BMW Masters 2014


Prize Fund: $7,000,000

Winner’s Share: $1,160,000

Course: Lake Malaren Golf Club (7,606 yards par 72)

The race is well and truly on indeed.  The ‘Final Series’ gets underway this week as we begin the shuffling, re-shuffling, confusion and countdown to the season ending DP World Tour Championship in Dubai.

If you thought the FedEx Cup was a confusing web of rules, then the adapted version of the European Tours equivalent will make you reach for the cupboard and open that 1975 Malt whisky you got tucked away.

We understand that you no longer have to play 2 out of the 3 tournaments preceding Dubai, which is ludicrous in itself, but if you play all 3 then you are eligible for some sort of 20% bonus points that get added to your overall score.  Basically, we can’t quite get our whisky-fuelled heads round it, but if you want to try – have a look at this graph and a read of these 2 sites –

Click to access _english.pdf


No idea.

As for this opening tournament though, the Lake Malaren Golf Club in Shanghai plays host to the BMW Masters.  It is an absolute monster of a course, measuring in at a whopping 7,607 yards.  The par 72 has a couple of ridiculous par 4s and one monstrosity of a par 5.  Apart from that though, it is like any other course…

Rory McIlroy teeing it up at Lake Malaren last year.  He isn't here in 2014, but you can see you gorgeous this course is

Rory McIlroy teeing it up at Lake Malaren last year. He isn’t here in 2014, but you can see you gorgeous this course is

It isn’t just about the length though, because this Jack Nicklaus design includes all his trademarks and is a stern test of precision and accuracy as well as brutal power.  Whilst distance off the tee will obviously play a part, GIR gurus will ultimately be the difference, as it has shown in the past 2 outings.  Gonzalo Fernandez-Castaño won last year with an unbelievable iron performance, whilst Peter Hanson had the combined brilliance of holing everything alongside approach-play genius.

Yes both players were not short off the tee, no denying that, but they weren’t in the Colsaerts league either.  The strategists come into play due to the well positioned bunkers and abundance of water that defends the greens and negotiating you’re way round will be a factor.  The undulating greens are quick, tough and will test the field, so it is important to be on your game with the short stick.

You do look at last years leaderboard to see Francesco Molinari and Thongchai Jaidee close behind Castaño and think, well, they aren’t long.  They may not be big hitters, but they are plotters who have an outrageous ability with long irons.  If you are a shorter hitter, your woods and long irons have to be outstanding.

BUT we are throwing a spanner into the works some what.  The weather could make things a little more interesting this week because the first 3 days are scheduled for quite heavy rain, meaning that there could be a bigger emphasis on length, as it will play even longer with soft fairways and potentially be low-scoring. 

We know this may all sound like a jumble of ideas, types of players etc but it is a tough one to call.  There is a whole host of factors to consider and with the small 78 man field, we have extensively gone through to see what could be that winning combination to try and add to our Thorbjørn Olesen victory last week…

TwitterDon’t forget to follow us throughout the week on Twitter @downthe18th for the latest news, betting + banter. Please get in touch and let us know what you think of our picks and who you fancy as well!

Brooks Koepka (20/1 various)

Koepka will be prepared if the weather turns sour.

Koepka will be prepared if the weather turns sour.

My my did we deliberate over this first pick.  It probably wasted an hour of our lives discussing 3 players we really thought could challenge, but were at the wrong end of the market to potentially even have one let alone all of them.  Victor Dubuisson and Chris Kirk understandably took our fancy, as I am sure they will for many others.  We decided Kirk has too long to travel after challenging Stateside last week and we don’t have a bad word to say about Victor, it’s just we had to decide on one.  So, we uncharacteristically went with a player we feel has nearly been priced out of it in Brooks Koepka.

If you’ve followed us for a while, you will know how big a statement it is for us to go Koepka at such low odds, but we just felt too many things were pointing in his direction and it would be too heart-breaking if he were to win and we didn’t have him.

The young American, as all European Tour followers will know, has been a breath of fresh air in the past year or so.  Him and his mate, Peter Uihlein decided to attack leaderboards this side of the Atlantic instead of America and it’s been a great thrill.  However, you get the sense that may be changing as he has started the PGA Tour season and been outstanding.

T4 at the Shriners and T8 at the is one hell of a return considering it will still be relatively new for him.  Plus, he was absolutely tanking the ball – recording a drive of 362 yards at the Shriners!  He was 9th in driving distance that week and 1st at the – where he was also 9th for GIR.  Basically, this guy is the perfect player for a course of this distance and magnitude, especially if it rains like predicted.

Which brings us to our next point – he is not scared of horrible conditions.  We felt Kirk may not be used to horrendous rain, whilst Koepka has made a cracking living from playing in touch weather these past 18 months or so.  T9 recently at the Alfred Dunhill in wind and rain, bizarre and mixed conditions at the Omega Dubai where he finished T3, a win at the Challenge Tours Scottish Hydro Challenge last year in torrid weather – basically we could go on.  He will be used to it and in the form he is in (a worst finish of T11 in his last 5 outings), nothing will halt him at the minute.

There are so many risk/reward shots on this course and his length, form and confidence is a dangerous combination, because he has the potential to shoot very low here.  If you are worried about his pedigree, then we must remind you of his T4 finish at the US Open…

Plus, he has had a week off unlike many of the field, arriving in Shanghai nice and early on Sunday, compared to the likes of Dubuisson, who was busy challenging for a title in Perth and will not have arrived until at least a day later – food for thought.

If anything, Brooks, don’t make us look like mugs backing you at 20s this week…

Alexander Levy (50/1 PaddyPower)

What a player this lad is turning out to be

What a player this lad is turning out to be

Alexander Levy finally started to show his true promise this season.  He has already picked up 2 titles – over in the rain-effected Portugal Open and interestingly in China back in April.  He played out his skin for that 4-shot win, hitting it long and straight, which instantly makes you think he has the attributes for another victory in China.

We were slightly surprised at his odds of 50s – which has already been reduced to 40s with most – because he is still in fine fettle after that bizarre win in Portugal.  With quite a number of players, we rarely back anyone who has won in the weeks prior to a tournament, simply because the strain, mental strength and consistency is so tough to replicate.  However, we really do feel that winning like he did, means you can take all those factors out of the situation – he went into the weekend after 2 magnificent rounds not having to hit another ball before lifting the trophy.  He will simply gain a shed load of confidence, not be mentally drained.

That was proven by his performance at the Volvo World Matchplay.  We are not denying he lost all his matches, but he was actually -6 for the 3 rounds, which isn’t too bad at all.   He lost the odd silly hole, but it was not a disgraceful outing by any means.

He too, like Koepka, has never played on this course, but the fact he has already won in China, averages nearly 300 yards off the tee and is 45th for GIR, then you have to feel he has a cracking chance to 100% announce himself on the world stage.

Bernd Wiesberger (45/1 StanJames)

In so many ways, Bernd Wiesberger can be such a frustrating player.  He has all the talent in the world with his natural tee to green ability and can hit the ball a mile.  He showed his abilities by winning 2 European Tour titles in 2012, but has failed to fully push himself further since.

But then we all saw how wonderfully he played at US PGA in his tie for 15th.  He went into the final round just 1 shot behind Rory McIlroy, after 3 cracking rounds, only to struggle with the attention of his playing partner and mad surroundings.  We simply cannot class it as a bottle, because it’s the first time the 29-year old challenged for a major and it must be a daunting experience.

Since then, he has only had 1 top 10 over at the Italian Open, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t playing good golf.  Far from it.  He has gone under the radar with solid performances (barring in Portugal) and has only failed to challenge due to one inconsistent round.

He is 45th for driving distance and 13th for GIR across the season – a lethal combination – and he usually enjoys courses that offer the chance for birdies.  Both his wins came at -19 and if the rain softens everything up, he will without doubt be in the mix.

Pablo Larrazabal (66/1 StanJames)

None of this please Pablo

None of this please Pablo

One of our favourites.  We’ve said it so many times in the past about our love for the mercurial Pablo Larrazabal and even when he has let us down, he still manages to win us back.

It is difficult to describe how talented the Spaniard is, he’s just one of them.  He hasn’t had the greatest of season by any means, surprisingly not able to capitalise on a few good performances and push on.  That isn’t like him and we really thought after that win in Abu Dhabi, he would be right up there come this time of year.

He isn’t, that’s fine, but we have seen enough and know enough about him to suggest he could have a decent week over here.

Firstly, he played out his skin at the weekend here last year to finish T5 which shows his liking for the course.  He didn’t start particularly well, but he is one of those players who gets on a roll and it’s difficult to stop him once he does.  There will be periods of tough golf for the whole field this week, it is just how well you play in that purple patch and Larrazabal is someone you want on your side.  He is long, accurate and a genius with his irons, whilst we have to take into account what McIlroy said of this course last year.  The world number one said you’ve got to find the green yes, but when you inevitably don’t, the chipping is completely different to most tracks.  No flops or anything, just the usual chip and run on such quick, large greens.

Taking that in, makes you like Larrazabal’s case even more.  He is a stunning scrambler around the greens and can easily find his way out of many messes.  He arrives in good knick, even though he got demolished by Joost Luiten at the matchplay – although -1 isn’t a disgraceful score.

If his game clicks into place, trust us, he is one to watch.

Rafa Cabrera-Bello (66/1 various)

One thing we do love about Rafa is you will rarely find him grimacing.  Always a smile on his face!

One thing we do love about Rafa is you will rarely find him grimacing. Always a smile on his face!

Another unbelievably talented Spaniard.  Rafa Cabrera-Bello should be winning more tournaments than he does.  No win since 2012 is highly disappointing, although he did come close at another BMW sponsored event this year in Germany where he lost in a playoff.

He usually goes on mini-runs as well, so the fact he finished T12 over in Portugal makes us interested in him for here.  We are certain he would of challenged Levy had the tournament continued, especially after a magical 64 on the 1st day, but that obviously never materialised.

His stats were scary for those 2 days though.  Top 16 in accuracy, distance and GIR across the opening rounds, which makes him frighteningly interesting for this course.  Yes his putting wasn’t amazing, but he was still able to go on a roll or 2 and if he can do anything like that over here, he has a genuine chance.

He also finished T8 here last year, which shows he likes the track and when we first saw him on offer at 80s this morning we jumped on it.  Unsurprisingly he has dropped in the past few hours, but 66s is still very decent value to be had.

Morten Ørum Madsen (200/1 various)

Our cheeky outsider this week comes in the form of Danish youngster Morten Ørum Madsen.  We have followed him for a long time now, since his graduation from the Challenge Tour and we were undeniably delighted to see him pick up his first European title at the South Africa Open right at the start of the year.

It’s been a roller coaster of a year since then however, not finding another top 10 till a couple of weeks back at the Portugal Open.  He finished T4 with rounds of 65 and 66 and if that doesn’t give him great confidence, then we aren’t sure what will.

He enjoys playing in rainy conditions and can hit the ball an absolute mile (21st in driving distance) whilst he was in the top 20 for GIR on both days in Portugal.  A decent price for someone whose just finished 4th and has a lot of natural ability.

CIMB Classic 2014

malaysia-cimbclassicPrize Fund: $7,000,000

Winner’s Share: $1,260,000

Course: Kuala Lumpur Golf & CC (6,985 yards par 72)

Robert Streb continued the early season trend of high odds winners, 75/1 being the starting price of the American. That follows Sang Moon Bae (150/1) and Ben Martin (200/1). It’s quite a contrast from the start of 2013 where Simpson, Moore and Walker all won at rather short odds comparatively.

It’s a quite exciting week for the PGA Tour as it makes its yearly trip over to Asia, to boost revenue and give fans further afield a taste of the action. We say exciting because it’s a breath of fresh air in comparison to the 20 times we see the European Tour over there. Even more fascinating is the fact this course also hosts a regular European event, the Maybank Malaysian Open. Westwood, Aphibarnrat and Oosthuizen being the most recent winners of that.

An exciting place to play golf

An exciting place to play golf

It’s an event that usually sees rain and there’s plenty of it predicted for all 4 days this week. It means precision accuracy into the greens is needed – as well as patience for the inevitable rain delays. Remember, Ryan Moore had to get it done on the Monday last year.

At 6,900 yards, it means every type of player has a chance. Ryan Moore and Gary Woodland battled it out with 2 contrasting styles in 2013. Moore left himself with full wedge shots into the greens while Woodland tried to overpower the course with heavy reliance on his chipping and recovery. 3 of the par 5’s will require no more than a 4 iron for the 2nd shot while there are a few reachable par 4’s out there. Plenty of birdies will be on offer as a result. Your guys needs to be finding tons of greens, sticking it close and taking advantage of the easier holes. You need to factor in a pretty long haul flight over to Kuala Lumpur while interestingly not many people over the age of 30 have done well here – largely due to the humidity. Food for thought.

TwitterDon’t forget to follow us throughout the week on Twitter @downthe18th for the latest news, betting + banter. Please get in touch and let us know what you think of our picks and who you fancy as well!

Paul Casey (33/1 Coral)

He's back.

He’s back.

We said not many people over the age of 30 have done well here so that’s why our number 1 pick is 37 year old Paul Casey… But we’re happy to say the amount of hours the Englishman puts in the gym and his 2 wins in both Abu Dhabi and China can safely dispel that theory.

Casey, as you will know, is finding the sort of form we saw a few years back where a major title was a real possibility. After winning the Irish Open last year, things have been steady and he won the KLM Open last month to confirm his resurrection. But despite promising play in Europe, Casey knows the real recognition will come from a win on the PGA Tour. Proven by the turning of his back to the opening event of the Final Series this week.

Paul is a player well equipped for adverse conditions and when the greens get soft, he comes to the fore. His driving is good enough and long enough to over power this course while his short game is getting better week on week. The last time we saw him was at the European Tour’s match play event, where despite not progressing far, played some quality golf. Notably shooting 10 under par when going on to defeat Jonas Blixt. He has all the tools to get the job done this week.

Ryo Ishikawa (66/1 Coral)

Japanese poster boy - courtesy of supersport

Japanese poster boy – courtesy of supersport

Having backed the man from Japan a couple of weeks ago, he has still remained firmly in our plans. At 23, he has already done so much in the game but needs to prove himself once more with so much young talent coming through – dare we mention Matsuyama and Spieth. But with the travel to Malaysia being something Ryo will be more than used to, this is an event he will feel comfortable in more so than many of the other PGA regulars.

Despite not lighting the touch paper so far this year, he hasn’t missed a cut and finished inside the top 20 twice already. And he’s doing well in plenty of relevant stats columns for this week – 28th proximity to hole, 38th approaches 100-125 yards, 9th 125-150, 30th par 5 birdies, 30th GIR. And as we have mentioned before, Ryo has a round of 58 in his locker. He can go low and has a point to prove. Good value in this small field.

Stewart Cink (80/1 Ladbrokes)

Will want to avoid this over in Malaysia

Will want to avoid this over in Malaysia

‘The Kitchen’, we like to call him, ticked too many boxes for the ‘under 30’ theory to put us off. 11th last year paired with a couple of promising showings in his first two starts this year makes us happy. Cink ranked 8th GIR at the CIMB last year and has been 1st and 3rd respectively so far this year. He is finding greens for fun, just needs to get the putter going.

15th hole proximity, 21st 125-150 yards, 14th par 5 birdies and 2nd GIR are all promising signs for the new season. The American also ranked 18th in hole proximity for the whole of last season too. Although we managed to back him at 100/1, 80/1 is still very appealing in our opinion.

David Lingmerth (80/1 Various)

A couple of Swedes to finish off for you this week. This guy has arguably got some of the best form of anyone in the field. 14th and 17th so far this year while he had a couple of top 10’s in last season’s final events. That alone is enough needed to turn our heads. But he’s very capable on the par 5’s, is putting consistently this year and is someone who will travel well – feel like we’re previewing horses here… Lingmerth is one of those enigmatic players who will spring up a top 5 from time to time without showing any signs of doing so prior to that. Well this week, we’ve seen the signs and we’re plumping for a big week.

Jonas Blixt (100/1 Bet365)

Can he produce one of the weeks we know he can

Can he produce one of the weeks we know he can

Undoubtedly a better player than Lingmerth with a couple of PGA Titles under his belt and one very promising display around Augusta this year. But despite all that, regularly finds himself at high odds because of the inconsistency in his game. Even so, in a field this small with the adverse conditions predicted, this could be a week he does well.

Blixt is one of those guys who will take the ‘Woodland’ approach to this course – spank it 300 yards off the tee and rely on his short game to grind out birdies. And as we know from the Masters, this guy has some short game. His odds don’t reflect the fact he also came 25th last year and was 26th GIR in the process. Fits a few stats for the season too, most notably 10th hole proximity.

Last appearance was in London for the World Match Play, where as we mentioned earlier, shot 10 under par during his match against Casey. In very good touch.

Outside Bet

Will Wilcox (250/1 Coral)

His name kept popping up all over our research meaning at these odds we had to give him a jersey for the week. His form is poor, yes, but after showing his metal in the play-offs, we feel he could spring a surprise this week. 2nd hole proximity, 29th driving accuracy are the pick of his stats while he was also 5th in par 5 birdies for the whole of 2014. Can he continue the trend of high-odds winners?

Let us know your thoughts on our selections and who you fancy this week! @DownThe18th

McGladrey Classic 2014/2015

McGladreyPrize Fund: $5,600,000

Winner’s Share: $1,008,000

Course: Sea Island GC (7,005 yards par 70)

This week sees the penultimate event played in America for 2014 on the PGA Tour – the final event, the Sanderson Farms, plays second fiddle to the HSBC Champions next week.

On the back 9 Sunday, we had written off Ben Martin with him 1 over par and the likes of Streelman, a Sunday specialiast, and 2013 winner Webb Simpson closing in fast. But having played the last 4 holes 4 under par including a 46ft bomb on 16 for eagle, he was a deserved winner. With Simpson, Walker and Koepka grabbing place money, it was a tough week to find any value.

This aerial view shows exactly what he course is about - courtesy of

This aerial view shows exactly what he course is about – courtesy of

With this little spell we now have at the back end of the year, things are nearly done as we move to the Sea Island Golf Course in Georgia. And you don’t have to be a golf geek to work out what this course is playing alongside. At 7,000 yards and situated next to sea, it’s all about course management and plodding your way around. Plenty of water and marshland means it’s as close to links as you are getting stateside.

Tim Clark shot a 62 on the final day last year and barely touched over 270yards off the tee, so distance is not vital. Similar to last week, wedge and high iron yardages are going to be pivotal. If you average anything around the 290yard mark off the tee, it will be wedge play galore. Putting well is obviously key on the slick surfaces and most people who finished high did that last year. Although Chris Kirk interestingly ranked 33rd in putting average before he picked up the trophy in 2013. Emphasising even more so the importance of tee to green play.

There is also a remarkable similarity with the Harbour Town Golf Links course – home to the RBC Heritage.  All the previous winners on Sea Island have played well at Harbour Town – in fact barring Chris Kirk, who still had a top 20 and the fact this is his home course – all the winners had a top 10 at the RBC before their victory.  Food for thought.

TwitterDon’t forget to follow us throughout the week on Twitter @downthe18th for the latest news, betting + banter. Please get in touch and let us know what you think of our picks and who you fancy as well!

Russell Knox (40/1 Ladbrokes BEST BET)

He will love it if things get naughty weather wise

He will love it if things get naughty weather wise

Russell Knox was constantly on our radar last season, always fitting the stats for courses requiring a tee to green guru.  We admittedly didn’t know much about him, but over time started realising that he has a lot of potential and he genuinely is that good with his irons.

Rarely does he find himself right at the top of leaderboards though and that has been his problem – fully pushing himself to challenge.  We saw plenty of him at the Scottish Open, leading after day 1, but struggling through a patch of holes on the Friday dented his chances and that is often the case – obviously barring that playoff defeat at the Honda last season.  However, last week we saw the Scot play some sublime golf all 4 days.  He finished outright 3rd and looked the part.

He ended up 4 shots behind eventual winner Ben Martin, so we cannot see him being overly exerted following a close call Sunday finish.  He will be coming onto a course in a fresh season off the back of a positive performance and somewhere he suits down to the ground.  He’s finished T27 and T32 here before, but in line with the similarities to Harbour Town – he finished T9 at the RBC Heritage earlier this year.

His game has the Scottish links routes, no denying that and if he was ever going to record his first PGA Tour victory it would be on a course like this.  He was T7 for GIR, T9 for driving accuracy and T17 for putting average last week, so he is in fine fettle.

Scott Brown (45/1 StanJames)

A very intriguing mid-range pick in Scott Brown this week.  We have already gone there this season and frustrations naturally grow when your bet doesn’t quite get returns, but when you take a step back and look properly at his performances, you can’t help but be impressed.

T10 last week after a poor opening round – finishing with a 66 gives any golfer a massive boost of confidence.  Then T12 the week before in a bizarre mixture of quality and average golf from Brown.  He hasn’t been playing particularly well off the tee which may worry some, but his irons have been consistent and his putting is on another level at the moment.  10th overall last week and 13th the week before prove his eye is firmly in on the greens.

He interestingly played outstandingly at the RBC Heritage this year as well, finishing T5 and with a T4 here in 2013 and T20 in 2012, his confidence should be sky high before teeing it up on Thursday.

A lot of factors point in Brown’s direction, so for us, he gets one more chance.

Brian Harman (55/1 various)

Cracking beard there from Harman.

Cracking beard there from Harman.

Brian Harman has only been fully on the PGA Tour for 3 seasons now, but will tee up in the first of his 4th with a win under his belt.  The John Deere Classic has his name engraved and you can’t help but think he could have a lot of say over the coming 10 months.

After that maiden victory, he inevitably struggled, but he’s had an extensive break now and should be fresh to hit the ground running.  So why should we be at all interested in backing him?  Well, firstly this is his home course.  He trains at the esteemed school here, therefore you can only assume he’s indulged in a few cheeky rounds here over the past few weeks.  Secondly, he played very well for a T7 finish at the RBC Heritage earlier this year and thirdly he recorded an impressive T10 here in 2013.  All that certainly adds up to someone who could challenge in this sort of field at the beginning of a new season.

You would class Harman as one of this all-round talents, he doesn’t have a particular facet to his game that is exceptional, but he rarely puts a foot wrong and tee to green is solid, whist on the greens he won’t shy away from making a few putts.

There is the unknown entity surrounding a player who hasn’t made an appearance on Tour yet, no denying that, but you can’t help feeling intrigued by him.

Adam Hadwin (66/1 various) 

Adam Hadwin is certainly one to watch.  Plus anyone thinking there's a striking resemblance to Adam Scott??

Adam Hadwin is certainly one to watch. Plus anyone thinking there’s a striking resemblance to Adam Scott??

Like Brown, we have already plumped for Adam Hadwin this season.  However, we went for the new PGA star in the first week when he did, well, bugger all.  However last week he played some consistent golf to finish T10 and that should now be the catalyst for a potentially big season from the Canadian.

As we wrote before, he has a decent history in the game without little luck going his way, so the 26-year old has finally proved himself consistently to reach the Tour and now should have massive confidence over that top 10.

It keeps that ‘winning’ (hypothetically, considering he has only won once out of the top performances recently, but I’m sure you get our drift!) mentally and it should push him to achieve more.  You can’t read into it too much yet, but 10th for driving distance, 10th driving accuracy and 17th GIR are outstanding stats whatever the time of year.

We are confident you will see his name regularly at the top of the leaderboard, so this could be a week to look out for him, even more so due to the fact he actually played here a few years ago, all be it finishing T70 – still made the cut as a youngster though!

William McGirt (100/1 various)

William McGirt is another player who has performed very well at the RBC Heritage this year, where he finished T9 and that instantly made us take a look at him.

He is yet to win on the PGA Tour, but had a relatively decent year in 2014 with 4 top 10s, including that one at Harbour Town and a T5 at the Barclays a few weeks back.  He did withdraw from back problems at the season opener, which would understandably concern a few, however a solid T33 last week proves all is well again.  As accurate a player you will ever get – T19 for GIR and T6 for driving accuracy last week shows his game is on and he could be an interesting outsider here.

John Huh (125/1 various)

Come on Johnny boy!

Come on Johnny boy!

Another cheeky outsider for us all to consider is John Huh.  A young, enigmatic golfer who still has the world at his feet, is yet to fully push on and fulfil his outstanding potential his early days promised.  He, like all our main picks found a top 10 at the Heritage – finishing T3 and this is the sort of course you can really see suiting the American youngster.

Always very accurate off the tee and usually consistent with his irons, he has been known to struggle with length, but this track shouldn’t get in the way of that whatsoever.  T28 last week where he was T18 for driving accuracy and T19 for GIR, but his putting admittedly let him down.

If he can put more together and follow up from a couple of cracking 67’s he shot at the Shriners, 125s will be great value.


Robert Allenby (150/1 various) and Rory Sabbatini (200/1 Coral)

We know this would bring our total to 8 picks, but we just couldn’t get rid of any outsiders.  Robert Allenby finished T23 at the RBC this year and impressively T8 the season opener a couple of weeks back.  He played well consistently, as he always does and his tee to green accuracy could prove valuable on this sort of track.  Plus, he is on a few to have played here every year since its beginning, finding a T3 finish back in 2010.

As for Rory Sabbatini, we all know what a fine player he is on his day.  Like Allenby, he is a multiple time PGA Tour champion but injuries have constantly got in the way.  We always fancy a cheeky tickle on him when it’s a course like this, so it’s no different now.  T9 at the RBC earlier this year and a fine tee to green stalwart that may have missed the cut last week, but we are confident he could turn it around here.

ISPS Handa Perth International 2014

Perth-International-Logo-2013-800x213Prize Fund: A$1,750,000

Winner’s Share: 

Course: Lake Karrinyup CC (7,142 yards par 72)


It’s only fitting that we end the European Tour’s regular season in Australia. Actually, no it’s not. Anyway, the big-hitting Aussie Scott Hend won over in Hong Kong in a tournament that saw plenty of outsiders grab a large chunk of the prize fund. Meanwhile on British soil, Mikko Ilonen won the World Match Play Championship – a victory not many could have predicted with the likes of Dubuisson, McDowell and Stenson in the field. So for us and many punters alike, it was rather fruitless few days.

This week signals the very last chance for players to either force their way into the Final Series or retain their playing rights for next year. It certainly is ‘squeeky bum’ time for anyone outside the top 110 in the R2D standings. That should have a huge bearing on where your hard earned cash is going this week.

A club rule is that Kangaroos are allowed to roam the course as they please

A club rule is that Kangaroos are allowed to roam the course as they please

The Lake Karrinyup course in Perth has been played on for the past couple of years and is widely regarded as an all-round test of a golfer’s ability. When analysing deeper, there is a rather obvious trend of players who excel with their irons doing well. Canizares, Fisher, Dufner, Van Pelt, Jamieson, Rumford to name a few. We have to mention how good Jin Jeong looked here last year – iron play from the very top drawer. Most, on their day, also have a box of tricks around the greens. And with the course playing just over 7,100 yards, distance off the tee isn’t really imperative.

In 2013, only 1 person in the top 10 ranked outside the top 17 for GIR and although less apparent, the GIR trend was also visible in 2012. SO – GIR, solid iron play and a Mickelson-esque short game are the criteria we should all be looking at this week.

TwitterDon’t forget to follow us throughout the week on Twitter @downthe18th for the latest news, betting + banter. Please get in touch and let us know what you think of our picks and who you fancy as well!

Steven Bowditch (was at 66/1 when we originally laid and wrote this! Now at 33/1)

Thorbjørn Olesen (45/1 888sport)

Eduardo De La Riva (100/1 various)

Scott Jamieson (70/1 Bet365)

Chris Doak (90/1 888sport)


Richard Green (66/1 various)

Andreas Hartø (200/1 various)



Hong Kong Open 2014


Prize Fund: €1,025,038

Winner’s Share: €171,843

Course: Hong Kong Golf Course (6,699 yards – par 70)

Two tournaments to go before we reach the Final Series, as we leave Europe for the last assault on worldwide domination for the Tour.  Off to Hong Kong for the aptly named Hong Kong Open at the aptly named Hong Kong Golf Course.  Pure originality for you there.

We are in a bizarre situation this week though, where there will be two tournaments in Europe running concurrently.  Whilst many of the European stalwarts play alongside the Asian Tours finest, slightly closer to home on the rainy shores of England, 16 top players will be battling it out in the exciting 1 v 1 format – The Volvo World Matchplay Championship at the prestigious London Golf Club in, well, not London but Kent.

The field contains 6 Ryder Cup players, including Patrick ‘ssshhhh’ Reed, who has given the tournament great advertisement and endorsements coming over to literally silence the crowds.  Gmac, Henrik Stenson, Stephen Gallacher, Victor Dubuisson and Jamie Donaldson make up the remaining members of that great whitewash a few weeks back.  We usually enjoy previewing and betting on matchplay tournaments and we certainly will, but at the time of writing the odds for specific markets have not yet been released.  We will try and do a few cheeky accumulators along the way, so keep posted each morning!

What we do know though is the groups – check them out here!

Back to the other side of the world and when you look at the field, you cannot help but be underwhelmed.  Miguel Ángel Jiménez headlines and rightly so having won here twice in a row and four times overall.  Some record, but the 50-year old isn’t playing the best golf at the minute and for him to head the market at 12s is criminal.  In fact the whole  market is absolutely appalling and we were gobsmacked when the first bookies released their odds.

We had already earmarked two cracking players from the Asian Tour in Cameron White and Antonio Lascuna, but finding them at 40s and 33s (22s with some!) respectively put us right off them.  Sadly.  But do keep an eye on those boys, because they could do well, we just didn’t know enough about them to really attack at such low odds.  Ernie Els at 14s – two top 10s all year, Robert Jan-Derksen at 22s – no top 10 since June.  Basically, there are some pretty poor odds due to the low quality field, so, apart from White and Lascuna, we have decided to keep our original players because they weren’t the worst value considering.


Hong Kong Golf Course in Hong Kong for the Hong Kong Open

The course itself is one of the shortest we can remember on any Tour – 6,699 yards.  The par 70 will open itself up for all types of players, but it won’t be easily overpowered by the bombers because it is renowned for being a tight track.  You have to stay in play  in order to find birdies therefore the tee to green specialists usually come to the fore.  You can see that by the winners – Jiménez, Rory McIlroy, Ian Poulter, Colin Montgomerie, Pádraig Harrington and Freddie Jacobson to name but a few.

Tree-lined and strategically placed bunkers with small, compact greens are the courses main defences and you will need to be on top of your game accuracy wise to do well.  Obviously putting is always imperative, but with the smaller greens, scrambling will, without doubt, play a big part.

Here’s what we’ve got.

TwitterDon’t forget to follow us throughout the week on Twitter @downthe18th for the latest news, betting + banter. Please get in touch and let us know what you think of our picks and who you fancy as well!

Grégory Bourdy (25/1 StanJames)

We have a lot of time for this photo

We have a lot of time for this photo

We know we banged on about the odds earlier and yes our opinions are the same, but considering the field, the course and recent form, we felt 25s for Grégory Bourdy felt fair and decent value.

The Frenchman is a 4-time European Tour winner and has bags of experience, but his 2014 has really not been of that standard.  3 top 10s all year is not the best return, but we were very impressed with his 2 rounds last week.  He finished T7 in the rain effected Portugal Masters, with a 67 and 65.  You cannot help but be intrigued by that sort of return to form.

He was 1st in driving accuracy both days, whilst he putted well throughout.  We’ve always had him down as an iron guru, but that has weirdly whats been letting him down.  In his T47 finish at the Alfred Dunhill a couple of weeks back, he was near the top for driving and putting but wasn’t hitting it far enough or accurately enough from the fairways.  But with this shorter track, we are confident it should play into his hands and he will be able to attack the greens from closer, central positions.

He is 27th for GIR across the season, so it has just been recently that haven’t gone as well.  But when you realise that he is 74th on the RTD rankings, it makes his case even more appealing.  He has to get inside the top 60 in order to compete at the Final Series, making this the perfect and potentially last opportunity to cement a position.

He has won here as well, back in 2009, which will give him all sorts of confidence with the pressures on his shoulders.  He is a quality player on his day and he has to prove that here.

Raphaël Jacquelin (40/1 various)

Cracking beard.

Cracking beard.

Another Frenchman with 4 European titles to his name, Raphaël Jacquelin has got quite a bit of air time in the past few weeks and we’ve taken note.  Tee to green we always knew how talented he is and he has proven that, consistently finding greens for fun.  He was 1st 3 out  of the 4 days for GIR at the Alfred Dunhill and we are not denying he bottled the title from a winning position going into the weekend, but that T18 finish should give him some confidence.

He played very well, but wasn’t holing a great deal on the Sunday, shooting over par and dropping way down the leaderboard.  If you are wondering if you’re losing your marbles and your adamant you saw him in Portugal, but can find no records of him anywhere, don’t be alarmed.  We were stumped for a long time when we could find no records of his comeback quality 2nd round, playing with Nicolas Colsaerts.

He got disqualified… He wasn’t the only one mind you – Stuart Manley, José María Olazábal and Richard Green also DQ’d, but we are unable to find out why annoyingly.  Whatever happened will be put to one side though because we have seen enough glimpses of someone close to finding their rhythm to back him here.

He finished T5 back in 2009 here as well, which should give him that extra push, plus, like his compatriot, he finds himself outside the top 60 in the RTD rankings – currently 75th.  He needs a good week.

Prom Meesawat (50/1 various)

We see a lot of Prom Meesawat when the Asian parts of the Tour kick in during the early stages of the year and you cannot deny the Thai 30-year old has a lot of talent.

In his last 5 outings on the European Tour he hasn’t missed a cut, recorded 3 top 25s and 1 2nd placed finish.  And where was that?  Oh yes, Hong Kong.  He played magnificently after a difficult year in 2013 to record that finish, unfortunately losing in a playoff to everyones favourite 50-year old.  He tried to find more game time on the bigger Tour but ultimately struggled until that performance.

He has since coordinated his time more carefully and that’s why we feel the results have improved.  He’s lying in 6th on the Asian Tour rankings and recorded a win just 4 outings ago.  31st for driving accuracy, 35th GIR, 19th putts per round and 5th for scrambling (all on the European Tour) show his all-round abilities and how damaging he could be over here.

Adrian Otaegui (100/1 BetVictor)

Do all Spanish golfers just look the same then? Seve, Olazabal, Larrazabal, Sergio - you could compare the lot with this lad!

Do all Spanish golfers just look the same then? Seve, Olazabal, Larrazabal, Sergio – you could compare the lot with this lad!

Adrian Otaegui (what a surname that is!) has a wonderful future ahead of him.  The 21-year old Spaniard worked his backside off to earn his card back for the 2014 season and has been a mainstay on the European circuit, but it hasn’t gone according to plan.

He has just 1 top 10 all year and is facing life battling for a card once again if he doesn’t find something extra in Hong Kong.  He currently lies in 116th place in the rankings, which is just 6 away from the necessary 110th spot, so it is crucial he gets 4 decent rounds together like we know he can.

He was very promising in his T12 finish last week, but the ridiculous weather and mad scenario he was faced with stopped him from placing higher.  T2 after the 1st round, he was playing out his skin tee to green, finding putts for fun, but he had to pretty much run from the 18th back to the 1st and start his 2nd round straight away.

No rest or time to re-couperate is a lot to ask of any golfer, let alone a 21-year old needing a performance, so the fact he finished -1 for that round showed a lot of character.  He was still outstanding tee to green (inside the top 7 in each categories on both days) but his putting did suffer.

He has never played here before, but his accuracy tee to green is highly encouraging and we feel he could really do something in a field not too dissimilar to a Challenge Tour one.  We’re sorry Ernie and Miguel, that was harsh.


Peter Lawrie (200/1 various) and Simon Wakefield (250/1 various)

Both these European stalwarts are currently outside the top 110 in the RTD and will need one hell of a push to guarantee playing privileges next year.

Firstly, Peter Lawrie showed a bit of form at the Alfred Dunhill, winning the Pro-Am with Kieran McManus – bizarrely missing the cut in the actual tournament – but it should give him a slight push.  He is traditionally a tee to green player, but has obviously played appallingly this year.  He has recorded 2 top 10s here before and that should give him confidence.

Secondly, Simon Wakefield.  A true gent of the game and a character who should be playing in the big time.  He too hasn’t had the greatest season, but has always played unbelievably tee to green, just suffering with the short stick all too regularly.  4th in driving accuracy and 87th for GIR show his capabilities.  But last week he found himself inside the top 10 for putting stats, now suffering with his irons.  If he can put it all together then he could be up there, because with how short this course is, it could suit the Englishman.  We are rooting for you Wakey!

Let us know your thoughts on our selections and who you fancy this week! @DownThe18th

Shriners Hospitals for Children Open 2015

SHFCOPrize Fund: $6,200,000

Winner’s Share: $1,080,000

Course: TPC Summerlin (7,255 yards – Par 71)

The household name Sang Moon Bae won the first event of the wrap around season at the Open. As with most early season events, the leaderboards are a jumble sale of tour regulars, graduates with a few legends thrown in for good measure – Retief Goosen deserves that title doesn’t he?

Enough of last week and onto the very long winded Shriners Hospitals for Children Open. TPC Summerlin is a cracking course set in the Nevada Desert, Vegas. The perfect week to follow the PGA Tour one would think. Booze, gambling and 4 days of golf – that’s the life.

There are worse settings - courtesy of

There are worse settings – courtesy of

Expect to see another mix of faces at the top of the leaderboard – plenty of people at high odds are there for the taking. The course, whether you like it or not, is a birdie-fest. It ranked as the 2nd lowest scoring course on the Tour and saw Webb Simpson get to -24. In 2003, Stuart Appleby got to -31. You get the picture.

The players haven’t got a great deal to worry about off the tee. Key is to leave a yardage they feel comfortable with. If you average around the 300 mark off the tee, as a lot of the guys do, no more than 180 yards will be left on the majority of par 4’s. Essentially, guys who are at their best with an 8 iron or below will thrive. And let’s not forget – it will turn into a putting contest. Anyone who wins this will need to be putting well not just making birdies but saving those pars too.

TwitterDon’t forget to follow us throughout the week on Twitter @downthe18th for the latest news, betting + banter. Please get in touch and let us know what you think of our picks and who you fancy as well!

Brendan Steele (90/1 Bet365)

He takes golf seriously

He takes golf seriously

All of our picks were outlined before odds were released and so was our order of confidence. Up step Brendan Steele at 90/1. We saw enough of him last week, on the way to his T21 finish, to suggest he is ready to go very low in Vegas.

Last week was a case of solid golf without pushing on. He ranked top 25 for both putting and GIR and was highly impressive in one of the key yardages we outlined 125-150. He was 6 under for 9 attempts at that yardage. It’s impressive but does make you wonder what he was doing for the other approaches. Thankfully, he won’t have many other yardages this week.

Last year was an odd event for Steele – he ranked 1st in putting and yet 3rd from bottom in GIR. He knows these greens like the back of his hand but couldn’t get his irons going at all. Well this week, we feel he’s in perfect shape to put that right.

Ryo Ishikawa (80/1 Stan James)

Japanese poster boy - courtesy of supersport

Japanese poster boy – courtesy of supersport

The Japanese poster boy, Ishikawa, knows how to go low and proved that last year on the way to his 2nd place in his first appearance in Vegas. It’s hard to believe he has only just turned 23 with 11 Japanese titles under his belt already. Now is the time to crack the PGA Tour like his countryman Matsuyama.

In his time, Ryo has shot a 58 and he’ll be looking for much of the same this week as he brings some relatively decent form in with him. Before his T19 last week, he finished in the same position at the Barclays although followed with a MC at the Deutsche Bank. He also had a couple of decent showings over in Japan during the close season to keep everything going.

Ranked 6th approaches 125-150 and was ‘okay’ with the putter. In the 2014 season, Ishikawa finished in the top 20 for both 125-150 and 150-175. He knows how to use those higher clubs. Putting will be where it is won and lost for Ishikawa this week.

Cameron Tringale (55/1 Bet365)

The putter is hot at the moment

The putter is hot at the moment

It’s rare that we give people 2nd chances but this man deserves one. We backed him last week and despite glimpses of good form, never got it going. Still, T26 wasn’t bad. But his game seemed to be upside down – a guy known for his ability with the irons couldn’t seem to get them going and yet ranked 3rd in strokes gained putting. It’s almost as if he has worked on his putting so much in the few weeks off, he forgot about what he does best. But even so, that can easily be rectified and we know he is playing well – recorded a 2nd and 15th in the play-offs.

This guy is close to becoming a top, top performer on the Tour and just needs that win. No better time than the start of the season.

Spencer Levin (140/1 Bet365)

You might raise your eyebrows once more but let’s not forget Bae, Bowditch, Molder and Goosen were all 150/1 and above at the start of last week. He’s another guy who loves the 125-150 yardage – finished 8th in it last year on the Tour and was 6th at the He was also 2nd driving accuracy last week, not that it makes a difference, and was T14 GIR. His game was all there except for on the greens.

Now that could be enough to turn you away but look at this – he finished 5th in 2011 and 4th in 2010 at this event. He knows these greens well. So combine what he was doing last week with the course form he possesses and we’re very happy. Again, look at that price.

Scott Brown (140/1 Bet365)

The big guy is one the hunt for title number 2 - courtesy of Nike

The big guy is one the hunt for title number 2 – courtesy of Nike

There are a few players on the Tour who do one thing and one thing only, and that’s putt well. Baddeley and Driscoll are just a couple that come to mind. Scott Brown is another. He proved it once again in the season-opener where he ranked 7th in putting on the way to a T12 finish. He also paired that with solid ironplay, ranking T35 in GIR.

Last year in Vegas it was an odd couple of days – he shot a 65 on day 1 but followed it with a 77 and missed the cut. He’s a man that plays well for periods and in large part due to his putting. If he is ever going pick up his 2nd PGA title, a course that rewards good putting will be the place. At these odds once again, why not?

Outside Bets

Danny Lee (150/1 Various) and Kevin Kisner (125/1 Paddy Power)

On face value, Danny Lee doesn’t shout out at you. But dig deeper and you will find he is a good putter and very good with his short irons. Ranked 9th 125-150 last week and 1st in putting average. He was also top 50 for both 125-150 and 150-175 for the whole of the 2014 season. As we have mentioned, this course is all about those yardages. Kevin Kisner finished T21 last week and enjoyed a solid end to last season with a T9 in Canada and T8 at the Wyndham. Ranked in the top 25 for both putting and GIR last week and is regarded as one of the better players in the game with the short stick. Kisner was 21st in strokes gained putting in the whole of last season.

Let us know your thoughts on our selections and who you fancy this week! @DownThe18th Open 2014

Frys.comPrize Fund: $6,000,000

Winner’s Share: $1,080,000

Course: Silverado Resort & Spa (7,203 yards – Par 72)

FANTASY GOLF (PGA TOUR) – With the new season starting (far too soon for us mind you) come and join our fantasy league over on the PGA Tour.  Bit of fun, pitting your wits against not just the PGA site, but the DownThe18th universe!  We will have a surprise or two for the genius that finds themselves staring down at the rest of us come September next year.

 Simply create your team on: FANTASY PGA TOUR and go to Create/Join Leagues and type in ‘DownThe18th’.  You will find us there!

As for the actual tournament, a decent field, considering the ludicrous timing of a first PGA Tour event, will be in attendance.  The remnants of another Ryder Cup defeat linger on here, with Matt Kuchar, Jimmy Walker and Hunter Mahan vying to right their recent wrongs.  Whilst it will be interesting to see if Lee Westwood can continue his momentum from Gleneagles as he puts himself forward for this week.

Traditionally this tournament has been held in California and although a different course for 2014, we will be in the same, sunny state.  The North Course at Silverado Resort & Spa in Napa Valley will play host and no big event has ever been held here, so it has been tough to work out what we should be looking out for.

Quite a few trees then...

Quite a few trees then…

What we do know is that at 7,203 yards, the par 72 is not particularly long, but it will provide quite a difficult test for the players, especially considering its the first one back for many and the first PGA event ever for some of the graduates.  Four par 5s and four par 3s are a rare occurrence, let alone together on the same course, so it makes this an interesting prospect.

We can see its a parkland course, with tree-lined fairways and plenty of strategically placed bunkers everywhere.  There are water hazards galore, so impetus will be on finding the short stuff and plotting your way round.  The greens are bent grass and not particularly small, but should be playing quite fast, making for even greater intrigue.

We have put all this together and made our own assumptions that you will be looking for a deadly accurate player.  Doesn’t necessarily have to be long, but tee to green efficiency seems to be everything – particularly the first shot.

Cleeeeaaarrly that just gives you the name Kuchar, but be our guest if you want to touch a probably soul-destroyed pro, who travelled back from Scotland a defeated man just last week at 12/1.  Seriously.

TwitterDon’t forget to follow us throughout the week on Twitter @downthe18th for the latest news, betting + banter. Please get in touch and let us know what you think of our picks and who you fancy as well!
Brandt Snedeker (33/1 Ladbrokes BEST PRICE)

Come on Sneds, get that roaring passion going again!

Come on Sneds, get that roaring passion going again!

Oh we really do miss you Sneds.  You should have been at Gleneagles, your talent is there, but what happened last season? When will you be back?

No, this is not a benign love letter to Brandt Snedeker, but a genuine loss and confusion for someone who found nothing all year, when he should be challenging leaderboards weekly.  Only 3 top 10s all season is simply shocking for his standards and we are so sure that in 2014/15, he will bring a completely different game.   Well, he sorta has to.

He started finding a bit of consistency at the back end of the season with 9 straight tournaments making the weekend, 2 top 10s and 3 further top 13s.  3 of this finishes followed one after the other, before he missed 2 cuts in a row at The Barclays and Deutsche Bank, crashing out of the FedEx in the process.

We are taking confidence in those 3 outings before the missed cuts though; a sign that something better is on the horizon and that the old Sneds isn’t far away.  Because, when you look at this course and what it needs for it to be mastered, his game is perfect.

Strategic, straight, tee to green and one of the best putters on Tour (still!), this has the Jamie Donaldson lookalike written all over it.  You can see the headlines, you can see the story and how often do we look back in hindsight, thinking arrgghhh that makes sense?  Without a whole host of big names, Snedeker could really feature strongly here.

Cameron Tringale (50/1 Ladbrokes BEST PRICE)

Lets hope his putter listens to him this week!

Lets hope his putter listens to him this week!

Cameron Tringale is another interesting one this week.  As we always do for tournaments like this (i.e unknown course entity), going through the entry list, we instantly felt Tringale had plenty to offer this sort of track.

Firstly, you cannot argue with the fact that he is in plenty of form, especially compared to the  majority of the field, having played well in the last few weeks of the season.  T2 at The Barclays, T69 at the Deutsche Bank, T31 at the BMW and 15th at the Tour Championship.  When you consider all those events involved the worlds best, you can’t help but be impressed with that reading.

Secondly, he is outrageously consistent tee to green.  One of those remarkably efficient iron players, he has every bit of ability to play well on a course such as this.  59th accuracy, 45th GIR and 43rd strokes gained shows how good he is across the board.  He is yet to win on the PGA and it can’t be far away.  This could be that time.

Heath Slocum (150/1 StanJames)

Oh the memories.  Winner of the 2009 Barclays.  What a performance that was

Oh the memories. Winner of the 2009 Barclays. What a performance that was

To say Heath Slocum didn’t have one of his most memorable seasons is probably an understatement.  Put simply, he wasn’t great.  He showed sparks but just couldn’t put 4 rounds together in the same week. However, finally, at the Wyndham Championship in August, he recorded a 4th place – his highest finish since 2010 – and proceeded to fight for his card at the season ending tournaments.  Here, he showed outstanding character, playing beautifully for 4 rounds, finishing T4 and clawing his way back to the big time.

It could have been so easy to lose your way and your card in that instance.  He didn’t rest on his laurels after the Wyndham, he had to fight back on the  His momentum could be seriously underestimated going into this week as he will be one of those ‘graduates’ that has plenty of experience in the big time.  He has 4 titles to his name for crying out loud – including that outstanding Barclays victory in 2009.

So, when you consider that even with his poor finishes, he was 5th in driving accuracy, 33rd in GIR and 75th in strokes gained throughout last season, you have to think he is an interesting fit here.  His lack of power off the tee clearly hampers him on most of the bombers courses that America throw at us, but this is different.  A short, stern test that could suit a momentum-building Slocum.

At the end of the day if he shoots an 80 Thursday and Friday, missing the cut horrifically, it wouldn’t have really mattered considering his odds.  Always worth a cheeky punt.

Adam Hadwin (100/ WillHill BEST PRICE)

Winning this year in Chile.  A rather bizarre trophy for the cabinet though...

Winning this year in Chile. A rather bizarre trophy for the cabinet though…

A name not many would have heard of.  We cannot say we knew much about Adam Hadwin before last year, but here is one of the graduates with a genuinely intriguing future ahead of him.

At only 26, the Canadian has plenty of years in the game, but his interesting past shows that he has a great deal of raw ability.

His first ever PGA Tour event was (obviously!) at the RBC Canadian Open in 2010 where he finished respectably in T37.  He won the 2010 Canadian Rookie of the year and outrageously finished T39 at the 2011 US Open before he continued his form at the RBC again, finishing T4.  A further T7 at the proves that he showed plenty of promise as a youngster.  Undeniably he went on to struggle for a few years, before an outstanding 2014 has found him with a permanent Tour card.

He would have grown up and learnt a lot in the past 3-4 years, which could make him a highly interesting player to watch throughout the year.  On the he won twice and found 9 top 10s, which is a remarkable proof of talent.

In his last 5 outings he has a victory, 2 top 10s, a 2nd placed finish (and a missed cut in between) and he finished the year as winner of the money list.

No doubt he has the game – 44th driving distance, 39th deriving accuracy, 64th GIR and 23rd putting average last year.

Wouldn’t be ironic if he just came in, swooped the title and beat countryman Graham DeLaet to a first PGA trophy?  Blimey, the latter has certainly been trying!

Let us know your thoughts on our selections and who you fancy this week! @DownThe18th

Portugal Masters 2014

Prize Fund: €2,000,000pm-logo

Winner’s Share: €333,330

Course: Oceânico Victoria Golf Club (Par 71 – 7,209 yards)

FANTASY GOLF (PGA TOUR) – With the new season starting (far too soon for us mind you) come and join our fantasy league over on the PGA Tour.  Bit of fun, pitting your wits against not just the PGA site, but the DownThe18th universe!  We will have a surprise or two for the genius that finds themselves staring down at the rest of us come September next year.

 Simply create your team on: FANTASY PGA TOUR and go to Create/Join Leagues and type in ‘DownThe18th’.  You will find us there!

Everyone associated with the European Tour will not begrudge world number 792 Oliver Wilson his win at St Andrews, after so many near misses throughout his career. And if anyone backed him at 500/1 – what is your secret? For us, Tommy Fleetwood missed a very makeable one on the last to take it to a play-off while Louis Oosthuizen sneaked into a share for 6th spot. So a profitable week but one that could have been so much better.

Moving on, the Tour finds itself in Vilamoura, Portgual this week at the very aesthetically pleasing Oceânico Victoria Golf Club. It’s one of those tracks Darren Clarke and Yourgolftravel absolutely love – “Tell ‘em Darren sent ya” – you know the advert… It’s pretty easy and scoring is always low: Lynn 2013 (-18), Lewis 2011 (-21) and Green 2010 (-18). Steve Webster holds the tournament record at -25.

A stunning course - courtesy of golf monthly

A stunning course – courtesy of golf monthly

You need to be putting well, finding greens and have played relatively well at the Alfred Dunhill the week before. Depsite Lynn missing the cut at St Andrews last year, he still ranked 1st putts per round and 3rd putts per GIR. The majority of players who came inside the top 10 in Portugal last year had at least a top 30 at the Alfred Dunhil the week before.

Another thing to bear in mind is the Race to Dubai standings. The top 60 qualify for the season-ending DP World Tour Championship in Dubai while the top 110 players retain their playing rights for the upcoming 2015 season. Anyone just outside either of these brackets will be itching to perform well with time running out.


TwitterDon’t forget to follow us throughout the week on Twitter @downthe18th for the latest news, betting + banter. Please get in touch and let us know what you think of our picks and who you fancy as well!
Nicolas Colsaerts (40/1 Stan James)

Colsaerts does what he wants on the course

Colsaerts does what he wants on the course

The Belgian Bomber has had a really, really poor 2014. Partly due to his failed foray onto the PGA Tour but mainly down to bad form, plain and simple. He was well aware his season needed resurrecting and started to play plenty of events in recent weeks. It paid off. At the Wales Open, he finished in 4th spot narrowly missing out on the title. Having supported Team Europe at Gleneagles, Colsaerts’ next mission is to make the top 60 – he currently lies about €130,000 outside, so a big performance is needed.

His enormous distance off the tee will give him a big advantage coming onto this course. He finished 15th here last year and ranked 17th putts per GIR and 2nd GIR in his last appearance at Wales – an encouraging combination. We all know he can go low when he wants, this week could be the one where he catapults himself onto everyone’s radar once again.

Chris Wood (50/1 Stan James)

What a neck

What a neck

For someone with so much potential and a winner already on the Tour, his T9 last week in Scotland was only his 5th top 10 of the year. But with that finish, he ticked all the boxes we were looking for this week. He had a 10th here in 2008 and was 1st putts per round and 5th putts per GIR at the Alfred Dunhill. He’s playing well, putting well and knows Vilamoura.

Wood can be erratic off the tee and tends to perform a bit better on courses where he can loosen those long arms. He shot -18 to claim his first win on the Tour in Qatar, showing he knows how to go low and more importantly, knows how to win. Good value considering some of the names at the top end of the market.

Marcel Siem (50/1 BetFred)

The German is always someone who can win regardless of form. But his T11 last week was enough for us to think he can carry that form over to Portugal. He is renown for his big hitting and has got plenty of birdies in his locker. Has a best of 4th here in 2008 and was relatively consistent in all areas at the Alfred Dunhill.

Considering he won his 3rd European Tour title last year, 2014 has been somewhat of a disappointment. Highlights have been his T12 at the US Open and T7 at the BMW PGA. So he knows a performance is needed – also lies 51st on the Race to Dubai, by no means guaranteed a top 60…

Robert Jan Derksen (80/1 Paddy Power)

The time is now for the retiring RJD

The time is now for the retiring RJD

Sometimes you can just see storylines before they happen and the Dutchman is one of them. If you didn’t know, he is retiring at the end of the 2014 season stating lack of motivation and interests outside of the Tour as his reasons. Despite this, he said he is determined more than ever to go out on a high. His dream is win the season-ending World Tour Championship. Well Robert, you need to get there first.

So this could be the week he gets that emotional final win. He finished T11 last week and ranked T17 GIR and T15 putts per GIR. Has a really solid record on this course, 6 top 20’s in his last 7 appearances including 8th last year. We really can see it happening.

Thorbjorn Olesen (66/1 Stan James)

Wants to make the top 60

Wants to make the top 60

It seems like all of our picks have points to prove and Olesen is no different. Having really shone in 2013 especially at the Masters, this year has been anticlimactic to say the least. He started 2014 like a train with 2 top 5 finishes but since then apart from a T7 at his home tournament, nothing has happened for him. So much so, he finds himself in 64th place on the R2D.

If there is one thing we know, Olesen is a passionate lad and will be pumped at the prospect of being in the last chance saloon, he needs to perform now. Despite being nowhere near last week in Scotland, he did rank 6th in GIR. If he can take that to Portugal and get the putter going, he’s got a shot.


Outside Bets

Soren Hansen (150/1 Stan James)

For some reason, we probably haven’t been more confident in our outside bets as we have this week. Firstly, the Dane Hansen recorded his second best finish of the year last week, a T18. Despite being average tee to green, he putted out of his skin – 2nd putts per round and 6th putts per GIR.

So take that to this week and we have a chance. Also has a 7th here in 2008. Also lies 99th in the R2D.

Lucas Bjerregaard (250/1 Bet365)

One more Dane for your consideration. Many expected a much better end to 2014 after his graduation for the Challenge Tour last year and solid start to this. He bombs it off the tee and has all the attributes to go far, but is yet to add that all-important consistency to his game. Finished T32 last week and was in the top 20 for both putting stats. His length off the tee will give him the upper hand and a good performance here would cap a great maiden European Tour season.

Let us know your thoughts on our selections and who you fancy this week! @DownThe18th