Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Turkish Airlines Open 2014

The Penultimate event of the Final Series takes place in Turkey this week where we have a number of absentees! Rory has other things on his mind before payday next week in Dubai and we are also without Justin Rose and Graeme McDowell who went very close in China last Sunday. That leaves Stenson, Garcia and Kaymer as the market leaders with defending champion, Victor Dubuisson close on their heels.Perhaps the Swede can finally get a win on tour this year and having celebrated the birth of his third child a fortnight ago he could be nice and relaxed for this course where we will have 5 par5s over the 7200 yards.

Its the par 5s that I am focussing on here mainly and to play these well over the 4 days will be key as a low score could be expected despite a toughening up of the course as reported from twelve months ago. Tommy Fleetwood is always a player I like to have onside where scoring is key on par 5s so @ 50/1 he is a fair price for me here. So too is Pablo Larrazabal @ 80/1 who had a fine weekend in China last week to eventually grab a TOP15 despite an opening 75 on Day 1. That 137 total was the lowest of the field for the weekend and it augurs well for his confidence here this week. Already a winner on tour this season in Abu Dhabi when he edged out McIlroy and Mickelson by a shot with a closing 67, the Spaniard is a decent bet this week and hopefully he can avoid losing his shirt this week if he avoids an over par round! At 7/1 with Boyles for a TOP10 he's a definite bet for me here.

Marc Warren is over a recent injury and he too could be poised to go low this week. No missed cuts in his last eight starts since his win in Denmark, which have included four TOP25s so with injury now behind him he might just be ready for a good showing for this and next weeks finale in Dubai and at 66/1 is worth a nibble. So too is the 11/2 (6.50) for a TOP10.

Lastly, Thomas Aiken has shown some signs of a return to form of late and with the South African "season" imminent I expect his game to start improving again. Consistent over GIR rankings means he could be in with a shout this week having produced a 15th placing in 2013. Available to back tonight @ 190.00 on Betfair for the win and @ 9/1 for TOP10, the Joburger completes my staking plan for this week.

Staking Plan (10 Pts)

0.75 pts WIN T.Fleetwood @ 50/1
0.75 pts WIN P.Larrazabal @ 80/1
0.75 pts WIN M.Warren @ 66/1
0.25 pts WIN T.Aiken @ 189/1


2.5 pts TOP10 T.Fleetwood @ 9/2
1.75 pts TOP10 P.Larrazabal @ 7/1
1.75 pts TOP10 M.Warren @ 11/2
1.5 pts TOP10 T.Aiken @ 9/1

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

BMW Masters 2014 - Final Series

We have arrived at the Final Series of the European Tour for 2014 where 78 players will tee it up at Lake Malaren GC in China ! Gonzo Castano will defend his title but we are missing the Race to Dubai champion elect, Rory McIlroy, last year's champion, Henrik Stenson, and amongst others, Sergio Garcia and Martin Kaymer. It will be the third edition of this event and Justin Rose will tee it up as a very warm favourite where power off the tee will be a huge advantage this week and given that the weather forecast is for an OK week scoring should be low. With that in mind my headline tip this week can master this Jack Nicklaus course and upset the odds by winning his second event of the season. Stephen Gallacher will relish the length here, its a 7600 yd course and the Scot can go better than his lowly finish of twelve months ago and contend once more now that the Ryder Cup dust has settled where he failed to win a point on his debut. He last played in the matchplay at  the London Club so is well rested for the Final Series. He lies 15th in the R2D standings and despite being too far behind Rory McIlroy, a win here could catapult him into 3rd in the standings. That's his incentive. I think he's way over-priced @ 76.00 so he's a must bet for me here.

I always like backing Pablo Larrazabal at a decent price. The Spaniard will either contend or go home except we have no cut this week. Again, like Gallacher, he too is overpriced here @ 71.00 for the win. Like Gallacher on his first visit he finished just outside the TOP 50 but twleve months ago improved on that to finish 5th. Not the biggest of hitter but 290 yds average is not exactly lacking...and he can improve on his last three results of 32-32-8.

Lastly, South African Richard Sterne returns to the European Tour since his T6th at The Alfred Dunhill Links. Having finished in a tie for 31st last year without excelling on any given day, the Pretoria native will be keen to finish 2014 on a high. Its been a frustrating season for him and now that he's fit again he'll be anxious to improve on his world ranking of 76 over the next few weeks to put him in line for some prestigious events in 2015. He may lack the length off the tee for here but his iron play and short game could see him do weel and he's worth a nibble @ 126.00. (8/1 TOP10)

Staking Plan (10 pts)

0.50 pts WIN S.Gallacher @ 76.00 Betfair
0.50 pts WIN P.Larrazabal @ 71.00 Betfair
0.50 pts WIN R.Sterne @ 126.00 Betfair

3 pts TOP 10 S.Gallacher @ 5.50
3 pts TOP10 P.Larrazabal @ 5.50
2.5 pts TOP 10 R.Sterne @ 9.00

Monday, 20 October 2014

Perth International

The Perth International will be held this week for the third time and on the beautiful Lake Karrinyup Country Club, just north of Perth in Western Australia. The course also hosted the Johnnie Walker Classic in 2002 and 2003 where former Major winners, Retief Goosen and Ernie Els emerged victorious. Many of the world’s top golfers have played here in Australian Opens over the years, including Gary Player who won his seventh Aussie Open at the course whilst Jack Nicklaus won his second of six here also. Goosen holds the course record having shot a 63 in his third round in 2002.It’s the last event before the Final Series begins in China the following week. The co-sanctioned Europeantour and Australasian PGA Tour event has attracted former PGA Champion Jason Dufner for his second visit (finished runner up to his compatriot Bo Van Pelt two years ago). Former Masters champion, Charl Schwartzel, and the enigmatic Frenchman, Victor Dubuisson, who will be keen to have his game in good shape ahead of the Final Series, will join him.

The course itself is a par-72, measuring just over 7100 yards in which the players will have to contend with the wind over a course offering up generous fairways and a mix of green sizes. It’s a hilly course with a lot of holes on the front nine on the ascent but the scores are there to be had.

Aussie hopes will lie with former US Open champion, Geoff Ogilvy who returned to the winner’s enclosure on the PGA Tour last year. Another Australian who won on the same tour last year was Steven Bowditch who took out the Texas Open. More significantly though is his runner up finish two weeks a go at the Fry’ Open. Having missed the cut in Vegas, he’ll come here looking to add to his three previous wins on the Australasian Tour. Both players are worth considering here this week pending price but Bowditch may prove to be better value @ 50/1

Of the Europeantour regulars Peter Uihlein and Oliver Fisher could be two who could play well and the latter finished TOP20 here twelve months ago so will have good course knowledge. Oli has been in the TOP15 in four of his ten previous events, whereas the American is coming into form as he seeks to make the TOP60 for Dubai. He could be a real threat here and @ 35/1 could be a play, with the Englishman offering somevalue @ 70/1

A player I was expecting to be further down in the market is Ryan Fox, son of All Black legend, Grant (80/1). Fox took out the Western Australia Open at the weekend and should be in a positive mood. I was looking for some value in the TOP10 market for the Aucklander(but I'm not interested in his price of 5/1), likewise for Englishman, Lee Slattery who is battling to save his card and who currently sits as the number 110 in the Order of Merit. He’ll travel to Perth for the first time but will do so on the back of his third Top15 in his last seven starts and will be worth a go for a Top10 finish here. Slattery can be streaky as he showed last season reeling off thirteen consecutive cuts being made and he’ll be motivated to keep that card for next season by keeping the momentum going. He has his buddy, Matthew Baldwin with him this week too as they both try to feed of fellow Southport player, Tommy Fleetwood’s good form, and he could also be inspired by the “Nappy Factor” having become a father earlier this year as he attempts to finish the season on a high. Slatts can be backed @ 120/1 for the win or TOP 10 @ 9/1. Adrian Otaegui missed the cut last week in Hong Kong and he'll need a good week very soon to retain his card for next season and this track could suit so with the same view as last week, he too is kept onside for a TOP10 finish this week @ 10/1. Dutchman, Daan Huizing offered to achieve a lot more than he did over the season but he can secure his card with a bold showing here on a course requiring accuracy from tee to green. Tied 15th last week, he can kick on and push for a similar result here so I'll take the 12/1 TOP10 price despite no TOP10s in his locker this season...yet! He's made 14/27 cuts with 4 TOP20s, so he's capable. He'll appreciate the wind here as well and like Justin Walters and Peter Lawrie twelve months ago, he can produce a onetime performance to secure that card for next season! If Ryan Fox is best price 80/1 then surely Aussie hope, Jake Higginbottom is cracking value @ 120/1? Playing more on the Asian Tour of late, the former NZ open winner (as an amateur) has been in fine form of late and could be up for it this week. He's a 10/1 shot for TOP10.

No joy last week in Hong Kong as David Lipsky really disappointed, but Kevin Streelman almost collected the WIN in Vegas @ 120/1, though his second place finish ensured my first PGA pick of the season for TOP10 @ 9/1 returned a nice profit. If no follow up post again this week for the McGladrey Classic, I'll tweet (@birdieclubtips) my selection on Wednesday.

Staking Plan (10 pts)

0.75 pts WIN S.Bowditch @ 50/1
1.25 pts WIN P.Uihlein @ 35/1
0.75 pts E/W O.Fisher @ 70/1
0.50 pts WIN L.Slattery @ 120/1


2 pts TOP10 S.Bowditch @ 4/1
2 pts TOP10 L.Slattery @ 9/1
1 pt TOP10 A.Otaegui @ 10/1
1 pt TOP10 D.Huizing @ 12/1

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Hong Kong Open 2014.....Again !

Fanling GC will once again host the Hong Kong Open this week in the penultimate event before the Final Series takes place on the European Tour. It will be onto Perth the week after before they head back to China for the start of the Final Series but one man in particular will be looking forward to Fanling than any other no doubt, and that is the defending champion, Miguel Angel Jiminez who will seek to win his fifth title and his third in a row! He simply loves the course and has stated he really enjoys being in Hong Kong, but will it be a tough ask for the 50 year old to do it again this time round?

The course itself is a par-70, measuring just 6700 yards in which a winning score in and around 265 (-15) normally is good enough to take the title. Jiminez dominance could suggest that this is a course that players may need to know well, so it will be interesting to see how Ernie Els and Peter Uihlein contend here for the first time.

With the Portugal Masters having been reduced to 54 holes, those travelling here from The Algarve could be really keen to get going at Fanling, especially those that have had decent knocks in the past. Robert-Jan Derksen would have fancied his chances in Vilamoura last week and he’ll approach this one in pretty much the same sort of anticipation before he bows out and I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see him in the mix here. He finished with a closing 65 twelve months ago to finish 4th and has produced a further three TOP15s in his previous five visits. He’ll take some motivation from Jiminez who won here aged 49, and should he get a decent start, expect him to be there or thereabouts.

Some value could be had though in backing David Lipsky this week. Having won in Switzerland last month, the American has jumped to the top of the Asian Tour Order of Merit, a tour that he played a lot on since turning pro and he has said in the past that Fanling is one of his favourite courses on the tour. He was Tied 12th last year alongside his nearest challenger to this years Asian Tour Order, Anirban Lahiri. Lipsky though is in fine form having made five TOP20s in his eight European Tour starts. Since his win he was placed 4th at The Selangor Masters, and is rested nicely for a visit to one of his favourite courses in Asia.

We’ve seen the French players feed off each other quite a bit on the European Tour of late and Victor Dubuisson’s efforts at Gleneagles apparently inspired Alexander Levy last week! Two other Frenchmen so, could well be motivated to get in on the act this week on a course that they both like and that’s Gregory Bourdy and Gregory Havret. The latter was runner to Rory McIlroy three years ago and also pocketed a TOP20 last year. He hasn’t been great of late though, but a couple of TOP25s last month could suggest his game is not that far away but I’d be more confident in Bourdy. He played well in Portugal, and Fanling would be a much better suited course for his game and he can improve on his two 11th placings from 2010 and 2007.

One of my "10 To Win Soon" is Afrian Otaegui and he has been in fine form recently and having risen to just outside the TOP110 on the order of merit, I'm keen to have him on board this week to maintain the momentum and secure his card for next season. Fanling requires accuracy from tee to green and the young Spaniard has exactly that. His recent form is progressive (12th in The Algarve) and he can secure a decent finish here in what is not a very high quality field. Yes, The Mechanic will have his supporters as will Ernie Els, but they will have their own pressures to produce a win.

Staking Plan (10 pts)

1.5 pts WIN David Lipsky @ 34.00
1.5 pts WIN Gregory Bourdy @ 27.00
0.5 pts WIN A.Otaegui @ 101.00

TOP 10
2 pts TOP10 G.Bourdy @ 3.25
2 pts TOP10 D.Lipsky @ 4.10
2.5 pts TOP10 A.Otaegui @ 10.00

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Portugal Masters 2014 - Oceanico Victoria Golf Club, Vilamoura

The European Tour continues this week in Portugal at The Oceânico Victoria Golf Club, a par 72-7200 yds course with an abundance of water, for the eighth consecutive year. Ireland’s Shane Lowry will be hoping to build on some great form of late and put in a winning challenge here; after all it’s here that the Westmeath man won his second European title back in 2012. He has every chance of doing so again having performed so strongly at the Alfred Dunhill Links last week when finishing 6th, his second successive Top10. He missed the cut when defending twelve months ago and he admitted at the time that the added attention as defending champion caused a great distraction. Shane is a much more experienced player this time round and will surely be in the mix again this week. But he's far too short in the betting and I'm very surprised that the boookies have made him such a clear favourite. Indeed the odds this week across the board offer up litttle value and the 12 man shortlist I tweeted on twitter Sunday night hasn't left me with any clear bet. Whilst I do fancy Shane to go close this week, Bernd Wiesberger may be the better bet of the market leaders @ 16/1, considering he arrives on the back of 5 TOP15s in his last 6 starts and was 3rd & 4th here the last two years. However, he's not a proven winner and he is a player that I cannot back at such a short price. Simply put, its wide open this week made all the harder to predict with poor weather forecasted on Thursday and Sunday.

We’ll have some wind as usual if the rain and thunderstorms abate, and a study of the recent results at The Oceânico Victoria Golf Club the past 5 years or so, shows that good wind players do indeed go well here. Some events do suit certain players and when punting it pays to take in to account the “horses for courses” factor. This factor was further emphasised by Oliver Wilson’s win at St Andrews on Sunday last. He had finished 2nd (again) in 2009 and was 21st in 2011. He was widely available @ 500/1 pre-event yet trumped the World No 1 coming down the stretch to take his first win on tour. Have we someone like him this week that can draw some inspiration?

South African, George Coetzee, has threatened to win a far lot more than his solitary win on tour to date. He has finished 6th and 3rd in his only 2 visits here and having finished TOP25 at St Andrews last week, despite a poor final round, he could be available at a decent enough price. So too could out of form, Ross Fisher. The Englishman is simply not producing results at present but known as a good links, wind player, Fisher has a shot this week on a course that has seen him produce four TOP10s in his last seven visits. Can we ignore him this week on recent form? At 50/1 we shouldn't really, as Oliver Wilson has proven that course form counts for a lot and a win come come from nowhere. Coetzee is best priced 33/1 and for a player that has only won once, I'm not prepared to take that price.Ross though is very tempting here.

This could be the week that we see the former European Number One, Robert Karlsson, return to the winner’s enclosure. Karlsson is a quality player returning to form after a long spell away from the limelight after injury. The Swede loves it here! Having not played the past three years, he returns to build on his previous results of 2nd-3rd-2nd in three of the previous four years. Karlsson is playing solid of late having finished Top15 at the Alfred Dunhill. That makes seven TOP25 finishes in his last twelve starts.At best price 28/1, I've had to think long and hard about a bet, but as stated he's a quality player that has shown dcent form this summer.He's played in 17 events this season, making the cut in 15. Throw in 7 TOP20s and 4 TOP10s, Karlsson is playing consitently well. He prodoced solid results at Royal Aberdeen and Golf de National and finished a handy 14th last week at The Alfred Dunhill. 28/1 is a fair price this week.

Lastly, we need to keep an eye on a player that is looking for inspiration this week. One such player has announced that he is to retire at the end of the current season and that player is Robert-Jan Derksen. He may not win this week but he could be amongst the leaders over the four days as he attempts to go out on a high. Why this week? T-11th in Scotland, and going into an event on a course that he has produced SIX TOP 20s in the previous seven years augurs well for the Dutchman, and if ever a player fitted the “horses for courses” type here, it’s Robert-Jan. Defending champion, David Lynn and Alvaro Quiros(recently moved to Vilamoura and loves the course but totally out of sorts of late) are two others that could claim to have solid form as well, but a player about to hang up his boots at the end of the month may just be on a mission to go out with a bang on a course that he clearly loves. Unfortunately, the books reflect his obvious course form as best price for TOP10 is 13/2 whereas best price TOP20 is just 11/4 (win @ 80/1). Instead I'm going to add a player @ 14/1 for a TOP20 finish that wasn't on my initial shortlist. Fighting once again to retain his card for next season, Peter lawrie has a somewhat poor season and languishes 175th on the Race to Dubai with time running out. He made a last grasp effort last year to hold onto his card and as alluded to in this week's edition of Golfing Weekly, Lawrie can take a lot of confidence from his Sunday round at St Andrews when he and his partner took at the PRO-AM title. He has fine form at Oceanico with results of 49-11-6-37-23-16 before his missed cut twelve months ago (the average finishing position for those six years between 2007 - 2012 was 23rd!) He has a chance this week to make some much needed cash to move closer to the all important 110 spot on the rankings.

Staking Plan (6 pts)

1.5 pts WIN R.Karlsson @ 30.00
1 pt WIN R. Fisher @ 50/1


2 pts R.Fisher TOP10 @ 5.50


1.5 pts TOP20 P.Lawrie @ 14/1 

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Alfred Dunhill Links - St Andrews, Kingsbarns & Carnoustie

This week action stays in Scotland for Euope's premier Pro-Am played over 3 courses. St Andrews, Kingsbarns & Carnoustie. The cut will come after each has played the 3 courses with the TOP 60 playing St Andrews on Sunday. David Howell defends.

My preview this week folks is short- very short due to my day job committments at present.

I do however think Rory will be in the mood here this week, but should the wind and rain come as expected Friday he may be outdone by the draw.  He has a 9:33 start on Thursday according to the Europeantour website but as I write the site is showing its inefficiency once again by stating that all players are playing St. Andrews. If he gets to play St Andrews or indeed Kingsbarns first he may just post a score and run away with it. Temptation is to ignore those on a high after the Ryder Cup, but I don't think he'll be too tired after those celebrations.

Marc Warren could go well but I'd have liked more than 45/1 and so I'd rather chance Chris Wood @ 151.00 on a links course this week.I also like his countryman's chances in the shape of Paul Casey @ 33/1. Casey took out the KLM Open earlier this month on a linksy type course and has solid record here at The Dunhill having finished in the TOP10 three times in his last 5 visits. he also finished 10th at The Open back in 2010 at St. Andrews so he has a strong affinity with the courses here. He's in good form having won recently and he could be motivated to get back with the Ryder Cup team by earning some OWGR points along the way.

Lastly, Riccardo Gonzalez is a decent bet for TOP20 @ 11/2 this week. The big hitting Argentine will be pleased to see wide fairways this week as the courses are setup easy enough for the amateurs partaking. He's shown his liking for the tournament setup in recent years by posting results of 7-13-41-9-31 in his last 5 visits.(average finish just at a tad over 20th)

Staking Plan: ( 6 pts)

2 pts WIN P.Casey @ 35.00 Betfair
.25 pts WIN C.Wood @ 151.00 Betfair


1.75 pts TOP10 C.Wood @ 11.00 Betpack

2 pts R.Gonzalez TOP20 @ 6.5 Betpack

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

ISPS Wales Open 2014 - Celtic Manor

After all the excitement in the FedEx Cup, all golfing eyes turn towards Gleneagles and the Ryder Cup next week but before then we have a former Ryder Cup venue hosting on The European Tour this week where one of Paul McGinley’s wildcards, Lee Westwood will make an appearance as he prepares to get his game in some shape for the battle that awaits. He’ll be joined by fellow teammates, Jamie Donaldson, Thomas Bjorn and Stephen Gallacher.

The course is of course Celtic Manor, a par 71, 7300-yards, where Gregory Bourdy will defend his title. The course hosted the Ryder Cup in 2010, the same year that Graeme McDowell prevailed here and if looking for omens it was also where Paul McGinley himself prevailed in 2001.  The Dubliner also produced a TOP10 here twelve months ago and in 2012!

With Westwood and Donaldson in attendance, they are no doubt the two they all have to beat this week. As a psychological advantage, both Westwood and Gallacher may want to produce a better performance than Tom Watson’s picks did at East Lake, so I do expect them to go well here. We have a very strong field this week though with many of Europe’s leading Tour players in attendance. Paul Casey will look to go back-to-back and move up those rankings further following victory in Zandvoort.

The one player that not many would have qualms about had he received a captain’s pick that could spoil the party here is Joost Luiten. The Dutchman put up a solid defense of his KLM Open last week and showed great composure and competitive spirit when fighting back on Saturday following his horror nine at the second. Luiten was T-2nd in Wales back in 2012 and was T-4th twelve months ago. Like McGinley and defending champion, Bourdy, the Dutchman has shown his likeness for Celtic Manor and given how he played last week at his home Open under the pressure to defend, he would be my headline pick this week but I'm surprised he's been made favourite with the bookies here. At 14/1 he is of no value in my opinion, whereas Lee Westwood @ 16/1 may be a better bet. There is no doubting the Englishman's ability, especially when playing in European Tour events and he is by far the best player on show this week. If Joost is 14/1 alongside local hope, Jamie Donaldson with Westwood quoted at same price for last week's winner, Paul Casey then Lee Westwood's price becomes the value of the market leaders. It will be a win only bet for me though as yet again last week's results show that each way punting in golf is probably not the way going forward. It's frustrating that Pablo Larrazabal T5th last week @ 80/1 and yet returned a 75% reduction for his place when the others in the staking plan were for a TOP10 finish. It was equally frustrating that he should bogey the last to put himself into that tied position as well! That said it did eventually require Romain Wattel to bogey 18 to bring Pablo back into it, and so at least recoup some of the original stakes. So its a win bet this week on the Woksop Wonder to strike a physological blow for the European wildcards given the performance of Tom Watson's picks in the FedEx Cup playoffs. As mentioned, Westwood is the class player in the field and will be motivated to play well in time for next week's big event. He played quite well at Celtic Manor in the Ryder Cup so will be comfortable playing here again.Westwood has had a decent enough season, got into contention again at Augusta and performed well at the PGA. This is a step down in grade somewhat and his class can outshine the best of the rest this week.

Pick 2: Seve Benson
 The Guildford native may have one of the coolest names on tour this year but he’s also a player that could be destined to great things too. From fifteen starts on tour this season, the Wentworth man has only missed three cuts and has been in fine form of late with results of 13-46-21 in his last three starts. Seve missed the cut on his first appearance at Celtic Manor in 2012 but followed that up with a TOP10 twelve months ago. Ranked at 79 in the Race to Dubai, the 27 year old will be looking for some solid results over the next few tournaments to make that TOP60. He’s rested having not played last week and can contend. As tweeted on Monday, I took the 125/1 available but he is still great value @ 110/1 with Bet365

Pick 3: Peter Uihlein @ 50/1

The American has had a poor summer campaign when missing the cut in eight consecutive events before returning to Denmark to stop the rot. Since then though he has returned to playing some solid golf the past few weeks by finishing 22-36-19 in his last three starts. He probably contended better than his result shows from the KLM but he is a streaky player and when he tends to get into some form, he improves over the weeks. He’ll relish Celtic Manor where he was runner up to Bourdy twelve months ago. Like Benson, he will need a few good tournaments if he is to make it to Dubai as he hovers in 89th place on the ranking but has the incentive and game to make it.

Staking Plan (8 pts)

2.5 pts WIN Lee Westwood @ 16/1
0.5 pts WIn Seve Benson @ 125/1 (110/1 Bet365)
1 pt WIN Peter Uihlein @ 50/1

2 pts TOP10 S.Benson @ 10/1
2 pt TOP10 P.Uihlein @ 9/2

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

KLM Open 2014 - Kennemer Golf Club


We haven't had a winner on the blog since Martin Kaymer's victory at Pinehurst in June, despite a number of placings, but last week's effort was probably the worst week in quite awhile with none in contention at any time throughout the two tournaments. Hopefully, that's the bad week out of the way and we can find some profit this week in Holland where Joost Luiten looks to defend his home National Title that he won after beating Miguel Angel Jiminez in a playoff twelve months ago.

The course is par 70, 6600-yard course with 3 par5s and 5 par3s. Ireland’s Darren Clarke won here in 2008 and it’s a course that Irish players have fared well on in the past. A fellow tipster on twitter tweeted this morning that Clarke's average score at Kennemer is 66.38 over his last 8 rounds, that's the best of anyone in the field this week including two time winner, Simon Dyson. One such Irish player with a good track record here is Damien McGrane. From his last 6 visits on this course, the Meathman has pocketed results of 3- 4-20-MC-3-9 so he should be quietly confident of posting a decent score again this time round. Peter Lawrie who produced an excellent 62 on Saturday in the European Masters boasts two TOP10s here and given his position in the order of merit he could do with a big week in Holland. He has a huge incentive and we’ve seen it happen many times when players raise their game at the end of the season to keep their card. Graeme Storm is the latest such example. This time last year we saw Justin Walters secure his card with a heroic effort to finish second at the Portugal Masters so soon after the passing of his mother. On the bubble at 110 is Gareth Maybin, who like Lawrie has hit a bit of form lately and he’ll need to play well over the next few weeks if he is to secure his card. I mention these Irish players as Kennemer has been kind to Irish players as well as the British players. It is very much a linksy type course where accuracy is key moreso than power! It's a Harry Colt design so perhaps that's another reason why they do so well and as Ross Fisher, forever a player in my betting thoughts each week, has won here before (his first win on tour) he comes into consideration this week despite letting me down last week. As mentioned, so too does Darren Clarke who I felt was getting near his best and backed him also last week.
Referring back to those players now scrapping for their 2015 card, I do like the chances of a player that has hit form in his last couple of tournaments to go well here. Lee Slattery has produced  two TOP10s in Switzerland and Italy in his last two starts. The Englishman can boast a best 4th and another TOP15 at Kennemer and he is taken to keep the momentum going and play well again this week. He missed the cut twelve months go despite a solid 66 in round two, but arrives this week having played the weekend in Crans in 65 and 66. Lee is now best price 80/1 which I think is great value given his recent and course form.
Local hope Dan Huizing has not had the best of seasons on the full tour is has to be said but recent results show that the Dutchman is starting to produce some solid results. His last five events read mc-35-23-mc-12. He sits at 137 in the Race to Dubai so will need some good results over the next few weeks if he is to retain his card and this week represents a golden opportunity to perform well. He'll take positives from his fellow countryman winning on home soil last year.
With Darren being a little short @ 80/1 despite his course record, I will opt for Damien McGrane instead @ 100/1 to reproduce a fine performance around Kennemer given his record as mentioned earlier in the post. Damien seems to love it here and he has been in decent form of late having narrowly missed out in Russia he has hinted that a good week is coming for some time.
I have to include Pablo Larrazabal this week @ 80/1, a price I think is over generous. Yes, he missed the cut in Crans as he did the previous event at Valhalla but Pablo is the sort of player that can get on with the job the week after and put in a challenge.  Prior to the PGA Championship, Pablo was last seen at Firestone and Hoylake, so having returned to the standard fare in Switzerland, missing the cut and arriving in Holland early, I expect the Spaniard to be in the mood to improve on his T9th finish from twelve months ago. Incidentally he was T2nd at the Silversumsche Golf Club in 2012 so being in Holland may just be the ticket !
If you fancy winning a place in the Pro-Am at the Portugal Masters in October and passes to the tournament on the Thursday, why not enter here for a chance to do so including 3 nights B&B at the Tivoli Victoria Golf Resort (*flights not included)
Staking Plan (8.5 pts)
1 pt e/w Ross Fisher @ 40/1 Betfair
0.5 pts WIN L. Slattery @ 80/1 Betfair
0.5 pts WIN D. McGrane @ 100/1 Betfair
0.5 pts e/w P. Larrazabal @ 80/1 Titanbet
1.5 pts TOP10 L.Slattery @ 15/2 BetVictor
1.5 pts TOP10 D. McGrane  @ 11/1 Betpack
1.5 pts TOP20 D. Huizing @ 5/1 Ladbrokes 

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

BMW Championship - FedEx Cup Cherry Hills GC, Denver

The third leg of the FedEx Cup playoffs heads to Denver, Colorado this Thursday and to a course that is steeped in history having hosted three US Opens, the US Amateur and the PGA Championship twice, the Women’s US Open and the Senior US Open. We are off to Cherry Hills Country Club, where Phil Mickelson captured the 1990 US Amateur title, and in the process joined Jack Nicklaus in winning both the US Amateur and the NCAA titles in the same year (Nicklaus in 1961). This course is situated about 1 mile above sea level and should play shorter than its official yardage of 7,400 and whilst the opening holes may appear to be short (Arnold Palmer drove the first in the final round 1960 US Open when starting 7 shots behind to win and proceed to birdie it and 5 out of the next 6 holes), the course is known to get trickier and we could be in for some excitement on the 17th, par-5 with island green, dubbed “The Moat”. Ben Hogan infamously lost that 1960 US Open to Palmer on this hole when after laying up, he dumped his wedge into the water. It was Palmer’s first and only US Open win, Hogan was trying for his 5th. 

So with travel required from Boston to Denver to consider for the majority of the players and just 2 days to prepare, does new dad, Graeme McDowell, who tees it up again this week having missed the Deutsche Bank for the birth of his daughter, have a slight advantage over the other 68 competitors? Well, he may have the “Nappy Factor” on his side this week and given that accuracy will be key this week he must come into consideration. He will also be buoyant knowing he will represent Europe in the Ryder Cup later in the month and a confident Gmac is a formidable competitor. He is currently outside the TOP30, and he’ll need a good week to make it to East Lake. He has all the incentives and positivity to put in a top effort at Cherry Hills.

 Phil Mickelson didn’t exactly give his backers much hope last week before setting out in the Deutsche Bank saying his game wasn’t feeling where he needed it to be. He will be a different player this week, returning to course where he captured his US Amateur Title. Cherry Hills was designed by William Flynn who also designed Merion and Shinnecock Hill, and close inspection of Lefty’s performances on these courses suggest that this will indeed be a better week for the Californian. Phil was runner-up to Justin Rose at Merion last year and was runner-up to Retief Goosen at Shinnecock in 2004 and 4th behind Corey Pavin at the same course in 1995. He has superb William Flynn course form. He cannot be dismissed lightly here.

 Justin Rose and Geoff Ogilvy are also likely to enjoy this layout. Rose has had a brilliant season somewhat overshadowed by Rory McIlroy. With seven TOP10s in his seventeen starts including a win on the PGA Tour, Rose will be looking to improve on his position of 18th in the rankings and his tee to green game is ideal for Cherry Hills and he can ask Rory a question or two before the Tour Championship concludes next week.
Staking Plan
1 pt e/w G. McDowell @ 55/1 Bet365
1 pt e/w P.Mickelson @ 33/1 Betpack
2 pts e/w J.Rose @ 20/1 Ladbrokes
1 pt e/w G.Ogilvy @ 66/1 Betpack



Omega European Masters 2014

With the Ryder Cup qualification period over, players will now focus on some decent tournaments between now and the Final Series with the first of those coming this week at the always anticipated European Masters at Crans-Sur-Sierre in Switzerland. Played at altitude, this course usually suits those who drive the ball well and make birdies. The winning score didn’t really change for last year’s event following course renovations so we can expect a winning total in and around -20 to be good enough again. Thomas Bjorn aims to win his third title in four years but he has plenty of competition to deny him. Miguel Angel Jiminez will try to win his second title and he hasn’t far to travel this week from his new home in Austria. Recent Czech Masters winner, Jamie Donaldson will also be looking forward to this one.
Darren Clarke has six TOP10s in his 15 visits and who is to say he can’t contend again this week especially after a good effort in Italy, having finished in the TOP20. Recent putting work may come to fruition any given week soon, and on a track he knows well, he is definitely a consideration for each way, TOP10, TOP20 picks.
Darren has put a lot of effort in this year with his fitness programme, and his new physique has seen him gain a lot of comment and well wishes, which is truly going to motivate him to better things in the very near future – it could even inspire him this week at triple figures! Best price this morning @ 125/1 each way and 11/1 TOP10 with BetVictor cannot be ignored.
Two previous winners of this event have suddenly come back into form of late and could be worth keeping an eye this week and they are Bradley Dredge and Richie Ramsay. The Scotsman won in 2012 but has missed the cut three times in his four other appearances so it remains to be seen if he can capture that 2012 form when returning on the back of his T4th in Turin.
Dredge, one of the tours best putters, is having an excellent spell of late having finished runner up in consecutive weeks in Denmark and in the Czech Republic. He won here in 2006, was runner-up in ’09, and 3rd in ’07. He also has a 4th in his locker from ’02. He missed the cut on his last three visits though but I can ignore these easily on the back of recent form, and pending price, he’s a great each way bet or TOP10 this week. @ 40/1 I'm happy to get on board.
Ross Fisher has shown signs recently that his game is beginning to come together again and despite a mixed bag in the final round in Turin on Sunday, the Englishman signed off with a T7th placing. His previous TOP10 came at Fota. Ross was T5th on this course last year which included a third round 63 but had left himself too much to do after an opening 71. If he can find himself a favourable draw with an early Friday tee time ideally, I expect Ross to be challenging this week for his 2nd win of 2014.
Frenchman, Victor Dubuisson was 3rd here last year finishing one shot too many to make the playoff. His length off the tee is of big advantage here and he can turn his 2014 Major form (2 TOP10s at The Open & PGA) into a win. Dubuisson has 5 TOP10s in his 13 starts on the tour this season so is in fine form and he’ll be keen to have a good tourney under his belt before teeing it up for Europe in Gleneagles at the end of the month. At 14/1 I think the price is fair, but I'm happy to leave out given that the Frenchman is still a bit doubtful with his back injuries of late.
Staking Plan (7 pts)
1 pt e/w B. Dredge @ 40/1 BetVictor
1 pt e/w R. Fisher @ 45/1 Bet365
0.5 pts WIN D.Clarke @ 125/1 BetVictor
2.5 pts TOP10 @ 11/1 Skybet

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Italian Open 2014

We have another weakish European Tour event this week, to be played at the Circolo Golf Torino where prizemoney stretches to €1.5M. Julien Quesne will defend his title on the course that hosted for the first time twelve months ago but he will have plenty of home challengers again this time round. The Molinari brothers will be keen to add their National Open Title (Francesco won it back it 2006) to their locker and obviously head the market along with Ryder Cup hopeful, Stephen Gallacher who will secure his place should he win or come second here this week.

That's his incentive and although he didn't play too well last week in Prague, Stephen will or should take the positive that he did eventually finish T7th. A better weekend this time round might just see him book his place at Gleneagles. As a Scotsman, he's here this week to give himself every chance of making that team. He's still available @ 20/1 for this and given the depth of the field I think he's worth chancing. From his 17 starts on Tour this season, Gallacher has produced 7 TOP10s, including a WIN in Dubai last February. He has missed just 3 cuts, 2 of which were at Majors (the other in Ireland the week after Pinehurst), but he has decent form notably 15th at Hoylake and a TOP20 at Golf National. He also lost a playoff at The Nordea Masters, was TOP5 at Wentworth and produced a 6th placing at Doral and a TOP35 at Augusta. If he can handle some of those pressures, he can handle the pressure that's before him this week in his quest for Ryder Cup participation. He will be encouraged by Jamie Donaldson and Hunter Mahan securing their places last week by winning and despite not having played at The Italian Open since 2009 I think he can put in a bold effort here where low scoring will be the order of the day.

I have tipped Matteo Manassero a couple of times this season to no avail despite decent enough form. He tees it up this week on the back of a missed cut at Valhalla, so he should be fresh and ready to go and to build on the TOP20 outing at Hoylake prior to the PGA. He was also T4th alongside Gallacher at Royal Aberdeen the week previously so he's playing decent enough. He finished way down the leaderboard twelve months ago here with a horrific closing 76 when very much in contention after the third round. I'm going to ignore that final round and suggest the other three rounds were good enough to enter this year's instalment in good hope. He did, of course finish 3rd in his home Open in 2012 and was 8th in 2011. He produced two further TOP30s in the two years prior. He is still only 21 years old and having won on tour each of the last 3 years, I wouldn't be surprised if he can continue his annual returns by winning here this week.  At 28/1 this week he'll go close.

I want to keep the faith with Tommy Fleetwood again this week also. He grabbed me some place money last week, albeit it in share for reduced stakes. In my preview for the Czech Masters I had indicated that the draw might work in his favour with an early start Friday starting on the worked out perfectly but perhaps I should have elaborated in my preview that he could back that 2nd rd. up with two similar rounds the weekend ! Tommy will be happy with that result last week and having finished in the TOP5 after so many missed cuts in recent weeks, Circolo Golf Torino should suit with the Par 5s again being Tommy's best chance of scoring. His putting prevents him from challenging more often but he's improving and keeps giving himself chances. I'm giving him a chance this week @ 50/1.

Staking Plan

2 pts e/w S. Gallacher @ 20/1
1 pt e/w M. Manassero @ 28/1
0.75 pts e/w T. Fleetwood @ 50/1

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

The Barclays 2014 - Ridgewood GC, New Jersey

The PGA Tour enters the exciting FedEx Cup playoffs this week as The Barclays returns to Ridgewood Golf & Country Club in New Jersey having hosted this event in 2008 and 2010. Vijay Singh who won it in 2008 described Ridgewood as the best course that the PGA Tour had used ,ever ! He’s not alone in his assessment of this course, which is made up of 18 holes from the 27 that the country club boasts, as many others have expressed their admiration on past visits. Matt Kuchar won here in 2010 and its worth noting that on both occasions, a playoff was required to decide the winner. 125 players will tee it up in New Jersey with the TOP100 in the FedEx Cup at its conclusion, moving onto the Deutsche Bank Championship the following week which starts on Friday with a Monday finish.

The Ones to Beat :

Czech Masters 2014

We have a new course to contemplate this week again on the Europeantour, but I'm sure the field won't mind, having enjoyed what appeared to be a very successful Made In Denmark Open last week on a relatively new course to the majority. They won't mind the location either as leisure time will be well spent in the beautiful city of Prague. This is a new event although the Czech Open was last held in 2011 where Oliver Fisher was victorious. It represents an opportunity for those on the fringe of qualification for the Ryder Cup team to gain an automatic spot if they can win here and that means we have strong contenders in Jamie Donaldson, Stephen Gallacher, and Joost Luiten.

By all accounts the course will play long with some very short rough stuff although accuracy for approach could be key. I'm inclined to look at those that score well on long courses and can convert chances. The three market leaders are undoubtedly the ones to beat but favourites don't always win, not to mention these three that have hardly been regular winners. I'm going to chance two players this week here and I'm sticking to one of those I selected last week, Felipe Aguilar. The Chilean was joint leader with Thomas Bjorn after the first round last week, played very well but as the next 3 days turned the event into a windfest, he dropped..or should I say nosedived down the leaderboard. He didn't putt well in the wind but I am happy to ignore that as I did get enthusiastic hearing his interviews , stating that he had taken time out to recharge the batteries, played little golf and concentrated on some chill out time. He came across very relaxed and energized....the outing last week may have just warmed him up for this week. He is still available @ 50/1 with Ladbrokes and I have to keep the faith with him here.

Tommy Fleetwood has gone off the boil lately, in a big way actually having missed the cut 6 times in his last 8 events! These came after back to back TOP10s but the 23 year old may be suited to Albatross GC where the Par 5s could be to his advantage.

He has an afternoon tee time Thursday with an early start Friday and if he does put a decent first round together on day 1 he may just take advantage early Friday starting on the 10th tee by grabbing early birdies there and at the 12th (both par 5s) to gain some momentum. That's the plan anyway !  Tommy is best price 55/1 with Skybet

Staking Plan :

1 pt e/w F. Aguilar @ 50/1 Ladbrokes
1 pt e/w T. Fleetwood @ 55/1 Skybet

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Made in Danmark Open 2014

The European Tour heads to Denmark for the first time in over a decade as the Himmerland Golf Club plays hosts. Ian Poulter was the last to win on the European Tour in Denmark. The Backtee course here at Himmerland was used on the Challenge Tour in 1995 where Thomas Bjorn won his first professional title. With really no course form to go on this week so, and because the course also underwent extensive renovation since Bjorn won here, my focus will turn to those in decent form of late.

Thomas Bjorn will no doubt go off the favourite and the 7300 yard par72 course looks like a course that suits players that can handle some wind which we know Bjorn, the 24th best player in the world right now, can. Fellow countryman, Thorbjorn Olesen has not had the best of seasons although he put in a decent effort at the PGA Championship and he may take this opportunity to kick start his career, but he’s no value here.

Of the market leaders, Chris Wood may be the best pick over improving Marc Warren and with both @ 30/1 in the market, its tempting. There are two interesting players to look out for this week who have been winning regularly on the Challenge Tour. They are Moritz Lampert and Andrew Johnston. The German won last time out to claim his third win on the CT and the Englishman has won twice and produced three further TOP10s in his last five starts. Home hope, Lucas Bjeeregaard is attached to the course so should have that local knowledge but at best price 55/1 I'd rather chance others.

My Selections:

0.5 pts e/w Damien McGrane @ 80/1 Betpack

McGrane went very close in Russia last time out, indeed he was probably a little unlucky not to win had David Horsey not chipped in on the 71st hole and catch him before seeing it out in the play-off. With the Irishman securing his card at this stage of the season, I expect him to be more relaxed, and on a track like this, he is not without a chance to put that Russian disappointment behind him. Accuracy off the tee could be an important attribute here and the Meathman knows how to handle the wind as it’s likely to blow hard on the North Jutland.


0.75 pts e/w Felipe Aguilar @ 55/1 Bet365

Chilean, Aguilar won on tour almost four months ago and arrives in Denmark well rested having not played since early July where he finished T24 at the Scottish Open. He hasn’t threatened to win again since his success in Singapore but his last two outings are encouraging. He ranks highly on tour for driving accuracy (8th) and GIR (4th) which compensate for his lack of length off the tee. Should he get the flatstick warmed up he can contend at a decent price.


0.75 pts e/w Moritz Lampert @ 55/1 Betpack

Up and coming German star, Lampert has been in prolific form on the Challenge Tour winning for the third time in Azerbaijan coming from behind in the final round to secure his promotion to the European Tour. The 22 year old will now buddy up on tour with his mate, Max Kieffer and he could be worth siding with this week while the form is hot. He is definitely a player to watch out for and and at decent odds in his first outing since automatic promotion he's worth a punt . He is slightly preferred over Johnston. The price at 55s is just about fair.


0.5 pts e/w Daan Huizing @ 125/1 Boylesports

 Dutchman ,Huizing was briefly mentioned in my Monday preview in the free weekly edition of Golfing Weekly, where I mentioned that he could be included on the final staking plan pending price. My tissue had Huizing chalked up @ somewhere between 80/1 - 90/1 and following the withdrawals of Bello and Fisher, I think the 125/1 on offer is real value and cannot go un-backed. It hasn't been the best of seasons for him but he was 12th last time out in Russia, was 12th at the Open de Espana in May and since that result Spain, he has made 5/7 cuts earning just over €80K. That form has seen him get to 133rd on the Race to Dubai and more importantly get closer to securing his card for next season. It's in these events of this quality of field, where a good performance is required to earn those all important points, and on a track like Himmerland which it  appears to be (windy, short, accuracy requirement), he's not without a decent chance of scoring well again and move closer to safety. He won twice on the Challenge Tour last year against many in the field this week in Aalborg, including a win at the Northern Ireland Open at Galgorm Castle.

Incidentally, this years NI Open takes place again at Galgorm Castle, it's free to attend but if you fancy winning a spot in the pro-am check it out here.

 Staking Plan (4.5 pts/units)


0.5 pts e/w Damien McGrane @ 80/1 Betpack

0.75 pts e/w Felipe Aguilar @ 55/1 Bet365

0.75 pts e/w Moritz Lampert @ 55/1 Betpack

0.25 pts e/w Daan Huizing @ 125/1 Boylesports

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

PGA Championship 2014 - Valhalla GC, Kentucky

Valhalla GC will host the PGA Championship for the third time this week following Tiger Woods playoff victory over Bob May in 2000 and Mark Brooks’ playoff win in 1996 over local boy, Kenny Perry. Perry coincidently plays here this week having won the senior’s 3M Championship last Sunday. The 2008 Ryder Cup was also staged here which the Americans won with ease.

The course is a Jack Nicklaus design and following Woods' & May's 72-hole score of -18, the course has undergone some changes. It’s been lengthened for sure but contrasting reports exist as to the severity of the rough, but some players’ comments on the course layout, suggest that accuracy will be the key to success. For me, I’m keen to side with players that are in decent form recently and have the required driving distance stats that seems to be a requisite to win at Valhalla. Having said that, I am mindful that, although this major has produced so many first time major winners, significantly more than any other major, 13 of the last 15 PGA Championship winners had at least one win in their prior 20 events. 20 events can stretch back over some amount of time but I do think it’s important that a major winner these days has to be a “winner” and one that is doing well on the order of merit. Despite the three major winners in 2014 having won a major previously, 15 of the 19 major winners previously were first time winners, so I’m not afraid to look at a possible first time winner again this week. With the Bridgestone results in, it’s interesting to note that in the seven years that it has been played the week prior to the final major, the eventual winner of the Wanamaker Trophy finished no worse than 22nd in the WGC. Perhaps the sample range is too small but it lends to the notion that bringing you’re a game into this week is essential. I’ve included a couple of players who finished outside that 22, but only just!

It’ll be tough to take on Rory in the betting this week should the expected weather materialize (thunderstorms etc.) but winning three on the spin, is not an easy feat. Justin Rose can vouch for that of late, but given that length off the tee could be key here, Rory is a worthy favourite. Those recent PGA Championships also showed that Driving Distance was key, as too was GIR & obviously excellent putting stats. These all point for a Rory success. Favourite backers surely will be on, but as an Irishman, of course, I’d love to see him win it, but from a betting perspective, I think Rory has created some value for me further down the field

Patrick Reed may not be everyone’s cup of tea, and that’s good for us golf punters as his prices are often bigger than they should be.
He produced a fast finishing performance at Firestone on Sunday and that augurs well for this week, and this very confident, two-time winner on tour this season will be relishing Valhalla as he arrives on the back of his latest efforts of 4-mc-26-11.

We’ve seen unlikely victories in this particular Major with Beem, Micheel, Toms, Brooks, and Yang all prevailing in recent years, so it can be done.

Reed is not without a chance and I’m happy to invest to see how far he can go. He's available at 75/1 with Bet365 who are paying 6 places

Just outside the Top 25 last week in the WGC was Jimmy Walker. The FedEx Cup leader has won three times on tour this season and ranks high for driving distance and GIR stats.

Two TOP10s in the Masters and US Open in 2014 suggests that Jimmy’s major form can see him contend once again here on a track that will suit.
 8 TOP10s from his 22 starts shows the level of consistency throughout the season and he’s sure to be up there throughout the week.

Jimmy Walker is available @ 60/1 with Skybet also paying 6 places

A lot of comparisons have been made between Valhalla and Muirfield Village and former champion, Rich Beem has been tweeting photos of the course on twitter declaring the back 9 holes to be a replica of sorts of Muirfield Village. I hope so, as I really think Hideki Matsuyama can go well this week. The Japanese star won the Memorial Tournament earlier this season and finished T12 at Firestone. In his last seven starts he’s won, produced one TOP10 and finished no worse than 38th.  He’s value for me on this course even though he has come in from 66/1 to 50/1 in the market over the past 24 hours and he's preferred over Charl Schwartzel who I looked long and hard at before passing up @33s.

Lastly, as this major is also affectionately called "Glory's last shot" I'm taking my last shot this week on Harris English.
Harris English is one of those on tour that could become a regular winner. His recent form is mixed, although he’s won this season and delivered a further seven TOP10s. A disappointing final round last Sunday saw him slip down to T31st but at 125/1 or better, he’s worth a look. Ranked in TOP10 for GIR and averaging around 300yds off the tee, his game should suit Valhalla and he shouldn't be that price.

Staking Plan: (8 pts/units *all paying 6 places)

1 pt e/w P. Reed @ 75/1
1 pt e/w H. Matsuyama @ 50/1
1 pt e/w J. Walker @ 60/1
1 pt e/w H. English @ 125/1