Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Nelson Mandela Championship 2014

The last event of the South African swing before the return in January comesthis week in the shape of the Nelson Mandela Championship to be held at Mount Edgecombe GC just outside Durban where Scotland's Scott Jamieson defends. 12 months ago he won the weather affected tournament over 36 holes. Unfortunately this year, the tournament coincides with the passing of Nelson Mandela himself and as South Africa mourns its great leader, the event is brought forward a day with a Wednesday start.
   From a betting perspective this could be a nightmare event with so many South Africans in the field wanting to win and a few European Tour players hoping to get a decent result in before the break. Its worth noting that Thomas Aiken won the Spanish Open the week that Seve passed and Spanish players faded down the leaderboard. I can see the leaders struggling coming down the stretch on Sunday with images in their head of winning this championship in the week of Matiba's funeral and therefore it wont be easy for any young player to get across the finishing line as the victor. The winner may have to come from off the pace this week. I'm not overly excited by the field and the prices on offer this week so am backing just 2 players for small stakes that could surprise at three figures.

Scott Henry is also from Scotland and shares the same first name and nationality as last years winner! That's about the only comparison between the two but Henry is overpriced this week. The course is short and length off the tee could be a key asset for attacking the pins and whilst his GIR stats are not fantastic they are improving and if he finds himself with the wedge in his hand  often he can go low as he showed at Carton House earlier this year and again at Gleneagles.

My second pick is Damien McGrane @ 150/1 with Skybet. The Irishman is not in great form but as he showed at the KLM Open, if the course suits he can contend. The shortish course will require precision and a decent putting week. The small greens should encourage him and I can see the Headford man putting up a good challenge this week and setting himself up for the season ahead. He might just have the patience that's required this week where emotions will be running high.

TIP 1 :  0.25 pts e/w S.Henry @ 200/1 Boylesports

TIP 2:   0.25 pts e/w D.McGrane @ 150/1 Skybet

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Hong Kong and World Challenge 2013

The South African swing of the 2014 European Tour takes a break this week and sees players jetting off to Hong Kong before returning for the Nelson Mandela Championship in Durban next week ! They then take a break til the new year before heading back down to SA for the Volvo Golf Champions also in Durban. I'm quite so surprised to see so many fly to Hong Kong this week but I suppose it tells the story of the young touring pro these days. Try make hay whilst the sun shines. With a mediocre field descending on Fanling this week I believe its a great opportunity for the newcomers to take their chances and for that reason I'm sticking with the players I backed last week. I wont back Pavan @ 45/1 though this week, a bit too short for me, whilst at the same price, I would opt for Swede Fredrik Anderssen Hed who was runner-up here last year,but for the fact he's not exactly a prolific winner on tour! Just the one win to his credit does put me off this week but course form could suggest he could go well on a track to his liking.

Ireland's Kevin Phelan produced a fine TOP 25 last week in his European Pro debut and he has already experienced the joys of travelling on tour this week with a delay and bags missing en route from SA. No 250/1 available this week following that positive start but I'm more than happy to back him @ 150/1 here.  The Waterford man will take a lot of confidence into this week, and with €15,000 in his back pocket from his efforts at Leopard Creek, the 23 year old can cap off a truly memorable 2013 with another strong showing at Fanling to rank up with his US Open and Walker Cup exploits.

As per last weeks selections here, I'm going to keep the faith with John Hahn (150/1), James Morrison (125/1) & Jbe Kruger (66/1). The American was doing OK in rd 1 last week before he was advised by his playing partner that he could be disqualified for using a teaching aid whilst waiting on a tee box early in his round. He reported it to the officials and was promptly disqualified - I'm hoping he doesn't do anything silly like that again soon. He's been given another opportunity to perform this week and to make a name for himself. Morrison was going very nicely indeed until the back 9 in his first round where he ran up a couple of doubles to send him spiralling down the leaderboard. He responded well on Friday but the damage was done and he missed the cut. He's playing well enough lately and he's played Fanling the past 3 years producing results of 19-MC-38. He's not the biggest of drivers on tour but that won't matter here, if he can eliminate mistakes and make some putts he could surprise @ a juicy 125/1.
Jbe Kruger had a disastrous 81 last Saturday and will be keen to put that behind him. He was runner up the week before so one bad round shouldn't be a negative for this week. His sole win on tour came in India, so perhaps a visit to Asia will be kind again ?

Tiger Woods hosts his World Challenge with 17 others competing for the $3.5 M purse at Sherwood GC in LA. Tiger goes off the favourite whilst twice winner Graeme McDowell can be backed at 14/1. The 5-time champion is the one they have to beat though and we know how formidable he can be on tracks that he loves. That said I think its worth looking at Webb Simpson's chances here. He was 7th last year, the week the anchoring ruling was communicated and 12 months on, Simpson has gradually found some consistency to his game and arrives here on the back of a win at the recent Shriners Open and a TOP 10 the previous week.  He's not without a chance this week, neither too is Rory McIlroy who spoiled the Aussies party in Sydney last Sunday. Webby is best price 20/1 to win but Boylesports offer 16/1 w/o Tiger, whilst Skybet also offer 8/1 in the Top American w/o Tiger market.

Selections : (6 units total staking plan)

TIP 1:  0.25 pts e/w K.Phelan @ 150/1 Ladbrokes

TIP 2: 0.25 pts e/w J.Hahn @ 150/1 Betpack

TIP 3: 0.25 pts e/w J.Morrison @ 125/1 Betpack

TIP 4: 0.50 pts e/w J.Kruger @ 66/1 Skybet

TIP 5: 1 pt e/w 16/1 W.Simpson  w/o Tiger @ 16/1 Boylesports

TIP 6: 1.5pts WIN  W.Simpson Top American w/o Tiger market @ 8/1 Skybet