European Tour Week 5

The Omega Dubai Desert Classic

By Lewis Pacelli

Last week at the Qatar Masters resulted in a phenomenal performance from Englishman Chris Wood, who won his first ever European Tour title.  His consistency was commendable, whilst that eagle on the 18th was an unbelievable show of character and confidence, leapfrogging the late challenges from our tip George Coetzee and Sergio Garcia.  The latter looked very impressive and warrants his low prices for the tournament this week.  If he can get a run of form and momentum going, the Spaniard will definitely be a contender for majors this year.

Chris Wood setting up his eagle on the 18th after this superb 2nd shot

Chris Wood setting up his eagle on the 18th after this superb 2nd shot

This Thursday brings the final leg of the ‘Desert Swing’ events as the players take to the gorgeous Emirates Club course for The Omega Dubai Desert Classic.  We will also see the first outing of the season for Lee Westwood, who took a long break to recuperate and attempt another major challenge this year.  I mean, he hasn’t even tweeted since August!

As for the course, it is 7,316 yards and a par 72.  The putting surfaces are relatively flat with fast Bermuda grass.  There are a few reachable par 5’s, so whilst it may not be the longest course on Tour, someone who can smack a ball will do well.  However, accuracy will be vital to manoeuvre around the doglegs and avoid the multiple water hazards and bunkers.  We feel the challengers will have a mix of power and accuracy, whilst still having some experience in this area of the world.

Every winner in the last 8 years had previously recorded at least 1 top 10 finish in the 3 outings prior to the event,

We warn you – there is the possibility of strong winds at the weekend, which means scores will not be quite as high as last years winner Rafa Cabrera-Bello (-18) and the first appearance on our selections for a perennial storm-loving Danishman. Watch out.

Henrik Stenson (14/1 PaddyPower)

We really fancied the Swede last week, however he was never able to really mount a proper challenge.  Although he was very consistent and proving once more that he is a quality player who could be a big force on Tour if he applies himself properly.

Stenson bulging his muscles in Abu Dhabi

Stenson bulging his muscles in Abu Dhabi

His recent form has been good, without being excellent, but he is one that needs one big round to kick off a title challenge. And he is certainly very capable of that.  Since 2006 he has produced 4 top 10’s on this course, one of which includes his impressive win in 2007, holding off the likes of Els and Woods.

As we all know, the boy can hit a ball and hit it far.  He is averaging just over 300 yards so far this season, lying in 7th for driving distance and could get low scores on the 4 par 5’s.  He is also 33rd for GIR, which prove his iron play is consistent and he will give himself birdie chances.  If he can get his putter going and momentum during the back 9, he could be a major threat this week.

Paul Casey (25/1 PaddyPower)

The Englishman has constantly been on the cusp of greatness but has never fully fulfilled his magnificent potential.  What may shock some people is that he now finds himself at 124th in the world rankings.  Which begs the question; does he warrant those low odds for someone not even in the top 100? Well let us tell you why he does.

He has never entered this tournament and not found himself in the top 20, which shows he likes the track.  Plus, the end to last season and beginning to this one has shown signs of an improving Casey.  He had a torrid time for a long period, where everything he touched turned sour.  But because of his talent, we always kept an eye on him and he started getting more airtime and his name started creeping up the leaderboards.

His T6th at the BMW Masters last year was the biggest sign yet, where he carded 3 68’s in a row. Consistency that hadn’t been seen from him in a long time.

His iron play is improving, now lying in 15th for GIR whilst he his averaging 293 yards off the tee, a few yards further than last year.  All in all, we feel Casey has so much to prove and he is starting to realise his slip out of the top 100 will result in fewer tournament invites.  He can certainly challenge here, after decent showings in the last 2 weeks, where his accuracy and tee to green play has been as good as anyone’s. If he can only get his putter to work fluidly… Got to keep the faith.

Thomas Bjorn (45/1 PaddyPower)

Well. Mr. Bjorn has his first mention on tour as one of DownThe18th’s leading men arrives in Dubai with a major e/w shout.  His recent two performances were certainly below par, making the cuts, however never mounting any sort of challenge for the top 20.  However his form at the Emirates Club stands out from the crowd, winning it the first time the tournament moved courses back in 2001.

The fresh-faced Bjorn with the Dubai Desert Classic trophy in 2001.

The fresh-faced Bjorn with the Dubai Desert Classic trophy in 2001.

He was also T9th last year, during an interesting patch of form for the Dane.  The stats don’t particularly hold Bjorn in the greatest of lights, however there is just something about him that make his case appealing. He has an ability to work a way around difficult situations and courses, whilst the weather forecast is predicting stronger winds at the weekend.  If he can get in contention, the Great Dane will thrive off the conditions and then, who knows!

Danny Willet (45/1 PaddyPower)

Danny Willet is a surprise selection this week, but his recent form and attributes could really suit the course in Dubai.  The Englishman was T23rd in Abu Dhabi a few weeks ago, with a consistent 4 rounds of golf, all under par.  Whilst prior to that his T5th in South Africa, proved he has the capabilities of finishing high up the leaderboard and more importantly showed he can hit low scores – something that will be needed here for sure.  He hasn’t missed a cut in 9 tournaments, which includes 4 top 10 finishes. His T6th in Portugal is a major sign that his game will adapt well here, as players who perform in the Algarve, generally succeed in Dubai. (He has 2 T6s out of 3 in Portugal) The first appearance here 2 years ago, ended in finishing 48th, yet he showed he has the ability after a first round 68.  Without the nightmare 77 on the final day he would of comfortably been in the top 20 and it is rare he shoots an over par round to that extent.

Plus, Willet does have the bottle to hold out in pressure situations, as proven by his maiden win at the BMW International Open last year, holding off Marcus Fraser in a four-hole playoff.  Considering he had never won a tournament, it was an impressive feat.

He has averaged 296 yards for the last 2 seasons and currently lies in 19th in driving distance, whilst he is 23rd in GIR.  Tee to green he will definitely do a job and just like his countryman Paul Casey, he must get his putter working if he is to challenge the top 5.

Andy Sullivan (150/1 PaddyPower)

Andy Sullivan has a chance to upset the odds this week

Andy Sullivan has a chance to upset the odds this week

Our long shot this week comes in the form of another Englishman, Andy Sullivan.  Admittedly, he has never played this course, having only turned pro in 2011, however his T9th last week in Qatar grabbed our attention.  He carded a 65 on the last day, proving his ability to hit a low score and his T3rd at the Alfred Dunhill in December produced a 64.  We are certain he has a big future in the game and he could cause a few upsets this week.  3 out of 5 tournaments in the top 10 shows his form and with an average distance of 295 yards off the tee, alongside lying 33rd for driving accuracy, his attributes are perfect for quality golf in the desert.  He is no mug with irons either, currently in 42nd for his GIR, showing he can hit the green.  All in all, at those odds it would be foolish not to have a punt!

DownThe18th Double.

This week’s double comes in the form of a Swede and an American. Funnily enough just as it was last week!  Henrik Stenson and Ryan Palmer throw up the combined odds of 1050/1, which is just too big to turn down.  Both have great shouts for their respective tournaments, so instead of spend a couple of quid on a lottery ticket, chuck it on this. You have way more chance of earning a healthy sum.

Plus, Rickie Fowler and Stenson have the combined odds of 295/1 and we need say no more on the potential of that double…

Enjoy.

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PGA Tour Week 5

The Waste Management Phoenix Open

Last week at The Farmers Insurance Open marked the start of Tiger Woods’ bid for major success in 2013.  The former world number 1 stormed to the title with victory never really in doubt once he hit the front.  Is he back?  Well 4 titles last year and 8 top 4 finishes suggests he already was.  The key for me is whether his driver works well or not.  The driving demons came back to haunt him on his last round at the Farmers, with a few bogeys and doubles appearing on his scorecard.  But his putter was working well and the infamous Tiger chipping game was back on song.  He will be in contention at the majors for sure but will he creep closer to Jack Nicklaus’ 18 major wins?   That remains to be seen.

The PGA Tour moves to Arizona this week and one of the more interesting courses on the Tour, TPC Scottsdale.  The distance is pretty standard at 7,216 yards but as with every tournament accuracy off the tee and GIR is important.  Driving accuracy on average was down the last 2 years showing fairways are not as easy to find as they used to be.  The altitude here plays a factor with the ball flying that little bit further.  Big hitters will find the course easier on a whole but play around the green and good usage of irons will be essential.  Large, fast greens will feature prominently too.

This course is noted for the quite special par 3 16th.  Surrounded by 20,000 spectators, the players have to prove their worth and get it close or risk a chorus of boos from the Scottsdale faithful.   Some have described the 16th as “one big party” on this “amphitheatre” like hole.    There have been some incredible scenes there over the years, most notably Tiger Woods’ hole-in-one back in ’97.  Or there was Ian Poulter’s one-finger salute to the gallery after a disaster putt 3 years ago.   On average the Phoenix Open gets around 500,000 spectators making it a tournament for the showmen on the tour.  Bubba Watson, a man you could certainly put into that bracket, has already been tweeting this week about the 16th saying “Thinkin about what do on 16th on Friday, anyone got any ideas? #whatwouldbubbado”.  Expect a few tweets from @DownThe18th on when the field moves through the 16th this week!  Given the size of the tournament, you can expect one of the ‘big-names’ on the tour to take this one.

The iconic 16th at TPC Scottsdale

The iconic 16th at TPC Scottsdale

Bubba Watson (18/1 Paddy Power)

We have to start by saying he was our favourite last week at the Farmers Insurance but pre-tournament flu meant he had to withdraw much to our dismay!  But this tournament is made for Bubba.  Big crowds, huge atmosphere and pressure holes in which big personalities will thrive off.  Being a local lad, born and bred in Scottsdale, Watson knows the course well and has been a solid performer at this tournament for years.  5th place here last year shows his game suits this course well and he recorded an 8th place in his first ever play here back in ’07.  Of course his Masters win last year will fill him with loads of confidence going into 2013.  The American was 2nd last year in GIR on the tour which is quite some feat for such a big hitter.  And when he does stray off the green fear not as he was 1st in finding the greens from places other than the fairway in 2012.  We can certainly see Bubba doing well in his back yard and watch out for his antics on the 16th this week!

Rickie Fowler (16/1 Paddy Power)

Fowler in his usual orange attire will go close this week

Fowler in his usual orange attire hoping to go close this week

Fowler is one that will definitely win one or two tournaments this year and he possesses that flair and character to win this Phoenix Open.  We backed Fowler last week and what a 4 days he had.  He started with an atrocious rock bottom round of 77 and then went about climbing the leaderboard in stunning fashion and but for a birdie on the last from Nick Watney, he would have had a T5 e/w finish.  Fowler is a DownThe18th ‘player to watch’ this year and his 2 top 10 finishes at the end of 2012 showed his game is starting to come together.  The young American certainly enjoys it at TPC Scottsdale with a 26th in ’12, 13th in ’11 and a solo 2nd back in 2010 on only his second appearance at the tournament.   2 T6’s to start 2013 shows Fowler means business and as long as he can keep a poor round off his card we think he will go very close this week.

 

Robert Garrigus (33/1 Paddy Power)

The big hitting American is someone who took our fancy at the Humana Classic at the start of the month and he put in a steady performance with a T16 -20 and followed that up last week with a T6 -8 at the Farmers Insurance.   So Garrigus’ game is definitely on it at the moment.  As we stated earlier it’s not imperative that you hit the ball long here but it certainly helps!  He is 5th in driving distance on the tour this year and pair that with his 5th place in GIR, he possesses some impressive stats.  Garrigus also finds himself 3rd in scrambling on the tour this year, so as long as he holes some putts, this could again be one where the big man goes close.  His course form is slightly worrying with 3 missed cuts in 5 years but we’re sure his form this year will cast any doubt he has aside.  He did have an 11th place finish here back in ’07 which means he can hold his own round the course.

Palmer hoping to sneak under the radar

Palmer hoping to sneak under the radar

Ryan Palmer (66/1 Paddy Power)

For the odds that he finds himself at, Palmer is a great e/w shout.  His last tournament, The Humana Challenge, culminated in a T6 -23 and a cool $200,000 pay-out.  His course record around Scottsdale is not to be sniffed at, with a 2nd place finish back in ’06 in only his second appearance at the Phoenix Open.  He has since followed that with some solid golf around the course, best of which was 11th place in 2010.  As for current form, Palmer has some impressive stats about him.  He is currently driving it significantly longer than anyone else on the tour, some 8 yards on average longer than the man in 2nd place.  Distance is not imperative as I’ve said, but it will help!  He is 5th on the tour in GIR % which is vital on any course and shows he will always give himself a chance for birdies.  Palmer also finds himself 2nd in birdies on par5’s this year, of which there are 3 on this course and they will need to be taken advantage of.  He was also ranked 8th in 2012 in birdie average, so he certainly knows how to gain a shot or two.  We think Palmer can shock a few here and sneak under the radar.

Ryan Moore (66/1 Paddy Power)

Ryan is another one of these golfers we will always fancy whatever the course.  His odds are very tempting for such a great talent who has experience of winning on the tour.  We have always had a soft spot for him after watching all 4 days of the Justin Timberlake Open towards the back end of last year where he played some scintillating golf and won convincingly.  In the first 3 months of 2012, Moore brought home 8 top 10 finishes which only Rory Mcilroy bettered.  This shows he likes to play his best stuff at the start of the year.  Saying that, Moore hit a hot streak of form towards the end of 2012 finishing T10 in both Deutsche Bank Champs and The BMW Championship.  He followed those with a T3 at The Tour Championship and he finished the year in style at The Justin Timberlake.  At only 30, Moore can go a long way in the game and again we will be shocked if he doesn’t pick up a couple of tour wins along the way this year.  His 11th place finish in last year’s FedEx Cup playoffs means he will now ply his trade in all 4 majors this year as well as World Golf Championship events.  He has said he will take a lot more breaks this year thus focusing on his stronger events.  As for course form, he had a very tasty 6th place in 2009 followed by a solid 14th in 2010, so he knows his way around this place.  The American has missed the last 2 PGA Tour events as a result and will be fresh going into the Phoenix this week.  We like him and think he will go close!

The big American could have a big year

The big American could have a big year

 

PGA Tour Week 4

Farmers Insurance Open

By Lewis Pacelli

Last week at the Humana Challenge Brian Gay walked away as the winner after a 3-way playoff, with Scott Stallings bottling a 5-shot lead going into the last day.  It was a remarkable tournament, with many high scores and places changing every half-hour.  Our top selection Robert Garrigus was always in and around the top 20, eventually finishing T16th.

However, onto this week. The tournament formerly known as The Buick Invitational arrives once again at the famous Torrey Pines course for a mouth-watering four days of golf.  Some of the biggest names will be challenging a notoriously difficult South Course, alongside 1 round at the somewhat easier North Course.

The yardage at the South will be playing at 7,600, whilst the fairways are relatively tight and tough, as is the rough stuff.  The greens are on the small side, which means accuracy and length with the irons is imperative, whilst scrambling will come into play, due to how difficult it is going to be hitting the greens regularly.  Most players won’t be hitting the fairway from every tee shot, so talent at recovering from difficult situations and in the rough are going to be key attributes.  The greens are fast Poa Annua. Basically, it is an incredibly difficult course – the fairways consistently rank inside the top 10 for most difficult to find off the tee.

Whilst the North is a staggering 800 yards shorter than its sister course and the last 3 winners have posted low scores here, showing how vital it is to find those birdies in that 1 round.  With Bent/Poa mixed greens, it is ranked as the 3rd easiest course on the PGA Tour.

Bubba Watson  (14/1 Paddy Power)

Bubba finding his way out of trouble once more

Bubba finding his way out of trouble once more

Bubba Watson is a superb talent, culminating in the stunning performance at The Masters last year.  That shot around the trees from a precarious position sums up one of the reasons we are picking him this week.  At Torrey Pines, accuracy is key just as much as recovering from those shots that stray a tad.  And this is the perfect man for those situations.  So far he is 2nd GIR % this year and 2nd last season.  His 14th GIR from positions other than the fairway, where he was 1st last year, is the most striking stat and as we all know, this boy can strike a ball a ridiculous distance. Which will come in handy on The South, whilst he could really hit low scores on the North with wider fairways and bigger greens to aim for.

One of the most important factors for all serious contenders this week will be their course history.  Every one of the past 11 winners have recorded a top 10 a previous year, so course form is imperative.

Tournament Record –

2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012
T56th T4th T47th T7th MC 1st T13th

Rickie Fowler (28/1 Paddy Power)

One of our top ‘players to watch’ this year has made a superb start to the season after a T6 at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions a few weeks ago. His form last year did dip dramatically, but his 2 tournaments in December brought about 2 top 10’s, which is a sign of bright things to come.

His driving distances were poor at Kapulua, however his iron play was exciting once more, having hit 42 out of the 54 holes played and 78% of his shots off the fairway found the green.

His form here also makes interesting reading, with his 3 appearances bringing 3 top 20’s.  We feel his Californian roots have helped him on greens he would have been used to growing up and it should certainly aid him this week again.

All in all, he has too much talent to not win big tournaments and majors and this is certainly a cracking place to get his 2013 properly started.

2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012
T5 T20 T13th

Charles Howell  (28/1  Paddy Power)

Charles Howell iii was a player who used to grace every tournament with efficiency, even reaching the top 15 in the world, yet his form seriously dipped for a few years, but we feel a renaissance is on the horizon after 2 relatively consistent seasons.  He ended last season with 4 consecutive top 20’s and has started 2013 in stunning fashion, with a 3rd and 2nd after a playoff defeat last weekend, already earning him nearly as much dollar as last season.

Howell contemplating his putt in the playoff last weekend

Howell contemplating his putt in the playoff last weekend

He currently lies in 43rd for GIR % and 7th GIR % from places other than the fairway and with average driving distance coupled with lying 1st in scrambling, he has plenty of attributes to achieve a high finish.

His form at Torrey Pines is exemplary, being the 5th highest all-time earner there – the highest amongst non-winners.  Yes, he has not won on the tour since 2007, but surely, his time must come soon and this would certainly fit the bill.

2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012
T39 T2 T3 T42 T9 T14 T43

Camillio Villegas (100/1 Paddy Power)

Our long shot this week goes to a man who has had more turbulence over the years than Denzel Washington experienced in the whole of his new movie, Flight.

After some inconsistent years on the tour, the Colombian has begun to reverse his fortunes, having not missed a cut in 7 outings and 3 67s to close out last weekend is very encouraging. Even though there was a T47 finish, signs are evident he could go much higher this week.

Known for being devlish with his irons, finishing 4th GIR % last year and 3rd from anywhere but the fairway GIR %, he is a man with the accuracy to tackle this course.  Yet, even when his accuracy fails, his scrambling abilities show Villegas has scored a par or better on 11 out of the 14 greens missed.  With average driving distance and accuracy, he will be relying heavily on his approach play.

Form here doesn’t jump out at you, but is certainly intriguing, with some very impressive performances, especially the T3 in 2009. Worth an e/w punt at those prices for sure.

2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012
MC MC T13 T3 T44 T22

Hunter Mahan (35/1 Paddy Power)

Hunter is another golfer whose renowned iron work, could come in handy when challenging the leaderboard this weekend.  He ended 2012 with a T8 and T9, followed by a T26 at Kapalua.  He has impressed at majors before and is always in and around the places come Sunday at big tournaments.  With very good driving accuracy – 16th last season alongside 13th GIR %, he has the talent to grind his way to a good score.  Whilst his form here, proves he enjoys the courses and would also tie in to the running theme of previous winners, having finished inside the top 10 last season.

2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012
MC T56 T29 T11 T27 T6 T6

John Rollins (50/1 Paddy Power)

John Rollins could be a surprise winner this week

John Rollins could be a surprise winner this week

Last week Rollins finished T16 after recording a remarkable 28 birdies.  It was his 2nd top 20 in a row after what was a disappointing end to 2012.  He averages over 300 yards from the tee, which is exciting when you consider 60% of the fairways have been found.  He has also hit 111 out of the 144 greens so far this season, a considerable improvement on last and one of the brightest signs that this is a player on the move.

Once again form here is eye-catching, with a 2nd and T4 before his 3rd place last year.  If he has the confidence back, without doubt he could challenge at the top.

2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012
T4 MC 65th 2nd T20 MC 3rd

 DownThe18th Double

Every week we will be giving you our top picks from both European and PGATours, in a double where the odds are always very attractive!

For our first ever DownThe18th Double we will be suggesting you put your hard earned money on Henrik Stenson and Bubba Watson e/w with odds of 315/1 (Paddy Power) Would be rude not to….

European Tour Week 4

Commercial Bank Qatar Masters

The European Tour moves onto Qatar this week and the long, testing course at Doha Golf Club.  After a great win for one of our ‘players to watch’ Jamie Donaldson in Abu Dhabi last week closely followed by Justin Rose (our number 1 pick for the week) and Thorbjorn Olesen (another of our ‘players to watch’) in tied 2nd, it was a pretty solid start for us at DownThe18th.

This week sees mostly the same field move onto Qatar.  The course at Doha Golf Club is renowned for playing rather long with big hitters such as Henrik Stenson, Alvaro Quiros and Robert Karlsson all picking up victories here in the last 7 years.  The course will be playing at 7,400 yards, whilst the fairways have been slightly narrowed which means accuracy has to be taken into account as well as distance although the rough will play relatively fair.  Weather is predicted to be very good this week so we can expect to see some great golf and lots of low scores.

Henrik Stenson (20/1 Paddy Power)

Stenson back to his best in his home country

Stenson back to his best in his home country

As soon as I knew Doha Golf Club plays quite long I immediately thought of Henrik Stenson who appears to be back to his best.  Henrik went off the radar for about two years with driver issues but after some intensive training Stenson managed to regain his swing and regain some form.  I first saw him coming into form back at last year’s Masters where he led the tournament for most of the 1st day.  After some aggressive play, the swede stormed to the South African Open title at the end of last year beating a very competitive field and winning by 3 shots.  Once players get a feel for this course they tend to perform well here, Alvaro Quiros proving that with a win and two 2nd places in the last 4 years.  Henrik won here back in ’06 and was runner up in ’05, ’08 and ’09 showing Qatar is a place where he plays his best stuff.   Stenson was playing some very solid golf last week in Dubai finishing just outside the top 20.  I think he will push on from that and go very close here at Qatar this week.

Jason Dufner (16/1 Paddy Power)

Starting to be recognised as a very consistent performer on the golfing circuit now with his calmness and composure from tee to green.    Dufner has been plying his trade all over the globe in the past few weeks meaning he is adding a lot of variety to his game.  After his 9th place in Abu Dhabi last week Dufner said “I feel like my game is right there” and if not for a poor last hole he would have been top 5.  He was also 1st place in driving accuracy on the PGA Tour last year which will be pivotal on the Doha Golf Course.  With Jason now 11th in the world rankings and a key member of the US Ryder Cup Team, his credentials speak for themselves and I would be shocked if he didn’t secure at least a place here.

Thorbjorn Olesen (25/1 Paddy Power)

Thorbjorn is DownThe18th’s top player to watch for this year and his T2 in Abu Dhabi last week shows exactly why.  All eyes were on Rory Mcilroy last week and his new multi-million pound Nike deal but Thorbjorn too has been snapped up by the major brand and has been donning the famous tick since the start of the year.  His performance last week was quite sensational when you think he was playing with a whole new set of clubs.   This just shows what natural ability the young Dane has.  After watching most of the Abu Dhabi Championship it was clear that his game was right there, looking very confident off the tee and was in with a shout for birdie on almost every hole.  His average of over 70% GIR for this year and last shows anything above a par is a rarity for Olesen.  His close relationship with his caddy was also good to see with the banter clearly flying between them on every hole, watch out for these two sharing a few jokes.  But for a wayward tee shot last week on the par 4 6th in his last round where he double bogeyed, the championship arguably could’ve been his.  The Dane has averaged over 290 yards off the tee in his last 3 years on the tour, including this year, showing he will have no worries dealing with the 7,400 yard course.  And of course, we do like Scandinavian’s here at DownThe18th and it would be fitting if Olesen walked away with Qatar Masters Trophy and the $2.5million winner’s cheque.

Olesen in full flow on his way to T2 last week at Abu Dhabi

Olesen in full flow on his way to T2 last week at Abu Dhabi

George Coetzee (28/1 Paddy Power)

Coetzee is another golfer we like the look of here at DownThe18th.  After some stunning golf from his compatriots in the last year in the shape of Messrs Oosthiuzen, Grace and Schwartzel the limelight was somewhat taken off Coetzee who had his most successful year on the tour to date.  He finished 21st in The Race to Dubai and also entered the official world top 50 rankings.  He has averaged 300yards off the tee in his last 4 years and you could arguably call him a ‘big hitter’ a title you would gladly want on this course in Doha.  Pair this with some impressive GIR stats in the previous years, I think this could be the time where Coetzee comes out on top of his South African compatriots.  Last week’s 9th place in Abu Dhabi shows the South African is hitting form just at the right time for him to claim his maiden victory on the European Tour.

Marc Warren (125/1 Paddy Power)

Could be a big week for the man from Glasgow

Could be a big week for the man from Glasgow

My one outside shot this week is going to Marc Warren.  The Scotsman has shown great consistency in his last few tournaments for a player with such high odds.  Warren has recorded 2 wins on the European Tour, one of which was at the 7,600 yard Scandinavian Masters where he beat the big hitting Robert Karlsson in a playoff.   The Glaswegian finished T35 here last year but was well in contention after the first two rounds.   Warren is also 5th in driving distance in the European Tour in 2013 averaging over 302yards off the tee.  So if Warren can find some putting form, he could be a very cheeky shout for an e/w this week.  You have to chuck a £1 on at that price don’t you?

 

European Tour Week 3

By Lewis Pacelli

Due to this being our first week of the blog getting up and running, we will only put a couple of people up that we fancy to do well.   In the coming weeks will do many more for all tournaments on both tours.

Abu Dhabi World Championship

The Abu Dhabi Championships welcome some of the biggest names in the game to the Abu Dhabi Golf Club this week. Paul Casey and Martin Kaymer have been dominant here over the past few years, winning 5 out of the last 6 times, with only Robert Rocks victory last season halting the remarkable trend. The fairways are going to be tighter this year with it being described as “narrower than average” but on the whole the course is relatively exposed. We do feel that it won’t be one of the “bombers” but someone with good accuracy that could challenge this week.

Paddy Power are also paying 6 places this week! Would be foolish not to get involved on that!

Justin Rose (16/1 Paddy Power)

Justin Rose begins his 2013 looking to improve on what was a solid season last year, as the Englishman starts to find his form that gave him the heavy burden of “next English major winner”.

His end to 2012 was very impressive – 2nd, T24, T6, T3, T5. He will want to transfer this form into the New Year and we feel this could be a very interesting place to start.

He has never played here before, but we are sure this will not hamper his challenge. The course has been “toughened up” and this could play into his hands and adding this tournament to his schedule would of come with consideration that he can contend. Accuracy will be more important here than usual and Rose is always consistent in this department. He was 3rd overall last season in accuracy from the tee and coupled together with 18th in driving distance, he has a lethal combination for this course. Whilst his GIR were 1st throughout the year, which means he rarely bottles a good tee shot. We really feel he could have a good year and this is a course that suits to start it all off.

Anders Hansen (50/1 Paddy Power)

Hansen has a very respectable track record at Abu Dhabi, especially considering he is not the biggest of hitters on the tour.  14th in 2012, 8th in 2010 and T18th in 2009 shows his pedigree on the course.  In each of his last 19 competitive rounds at the Abu Dhabi Golf Hansen has been par or better.  With the fairways being made much tighter this year, many of the big hitters who thrive on this course could fall foul leaving the door open for someone like Anders.  Being 12th in Driving Accuracy on the European Tour in 2012 shows the smaller fairways will not be a problem for the Dane.  At the back end of last year, Hansen hit some sort of form with a 7th, 10th and 21st in his last 3 tournaments, the latter being in Dubai.

Mr Consistency at the Abu Dhabi Golf Club

Mr Consistency at the Abu Dhabi Golf Club