Dave Tindall

Across the Pond

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Ben Coley interview

Wednesday, December 20, 2017


Rotoworld: Firstly Ben, well done on a successful year’s tipping. Tell us a bit about your profit/loss on sportinglife.com and how you allocate your points each week.

 

Thanks! It’s been a really good year despite the absence of really good Sundays – I’ve only put up five pre-tournament winners, two of which were Jordan Spieth. It’s the 25 places from 28/1 to 500/1 that have made the difference on 2016, which ended around +150pts compared to more than twice that this year.

 

In terms of points allocation and staking, it really does vary according to the shape of the market and perceived vulnerability (or otherwise) of the best players. Generally, 20/1 and upwards and I’ll be tipping each-way, especially now with such generous terms available, and the idea would be to ensure that if any one of the selections does hit the frame, the week is paid for. Given that I stake on average 10 points per week, that would mean 2pts each-way on a 20/1 shot or 1pt each-way on a 40/1 shot. Any bigger and I tend to stick to a full point unless it’s an extremely speculative selection at a silly price.

 

Rotoworld: How do you go about researching each event?

 

A lot of my research is unstructured and hard to quantify. I’ll spend time look through old leaderboards and stats, making mental and literal notes, checking scorecards, reviewing last week’s event, reading interview transcripts, jogging my memory when it comes to how a course played on a certain week and noting down anything abnormal, that sort of thing.

 

When that’s done, I’ll have a list of ideas I want to look a little closer at. For instance I might have noticed a potential course correlation, or realised that the event has been especially kind or unkind to the favourites. With everything I do I’m also looking for something to explain it, so I can be as confident as possible in the theory. Why might the better players always struggle here? Does it make sense that a set of players might go well at another course? If I can’t explain it, I try to cast it aside.

 

Finally, it’s to a full list of the field. I go through every player and I try to be ruthless, because I know that I’ll still wind up with a dozen or more that I want to go back to. At this point I’m generally looking for players who could be ready to play well, and then I’ll take this group back to the other filters I’ve established in the hope of finalising my selections.

 

I appreciate much of this sounds vague, but as you’ll know when you’ve been doing this for so long, largely looking at established events on familiar courses, it’s a fairly natural process. Every week it ends with me being very excited by the case for at least one player.

 

Rotoworld: What was your personal highlight from a tipping point of view?

 

Probably Charley Hoffman leading after round one of the Masters. It was a case so obvious that I’d actually tweeted it a few weeks earlier, half expecting that he’d be 50/1 and I’d have to let him go unbacked. He opened 100/1, I hastily wrote a preview, and the beautiful beast ended up leading by four, his birdie on 17 basically confirming that the job had been done. It felt like a lot of us were on and you always get more credit for winners in majors. As one of those annoying people in constant search of validation, that’s always nice.

 

Second would be Wade Ormsby winning the Hong Kong Open recently. For all that this has been a really great year, my biggest-priced outright winner had been 50/1 before Ormsby won and it was one of those weeks where, with Alex Bjork in the mix too, I felt fairly confident throughout that we were either on the winner or very, very close.

 

Rotoworld: How was your tipping in the majors?

 

The majors could not have gone better this year to be honest, which hasn’t always been the case.

 

I’d never have tipped Garcia pre-tournament for the Masters, but by Saturday night I’d come to the conclusion that he could well go on and win it and put him up in-play, making for a great event given what Hoffman had done on Thursday.

 

Spieth for The Open was an absolute no-brainer for me. I’d put him up at 10s for the Travelers on his previous start and couldn’t believe he was a drifting 16/1 shot on the Monday before Birkdale – it’s not often I think a player is completely the wrong price for a major, but I did here and it was great to see him underline exactly why. Unless he’s playing badly (reminder: he’d just won for the second time in 2017), he should not be 16/1 for any major.

 

Finally, probably the best Sunday of the year in terms of good breaks came in the US PGA, where I’d put up Justin Thomas at 50/1. He had been eased out to a huge price owing to some fairly modest form since a poor Sunday in the US Open, but he’d hit the ball really well at Firestone. There’s no better predictor for success, short- and long-term, than good ball-striking; I figured that Thomas would have a huge chance at a course we knew he liked if the putter warmed up, which can happen to virtually any player at any time.

 

Given that I was on holiday during the US Open and didn’t preview it, I have no complaints about the majors for once.

 

Rotoworld: Do you find it easier to find winners/value in big events (majors, WGCs) or in the lesser events?

 

Definitely the lesser events. That’s not to say there isn’t value around in the majors, but sometimes I find myself relaxing the rules a little bit. At the end of the day, people who read my major previews don’t want “I really like this player but can’t advise a bet at the odds”; they want someone to back, go home and watch contend, so what if he’s 66/1 and not 80/1. It doesn’t mean I’ll put up a player at what I feel is a bad price and I’m still desperately searching for value, but for instance I tipped Marc Leishman at 50s for The Open when hand on heart I probably would’ve crossed him off any other week once 66/1 had gone. Of course, it helps having enhanced place terms which always has to be factored in.

 

My favourite events, though, are the ones which level the playing field. That might mean a course where the younger, powerful players have to rein it in a little, or perhaps where the wind is going to blow. Take the Irish Open a couple of years ago when Soren Kjeldsen won as an example for both. He was in really good form and he loves links golf, but because of the strength of the field was available at almost 300/1 despite the fact that we know those conditions aren’t going to bring out the best in Rory, but will increase the chances of an upset.

 

It doesn’t always work out but your best chance of landing a huge touch is when the best players are in the field, but there are reasons to believe they won’t be able to show their best.


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Dave Tindall is former golf editor at Sky Sports.com in the UK and has been writing betting previews for the European Tour since 1997. He can be reached via e-mail on tindall_david@hotmail.com and on Twitter @davetindallgolf.
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