Monday, 28 November 2016

Alfred Dunhill Championship 2016 - Leopard Creek

Charl Schwartzel goes gunning for his fourth title in five years at Leopard Creek for the Alfred Dunhill Championship this week and given his form of late it's no surprise to see him installed as the favourite ahead of compatriot and the 2014 winner, Branden Grace.(He also won this back in 2005)The home players tend to dominate on home soil in these co-sanctioned events but it could be an opportune week for the European Tour's younger members to gain some much needed points for confidence in going forward in the 2017 Race to Dubai.It'll be tough to get the two market leaders beat here and with weather forecast to indicate a nice settled week, scoring will be low as ever.

The Course

Leopard Creek is a Gary Player designed, par-72 parkland course where its signature or signatures is probably the animals that will be seen in proximity; hence SKY TV getting all carried away in between shots and annoying me even further. With the former Masters Champion and Grace in the field, I expect we'll see very little action form the other contenders unless playing alongside the two or challenging on Sunday so its an event I won't mind not viewing this time round. That all said, this a beautiful golf course with plenty of water throughout so to go low, the players will need to bring some accuracy to their game and a hot putter.

Selections to take on the TOP TWO

If home players are to prevail again this week then I'm happy to take a punt on Challenge Tour graduate, Dylan Frittelli, who lost a playoff at the Australian PGA Championship twelve months ago and which is being held at Pines Resort in Queensland this week He's opted to stay at home this time round now that he has his European Tour Card and he can continue his form by starting his new venture with a solid showing here having finished TOP10 at Cape Town last week. He finished 11th here in 2015 and is well worth chancing here @ 50/1 for the outright but is a strong play for TOP20 @ 2.50

Benjamin Hebert is a player I will follow closely next season as I believe he can win soon. He was 3rd here last year following a TOP30 in 2014 so he has shown a liking for Leopard Creek. He posted 8/29 TOP20s last season (28%) but 8/22 when making the cut(36%) but it was a progressive year for the Frenchman and in this quality of field he can deliver another T20 easily. He was T-34th at Sun City a couple of weeks ago, was TOP10 in Portugal in October and TOP20 in Italy in September. He as a TOP20 in him for December !

.20 pts WIN D. Fritelli @ 50.00
.20 pts WIN B. Hebert @ 60.00

2.80 pts TOP20 D. Fritelli @ 2.50
2.80 pts TOP20 B. Hebert @ 2.50

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

DP World Tour Championship 2016 - Earth Course, Dubai

The curtain comes down on the European Tour season in Dubai this week, where the TOP60 players will contest for the DP World Tour Championship at the Greg Norman designed, Earth Course. Its a tournament where Rory McIlroy and Henrik Stenson have each won twice in the past four years and they both understandably head the betting again this week. Rory arrives here with only a small chance of winning the Race to Dubai having given up his chance by withdrawing from the Turkish Airlines Open two weeks ago. His focus is primarily on winning this tournament this week, and then negotiating best price for equipment endorsements going forward next month before tying the knot at Ashford Castle on New Year's Eve. His main rivals however, Stenson & Willett will be planning on capturing the R2D title here. Should Alex Noren win yet again this week then Stenson needs to finish second so there is plenty of incentive for the market leaders to finish the season strongly.

The Course

The Earth Course was designed by Greg Norman and has hosted this event since 2009. Lee Westwood prevailed then and apart from Alavro Quiros winning in 2011, the winners were all well established in the Order of Merit/Race to Dubai for that season. A long course where accuracy and driving distance don't seem to be the key attributes for a great week, should see the scoring go low. Course form though is probably a requirement, Rory seems to love it here ; 2 wins in 2015 & 2012 with a 2nd & 5th in between were proceeded by figures of 11-5-3 from 2011 - 2009. He'll be up there again this week! Stenson has the two wins but other results are less encouraging and Alex Noren has shown no form here whatsoever although arrives this year in much better shape than he has in recent years.

Shortlist & Selections

I dropped Louis Oosthuizen from my final shortlist despite solid previous form here - his putting was awful last week on home soil and I'm banking on that not improving in time for this. His compatriot though, Branden Grace didn't play that well last week but still climbed the leaderboard to finish 3rd. He'll take great confidence from that and can improve on his Earth Course results of 3-9-52-6 the past four years. If he gets the flatstick hot this week he could prevail come Sunday. I had priced Grace @ 18/1 for this as a conservative quote so the 22/1 - 24/1 available has to be taken.

Jeunghun Wang almost ended the blog's draught in the winner's department last week, but despite holding a 5 shot lead during the final round he was overtaken in scintillating fashion by Noren's 63 to finish a distant second. He was 13th in Turkey the week before and although he's been on the move for a number of weeks now, he can continue good form by putting in one final effort here and make hay with a red hot putter he has of late. 7.50 for TOP10 is the bet for me with small stakes on the exchange for outright. He makes his debut though on the course this year but his compatriot An did likewise last year and finished 4th! Tyrell Hatton finished 6th on debut 2 years ago and backed that up with a T15 last year. Wang is two time winner on tour and has the credentials to kick on from last week's disappointment.

Finally, I have to stick with Tommy Fleetwood for the last event of the year. He's been knocking on the door of late and despite mediocre form here it should be a course to his liking. Six TOP15 finishes in his last eight tournaments shows the form he is in and he will tee it up with Nacho Elvira on Thursday. He had a poor start last year with a 77, and actually started poorly last week too with a 75, so he may be conscious of getting off to a better start this week.Tommy can capitalize on the Par-5s here and make a run for the title, and make the 7.50 for TOP10 also seem generous.

For those interested in participating in a monthly golf tipping competition, remember registration is open using the unique link below - this is not an affiliate link but gives you access to the Birdieclubtipster Tipping Competition where it's free to play but offers cash prizes. Uptake to date though has been slow despite a lot of interest shown for it, so if this is to continue going forward maybe now is the time to get involved. With numbers low at present, it's a good time to play to try grab some of the prizes!!

2.0 pts B. Grace @ 24.00
0.25 pts J. Wang @ 110.00
0.50 pts T. Fleetwood @ 140.00

2.50 pts TOP10 J.Wang @ 7.50
2.75 pts TOP10 T. Fleetwood @ 7.50

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

NBO Golf Classic Grand Final - Challenge Tour

The Challenge Tour concludes the 2016 season in Muscat, Oman this week for the NBO Golf Classic. Jordan Smith enters the week as the leader of the OOM. Smith won't need to win here so shouldn't be under too much pressure as he will tee it up on the European Tour next season but with so many points on offer here he will need a good showing to take the title. Ryan Fox could be the man to catch him although Germany's Alexander Knappe could do the same. The kiwi though has been in fine form of late and could stump them all here but I'll have a punt on Dylan Fritelli instead @ 20/1.

The South African started the year in fantastic form finishing 2nd at the Australian PGA on the back of a TOP15 at the Dunhill Championship. He then produced TOP20s at the South African & Tshwane Opens on the European Tour before he embarked on the Challenge Tour in Kenya. Form took a dip in May & June but he finished the summer well by winning The Rolex Trophy. He had also produced four TOP10s in five events leading up to that win. Form dipped in the two events after but he's rebounded with four TOP12s in the next four starts before a low finish last week in the UAE. He will tee it up this week having seen his former team mate at the University of Texas, Cody Gribble prevail at the Sandersons Farm Championship last week, and will want to end the season with a bang in just about the same way he started it and is my pick of the market leaders @ 20/1 here

1.0 pts e/w D. Fritelli @ 21.00

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Turkish Airlines Open - Europeantour Final Series

The European Tour winds down for the season this month but not before the Final Series is played out where Henrik Stenson,Danny Willett & Rory McIlroy will slug it out to capture the Race to Dubai Champion crown. You could argue that Alex Noren is still in contention also but by not playing this week, I can't see how he can take the title in Dubai in two weeks time. The three tournaments that make up the Final Series are this one, the Nedbank Challenge in Sun City next week and the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai the week after. We've had a few withdrawals this week, most notably, Rory McIlroy and so we're left with Bernd Weisberger & Andy Sullivan to head the market.Needless to say for a Final Series event, the field can be considered as "disappointing". This week also sees the start of the monthly tipping competition exclusive to the Birdie Club Blog readers and followers. So if registered, make sure you sign in and make your tips as these will count towards the November competition. If not registered yet, make sure you do by using this unique link to do so REGISTER HERE

The Course

We have a new course to consider in the shape of Regnum Carya Golf Resort in Antalya, Turkey. Measuring 7,100 the course is located close to the sea set amongst a pine forest, where accuracy from tee to green seems to be highest priority here this week. Fast sloping greens suggest GIR and putting will be vital as well; it may not be for the bombers in other words.


Its a strange betting market but if taking on those at the head of the betting it may be wise to consider those in decent form of late that are renowned for their ball striking. Bjeung Hun An is one for sure and @ 28/1 makes most appeal at the top of this market.Richard Bland may not be one to side with in the outright market but he surely contens here this week as too should Harrington, fresh from a win last time out. Pádraig was on Irish TV chat show last Saturday night and it was clear from his attitude that a permanent switch to European Tour life is very likely. His short game is ideal for this week and yet he's still available @ 50/1. Marc Warren has shown a welcome return to form of late and he may just push on here with another good week. I backed Asun Wu last week in China for a TOP20 and he just missed out. He should take confidence from a decent effort in such a field and he can carry on here this week and add a second title of the season having won in Austria back in June. He swell worth backing @ 6.5 for a TOP20 here.

I'll conclude my selections with a stab at Frenchman Romain Wattel. Hes not really had the season he may have been looking for but sits comfortably inside the TOP50 in the R2D.  Six TOP20s from his 27 starts he can add to that here @ 4.33

0.5 pts e/w P.Harrington @ 51.00
0.5 pts e/w M.Warren @ 51.00
3.0 pts TOP20 A.Wu @ 6.50
3.0 pts TOP20 R.Wattel @ 4.33