ISPS Handa Wales Open 2014

Prize Fund – €1,800,000handa-wales

Winner’s Share – €300,000 

Course – Celtic Manor Resort (7,352 yard par 71)

We all know what we’re thinking about, it’s a links course but somewhere else in the United Kingdom. Before we go there, the European Tour heads west into Wales, to the Celtic Manor Resort. Home of the 2010 Ryder Cup, the scene of Team Europe’s last success on home soil.

So far, Westwood, Bjorn, Gallacher and home favorite Donaldson are all confirmed to play. It could provide them with great impetus, playing on a links track the week before Gleneagles. With the PGA Tour coming to a climax over the weekend, it means the whole golfing world will have their eyes on this event.

It’s a course that has seen Poulter, McDowell, Jaidee and Karlsson all win on. Frenchman Gregory Bourdy took home the trophy last year and it was a superb display of putting that allowed him to do so, ranking 3rd in putts per round. Celtic Manor is renowned for being a stern test with the winner rarely getting below -10 (-8, -6 and -9 have been the 3 most recent winning scores).

It’s the furthest into the calendar we’ve ever seen the Wales Open and captain McGinley has expressed his delight at seeing Celtic Manor being played the week before the almighty battle against USA.

Incredible Ryder Cup scenes here in 2010 - courtesy of skysports

Incredible Ryder Cup scenes here in 2010 – courtesy of skysports

It will provide the usual links test and with plenty of water hazards across the 18, there is importance on accuracy. In general, GIR are the order of the day. Jaidee ranked 7th (2012), Noren 2nd (2011) and McDowell 1st (2010) in GIR statistics. Paul Casey emphasised that on links courses, ranking 1st GIR on his way to victory in Holland last week. And none of the winners here are notoriously big hitters either.

We can’t hide our excitement for the Ryder Cup, which we are attending, so look out for our Ryder Cup posts over the next couple of weeks.

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!

Danny Willett (28/1 various)

Has everything in his locker for links courses

Has everything in his locker for links courses

We had a long chat about our picks this week as we are massive fans of links golf and we were left highly disappointed with our returns at the KLM. We often do a lot of research into the platers who have the game to suit seaside golf, mainly due to the Open, so it is unimaginable for us to lose 2 weeks in a row.

Our discussions took place on Monday morning, before odds were released and both of us felt strongly about Danny Willett. Yes, now that we’ve seen he is at 28s makes us wary, but the case for the Englishman is too strong to ignore.

First and foremost he is a cracking Links player. He has the ability to move the ball, powerful off the tee and generally a very good iron player and scrambler. We were interested in him at the Open the past 2 years, missing the cut in 2014 and a very respectable T15 finish in 2013.

On the links type tracks this year he has had finishes of T9, T37, T5, T3 and T11 which simply proves his game has all the hallmarks for these types of courses.

He hasn’t actually played a great deal of golf recently, but when he has, he’s been very consistent tee to green. For 3 out of the 4 days at the Omega European Masters, where he finished T5, he was inside the top 20 for driving accuracy, distance and GIR. That really is some going. His putting can of course be found wanting at times, but when you’re playing like that everywhere else, work with the short stick will come.

No denying he’s missed the last 4 cuts on this course, but in 2009 he recorded a cracking T4, which should certainly give him plenty of confidence, given the way he has been striking the ball.

No win on Tour since 2011 and you cannot deny he’s been knocking on the door. Time to shove it open Danny.

Thongchai Jaidee (40/1 various)

Jaidee sees a ghost with his son.

Jaidee sees a ghost with his son.

What a wonderful performer and professional Thongchai Jaidee is. You cannot help but fall in love with the way he approaches the game – he always comes prepared with a methodical and tactical plan for each course he plays.

He will be 45 in November, so he is very much in his twilight years , but when you think he only turned pro at 30, he hasn’t been on the circuit anywhere near as long as most of the same age.

He hasn’t played since the USPGA, taking a break from all things golf, but barring those massive events, when he has teed up, he has performed superbly. Away rom WGC’s and Majors, his recent performances have been a T2 at the French, T5 at the BMW and a win at the Nordea.

And to boot, he is a prime candidate for any links golf. In his last 15 outings on the seaside tracks, he has 2 wins, 1 top 5 and 5 top 25s. As well as that consistency, he has obviously gone onto money return territory. Whilst 1 of those victories was actually at this tournament back in 2012, so his liking for Celtic Manor is there for all to see.

Considering his class, the fact he is at 40s is remarkable, so when we saw the odds we were delighted, having originally thought him and Willett would be each other’s odds…

Great chance for him to add to his 6 European titles and put him prime position for the overall Race To Dubai.

Robert Karlsson (40/1 BetFred)

Unbelievable guns.

Unbelievable guns.

One of our favourite Scandinavians on Tour. Robert Karlsson is another model professional with a fantastic track record in world golf and an outstanding tee to green game, perfect for Links golf.

Everyone seemed to be getting excited about the Karlsson renaissance this year, all those problems with the ‘yips’ finally seeming to be under control. A run of 4 top 12s in 6 outings (including The Open) seemed to back this up, but in the 3 tournaments since, he hasn’t been at that calibre.

Although, 4 rounds in the 60s for a T28 last week will give him a slight push in confidence again, as he comes onto a track where his record is outstanding.

He won here in 2006 by a comfortable 3 strokes, breaking the 36 and 54-hole total score records in the process. He also finished 2nd in 2008 and T9 in 02’. He simply loves Celtic Manor, but for some reason hasn’t come back for 5 years. It will be his first trip to Wales since that 2nd place and if he cant play anywhere near to what he has shown at times this season, he will be a cracking bet.

Edoardo Molinari (40/1 various)

Loves links

Loves links

No doubt, Edoardo Molinari has been in the shadow of his brother over the past few years, having dipped in and out of some pretty average form. However, we have seen, at times, his tee to green abilities shine through in random moments throughout the last 12 months or so.

His iron game is clearly a perfect match for Links courses and that is proven by his form on seaside tracks. This year he has finished T7 at The Open, 2nd at the Irish and T25 at the Tropheé Hassan II. In other words his 2 best finishes have been on Links tracks. His only 2 wins on Tour were both on traditional Scottish Links – Loch Lomond and Gleneagles – both in 2010.

Interestingly his accuracy wasn’t the greatest last week and tee to green he is far better than what he showed, but what helped him gain that T11 position, was an outstanding short game. He was unerringly consistent with the putter and we have to consider the fact that Grégory Bourdy won last year pretty much because of his putter, so it could be a factor again.

He has finished T4 here before, back in 2010, so if he can once again find that form on these Links tracks, he will have every chance.

Outsiders

Oliver Fisher (90/1 StanJames)

Considering the stellar season Oliver Fisher has had, 90s seems like great value. 6 top 10s is a great comeback from a very disappointing 2013 and may finally be the evidence of his potential he showed as a youngster – he’s still the youngest Briton to win a Tour card.

He played wonderfully in Denmark a few weeks back, finishing in a tie for 4th and you have to feel it would have been much better barring a poor opening round of 75.

Then last week a T9 finish will give him every bit of confidence going onto a course where he recorded a respectable T6 in 2009. He should be in a rich vein of self-belief, considering his putting and GIR stats were particularly high last week.

An interesting outsider.

Emiliano Grillo (100/1 various)

The young Argentinean has plenty of promise

The young Argentinean has plenty of promise

Another interesting outsider is the mercurial Argentine talent, Emiliano Grillo. When he is playing well, the flair and poise he possesses and imaginative golfing brain all point towards an outstanding future in the game.

You have to remember he is only 22, so what he is achieving is still remarkable, all be it inconsistently. He should have won in Africa, but a disappointing final day 73 cost him victory and a late surge in Dubai nearly took the trophy away from Stephen Gallacher, eventually falling one shot short. But he has recorded a couple of finishes inside the 20s in the past couple of weeks, after a dip in form and we cannot help but feel that at 100s he is decent value. He was sublime tee to green for the final 3 days in Holland and if he can keep his head together and maintain his form, his quality is a fascinating mix for seaside golf.

T35 and T18 in his only 2 outings here certainly add to the appeal and if anything, he is just an interesting watch!

TOUR Championship 2014

Prize Fund – $8,000,000TOUR

Winner’s Share – $1,440,000

Course – East Lake GC (7,154 yards par 70)

Here we are ladies and gentleman, the end of another season on the PGA Tour.  It’s been a crazy year with several first-time winners (there’s been 10 different nationalities to have won a PGA Tour event this year which is quite some going!), Rory McIlroy reminding us that he has the potential to be one of the greatest, Tiger Woods reminding us that his injuries may halt his path to ultimate greatness and whilst for us, it’s been topsy-turvy to say the least.

We’ve had 4 winners on the PGA Tour throughout the year which isn’t the greatest number, but the amount of placings/close shaves has been ridiculous.  26 bets have got a place and therefore healthy returns (considering there have only been 37 tournaments on the PGA, we are certainly happy with that!), but when you think we have had 11 2nd placed finishes, you can’t help but feel it could have been so much better.

But onto this week and as is usual with the end of a PGA season these days, the pressures of a bucket load of money and the prestigious accolade of FedEx champion still need to be resolved.  $10 million is up for grabs for the golfer that finds themselves at the top of the overall rankings and The Tour Championship only contains 30 players who can obtain that accolade.  The current top 5 – Chris Kirk, Billy Horschel, Bubba Watson, Rory McIlroy and Hunter Mahan – have destiny in their own hands as if any of them win here, whatever the weather, they will be crowed champion.  You will hear the commentator bang on about this ‘destiny’ many times throughout the 4 days and whilst it might frustrate the folk in Europe, Americans get a right buzz off situations like this.

This course will make someone very rich. Or just richer... Courtesy of theaposition.com

This course will make someone very rich. Or just richer… Courtesy of theaposition.com

For the remaining 25, it is only likely that the players up to 11 can win the overall prize due to the ridiculous mathematical stipulations, but never have we had such an open and intriguing end to a FedEx.  Genuinely, 11 players are in the hunt for that massive bonus, but obviously things have to go their way.  If you fancy looking at the FedEx Cup leaderboard, take a peak here – Leaderboard

There are markets for overall FedEx Cup winner and they may be worth a look at, because of how open it is this year, we certainly have and will explain in detail later.

It is also worth taking a look at the points available for this week – Reset Points

There is no denying how complicated it all is, but at the end of the day we can leave all the permutations up to the mathematicians because there is still a golf tournament to win for all of us.  Due to the small field, odds are horrendously slashed and finding value is virtually non-existent, but as you will see, we hope we feel we’ve got a great mixture of everything in our picks.

The course itself is East Lake in Atlanta, Georgia and has held the season finale since 2004.  The 7,307 yard par 70 will provide a tough test for the field and is often regarded as a ball strikers paradise.  It was the home to the legendary Bobby Jones and you will need to be right on your game from tee to green to win.  Finding the right positions on the fairway is a must because the more you can attack pins the better.  The greens are historically rapid and with the added pressure to earn a vast one-off fortune, putting will be of great importance.

In recent years you have often found that an obvious ‘story’ has won here and the overall FedEx – last year Henrik Stenson with his chance to be the first player to win both the FedEx and the Race To Dubai, in 2012 Brandt Snedeker overcoming his ‘bottle’ demons and in 2011 Bill Haas finally breaking out of his fathers shadow.  We feel it will be no different this year and our first 3 picks certainly reflect this…

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!
Rickie Fowler (14/1 various and 18/1 for the FedEx Cup with StanJames)

Focused - courtesy of golfweek

Focused – courtesy of golfweek

It may not be fair to call Rickie Fowler the young pretender because he is the same age as Rory, but due to how much more established the Northern Irishman is, you can see our point.  He has switched coaches to the miracle worker that is Butch Harmon and wow has he reaped the rewards.

Fowler has had an outrageous end to the season.  Since a missed cut at the Memorial back in June he is gone on a run that has seen him record a remarkable 6 top 10s and the other 2 finishes came inside the top 30.  All 4 Major Championships have been top 5 performances as well, meaning the only thing left, is a win.  We would be the first to say if we felt some of his near misses have been bottles, but in all honesty we haven’t seen that.  He has often been beaten by the better man on the day or had the odd stroke of luck go against him.

Tee to green he has been ridiculously effective, especially with his length and there are few better scramblers around at the moment.  It will be an important factor we feel this week because of the tree-lined fairways and difficult greens and if you wanted anyone over an up and down shot, it would be Fowler.

He stands at 9th in the overall rankings and is 1,683 points behind Chris Kirk, which gives him every chance of winning if he gets that bit of luck and wins here.  You can see the headlines and see the story if Rickie wins – it just makes too much sense.

Jim Furyk (12/1 various and 16/1 for the FedEx Cup with StanJames)

Come on Jim...

Come on Jim…

Oh Jimbo.  Here we are again and we cannot express how much it would makes us happy to see him lift the trophy this week.  Like Fowler, the story makes complete sense if he were to win – an amazingly consistent season but no wins on the board and several bottles throughout, but finally he enters the winners circuit to bag himself a cool $10 million.

10 top 10s and 3 times a runner up prove how well he’s played this year, but those 2nd placed finishes also show how close he has come and in so many respects, how many times he should have won.  Five top 8s in his last 7 starts warrant the low odds he’s been given but the fact that he is one of the few with outstanding course form makes him even more appealing.

In his last 9 starts here, he has 6 top 10s, including that magnificent victory back in 2010 which won him the overall prize.  It is also, madly, the last time he lifted a trophy and with the way he’s been playing it would be a travesty if he were unable to break that streak.  We all know what he does tee to green – when on form there are few better, but it has often been his putting thats let him down.  Yet we have seen him go on mad birdie binges, reminiscent to an alcoholic finding themselves in a Weatherspoon’s.

He is currently 7th in the overall, just 1,241 points of the top and there is truly every chance he could win.  If he can get himself over the line and maintain form throughout the four days, he has every chance.

Jordan Spieth (20/1 PaddyPower, 33/1 for the FedEx Cup with StanJames)

Could he sneak it?

Could he sneak it?

Another young pretender in Jordan Spieth.  One of the finest talents in the sport and his future will bring several Majors, no question.  He has one of the finest all-round games on Tour and you cannot help but think that his attributes suit this course perfectly.

He is incredibly long and straight, whilst his consistency with his irons has made him such a threat, both short and long.  We have predicted that there will be many shots with a short iron or wedge into the greens and Furyk, Fowler and Spieth are all magicians close to the green.  The latter has to deal with many short pitches due to his length and when he gets on the greens he can also be deadly.

Consistency is what Spieth specialises in and whilst he did have a ‘slump’ (all be it a slump that many, many Tour players would be ecstatic with), he found some form again with a T8 finish last week.  That will give him plenty of confidence going onto a course where he’s only played once, but he did finish T2 at last year.

Honestly, he was never going to catch Henrik Stenson who was different gravy for those few months in 2013, but 4 cracking rounds make you think he has every chance here.  He is 11th in the overall rankings and 1,797 points behind the lead, meaning he is probably the last person who can really win the FedEx.  33s represent great value in that market because if he does win and other things go his way, he will be in a great position.

Outsiders

Hideki Matsuyama (50/1 Boylesports)

Perfect fit for the course

Perfect fit for the course

Hideki Matsuyama is the 3rd player in our picks who has everything to go ridiculously far in the game.  His manufactured tools are so consistent and tee to green he’s got it all.  A positive start to the season has faded slightly, bot picking up a top 10 in his last 10 appearances is not good enough for someone of his calibre, however he hasn’t been playing awfully and a cheek T20 last week was just enough for us to go there here, especially at the cracking value for an outsider.

50s is a big price for someone who can easily win in this sort of field.  You can draw similarities to Muirfield Village with East Lake and obviously the Japanese star played outstandingly to record his first PGA Tour victory there this year.  He was inside the top 20 for putting and GIR last week, so he can’t be playing badly, if he can put it all together, then this is genuinely cracking odds.

John Senden (70/1 various)

John Senden has had a very decent season, finally showing the world what talents he has.  5 top 10s and a win throughout the year and his tee to green exploits made us chuck our remaining change on the Australian.  When he’s been up there on leaderboards, it has been on these sort of courses, where an all-round game is required.  He will be very accurate and his putting has consistently been inside the top 20 in the past few outings.  T5 a couple of weeks ago show that his form hasn’t dipped and he has even recorded a T10 here a few years back.

You are not getting value like 70s for a player of Senden’s quality in this field. Trust us.

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

KLM Open 2014

Prize Fund – €1,800,000KLM

CourseKennemer G&CC (6,626 yards par 70)

We’re back after a one-week break, apologies for the lack of previews last week! But it was probably a good thing as David Lipsky would not have been the first player on our minds…

If you watched it, Lipsky played one of the strangest shots we have ever seen. 80 yards left to the pin, just needs to get it on the dance floor and 2 putt for the title. He decides to lay up into thick rough to the left of the green – thankfully, he got up and down and the decision can be seen as a good one. But we don’t like seeing tournaments won like that, do we?

Onto Holland now, for the KLM Open. It was cracking scenes last year as Joost Luiten, orange jersey and all, won his home Open. It’s an event that has always attracted quality fields with the likes of Seve, Bernhard Langer and Lee Westwood winning here. We’ve been generous to Lee there… It’s a track that when you see it, you will know exactly who suits it. It’s also a course that has been used on and off, coming back here last year after a 3 year break.

Kennemer-14-3-

It’s a links course alright

The course is a really tight, windy links track with thick rough and undulating fairways. Players need to be finding plenty of greens, putting well and scrambling when they need to.

Let’s just run through some of the winners on this course – Simon Dyson (loves links), Darren Clarke (loves links), Ross Fisher (loves links) – you get the picture.

Despite Luiten’s tee to green prowess, it was actually his putting that got the job done last year. He ranked 6th in both putts per round and putts per GIR, whilst only 47th in GIR. So it does suggest a particular importance on the short game and links experience.

If you enjoyed Graeme Storm’s hole in one last week, how about this. An ace at the 15th this week will earn you a trip to space worth around $100,000…

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!

Shane Lowry (28/1 Various)

Links specialist

Links specialist

We know what Lowry does, his game is perfect for links golf. But why this week at these odds? It was over the weekend last week that we really got impressed by him and he reminded us of the form he was in a few weeks back. 4th Scottish Open, 9th Open and a cut made at the PGA meant it was a quality few weeks for the Irishman.

He managed to finish T13 in Switzerland, finding less than 50% of fairways, so with a bit of work this week on the driving, there’s no reason why he can’t win this thing. Finished 26th here last year and 15th in 2009 at this course.

And he deserves something after sharing the incredible hole-in-one moment with Graeme Storm last week – maybe he could be off to space this week…

Jonas Blixt (50/1 Ladbrokes)

Can he produce one of the weeks we know he can

Can he produce one of the weeks we know he can

The Swede is a bit of an enigma it has to be said. For a 2-time PGA Tour winner, runner-up at the Masters by the age of 30, 50/1 sounds absurdly high odds. But is it.

Jonas has an incredible knack of going for weeks without playing well at all, and guess what, he’s in one of those spells now. Since his 2nd at the Masters and T16 at the BMW the month after, his best finish was T36 at the PGA Championship. A missed cut at The Barclays put pay to his play-off hopes in America, so now he has decided to return to European soil. He currently lies 18th in the Race to Dubai so with a win here, he could catapult up the rankings. McIlroy, some 4.5million euros ahead, is perhaps a little tougher to catch mind.

So you can call this a risk, but if the Blixt turns up that we have seen glimpses of over the past 2 years, 50/1 looks like a snip.

Scott Jamieson (80/1 Various)

Nike don't just sponsor anyone - Courtesy of EveningTimes

Nike don’t just sponsor anyone – Courtesy of EveningTimes

Scott the Scot is another quite obvious pick but again at cracking value in our opinion. He, like Lowry, enjoyed a great spell of golf a few weeks back during the links tournaments. His T8 at the Scottish Open followed a T18 in France. Has since finished 3rd in Russia and T9 in the Czech Republic.

So again, with only a T36 last week, why now? Well he ranked 10th driving accuracy, 21st GIR and even 8th distance showing tee to green he is on top of things. And that was on a course arguably not suited to his game. Putting was poor last week and that would be our only worry. But coming to a tournament where he did finish 4th, not on this course, in 2012 he should be full of confidence.

Tyrrell Hatton (80/1 BetFred)

Still has a lot to do to win us over - courtesy of Bollington

Still has a lot to do to win us over – courtesy of Bollington

Once again, great value. Despite a shocking first name, volatile temperament and questionable putting stroke, at only 22, this lad has a big future. He burst into the European Tour after a run of 4 top 10’s in the final 5 Challenge Tour events in 2013. So he has talent. As you can imagine, 2014 has been a rollercoaster but ultimately a very successful one. T10 Abu Dhabi, T2 Joburg Open, T4 Scottish Open and T3 last week have been some of the highlights.

Given his tremendous play last week where he ranked 8th accuracy, 5th GIR and 20th putts per GIR, he will still be buzzing with confidence. What makes us more interested is that T4 at the Scottish Open we just mentioned. The courses have similarities and more importantly shows he has the short game for links golf. He ranked 3rd putts per round and 10th putts per GIR over the 4 days in Scotland.

And having been paired with David Lipsky on the final day in Switzerland, he will have seen exactly what it takes to get the job done.

David Lynn (66/1 Paddy Power)

More of that this week Dave - courtesy of golf.com

More of that this week Dave – courtesy of golf.com

We actually managed to get the Englishman at 90/1 when the odds were first released meaning 66/1 makes him somewhat less appealing. Even so, this track has brought the ultimate consistency from his game. 7th 2006, 12th 2007 and 12th 2008 means he certainly knows the layout. Not to mention he won this tournament in 2004, claiming the first of only 2 European Tour titles.

But this year we have rarely seen the man who finished 2nd at the 2012 PGA Championship, 1 of only 3 cuts made in major tournaments. So when he wants to, he can compete with the best of them. A win in Portugal last year showed us once again he’s a top player.

It was his top 25 last week and short game stats that have ultimately convinced us to go there in Holland. He ranked 9th putts per GIR and 17th putts per round. If he transfers that onto a course he knows very well, it could be the perfect combination.

Outside Bet

Brett Rumford (200/1 Stan James) (20/1 Top 10)

Firstly, why not at this price. The Aussie, who tore it up in 2013, has arguably the best short game on the European circuit. Question marks always surround his tee to green game but when he putts well, he wins. And last week, he ranked 1st putts per round and 5th putts per GIR. Admittedly, his T13 in Switzerland was the first cut he made since early June but coming to a course he did finish 17th on in 2007, it does seem like a cracking option. 20/1 top 10 sounds even more appealing!

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

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.
@dfreddy90

@dfreddy90

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