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Golf PGA 2011 Tiger Woods

Tiger Woods will return to action in the Emirates Australian Open this week ranked 58th in the world. It’s only a year since Tiger lost the number one spot to Lee Westwood but he’s trying to look forward rather than reflect on a traumatic period in his life which has seen his career blighted by controversy and injury. One of the most recent contentious aspects of Woods‘ fall from grace has been the breakdown of his friendship with former caddie Steve Williams, who admitted that remarks he made about the American last week “could be construed as racist”. Williams has since issued an apology but a reconciliation is unlikely in Sydney this week as the New Zealander caddies for local favourite Adam Scott, who is a general 8/1 to win the tournament. Woods is 11/1 with Betfred, totesport and Victor Chandler and has been promised that he won’t be paired with Scott and Williams in the first two rounds, though it will be interesting to see what happens if both are in contention on the final two days.

The Emirates Australian Open is big enough to stand on its own, however, without relying on a possible flare-up to spark interest. It’s being staged at the Lakes Club again this year and has attracted a host of big names from the US PGA Tour including Jason Day (11/1 with bet365 and William Hill), Hunter Mahan (16/1 with bwin and Paddy Power) and Dustin Johnson (a general 16/1). One who deserves a change of luck, however, is Matt Kuchar.  He’s tied for second place in The Memorial and filled the same spot in The Barclays Championship recently so could be a decent bet at the 20/1 with Boylesports, Ladbrokes and Paddy Power in Sydney.

This is a tournament in which the home team have proved almost irresistible in recent years, however. Lee Westwood is the only player from outside the southern hemisphere to have won the Australian Open since 1994 and South African Tim Clark the only non-Australian to have triumphed since 1998, so it may pay to concentrate again on those familiar with local conditions. Holder Geoff Ogilvy is 16/1 with Ladbrokes and Paddy Power, while Aaron Baddeley has won the tournament as both an amateur and a professional and is a general 20/1 this year.  I’ll put up the latter as a viable candidate again this year and he can also be backed at an attractive 15/8 with Skybet to achieve a top 10 finish.


9th November 2011 / paul - Category: Sports Betting

Rugby

Australia may have come up short against New Zealand in the 15-man version of the game but the Kangaroos are hot favourites to win the upcoming Gillette Four Nations (7/15 with bwin) having trounced world champions the Kiwis in their final warm-up match at the Ausgrud Stadium. To be fair New Zealand, who can be backed at 7/2 with Skybet and Ladbrokes, were without most of their first-choice starting XIII but they are unlikely to have all of their reinforcements in place by the time they kick-off the tournament against the Aussies at Warrington at the end of this month and an early heavy defeat would be detrimental to their chance of progressing to the final. It probably should be noted that the Kiwis don’t have a great overall record on British soil. They failed to qualify for the final of this tournament in 2009, beating only the hapless French, who aren’t competing this year having lost out to much-improved Wales in the European Cup last year.

Wales (a general 250/1) are unsurprisingly massive underdogs for the Four Nations as probably only Warrington‘s Lee Briers can be described as world-class. Bradford Bulls front-rower Craig Kopczak will have to get through plenty of work but the remainder of the Welsh squad has an awful lot to prove at international level and are likely to be on the end of some real hammerings.

Australia won the 2009 Four Nations in England without losing a match, though they were held to a draw by New Zealand in the group games. The tournament will be the swansong of the legendary Darren Lockyer and he’ll be deternmined to end his career on a high. Alongside Johnathon Thurston, the Aussies have the best half-back pairing in world rugby and now that Fijian Akuila Uate has switched his allegiance to the gold and green, it’s difficult to see how the Aussie backs can be halted as a big pack will again provide a solid platform.

England, of course, have home advantage but Steve McNamara is still developing his squad and may use this tournament to weigh up his possibilities in key areas. The hosts also have a few injury problems so Wigan‘s classy young full-back  Sam Tomkins may be given an opportunity further forward, possibly alongside the exciting Rangi Chase. England’s clash with the Kiwis at the KC Stadium in the final round of first-stage matches will almost certainly decide who faces the Aussies in the final at Elland Road and England are a best 39/5 on betfair to win the Four Nations. As in 2009, a place in the final isn’t beyond Jamie Peacock and his team but the Kangaroos will surely triumph again.


17th October 2011 / paul - Category: Sports Betting

Formula1 - Jenson Button

Sebastian Vettel is no bigger than 6/4 with Betfred and Victor Chandler to win a third successive Formula One world title after clinching the 2011 Driver’s Championship in the Japanese Grand Prix with four races to spare. The German only needed a point to secure another championship and he duly did so at Suzuka, finishing third behind Britain’s Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso.

Unsurprisingly the Red Bull driver is a hot favourite to complete the hat-trick in 2012 but there are signs that McLaren are beginning to close the gap on their great rivals and, having just signed a new contract, Button could well mount a more concerted challenge to Vettel next year. He is 9/1 with William Hill to win his second world title in 2012.

Ferrari‘s Alonso, already a two-time world champion himself, is second favourite behind Vettel at 9/2 with bet365 but what now for Lewis Hamilton. Continually courted by controversy this season, (he had yet another coming together with Felipe Massa at Suzuka) Hamilton needs to get his head down and concentrate on doing the basics as he’s just taking too many risks at the moment in an attempt to remain competitive and that level of  indiscipline is unlikely to be tolerated again next year by those holding the purse strings at McLaren, especially with the Brit’s contract up for renewal. Hamilton is 6/1 with William Hill to regain the Drivers’ Championship in 2012.

Incidentally, you can still bet on this year’s championship, without Vettel of course. Button, currently in second place, is 11/17 with bwin to finish as runner-up with Alonso at a general 7/2 and Vettel‘s team-mate Mark Webber a general 6/1. More immediately, Vettel is 13/10 with Blue Square and 888sport to win next week’s Korean Grand Prix, with Button 9/2 with the same two firm and Hamilton 5/1 at Victor Chandler. Alonso, winner of the inaugural race at the Korean International Circuit last year, is 11/2 at Paddy Power.


10th October 2011 / paul - Category: Sports Betting

Sports Betting

The NFL owners have got their way over a new financial package and the new season will get under way this week. The New England Patriots are marginal favourites to land the SuperBowl in January at a best 13/2 with bwin, ahead of defending NFL champions the Green Bay Packers (7/1 general).

The Patriots undoubtedly have the most streamlined offense in the NFL and their defensive record will improve this year if Leigh Bodden stays fit to bolster the right side. They are unlikely to be far away again and look a stand-out for the AFC Championship at Blue Square and 888sport‘s 10/3. The only fly in the ointment would appear to be the Baltimore Ravens, whose apparent decision to dispense with veterans like Todd Heap and Derrick Mason, who have served them so well in recent years, and turn to youth will either make or break the franchise. Much will depend on the emergence of Ed Dickson but the Ravens will almost certainly win more than they lose this year and can be backed at 17/2 on betfair to thwart the Patriots in the AFC and 18/1 with Stan James to win SuperBowl.

Turning to the Packers, who are a general 7/2 to win the NFC Championship. Of course, if they can maintain the same intensity as last year then there’s no reason why their won’t be another SuperBowl title winging its way back to Lambeau Field in January. Aaron Rodgers will again be the focus of media attention this year and many pundits are predicting he and his young team can scale even greater heights in the years ahead. But how many times have quarterbacks been promoted to legend status on the back of one brilliant season only to fall flat on their face the next? So comfortable was it for the Packers last season that there is almost certain to be complacency in some quarters this time around and, though much was made of their extensive injury list at the back-end of last year, few of those missing could be regarded as regular starters. I’d be a little bit wary of backing them at restrictive odds until seeing evidence that they were in the right frame of mind.

If I was a having a bet, therefore, I’d be looking at the Philadelphia Eagles. I really like the way they’ve restructured since last season and the hiring of ex-Colts offensive line coach Howard Mudd could be a master stroke. If former bad boy Michael Vick can stay match-fit, the Eagles could make serious inroads this season and make plenty of appeal at 9/2 with Stan James to oust the Packers and win the NFC. They are 9/1 with the same firm to win SuperBowl, which is just too big if most of owner Jeffrey Lurie‘s gambles pay off. Even if quarterback Vick misses a few games, the Eagles have an excellent back-up in Vince Young and it shouldn’t be forgotten that they had the third-best scoring record in the NFL last year and second in yardage gained. Nnamdi Asomugha and Jason Babin will add further steel to their defense this season and the Eagles may well to be the team to beat in 2011.


6th September 2011 / paul - Category: Sports Betting

Murray_us_Open_2011

Andy Murray is 6/1 with Betfred to win the US Open following his victory in the Cincinnati Masters last week. The 24-year-old world number four beat Novak Djokovic in the final after the Serbian was forced to retire with a shoulder injury when trailing in the second set. Supporters’ confidence ahead of Flushing Meadows will have been boosted by the fact that Murray‘s previous tournament success in Cincinnati preceded his best run in New York, in 2008, when he reached the final before losing to Roger Federer. The Scot is hoping for another good run this year, with conditions in Cincinnati likely to be almost identical to those he will encounter in the Big Apple.

Djokovic, however, is on the drift for the US Open and is now out to 6/4 with Paddy Power and Skybet even though his defeat to Murray in Cincinnati was only his second in 57 matches this year. He only has eight days to recover and is looking increasingly weary so those odds look on the short side for a player who has already been a beaten finalist twice at Flushing Meadows.

Murray, of course, has already reached the final of the Australian Open, where he lost to Djokovic, and the semi-finals at the French Open and Wimbledon in 2011, and on that evidence you would say a maiden Grand Slam title can’t be far away. But he’s also lost to relative unknowns Donald Young, Thomaz Bellucci and Kevin Anderson recently and never makes it easy for himself or his legion of fans.

Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer both exited at the quarter-final stage in Cincinnati but are likely to be much more focused in New York. Nadal (5/1 with totesport) won the tournament 12 months ago, while Federer (11/2 with Coral) has already won the US Open five times and was runner-up to Argentina’s Juan Martin Del Potro in 2009. The latter is still on his way back following injury and can be backed at 18/1 with Boylesports to repeat his victory of two years ago, but fellow big-server Thomas Berdych could be interesting at Boylesports and Betfred‘s 50/1 and the in-form Mardy Fish will have plenty of support in New York. He is 33/1 with Betfred, Boylesports and Victor Chandler. Andy Roddick, the last American-born winner in 2003, looks big at bwin‘s 150/1 considering his pedigree but he’s been woefully short of form in recent months and may struggle to justify his home crowd’s expectations having dropped out of the world’s top 20 for the first time in 10 years.

 


22nd August 2011 / paul - Category: Sports Betting

Cricket Betting

Normally, you’d expect some sort of a reaction after a team had just been deposed as the best in the world. But, quite frankly, I can’t see a way for India to gain any kind of consolation in the final Test of their series against England. Lack of preparation, too much emphasis on one-day cricket, injuries and fatigue. All have been blamed on India‘s demotion in favour of their opponents at the top of the international test rankings. But I think you can add disinterest and lack of heart to that list. I made the cardinal sin of forecasting that the weather and the class of the Indian batsmen would contrive to thwart England at Edgbaston. I really should have known better! You can’t trust the English weather nor weather forecasters and the less said of the performance and attitude of supposed top-class players like Virender Sehwag, the better. It says plenty that India’s best player by far in this series has been medium-pace bowler Praveen Kumar, who has at least shown the stomach for a battle with both ball and bat. But he’s been badly let down by more exalted and experienced team-mates. India’s much-vaunted top six have simply crumbled in the face of England‘s pace attack and, though captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni insists there is not yet a need to panic, I’d strongly disagree. Sachin Tendulkar is still a class act but not the player of old on this summer’s evidence. Neither Sehwag nor Gautan Gambhir seem able to cope with top-class swing bowling and the years appearing to have worn down Raul Dravid traditional resilience. The Indians just have no middle order and there are likely to be few takers of the 6/1 available for a tourists’ victory in the Fourth Test with Blue Square, 888sportand William Hill. England are a best 6/4 with bet3 65, while the draw is 7/5 with bwin but I’d rather concentrate on some of the other markets surrounding the match. There is still a slight doubt about the fitness of Jimmy Anderson but England have shown they can cope easily when losing first-choice bowlers in the short term. Graham Onions is standing by to make his return to the test arena and will make a good foil for Stuart Broad and Tim Bresnan if selected. There may also be a change in England‘s batting line-up with Johnathan Trott likely to come straight back in after missing out at Edgbaston, replacing the unlucky Ravi Bopara. Trott is 4/1 with Skybet to be England’s leading run-maker at the Brit Oval but Alastair Cook heads the betting at a general 7/2 following his magnificent double century in Birmingham. Eoin Morgan, who also scored a century, is a general 8/1 with captain Andrew Strauss at 9/2 with totesport.


17th August 2011 / paul - Category: Cricket Betting

Sports Betting

Every summer, my sister, her partner and their three kids head off to ‘La Belle France’ in their motor home. They normally end up on the coast somewhere, or at Disneyland Paris. But for three weeks, they zig-zag across the country, trying to stay one step ahead of the Tour De France 2011.

Unless you live in France or spend time there during June and July, it’s difficult to understand the impact ‘La Tour’ has on everyday life. Every small town and village it passes through treats the day as a holiday. Markets and street parties aren’t uncommon, and an entire village will grind to a halt for the few seconds it takes the riders to pass through. Blanket media coverage helps promote the race across the world but part of the race’s attraction is the circus that accompanies it. I don’t think I’ve ever seen my sibling’s children on bikes but they’ll cheerfully line up on the side of some mountain road in the back of beyond to grab their share of the never-ending supply of free merchandise handed out to spectators prior to the peloton’s arrival and villagers will paint messages on the road surface just so they can recognise themselves on the day’s highlights programmes.

For the riders in the race it’s a far more serious matter of course. Multi-million euro sponsorship deals can depend on a prominent showing on ‘La Tour’ and a stage win can even be enough to secure a contract with a big team in the future. The sport of cycling has been plagued by accusations of cheating and skullduggery for a long time, however, and this year’s hot favourite Alberto Contador (8/11 with Coral) is one of the sport’s most controversial figures.

Accusations of drug abuse have dogged the three-times winner down the years and he actually failed a test in last year’s race only to be subsequently cleared by his own cycling federation. His case is still under review but the International Cycling Union is allowing to race until the matter is resolved but such is the depth of feeling both for against the Spaniard that he has to have several bodyguards surrounding him when not in the saddle. Contador, who won the Tour in 2007, 2009 and 2010, will be helped by climbers Jesus Hernandez and Dani Navarro, as well as close friend Benjamin Noval as he leads the Saxo Bank-Sungard team in the race, which gets under way at the weekend.

On paper, Andy Schleck again looks the only danger to Contador‘s continued domination of ‘La Tour’. The Luxembourg rider has finished runner-up to Contador in the last two Tour de France and was only 40 seconds off the pace last year. He fine-tuned his preparations in last week’s Tour Of Switzerland and will be targeting his big rival when the race reaches the Pyrenees at the end of the first week. Schleck is undoubtedly closing the gap on Contador and, at the general 11/5, may just the better option this year.

The pair also dominate betting for the King Of The Mountains, with Contador a 5/2 chance with Bet365 and William Hill and Schleck 5/1 with the same two firms, though I’d expect Quick Step rider Jerome Pineau (20/1 with William Hill) to give the big guns a run for their money in this market as he held the red polkadot jersey for nine stages last year.

Team Sky‘s Bradley Wiggins is a 33/1 chance with bwin to emerge triumphant overall but Schleck could finally get to receive the accolades at the end of the Champs Elysee on the 24th July.

 

 


27th June 2011 / paul - Category: Sports Betting

World Cup 2011

Women’s World Cup 2011 – Improving Americans can end German domination

Despite a near faultless preparation which included wins over the USA and Sweden, England women’s football coach Hope Powell has admitted her squad is entering unknown territory with regard to their fitness levels at the 2011 Women’s World Cup, which gets under way in Germany later this week.

All but five of Powell‘s 21-strong squad ply their trade in the newly-formed English Super League but the majority of her players have only played in a handful of fixtures this year. The WSL didn’t start until April and will be taking a break during the World Cup but there have been fears expressed that key players may lack match fitness in Germany, even though it’s generally agreed that the new league will improve standards and enhance England‘s chances of closing the gap on the traditional powerhouses of women’s world football like Germany and the USA.

England, the only team to shut out the Germans in China four years ago, kick off their campaign against Mexico before facing New Zealand and the group’s top seeds Japan and should be confident of making the knockout stages but bookmakers give Powell‘s team little chance of emerging as tournament winners, with Bet365 and Paddy Power both offering 20/1. Japan are the same price with Bet365 and bwin.

Unsurprisingly, hosts and defending champions Germany are strong favourites across the board at odds-on in some places, though Boylesports, Stan James and totesport will still lay you 6/5. The Germans kick off their campaign against CONCACAF champions Canada in Berlin before meeting Nigeria and France in Group A. Record-breaking top scorer Brigit Prinz will again lead their line and players like Nadine Angerer and Ariane Hingst are veterans of previous World Cup triumphs. But, all things considered, I’d rather have a bet on the USA at the current odds.

The Americans are still ranked number one in the world, despite a woeful qualifying campaign in which they needed a play-off to eventually see off the Italians. But there have been recent signs that Pia Sundhage‘s team is steadily getting its act together now and they beat the highly-regarded Japanese on the way to winning the Algarve Cup for the eighth time in Portugalrecently. William Hill are probably prepared to go as big as 13/2 against the Americans because of the fact that they’ve been drawn in the so-called ‘Group Of Death’ alongside Sweden (16/1 with William Hill), North Korea (a general 33/1) and Colombia (150/1 with Paddy Power). But that’s overlooking the amount of options available to Sundhage and the sheer professionalism of her squad.

If the trophy was awarded for style and panache Brazil, like their men, would probably win hands down and in Marta, who plays for FC Gold Pride in the States, they have arguably the most exciting talent on the world stage at present. The Brazilians (6/1 with Blue Square and 888sport) have the capability of blowing away group rivals Australia and Equitorial Guinea but Norway (22/1 with bwin) won’t roll over and the South Americans’ suspect stamina will come under increasing scrutiny as the tournament progresses. Take the USA to end Germany‘s domination.

See the FIFA 2011 Women’s World Cup Schedule with all the results and betting odds here 


20th June 2011 / paul - Category: Football Betting

Sports Betting

Nowadays, the men’s singles at Wimbledon has an air of inevitably surrounding them. Since Andre Agassi won in 1992, Goran Ivanisevic has been the only player seeded out of the top four to have taken the title and either Rafael Nadal or Roger Federer has won every year since Leyton Hewitt emerged victorious in 2002. Unsurprisingly, the Spaniard and the Swiss dominate the betting again with Nadal available at 5/2 with bwin, and Betfred and Coral offering 13/5 about Federer. Second seed Novak Djokovic is 7/2 with Boylesports and Paddy Power while there will be the usual flurry of patriotic bets for Andy Murray (a general 6/1) but few will be looking outside of this quartet for the winner so let’s concentrate on the women’s singles, which has a much more open look about it.

Since the turn of the century, only Amelie Mauresmo and Maria Sharapova have managed to break the stranglehold of Serena and Venus Williams at the All-England Club but the sisters’ domination has to come to an end sometime. That said, Venus has looked in good form at Eastbourne this week, dismantling former world number one Ana Ivanovic. A 17/2 chance with Victor Chandler, the five-times winner carefully selects her public appearances nowadays but has clearly last none of her aggression, though she’s probably not as quick around the court as she once was. Serena was playing in her first tournament for 11 months at the Devonshire Club this week after a serious foot injury and a blood clot almost put paid to her career. Understandably, she looked a little ring-rusty but still took world number three Vera Zvonareva (20/1 with Victor Chandler for Wimbledon) to three sets and should be a lot sharper in SW19. She is a general 9/2 chance, despite only being seeded seven.

Caroline Wozniacki is the current world number one and therefore gets the top seeding at Wimbledon – but how can anyone support a player who has only reached one Grand Slam final in her career to date and has never got beyond the fourth round at the All-England Club? The Dane is a general 12/1 to rectify those facts this year but there is surely better value to be had elsewhere. Na Li, for example, boasts a Grand Slam record second to over the last 18 months. The 29-year-old reached the quarter-finals at Wimbledon last year having gone a stage further in the Australian Open earlier. She bettered that effort in Melbourne earlier this year, losing in the final to Kim Clijsters, before winning her maiden Grand Slam title at the French Open last month. The best player ever to come out of China, Li looks a decent bet to follow up at Wimbledon at totesport‘s 8/1 with no Clijsters to worry about in the draw this time. Of the others, Daniela Hantuchova could give you a run for your money at the general 40/1 but I’d be worried taking too short a price about Maria Sharapova. Too often, she allows frustration to get the better of her nowadays and there are just too many off-court distractions to make the Russian a viable bet at Boylesports and Victor Chandler‘s 9/2, despite her undoubted ability.


16th June 2011 / paul - Category: Sports Betting

Sports Betting

If you’re quick, Paddy Power will still lay you Evens that the French Open men’s final will be contested by Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic. On current form, the world numbers one and two are streets ahead of everyone else on the men’s tour and both are extremely comfortable on clay. The pair met in the Rome Masters Final a couple of weeks ago when Djokovic extended his unbeaten run to an incredible 39 matches. He had earlier ended Nadal’s long unbeaten record on red dirt when beating the Spaniard in the Madrid Masters Final and is now a serious threat to Nadal’s previously uncontested status as ‘King Of The Clay’. 

Nadal has won the French Open five times and needs one more title to emulate the great Bjorn Borg‘s record. Bookmakers still have him as favourite as the action is poised to get under way at Roland Garros - but only just! Bwin are alone in going odds-against the Spaniard at 11/10 but Djokovic is only a best 6/4 with Betfred and Stan James and undoubtedly the form pick at present. It will certainly be interesting to see how Nadal responds to recent setbacks on his favourite surface. He’s ruthlessly dispatched all challengers for the best part of six years on clay but has now come across someone that’s proving more than his equal and just as tough. Four times this year already the champion has tried to beat the Serb, and four times he’s failed. Even if Nadal wins in Paris, Djokovic would still take number one spot in the world rankings if he reached the final and that would be a big blow to the Spaniard’s confidence when it took him so long to dethrone Roger Federer.

And what has become of the Swiss? The 16-time Grand Slam winner is never easy to ignore but there has been a gradual waning of his powers over the last couple of years and recent defeats by the likes of Richard Gasquet and Jurgen Melzer suggest that he’s a long shot to add to his sole victory at the French Open in 2009. It would be a surprise were he to progress beyond the semis and Federer can be backed at a general 16/1. That’s just a shade shorter than Andy Murray (20/1 general), who has confirmed his participation despite a niggling groin injury. The Scot always seems to be on the brink of a major breakthrough but that elusive first Grand Slam title continues to elude him, though the Australian Open finalist wouldn’t be far away if recapturing the form that saw him push Djokovic all the way in the semi-finals in Rome.

Former US Open winner Juan Martin Del Potro has had a nightmare two years since his triumph at Flushing Meadow and is now ranked 27 in the world. He’s starting to recapture his best form now, however, and will be one name the seeded players will be looking to avoid in the draw. The Argentine is widely available at 33/1 to go all the way, the same price as David Ferrer who has reached the final in both Barcelona and Monte Carlo this year. Djokovic just looks unstoppable at the moment, however, and is taken to leapfrog Nadal to the number one spot with a victory at Roland Garros. 


20th May 2011 / paul - Category: Sports Betting










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