Tuesday, 24 June 2014

BMW International Open 2014 - Gut Larchenhof GC

I'm back in action this week having enjoyed a well earned family holiday in Italy the past two weeks. Those that have subscribed to the mailing list will be happy to see that my last post on the US Open tipped the runaway winner, Martin Kaymer as well as Dustin Johnson for some small place money. That's back to back US Open winners for the blog following Justin Rose's victory at Merion 12 months ago. I saw not a single shot of it, nor did I see anything from Fota, but having spoken to a few of my golfing buddies who attended the Irish Open in Cork, it was a very successful  event with massive crowds showing up all 4 days. Congrats to Mikko Ilonen for prevailing in a wire to wire win.

So, onto this week then, as the pace gathers momentum into the summer months as we head to Cologne for the BMW International making its return to the Gut Larchenhof GC. The course is some 40km away from Mettmann GC where the aforementioned double Major Champion, Martin Kaymer played his golf growing up (also a course I was lucky enough to play quite regularly whilst working in Dusseldorf back in 2000 may I add). Last time Kaymer played here though he missed the cut, but he truly is back in form and he'll be keen to keep it up with The Open looming in 3 weeks time. There will be quite a bit of hype around his appearance this week and despite sleeping in his own bed for it, the pressure to win might be just too big. Its a fantastic field this week and he's joined by Henrik Stenson at the head of the market who appears to be about to hit a winning week anytime soon. They're both too short in the betting for me given the quality in the field and same can be said for Sergio Garcia who was unlucky not to win the Travelers Championship on the PGA Tour last Sunday.

I'm liking the chances of Paul Casey this week @ 35/1. The Englishman has been in the mix quite a bit on the PGA Tour lately and having played in Ireland last week as defending champion, he'll be happy to return to Germany on a course that will reward accurate play from the fairways. Given his length off the tee,Casey could put his recent form to good avail here, as he arrives with 5 TOP20s in his last 12 starts. He's a former BMW winner at Wentworth and he has shown in the past that he tends to go well in events sponsored by the same companies (Volvo being another). I thought he'd be much shorter this week so very happy to take this price and the fact that he tees off early Thursday alongside Paul Lawrie & Robert Karlsson, old mates from the tour, augurs well for a nice relaxed threeball the first two days.

Regular fancy, Thomas Aiken, is well worth backing at 110/1 here where GIR is a must if results from the course two years ago are anything to go by as winner, Danny Willet was 5th for GIR (8th in DD). Indeed Aiken was 11th in DD that year but was down in 40th for GIR. He ranks in the TOP10 though this season for GIR and as mentioned many times in the past, he's one of those players that can show up any week. He plays alongside Shane Lowry & Francesco Molinari, again with an early start and if the threeball get off to making birdies early he can certainly feed off his partners and go low. He's simply too big @ 110/1!

Recent winner, Tongchai Jaidee is regularly overpriced and he is (for me) again this week @ 66/1. The Thai won well in Sweden despite Stenson looking like the winner for most part of the weekend and he produced that result following a couple of TOP10s in his 5 recent starts. He's playing well and should be much shorter in the betting especially as he produced a TOP10 last time here in Cologne.

Two more make my staking plan this week. Pablo Larrazbal should have gone better in Ireland last week and despite losing his golf clubs on transit to Germany, he'll be a good bet again @ 66/1 ! One of those players that can shrug off one weeks results with a challenging performance the week after, the Spaniard can get amongst the leaders here and contend.(He won't be distracted by the World Cup now anyway either) His TOP30 finish in Fota comes a week after the US Open and he'll be the better for it here. TOP30 finish last time in Cologne, Pablo is real value at 66s. Finally, Kristoffer Broberg put up a great effort last week finishing 3rd. That's his 2nd TOP10 in his last 8 starts which also includes a further T20. At 175/1 this week there's no need to get too greedy and he represents some value for small stakes given his obvious formline of recent weeks.Alex Noren is tempting @200/1 but I'm not convinced that wrist is 100% so I'll be just observing this time but he wont be that price for much longer!

Staking Plan (5.5 pts) (see also my 10towinsoon page where all 10 tee it up here this week)

1 pt e/w P.Casey @ 35/1
0.5 pts e/w T.Jaidee @ 66/1
0.5 pts e/w T.Aiken @ 110/1
0.25 pts e/w K.Broberg @ 175/1
0.5 pts e/w P.Larrzabal @ 66/1

Monday, 9 June 2014

US Open - Pinehurst No2

The US Open moves back to Pinehurst No2 for the first time since 2005, when New Zealander, Michael Campbell shocked the golfing world to see off Tiger Woods and Retief Goosen. His level par score was good enough to capture his first and only Major, but as it may have shocked the American golfing fraternity it came as no real shock to European public as Cambo had won many tournaments in his career including the Irish Open at Portmarnock and The European Open at the K Club. Sadly, due to personal reasons, Cambo will not be at Pinehurst this year. His compatriot, Danny Lee then won the US Amateur at Pinehurst in 2008 beating a Patrick Reed in the semi-finals. Pinehurst though, as undergone some changes since, most notably the rough has been changed to a more natural wasteland hazard, with the greens becoming the defense to this brute of a golf course. Accuracy is the key to success. And you need to have some length ! The US Open could be the hardest to win of the 4 Majors and looking back at results over the years, the roll of honour backs this up as the elite of the golfing world have prevailed.

The One to Beat

It’s no surprise then, to note that the US Open Champion needs to have certain trends or criteria coming into the week.  Experience is key. It’s an absolute must and whilst a lot of talk will be about Jordan Spieth, he’s suspect when coming down the stretch and may need more Majors under his belt before he gets one. Indeed, the 1999 US Open winner at Pinehurst, the late Payne Stewart, is the last player over the age of 40 to win the US Open. Good tee to green players with an impeccable short game and scrambling prowess will battle this one out.  With no Tiger Woods, all eyes will be on Rory McIlroy. He has the power off the tee and on his first visit to the course last week, he expressed his likeness for the course. If he gets the now customary fast start he could be the one they have to beat, but for me, Ben Crenshaw’s work on the greens  may prove to be too quick for the Ulsterman and I’m happy to take him on.

From the Pack

Matt Kuchar ticks all the boxes to win at Pinehurst. Easily the best player in form this season on the US PGA Tour and has the all round game required to succeed in North Carolina. Tied 6th in 2010 he followed that up with results of 14-27-28.  His form this season is phenonemal, winning already and recording ten TOP10s and was 5th at Augusta. He’s suspect coming down the stretch for sure, but he’s had the experience of it now and can go close. Given the length of Pinehurst, Masters’ champ, Bubba Watson will be on many shortlists. Playing very solid of late, despite losing out at Doral when he should have won and again at Jack’s Place when he looked like the one to win until he went out of bounds at the end. He’ll be short in the betting but not without a chance. Like Spieth, he’s suspect in closing out the deal.

My Selections

Having reviewed Pinehurst flyovers on the various websites, I’m drawn towards players that can position themselves off the tee and find greens...consistently. Miss the greens at Pinehurst and the scoring chances evaporate. Upside down saucer shaped greens that are fast with mutiple run offs will be the main defense of the course so a player that can get the flatstick to hot up as well as bring a superb chipping and scrambling game will relish the challenge.  That should eliminate Lee Westwood then ? Well, perhaps not, as his stats for his short game have improved immensely of late. Whether he can keep it up over 72 holes remains to be seen and having gone close at Torrey Pines in 2008, he can contend again here. 33/1 is minimum price though for me. His tee to green game is excellent, will be very patient and can finally break through for a very deserved Major.

Martin Kaymer though looks ideal for Pinehurst. His natural fade off the tee will be well suited, and his short game is impeccable. One of the few players that I feel most confident over any putt, Kaymer will build on confidence and recent performances indicate that he’s coming into this in the right frame of mind. Winner at Sawgrass last month came on the back of a 31st finish at Augusta (a course that doesn’t suit), and 2 TOP25s at Hilton Head and Quail Hollow. Already a Major winner on US soil, Kaymer can show his cool in the heat of battle and is preferred over Ireland’s Graeme McDowell who simply loves the US Open.

My third selection is Dustin Johnson. The 29 year old should have a couple of Majors in his locker already having lead going into the final round at Pebble Beach before GMac prevailed. He went so close too at Whistling Straits before being penalized for grounding his club in the “hazard” so he’ll be prepared for any eventualities with the natural waste areas here. Johnson has the length to get close on the holes that present opportunities and his short game aint too shoddy either. He’s in decent form having posted six Top10s this season alone and is currently in the TOP5 in the FedEx Cup rankings. He missed the cut at Augusta but I’m more encouraged by his results at Pebble Beach, Riviera and the TPC Four Seasons and his all round stats on tour this season. He’s ranked 6th for par 3 birdies or better, and its the par-3s that could prove decisive throughout the week. If he can get a good start and improve on his 3rd round scoring, he’ll be in the mix.

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Lyoness Open 2014

One week before the US Open at Pinehurst means a wekened field in Europe will assemble at the Diamond Golf Club outside Vienna in Austria where Miguel Angel Jiminez surprisingly tees it up. "The Mechanic" though surely has to be faitgued at this point following his win at The Spanish Open, recent marriage to an Austrian lady and exploits on his Seniors debut and Masters efforts. He is afterall 50 years of age! But he'll tempt alot of punters this week @ 11/1 for sure but the sheer factor of the fatigue has indeed put me off here. He is not the favourite to succeed either, as defending champion Joost Luiten & local hope, Bernd Wiesberger head the market here. I won't be backing either !

Following two very poor weeks on the blog recently, I am a bit more cautious this week as this really is an opportunity for most to capitalize, especially those with a solid accurate game playing well of late. Anders Hansen had been before a missed cut last week in Sweden but that weekend off may be a blessing in disguise. At 20/1 I'm very tempted for sure but I'm keen to see how my "10towinsoon" approach will fare out following a decent first showing last week in Malmo where Eddie Pepperell went very close (T6th). Indeed 2 others, (Kieffer & Pieters) finished in TOP20. This week, just 4 of the "stable" are playing but only 2 meet the "threshold price minimum" and they are Kevin Phelan & Adrian Otaegui. So, they automatically are included into this week's staking plan with Pieters (40/1 far too short here) and Hatton missing out.

I'm completing my staking plan with just 1 other player this week.  South African, Keith Horne has been having some considerable success on the Sunshine Tour this season with 5 TOP10s in his 8 starts including 2 co-sanctioned events with the European Tour. It's not often Horne ventures onto the European Tour but if bringing his game this week he can contend. Excellent for GIR stats, the 42 year old Durbanite should be well able to compete with this field. Available @ 100/1

Staking Plan

1 pt WIN K.Horne @ 100/1

4 pts K.Horne @ 8/1


1 pt A.Otaegui @ 110.00
1 pt K.Phelan   @ 150.00