Rob Bolton

The 19th Hole

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The Dave Tindall Interview

Thursday, September 17, 2009

So I was one week early in projecting Tiger Woods' romp. Evidently, new Cog Hill is old Cog Hill. Woods could win there if it hosted the Olympics in 2056 (he'd be 80), much less 2016 (age 40).

Since the PGA Tour is taking a week off – it's first of three if you count the weekends of the President's Cup and WGC-HSBC Champions in the next two months – I thought I'd treat you to a Q&A with U.K.-based Dave Tindall. Hardcore fantasy golfers won't need an introduction, but the editor of provides one for you anyway in this transatlantic sit-down. He might be better known for his previews of all tournaments on the PGA and European Tours, and even more so for the headlines he began racking up about a year ago for his crazy run of long-shot bulls-eyes, turning heads worldwide. In this conversation, he shares what it was like to ride that streak; provides insight about what it takes to succeed if you bet on golf and explains his stance on (and perspective of) illegal betting in America. What's more, and this is the special announcement about which I teased you a week ago, Dave has also accepted an invitation to compete in next year's ROADI. We'll discuss that and, as the cliché goes, a whole lot more …

Before we tee him up, a couple of notes about what to expect here over the next week … First, the usual Sunday night "Major, Medicals, Reshuffle and Rookies" will reveal the first peek at the expected list of qualifiers for the 2010 majors. (As you know by now with everything else in this goofy game, it's always subject to change, thus the "expected" label.) Then, next week's TOUR Championship preview will cover all 30 in the field. That preview will get posted in its usual Tuesday/Wednesday overnight slot.

Bur for now, meet Dave Tindall …

Rob: If I didn't lead off with it, readers that know of your success would skim right to the portion about your incredible stretch of picking winners. So let's jump right on it. Take us through it.

Dave: I get a little sheepish about this and am aware that it's Louis Armstrong, not me, who should be known for blowing his own trumpet. But, seeing as you asked ... My hot streak started at the back-end of 2008 when in a ridiculous run of form I tipped Charl Schwartzel at 22/1 to win the Madrid Masters, Alvaro Quiros at 80/1 to win the Portugal Masters, Ryan Palmer at 150/1 to win the Ginn sur Mer Classic; and, this is when you know the betting gods are with you, Soren Kjeldsen at 45/1 to be the first-round leader at Valderrama. [All paid as predicted.] When you're confident you tend to see a clearer picture and your decision-making is clutter-free. The run continued into 2009 when, on the West Coast Swing, I nailed Zach Johnson at 30/1 to win the Sony Open, Nick Watney at 66/1 to win the Buick Invitational and (an out-of-form) Phil Mickelson at 18/1 to take victory at Riviera. This just sounds like a string of boasts now, but I then got Mickelson (again at 18s) to win at Doral before Brian Gay – a player I used to think was a bottler [i.e. his ass falls out when he's under pressure/lacks mental fortitude when it really counts] – became my favorite golfer when he gave me a 100/1 payout by winning at Hilton Head (by 10 shots!) and a 40/1 return with a win at St Jude.

Rob: You do realize that I began looking for another job when Gay paid off for you at Harbour Town, don't you? By my count, that's 10 winners. Maybe I should retract that ROADI invite.

Dave: I've lost a bit of momentum although I've not done as many previews since May when my baby daughter was born and I took a bit of time off. Just a quick point on that – my previous best year was 2006 when my son was born. There's a theory over here called the "Nappy Factor" (you'd say "Diaper Factor" I guess!). It basically says that when a golfer has a baby they realize that there are extra costs to be incurred and he raises game accordingly. Mickelson, Zach Johnson and Trevor Immelman all won majors within a year of having their first sons. Well, it appears to have applied to me too! [For the record, Immelman's boy, Jacob, was about 21 months old when the South African won the 2008 Masters.]

Rob: Congrats on becoming a dad twice over. A perfect season of winners can't trump that. I suppose it would be obvious to say that you're pretty good at what you do. Have you always had this kind of "gift?"

Dave: I've always loved sport and used to bet on the horses in my teens (my grandmother used to have a little bet every day and I think I picked it up from her). Then I got a job with William Hill (one of the big British bookmakers) and, being in that sport/betting environment, a group of us started a syndicate which started betting on golf. The four of us took it in turns to pick the bets each week and it soon became clear that most of the profits were coming from me. I can still remember now the "we're not worthy" mickey-taking when I tipped Ted Tryba to win the 1995 Anheuser-Busch Golf Classic which he did so at odds of 100/1.

Rob: Good Lord. I suppose you saw Andre Stolz coming at the 2004 Michelin Championship at Las Vegas, too, huh? Or how about Gene Sauers at the 2002 Air Canada? Eric Axley at the 2006 Texas Open? Definitely Greg Kraft at the 2008 Puerto Rico.

Dave: There was certainly an element of stumbling into it, and many of the guys I know that excel at betting don't have any paper qualifications. I did go to college though and got a degree in psychology. My mum was a math teacher so I think maybe those two elements helped me when I realized that both played a part in trying to work out who might play well each week.

Rob: If any of my readers don't scoot over to check out your work when you're on the clock, they will now. What else are they going to find?

Dave: We cover golf worldwide with the main emphasis on the US and European Tours. However, as well as carrying basic news content and live scores, we do a lot of features, quirky quizzes and special photo galleries.

Rob: I've particularly enjoyed the timed quizzes, not that there's anything wrong with that photo spread of Maria Verchenova.

Dave: And then, of course, there's the other big element to our site – the betting.

Rob: All bettors go into the tank on occasion. If you don't mind me asking, what's the worst hit you've absorbed?

Dave: I had a big bet on Phil Mickelson beating upstart Tiger Woods in a match bet at the 1997 U.S. Masters. Tiger won by 12. Phil missed the cut. Ouch!

Rob: So YOU were the one that clicked a camera in Woods' backswing on the 72nd hole! Nice try. I know it's not kosher to ask, but I'm just doin' my job – how much did that set you back?

Dave: A fair bit. I don't like to divulge amounts to be honest.

Rob: Fair enough. Now, I'm curious at your position on gambling as it relates to being primarily illegal in the U.S. You have no such restriction at home.

Dave: It's a bit of an odd one this. My first trip to the U.S. was to Las Vegas in 1992 and I must have been back 10 or so times since. So I sometimes forget that gambling isn't allowed elsewhere as I tend to associate a visit to America with betting. And, without turning into Michael Moore, I do find it very strange that it's legal to buy guns from the mall but not have a $5 bet. That said, I did once live with a problem gambler (he even sold my golf clubs to feed his habit!) so I know it can cause difficulties. However, I have no problem with it being a hobby (hey, you can win money unlike seeing your bank balance eaten away if you drink or smoke).

Rob: The Internet has made it ridiculously easy to gamble from anywhere now. What kind of advice would you offer to those thinking about betting on golf?

Dave: Do your homework. There are plenty of stats on the U.S. Tour website to peruse and they can tell a story. Watch out for trends. Some players perform well at a particular time of year or even on a particular kind of course with a particular type of green. You'll find some do best on short courses with Bermuda greens while others excel on longer tracks with Bentgrass. Look for value. Some young and trendy players (e.g. Camilo Villegas and Anthony Kim) get very popular with punters (bettors) but actually win less and are shorter odds than some of the veterans.

Rob: Totally agreed and I'll go ahead and toss the weather forecast into the matrix. On any given week, there is so much information to digest and decipher. Sal Johnson's "Guide to the 2009 PGA Tour Season" (not a shameless plug as I paid for my copy) provides just about all of that information you mentioned. It's hardly a shocker then that Sal is this close to wrapping up our inaugural ROADI. I'm thrilled that you (and 2008 Fantasy Golf Writer of the Year, John McNamara) have accepted an invite to compete in our second annual edition. I trust that you'll give us a run for our virtual money.

Dave: Having cashed in on Mickelson and Gay twice, maybe the one-and-done approach won't suit me that well! I guess it will be a learning process. (I'm getting in my excuses early!)

Rob: It has been for me. I had never played the format until this year, and it shows. Have you thought about how you'll prepare for it?

Dave: A rough plan would be to divide players into regions where they play well. So, I'll probably pick Mickelson and maybe someone like Jeff Quinney on the West Coast, Sean O'Hair in Florida, David Toms somewhere in the Southeast after May, etc.

Rob: Or even Chad Campbell at the 2008 PGA Championship at Oakland Hills! I'm still feeling heat on that advice. Anyway, now that I'm mathematically eliminated from the '09 version (surprise, surprise), I can't wait to go head-to-head with you and the fellas with reset earnings come January. Dave, thanks for your time and sharing some history and insight with us.

Dave: Good to chat.

If you don't already, make sure to follow Dave on Twitter, too.

Birthdays – September 16-22

9/16 … Tom Wargo (68); Jerry Pate (57); Anders Hansen (40); James McLean (32)
9/17 … Scott Simpson (54); Ryo Ishikawa (18)
9/18 … none
9/19 … Ryan Palmer (33)
9/20 … Chad Collins (31)
9/21 … none
9/22 … John Bland (64); Phil Blackmar (52); B.J. Staten (32)

Rob Bolton is Senior Editor/Writer for Rotoworld’s golf content. He can be reached via email at and on Twitter.
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