Guest Post – 11 Facts about the Ryder Cup

RyderCup2014Logo.svgWe’re always looking for people to write for DownThe18th, so please get in touch if you have anything golf related you want to share with us. Enjoy the post and please share your thoughts! 

The Ryder Cup is without a doubt, one of the most epic sporting events to grace this planet. The rivalry, the intensity and the talent on show just puts it on another level, it also plays an integral part in many husband and wife arguments, e.g. “give me that bloody remote you are not watching the golf all day again”.

With just over a month to go until the action starts at Gleneagles, I thought it would be a good idea to share some interesting Ryder Cup facts.

  • Amazingly, it wasn’t until 1977 that a left handed player took part in the tournament! Englishman Peter Dawson was the first leftie; does this mean that right handed people are better golfers?
  • The official Ryder Cup trophy weighs in at four pounds and is 17 inches tall and 9 inches wide. This makes it 3 inches taller than the FIFA World Cup trophy.
  • The youngest ever golfer to feature in the Ryder Cup was Sergio Garcia. He set this record in 1999 when he made an appearance at the tender age of just 19! Does this mean that he played the tournament in his nappy?
  • The oldest golfer to feature in the Ryder Cup was Raymond Floyd who made his debut in 1993 at the age of 51.

    The battlefield - Courtesy of rydercup.com

    The battlefield, Gleneagles – Courtesy of rydercup.com

  • The Ryder Cup was named after Samuel Ryder, an absolute legend who founded the tournament in 1927. He also commissioned the trophy and insisted that the figure on top of the trophy would resemble golfing great Abe Mitchell.
  • Prior to becoming team Europe in 1979, Europe was known as Great Britain. The change allowed for a host of new talent to become available, making them a much more competitive outfit.
  • In the entire history of the Ryder Cup, there have been just six hole in ones, only one of which came from an American golfer.
  • With an excellent overall record that stands at 23 victories, Sir Nick Faldo has more Ryder Cup match winds under his belt than any other golfer. This fact is a testament to his incredible commitment and dedication.

    Ryder Cup legend - Sir Nick Courtesy of Golf.com

    Ryder Cup legend – Sir Nick Courtesy of Golf.com

  • In the unfortunate event of an injury to a player from either team (e.g. broken nail), both captains keep the name of one secret team member in a sealed envelope. The chosen player will then withdraw from the singles if either of the teams is unable to field 12 players. Both teams are then awarded half a point each.
  • Before the Ryder Cup was established, two matches were played between Great Britain and the United States, Great Britain won both matches! Boom!
  • In the entire history of the Ryder Cup, three sets of brothers have teamed up to represent Europe. Ernest, Charles and Reg Whitcombe were the first, representing Great Britain in 1935. In 1965, Geoffrey and Bernard Hunt were the second set of British brothers to team up in the Ryder Cup, falling to a comprehensive defeat.   In 2010, Eduardo and Francesco Molinario became the third set of brothers to team up in the Ryder Cup. They played an important part in Colin Montgomerie’s 2010 Ryder Cup winning team.

Thank you for taking the time to read my post, I hope you found it interesting. Roll on the 2014 Ryder Cup!

Author by-line:

This article was contributed by David at Venatour Ryder Cup Tickets

71° Open D’Italia 2014

Prize Fund – €1,500,000download

Winner’s Share – €250,000

The European Tour moves to Italy this week, where it will not just be Race To Dubai points grabbing headlines, but the imminent deadline of Ryder Cup qualification looms at the end of our trip to the mediterranean. Only one man in the field can qualify outright and that is Scot Stephen Gallacher, who arguably warrants a place after his fine and steady form over the past year or so.

He needs to finish in side the top 2 in order to overhaul Graeme McDowell and secure 9th spot and it will also prove to all of us how his temperament and big-game attitude is shaping up.  Is he worth a place?  If he can follow in the footsteps of Jamie Donaldson’s wonderful victory last week, then he will fully deserve it.

As for the course, we will be near the famous city of Turin at the Circolo Golf Torino.  The 7,208 yard par 72 hosted the event for the first time last year and as the home track to the Molinari brothers, it put on a great show with a final day scramble, which Julien Quesne finished out on top.

It is a tree-lined, parkland course with an abundance of bunkers and water hazards to overcome, therefore it will be important to keep the ball in play if you want to find any birdies.  Because as we saw last year, low scoring is key and the winner will undoubtedly show their true class around on the greens.

Putting was the most important stat last year and that looks set to continue on what are relatively quick Agrostis surfaces.  The 3 varying cuts of rough along the fairways do pose a great deal of danger, with the thickest being as long as 100mm, which is pretty much unplayable.  Those accuracy gurus will, without doubt, have a major say.

We are sure many people will be backing Gallacher this week and we have no qualms with that, we have decided against it because we feel there is more value out there, but obviously the Scot and both Molinari’s should be up there come Sunday.

TwitterDon’t forget to follow us throughout the week on Twitter @downthe18th for the latest news, betting + banter. Please get in touch and let us know what you think of our picks and who you fancy as well!
Rafa Cabrera-Bello (40/1 various)

Let's get that winning feeling back again Rafa

Let’s get that winning feeling back again Rafa

The enigmatic Spaniard has been plying his trade across the pond recently and this is his first return in 2 outings.  He hasn’t fared too well in very difficult fields (including the PGA Championship) but you have to bare in mind that he shot two rounds in the 60s on both opening days, which shows his class – he just couldn’t keep it going…

He is now coming to a place where he will be one of a few who’s played here and achieved a cracking result.  T5 back in 2008 when the course hosted a Challenge Tour event and in that 6 years since, he is a far greater player, which clearly excites us.  We know he missed the cut last year, but again his form wasn’t anything to write home about going into the event.

He is slightly hit or miss, but when you look at his game, he is perfect for this track.  A tee to green guru, who can scramble when things go array, he will be able to resurrect his challenge if he finds the rough or bunkers.

One of the top players in this average field and if his game is on, he can definitely challenge.

Alexander Levy (50/1 various)

Cracking value for a cracking prospect

Cracking value for a cracking prospect

Alexander Levy had his big breakthrough this year winning his first European Tour championship over in China and then making the field for the PGA – his first major event.  A respectable T30 finish showed that the young Frenchman has got a lot of potential and he did not seem out of place amongst the greatest in the game at the moment.

We saw a lot of him when we went to Paris and although he suffered in torrid conditions on the Sunday, his bravado and tee to green game impressed us greatly.  He didn’t seem to buckle under the enormous pressure of a home crowd, but the weather ended up getting the better of him.  His potent mix of enormous drives – 13th in driving distance and ability to find the greens – 38th GIR makes him a very interesting proposition.

He finished T42 here last year, so has experience of the course and if he gets his full game going, he could be a danger at generous odds considering how his confidence should be soaring from a trip over the pond…

James Morrison (100/1 StanJames)

Not you.

Not you.

Can the real James Morrison please stand up

Can the real James Morrison please stand up

No not the singer or West Brom footballer, but the young English golfer who seems to be finally finding some consistency.  He has struggled to find a great deal of form for a few years now and we have seen him make 4 cuts in a row, including 3 top 30s.

Throughout his 4 days in Czech Republic last week, where he finished T13, he was inside the top 20 for putting and top 30 for driving accuracy, so he has clearly found some rhythm again.  It takes time to start challenging, but when we look at this field and a run of 4 decent performances, a big week could be just round the corner for Morrison.

He has played here 3 times, more than most taking part and like Bello, finished T5 in 2008, but missing the cut last year.  His form leading in was pretty woeful, especially compared to 2014.

Find that consistency and a surprise result could be in store.

Chris Wood (50/1 Coral)

Everyone tipped Chris Wood for big things after 2 incredible top 10s at the Open in 08′ and 09′.  He undoubtedly struggled until a cracking win in Qatar last year where he hit on of the most courageous approaches to a must (at least) birdie 18th.  He infamously ended up eagling and taking the title outright and we all thought, finally here he is!  He only managed to follow that up with 3 top 10s, one bing the WGC Invitational and that simply proves how much potential he has.

He has shown glimpses this year, recording a few top 10s and before his missed cut in Denmark, he made both cuts at the final 2 majors of 2014.  On his day he is a fine tee to green player, who can hit the ball long, but his irons are his true weapon.

He may never have played here, but someone of his class can blow away from a field such as this and like Levy, at very reasonable odds.

Outsiders

Steve Webster (80/1 StanJames)

Cheeky grin Stevie

Cheeky grin Stevie

Steve Webster has a couple of European Tour titles to his name but has not won anything since 2007.  He seems like an attractive outsider considering his performance here last year.  He finished T2 and could have definitely won.  But when you look at his form going into the 2013 edition, it is astonishing he was able to put in such a wonderful performance.  He had missed 7 cuts in a row, whilst this year he has managed to produce a couple of solid scores, all be it amongst shockers.

If he rallies on whatever belief he found last year, then 80s is great value.

Simon Wakefield (150/1 SportingBet)

One of the straightest hitters on tour, Simon Wakefield has found a bit of form in recent weeks.  A T9 in Denmark pretty much guarantees another year on the European circuit, whilst a solid T39 last week on a course that in no way suits him, will surely give him plenty of confidence.  He finished T32 here last year and if he can pull all the aspects of his game together, he could mount a serious challenge.  His putting never dropped outside the top 15 in Denmark and his accuracy was at its usual best in Czech Republic.  Why not?!

Nino Bertasio (400/1 various)

A complete unknown Italian youngster.  Nino Bertasio first and foremost has a superb name.  Secondly, the main reason why we have decided to put some pennies on him is because he is playing out his skin on the Italian Tour.  The sort of form that propels you to bigger things, no denying that.  He is leading the  money list by over double his nearest challenger, having won twice and recorded 6 top 15s in his last 8 outings.  (Another 3 of those finished were inside the top 3.)  At 400/1, always worth it!

Let us know your thoughts on our selections and who you fancy this week! @DownThe18th

Deutsche Bank Championship 2014

Prize Fund – $8,000,000Deutsche

Winner’s Share – $1,440,000

Hunter Mahan made it another win for us after a stunning final round at the Ridgewood Country Club. And with that, he remains the only person to have played all FedEx play-off events in their short history while also propelling himself above Rory McIlroy in the FedEx standings.

So with our 100% record in this year’s play-offs, we move confidently to TPC Boston. The Arnold Palmer designed 7,200 track is one where it does not particularly suit a style of golfer although aggressive, low scoring is the order of the day. Henrik Stenson (-22) and Rory McIlroy (-20) have both reached -20 or lower on the way to their victories in the past two events here. Both are known for their big hitting but Stenson last year averaged just over 280 yards off the tee suggesting positional play on the fairways, especially with the number of doglegs, beats length.

TPC BostonAs long as you average between 280-290 yards off the tee, yardages left will rarely require more than an 8 iron. Approaches from 150-175 yards is a key area for us this week. Putting with any low scoring event is paramount alongside other key areas: scoring average, total birdies, par 5 performance, GIR and driving accuracy.

Except for Graham DeLaet last year, everyone who did well this week put in a solid finish the week before without really contending. To contend back to back in the play-offs is tough.

TwitterDon’t forget to follow us throughout the week on Twitter @downthe18th for the latest news, betting + banter. Please get in touch and let us know what you think of our picks and who you fancy as well!
Matt Kuchar (20/1 Various)

Keep on smiling Kuch Sam Greenwood/Getty Images North America

Keep on smiling Kuch
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images North America

Mr Nice always finds himself on our radar and we were close to backing him last week, but question marks surrounded his fitness following his withdrawal from the USPGA.

Kuchar finished with rounds of 68 and 67 last week and played solid all four days without ever really mounting a serious challenge. He ranked inside the top 25 for driving, GIR and putting showing all facets of his game were in tip-top condition. Any fears over his fitness were dispelled.

Until last year, Kuchar hadn’t recorded a top 10 around this track. But a T4, including three rounds of 66, showed the true class he possesses. Perhaps a little harsh to call him a late bloomer, but the last couple of years have shown Kuchar to be a player who belongs with the elite of golf.

In statistics he looks like this: 4th scoring average; 38th birdies, 49th par 5, 46th GIR, 22nd driving accuracy and 8th strokes gained-putting.

Jordan Spieth (33/1 Various)

Victory number 2 is near

Victory number 2 is near

If you were lucky enough to get on it, Spieth came out early doors at 40/1 which we thought was tremendous value, and we’ll tell you why. The American has suffered the inevitable slump over the past month or so after what was unbelievable form in the mid-part of the season. But question marks were raised over whether he can get the job done after a string of last day heartbreaks. It wasn’t in Jim Furyk’s league mind.

Spieth is getting on now after all, he recently reached the grand old age of 21. Undoubtedly, he came to TPC Boston with better form last year after his maiden PGA Tour victory but we saw enough last week to suggest this is the week we remember this guy is good.

Last week, he finished with his best round of the week, 67, to secure his first top 25 in over a month. Although let’s not forget his ‘slump’ has only been 3 tournaments – 2 majors and a WGC. Even more impressive was that he finished 5th in putting. When the young man putts well he inevitably contends. He comes to the Deutsche Bank after finishing with a 62 and T4, so he will be confident. And naturally, he fits the statistics too.

Zach Johnson (66/1 Ladbrokes BEST PRICE)    

He will enjoy this course, as he does that shot

He will enjoy this course, as he does that shot

A course like this plays exactly into Zach’s hands. Notorious for his short length off the tee, this is a week where that length is needed and everyone has to play it Zach’s way. 8 iron and below, you will struggle to find many better than this man. Just like Spieth, he also finished T22 last week, ranking 4th driving accuracy and T27 GIR on what was ultimately a tougher course.

He still finds himself 12th in the FedEx rankings after a scintillating early season and is very much still in contention for the overall prize. Not since his 2nd at the John Deere Classic in July have we really seen his name on the top of the leaderboard but we believe, like Spieth, this is the ideal time and course for Zach to show what he is all about.

Ranks: 23rd scoring average, 22nd birdies, 8th par 5, 21st GIR, 13th prox to hole and 9th driving accuracy.

Brandt Snedeker (40/1 Various)

The new, short-haired Brandt Snedeker

The new, short-haired Brandt Snedeker

A man with a point to prove. Much was expected last week as Sneds recorded finishes of 12th, 13th and 5th coming into it. He responded with a missed cut… So the pressure really is on as Mahan essentially booked his place at Gleneagles. He needs to show Tom Watson why he should be picked over the likes of Simpson, Bradley and Moore – and time is running out to do so.

TPC Boston is a track that saw record him three consecutive top 6 finishes between 2010 and 2012. So he loves it around here. Being a shorter hitter, it plays perfectly into the yardages he feels comfortable at. We are willing to forget about last week’s display considering the form he had before that and the form he has around this course. With Butch Harmon taking Brandt under his wing, a win will not be far away. The putter needs to get hot once again and these familiar greens could be the perfect place to do so.

Ranks: 55th scoring average, 33rd birdies, 26th par 5, 17th strokes gained-putting.

Outside Bets

John Senden (125/1 BetVictor)

Much fancied

Much fancied

The Aussie is much fancied coming into this week, which makes us slightly wary of how he is going to fare. But at these odds, it’s worth the punt.

He has only finished outside the top 25 once in his last 6 appearances at this event. He is arguably having the season of his life with a win at the Valspar Championship and 8th at the Masters. So confidence is high in the Senden camp.

Last week on the way to his T22 finish (it seems most of our picks finished T22) he ranked T3 GIR and T23 driving accuracy. A few more dropped putts and Senden could have contended.

Ranks: 34th scoring average, 31st birdies, T2 par 5, 30th GIR, 54th driving accuracy and 9th strokes gained-putting.

Bo Van Pelt (100/1 BetVictor)

The American will be confident after starting last week 104th in the FedEx rankings and now finding himself in week 2 of the play-offs. His 13th last week, where he was 1st round leader, followed up a 14th at the Wyndham which has signaled an impressive return to form for the American.

At the Barclays he ranked T5 in driving accuracy, 30th putting and 2nd GIR. He has 2 top 10’s to his name at this event and interestingly ranks T16 in approaches from 150-175 yards, our outlined yardage.

Let us know your thoughts on our selections and who you fancy this week! @DownThe18th

Czech Masters 2014

Prize Fund – €1,000,000czech_masters_2014_16

Winner’s Share – €166,660

It’s another tough week in Europe. Going onto an unknown track with a relatively weak field when all eyes will inevitably be on the start of the FedEx play-offs over in America. Much was the same last week but with Marc Warren making it a good and profitable week for us, we take that confidence into the Czech Masters.

At nearly 7,500 yards you can already write off quite a few people who will struggle with the length of the track. The Albatross Golf Resort puts a lot of impetus on ball striking. Long, straight hitting is the order of the day but with pretty large greens out there, putting is key too. Finding the right tier on these greens and being a confident lag putter will go a long way this week. The fairways are generous but if you do stray, some links-style rough awaits. Except for the size of the greens, they are defenseless and someone who hits it long and plays aggressive could go low.

CzechAll eyes and cameras will be on Ryder Cup hopefuls Donaldson, Gallacher and Luiten with the points cut off just another week away. Their intentions are clear as without the Ryder Cup, it is highly unlikely they would have shown up this week.

TwitterDon’t forget to follow us throughout the week on Twitter @downthe18th for the latest news, betting + banter. Please get in touch and let us know what you think of our picks and who you fancy as well!

Emiliano Grillo (55/1 Bet365)

The young Argentinean will looking to challenge come Sunday

The young Argentinean will looking to challenge come Sunday

The Argentine is destined for a great career but has yet to really make his mark on the European Tour. His length off the tee, putting ability and aggressive style makes him the perfect player for this course. We say he hasn’t made his mark, but he did have quite an opportunity back at the Africa Open this year but, when holding the 54-hole lead, opened with a 9 on a par 4. Such is his grit; he birdied the last 5 holes to claim a top 5 finish. His best finish of the year was a 2nd place behind Stephen Gallacher over in Dubai, on a course that isn’t too dissimilar in terms of length.

It’s almost a certainty if he carries on playing like he is, a win is not too far away. And in a field like this with all eyes on America, these are the weeks to get your maiden win. Over in Denmark he ranked 3rd for driving distance and in the top 25 for accuracy, GIR and putts per GIR.

Thomas Pieters (70/1 Bet365)

Belgium have a new big hitter

Belgium have a new big hitter

Much like Grillo, the Belgian is someone who has all the tools to go a very long way in the game. He hits it far, has an array of shots with his irons and has shown he has the pedigree finishing 2nd at the Spanish Open and recorded two further top 10’s in Russia and Malaysia since April.

Only Koepka and Colsaerts average longer distance off the tee in Europe for 2014 and that stat alone could make Pieters hard to beat. His last appearance was a T6 in Russia where not only was he hitting the ball far, but found 75% of fairways.

And the fairways should be much easier to hit this week. He also ranked 4th putts per GIR and 2nd putts per round – so it’s hard not to like him!

Just like Grillo, needs a win to announce himself and these events are the perfect place to do it.

Rikard Karlberg (66/1 BetVictor)

The suave Swede

The suave Swede

Although we don’t see as much of Karlberg as some of the European Tour regulars, he is another exciting prospect at only 27. He has recorded 2 top 10’s in his last 5 starts including a T9 last week in Denmark. The Swede averages 290yards off the tee which will be fine and has been in good form. He was top 25 for both GIR and putting in Denmark and then top 10 for both in Russia. Ranks 28th in putting on the tour for 2014 and is just a really solid pick for this week.

Paul Waring (66/1 Coral)

The Englishman can certainly drive a ball!

The Englishman can certainly drive a ball!

It’s the Englishman’s consistency off the tee that draws us to him this week. He regularly averages over 290 yards and with two top 25’s in as many recent starts, he is a man in some form. His T21 at the Scottish Open was impressive in a tough field and will be taking confidence from that coming to the Czech Masters where the field is not so impressive. 17th putts per round in Denmark will be much needed coming to a course with huge greens. It’s a pick that perhaps does not inspire but Waring has all the tools to be right up there on a track like this.

Let us know your thoughts on our selections and who you fancy this week! @DownThe18th

The Barclays 2014

Prize Fund – $8,000,000

BarclaysLogo Winner’s Share – $1,440,000

The PGA Tour season is drawing to a close after what has been a magnificent year.  As is now the norm, we will be treated to 4 nail-biting tournaments with the major-esque field getting cut each week from 125 all the way down to the final 30, before one winner will come away with a staggering $10 million.  Yes $10 million.  To say that’s ridiculous is an understatement, but then again sport is ridiculous these days.

The first playoff event is The Barclays and has traditionally been played at alternate courses in recent years and for the 2014 edition we are at a venue that has all the hallmarks of major track – Ridgewood Country Club.

The tree-lined wonders of Ridgewood

The tree-lined wonders of Ridgewood

The 7,319 yard par 71 has not held many tournaments considering its beauty and difficulty, but we were treated to this track back in 2010 and 2008.  Matt Kuchar and Vijay Singh won those outings respectively, which gives you the impression that a tee-to-green specialist could do well here.

And even with its length, you wouldn’t be too wrong to think that.  The fairways are tree-lined and can haunt any horrific drives, so those that have the ability to plod their way in order to attack pins will have a great chance.  Obviously the game has changed in even the 4 years since Kuuuch, with bombers serenading the fairways so far down it’s horrifying.  Rory McIlroy has shown in recent weeks that you can overpower a course and in many ways this could get the same treatment, but some tactical nouse will be required.

The greens are quite quick and protected by an abundance of bunkers and water throughout the 18.  These will need negotiating and for us, due to these factors and the sheer length of the par 5s, scrambling will be another important attribute.

We cannot deny it has been really difficult this week, with the strongest possible field and a rarely played track, the winner could come from anywhere.  We deliberated and came to a happy settlement with both long and short odds. Enjoy..
TwitterDon’t forget to follow us throughout the week on Twitter @downthe18th for the latest news, betting + banter. Please get in touch and let us know what you think of our picks and who you fancy as well!

Phil Mickelson (25/1 Ladbrokes)

Phil getting those fists pumping at Valhalla.  Come on! Phot Courtesy of USA Sports Today

Phil getting those fists pumping at Valhalla. Come on!
Photo Courtesy of USA Today Sports

Oh Phil.  We have been through so much with America’s favourite son in recent years, even when we don’t have any money on him.  Just look at his performance at the PGA a couple of weeks back.  What an outstanding display.  Not only sticking your finger up at the circulating critics over his finishes, but to rip up his own 2014 form book in such fashion is credit to the legend he naturally is.

We were perched gently on the edge of our seats throughout that final round, with Rickie Fowler, Henrik Stenson and of course Rory McIlry providing top quality golf, but it was the all-American 2-ball that particularly caught our eye.  Wasn’t it a joy to watch 2 competitors fighting each other for one of the sports biggest prizes, yet still urging one another on.  Fist pumping and pushes of confidence.  It made us realise what a unique and wonderful game this is.  But it also cemented the genius of Phil and his scrambling abilities still amaze us.  He can be so wild sometimes, but oh how he recovers.

You cannot ignore Phil when he gets a run going and the PGA could be his first push towards the Ryder Cup. He will need to use all his experience to overcome the challenge which he has played on the previous 2 outings – MC in 10′ and T19 in 08′ don’t give the best reading, but we overlooked that because he should really suit Ridgewood.  He even stated its similarities to Winged Foot – the home of the 2006 US Open where he finished 2nd and he does have good form at Tillinghast tracks.

At 25/1, you have to appreciate the true value in a proven winner. Come on Phil take us on an adventure…

Rickie Fowler (20/1 various)

The difference...

The difference…

The 2nd of that amazing duo at the PGA Championship takes up the 2nd mantle of our assault this week.  Rickie Fowler has been a sensation since Butch Harmon got his claws into the 25-year old.  What a remarkable run of form he is on – 5 top 10s in a row and all 4 majors inside the top 5.  He has been writing headlines without actually winning and we have the gut feeling he could finally pick up a victory this week.

He has only ever won 1 PGA Tour title and that was a couple of years ago now.  He played here in 2010 and finished T36, which shows he is capable, but it is his recent performances that have made us take that plunge at such low odds.  His scrambling has been outstanding, his long, straight hitting eye-catching, but his putting has been on another level.  We cannot say he has bottled any of the tournaments he has come close at, just someone has edged over the line by playing better.

He is 35th for driving distance, 25th for scrambling, 89th for strokes gained putting and 15th for par 5 birdie or better.  But obviously he has performed way above that in every one of his last 5 outings.  He has the real ability to overcome every challenge this course provides.

Hunter Mahan (50/1 various)

Hunter needs to up his game for a Ryder Cup berth

Hunter needs to up his game for a Ryder Cup berth

Hunter Mahan seems to have finally found some form.  It has taken pretty much all season but a T15 at the WGC Bridgestone and T7 at the PGA show he could be back.  Having missed out on the 9 slots for the Ryder Cup, he will be one of several players vying to earn a captains’ pick and if he pushes on and has an outstanding playoffs series, his natural ability will really aid his cause.

Interestingly, he finished top of the GIR stats at those previous 2 tournaments and combining that with the fact he holds the course record here – an opening round 62 in 08′, he is an attractive option.  He will be comfortable on the greens, due to there similarity to Californian grass and his game, on paper at least, should suit the tracks demands.  He can hit it long when needed and is an adept scrambler, whilst his putting is always very consistent – 44th driving distance, 40th driving accuracy, 42nd GIR and 41st strokes gained putting.  If you ever wanted an all-rounded golfer, Hunter is your man.

Two T31 finishes here don’t quite represent his true class and suitability, so expect big things this week.

Ryan Palmer (100/1 various)

Fits the bill

Fits the bill

Ryan Palmer has had a topsy turvy season, at times showing some real talent and winning capabilities and at other times seeming non existent.  He impressed us highly at the PGA, where he finished T5 with 4 consistent rounds and to be fair he did get a sniff of being in the hunt on the Sunday.

He could have picked up a couple of victories throughout the year, but has failed to get himself over the line and with his big hitting all round game, he could be an interesting long-shot.  He has moments where his accuracy can be poor, but when he is straight, he is dangerous – 25th driving distance, 32nd GIR, 83rd strokes gained putting and 32nd par 5 birdie or better.

There are understandable concerns over his bottle, but the fact he finished T5 here in 2010, shows he knows and likes the track.  He is a far better player than he was 4 years ago, so there is every chance he will take his good form from the PGA onto Ridgewood.

Outsiders

 We have 3 cheeky outsiders this week and 2 of them go hand in hand…

Paul Casey (100/1 StanJames) and Ian Poulter (125/1 various)

A win for either could guarantee a Ryder Cup spot - courtesy of The Guardian

A win for either could guarantee a Ryder Cup spot – courtesy of The Guardian

The two Englishman have been inconsistent to say the least this year, but both have shown promise at times throughout 2014.

Firstly, Paul Casey.  One of the great renaissance’s is well under way after a horrendous fall from grace.  He won after a 2-year gap last year and has begun climbing the rankings again.  On his day we feel he is a top 20 golfer and will not be overawed by this field.  His game is long and he is outstanding with his irons, whilst scrambling is second nature.  You cannot look past a T12 and T7 on his 2 outings here, especially because the former was during his decline into golfing obscurity.

He missed the cut at the PGA but otherwise has plodded along, consistently finishing in ‘mid-table.’  Worth a punt for sure.

As for his compatriot, Ian Poulter, we are going from hunch really.  If you have followed us for a while, you will know of our love for the man and we just felt time is running dangerously close for Ryder Cup qualification and the thought of Sir Poults not making the numbers is simply horrifying.  He is on the fringes and he must have a good few weeks (providing he makes the top 100 of the FedEx for next week) and show that he is finding some form.

He started the PGA quite well before a couple of bad rounds meant he finished 59th and we are hoping he will take a bit of confidence going onto a track where he finished T15 in 2010.  He is not particularly long but if he gets in that mindset of realising his Ryder Cup place is on the line, then his GIR, scrambling and putting game will take over.  Come on Poults.

Chris Stroud (250/1 Coral) BEST PRICE

When Chris Stroud gets his game fully flowing he is a dangerous outsider and at 250s we felt obliged to chuck some of our change on him.  Whilst not particularly long, tee-to-green he is outstanding and he is known as being a top scrambler.  Any situations he gets himself in, he often finds a way out and that is always crucial in tournaments such as this.

His form is inconsistent but a T4 at the Greenbrier a few weeks ago gives plenty of confidence.  45th driving accuracy, 76th GIR, 65th strokes gained putting, 33rd par 5 birdie or better and 15th scrambling. Not bad.

Let us know your thoughts on our selections and who you fancy this week! @DownThe18th

Made in Denmark 2014

DenmarkPrize Fund – €1,500,000

Winner’s Share – €250,000

Last year we had a week off in Europe to consolidate following a hectic few weeks of majors and big tournaments – this year, we’re off to Denmark.

Scandinavian golf is on the up and there are plenty of fresh, young players emerging from the area. So it’s great to have an event over there. Not since 2003, when Ian Poulter won, has the European Tour ventured over to Denmark.

The course at the Himmerland Golf and Spa Resort is an inland, links-style track that plays just over 7,000 yards. From what we can gauge, accuracy will be crucial with brutal rough and quick, undulating greens. It could be a proper grind out there! Look for solid drivers of the ball who have good wedge and short games. Experience on links is needed.

This is Lucas Bjerregaard’s home track, so watch out for him.

TwitterDon’t forget to follow us throughout the week on Twitter @downthe18th for the latest news, betting + banter. Please get in touch and let us know what you think of our picks and who you fancy as well!

Marc Warren (30/1 BetFred)

Only player in the field to make his mark on Valhalla

Only player in the field to make his mark on Valhalla

The Scot has really impressed us in recent times and after a 3rd at the Scottish Open, T39 at the Open and then a top15 at Valhalla last week, he is a man in form.

His links experience is a given having won at the links-style Gleneagles in 2007 on the back of his first European Tour win in Sweden – so he likes it in Scandinavia. He’s been driving and putting consistently of late and was 6th in putting back at the Open. At 30/1 with the likes of Broberg and Olesen at 20’s, we see that as a good price.

David Howell (55/1 BetFred)

We’ve seen good performances of late from the English stalwart. Ranked 16th driving accuracy and 3rd GIR back at the Open. That was after ranking in the top 20 for driving and putting at the Scottish Open.

Only recorded one top 10 in recent times but 15th at the Open will fill him with lots of confidence coming to a course like this. His last win came at the Alfred Dunhill Links last year – confirming his links prowess. 55/1 again represents good value in this field.

Søren Kjeldsen (80/1 Coral)

Is that Luke Donald? No it's our man Kjeldsen

Is that Luke Donald? No it’s our man Kjeldsen

We can’t come to Denmark without having one of the locals on our radar. Kjeldsen was solid in 2013, especially around the links courses but 2014 has been somewhat of a disappointment. Despite a MC over in Russia, his T18 in France and solid showing in Scotland gives us enough confidence that he can combine that with the buzz of his home crowd to do well.

The Dane was 12th driving accuracy and 15th putting in Scotland whilst he was 1st driving accuracy and 6th GIR over in France. So he is striking the ball well and at 80/1 for a local favourite, we’re happy to go there.

Maximilian Kieffer (66/1 Paddy Power)

The German leaves no putt un-checked

The German leaves no putt un-checked

We can see a big future for this guy and if his Challenge Tour career is anything to go by, he likes to get on a hot streak. 2013 was very inconsistent but this year, with two top 10’s in recent times, we have started to see glimpses of his immense ability.

He is known for being a bigger hitter but in Russia he managed to combine that length with accuracy too, finding over 90% of fairways. But that tournament was a case of absolutely no putts being sunk. With his driving ability, his game is perfectly suited for links-style golf.

Outside Bets

Craig Lee (100/1 Ladbrokes)

The Scot’s game is really well suited to this type of golf but is one of those players who only occasionally contends at the top. Of late, his driving has been solid and ranked in the top 10 for accuracy on the way to T16 finish at the Scottish Open. Likewise in Russia, he drove the ball well but struggled finding the greens. Amazingly, it is ironplay in adverse conditions that first drew our attention to him! So with a few tweaks on the range, Craig’s game is nearly there. He’s finding fairways and holing putts, just needs to up those GIR and he will be up there this week.

Jamie McLeary (500/1 BoyleSports) (TOP 20 16/1 Paddy Power)

Why not at this price. Showed glimpses of solid play at both the Russian and British Opens. Around Hoylake he ranked T20 driving accuracy and T36 in 1-putts which considering the field, was not bad. He carried that consistency over to Russia and recorded a top 25. Not only did he average over 300 yards but he ranked 15th in driving accuracy. The putter it appears lets him down but if that gets hot, we’ve got some cracking value here.

Let us know your thoughts on our selections and who you fancy this week! @DownThe18th

Wyndham Championship 2014

Prize Fund – $5,300,000

Winner’s Share – $954,000

Well, we hope you have all recovered from the simply amazing PGA Championship over the weekend. You just have to sit back and admire the ability of Rory McIlroy. To come back the way he did, waiting all day in the clubhouse, watching Phil, Rickie and their followers before every shot shows levels of mental strength rarely seen in any sport. Tom Watson jokingly commented early on Monday saying, “I wish he was in my team” and he’s not wrong – Is it the start of the McIlroy era?

But golf waits for no man or woman and off to the Sedgefield Country Club we go. Playing nearly 350 yards less than the last couple of weeks at 7,100, the Wyndham is going to pose a different test to the guys who tee it up this week. With the small undulating greens and relatively generous fairways, going low is the order of the day. Three of the winning scores in recent times have been 20 under or below – whoever wins will need a 4-day pass on the birdie train.

wyndhamGIR is the key stat of the week with Patrick Reed ranking comfortably 1st in that department last year on route to his victory. You need to be looking at scoring average, putting and scrambling. Looking at the holes, rarely will the guys be using anything more than an 8 iron. So we’ve had a look at guys who are competent with their approaches between 125-175yards too.

Another thing to really consider when looking at who is going to do well this week, is the FedEx rankings. All the guys have reason to do well with various cut off points during the play-offs but anyone outside the top 125 will be really motivated. Anyone outside the top 125 will have a tough time gaining exemption for the 2014/15 season as they go up against guys from the Web.com Tour for limited spaces. People always sneak in at the last minute.

TwitterDon’t forget to follow us throughout the week on Twitter @downthe18th for the latest news, betting + banter. Please get in touch and let us know what you think of our picks and who you fancy as well!

Bill Haas (28/1 Paddy Power)

His record for consecutive wins in years on Tour is close to ending

His record for consecutive wins in years on Tour is close to ending

Always a solid bet whenever you pick him and he suits this course perfectly. But the problem with 2014 is that he hasn’t pushed on from anything more than consistent. Five top 5’s and no missed cuts is obviously very good but to be regarded as one of the best, you need trophies. Bill has won in each of his last four seasons and he will be well aware time is running out to get one this year. And having won the Tour Championship in 2011, he will be keen to give a good account of himself once again during the play-offs.

Ranks: 24th GIR, 75th strokes gained-putting and 41st scoring average. In an arguably weaker field, Haas at over double the odds of favourite Snedeker (although it is tough to see Sneds not doing well) is solid value.

Ricky Barnes (125/1 Paddy Power)

He knows his way onto the birdie train

He knows his way onto the birdie train

Not often we put someone at three figures in at number 2 but it shows our confidence in the American.

After a really promising 8th at the Barracuda Championship a couple of weeks ago, he will be looking to build on his 20th place last year. With the modified stableford format in use, he certainly found plenty of birdies on his way to that top 10. And it was clear progress from the Canadian Open, where he ranked T16 in GIR.

Ranks: 86th GIR; 53rd 1-putt %; T16 rounds in the 60’s; 65th scoring average; T32 approaches 125-150yards and 17th scrambling. Ricky is known for going low and being 112th in the FedEx he will need another good performance to make 100% sure he is on the tour next year.

Freddie Jacobson (66/1 Paddy Power)

Big admirers of the Swede and his putting prowess could prove key to his performance this week. He is someone who always looks good in the stats columns but often fails to produce a similarly impressive finish.

12th and 17th are his last two results around this track and it is one where his sometimes suspect driving seen this year will not be as much of a burden. T23 1-putt % and 6th strokes gained-putting means he loves to go low reflected in his T48 scoring average. Also ranks T26 approaches from 125-150yards and T34 proximity to the hole. Good value given his experience and relative form around this place.

Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano (100/1 Boyle Sports)

GIR merchant

GIR merchant

If it is greens in regulation you want, then look no further. The Spaniard made a living out of doing just that on the European Tour and has recently moved to America to turn his hand to the PGA. Things have been tough having only recorded one top 10 in 22 starts. So why this week?

Well, Castano, often regarded as having no putting game, has started to putt quite well recently. Despite two tough weeks at the Bridgestone and PGA where the tracks were perhaps too long for him, he still played solid. He opened up with a 79 at the Bridgestone which killed him off but followed that with rounds of 71 and 67 whilst he was never above a 72 at Valhalla and eventually finished level par. But prior to this, came his 4th at the RBC Canadian Open. And it was there that he ranked 3rd in GIR behind Furyk and Hicks and 5th in putting average. Ranking that high in the putting stats is unknown for Gonzalo and he will be bringing confidence into this week. Will certainly going under the radar this week but someone who is as good as anyone at finding those greens.

John Huh (80/1 Coral)

Someone who because of his 3rd here last year and 3rd at the Barracuda, many people will be interested in this week. Those two finishes alone are enough for us but it was the fact he came into this last year on the back of 6 missed cuts in 8 starts. Admittedly, he missed the cut at Valhalla but his preparation was hardly ideal being Tiger’s first choice replacement!

As you know, the scoring format at the Barracuda meant to finish 3rd he was draining a lot of putts. Statistically, he isn’t a stand-out but T11 approaches from 150-175 yards is promising. He is inside the top 100 of the Fed-Ex but needs to do something special this week to find himself in the latter stages of the play-offs.

Let us know your thoughts on our selections and who you fancy this week! @DownThe18th