Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Alfred Dunhill Championship 2013 - Leopard Creek, Malelane, Mpumalanga, South Africa

Smarting from his collapse last Sunday, Charl Schwartzel will be aiming to win his third Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek this week, a course that he has terrific form figures of 1-2-2-14-MC-2-1. His putting is suspect at the moment and has been for while this season but I do think he'll be very tough to beat this week. I really fancy Ross Fisher this week too (don't I always I hear you say) but despite Charl's short odds I'm not really fancying the 22/1 on offer. Same with George Coetzee who is definitely due a big week and will enjoy this course.... so I'm dipping further down my shortlist for my bets this week. And with that in mind, given the prices, I'm wagering just 6.5 units (pts) covering 6 players in the hope that I can at least get one to place should the former Masters Champion prevail!

James Barry Kruger, or Jbe, is a twice winner on the Sunshine Tour and won the Avantha Masters last year for his sole European Tour victory. He was 9th here in 2011, 8 shots behind the winner despite an opening 64 but the 27 year can feed off that plus the previous year's TOP 10 and go well. Shot bookend 65s last week so is in form.

My second pick is Tom Lewis @ 66/1 who I had on my shortlist last week and for a moment looked like he was going to have a good week after his opening two rounds of 68. He did eventually settle for a tie of 22nd and he can bring some momentum into here. He has the game to compete on the European Tour and have a far better R2D campaign this time round,having secured his card with his 3rd placing at the Dunhill Links in October. The Englishman looks value at the price for me.

I'm backing another Englishman in James Morrison. Morrison recently secured his Tour card through Q School and followed that up  finishing alongside Lewis at the South African Open at T22nd. A former winner of the Madeira Islands Open , he has gone off the boil a bit the past 12 months but is well capable of establishing himself as a regular on Tour and competing for titles. The course should suit and I'm happy to be on side following recent form.

Another couple of players to have graduated to the Tour make my staking plan this week and they are John Hahn and Andrea Pavan. The latter has course form herewhen securing himself a TOP 10 in 2011. But for a closing 78 last Sunday, the Italian may have secured a TOP 20 at Glendower but his game is in good shape and his price is just about fair in this company. Hahn though, represents fantastic value given that his recent form is as good as anyones coming off the Challenge Tour. He was 1-2-5 in his three stages at Q school shooting a bunch of sub-70s.The American has been influenced by the exploits of Brooks Koepka and Peter Uilhlein so hopefully he can find fairways this week and make a few putts to get off to a solid start.

My sixth and final pick will have to be Kevin Phelan, also making his European Tour debut. The Waterford native has had an excellent season and featured prominately at Merion during the opening two rounds of the US Open. He made a crucial birdie putt at his final hole at Q School to secure his card and hopefully arrives with confidence and excitement. Worth a small flutter at this stage of the season.

Staking Plan (6.5 pts)

TIP 1: 1 pt e/w Jbe Kruger @ 50/1 Betpack

TIP 2: 0.75 pts e/w Tom Lewis @ 66/1 Boylesports

TIP 3: 0.75 pts e/w Andrea Pavan @ 55/1 Boylesports

TIP 4: 0.25 pts e/w John Hahn @ 175/1 Betpack

TIP 5: 0.25 pts e/w James Morrison @ 150/1 Paddypower

TIP 6: 0.25 pts e/w Kevin Phelan @ 250/1 Betpack

Monday, 18 November 2013

South African Open 2013 - Glendower GC, Johannesburg

Defending champion, Henrik Stenson is the big absentee from this years instalment of the South African Open leaving the door ajar for Charl Schwartzel to finally win his coveted National Open and he deservedly tees off as the hot favourite here. Should he play to his best he will win handy enough but the pressure to win could act as a hindrance. Its not a great field this week, and with the course having not been used for this in quite awhile, the home players from the Sunshine Tour who played the BMG classic just 5 weeks ago will feel they have an edge on the European Tour regulars.

But having had a look down through the field there is some decent prices on players that have been playing very well of late in far more illustrious company at the 2013 Series Finale events and that immediately means that I'm siding once again with Scott Jamieson @ an incredible 50/1 with Ladbrokes. The Scotsman has returned to form the past few weeks as noted on this blog last week and his weekend effort in Dubai should have him excited to return to South Africa where he won and finished inside the TOP 3 in his last 3 starts. He simply loves playing down here, will foster those memories and if he produces his best game he could be in the winners enclosure very soon. I just cannot ignore 50s here this week.

I'm also sticking with old favourite, Thomas Aiken this week. He does play better on home soil and the Joburg native will be happy to be back home. Glendower is not a long course but will require accurate play from tee to green and this should be right up his alley. A 7-time winner on the Sunshine Tour and a winner at the Avantha Masters last March, it may just the right week to get back on side with him and the 45/1 with Betpack has tempted me for sure. He may have been well down the leaderboard last week but was TOP 15 in Turkey the week before and as he has shown many times, its just a case of which Thomas Aiken shows up any given week but I'm chancing him here on home soil over Darren Fichardt.

TIP 1: 1 pt e/w S.Jamieson @ 50/1 Ladbrokes

TIP 2: 1 pt e/w T.Aiken @ 45/1 Betpack

Monday, 11 November 2013

DP World Tour Championship 2013 - Earth Course, Jumeirah Estates Dubai

The European Tour finale, the DP World Tour Championship is finally upon us as the TOP 60 qualifiers take their place at The Earth Course, Dubai. Well not quite. Ernie Els ,Charl Schwartzel and Sergio Garcia are ineligible having not satisfied the qualifying criteria of playing the required 2/3 Final Series tournaments precluding this one, and therefore will not be here this week. Alex Noren has also withdrawn injured which now leaves just 56 players

Reports suggest that the Greg Norman Earth course has undergone some work on the rough in the past 12 months in an attempt to make scoring a bit more difficult but it appears that big hitters do have a distinct advantage here. Defending champion, Rory McIlroy clearly loves this course and recent efforts suggest he may just be the one they all have to beat this week. For me though, there was a lot to like about the weekend effort in Belek from the reigning US Open Champion and I felt had he made his 8 footer for birdie on 10 last Sunday, Justin Rose could have put the pressure on eventual winner Victor Dubuisson sooner than our selection, Jamie Donaldson did. I'm very tempted to side with Rose this week but @ 7/1, I can't convince myself that he is the favourite over Rory, Henrik Stenson, Ian Poulter and Jamie Donaldson. Kaymer @ 18/1 is just a tad short, whilst I'm a fan and think he's very close, its difficult to back the German at such a price, when he hasn't won for awhile, albeit in this reduced field. Lee Westwood is out of sorts but likes this course as too does struggling Luke Donald, whereas Graeme McDowell clearly has no affinity for the lengthy Earth Course. Bernd Wiesberger is an intriguing player, a player I am always relunctant to back. In fairness to him though, he has been quite solid this season but 30/1 is too short I think (he could be the surprise packet this week).

Monday, 4 November 2013

Turkish Airlines Open - Montgomerie Maxx Royal, Antalya, Turkey

The penultimate tournament for the European Tour "Final Series" hits a new destination this week as 78 players descend on the Colin Montgomerie Maxx Royal GC in Turkey. Its the first time, a European Tour event is being played here and apart from Monty himself, the course will be a real unknown to the players. The par-72,7100 yds course looks as if it may yield a few birdies this week. With 5 par 5s it augurs well for low scoring for the field headed by World Number One, Tiger Woods, Race to Dubai leader, Henrik Stenson and his closest challengers, Justin Rose and Ian Poulter. It is last chance for players to make the TOP 60 and move onto the finale in Dubai and there are a couple of major winners just outside that TOP 60 mark in Paul Lawrie (64) and Padraig Harrington (67) who really need a huge week to qualify. I really fancy the chances of Martin Kaymer this week and a win would really put him in the mix next week but I won't be backing him at best odds of 16/1.

I tweeted last night that I was backing Matteo Manassero @ 66/1 with Titanbet.  ( Why not open an account with Titanbet and get a free £25bet  this week). Its a price probably arrived at due to the Italian being awfully quiet the past couple of months as well as the fact there are those par 5s which will suit the bigger hitters, but Manny proved at Wentworth earlier this season that he can contend on courses where least expected and he will be fresh and under no pressure here despite currently lying 7th in the R2D rankings, only 900k behind Stenson (big money these 2 weeks can make big changes). I'm not worried about the perception that he is a "short hitter", Manny can still hit a decent enough drive in my book, but its his accuracy and ball striking that I feel could suit here. He was a bit off the pace last week in China finishing 17 shots behind our winner Dustin Johnson although good enough for a TOP 25. He missed the cut in Portugal before that and along with MCs at the US & British Opens as well as The Masters his form in the big events could be questionable. However, these are the only tournaments he has missed the cut in this year and I'm happy to see 66/1 for a player that has recorded 9 TOP25s,2 TOP 10s and a WIN in his 24 starts on a course of this setup. At 24, he is already a 4 time winner on tour and represents good value for me this week.

My second selection this week is Jamie Donaldson @ 40/1. The Welshman is playing very consistently lately and is simmering for a win soon. He had a TOP 10 last week in China despite a poor 2nd rd 74, was T34th at the BMW Masters and T6th in Portugal before that. He's in form! Along with his win in Abu Dhabi this season, Jamie has posted a further 5 TOP 10s from his 21 starts. He appears to be striking the ball very well lately too and he'll be challenged for this and next week. In the 78 man field, 40/1 is a bet for me for a player in fine fettle.

My third selection is Chilean, Felipe Aguilar @ 150/1. The 39 year has never been on my radar or staking plan before and this may well indeed be a very competitive field, but nonetheless, its a course that just might suit this very accurate player who ranks 11th on tour in GIR, and 9th in Driving Accuracy. He may be well down the Driving Distance ranks but he averages 285 and I'm not too worried about distance off the tee this week. What I am worried about is his putting stats where he ranks 167 with an average of 30.5 putts per round. That said, Stenson and Kaymer are only slightly better than him and they are bound to contend this week ! Aguilar has posted 7 TOP 10s in his 25 starts on tour this season and with pleasant 25 degrees of sunshine forecasted for each day he could surprise given that he arrived there last Saturday to prepare.

To complement the small stakes on Aguilar, I'm going to stick with Richard Sterne again this week. Not a great effort the past 2 weeks but he may just take solace from his final round 63 in Sheshan on Sunday and should he open with a decent round on Thursday, the South African could put the cat amongst the pigeons and challenge for the title and should he win he would improve on his current R2D standing of 6th.
I'll stick with Sterne based on my views posted on this blog the past 2 weeks and the price.

TIP 1: 1 pt e/w M.Manassero @ 66/1 Titanbet

TIP 2: 1 pt e/w J.Donaldson @ 40/1 Titanbet

TIP 3: .25 pts e/w F.Aguilar @ 150/1 Titanbet

TIP 4:  .75 pts e/w R.Sterne @ 70/1 Bet365