Winner’s Share – €250,000
Course – PGA Sweden National (7,390 yards Par 72)
Our 2014 Picks – Stephen Gallacher – T2, Peter Hanson – T25, Alvaro Quiros – T6, Mikko Ilonen – T32, Rikard Karlberg – T15
It was a great few days as always in Ireland last week, one which saw Soren Kjeldsen lift his first trophy for six years. We won’t mention the fact we backed him the week previous at Wentworth – 200’s.
Rory McIlroy and his new bird were also making their first public appearance, he definitely has an eye for long blondes. Marcel Siem, watch out. Anyway, onto this week and we find ourselves in Sweden where the Nordea Masters returns to the PGA Sweden National track for a second year. A scene of one of many heartbreaks we seem to suffer as Thongchai Jaidee beat our number 1 pick Gallacher in a play-off last year.
The field is understandably lighter than the previous couple of weeks but we still see the likes of Stenson, Dubuisson, Luiten and Jimenez teeing it up. It’s a proper ‘European Tour’ field you could say.
The Scandinavian Masters is one that in recent times has been largely dominated by… Scandinavians. They love it on home soil. Mikko Ilonen has won it twice while Noren, P.Hanson and R. Johnson have all won here since ’07. So don’t be scared on chucking your money on more than one local.
Looking at the leaderboard from last year is always a good indicator and it says a lot about the course. 5 of the top 11 in 2014 ranked inside the top 6 for GIR and those who didn’t (Jaidee included) putted out of their skin for the week. Thongchai’s victory came purely through his course management, finding the right spots on the fairways and using his ability with the irons to get it close. Dubuisson, Gallacher, Bello and Howell were all inside the top 10 last year and you can confidently categorise them as some of the best iron players on tour.
It seems length off the tee is almost an important factor – Quiros, Stenson, Gallacher and Dubuisson are certainly not shy off the tee. Yes Jaidee won, but he’s one of the best out there for picking courses apart and as we said, his course management was sublime.
It’s an iron-players track and if someone can combine that with some ‘total driving’ (distance and accuracy) then they will be right up there. If they don’t bash it off the tee, we’re looking once again at the likes of Thongchai and Miguel Angel to thrive.
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!
Victor Dubuisson (50/1 StanJames) PULLED OUT – Thomas Bjørn our late replacement at 33/1
We’re sure one of the main reasons we are plumping for Victor Dubuisson is evident for all to see. 50’s. In what isn’t the greatest field, we just felt it was too tempting to back the Frenchman at such healthy odds.
Right, so his season hasn’t been the greatest since a T4 in Abu Dhabi, but he’s been plucking away on the PGA Tour, recording a best finish of T17 at the difficult Honda Classic.
Admittedly his European return hasn’t gone particularly well, but when you think what this course requires and what Dubuisson possesses, it’s a match made in heaven.
He is simply due a big performance and in some ways needs one. On the whole, his tee to green efforts at Wentworth were not bad, but his putting did let him down.
If he can re-produce the sort of form that we’ve seen so many times then this track could be eaten alive by the youngster. Especially considering he finished 2nd last year, eventually losing in a playoff to Thongchai Jaidee.
As a player he has everything, he just needs to find that touch again.
Peter Uihlein (45/1 various)
Peter Uihlein is another player that needs to really push on soon if he wants to build on an exciting start to his career.
He has surprisingly (perhaps) stayed over in Europe barring a couple of appearances at lesser PGA events (one of which was the Sandersons where he came T4) and hasn’t had the greatest season.
We saw big signs in China where his form line read T4, T8, but apart from that, there’s not been a lot to shout about. He did show a few glimpses at the BMW and we just feel that looking at what the Chinese tracks offered and Wentworth, you can’t help but think he has a big chance here.
His distance and GIR were incredible every day at the BMW and you have to consider the fact he shot a 76 and 74 either side of two wonderful sub-par rounds. It could have been so much more for the American. Let’s hope this week does give that bit more…
Robert Karlsson (66/1 various)
The first Scandinavian to make the list is one of our favourites in Robert Karlsson. The big Swede will still get plenty of vocal support even though Jonas Blixt and Stenson will take most of it all and his game sets up beautfiully for PGA National.
His tee to green abilities haven’t disappeared, but he’s got to start putting well again. He struggled again last week as he went on to miss the cut, but we saw enough of him at the BMW to know he’s not far away.
He was T9 going into the final day but never sustained his charge. A T6 outing here last year simply adds to the appeal and you cannot deny the odds are healthy at 66’s.
Rikard Karlberg (100/1 BetFred)
There is a slight running theme with our bets this week. Players who aren’t quite at the top of their game, but are so, so close.
Rikard Karlberg is certainly one of them after a string of poor performances. We were suitably impressed by his T21 enough last week to think there’s enough there in his game to do combat PGA National.
His -2 score on the final day in Ireland – on a Major-like track with conditions seen more often in disaster movies, shows that he’s in decent nick. You can’t be playing badly to show that well, so we just felt, considering he finished T15 here last year as well, that Karlberg could have a part to come Sunday.
During that Sunday on County Down he was 17th for GIR and 13th for putting which gives us a massive hope he’ll be up there this week.
Lucas Bjerregaard (100/1 various)
Lucas Bjerregaard has been on our radar for quite a while now and we feel the Danish youngster could be a big player on the European Tour for the next few years.
At the back end of last year he showed some real class with a couple of top 5 appearances, but he is yet to fully continue that into 2015.
We’ve certainly seen glimpses though – a T15 at the Shenzhen where he shot a couple of 67’s, a T18 at the Africa Open with a few low scores but the running theme being he can’t quite sustain it.
Last week he shot a course record 66 on the Saturday, but struggled to deal with the conditions on Sunday to maintain his charge. A T18 on that sort of course is still impressive though and shows his sometimes wayward driving is close to being corrected.
We spoke to Bjerregaard at the US Open Qualifiers where he finished 4th and will be making the trip to Chambers Bay. He said his irons are in good nick, but his driving is now so close to being devastating.
He was actually inside the top 25 for driving accuracy at the weekend in Ireland and when you hit the ball as far as he does, anything is possible.
Niclas Fasth (175/1 BoyleSports)
A sort of why not bet. Niclas Fasth was a top 20 in the world player and has 11 professional wins to his name.
The 43-year old has undoubtedly gone through a pretty horrendous patch for quite a while, but his irons are still there.
A T10 came from pretty much nowhere last week – he even had a genuine show for victory at one point.
Finding himself inside the top 25 for both driving accuracy and GIR is too tempting especially on a track where he finished T32 last year in amongst some atrocious performances.
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 Thomas Bjørn at 33/1 (Paddy Power)
£1.25 e/w on Peter Uihlein at 45/1 (BetVictor)
£1.00 e/w on Robert Karlsson at 80/1 (Stan James)
£0.50 e/w on Rikard Karlberg at 125/1 (Paddy Power)
£0.40 e/w on Lucas Bjerregaard at 125/1 (Coral)
£0.35 e/w on Niclas Fasth at 300/1 (Coral)
Each way bets ¼ odds for top 5 finish unless stated otherwise.
Find the Golf Monthly Preview here (http://www.golf-monthly.co.uk/news/tour-news)
Current Standings after 20 weeks
DownThe18th Golf Monthly