The Memorial Tournament 2014

Purse: $6,200,000 

Winning Share: $1,116,000

Well done to Adam Scott for retaining his spot at the top of the world rankings last week with a magnificent fight back to defeat Jason Dufner in a playoff.

We now move on to Ohio for a Jack Nicklaus classic. His baby and arguably most famous course, Muirfield Village will play host to the Memorial Tournament.

The glorious Muirfield Course

The glorious Muirfield Course

It is an invitational event and once again has attracted a top quality field. It is an infamously interesting layout, a par 72 measuring 7,300 yards and as you come to expect from the great man’s tracks, the challenges come from the quality of approach and in and around the greens.

It is not as destructive off the tee as Colonial last week and with wide fairways, the bombers can release their arms slightly, but that doesn’t mean the winner will be a lunatic with the driver, because some thought is still vital.

You have to look at the iron gurus – especially with water hazards on 13 holes – and players with a magic touch around the greens, recent winners have all been high on the scrambling stats and interestingly every one of the last 7 winners has been inside the top 11 of scoring average.

There are 4 superb par 5s that offer a risk/reward chance to get eagles and birdies and the past few years, the title has pretty much been decided by how well you play those longer holes.

You have to be cautious on course form as well because the last 7 winners have recorded a top 17 in 1 of their previous 2 visits. You will find that most of the top 10 year in, year out have played a few rounds here in the past.

In many ways this is where we feel the run-in to the US Open truly begins.

Luke Donald (28/1 Coral)

Time for some success from the Englishman

Time for some success from the Englishman

 

Luke Donald has been looking very impressive recently. We all thought it would take a long time for his big swing changes to pay dividends, but he is already starting to show glimpses of that magic touch which propelled him to number one in the world.

A few months back at the RBC Heritage, Donald lead going into the final day and although starting poorly, he showed his mental toughness to come back and do more than enough for victory, but Matt Kuchar stole the show with an outrageous hole out from the bunker on the 18th. (And he stole a lot of money from our pockets!)

That performance was one of 3 top 4s in his last 6 outings. He competed last week as well at the BMW PGA Championship, eventually finishing a respectable T3.

The Englishman has really been knocking on the door to get his first win in a couple of years and we couldn’t be more adamant that it’s happening soon and this could definitely be the week.

He has played here many times and whilst not long off the tee, his new swing has given an extra few yards and if you think his lowest position in his last 5 outings is T21, then you realise he has a liking for the course. And he is T24 for par 5 scoring average, which shows his consistency for plotting his way to a birdie.

He is a top quality iron player and around the greens his natural ability is scary – 8th strokes gained putting, 1st putting inside 10ft (with the tight greens and volume of ‘clutch putts’ that could occur, will be very important) and 10th scrambling.

Let’s just hope it’s a shout of LUUUUKKKEEE this time and not a flashback to the RBC…

Phil Mickelson (30/1 StanJames)

When we looked at this tournament last night, we saw a certain Phil Mickelson floating around the 33s mark (with Coral) and we were absolutely stunned.

Considering he has come to the forefront of our US Open antepost bets (our first preview will be up here this weekend, so do come and check back!), where he is at 18s, you have to scratch your head and ask yourself, HUH? No John Huh pun please.

Yes, he has not played a great deal of exciting golf in recent weeks, but he’s ben plodding along setting himself up for that big one to win the Grand Slam of majors.

His last 4 outings have resulted in 2 top 12s and 2 MC, so that is certainly not exceptional golf. But how on earth is at 33s?! In many ways the 18/1 for the US is marginally inaccurate, but we do feel you should grab big Phil at a time like this because these are the situations he loves.

And he has a liking for the course as well, although never lifting the trophy here, his last 5 performances (excluding W/D’s) have resulted in 3 top 10s and a lowest finish of T20.

As a player we all know what he can do. He is an extravagant hitter with a crazy variety of shots in his armoury. On the greens, if he gets on a roll then he is pretty much unstoppable – 10th putting 5 – 10 ft, 35th GIR, 51st scoring average and 46th scrambling. At the end of the day, that’s not bad for someone without a top 5 in the past few weeks.

Come on Phil, let’s get that US Open fever on the rise.

Gary Woodland (35/1 Bet365)

The illusionist that is Gary Woodland

The illusionist that is Gary Woodland

Gary Woodland has not finished lower than 26th in his last 7 tournaments. In fact his whole season has been remarkably consistent ever since that playoff defeat at the CIMB Classic. It is an incredible follow on from a strong end to last season and he will have every confidence coming into an event where he has finished T16 and T6 in 2 of his previous 3 visits.

It is a course that on paper, should suit him perfectly. He is without doubt long enough – 17th driving distance and a wonderful iron player – 30th GIR. 52nd for scrambling and 19th in scoring average all show why he should go well here, but it is on par 5s where he really could prove his worth.

He may only lie 46th in par 5 performance on the stats, probably because there have been a few tournaments where things went horrifically wrong for him, but on the whole his under par scoring has been a joke on those longer holes.

He finished -8 at The Players Championship (T11 overall) and he was -7 on the par 5s.

-4 at the Arnold Palmer Invitational (T20) and he was -8 on the par 5s – he really didn’t enjoy those tough par 3s there…

It’s the same at The Masters, the Valspar Championship, the WGC Cadillac, the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, the CIMB, basically when he is freeing up his arms, he attacks like a machine on a par 5.

That can only stand him in good stead for those tough closing holes.

Michael Thompson (100/1 various)

Michael Thompson has quietly been plugging away in the past few weeks, desperately trying to find some form that saw him get his first maiden trophy at the Honda Classic last year.

He finished T10 last week with a strong 66 to close on Sunday that will give him plenty of confidence coming to Muirfield.

He recorded an outstanding T8 in 2013 here when you consider he shot a miserable 76 on the Friday. If you bring that back, then he would have been way up there challenging the leaders.

Around the greens he is an animal, which is one of the main reason we like him this week – 12th strokes gained putting, 24th putting inside 10 feet and 68th scrambling.

You can be sure that if there is a tough up and down required, Thompson will handle it with ease. He is a solid tee to green player – 65th GIR, 60th ball striking and whilst not hugely long, he has been hitting it further in his past few outings.

Excluding The Players, he has averaged at least 295 yards off the tee, which proves he is more than capable of attacking the longer holes here.

Daniel Summerhays (125/1 various)

Daniel Summerhays and his son loving life in the motor home!

Daniel Summerhays and his son loving life in the motor home!

 

Daniel Summerhays is just a cheeky outsider to consider because like Thompson, he is outstanding around the greens.

19th in both strokes gained and putting inside 10 ft, whilst 65th for scrambling prove his abilities with the shorter clubs and on these tough greens, he could cause an upset.

He is not particularly long off the tee, but with his consistent accuracy, he has the know how to find good positions in order to attack pins and control the ball – 24th driving accuracy, 61st GIR.

Admittedly, his form in the past few tournaments have been erratic, but he is coming to a venue where he contended a couple of years ago, when he finished T4.

He is yet to win on the PGA Tour but this is the sort of course where you can see that changing.

Quick mention must go to Russell Knox (100/1 various)

We have put our money on Russell Knox quite a few times in recent weeks because he constantly fits the bill stats wise for these sort of courses.

He seems to always be in and around without ever challenging, hence why he didn’t quite make it into our top 5, but you cannot ignore his stats.

15th scoring average, 48th putting inside 10 ft, 20th scrambling, 1st proximity to the hole and 17th GIR. Sillyness.

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Nordea Masters 2014

Nordea Masters 2014

Prize Money: 1,500,000

Winner’s Share: €250,000

Another quality field has assembled on the European Tour this week as Sweden takes the turn to host. Rory McIlroy overcame his very public split with tennis star Caroline Wozniacki and whilst many in his position would be at home knocking back a very expensive bottle of scotch, the Northern Irishman decided to win the BMW PGA Championship. Amazingly, his first ever win on European Soil.

The Nordea Masters moves to the PGA National (Lakes Course) in Sweden for the very first time. As with every new course comes a lot of uncertainty regarding how the course will suit certain players. But what we do know is the track is a links course. It features plenty of bunkers on the fairways as well as typical small, deep links-style bunkers around the greens. It will test the players’ sand game to the max. Water and wind will be prevalent and it will make accuracy both off the tee and from the fairway pivotal. The course measures 7,390 yards and will still require length off the tee. All of this makes GIR a key area to be looking at.

The stunning links track in Sweden

The stunning links track in Sweden – Courtesy of 1golf

And if you know us, we love a course where the iron gurus thrive. When you think links and irons, you can already write down a few names…

Scandinavians Stenson, Blixt and Bjorn will lead the charge for the locals this week.

Stephen Gallacher (35/1 BetFred)

Gallacher2The past couple of months have made us realise that Gallacher could have big tournament wins in his locker. 2014 saw him retain his Omega Dubai Desert Classic title but it is since then he has impressed us even more. He managed a T6 at the Cadillac Championship and with it a cheque for nearly €200,000 whilst he followed that up with a T34 at the Masters. His August appearance was marred by an 81 on the Saturday. These results gave him the chance to have a pop over in America on the PGA circuit but found life tough and missed two cuts.

But last week saw Gallacher record a T5 at Wentworth on his return to the European Tour as well as coming 1st in the GIR statistics, perfect coming to this Swedish track. Ryder Cup great Tony Jacklin last week came out and said Gallacher lacks the bottle to keep at the highest level. But with the way Gallacher is currently striking his irons, we strongly disagree.  And we can’t forget that Gallacher is a quality links player too.

Peter Hanson (40/1 Ladbrokes)

Hanson2In his home country on a course which he opened in 2010, we feel this is a great bet. His form on paper does not look impressive but after his T3 start at the Zurich Classic and being round 1 leader at the Byron Nelson a couple of weeks back, his game is on the verge of being back to where he would want to be.

His record at this event is as you would expect for someone of his talents, winning in ’08 as well as runner up and third place in ’04 and ’12 respectively. After going off the radar through injury over the past couple of years this is the perfect place for him to reassert himself as one of the best in the game. His length off the tee and links experience will also be vital.

Alvaro Quiros (66/1 Stan James)

alvaro-quiros-5This is a bit of a hunch from us but last week at Wentworth we saw signs that his game could be setting up perfectly for the Swedish track. We know that he is slowly coming back to the game that saw him win 6 European titles, a couple of those wins being on links style tracks. Besides his well-documented length off the tee, the Spaniard’s irons are also a joy to watch on their day. His short game and accuracy off the tee is sometimes questionable but he ranked 31st in accuracy last week at Wentworth which combined with 2nd for distance makes a deadly combination.

He has recorded a couple of top 10s this year but has yet to make his mark properly on the tour once again. Sweden could definitely suit his game and if he finds fairways consistently has the ability to walk away with it.

Mikko Ilonen (70/1 Stan James)   

Mikko IlonenWe see the man from Finland as great value considering he won this title last year, albeit on a different course. His irons are genuinely up there with the best on his day and we have seen signs throughout this season that he has another win in his locker. Despite never contending at Wentworth, his 2nd in putts per round made us think a bit. If he can bring that to Sweden in more familiar surroundings, he could content once again at the very least.

His T8 at the Volvo China Open is the only recent performance to speak of but his record in this event is unquestionable, winning twice and also coming third here in 2012. He will thrive off the coastal conditions and his irons we can assure you will be a joy to watch.

Rikard Karlberg (80/1 Various)

It’s always nice to finish off the picks with a man from the home nation. Karlberg is a promising talent from Sweden and at only 27 years of age already has two Asian Tour wins to his name.

His form of late has been very respectable finishing T11 at Laguna National and T5 at the Malaysian Open. Last year saw him make the cut at this event for the very first time, coming 4th shooting all four rounds in the 60s. He is yet to properly prove himself at this level but what better place to do it than his native Sweden.

Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial 2014

Crowne PlazaThe Colonial Country Club is one of our personal favourites, with tight fairways and small greens, it brings the best out of everyone in the field. Emphasis will be on accuracy off the tee more than ever this week with even the best tee shots leaving tricky approaches.

Last week saw Brendon Todd take home his maiden PGA title quite comfortably in the end. He ranked 1st in driving accuracy, strokes gained-putting and scramling. With stats like that you would not put it past him doing the same again this week. The field sees Adam Scott swing a club for the first time at the top of world rankings while cases can be made for Spieth, the Johnsons, Kuchar, Furyk and Walker winning in Texas.

The course as we mentioned relies heavily on control off the tee, distance is not required. The small bentgrass greens mean putting and scrambling are arguably the key factors to winning this week. And with 12 par 4’s out there it will be good to see how players rank on par 4 performance.

Courtesy of PGATour

Courtesy of PGATour

One thing to consider is that this week is last chance saloon time for anyone hoping to qualify for the US Open. The world’s top 60 players at the end of this week will guarantee themselves a spot at Pinehurst. Here are the people at Colonial who have not yet booked their spot at Pinehurst:

47. Matt Every 48. Chris Kirk 55. Kevin Stadler 60. Chesson Hadley 62. Marc Leishman 63. Brendon Todd 69. Scott Stallings 70. Kevin Na

Jim Furyk (16/1 Various)

He looks so good in tartan he wants another jacket this week. Courtesy of Daily Mail

He looks so good in tartan he wants another jacket this week.
Courtesy of Daily Mail

We know that 16’s is very short for someone who has not won since late 2010 but we strongly believe this week could finally be the one. If there’s one thing we know about Furyk’s crazy swing, it’s that it will find the centre of the fairway almost every time. He ranks 10th in driving accuracy on the tour this year and it is a swing that has brought him a major, a Tour Championship and 14 other PGA Tour titles.

Jimbo has narrowly missed out on a victory in his last 2 starts this year coming 2nd to Kaymer and Holmes respectively. But what this tells us is that the 44 year old is firmly in the grove and he will be looking to replicate Kuchar who himself overcame 3 narrow defeats by winning at the RBC Heritage.

Colonial is a track that has yielded 4 top 10’s for him since 2003, best of which being a play-off defeat to Rory Sabbatini back in 2007. He ranks 56th GIR, 1st scrambling and 22nd par 4 performance. As long as Furyk doesn’t leave the putter at home, as he often does, we can definitely see him donning the tartan jacket come Sunday.

Kevin Na (50/1 Paddy Power)

We also want a divine intervention this week. Courtesy of GolfWeek

We also want a divine intervention this week.
Courtesy of GolfWeek

Kevin is someone who has enjoyed a relatively successful season so far ranking 18th in the FedEx and recording 4 top 10 finishes. And he is a man who ticks every box for us this week. He comes into it striking the ball well only missing 1 cut in the past 4 months. And Colonial has treated the 30 year old well having never missed the cut here whilst bagging 2 top 10 finishes.

His stats read well for the course ranking 75th driving accuracy, 14th strokes gained-putting, 2nd scrambling and 7th par 4 performance. If he can keep doing what he has been doing on a track that is familiar to him, he could go close. Na also lies 70th in the world rankings meaning a victory would do very nicely for a place at the US Open.

John Senden (50/1 Coral)

John Senden of Austrailia hits from the 15th fairway in Lemont Illinois

Looks like Robocop

We really thought that the Aussie had won his only trophy for another few years after his victory at the Valspar Championship a couple of months ago. But his performances in recent times have led us to believe he might have another win in his locker. His T8 at the Masters has been followed by some solid golf including a T11 last week. And at the Byron Nelson he ranked 2nd driving accuracy and 4th putting average showing he is still on top of his game.

Senden has recorded 2 top 10’s in the past ten years around Colonial and has the perfect game to pick apart this track. He ranks 41st driving accuracy, 31st strokes gained-putting and 63rd scrambling on the tour this year.

Boo Weekley (60/1 Bet365)

Weekley

Booooooooooooo

Can he win back-to-back titles here? Well we think he can. Having racked up to consecutive tartan jackets at the Verizon Heritage (now the RBC) in ’07 and ’08 he will be looking to emulate that feat this week. The course has Weekley’s name written all over it as you will struggle to find a more accurate guy off the tee than Boo. Although Toms, Clark, Durant, Hicks, Z.Johnson and Slocum would beg to differ as they rank above him in driving accuracy this year.

One thing that would always turn us away from Weekley is his short game but after his performance last year and recent displays, we can see everything fitting into place for Colonial. Last week he ranked 1st in scrambling and holed plenty of putts to suggest on greens he has won on, he will be dangerous. One thing we know is that Boo will bring accuracy to the course it’s just whether his short game comes with him.

David Hearn (80/1 Various)

We feel like the Canadian is really good value at 80s. Hearn seems to be a man for the tougher courses having recorded top 10’s at both the Honda Classic and the Valspar Championship, not to mention his 6th two weeks ago at Sawgrass. But like his fellow countryman Graham DeLaet, has yet to win his first PGA title. But as we see year on year, maiden titles are won very often and David could certainly bag his first this week.

He comes into this week ranking 31st driving accuracy, 35th strokes gained-putting, 50th scrambling and 79th par 4 performance. Off the back of his 6th at the Players, he will be brimming with confidence.

BMW PGA Championship 2014

Here we are ladies and gentleman, the European Tour is in full swing of its actual European events and this week we are on English soil for the BMW PGA Championship.

It is one of the flagship events in the calendar year and with it, you sort of get that purring feeling in the build up to the amazing tournaments on the horizon.  The summer really starts here.

The field is usually strong for the BMW and blimey is this year no different.  What an incredible array of worldwide talent mixed with those European Tour stalwarts we will be treated with.  Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose, Luke Donald, Lee Westwood, Henrik Stenson, Sergio Garcia, Martin Kaymer et al but to name a few. (Click here for the full list of entries)

The tournament will be held at the Wentworth Golf Club in Surrey and has been since 1982 consecutively.  It is the home and headquarters of the PGA European Tour and one of the most prestigious venues in world golf, let alone Britain.  Standing at 7,308 yards, it is not a particularly long course but the par 72 track will test players in a variety of ways with the tight, tree-lined fairways being one.

A glorious finishing hole, with water in the way

A glorious finishing hole, with water in the way

Driving will be of great importance, because this is where you can find the positions to attack greens notorious for being difficult to read.  Some may argue that the fairways are wider than most and in reality they are, but the second and third cuts are horrendously tough to play out of and if you are not straight, there will be no chance of posting a competitive score.  Since course resident Ernie Els got involved, it has truly become a ‘thinkers’ track, one that requires previous course knowledge and a plotting of attack/defence strategy.

If the winds pick up then the scoring will not be great and from the early predictions, we can see there will be gales on Thursday and Friday, which only means a lot of fun for us the viewer!

Before we reveal our fancies, it is important to note that this is the first chance for players inside the top 60 of the world rankings to guarantee their places at the US Open in June. Last years champion Matteo Manassero is 59th, George Coetzee 61st, Mikko Ilonen 64th, Pablo Larrazabal 65th and Bernd Wiesberger 66th.  They will all be vying for their spots to get on a plane to Pinehurst…

Francesco Molinari (25/1 various)

Molinari will not by shying away from the elite this week.

Molinari will not by shying away from the elite this week.

We did have long and drawn out discussions about Luke Donald and Justin Rose for this week because undoubtedly they have great appeal and look good to go well.  However, we just felt that 14s was slightly too low for us, but in a way they are understandable prices.

So, when we saw Francesco Molinari at 25s, we thought here is a player that has been playing some superb golf again, finding his groove and coming to a track that should suit him down to a tee.

The Italian has 3 top 10s in his last 6 starts and has been biding his time between the PGA and European Tour this season to great effect.  T5 at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, 4th at the Volvo China Open followed by a superb effort at The Players, where he finished T6.  They are not the easiest of tracks to be dealing with and this proves his quality on tough layouts where thinking is required more than standard brawn – just how Franny likes it.

He has also shown his liking for the course in recent years, with 2 top 10s in a row and we are certain the winner will have played a couple of rounds here at least, so why couldn’t the Italian get his first win since 2012 this week?

With his GIR he lies 57th in the rankings and 29th for driving accuracy and there is no reason why we wouldn’t see him challenging the ‘bigger’ boys come Sunday.

 Jamie Donaldson (40/1 various)

Number One indeed Jamie. Indeed

Number One indeed Jamie. Indeed

A Welshman winning at the flagship English event? Wouldn’t Jamie Donaldson simply love to say that?!  There is no reason why not because when you look at the sort of player he is and season is having, you have the perfect fit for Wentworth.

At 40/1, we felt there was cracking value to be had because he has already proven himself against the best with a hard fought T14 at Augusta and a T2 at the WGC Cadillac, which he really could have won.  He has even decided to take a special exemption to play across the pond for the remainder of the season, which shows how his game has risen over the past year.

He will definitely enjoy his return back to British shores for a one-off weekender (well, weekend we hope!) and with his quality iron play he could be a real threat.  Watching him at both The Masters and the WGC, when he is in full swing, his tee-to-green abilities are outstanding and if he finds himself in a decent position, he will attack flags, usually landing exactly where he wants the ball to.

He has recorded a couple of top 10s here in the past few years, so he knows how to play the course but his new found confidence combined with strong course knowledge could prove to be a winning formula.

Anders Hansen (50/1 various)

Anders Hansen has 3 European Tour wins in his career. 2 of them were here at Wentworth.  To us that makes him interesting before delving deeper into what the Dane can offer this week!  His victories came in 2007 and 2002, but even though they were a few years ago and he hasn’t found a top 10 since, he is coming into Thursday’s tee off with a bit of form behind him.

T5 at the Volvo China Open after an astonishing 63 final round propelled him up the leaderboard was followed by a T2 at the Laguna Championship in Singapore.  He carded 4 rounds in the mid 60s and only finished 1 shot behind winner Felipe Aguilar, all of which will give him so much confidence coming onto a course he knows so well.

We have noted how important it is to have prior knowledge of Wentworth and Hansen can rival anyone when it comes to that.  23rd for GIR, 38th for driving accuracy and 60th for putts per GIR prove his versatility and credentials needed for here.

He is an accurate player and if his iron play is anything like it has been during the past couple of weeks, he could eclipse Luke Donald to a 3rd BMW title…

Danny Willett (80/1 Ladbrokes)

We can hear you all asking whether there will be an Englishman amongst our picks and fear not, Sir Danny Willett has taken the mantle of being our sole native to fight it out on the battlegrounds of Surrey.  He is still in the early stages of his career at 26, but having already bagged a European title, his promise looks undeniable.  (ironically he won another BMW event – the BMW International Open in Cologne 2012)

2014 has been a season of promise as well for the Englishman because barring a withdrawal at the Tshwane Open, he has consistently made cuts and found himself inside the top 43 every week.  He has been challenging, but faded or started slowly and mounted a late surge only to falter at the last hurdle.  It has been a season of almost there but no cigar. (compared to the constantly alight cigar of Miguel Angel Jimenez!)

The cause for optimism at Wentworth however is that he posted a T5 at the Malaysian Open a few weeks back and has finished in the same place round here before in 2010.  There are genuinely few better iron specialists on the European circuit than Willet – T9 for GIR and if he can find that perfect balance tee to green and with the putter, he could be a real handful.

59th for driving accuracy and 82nd for putts per GIR add to his intrigue and at 80s, he is worth an outside punt.

Richie Ramsay (80/1 various)

Suited and booted Richie Ramsay. Do not mess.

Suited and booted Richie Ramsay. Do not mess.

We may not have multiple Englishman but we do have 3 Brits in our 5 and Richie Ramsay makes up for the final selection.

The Scot would probably love it even more than a Welshman to grab the trophy away from his neighbours and in Ramsay, we have a little gem.

The 30-year old has a very similar feel to Willett, both stats wise and form wise, especially when you consider he is an iron guru and if everything flows, he will keep making chances for himself.  He suffered an ankle injury last year and didn’t make his first appearance till March, but he has started with an inconsistent flourish.

T11 at the Trophee Hassan, T2 at the NH Collection Open, followed by 3 average outings and then last week a T5 at the Open de Espana.  There is no doubting how difficult it was last week with the conditions and course layout, so to finish that respectively is very impressive .

His putting was consistently inside the top 15 on all 4 days and his driving and GIR never dropped outside the top 25.  He really looked to be in full motion again and that is dangerous coming onto a course that requires a sturdy level head and course know-how.

It will be his 6th appearance at Wentworth and although his first 4 outings were non-existent, a T9 last year proves he has the ability to post good scores here.

45th for GIR, 60th for driving accuracy and 22nd for putts per GIR is just another indicator that the Scot could really challenge the big boys this week.

Mentions for David Drysdale (300/1 various) and Jin Jeong (400/1 StanJames)

We didn't mention that Jin Jeong also won the silver medal for high amateur at the 2009 Open...Talent

We didn’t mention that Jin Jeong also won the silver medal for high amateur at the 2009 Open…Talent

Just quick mentions for 2 outsiders, if you fancy having a tipple on the more outrageous.  Firstly Scot David Drysdale is a really interesting proposition because he has played here 4 times, finished with a T19 last year and a T10 in 2012, whilst he will be coming into the week with a bit of form.

He hasn’t missed a cut in 7 tournaments and last week finished respectively T28 after a T8 at Laguna the week before.  As a GIR and tee to green specialist, he could be worth a punt – T30 driving accuracy and T69 GIR.

Secondly, South Korean stalwart Jin Jeong is the epitome of iron guru.  His swing is methodical and so consistent, that he loves finding greens on a regular basis.  At only 24-years of age he has his whole career infront of him but considering he already bagged a European Tour title – the ISPS Handa Perth International, he knows how to play amongst the elite.  Another interesting choice if you want more for your money!

 

Open De Espana 2014

Open De EspanaWe’re now moving into the core of the European Tour season with some of the flagship events coming over the next few weeks. This year’s Open De Espana is back at the PGA Catalunya Resort for the first time since 2009 when Thomas Levet took the title.

The 7,172 par 72 looks like it is going to be a high scorer with generous fairways and reasonable weather. The rough will be up and fairways will be tight none the less so accurate ball strikers are needed. Trees and water are in play on plenty of the holes making life tricky if you are wayward off the tee. As long as you are finding fairways, GIR and putting will be where this tournament is won.

Course form is tough to go on other than 2009 but the final stage of Q-school is annually held here meaning many of the boys in the field possess valuable course experience.

The field is one of the best we’ve seen for some time now so it should be a joy to watch. Garcia, Molinari, Jimenez and Bjorn lead the betting.

Francesco Molinari (14/1 Various)

Hoping for a repeat of 2012 Courtesy of Golf Monthly

Hoping for a repeat of 2012
Courtesy of Golf Monthly

If odds were completely irrelevant then it would have been a tossup between Francesco and Sergio. But seeming as the latter finds himself at 5/1 in most places, we have plumped for the Italian.

Molinari is one of the top iron players in the game and on paper this course is perfect for him. What has been surprising is the fact he has not won on the European Tour since taking this title two years ago. But the signs have been promising over the past few months and last week at Sawgrass he really caught our eye. 6th place in one of golf’s biggest events shows the kind of form he is in and his stats back it up too. He ranked T17 driving accuracy, T4 GIR and 34th putting average. Considering the field strength, if he takes that into this week not many will be able to handle him.

He will know that he is due a win and Spain has been kind to him in the past. We are very confident he can take the title this week.

Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano (40/1 Coral)

Castano

Let’s hope he’s not as overshadowed this week…

We know this is one of the best fields on the Tour for some time but even so, we feel 40s for a home favourite is a bet we cannot resist.

His form we agree is not the best but he has still only missed one cut in his last nine starts, and that is on the much tougher PGA Tour. In 2014 Gonzalo made the bold decision to live in America and ply his trade on the PGA Tour full time meaning this week will make a very pleasant change. Besides WGCs and the Masters, the Spaniard’s last stroke play event on the tour was in early January where he finished T19 at the Volvo Golf Champions.

In terms of his game, he is much like our first pick, an iron specialist. What is frustrating at times is his putting. But last week at the Players he finished T20 in putting average which was the final bit of information we needed to back Castano on home soil.

Fabrizio Zanotti (80/1 Various)

Loves it in Spain Courtesy of Compleatgolfer

Loves it in Spain
Courtesy of Compleatgolfer

Zanotti is one of those picks where you have to go there because everything points towards him. 3rd place last week in difficult circumstances is promising and combined with two consecutive 2nd places on this track, makes the Paraguayan a good bet at 80/1. He also finished 15th in the European Tour event back in 2009.

He is relatively accurate and was putting well last week.

Carlos Del Moral (125/1 BetVictor)

Yet another hot caddie wife! Courtesy of European Tour

Yet another hot caddie wife!
Courtesy of European Tour

Another Spaniard and someone else who we again think is good value. Del Moral won here in 2013 at Q-School after five of his six rounds were in the 60s. And like Zanotti, also has two runner-up spots here too. It is clearly a course that fits Carlos perfectly.

We stated earlier putts will need to be holed in high scoring event and he ranks 15th in putts per GIR on the Tour this year. We are sure plenty will fancy both Zanotti and Del Moral and rightly so.

Simon Wakefield (300/1 Stan James)

A final pick at massive odds is Englishman Wakefield. He won Q-School on this track in 2010 and came 12th last year. He finished T8 just three weeks ago in Catalunya on a different course and is playing reasonably well. Ranks 1st in driving accuracy on the European Tour and 49th GIR. Definitely worth a few pennies.

HP Byron Nelson Championship 2014

HPPrize Fund: $6,900,000

Winner’s Share: $1,242,000

It’s been a crazy few weeks at DownThe18th and we’ve got plenty of videos to show you over the coming weeks! But we’re finally back, resuming service as usual. Last week The Players turned out to be a thrilling watch as Martin Kaymer won his 2nd PGA Tour event. His other win was a certain PGA Championship. But onto this week and we find ourselves at TPC Four Seasons.

The 7,166yard par 70 features large undulating greens, several ponds, high and strategically placed bunkers and tight tree-lined fairways. What will be the major factor this week is the wind. If it stays calm out there the course will play very easy with low scoring a must. If the wind blows then the accurate grinders will come into their own.

TPC Four Seasons Las Colinas, Weather Forecast

Looking at the weather, the winds are likely to get up with 17mph gusts expected on the Sunday. So despite the short yardage, the course looks like it is going to be playing difficult. So we will be looking at driving accuracy, GIR and putting. Any wind specialists will need to be looked at. It is more often than not that in windy conditions, your winner comes from further down the field. So do not be scared at looking at people with higher odds.

Jimmy Walker (22/1 BetFred)

No caption needed. Courtesy of Golf.com

No caption needed.
Courtesy of Golf.com

It is hard to envisage yet another Jimmy Walker win on the PGA Tour but we can’t help but think he is going to contend at the very least this week. And TPC Four Seasons is pretty much in Walker’s back yard being just an hour’s flight from his home in San Antonio.

There’s no need to bang on about how impressive his 3 wins have been in this wrap around season. Understandably after those crazy few months, Walker dropped off the pace slightly (He was still comfortably in the top 25 most weeks). But after his T8 at the Masters and then a T6 last week, we feel he is about to strike once more. He ranked T9 in GIR and 1st in putting around Sawgrass and if there is one thing we know about Walker when he putts well, he usually wins.

One of Walker’s wins came at the outrageously windy Pebble Beach pro-am, proving he can definitely handle the windy conditions as well.

Paul Casey (66/1 Paddy Power)

He wants PGA title number 2

He wants PGA title number 2

Paul Casey is rather reminiscent of Martin Kaymer. Like the German, he went off the radar for a few years but re-established himself last year at the Irish Open with a very convincing victory. It is tracks like this where Casey, one of the best drivers of the ball, will have advantage over the rest of the field. He is a very competent player in the wind and has been slowly finding his feet on the PGA Tour once again (His only PGA Tour win came back in 2009).

The Englishman has been lurking in America for a few weeks now and we feel a win is very close. He was T11 at the Zurich Classic and T18 at the RBC Heritage last month. Not since 2011 has Paul recorded 4 top 25 finishes. There’s not much to talk about regarding his PGA Tour statistics although he does rank 2nd in proximity to the hole.

Pat Perez (66/1 BetVictor)  

Room for a trophy on the back seat? Courtesy of CBS

Room for a trophy on the back seat?
Courtesy of CBS

The man from Arizona has been consistently on the top pages of leaderboards this year. His ironplay in particular has been sublime and will work perfectly around TPC Four Seasons. It’s been a bit of a mixed bag in previous years here, with a best finish of 9th two years ago. But we feel Perez is in the grove once more and his competent wind play has pretty much forced us to back him.

Although he finished T48 last week at Sawgrass he ranked T22 and T21 in driving accuracy and GIR respectively. And combine this with 10th strokes gained-putting on the Tour, he certainly catches the eye at these odds. He also recorded a T7 in the very windy Pebble Beach pro-am earlier this year.

Justin Hicks (80/1 BetVictor)

He has a slight bit of Benedict Cumberbatch about him, does he not?! Courtesy of PGATour

He has a slight bit of Benedict Cumberbatch about him, does he not?!
Courtesy of PGATour

Hicks is one of those players who you could back every week because he regularly tops all of the stats leaderboards. So why this week? Well, we’ve seen people like Kevin Stadler and Ken Duke win in recent months and they were exactly the same – never really fancied and yet fit the bill most weeks. So what is Justin all about? He ranks 6th driving accuracy, 4th GIR, T44 strokes gained-putting and T49 proximity to the hole. Last week at The Players, he ranked 3rd driving accuracy and 1st GIR. They almost seem too obvious but he just cannot be ignored.

In the American’s two performances at this tournament since the turn of the century, he has finished 14th and 21st. He fits the bill to be a maiden winner this year, it’s just whether it will be this week or not!