hopes of doing just that.
France – priced from 5/1 to 7/1
Dubbed by the Guardian as ‘arguably the most accomplished side in world football today’, there are many people who believe if anyone is going to topple the challenge of the big two, it’s the French. Despite their perceived inability to fulfil their potential on the big stage, this French team appears to be solid and, more importantly, confident in their own ability. Complete with Lyon captain Wendie Renard leading the team out, there is no question that they’ll be difficult to beat, making them perhaps the best bet for anyone looking to go against the grain this year.
Canada – priced from 7/1 to 12/1
It would be difficult to complete this blog without a significant mention for this year’s hosts. Of course, you can never count against home advantage when it comes to one-off games, but it would be a disservice to this group of players to say that will be the only thing carrying them through. With a great balance of experience and youthful exuberance, from talisman striker Christine Sinclair to her heir-apparent, 17 year old Justine Fleming, the odds on Canada to pip the Germans and their arch rivals to the trophy are certainly worth taking note of.
Brazil – priced from 8/1 to 12/1
Brazil’s women aren’t the powerhouse that they are perceived to be in the men’s game (World Cup 2014’s capitulation notwithstanding), but you’d be foolish to write them off getting into the last four (at least) this summer. From there, as we know, anything can happen – and with the creativity and drive of arguably the best player the women’s game has ever seen, Marta, still the engine of the team there is every chance that with a kind draw this Brazil team can go all the way.
Japan – priced from 8/1 to 12/1
It may seem odd that the reigning champions are considered such outsiders, but if anything it does much to highlight the sheer surprise of their victory four years ago. Nowadays, people are wise to their way of playing and their recent form has done nothing to suggest they can launch a successful defence this time round. However, nobody expected them to perform the way they did in Germany and with the return of the veteran Homare Sawa (playing in her 6th World Cup) there is a feeling of quiet confidence in the Japanese camp. With odds as long as 12/1 for the holders, it’s not hard to see why many have felt them to be worth a flutter this year.
England – priced from 21/1 to 25/1
We couldn’t finish off the roundabout without weighing up the chances of England’s women. It’s been a period of transition since the departure of long-term coach Hope Powell and the squad, it seems, are just starting to click again. The odds are long due to the fact we’ve been – predictably – drawn into a tricky group, with Columbia and Mexico keeping France company as our Group F opponents. However, with Man City star Jill Scott back in the heart of the midfield and no real pressure on the team as a whole, could this be England’s year?
We have a cracking weekend of sport coming up and to celebrate the occasion the bookies have a range of free bets on offer for the more savvy punter to take advantage of.
Epsom Oaks and Derby
One of the top fixtures in the racing calendar, this weekend we have the Derby and Oaks from Epsom.
The Oaks is held today (Friday) at 4.30pm and the favourite is Legatissimo at around 3/1.
There are some good offers around today, with Coral offering a £10 free bet in the Oaks if you bet £10 in the 2pm race.
Meanwhile Boylesports offer a £25 free bet for the Investec Mile at 3.45 if you bet £25 in the 2.35 race.
Champions League Final
The Champions League final is tomorrow and is set to be a classic defence against attack encounter.
Barcelona have been breathtaking going forward in the latter part of the season, with the dream front three of Messi, Neymar and Suarez gelling just as all football purists hoped they would.
What a turn around from a few months ago, when Barca trailed Real Madrid in the league and some fans were calling for Luis Enrique’s head.
If they want to win the trophy though, Barca will have to overcome one of the meanest defences in Europe in the shape of Juventus. With the evergreen Buffon in goal, the Spanish champions will have to be a their best to break through what will surely be a tough rearguard action from the Old Lady.
To mark what should be a fascinating final, Bet 365 are offering a free £50 in-play bet for the final.
French Open Tennis Finals
We were correct in forecasting that Nadal would lose his crown at Roland Garros, losing to a rampant Novak Djokovic in the quarter final on Wednesday. The Serbian was in devastating form and it will take perhaps the performance of Murray’s career to overcome him in today’s semifinal.
Certainly the bookies think so, with the world number one priced at no better than 1/5 to win today.
In the other semi-final, the enigmatic Jo-Wilfred Tsonga will be roared on by the home crowds in his match up against Swiss Stan Wawrinka.
It is slightly surprising to see Wawrinka priced up as such a strong favourite at around 2/5, as this has the look of quite a tight match to me.
The main question for the women’s final tomorrow will be whether Serena Williams is well enough to perform to her optimum level against underdog Lucie Safarova.
The American has been struggling with the flu since the third round, but that hasn’t stopped her powering her way through to the final and unless her condition really deteriorates before tomorrow’s final, then it is tough to see her being beaten.
And to cap things off we have the Canadian GP, where Lewis Hamilton will be hoping to get over his disappointment in Monaco and get back to winning ways.
Betfair are offering 5/1 that Hamilton wins the Canadian Grand Prix, with money back if you lose and £100 in free bets for new customers.
The bookies have already opened up betting on who will be the next Man City manager, expecting as a matter of course that Manuel Pellegrini would be sacked at the end of the season following City’s failure to capture silverware this season. Read more
Well it was one hell of a weekend of betting and I don’t really know where to start!
General Election Betting
Perhaps best to start with the election. I am still in the process of picking my jaw up off the floor. I
don’t think anyone was predicting a Tory majority. Certainly not the pollsters and so-called experts anyway. Even David Cameron seemed genuinely surprised. Read more