Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Joburg Open 2015

We're off to South Africa again this week for the Joburg Open to be held over the two courses at the Royal Johannesburg & Kensington GC. It's a 200+ field yet again for the co-sanctioned event where defending champion, George Coetzee heads the betting alongside in-form Alex Noren. In the past I've been keen on local boy Thomas Aiken here as this is the one tournament he craves to win and whilst he does produce his better performances on African soil, I'm not convinced he's worth a bet at the same price as twice winner here, Richard Sterne. The Stellenbosch man returned from long injury last year and claimed a PGA Tour card for 2015 having come through the web.com tour playoffs. It hasn't gone well Stateside of late having missed the cut in his last 3 starts but this is a different league this week. Having finished TOP 40 in Abu Dhabi after results of 20-11 at the South African Open & Alfred Dunhill, Sterne for me is the quality player in the field alongside Noren. Sterne is motivated for this and the Africa Open next month and its the latter tournament that he has his target set as a win would see him win the fourth of the six South African co-sanctioned events, with the Tshwane Open & Nedbank Challenge the other two events to conquer. So, this week is definitely on the radar and I am a little surprised he's not shorter than 25/1 here. He was an incredible -27 when winning here two years ago and he if gets a good start here he could go away from the field. I'm on !

Frenchman, Gregory Bourdy is slightly lower in the betting than Sterne, but I couldn't ignore his chances either. Despite the field numbering in excess of 200, the players towards the head of the market normally prevail at RJ&K CC and the Frenchman arrives on the back of a 16th placing twelve months ago. His last three outings are more encouraging finishing 5-13-5 in Malaysia,Dubai and Qatar. Bourdy has had no more than three TOP10s the past three seasons yet he's 2/4 already in 2015. The 4 time European Tour winner will quietly fancy his chances on the back of recent form and on a track where distance off the tee could be vital I expect the form man to go close this week. I'll back Bourdy @ 22/1 this week.

Mentioning distance off the tee on a course at altitude should play into the hands of Thomas Pieters who is available @ 33/1. I also liked the chances of Seve Benson this week who was a TOP10 twelve months ago and perhaps the reason best price of only 50/1 available. I don't like either price now but I will chance two more from the shortlist at triple figures in Adrian Otaegui & Lee Slattery @ 100/1 and 110/1 respectively. The Spaniard is one I've been keeping an eye on of late and he performed well in India last week on a course that was suited to his game; he finished T22nd. The Englishman has decent form in South African so perhaps he's motivated or feels comfortable in this part of the world as he did start his pro career by playing the Sunshine Tour back in 2000 for a couple of seasons, and although he missed the cut last year he did produce three straight TOP20s the three years previously.His last visit to SA was for the national Open played in January where he finished 3rd. His only win on Tour was back in 2011 and the Southport man has really struggled to improve since but a trip back to this part of the world just might be a catalyst to kick start his career and is a good TOP20 bet this week @5.50

Staking Plan (15 pts)

1.5 pts WIN R.Sterne @ 25/1
1.5 pts WIN G.Bourdy @ 22/1
0.25 pts WIN A.Otaegui @ 100/1
0.25 pts WIN L.Slattery @ 110/1

3 pts TOP10 R.Sterne @ 3/1
3 pts TOP10 G.Bourdy @ 9/4

3 pts TOP20 A.Otaegui @ 7/2
2.5 pts TOP20 L.Slattery @ 9/2

Monday, 16 February 2015

Hero Indian Open 2015

This weeks fare on the European Tour brings us to Delhi for the co-sanctioned Hero India Open to be played at Delhi GC. Its a course used many times on the Asian Tour and indeed last year saw the India open celebrate its 50th anniversary. This will be the first time the European Tour is co-sanctioning. The locals (i.e. the Asian Tour based players, especially the Indian players) will have plenty of course form as the course is often used more than once in a year. The betting reflects some of that where Malaysian Open winner, Anirban Lahiri goes off the 10/1 favourite here; he's a three time course winner ! He's a class player and will no doubt be in contention this week but he does face some decent competition despite the field being relatively weak. Miguel Angel Jiminez also participates this week, somewhat surprising if he was affected by 'flu last week in Thailand and he'll be smarting a bit after a disappointing final round at Black Mountain last Sunday.

I am approaching this week with some apprehension following a poor run of late. The TOP10 picks are finishing TOP20 (Wang last week!) and some are coming up just one or two shots short. I'm trying to stay positive as the 10 man shortlists seem to be there or thereabouts, so hopefully I can get some collects soon. Its a fairly open event this week so I'm happy to chance a couple of players well capable of going in here.

The course apparently requires accuracy off the tee and those with good GIR stats should do well if finding the fairways. That leads me to a player I marked out last year to win soon on tour, lost his card then regained it at Q school and its in events like this that he should make hay. Spaniard, Adrian Otaegui is a very accurate player, and will tee it up this week on the back of a TOP 25 last week. At 90/1 with Bet365  he can't be ignored for this. He hasn't played the course before but I'm keen on the price on a course that should indeed suit.

Australian, Peter Thompson, winner of 5 Opens, was instrumental in getting this tournament up & running and won it 3 times in his career. With Aussie players feeding off each other the past few years, I wouldn't be surprised to see another win very soon, and another returning to the winners enclosure after a spell away from in much the same manner as Andrew Dodt did last week. Twice winner on the European Tour, his last back in 2010 in Korea, he can gather motivation from Dodt's win last week and continue his recent good form following injury last year. Playing on a medical exemption this season, Fraser could be well suited to Delhi where he played back in 2008 (T38th). His compatriot, Terry Pilkardaris is another to keep an eye on here. He is in form , has played here 4 times in the past with returns of 23-15-5-33 and the pair of them may also encourage Jason Scrivener who arrives on the back of three TOP20s in his last 3 starts.

Staking Plan

1 pt WIN A.Otaegui @ 90/1
3 pts WIN M.Fraser @ 25/1

2 pts TOP10 A.Otaegui @ 6/1

remaining TOP10/TOP20 selections to appear on my twitter timeline when more prices become available

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

True Thailand Classic

The second leg of the South Asian swing continues in Thailand this week for the European Tour, a co-sanctioned event with the Asian Tour. The inaugural True Thailand Classic will be played at Black Mountain GC in Hua Hin. Whilst it is a new event, the course, although young, has hosted some events in the past with a number of players having played here previously, including a number of Swedish players who base themselves here during the winter. Johan Edfors & Rikard Karlberg have very strong ties and considering their compatriot, Alex Noren skipped Malaysia last week to play here instead, suggests that this is a course and location that he wants to be partaking at. The bookies have reacted though by installing him favourite at 10/1! In the past, these co-sanctioned events normally went the way of the European Tour based players but the last two such events have gone the way of Anirban Lahiri in Malaysia and David Lipsky in Switzerland and its last week's victory by the former that could motivate his fellow Asian Tour players to perform again this week and again next week at another inaugural event in the Hero India Open.

From my shortlist this week I had to stick with Marc Warren. Even @ 14/1 I think he has a great shout here and if the wind gets up he'll thrive. He arrives in great form with recent results of 2nd (Qatar), 13th (Dubai) and 9th (Malaysia). Hopefully theres a bit left in the tank but he did succeed in Denmark last season on the back of a solid run in much the same fashion as this spell so I'm happy to keep the faith with here.

Local hope, Marksaeng Prayad is my second selection for this. He may be one of the eldest in the field but he's in cracking form of late although he missed the cut in Malaysia last week. He did win the previous week in his native country and now that hes home (a resident of Hua Hin) he can motivate himself to win for a second time on the course having won the Kings Cup here last year. He is overpriced @ 75/1 for me this week.

Rashid Khan could be motivated to do well this and next week following Lahiri's win and @ 6.50 for a TOP 20 I'm tempted.He was TOP 40 in Malaysia and is definitely an up and coming player. I must admit to not knowing much about 19 year old Korean, Wang Jeunghun but he also appears to be a player to watch over the next couple of years and where better to make his mark but on a co-sanctioned event such as this. In 2014 on the Asian Tour, he played in 16 events, making the cut in all 16! He opened with a 77 last week in Kuala Lumpur before climbing the leaderboard to finish T14th. He's comfortable on this tour and he will be brimming with confidence after that result last week.

Staking Plan (12 pts)

3 pts WIN M.Warren @ 14/1
.50 pts Win M.Prayad @ 75/1
.50 pts WIN Wang Jeunghun @ 80/1


2 pts M.Prayad @ 9/1
3 pts Wang Jeunhun @ 8/1


3 pts R.Khan @ 6.50

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Malaysia Open 2015

From the desert heat to the humidity of Kuala Lumpar in Malaysia, the European Tour moves into its first Asian swing of the season this week, where Lee Westwood will defend his title won in emphatic fashion last year. Whilst we have a new date for the event we may be susceptible to the varying rain showers although forecasts suggest we should be ok this time round but one trend based on weather factors that has emerged over the years is that having an early start in round one seems to work out. We'll see if that rings true this week and I certainly hope so for my main pick in the shape of old favourite, Thomas Aiken @ 60.00 for the win.

The Joburger finished nicely the weekend in Dubai and should be confident of a good effort here where he has had decent form in the past. The course will suit those with strong tee to green games as proven by the list of winners on this course - Westwood, Mannesero and Ryan Moore (twice) to name just a few. Aiken ranks high for accuracy on tour and his putting seems to be a bit better these days. If he gets hot and gets a great start on Thursday he should be in contention and he is simply better than a 50/1 shot for this! He recently took out the Sunshine Tour Order of Merit, played mediocre stuff in Abu Dhabi before finding his rhythm in Dubai so he must be confident in his own game.  He's certainly a TOP 10 bet for me @ 6.00

Andy Sullivan gets the nod also this week on the back of some solid returns the past couple of months. Not only a recent winner in South Africa but solid returns in the desert where he produced results of 4-19-57 augurs well for the Englishman here. This course will reward good ball strikers and Sullivan is certainly in the groove of late. He was T21 in the season finale in Dubai and was 4th in Turkey the week previously so that form is holding and given he was T13th here in 2014 he should be confident of a bold showing. At 26.00 he's a fair price and I'm happy to have an interest. He's 2.25 for TOP20 as opposed to 3.25 for TOP10 so he's backed in the former market with confidence. 

My final selection is Eddie Pepperell @ 75.00/7.00/4.00 . Eddie like his compatriot, Sullivan, is enjoying a solid spell on tour and he's been threatening to win very soon. Eddie missed the cut last week which may have helped our price this week but he was 4th in Qatar and T26 in Abu Dhabi. Very similar to Sullivan end of 2014, he produced results of 26-10-26 in the three events from the BMW Masters through to DP World Tour Championships! Eddie is ready!! 

Staking Plan

0.75 pts WIN T. Aiken @ 60.00
1.5 pts WIN A. Sullivan @ 26.00
0.75 pts WIN E. Pepperell @ 75.00

3 pts T. Aiken @ 6.00

5 pts A. Sullivan @ 2.25
4 pts E.Pepperell @ 4.00