Course: The Montgomery Maxx Royal (Par 72 – 7,132yards)
In an event that is meant to have such prestige and importance, as part of the Final Series, we find ourselves scratching our heads with the likes of Poulter and Westwood at 18/1 and 20/1 in places – not to mention big names such as McIlroy, Rose and McDowell not fancying the trip. Sadly, the FedEx Play-Offs are far, far superior to its European Tour equivalent.
But at the downthe18th we try to lift this dark cloud from above European Golf and find value for our betting faithful. And this week we have plenty of names who should tickle your fancy.
So, Turkey. Played on the Montgomery Course, it’s an iron player’s course once again. And when we say that we mean the likes of Dubuisson, Jacquelin, Fisher, Larrazabal will buzz off it here. Anyone who you can just picture with a 7 iron in their hands. It’s an average length at just over 7,100 yards – it doesn’t suit any big hitter or equally a nudger. 6 of the top 12 ranked inside the top 10 for GIR last year, confirming all of the above.
There are also 5 par 5’s and 5 par 3’s, quite unusual for a course. So getting the balance between someone who can attack the long holes and also pick up birdies on the par 3’s can be tough.
You also have to think, regardless of our opening speech, this is regarded as one of the bigger tournaments with plenty of money on the line. These titles are made for the bigger stars, or someone who’s ready to take that next step. Just look at Victor Dubuisson last year.
Who are we going with on this Turkish Adventure?
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Jamie Donaldson (18/1 Paddy Power)
What a player he’s become since that win in Abu Dhabi which cost us significant returns as we had Thorbjørn Olesen and Justin Rose in 2nd behind him! But leading into this penultimate tournament, he has been playing out of his skin.
3 top 7s in 5 outings including a joint-bottle with Alexander Levy at the BMW Masters. For those of you that were on the Frenchman that week, we can only apologise, it was a tough recovery day for all of us!
But as for Jamie, the golf he played on the 1st 3 days typifies what sort of a golfer he is now. A long hitting, tee-to-green guru. Never have we seen someone inside the top 20 in every single major stat for a tournament – driving accuracy, distance, GIR and putting. You can’t get more all-rounded golf then that!
He should certainly suit this sort of track, especially after his near heroics last year when he chased down a flying Victor Dubuisson, cutting his lead to just 2 when he began at 6 from the pack. A 63 on any course is magnificent, but you do get that feeling it’s possible here. If he plays anything near to what we know he can, then he is in for a big week.
Brendon De Jonge (50/1 Coral)
As we hope you know, we love it when the PGA Tour boys come over to the European Tour. Someone like De Jonge, without a career win in America, will see this as a massive opportunity to make a proper name of himself and make use of that trophy cabinet he bought 10 years ago.
The start of the wrap-around season in America has been a good one for Brendon. If you are less familiar with the rotund Zimbabwean, this guy loves a birdie. Last year was the first time he ranked outside the top 10 for total birdies on the tour since 2009 (13th). But this year he’s back in the grove currently lying in 4th place. That’s dangerous reading coming onto a course Dubuisson found plenty of birdies on last year. To add to these positives, he ranks 24th total driving, 31st GIR and 57th strokes gained putting.
2nd and 13th have been his last 2 finishes. The way we look at it, he’s not coming over here to bolster numbers or look pretty. He’s coming over here for one reason – to win.
Branden Grace (66/1 Ladbrokes)
The first of 2 South Africans for you this week. Grace is one of those players who you know sooner or later will recapture their best golf. 2012 was massive for him and a year we first realised how good this guy was. It was a quality year – 3 wins, 6th in the season-ending World Tour Championship and the best part of a million Euros in the bank. Since then it’s been a bit disappointing. We wanted finishes on the biggest stage, he has the game for it.
So why this week? Well, it was a pretty dismal mid part to his 2014 but his last few rounds has got him on our radar. T21 in the rain-sodden Portugal Masters with rounds of 66 and 69. More importantly he ranked 1st GIR (97% of greens found). Then two weeks ago he finished T16 after contending going into the weekend. Again, he ranked 2nd GIR. Also ranked 23rd putts per GIR.
Grace is all about his irons and they are on fire at the moment. He will need to hole putts but this could be the perfect time for him to get things going especially with the South Africa legs of the European Tour not too far away.
Richard Bland (250/1 BetFred)
Richard Bland just had that aura of someone worth a punt at ridiculous prices. He is one of those players who suit this sort of track with his ridiculous consistent tee to green game and why not chuck some pennies at him? Not literally obviously.
He hasn’t missed a cut in his last 5 outings, with a worst finish of T39 and including a T4 at the rain affected Portugal Masters. He was inside the top 5 for driving accuracy every day at the BMW Masters, where he recorded that T39 finish and inside the top 30 for GIR. Worth it? We think so.
Darren Fichardt (200/1 Paddy Power)
Our 2nd South African of the week. Always available at these odds but is a proven performer at this level. Like most people, he’s gone through plenty of poor patches in recent times but we’ve seen a spark in the last couple of weeks. He went back to his native Sunshine Tour and came 2nd at the BMG Classic, and looked lively. Then he took that and finished T13 in the final series opener. Ranked 6th putts per round and 13th GIR. Was disappointing last week but will take confidence in his 15th in Turkey this time last year.