I cover every tournament on the LPGA Tour on my Cobe Life Youtube channel. Usually I provide my Subscribers with a few Favourites, Dark Horses, and one or two Sleepers to potentially wager on. I provide them with some course history, and examples of why I selected the players I did.
In addition to that video I am going to highlight 3 players each tournament week on this Blog. They won't necessarily be players I am betting on. Instead these are players that I believe could possibly break out later in the season. I am scouting them for potential bets at future LPGA events.
When scouting LPGA players there are a few key things to look for. The first and foremost is their putting ability. How accurate are they from distance? How confident is there stroke within 6 feet? Where do they finish in the Strokes Gained Putting rankings? You can't win an event if you don't Putt well so I always pay attention to their play on the Greens. Secondly how long and accurate are their Drives? What's important to note here is that a player doesn't need to be great at both. A nice balance between the two is preferable, but exceptionally great at either is fine as well. The last thing I pay attention to is their Approach play, or more specifically their proximity to Hole when they hit the Green.
If a player shows better than average ability across those 3 categories then they are poised to compete for Top finishes in future events. It's not rocket science. Those three areas of the game work in concert to produce low scores. Beginning on the Tee - a long or accurate Drive makes for an easier Approach shot. If your Approach game is on your proximity to Hole will be much smaller. Then if your average Putt is shorter you will make more 1 putts. Last season I was really high on Xiyu Lin because she was improving those 3 skills all season long. She finished the year 38th in Driving Accuracy, 52nd in Driving Distance, 20th in Greens in Regulation, 20th in Putts per GIR, and 34th in Putting Average. It was her Putting that let her down and prevented her from winning. That's why I rank it the most important. Ideally you want a player you're betting on to have a better Putting per GIR ranking compared to their Greens in Regulation, and a Putting Average no more than 50% worse.
Hopefully that has you fully versed on what to look for. This week I highlight 3 players that should benefit from the Aviara Golf Club course layout. All 3 players have glaring holes in their game they will have to overcome. Each Player has a different weakness but if they focus on proper course management at the Kia Classic can finish in the Top 10.
Currently ranked 95th in the world. Four Top 10s with two 2nd place finishes in 2021.
-Driving Accuracy 4th on tour
-Driving Distance 142nd on tour
-Greens in Regulation 19th on tour
-Putts per GIR 52nd on tour
-Putting Average 81rst on tour
Lizette Salas had one of her best seasons on tour. Only her on fire season in 2017 is better. She credited a coaching change, and renewed focus as the reason for her success. Personally I think it was a bit of a fluke. Her two second place finishes came at Majors and the reason she finished so high was the Flat Stick. She made some incredible Putts. The kind of Putts you don't expect anyone to make regularly not named Tiger Woods.
Lizette has had a couple 2nd place finishes at the Kia Classic in the past. So if she has really discovered a new level to her game. She should be able to showcase it here. I am interested in finding out.
Currently ranked 77th in the world. Four Top 10 finishes in 2021.
-Driving Accuracy 61rston tour
-Driving Distance 59th on tour
-Greens in Regulation 80th on tour
-Putts per GIR 55th on tour
-Putting Average 47th on tour
I am a fan of Jenny Shin. She has been a Pro for over a decade now and never won. She has been near the Top of the leaderboard but rarely threatens to win. Jenny Shin hits a generally low trajectory ball with anything but Wedge. This has been her Achilles heel when it comes to Approaches into Greens. The Aviara Gol Club isn't exceptionally long so that will help. Her results at the Course have improved every time out with a T12 last year so this could be a Top 10 finish for her if the trend continues.
Currently ranked 82nd in the world. Finished third at the Drive On Championship.
-Driving Accuracy 115th on tour
-Driving Distance 99th on tour
-Greens in Regulation 34th on tour
-Putts per GIR 30th on tour
-Putting Average 29th on tour
Who is Sarah Schmelzel? I'll be honest, I had no clue until this season. She turned Pro in 2019 and has been generally underwhelming since then. That is until this year. I have been covering the LPGA in depth since before she joined the LPGA and had never noticed her. Usually when I am unaware of a particular player I blame Golf channel. In this case I can't really fault them. She doesn't hit it long off the Tee, or accurate for that matter. She wasn't very accurate into Greens, and didn't Putt well.
Things have changed, and they have changed in a way that is repeatable. She still isn't very good off the Tee, but her Iron game and Putting has significantly improved. She hasn't missed a cut, and has even kept pace with some of the best players on tour. You don't need to smash it off the Tee at the Kia Classic so lets see if she continues to improve.
Depending on the odds on offer, SARAH SCHMELZEL could be worth a wager here. At 82nd in the world and a relative unknown it's possible she might provide a great return on a Top 10 or even Top 20 bet at this tournament. If I can get 5 to 1 or better on a Top 20 I am placing a wager for sure.
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