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