Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Can Eddie master his first winner's Czech ? - Czech Masters 2016

As the race for European Ryder Cup places hots up, the European Tour returns to Albatross GC outside Prague for this week's Czech Masters. Its a fairly weak field to be honest where defending champion, Thomas Pieters heads the betting following the dreaded 4th place finish at The Olympics in Rio last Sunday. He will face competition from Ryder Cup hopeful, Andy Sullivan and Ryder Cup veteran, Lee Westwood. But they may find Matty Fitzpatrick the one they have to beat this week. The four though are far too short in the market given their experience. All four though remained on my shortlist as I do expect them to be in contention.

The Course:

Albatross GC measures just 7500 yards but as it sits over 400m above sea level it will play a bit shorter than it does on paper. From reports, it seems the rough is quite penal this year so accuracy off the tee could be key to posting the required number this week. The course hosted this event the past two years and it seemed to favour the bigger hitters. With wind and rain forecasted this week, the rough being more penal than previous editions, it might pay to stick with the patient type player who can find fairways and greens.

Selection:

I'm taking just one selection this week and that's Eddie Pepperell @ 51.00. Eddie doesn't rank too good for driving accuracy and he admits this is the one area of his game that is preventing him from winning at present. Its been a poor season up to now as well for Eddie although he was in contention last time out at the Kings Cup in Thailand. Maybe there is some frustration within his game right now but he has always come across as a person who just gets on with things and as he says in is own blog following the third place finish in Pattaya, "I’ve never had a problem winning and I never will. I won when I was a junior, an amateur, and when I really needed to on the Challenge Tour. With all respect to the tournament I’ve just played, the thought of winning it didn’t make me tremble at the knees or make my bladder leak…" 

As Andy Sullivan continues to show the level of consistency to win on tour and his good mate Tyrell Hatton has started to show an equal level of consistency in the bigger tournaments, Eddie may be feeling left behind but he's with a new coach these days who seems to be working well with him. With a shorter course in front of him this week, he may not have the driving woes that seem to be holding him back and if he gets a solid enough start, the carefree attitude that he speaks of now may just be the ticket to getting over the line come tournament Sunday. As mentioned, its a weak field and the leading contenders are close to Eddie and he won't fear them. Eddie was one of the 10 players on my "Ten to win soon list" in 2014 and whilst a number from that list have indeed won (some more than once), Eddie is yet to do so and recent form suggests he's playing well enough to keep putting himself in contention and he's worth a bet here on a course that hes finished 22nd last year and 6th back in 2014.

1.5 pts win E. Pepperell @ 51.00
4.5 pts TOP10 E. Pepperell @ 5.50