Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Tshwane Open 2018 - Pretoria CC, South Africa

We head back to South Africa this week for the third time this season for the Tshwane Open which is to be played for the fourth successive year at Pretoria CC. The initial two hostings of the event were held at Copperleaf CC in Gauteng. As with most co-sanctioned events in South Africa, the home players tend to rise and fill the leaderboards, and this has been very much the case here at The Tshwane Open where only Ross Fisher (2014) has broken the home sequence of winners. Inaugural Pretoria winner, George Coetzee heads the market this week, he grew up playing on this old course which was opened way back in 1910 and redesigned by Gary Player in 2004. The home favourite however, missed the cut twelve months ago and was 14th when defending. He arrives this week in decent form and rightly tees off as the jolly. Whilst South Africans have tended to outperform their European peers in these co-sanctioned events, I'm not so sure that the trend will continue in future years as the quality of the young players coming through should negate against the home advantage at some point. I say this as there are more and more top quality players coming here now trying to get some Race to Dubai points under their belts and the competition on tour is getting better and better. Once familiar with the kikuyu grass, these events will become more competitive with less emphasis on the home players. From this weeks shortlist, I've looked at just 5 home players, and I've ignored Erik Van Rooyen, based on price, as well as Haydn Porteous, Shaun Norris and Jacques Blauuw.

Of the home players, I'm turning to old stalwart, Richard Sterne @ 32.00 Having returned from all those injuries over the years, perhaps there is some great days yet ahead for the 36 year old and  returning to play in his home town this week sees a glorious opportunity to make some ground in the R2D. He's well experienced, and is making cuts consistently(5/5 this season) and the hope here is that he is simmering nicely ahead of this week. An afternoon tee time on Thursday playing alongside Danny Willett and Scott Jamieson is ideal, and he can keep an eye on the market leaders Coetzee and Van Rooyen who will be playing in the threeball ahead of him. He's a quality player and he represents value in the outright market for me having made him 25.00 this week.

Benjamin Hebert should be suited to Pretoria CC where accuracy is key. The Frenchman was 20/25 in 2017, with 4 TOP-10s and 8 TOP-20s. He's continued that form in 2018 with 4/5 including a TOP-10 in Oman a couple of weeks ago. Notable results for the 31 yr old last year came at Portstewart (T-9th),the Alfred Dunhill at Leopard Creek (4th), Trophee Hassan (19th), Nordea Masters (8th) , Made in Denmark (6th) as well as the Nedbank Challenge (19th). He finished down the field last week but his 9-17 finishes in Oman & Malaysia suggests his game is in decent nick and he can't be left out @ 60.00 and 6.50 for a TOP-10.

Darren Fichardt is another local who is quite capable of making a run here this week @ 70.00 and 9.50 for a TOP-10. He does however arrive here on the back of three successive missed cuts but a return to the homeland could put an end to that run, especially as it's here where he too played a lot of a golf as a junior. Having won the Joburg the week prior to this event in 2017, Fichardt was perhaps over confident of a bold showing twelve months ago,but its clear from his interview at the time that he likes Pretoria CC when saying "You know, once you get to a tee and you pull out a club, you are not standing looking at the yardage,” he added. “It’s something you have played so many times. You stop standing thinking and you get to the 11th tee box and you know ‘three-wood, right edge bunker’, then you get there and you know exactly what you are going to do for the next shot. It’s just like a formality, whereas if you have not played here much, then you need to really think a lot around course and what you want to do. But I have got a pretty good game plan. I have been playing here for the last 15 years. I will just stick to that game plan and see what happens.” Let's hope the game plan materializes this week !

For regular readers, I won't bang on about Gavin  Moynihan's chances having missed the cut in Qatar(perhaps flying out from Dublin just hours before tee time took its toll) but he is here and prepared better as he goes in search of making his first cut this season. His game will suit Pretoria, and hopefully he has taken plenty of notes of how to plot his way round(based on the observation of Darren Fichardt above) so the 12.00 on offer is taken as its just a matter of time before Gavin starts finding his way on this tour and making not only regular cheques but T-10s! He's not unfamiliar with South African courses having played a few last year on the Sunshine Tour. I'm backing him to grab a T-20 here, I like the afternoon tee time alongside Bernd Ritthammer and Keenan Davidse.

Staking Plan 

1.50 pts R.Sterne @ 32.00
0.75 pts B.Hebert @ 60.00
0.75 pts D.Fichardt @ 70.00
2.00 pts TOP10 B. Hebert @ 6.60
3.00 pts TOP10 D. Fichardt @ 9.50
2.00 pts TOP20 G. Moynihan @ 12.00

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Qatar Masters 2018 - Doha GC

Last week was extremely disappointing ! It was an event I was eagerly anticipating yet my final shortlist was not even remotely near. From my preview I, nonchalantly perhaps, mentioned the chances of Luiten & Wood! On reflection, price should have seen me get involved with the latter.

Whilst Richie Ramsay withdrew before teeing it up, not only did Luiten go on to edge out Wood for the title but Rock & Gallacher also performed well in finishing 4th & 9th respectively. A huge opportunity was missed but hopefully some lessons are learned. I did say whatever unfolded in Oman would most likely carryover to Qatar so let's see.

"If I'm looking at the course type credentials of Gavin Moynihan, I should be weighing up the chances of Soren Kjeldsen, Richie Ramsay, Eddie Pepperell, Richard Sterne, Jamie Donaldson and Chris Wood. I could throw in the likes of Robert Rock and Stephen Gallacher not to mention Joost Luiten as well. Chris Wood is an interesting runner this week, his price is big but perhaps reflects recent injury concerns and slow return to form.A former winner in Qatar, Wood will be looking to ignite his season the next fortnight"

I was hoping Gavin Moynihan would make the cut last week and he looked to be on course after an opening 71, but whether it was the pressure to get the required score or not, remains to be seen, but missing out on the number was disappointing.

Having checked the entry list for Qatar, I have noted he is first reserve and should he make the field, I'll be going in again, hopefully at a better price then last week. Wind should be a factor this week and that will play into his strengths here. If Qatar over the years has constantly awarded strong links players, then he will be in his comfort zone.

(edit - Gavin Moynihan confirms he is jetting back to The Middle East to tee it up for Qatar Masters ! He may be knackered but hopefully he unleashes the adrenaline on the 10th tee and without course knowledge just play freely)

From my shortlist, I have to stick with last week's thoughts that Doha GC will favour strong links type players who can handle a bit of wind. History supports that suggestion too as we have seen many links type players prevail here. I am kicking myself still for not backing Chris Wood last week but I can't pull the trigger at nearly a quarter of the price this week either. As alluded to in last week's preview, Wood has already ignited his season in Muscat,so he has to be left out for this. Paul Lawrie excels here, can we dismiss him lightly given recent form and age? No, we can't. Both Bubba Watson and even Darren Clarke proved that last week with their respective performances and he has to be considered here in this field. A TOP-20 price of 8.00 is hard to ignore! Robert Rock is half the price and maybe due to his 7th last week but there's no denying his links form either but I'd prefer the Scotsman over him. Another Scot withdraw before the off last week but could be worth siding here in the shape of Richie Ramsay despite no real form here over the years. He's made plenty of cheques here for sure without challenging and much like his other compatriot, Stephen Gallacher, perhaps should have produced better results. I'm hoping it's not a successive week that I leave out a player who I have a gut feeling for, but Ramsay is left out on the basis that there is some unknown recent form to doubt (6th in Dubai is niggling at me though)

I backed Charlie Ford in Oman for T-20 but he finished with two shots too many in a tie for 26th. He's forgiven as form is decent and he can oblige me this week here @ 8.50 (9.00 on the exchange) in the same market again. Recent returns of 26-11-8 are encouraging so he's on the team.

For my outright selections the market leaders are all there for the taking so I'm playing a bit of value in Marcus Kinhult @85.00 and 7.00 for a TOP-10. The Swede can handle links, he proved that at the Lytham Trophy two years ago as well as in Oman both last week and at the Challenge Grand Final last November, and his form of late is positive having finished 12th in Oman and 16th at Glendower GC in his last two starts. The 21 yr old is an up and coming player and is a winner in waiting on the European Tour. 

My other selection this week may not represent "value" but I'm backing Alexander Bjork @ 42.00 in the outright and 5.00 for a TOP-10. First in scrambling in Oman last week, the Swede has been solid consistently for awhile now and although he has three missed cuts in 2018 already, he has made up for those posting figures of 12-6-2 in Oman,Dubai & Hong Kong. Like Kinhult, Bjork is a winner in waiting and he nearly did so at Fanling but for two late bogeys. His strong showing in Dubai in a much better field can only strengthen his belief he can win soon.


0.50 pts M. Kinhult @ 85.00
0.50 pts A. Bjork @ 42.00
0.20 pts G.Moynihan @ 810.00

2.30 pts M. Kinhult TOP-10 @7.00
2.00 pts A.Bjork TOP-10 @ 5.00
2.00 pts C.Ford TOP-20 @ 9.40
1.00 pts G.Moynihan @ 19.50 

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Oman Open 2018 - Al Mouj GC, Oman

Part Two of the Europeantour Desert Swing tees off in Oman on Thursday at the links-styled Al Mouj GC. A new tournament to the European Tour, but the course has been host to The Challenge Tour in the past, having hosted the NBO Golf Classic Final the past three years as well as the Oman Classic in the two years preceding them. The field this week will include the three winners here of the NBO Grand Final; Clement Sordet, Bernd Ritthammer and Ricardo Gouveia.

It's a wide open contest this week, where Alexander Levy heads the market ahead of Shubhankar Sharma who goes in search of his third win this season. Based on form, the Indian looks sure to contend here where hitting greens could be key. Big hitters should also fair well here and I expect a very low scoring affair, and with the weather forecast indicating little wind this week, it could be very low. With Qatar Masters following next week, it would be good to see the market in play for Qatar throughout this event too as I expect those playing well this week to follow up in Doha. Whilst Doha nearly always provides the wind, players with form at Doha will be chomping at the bit for the fortnight ahead. That idea, makes me look firstly at next week's defending champion, Jeunghun Wang @ 34.00.

The South Korean disappointed in KL but was in superb form in The Middle East last month finishing 6th in Dubai and 15th in Abu Dhabi. A three time winner on the tour, Wang's victories in Morocco, Mauritius and Qatar suggest he is one to perform on courses close to the sea (although Royal Golf Dar Es Salem was more parkland than these) and with strong showings in much better fields last month in the region, his game looks good to produce another solid effort this week. He defends next week so hopefully he approaches this week rekindling fond memories of his victory. His price represents value for me, I had him @ 23.00!

Marc Warren hasn't settled into consistent form yet, but has shown glimpses that he could any week now. He's been poor so far in 2018 and in complete opposite to Wang, missed both cuts in Dubai & Abu Dhabi last month. He did string 4 solid results together last Autumn when finishing 2-15-4-10 at The Portugal Masters, British Masters, Alfred Dunhill Links and The Italian Open. Al Mouj, despite the lack of wind forecasted, is a links-style course so given his prowess for this type of course, the 126.00 e/w offer is very tempting and he makes the staking plan.

I've thought long and hard over the chances of Tapio Pullkanen, Bradley Dredge, Darren Fichardt and Charlie Ford this week too. The Welshman hasn't been in great form but his results in the past 6-9 months show his only decent efforts to be had at Portstewart (Irish Open) and The Alfred Dunhill Links, both links setups. 7.00 for a TOP-20 is worth looking at, as so is the 10.00 for a T-20 from Charlie Ford. The Englishman has played here twice albeit with mixed results but he's in form of late having finished 8th & 11th in South Africa last month.

I had my eye on this event for Gavin Moynihan for awhile now, in the anticipation that he would make his mark on tour here, and having spent a couple of weeks out in Dubai practicing last month, I was hoping the wind would be up to complement his chances. He went to Perth last week but never fired, however, Al Mouj will be more the Dubliner's cup of tea than Karrinyup. Honing his game at The Island GC in Donabate, Co. Dublin, Gavin has limited starts on tour this year and will be anxious to perform well on courses that suit his game. Having played here on the Challenge Tour last year and finishing 20th, he will arrive somewhat more positive despite the efforts at Karrinyup. Since turning pro, Gavin has played 5 links or links style courses,(by my calculations) finishing 14-47-6-6-20. The 14th & 47th placings netted him in excess of €100k from The Irish Open & Alfred Dunhill Links. If driving well this week, Moynihan has all the skills to make a decent score and @15.00 for a TOP-20 available, it would be rude not to have some investment. He may also be worth chancing a back to lay on the exchange.

If I'm looking at the course type credentials of Gavin Moynihan, I should be weighing up the chances of Soren Kjeldsen, Richie Ramsay, Eddie Pepperell, Richard Sterne, Jamie Donaldson and Chris Wood. I could throw in the likes of Robert Rock and Stephen Gallacher not to mention Joost Luiten as well. Chris Wood is an interesting runner this week, his price is big but perhaps reflects recent injury concerns and slow return to form.A former winner in Qatar, Wood will be looking to ignite his season the next fortnight. However, I'll look to include some of these in my DFS teams at Playon and /or Draftkings this week.

Staking Plan

1.00 pts e/w J. Wang @34.00
1.00 pts e/w M. Warren @ 126.00
2.00 pts T-20 C. Ford @ 10.00
2.00 pts T-20 G. Moynihan @ 15.00