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