Here we are again in the UK, this time in Wales for their Open, on a course many of us will know well. It is none other than the Celtic Manor Resort, Twenty Ten course which played host to the 2010 Ryder Cup. Only Miguel Jimenez and Ross Fisher are in the field this week from Colin Montgomerie’s victorious European side.
The course is a very challenging, links-style exposed course where players will not be going as low as last week in Scotland. Only 13 players managed to finish under par last year which tells a story in itself. The first part of the course features long rough and greenside swales on all the holes making accuracy absolutely vital. As the players go deeper into the course, more and more water hazards will await. Half of the holes on the Twenty Ten Course feature water hazards!
No matter who you back this week, the potential for double and triple bogeys will be very high for all 4 days. It will be the most consistent players who flourish. McDowell, Jaidee and Noren are the three most recent winners and all are known for their consistent iron play and course management. Statistically, you need to be looking at accurate players with good GIR stats (4 of the top 7 last year ranked inside the top 11 for GIR). 2012 winner Thongchai Jaidee also ranked 2nd for putts per GIR.
Chris Wood (35/1 Paddy Power)
The huge Englishman is someone who we feel will go under the radar this week. At 35/1 for someone who has already won in 2013 and has good course form on Celtic Manor seems like too good value to miss. What we like is that Wood has an eye for links golf, coming 5th at the Open as an amateur in 2008 and then 3rd a year later on arguably two tougher courses. After winning the Qatar Masters in January, Wood’s confidence will have been taken to a whole new level and he will definitely believe he has what it takes in Wales. He also won around this time last year on the OneAsia Tour with victory at the Thailand Open.
You have to look at his average recent form with the knowledge that two of his last three events have been majors, but did make the cut at the Open. At the start of August, Wood did finish T7 at the WGC Bridgestone Invitational mixing it with the best in the world. Wood has limited his appearances this year, mainly taking part in the bigger events and his statistics reflect this. In Wales he has recorded a 10th in ’09 and 14th last year. Wood also played the majority of last year’s event with a back injury and still managed 14th place! So coming into this week fully fit, who knows…
Ross Fisher (20/1 Various)
Fisher will be fancied by many this week and rightly so. He’s as accurate as they come and is definitely due a win sooner or later with the way he has been playing. It is surprising he hasn’t quite pushed on after shooting some really low rounds, but just hasn’t strung them together yet. He finished 10th here in ’08 and then 6th last year when perhaps his game was not in as good a shape as now. Many of his finishes have been on the PGA Tour as well, which features a lot tougher fields.
Fisher’s story last year at Celtic Manor was one of anger and disappointment. He was given a shot penalty and a 10,000 fine for slow play when he was just one shot off Jaidee on the final day. Fisher subsequently fell away and finished 6th. He will want to put the record straight this week. Statistically you won’t find may better, 5th scoring average, 36th driving accuracy, 19th GIR, 18th putts per GIR and 6th sand saves. He did of course feature at Celtic Manor in the 2010 Ryder Cup as well. So will Fisher be able to live up to the hype?
Paul Waring (60/1 888Sport)
Paul is a man who we have backed before and always keep our eye on. Last week he did enough to prove to us he can continue his good play into this week at Celtic Manor. He eventually managed to finish 6th last week. On his day he hits the ball very long and more importantly straight, which is exactly what he was doing last week. If you can drive well this week you will give yourself a chance. When looking at his recent form in Wales, Paul finished 10th in 2009 and therefore has the ability to do well here. Just like Fleetwood last week, Waring is still relatively young and will be itching to grab his first European Tour win. And he has previously finished T19 at the Open proving links golf will not be an issue. For 2013 the Englishman is averaging 297 yards off the tee, is 21st in GIR, 53rd driving accuracy and 36th stroke average. Watch out for him.
Alvaro Quiros (66/1 Bet365)
This is one player we have been waiting and waiting for to get back to full fitness, and we would say he is definitely 95% fit. The Spaniard not only has the ability to win tournaments like these with ease but could certainly go on to win majors. Just like Waring, Alvaro really caught our eye at the Johnnie Walker Championship and his driving was back to its dominant best. His swing is his own and when he’s on form there is nobody better or longer off the tee. But for a few errors, Quiros could quite easily have been in with a shout at the end of day 4 last week. He already has 6 titles on the European Tour so you won’t find many better in the field at these odds. When fully fit he finished 20th in 2010 and has not been back since. Quiros has the perfect game for links golf and a win this week would certainly announce his arrival back from injury.
Eddie Pepperell (100/1 Various)
Our 4th English pick of the week and in many ways the most exciting. The 22 year old will without doubt become one of the top English golfers in years to come and is already a high quality player. His best finish of late was a T6 at the BMW PGA, where he impressed us greatly, whilst finishing T22 at the Irish Open, T8 at the Open de Espana and T28 last week on similarly exposed links-style courses. Pepperell will have grown up knowing about last week’s winner Tommy Fleetwood and it is really hard to choose between them. It will definitely give Eddie massive confidence seeing Fleetwood win last week, showing it can be done. His odds are what they are because his is still such a raw talent and has never played at the Wales Open, but his ability to us makes this great value.