Winner’s Share – €378,778
Course – Emirates Golf Club (7,316 yards par 72)
Our 2014 Picks – Thorbjørn Olesen (T5), Peter Hanson (MC), Stephen Gallacher (WON), Peter Uihlein (MC), Marcel Siem (T37), Mikko Ilonen (T5)
It’s been a baron start to the season on the profit front for DownThe18th. No excuses, it needs to get better. This week we find ourselves in the desert again, the scene of our first win of 2014 thanks to Stevie Gallacher. A happy hunting ground you could say.
A sublime field is lined up with McIlroy, Stenson and Kaymer leading the way. For Rory, this event brings back plenty of happy memories – his first win as a pro. And we have to mention Henrik Stenson who, towards the back end of last week, looked in superb touch. As always, we’re staying clear of the favourites and doing our best to find a bit of value.
There are a few things we noted from last season here: Gallacher, despite the obvious course form, came into the week hitting the ball nearly 300 yards off the tee and putting well. But for a poor 3rd round, the Scot also hit 3 rounds in the 60’s. Grillo and Koepka, who finished top 5, both played well the week previous but just couldn’t get the putter going. Rock and Webster have a liking for the course and the latter along with Mikko Ilonen contended in Qatar. So it’s certainly a mixed bag in terms of trends. One thing we do know – distance off the tee and course form is vital. You only have to look at Ernie Els’ history here and more recently Gallacher to tell you that. You need to find plenty of birdies too.
Another thing to think about is this – can you envisage your pick holding their nerve on a Sunday afternoon with Rory McIlroy and Henrik Stenson breathing down their neck. A likely scenario.
DON’T FORGET – Our weekly competition with renowned magazine Golf Monthly continues, take a peak at the end of our selections to see how our stakes have been distributed this time.
You can 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!
Louis Oosthuizen (33/1 Bet Victor)
The last thing we talked about in the preview, regarding holding their nerve, was the deciding factor in splitting between Louis and Bernd Wiesberger. As much as we admire the Austrian, getting over the line is still something we have our doubts about where he is concerned. He certainly caught our eye though.
The South African is someone that you actually forget how strongly he finished the 2014 calender year. 2nd, 7th, 6th, 14th and a 15th at the USPGA. That’s enough for us to think the Louis pre-injury is back. When he plays well he can do it on any track but ones where distance is beneficial off the tee, Louis does the business. He had consecutive top 10’s here in ’08 and ’09. After a 4 year absence, he’s back. We know when Louis plays well he’ll always give you a run for your money. 2015 could be his year.
Nicolas Colsaerts (50/1 Various)
It perhaps looks a bit obvious that when we’ve highlighted distance off the tee, the Belgian gets his way to number 2 in our picks. But there is some substance behind it. 2014 was a write-off where Colsaerts was concerned, nothing went right. Despite that, at the end of the year we saw glimpses of the player that everyone thought could crack not only Europe but America too.
Perhaps we jumped the gun a bit picking him 2 weeks ago but now he’s had 8 solid rounds under his belt and his first top 15 for a while. Looking into his stats a bit last week you will be able to see he was 6th GIR, 14th accuracy and we don’t need to mention his distance. Very similar to Grillo and Koepka last year, all he needs to address is the putting. This is a driver’s track and when fairways are being found the putts tend to drop around here.
Thorbjørn Olesen (55/1 Stan James)
The Dane is someone who always seems to play his best stuff on the desert swing. Very similar to Colsaerts, Olesen had a relatively disappointing 2014 but finished it strongly. Last year he finished 3rd in Qatar and 5th here, arguably his highlight of the season.
So why this week? In truth, his MC last week and 50th the week before isn’t pretty but at the same time almost doubles his value – if he had contended last week you couldn’t have got more than 25’s. He is proven on this course with a 5th last year and 3rd in 2013 and we have already touched on how important course form is. As long as he brushes off the last couple of weeks and remembers the form he found at the back end of 2014 – this actually looks like great value.
Gregory Bourdy (100/1 Coral)
There were plenty of people who caught the eye on the final day of the Qatar Masters but the Frenchman looked like he was untouchable, especially for his front 9. Up until then, he hadn’t particularly impressed at all over the first 3 days. A couple of negatives to note are his lack of distance off the tee and putting for the majority of last week. If he continues where he left off from last week though, none of that will matter.
Has a best of 8th here a few years back and was 6th GIR and 4th accuracy in Qatar. We’re letting his final day performance influence us of course – but at 100/1, why not?
Darren Fichardt (175/1 Paddy Power)
As always we have a couple of names for you to throw a penny or two on. Fichardt was averaging 298yards off the tee (6th) and top 15 in putts per round and putts per GIR last week. This guy is certainly a player who won’t be phased contending with the big guns and 2014 saw him gain his highest finish around here, 13th.
Johan Carlsson (250/1 Stan James) (20/1 Top Ten)
We can see a big future for the Swede and his play for the most part last week only confirmed that more. He got plenty of birdies in Qatar, his first round 74 was the only disappointment. His play improved day by day and finished a very decent 13th. . And this guy can go long off the tee when he wants.
Every week we’re running a weekly betting competition on both Tours with esteemed magazine Golf Monthly. It is a bit of fun between us and them to see who has the better tipsters! We have £10 to put on each tournament and will write up a weekly post for their site detailing the horrors we are sure to endure throughout the year – so keep an eye out.
It will also (for the first time from us at DownThe18th) show some sort of staking plan we have for out bets. Obviously, this isn’t the exact stakes we will put on our players, some weeks we won’t even enter a couple of our picks, but at least it can be shown roughly where our thoughts are money wise.
Our £10 against Golf Monthly will be as follows –
£1.90 e/w on Louis Oosthuizen at 30/1
£1.20 e/w on Nicolas Colsaerts at 50/1
£0.90 e/w on Thorbjørn Olesen at 50/1
£0.70 e/w on Gregory Bourdy at 90/1
£0.30 e/w on Darren Fichardt at 175/1
Each way bets ¼ odds for top 6 finish. Prices sourced from Paddy Power
Find the Golf Monthly Preview and their £10 picks here – (Link to be published)
Current Standings after 2 weeks
DownThe18th Golf Monthly
European Tour: £-13 European Tour: £-10
PGA Tour: £-17.88 PGA Tour: £64
Total: £-30.88 Total: £54