After our play-off heartache in Sweden which saw Thongchai Jaidee defeat Gallacher and Dubuisson with a magnificent approach shot on the par 5 18th, we now move to mainland Europe for the Lyoness Open. Held in Austria on the 7,433 yard par 72 Diamond CC, the event is one which saw us win a bit of money on Joost Luiten last year. It’s an event that does not attract the greatest of fields with all the big boys gearing up for the US Open in a couple of weeks (Our preview will be live in a few days). And knowing that we can understand why there is not a lot of value to be had in the market. 2013 Champ Luiten, local boy Wiesberger and the cigar-smoking Jimenez can all be found at single figure odds. Having said that, we have still managed to find what we deem as people who fit this course perfectly.
The track itself is all about accuracy off the tee, GIR and then holing those putts per GIR. In 2013 Luiten topped GIR statistics and was 2nd in driving accuracy. This made things pretty comfortable for the Dutchman in the end. The fairways are tight and there are a few island greens out there with water a very daunting prospect even if you find the fairway. It’s an event that has been notoriously dominated by straight hitters and we can’t see that changing this week.
Of the lower odds Romain Wattel comes in with a red-hot putter and Joost Luiten boasts a win and a 3rd place in his only two starts here. But we feel they are too low to consider.
Craig Lee (66/1 Various)
The Scot has not really had the best of seasons since he blew up in the final pairing over in Abu Dhabi back in January. Not surprising considering he was paired with Phil Mickelson! After that he has failed to even record a top 20, until last week. Sweden saw the return of the consistent game we know Craig has. He ranked 2nd in driving accuracy finding 87.5% of the fairways and 6th GIR. He put in a solid performance on the greens but just didn’t score heavily enough to contend. His best round of the week came on Sunday when he shot a 67 and he will be brimming with confidence having finally found some consistency!
The Diamond CC sets up perfectly for Lee when he’s playing well and his best finish here came last year with a 14th place. He is a player that we absolutely love and it’s about time he bagged his first European Tour title.
Eduardo De La Riva (40/1 BetFred)
Last year’s Lyoness Open saw the Spaniard record one of only two top 10s throughout the whole of 2013. He is a player who has yet to pick up a European Tour title but is one of the straightest off the tee. 2014 has seen a lot more consistency come into his game as he adapts to playing in better quality fields and has not missed a cut since February. He recorded a T10 on a similarly tight track over in Malaysia and his T21 last week in Sweden saw much of the same.
He ranked 6th in driving accuracy last week as well as 23rd GIR. Like Craig Lee, his best round of the week came on Sunday, his only round in the 60’s. It will give him a lot of confidence coming to an event and course that is perfectly set up for him. His only win on the Challenge Tour came on the tight Tecina Golf Course in Spain proving accuracy off the tee is what he is all about.
Michael Hoey (45/1 Bet365)
The Northern Irishman is somewhat of a links specialist and if there’s something that is required on links courses it’s consistency off the tee. That style will be invaluable at the Diamond CC. He is someone who has been talked about by quite a few people the last few weeks but has yet to finish in the top 5 since the start of March over in South Africa. The course in Austria will set up well for him but he has yet to tee it up on the track.
His statistics last week were very promising after missing two cuts prior to Sweden, ranking 18th driving accuracy and 16th GIR which saw him eventually finish T18 alongside Craig Lee. He has the ability to win proven by his 5 European Tour titles and has a title to his name in every year since 2011.
Keith Horne (110/1 Stan James)
The South African is a regular on the Sunshine Tour in his native country and has made a very solid career for himself over there. He earned European Tour status back in 2011 after finishing 2nd in the co-sanctioned Joburg Open. This means he has since made regular appearances away from South Africa on the European Tour. This week in Austria sees his first appearance at a European Tour event that is not co-sanctioned with the Sunshine Tour in 2014. He has finished 9th and 3rd in two of his last four starts.
Most impressive are his statistics, 14th driving accuracy and 30th GIR for 2014. He knows what he is doing off the tee but it is whether he has the nerve on the greens! Was last here in 2010 where he finished T36 but that will have given him vital course knowledge. 5 wins on the very competitive Sunshine Tour shows he has what it takes to win.
Phillip Archer (200/1 Various)
A cheeky outsider for you. Ranks 9th in driving accuracy on the European Tour as well as 18th GIR. He has been shocking with the putter but shot 68 and 65 over the weekend on last week’s Challenge Tour event. Will be confident and his accuracy off the tee is invaluable. Only appearance here was a MC back in 2010.