The tour moves on to Austria this week for the Lyoness Open at the Diamond Country Club in Atzenbrugg. There were magical scenes last year as home favourite Bernd Wiesberger came out victorious and he has been installed as a single-figure favourite this time round.
The course itself is a 7,386-yard par 72 with water hazards on 17 of the 18 holes. GIR will therefore be very important and general accuracy from tee to green will go a long way to finding the winner. Two of the 4 par 3s have island style greens, which will always be fun watching a trembling wreck on Sunday bottle a 3 shot lead and hit the drink!
There will be a premium on putting as always, with the greens supposedly in superb conditions. But the real interesting reading comes in with looking at the last 2 years stats in this tournament. 11 out of the top 15 finished inside the top 20 in GIR stats, 8 inside the putts per GIR stats and 10 inside driving accuracy. In 2011 5 of the top 6 were inside the top in GIR and everyone who finished in the top 10 were no lower than 22 in putts per GIR. Basically, that is a lot of GIR.
Before we divulge in the wonders of our picks, we will say that we are only going with 4 names this week because we just feel there is not a lot of great value out there. We love both Thomas ‘Mr.Rain’ Bjorn and Miguel Angel Jimenez but 20/1?! That is criminal. Also Weisberger and Pablo Larrazabal are tailor-made for this tournament and either one of them could run away with it, but are far too short to even think about staking your hard earned money on.
Joost Luiten (25/1 PaddyPower)
Dutchman Joost Luiten has been plodding along on tour so far this season. Never really attacking leaders, but only missing 3 cuts and finding himself in and around on Sundays. Last week he looked solid for the first two days before 2 sub-standard rounds of 70 just never propelled him near Mikko Ilonen and co. He is hitting the ball well and has a good rhythm with his irons – 11th in GIR in Sweden. But we just need to see that extra push from Joost before he will add to his 1 European win. He was 3rd here last year which will give him confidence and hopefully he can get his short stick going smoothly. He is 19th in driving accuracy and 45th in GIR for the season, so from tee to green he is one of the best in Europe. Lets hope he can add to these attributes and finally attack the top of the leaderboard.
Emiliano Grillo (40/1 StanJames)
Even though Grillo has yet to win a professional title, he is only 20-years old, which many people forget when talking about the Argentinean. From what we have seen he can seem a little rash at times, but when he is playing well, he can strike the ball better than most in Europe. Like Luiten, tee to green he is very reliable, but it is whether he can get his putter going. 12th in GIR and 5th in driving accuracy last week on his way to a T20 finish proves his abilities with the longer clubs. He is currently 8th in GIR for the season and going into a tournament where he finished 10th last year, it would not be too unlikely that he can finish high again.
David Drysdale (66/1 Ladbrokes)
Drysdale is another solid ball striker whose accuracy from tee to green will really help him round this course. He represents very good value considering his capabilities and he did come T15 last year, where he was 1st in driving accuracy and 3rd in GIR. His putter let him down then but last week in Sweden, he finished T27 but was 13th in putts per GIR and 15th for putts per round. This is why we got excited over the Scotsman, because there is little argument that he would have challenged Wiesberger last year had he not putted awfully. He is currently 25th in GIR and 10th in driving accuracy on tour, so if he plays to the standards he can, then he really could cause an upset here.
Simon Wakefield (110/1 Bet365)
We will admit that Wakefield has not been in the greatest form of late. He had missed 4 cuts in a row before a T37 finish last week. However, he did finish 2nd in 2011 when he was 1st in GIR and 2nd in driving accuracy, proving his ball striking abilities. He may have yet to win on the European Tour, but his victories on the Challenge and Sunshine Tours show he has the bottle to win. He currently lies in 28th for GIR and 6th in driving accuracy, which when you consider is a 110/1 shot, it is worth a dabble isn’t it?