Winner’s Share – €100,000
Course – Clube de Golf do Santo da Serra (6,826 par 72)
Our 2014 Picks – No Picks
It’s safe to say the South African swing Part 2 hasn’t been kind to us as we’ve seen plenty of money sink into the pockets of the British bookmakers. But with Coetzee, Sullivan and Lahiri winning over the past month there’s not exactly been a lot of value flying around. There’s also no denying this time of the year has never been the kindest to us.
All eyes will be across the pond as a tasty field rocks up at Bay Hill for a Tiger Woods-less Arnold Palmer Invitational. For us Europeans, it means we are left with a co-sanctioned event in Portugal bereft of any quality. The event has been pushed forward a couple of months from it’s usual slot in May.
When you look through the form guides and watch as much golf as we do, most of these guys are still pretty familiar and are often popping up on leaderboards across the globe. We’re hoping the Tour’s arrival back in Europe will give us much-needed profitable week in the build up to the Masters.
Despite lack of obvious names in the field the tournament has been around for some time and the Santo de Serra GC has been the host for the majority of that time. At 6,800 yards, it’s a short one that ultimately the bombers can dominate on. You only have to look back to 2013 when the big-hitting Peter Uihlein (who only found 40% fairways) grabbed his maiden win here. The likes of Madsen, Henry, Benson are names just at first glance who have enjoyed success here and are certainly not shy off the tee.
Recent weeks, especially in South Africa, has seen importance placed on course form but that certainly isn’t the case here. Here’s how a few first timers have fared in the past 3 years – Uihlein (won), Lagegren (4th), Davies (5th), Harto (3rd).
Last year’s event was somewhat of a non-starter having been reduced to 36 holes with horrendous fog over the first 2 days. Englishman Daniel Brooks, not exactly a household name, took home the title having overcome the death of his caddie during the week. Ultimately those 2 days won’t prove to be a good indicator.
JB Hansen (33/1 Stan James)
To think JB is our number 1 pick going into an official European Tour event does make us feel rather queasy. But with the lack of names teeing off Thursday morning, it’s guys like this man who really stand a chance.
Quite simply, he’s one of the most proven players in this field. He hits it far and despite his only performance in 2015 being a T37 – he shot a 65 on day 1 including a back-nine 28! He ranked 9th driving distance and 2nd putts per round. He’s ready for this one.
Carlos Pigem (33/1 Coral)
Again, you can see our thinking with this one. The Spaniard loves to tank a ball off the tee and although he’s crept perilously close to the top of the betting market – we’re still happy to be going there.
It was his T7 at the Thailand Classic that’s been his standout this season. 15th driving distance, to be expected, and 6th GIR. He continued his play to India where, despite being T24, ranked 1st driving distance and 9th putts per round. Now obviously stats aren’t everything but we know this course needs distance off the tee and Pigem has it in abundance.
Joakim Lagegren (33/1 Paddy Power)
Our 3rd pick at 33/1 but also the penultimate one. Again, the Swede always pokes his nose around in European Tour events and will regard himself as one of the top performers in the field.
Added to his quality is a 4th on this track three years ago. And he comes to Portugal as one of the form guys – 13th at the Africa Open, 3rd Hero India Open. Despite a low key performance at the Tshwane, he was bashing it 315 yards off the tee. Should certainly get himself in the thick of it this week.
Ben Evans (90/1 Stan James)
We went with the Englishman a few weeks ago in a much more prestigous event – so it’s only fair we give him another crack of the whip with these odds in this field.
We can’t deny Evans is a hardly a household name for us but when you look at what he was doing back at the Indian Open, you have to be impressed. 7th driving accuracy, 2nd driving distance and 7th GIR. He’s been a Challenge Tour stalwart for some time now which makes his T12 in India all the more impressive. Still not convinced? He finished 10th here 7 years ago as a 21-year-old. We’ll have a bit of that.
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 –
£1.50 e/w on JB Hansen at 33/1
£1.50 e/w on Carlos Pigem at 33/1
£1.50 e/w on Joakim Lagegren at 33/1
£0.50 e/w on Ben Evans at 70/1
Each way bets ¼ odds for top 5 finish. Prices sourced from Paddy Power
Find the Golf Monthly Preview here (http://www.golf-monthly.co.uk/news/tour-news)
Current Standings after 9 weeks
DownThe18th Golf Monthly
European Tour: £-16.60 European Tour: £-36
PGA Tour: £-27.28 PGA Tour: £71.75
Total: £-43.88 Total: £35.75
Golf Monthly leads by: £79.63