Made In Denmark

Prize Fund – €1,500,000made in denmark logo

Winner’s Share – €250,000

Course – Himmerland Golf & Spa Resort (7,033 yards par 71)

Our 2014 Picks – Marc Warren – WON, David Howell – MC, Søren Kjeldsen – T15, Craig  Lee – T15

After a successful first event in a decade last year, the European Tour returns to Aalborg for the Made in Denmark tournament at Himmerland Golf and Spa Resort.

It was very interesting viewing last year due to the surprisingly tough test the players faced. We say surprising because the par 71 measures at 7,033 yards which by today’s standards is absolutely nothing.

But due to it’s links-parkland style, the blustery conditions whipped round the track due to it’s completely exposed nature. The undulating fairways and greens are protected furthermore by water hazards and a clutter of bunkers, making it a very true to test of golf.

Marc Warren won with a -9 score last year and looking at the stats, it was very much a putting parade from the high finisher, along with a very solid GIR display.

Some of the guys inside the top 10 hit the ball far, whilst some didn’t and the same can be said for accuracy, so we are looking at those iron and short stick gurus.

Peter Uihlein 40/1 Coral

When we saw Peter Uihlein at 40’s, it was a very quick decision to back him because even though his season hasn’t been at his high standards, this is a top, top player especially in this sort of field.

He is perfect for any linksy type conditions with his brute force off the tee and impenetrable mid-iron game. We know he came pretty much last after making the cut here in 2014, but there’s been a few signs of renaissance that we would be annoyed if we weren’t with him.

T9 at the Match Play a few weeks back show progress, but due to the nature of a links-type course as well, you have to think there’s some more correlation there.

If he can get his putter going then his length will provide him with plenty of chances to make birdies – he is 87th for putts per round throughout the season, so he just has to make it count.

Chris Paisley 100/1 PaddyPower 

Chris Paisley is getting a few cheeky invites to European Tour events this season and he is doing everything to take advantage of them.

T13 at the Nordea, 3rd at the BMW and then T18 in Portugal last time out prove that he’s got the game to compete at this level.

But it was his T44 in Switzerland that caught our eye in particular because his putting stats were superb throughout the week. He didn’t drop outside the top 15 and showed that he can get the short stick going when he’s in the groove.

Overall he lies in 38th for putts per round and at 3-figure odds he’s definitely worth a punt in this field.

2015 Open Championship

2015_Open_Championship

Prize Fund – £6,300,000

Winner’s Share – £1,150,000

Course – St. Andrews Old Course (7,305 yards Par 72)

Our 2014 Picks – Adam Scott – T5, Graeme McDowell – T9, Zach Johnson – T47, Webb Simpson – MC, Shane Lowry – T9, Robert Karlsson – T12, Ryan Moore – T12, Stephen Gallacher – T15

So here we are. The third and most historic major of the golfing calendar. The US Open began in 1895, PGA in 1916 and The Masters in 1934. But The Open Championship? 1860.

That means the 144th edition of this great tournament will be held back at the (adopted) home of golf – St. Andrews.

As we’ve stated before, this season has been full of storylines and performances from top players, with Jordan Spieth obviously now going for the unthinkable this week.

Before we get into the nitty gritty of what we can expect, we’ve got to mention the big omission of world number one Rory McIlroy. It has affected the odds and it the repercussions of him playing ‘soccer’ (It’s FOOTBALL) will definitely be felt across the globe. With his record at St. Andrews as well, you can’t help but think we really do now have a wide open contest.

On to the famous track though – we’ve had some truly great winners here, some of the best to ever play the game – Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, Seve Ballesteros, Sir Nick Faldo, Sam Snead and Bobby Jones.

We’ve all seen the layout thousands of times in replays and famous Open moments but for those of you that didn’t know, the par 72 lies at 7,305 yards running across the Scottish east coast near in Fife.

Courtesy of standrewstaxis

Courtesy of standrewstaxis

The Old Course has 112 individually named bunkers, including the infamous ‘Hell Bunker’ on 14 and the ‘Road Bunker’ on the 17th. Both have dished out serious pain to many that have succumbed to it’s sandy ways and can be the difference between a par and a triple bogey.

Tiger Woods managed to go round here without finding a bunker on his way to the 2000 Open title, whilst Sir Nick only hit a few in 1990. The likelihood is, you’re going to see everyone in one at some point, so scrambling and sand saves will be key when thinking about your bets.

The fairways are rolling, undulating and famously wide – there’s plenty of space to attack off the tee, but that doesn’t mean you can spray the ball wildly because the thick fescue ad gorse will take no prisoners.

The greens double up several times throughout the 18 and are therefore incredibly large, which means there’s a variation of slopes, lengths and speeds during a round. Knowing when to attack pins and go for those birdies is simply crucial.

FOLLOW US ON TWITTER THROUGHOUT THE WEEK – @Downthe18th

All in all there are several factors we are looking at when it comes to St. Andrews this year –

Links Form

Recent Form

  • Not necessarily on fire, but showing something in past few outings, because St. Andrews demands your full attention, just look at the recent winners –
    • Louis Oosthuizen won a tournament and had 5 top 5’s, however he missed the 2 cuts in the events prior to lifting the Claret Jug
    • Tiger Woods only had one finish outside the top 11 in the 6 tournaments prior to his 2005 win, including 3 top 3’s and a win.
    • No point even saying what Tiger was on during his win in 2000. It was barmy.
    • John Daly was a slight anomaly. Few missed cuts before and a couple of finishes inside the top 15.
    • Sir Nick had 3 top 5’s in a row before and had won The Masters.
  • Those past 4 winners all averaged nearly 300 yards plus off the tee. We’re not saying a truly big hitter is needed, but you need to have some sort of distance
  • Look at Dunhill Links for some cheeky European stalwarts at high odds
  • A scrambler and flag attacker. Birdies can sometimes be easy to come at St. Andrews.
Courtesy of TheOpen

Courtesy of TheOpen

Overall it will be an unbelievable week of historic golf, especially as we all say a final farewell to one of the greatest Open champions ever. Only Harry Vardon has more Open titles than this living legend.

Tom Watson. We salute you.

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.
Twitter

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!

Rickie Fowler (22/1 various)

This boy really does have everything Courtesy of golfweek

This boy really does have everything
Courtesy of golfweek

If you’d come to our site in the past few days, you would have seen the names Rickie Fowler and Tommy Fleetwood pop up in our preview. It’s obvious that these were our two antepost bets, mainly because we fancied them to do well for both events in Scotland.

So, we grabbed Fowler at 33’s with BetFred and duly watched him go on another birdie binge to win at Gullane. It was yet another unbelievable performance; a master class in complete golf.

There’s simply very few chinks in his impenetrable armour. We all thought that he didn’t have the bottle to win and that we would never see him push on from an outstanding amateur career.

Well from recording 4 top 5 finishes at the majors last year, he’s pushed on to unbelievable heights in 2015.

His form leading in is clearly very good, he is driving well and looks very comfortable with his mid-short irons and that is a potentially lethal combination at St. Andrews. We’ve seen his scrambling abilities quite regularly recently as well, which is always a must with the heather and bunkers protecting an otherwise simple track.

But there are two significant reasons why we really fancy him this week. Firstly, his bottle. He looks so comfortable on the greens in heated moments, he is really learning how to hole putts when it matters. Just think Sawgrass and that fantastic approach on the last in Gullane to give him his one shot victory. The boy got game.

But secondly, it’s ability on links tracks. We’ve seen him several times turning up on these shores to have a knock on seaside courses – T8 at the Scottish and T2 at The Open last year, T30 in Ireland a few months back, when he was challenging for the lead.

Plus he finished T14 at St. Andrews back in 2010 after surging through the ranks following a quality final round.

In Rick we trust.

Recent Form

Scottish Open US Open The Memorial Irish Open The Players Champs WGC Cadillac
WON MC MC T30 WON T9

Open Championship Form

2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009
T2 MC T31 T5 T14

Henrik Stenson (22/1 various)

Another big chance for the Swede

Another big chance for the Swede

Well, here we go again. We’ve been through all sorts of ups and downs with Henrik Stenson, including at this very tournament back in 2013, but we’ve got something of a hunch that it’s time for us to re-visit and old pal.

His rise back to the summit of the sport is virtually complete and has kept very steady – he hasn’t left the top 10 since the back end of 2013 – but it’s blindingly obvious what’s missing.

He’s won The Players, a WGC and 15 other pro events, but that breakthrough major still eludes him. And whilst we feel his game can be transferred to pretty much any major, The Open feels like the best type of layout for him, especially the demands St. Andrews will bring.

He finished T3 here back in 2010, which in most years would have challenged for the title, but we all know what Louis went on to do. Plus in 2005 he finished T34 when his game was nowhere near the level it is now, so it adds up to some very encouraging signs.

He’s also played the Dunhill Links many times compared to the other big boys around him, so he’ll know the track incredibly well and having record 3 top 10’s there, you can’t help but gain that extra bit of confidence.

Form wise he’s definitely been topsy-turvy. A cracking return to his best at his last outing in Germany (T2) will keep him buoyant, whilst you have to remember he’s had top 20’s at The Masters and The Players and a solo 2nd at the Arnold Palmer and 4th at the Valspar.

His length off the tee will be an obvious advantage, especially with the wider fairways and his irons are a thing of beauty once he gets going. There’s just something telling us Stenson is going to go on a roll this week…

Recent Form

BMW International US Open Nordea Maters Wells Fargo Champs The Players Champs WGC Cadillac
T2 T27 T13 T58 T17 T34

Open Championship Form

2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009
T39 2nd DNP 68th T3 T13

Brooks Koepka (66/1 StanJames)

Brooks Koepka is a man on a mission.  What a future this lad has

Brooks Koepka is a man on a mission. What a future this lad has

Brooks Koepka has been on a rapid rise into the higher echelons of world golf in the past year or so. Having started out 2014 in and around 100th in the rankings, he has been firmly amongst the top 25 since his breakthrough PGA Tour win at the Waste Management.

Including his win in Turkey at the back end of last year, he’s been showing genuine major contending form. If you remember he grabbed us some place money at the US Open in 2014 and wasn’t a million miles away a few weeks ago at Chambers Bay.

And the fact he played well on a proper links track shows that he’s got the game for an Open Championship. He learnt the ropes in the pro game over in Europe as well, which means he’s accustomed to ‘non-American’ courses and actually has a pretty decent record on these layouts.

T28 at the Johnnie Walker, T22 in Wales, T12 at the Scottish and a win at the Scottish Hyrdo all in 2013, whilst he actually finished T4 at the Dunhill Links last year.

Then he went on to finish in a tie for 22nd last week, following on from some good recent form, including a T3 at the St. Jude Classic a few events back. His length and iron game definitely suits St. Andrews and out of all the mid-rangers, he really looks like the perfect fit to challenge the very best.

Recent Form

Scottish Open US Open FedEx St. Jude Classic The Memorial AT&T Byron Nelson BMW PGA Champs
T22 T18 T3 T16 T72 MC

Open Championship Form

2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009
T67 MC

Brandt Snedeker (50/1 various)

Come on Sneds, get that roaring passion going!

Come on Sneds, get that roaring passion going!

No denying that plumping on Brandt Snedker goes against everything we’ve said about distance, but this lad is in such good knick and simply too good with the short stick not to consider.

His recent form is up there with anyone (barring Spieth…) and he’s gone relatively unnoticed or even mentioned for the claret jug.

Don’t forget it wasn’t that long ago he challenged Adam Scott and Ernie Els very close. In 2012 he was unstoppable with his putter and irons – he shot 66 and 64 to equal the lowest 36 hole score in The Open. Yes he went on to finish T3 but that proves he’s got the game for links golf. Just look at his two wins at the AT&T – Pebble Beach is a proper seaside track.

But we really do feel he is closing in on that hot streak again, when attacking the pins and finding the cup is done with ease. His putting stats are a joke – 5th strokes gained putting, 19th total putting, 9th one-putt percentage. He just loves it.

He may not have played St. Andrews, but if he can avoid the bunkers as often as possible, keep in play and get that putter going, you never know…

Recent Form

Travelers Champs US Open AT&T Byron Nelson Crowne Plaza The Players Champs WGC Cadillac
T10 8th T6 T2 MC T52

Open Championship Form

2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009
T58 T11 T3 MC DNP MC

Tommy Fleetwood (80/1 various)

Face of concentration - courtesy of golfwrx

Face of concentration – courtesy of golfwrx

Tommy Fleetwood has entered the top 50 in the world for the first time in his career this season and most of that is down to a new-found consistency.  He really is playing some decent golf.

7 finishes inside the top 21, with 4 top 10’s including a T10 across the water in Gullane at the weekend.  He had a genuine chance going into that final round but it started off with a double on the 1st and he never truly recovered.  That hasn’t put us off backing him (even though admittedly we laid him last week…) and most of that was because of his outstanding form at St. Andrews.

He is a remarkable 26-under in his last 4, yes FOUR, rounds there.  That is simply ludicrous.  His results at the Alfred Dunhill are crazy – T2 in 2014, 2nd in 2013, 5th in 2012, 55th in 2011 and T5 in 2010.  That is some of the best form of anyone at the event and bringing that to St. Andrews in the sort of confidence and vibe he will be in at the moment is very exciting.

Recent Form

Scottish Open BMW International US Open The Memorial Irish Open BMW PGA Champs
T10 T11 T27 MC T21 T6

Open Championship Form

2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009
MC

Retief Goosen (250/1 various)

LOVES trophies

LOVES trophies

We wanted to find another cheeky outsider and dabbled with the idea of Rafa Cabrera Bello but stuck with Retief Goosen.  We are only talking a few spare pennies, but he got back to some iron beauty in Germany, finishing T4 (and winning us some much needed dollar!) whilst his form at St. Andrews is not bad – T41 2000 and T5 in 2005 and 6th in 2010.

Plus he won the Alfred Dunhill Cup back when it was matchplay in the nineties twice in a row with Ernie and David Frost.

At the end of the day, he is a double major champion and we know that was some time ago, but all we say is, why not?

Recent Form

John Deere Classic BMW International US Open FedEx St.Jude The Memorial AT&T Byron Nelson
MC T4 MC MC T31 W/D

Open Championship Form

2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009
DNP DNP T64 WD 6th T5

Golf Monthly £10 ChallengeGM_masthead-630x176

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  –

£2.00 e/w on Rickie Fowler at 33/1 (BetFred)

£2.50 win on Henrik Stenson at 22/1 (Coral)

£0.75 e/w on Brooks Koepka at 66/1 (BetFred)

£0.50 e/w on Brandt Snedeker 50/1 (PaddyPower)

£0.50 e/w on Tommy Fleetwood 80/1 (BetFred)

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 26 weeks
Golf Monthly
European Tour:  £49.17
PGA Tour: £-29.00
Total: £20.17
DownThe18th
European Tour: £-110.62
PGA Tour: £19.77
Total: £-90.85
Golf Monthly leads by: £111.02

Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open

244525_M09

Prize Fund –$3,182,925

Winner’s Share – $627,002

Course – Gullane Golf Club (7,133 yards Par 70)

Our 2014 Picks – Paul Casey – T14 Robert Karlsson – T8 Rafael Cabrera-Bello – T27 Ryan Palmer – T51 Russell Knox – T27 Scott Jamieson – T8

Well, well, well. One week away from the third major of the year and everything just seems slightly barmy right now.

Firstly the obvious and astonishing news that Rory McIlroy announced – rupturing his ankle ligaments by playing football with his mates. Definitely out of the Scottish and 99.99% likely out of The Open. Craziness.

Just as shocking as his statement, the Northern Irishman said ‘Soccer’ instead of Football. You’ve been in America for only a short while Rory, come on, it’s FOOTBALL!!

And away from that debacle is the fact that we have never, ever seen a field quite like the one we’ve been served on the European Tour this week. A simply, star-studded line-up will be bombarding on a new track to the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open rota – Gullane Golf Club.

Here’s just a few of the cheeky names that have made the trip over to the north west of Scotland…

Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Jimmy Walker, Phil Mickelson, Matt Kuchar, Brooks Koepka, Ryan Palmer, Ian Poulter, Ben Martin, John Senden, Daniel Berger, Russell Knox, Cameron Tringale, Martin Laird and even David Duval.

Aaaaannd breathe.

Simply put, what a truly spectacular couple of weeks of true links golf we’ve got ahead.

So what do we know about Gullane then? Well, honestly, not a lot. It did host Local Open Qualifying back in 2013, when Matt Fitzpatrick, Oscar Florén and Ben Stow secured a Muirfield berth.

Only Fitzpatrick is in this field, but more on that later…

It stands at 7,133 yards and has only two par 5’s, however the 16th does measure at a monstrous 599 yards. All in all, there’s mid-range par 4’s that could be out fought by big hitters if they’re on their game.

Proper Links

Proper Links

The famous East Lothian track will be using 16 holes from the No.1 course and 2 from the No.2 and it’s set over an enormous expanse of land next to the beautiful mountainous seaside. Everything about it says Links though – long fescue rough, open fairways guarded by severe bunkers and sloping greens that are protected by even more severe bunkers.

Basically, stay out the bloody bunkers. All the varied uphill and downhill lies on the undulated fairways mean that it’s important for the players to have complete control and manoeuvre the ball how and when they want.

You’ll be looking for the traditional wind specialists and those that have a solid links record.

Enjoy.

Ian Poulter (40/1 PaddyPower)

Sir Ian.

Sir Ian.

An interesting bet this week Ian Poulter. One we go into with slight trepidation, but one that could bear the fruits of some top winnings.

Firstly, he was out in japan for the ISPS Global Cup last week where he finished T4 and apparently played some very good golf. Now you can look at that like he’s had some heavy travelling, or you can think, well he’s going to be happy with the shape of his game at the moment.

Evidently, we’re going for the latter.

But all in all, it’s been a pretty solid few months for the Englishman, having recorded some impressive finishes.

A mediocre outing at Chambers Bay followed up a T5 at the Crowne Plaza, which he arguably should have come closer to winning, whilst there was 3 finishes inside the top 34 and then a T6 at Augusta.

It’s the first time we’ve seen Sir Ian back in the UK since the Ryder Cup and there’s no denying he’ll feel he has a massive point to prove.

Tommy Fleetwood (50/1 BetVictor)

Going to be kissing way more trophies in the near future...

Going to be kissing way more trophies in the near future…

Tommy Fleetwood instantly jumped off the page when we saw the odds because a lot of the mid-rangers don’t have the same sort of links pedigree and recent form.

The Englishman recorded a T11 on his last outing in Germany and even finished T27 at the very challenging Chambers Bay. The other two biggest events of the season in top quality fields, he put in quality performances as well. T6 at the BMW in Wentworth and T5 at the WGC Match Play – and that is the best 64 players in the world.

So, he’s proven he can mix it with the big boys and he’ll have to do it here for sure. His recent form on Links tracks is highly impressive, having grown up in the Southport area, that’s no surprise.

T21 in Ireland, T17 at the Trophee Hassan, T2 at this event last year, T2 in Wales and his only European Tour win coming at the Johnnie Walker Classic at Gleneagles.

The boy’s got game in the wind.

Russell Knox (66/1 various)

He will love it if things get naughty weather wise

He will love it if things get naughty weather wise

We seem to do it every time Russell Knox is over on Scottish shores, but it’s just too tempting. Especially at 66/1.

We’ve consistently seen the specialist all-rounder in and around PGA Tour leaderboards and challenging for an e/w return. A T8 at the FedEx St. Jude Classic shows that he’s not far away and whilst there was a worrying withdrawal last week, the fact he was over par and sighted an ‘unknown illness’ to us means that he’s absolutely fine.

He probably just wanted to get over here quicker and get into the swing of things on his home turf.

His game is well suited to links golf and having gained so much experience and stature over in the States, there’s no reason he can’t replicate his outstanding tee to green game and give the leaders a run for their money.

Matthew Fitzpatrick (125/1 various)

Not bad..

Not bad..

Firstly, we know that Matthew Fitzpatrick has missed the last 2 cuts and in fact missed 3 out of the last 4 cuts, but there’s still been enough golf in recent outings to warrant selection this week.

T3 in Austria before a very impressive T8 in Ireland on a very demanding Links course.

And that is where our main arguments lie. Links golf. He clearly has a natural love for coastal tracks – he even finished T23 at the RBC Heritage last year, one of the only links courses in the States.

But what draws us most to the young Englishman, is the fact that he is one of the only men in the field to have actually played Gullane in tournament conditions. He sailed through ‘Local’ Open Qualifying in 2013 before going on to win the Silver Medal. This place will hold good memories for him and if he can get his game going like we’ve seen in the past, there’s no reason why he can’t be in and around at the weekend.

David Horsey (225/1 StanJames)

Horsey with horsey.

Horsey with horsey.

Sorry, but at 225/1 it’s 100% worth a punt on wind and rain specialist Dave Horsey.

The Englishman has shown his liking to links tracks many times in the past and there’s absolutely no reason he can’t mount a challenge for a place this week.

He missed the cut last time out in France, but a T11 at the BMW gives some indication that he’s knocking it all right and for a specialist on these type of layouts, 225 seems very healthy.

Golf Monthly £10 ChallengeGM_masthead-630x176

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  –

£1.75 e/w on Ian Poulter at 40/1 (BetVictor)

£1.43 e/w on Tommy Fleetwood at 50/1 (Ladbrokes)

£1.00 e/w on Russell Knox at 66/1 (PaddyPower)

£0.50 e/w on Matthew Fitzpatrick 125/1 (StanJames)

£0.32 e/w on David Horsey 225/1 (StanJames)

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 24 weeks
Golf Monthly
European Tour:  £45.50
PGA Tour: £-19.00
Total: £26.50
DownThe18th
European Tour: £-100.62
PGA Tour: £23.80
Total: £-76.82

Dubai Duty Free Irish Open 2015

Take out Patrick Reed, but still a formidable line-up... Although doesn't McDowell's face look really super-imposed?

Take out Patrick Reed, but still a formidable line-up… Although doesn’t McDowell’s face look really super-imposed?

Prize Fund – €2,500,00

Winner’s Share – €416,660

Course – Royal County Down Golf Club (7,186 yards Par 71)

Our 2014 Picks – Stephen Gallacher – MC, Rafa Cabrera-Bello – T26, David Horsey – T49, Matthew Fitzpatrick – T29

One of the most highly anticipated events on the European Tour has arrived and what’s even more special is the fact it comes straight after the flagship tournament at the BMW. Rory McIlroy and his foundation are hosting the event and as the posters state – ‘creating history’ in the meantime. It is undoubtedly a stellar field – Martin Kaymer, Sergio Garcia, Lee Westwood, GMAC, Jamie Donaldson and the best of European Tour.  But everyone will be drooling at the prospect of seeing the two young starlets battling it out – McIlroy and Rickie Fowler.  We’d be shocked if they aren’t paired together for the opening two days because ultimately, that’s what everyone wants to see.

In terms of betting, it’s clearly going to be difficult because only a handful of tournaments have been played here and not many players will know the track particularly well.  ALTHOUGH, the top two boys both played here at the Walker Cup in 2007 – McIlroy both won and lost against Billy Horschel in the singles, whilst only picking up a half in the foursome.  Fowler won his first 3 matches with absolute ease, before being defeated by Rhys Davis on Sunday afternoon.  Only Danny Willett and David Horsey will be in this field who played during that week, whilst Graeme Storm actually won the Amateur Championship round here in 1999…  Only other names of note during that week were Simon Dyson and Marcel Siem.

Courtesy of discovernorthernireland

Courtesy of discovernorthernireland

But from our research, there’s plenty to ponder and you can envision the sort of player that’ll potentially conquer this jewell of a course. Firstly, how this isn’t an Open venue we will never know.  Royal Portrush is due to enter the rotation, but this is another cracking track that will get the global attention it deserves this week. The infamous Old Tom Morris painted and weaved out this gem in the Murlough Nature Reserve, sitting on the backdrop of the Mountains of Mourne.  Running alongside Dundrum Bay, few consecutive holes go in the same direction, as the fairways intertwine and bend from the shoreline back to the clubhouse. Harry Colt and Donald Steel have both overlooked redesigns, leaving behind very fast greens that will test even the best putters on Tour.

There’s an abundance of blind tee shots, which make it imperative everyone teeing off is prepared for the wind and understand the course during the practice days.  You can’t just turn up and play round here.  The thick, long grass and heather is synonymous with traditional links venues and here it’s no different.  Some of the layered greens are surrounded by ‘proper’ rough and will destroy anyone who tries to hack their way out. The bunkers are pretty horrendous to deal with as well – if you find any on the fairway, you’ll be staring down the barrel of a bogey.  So, accurate, scrambling, wind-loving, links specialists will be the kings of Royal County Down.

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.

TwitterYou 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!

Shane Lowry (22/1 Stan James)

He looks mean and is ready to go.

He looks mean and is ready to go.

With so much value at the bottom end of our picks, we can afford to throw in one of the main contenders for the week, big Shane.

He’s someone who’s grown up on links tracks and is an ideal fit. He’s spent most of the season over in America and certainly hasn’t disgraced himself, we’ve even backed him a few times! So it’s no surprise the first time he comes over on European soil, he starts producing his best stuff. Very similar to Francesco Molinari in Spain. Wentworth has been good to Lowry down the years and last week was no different, finishing T6.

It was clear over the first couple of days he was adapting to being back on Britain and his short game really bailed him out. But once things started clicking into place, we saw what Shane is all about. The Irish Open in 2009 was the scene of his first victory, as an amateur, so the week will definitely bring back happy memories. Really good to note his recent links form as well – T9 2014 Open, T4 2014 Scottish Open.

Chris Wood (50/1 Coral)

Coming into some form

Coming into some form

We watched plenty of the tall Englishman last week up close and personal and it’s safe to say he’s back right at the top of his game. He’s had a few niggles over the past season or so and that’s obviously reflected in his form. But he’s a player that loves to string big finishes together, so now is the right time to get on board.

Stat-wise, he was arguably the most consistent in the field last week. 15th driving accuracy, 2nd driving distance, 15th GIR, 4th putts per GIR. Everything is firing on all cylinders. Like Lowry, always good to check their recent links performances too – T23 2014 Open, T8 2014 Irish Open.

Robert Karlsson (125/1 Coral)

Unbelievable guns.

Unbelievable guns.

Good value this one. Without doubt last season Robbie’s best stretch was when the Tour hit the links courses. He was T8 Scottish Open, T12 Open and even a T4 over in France where the wind gets up.

So it was really interesting to see Karlsson playing well at Wentworth a week prior to the Irish. He finished day 1 tucked in behind Molinari and ranked 3rd driving accuracy and 3rd putts per round. Okay he dropped off from then on but it’s safe to say the BMW has never been on the Swede’s Christmas card list, with just one top 10 in over 20 years. So he won’t mind a T27 at all. He still managed to finish the week 19th GIR and 12th putts per GIR, the latter really important given his well documented putting yips.

David Horsey (150/1 Paddy Power)

Big Dave

Big Dave

We actually chatted with Horsey a couple of weeks back and we have to say he looked and spoke about how good his game was at the moment. Tough, horrible, windy conditions are where Dave’s game comes to the fore, he’s just one of those players who loves it in that weather.

So a MC at Wentworth doesn’t fill us with confidence but a T15 at the Spanish Open does. His short game in particular was working well, 8th putts per round. Like Karlsson, Horsey has only ever had 1 top 10 around Wentworth so the MC won’t be a bitter blow.

Most interesting about this long shot was his appearance here for the Walker Cup. He beat Webb Simpson TWICE in the singles and looked imperious throughout the week (apparently). It might not be the best course form we’ll talk about coming into a tournament but it will be advantageous and invaluable none the less.

Outsiders

Graeme Storm (300/1 Coral)

You won’t get many 300/1 shots better than this. He won the Amateur Championship played around here back in 1999 so he more than anyone will have happy memories coming back. That alone is interesting. But, as if by magic, the week prior to the Irish Open the Geordie finds a bit of form, T22 at Wentworth. The finish itself is good but in spells Storm was ripping it up last week, at one point he had 8 birdies in 11 holes during round 2. His stats were more than impressive too – 1st driving accuracy and 10th putts per GIR. Get on this one.

John Parry (250/1 Coral)

Loves a links track

Loves a links track Courtesy of BBC

Always interesting to look at the major qualifying and this week at Walton Heath, US Open qualifying has taken place. At the time of writing this, Parry sits T3 at 9-under which is an impressive couple of rounds given the prize at stake.

This alone shows he’s playing well. 2015 has been okay, T5 in Mauritius and T6 at the Africa Open. But one thing we really remember about the Englishman was his display in the 2013 Scottish Open. It was the first time we had really seen what John was all about and his game seemed to suit links golf perfectly, his game around the greens was particularly impressive. Sadly he found himself up against an American called Phil Mickelson…

Kristoffer Broberg (250/1 Paddy Power)

An interesting final pick that we have followed for some time. Three years ago he was an exciting prospect on the Challenge Tour and big things were expected when he made the step up to the Europe’s elite tier. It’s been undeniably tough but last season’s displays on links tracks made us sit up and think. He was T2 Scottish Open, T23 Open, T3 Irish Open and T12 Open De France. That was some going. Just like this week, he came into that period with no form whatsoever. Except this week we do have some form – he currently sits T17 in US Open Qualifying at Walton Heath…

Golf Monthly £10 ChallengeGM_masthead-630x176

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  –

£2.25 e/w on Shane Lowry at 22/1 (Stan James 6 Places)

£1.00 e/w on Chris Wood at 50/1 (Coral)

£0.50 e/w on Robert Karlsson at 125/1 (Coral)

£0.35 e/w on David Horsey at 150/1 (Paddy Power 6 Places)

£0.30 e/w on Graeme Storm  at 300/1 (Coral)

£0.30 e/w on John Parry at 250/1 (Coral)

£0.30 e/w on Kristoffer Broberg at 250/1 (Paddy Power 6 Places)

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 19 weeks

DownThe18th                                 Golf Monthly

European Tour: £-71.95                  European Tour:  £-50.62

PGA Tour: £-25.94                           PGA Tour: £23.75

Total: £-97.89                                   Total: £-26.87

Golf Monthly leads by: £70.02

Irish Open 2014

Prize Fund: €2,000,000

After Martin Kaymer secured one of the most dominant major wins since Rory McIlroy’s 2011 win last week, we now move to the Emerald Isles as the Irish Open comes to our attention.

In our eyes, it sort of signals the start to the swing of tournaments that will prepare players for a rigorous Open Championship next month.

Last year Paul Casey picked up the trophy in a truly wonderful win, carrying on this trend which has seen the last 7 winners of the Irish Open hailing from GB & I.

With the field including the likes of McIlroy, Graeme McDowell, Shane Lowry, Casey and Stephen Gallacher, you would not be foolish to expect that trend to continue this year.

It has been a difficult process in dissecting the field however, because of a serious lack of knowledge about the course.  It will be held at Fota Island Resort in County Cork, which has not seen an elite tournament since 2002 (Soren Hansen) and 2001 (Monty came out on top).

It will be playing at 7,043 yards, which is short by today’s standards.   Hansen won with a score of -14 in 02’ and you can expect similar scores, if not more birdies on this parkland track that is spacious and has attackable holes throughout both 9s.

The beautiful aerial view of Fota Island

The beautiful aerial view of Fota Island

The two par 5s on the back 9 are great eagle chances, but over 100 bunkers and abundance of water does mean that the iron players will ultimately come out on top.  Not necessarily plotting your way round, but strategically understanding when to attack and grab those low scores.  There is a links feel to the track and we are certain the winner will be comfortable with those seaside courses.

We can expect large crowds all week, especially if an Irishman is contending on the Sunday, so it is going to be a cracking way to forget about the US Open!

Stephen Gallacher (25/1 Coral)

Stephen Gallacher (25/1 Coral)

We are sure that many people will be looking very seriously at Stephen Gallacher this week because there is no doubting his pure class and form in recent months.  If you have followed us for a while, you’ll know our admiration for the Scot because to us, there is no better sight than an iron guru strutting his stuff and that is just what Gallacher is.  His performances since that win in Dubai have been impressive, especially his T6 at the WGC Cadillac.

You can really see his tee to green abilities coming to the fore on this sort of course and he would have learnt from the US Open experience last week, where he eventually missed the cut.

He is the perfect sort of links players – T21 at the Open last year and his first European Tour win came at the Alfred Dunhill Links back in 2004.

He has shown he has no fears playing up against the big boys and if he is on song this week he will be a real danger.

Rafa Cabrera-Bello (33/1 various)

Let's get that winning feeling back again Rafa

Let’s get that winning feeling back again Rafa

Rafa Cabrera-Bello is our only pick this week that was not born on British shores and that in itself is a high accolade to how we feel about the Spaniard.

He is a flair player that recently turned 30 and he is now entering the time in his career where he needs to really push his talent forward and contend in more tournaments.

There is no denying he has had a mixed season, but 5 top 10s is a very solid return and they seem to come in clusters.  3 of those top 10s came in the space of 4 weeks and we have taken postivies from the fact he sneaked into a tie for 9th in his last outing at the Nordea Masters.

His driving distance and GIR at the weekend was exceptional – he never dropped outside the top 15 in either category and bizarrely he putted incredibly well to begin the week.  If he had put all those facets of the game together he would have won at an absolute canter.

He generally likes courses where birdie opportunities are more prominent (all his top 10s have come with scores of -10+) and if the wind does pick up, he is more than capable of shaping his shots and manoeuvring through the conditions like every Spaniard seems to be able to do.

David Horsey (80/1 SportingBet)

Horsey with horsey.

Horsey with horsey.

One of our perennial favourites.  David Horsey has become our go-to-guy if there is even a sneaky inkling of wind and/or a course that has a links feel.

He is a classical tee to green golfer whose only fault is being able to put 4 rounds together.  All 4 of his top 10s have included silly 70+ rounds and for someone of his calibre, it can be frustrating.  Some of that may be down to the fact he has not won since 2011, but we have seen signs this year that he will be lifting a trophy once again very soon, it is just a matter of time.

If he can find his range off the tee distance wise, then there is no reason why Horsey can’t have a big say in proceedings this week.

Matthew Fitzpatrick (100/1 various)

He has even had a round with Freddy Couples.  He is ticking off the greats with ease.

He has even had a round with Freddy Couples. He is ticking off the greats with ease.

A real jewel in the English game.  Matthew Fitzpatrick is yet to enter his 20s and he has already created a buzz around players and media alike at his potential future in world golf.  He is a genuine talent who has the all-round game to compete on any sort of course.

Whilst that is reason enough to consider him here, it will be an interesting few days for the Sheffield-born terrier because it will be his first tournament as a professional.

Last week he was paired with Justin Rose and Phil Mickelson, at times looking just as experienced and capable as his elder partners.  He then went on to become the first golfer since Bobby Jones to hold the accolade of low amateur in consecutive Open and US Opens – a truly remarkable feat.

With his astute abilities around the greens and surprising distance off the tee, he could be a cheeky outsider to have a punt on here.  What a story it would be.

The Open Championship

Muirfield 2013

Course: Muirfield Golf Links

Date: 18-21 July 2013

Current Champion: Ernie Els

The third major has finally arrived and this is a week many golfing professionals, aficionados and experts will be most excited about.  The Open Championship.

The 142nd edition of the famous tournament is being held at one of the greatest tests of links golf anywhere in the world.  Muirfield has been primed, prepped and improved since it last hosted the championship in 2002 and whatever the weather, we are all in for a 4-day, Christmas-come-early treat.

As we have done with previous majors, there are two in-depth, statistical and informative previews if what we write is just not enough to quench your gambling thirst. So please do check them out!

The first one is on the trends and brief links specialists –

https://downthe18th.wordpress.com/2013/07/02/the-open-championship-2013/

The second one is all about Muirfield and the challenge players will face, with a look at the key statistics needed.

https://downthe18th.wordpress.com/2013/07/10/the-open-championship-2013-preview-2/

You can also check out our column on the Golf Monthly website about the farce of Open Qualifying

http://www.golf-monthly.co.uk/tours-and-news/opinion/tour-talk/531565/golf-blog-the-open-qualifying.html

Also a look at Outsiders and the ridiculous offers of bookmakers  for Golf Monthly

http://www.golf-monthly.co.uk/tours-and-news/opinion/tour-talk/531646/open-championship-2013-blog-bet-on-the-outsiders.html

So what happened back when it was last held here in 2002?  Reigning Open champion, Ernie Els defeated Thomas Levet, Steve Elkington and Stuart Appleby in a playoff to secure his 1st Open and 3rd major trophy.  That particular year the weather was beyond brutal on the Saturday, with unforeseen storms and torrential rains hampering scoring for the majority of the field.  Our favourite 2nd-place guru Colin Montgomerie infamously shot 74, 64, 84 in his first three rounds, letting slip another opportunity.

Ernie Els chipping out the bunker at Muirfield in 2002. This was one of the iconic moments of the whole tournament and an outrageous shot

Ernie Els chipping out the bunker at Muirfield in 2002. This was one of the iconic moments of the whole tournament and an outrageous shot

The long list of champions that Ernie added himself to is full of big names, the very best the sport has produced – from Sir Nick Faldo to Lee Trevino, Gary Player to Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson to Walter Hagen – the greats who have littered golfing history books.  But all of them during four days in the Scottish summer conquered the prestigious test of Muirfield.  What does that say? No mug is going to be taking home this trophy, the cream is likely to rise to the top come Sunday evening.  However, that does not mean it would be foolish to look elsewhere for an outsider, as many bookmakers are offering 6 places, whilst PaddyPower are paying out for 7 and BetVictor are (rather astonishingly, if you ask us) offering 8 places!

http://www.betvictor.com/sports/en/the-open-8-places?banner_home_1107

http://www.paddypower.com/bet/golf/open-championship?ev_oc_grp_ids=34304#area=sb&AFF_ID=10063836

So with outsiders you are certainly looking for e/w returns and as long shot Englishman Gary Evans proved 11 years ago, sneaking a place (and nearly winning the whole thing) is not uncommon for the touring pro.

With all that history malarkey out the way, what are we actually looking for in terms of player and attributes to take on Muirfield?

If you are errant off the tee, you can kiss goodbye to any birdie and most times, even a par.  The thick rough is virtually impossible to hit out of, therefore accuracy will be so crucial.  But it is not just the cabbage that needs to be avoided – strategically placed pot-bunkers litter fairways and valiantly protect greens.  Although every player will at some point find themselves lingering in the sand, how you play yourself out will be just as important as how few times you get trapped.

This does means better bunker players will save shots, but general scrambling, which is always a key component in any Open, will be vital.  It seems obvious to say it but GIR and approach play will be key, because this is where the strategists can work out when to attack and when to sit back, take par and run to the next tee.  If you’re too attacking – disaster, if you’re strategically attacking – lower score.  Simple as that.

Once on the undulating, sloping greens, putting is often the difference between 1st and 2nd.  To win majors, you have to be consistent with the short stick throughout the week and it will be no different here.  Rose putted well at Merion, Scott at Augusta and the player lifting the claret jug on Sunday will have been incredible on the greens as well.

However, at the end of the day, the really important factor to consider is the good old British weather.  Ability to keep your head in the game whilst winds blow in all sorts of directions – every hole at Muirfield is facing a different direction to each other, so wind will come from all angles – and play just as well in the rain as in the sun will be more crucial than anything.

We hope you have enjoyed our previews and found them useful, if you want to give us any feedback so we can improve for future majors, please do contact us at downthe18th@hotmail.co.uk.

So if you are in Britain, enjoy the wonderful and rare BBC coverage.  If you are anywhere else in the world, have fun watching four days of the most competitive golf and if you are lucky enough to have a ticket, well you’re a wanker.

Our picks –

The Favourites

Luke Donald (30/1 StanJames)

Luke Donald at the Masters in 2011 after he chipped in on the 18th. If he can get this fist pumping and passion going then we could have a second English major winner in 2013

Luke Donald at the Masters in 2011 after he chipped in on the 18th. If he can get this fist pumping and passion going then we could have a second English major winner in 2013

Wouldn’t it just make sense? Scott then Rose then Donald. If perfect symmetry was the sole factor for finding the 2013 Open champion then Luke Donald would be joint favourite alongside Sergio Garcia and Lee Westwood – and we personally cannot handle anymore gruelling Westwood performances, our brains and hearts are not strong enough, although would never begrudge him a win.

As for Donald, he has admitted himself that it has not been a great season for him, after 2 incredible years of unerring consistency.  In his last three competitions he has finished T42, T8, and T21.  That T8 was at the US Open, where he went into the final day with every chance of taking the title but faltered away, allowing player partner and good friend, Rose, to capitalise.

In his last 10 major outings he has managed 7 top 32s, including 4 top 10s and you just get that sense he is on the verge of joining the major elite.

Even recent Open performances give you confidence in Donald, T5 last year with four consistent rounds and in 2009 a final day 67 put him 2 shots of a playoff place.  When you think of his playing style, it is no surprise that he finds himself at the top of various major championships.  But for us Merion and Muirfield have presented him with the best opportunities yet – a superb tee to green player, reliably accurate, a phenomenal scrambler and bunker player and when he starts holing putts he is so dangerous.  That combination is perfect for links golf and we feel very confident in our main man.

He was number 1 for a long time and his name is more than good enough to join that elite list of former winners.  In Donald we believe and trust.

Links form since 2010

Won Top 5 Top 10 Top 25 Made Cut Missed Cut
1 4 5 8 10 2

Recent Open Championship History (Including 2002 Open at Muirfield)

2012 2011 2010 2009 2007 2002
T5 MC T11 T5 T63 MC

PGA Tour Statistics

Luke Donald Stats

Graeme McDowell (25/1 various)

You can sample all the alcohol in the world if you win Gmac. It will be on us...

You can sample all the alcohol in the world if you win Gmac. It will be on us…

Yes he was our main man for Merion and yes he missed the cut, but that has not put us off one of the very best scramblers and tee to green players in the game.

It has been well documented, by both himself and the media, that it has been a very bizarre season.  3 wins in a single year is an incredible achievement, but 6 missed cuts doesn’t make a great deal of sense, especially with a usually consistent performer like McDowell.

Every time he has shown his true class and deservedly walked away with a trophy, he misses the cut the following week but we are sure it will not happen this time around, on a course that suits the Northern Irishman perfectly.

He was superb at the French Open two weekends ago, leading the field for GIR and lying in 15th for driving accuracy – two crucial Muirfield attributes.

And now he will be going into the third major, having missed the cut at Augusta and Merion in the knowledge that if he can make it to Saturday there is every chance he will be in contention.  He has made 7 cuts this season, only finishing outside the top 10 in one of those tournaments.  When his game is on, it is on and we would not be worried if the weather turns vile because his adaptable game can work in any conditions.

We really feel McDowell has the game for links golf (as shown by his history on such courses) and if he decides to turn it on, then he will have at least held one hand on a second major trophy.

Links form since 2010

Won Top 5 Top 10 Top 25 Made Cut Missed Cut
1 4 4 8 10 1

Recent Open Championship History

2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007
T5 MC T23 T34 T19 MC

European Tour Statistics

Driving Distance Driving Acc GIR Scrambling Sand Saves Putts Per Round
152nd 15th 85th 46th 167th 63rd

PGA Tour Statistics

Graeme McDowell Stats 1

Sergio Garcia (28//1 various)

This is when Sergio had the world at his feet, jumping round like a ballerina.  Lets hope he can get back to that mindset and dance his way to the title

This is when Sergio had the world at his feet, jumping round like a ballerina. Lets hope he can get back to that mindset and dance his way to the title

You can read one half of DownThe18ths column for Golf Monthly on ‘The Curious Case Of Sergio Garcia’ here –

http://www.golf-monthly.co.uk/open-2013/blog/531615/the-curious-case-of-sergio-garcia.html

Sergio Garcia.  A confusing yet irresistible golfer who has an opportunity to resurrect his fortunes, correct the wrongs of foolish comments and finally win his first major.  We really feel that this is his best chance for a long time on a course that has a lot of history for the Spaniard.

Back in 1998 Garcia won the Amateur Championship, a matchplay format, which was held at Muirfield.  Then in his 4th year as a pro, he finished T8 in the Open proper – also held at Muirfield and at the time was his highest finish in the Championship.

He has openly admitted how much he loves the historic course and cannot wait to get back there for another attempt at a trophy he has recorded 7 top 10s in.

Obviously, as there always is with Sergio, worries about his mental state will play on the mind of every gambler throwing their hard earned money at the Spaniard.  The collapse at The Players was a horrendous watch, whilst the second day 76 at Augusta was a frustrating relapse after a glorious 66 on the Thursday.

But people do often forget how incredible and unlucky he was in 2007, after nearly going wire-to-wire before painfully losing in a playoff to Padraig Harrington.  He lipped out the winning putt on the 72nd hole and we cannot imagine how painful that must have been.

Yet, just like all our top 5 picks, we really feel a sense of everything coming together for Sergio.  All the stars are aligned and as we all know, his game is simply perfect for any links challenge, so if you have the guts to go through whatever he may bring for one more week then let the fun begin.

Links form since 2010

Won Top 5 Top 10 Top 25 Made Cut Missed Cut
0 0 1 3 5 2

Recent Open Championship History (Including 2002 Muirfield)

2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2002
MC T9 T14 T38 T51 T8

PGA Tour Statistics

Sergio Garcia Stats

The Mid-Rangers

Brandt Snedeker (40/1 various)

How dapper does he look in this brown suit?! What a hero.

How dapper does he look in this brown suit?! What a hero.

Finally, the man who inspired us to originally begin DownThe18th has made it past the ‘initial’ picks and found himself 4th on our list for The Open.  We have made no secret of the fact that he is one of our favourite players, but we have a feeling that this is now the right time to back him for a major.

At the beginning of the season, he was the form man in golf.  He looked irresistibly impressive and we were so excited to back him for the Masters.  But then came his rib injury and a run of horrendous performances.  Yet he went to Augusta on medication and managed to get in the running up until late Sunday afternoon, eventually finishing T6.  Whilst he went on to miss 2 cuts following the T8 at The Players, he recorded a T17 finish at the US Open and his last appearance at the AT&T National resulted in a T8 finish, which give us confidence he is back, but should be a great sign for the man himself.

He has shown ability on links courses in the past and last year finishing T3 after shooting an outrageous 66, 64 on the first two days.  He is more than capable of winning majors and with length not really needed on this course, his game has all the components to keep the ball in play and find the putting surface, where he is arguably the best in the world.  The short stick guru represents great value at 40s considering his ability, so jump on him whilst you can.

Links form since 2010

Won Top 5 Top 10 Top 25 Made Cut Missed Cut
2 3 3 5 7 3

Recent Open Championship History

2012 2011 2009 2008
T3 MC MC MC

PGA Tour Statistics

Brandt Snedeker Stats

Henrik Stenson (45/1 888sport)

Henrik Stenson showing he is not afraid to get down and dirty back in 2009.

Henrik Stenson showing he is not afraid to get down and dirty back in 2009.

After the very lengthy discussions in deciding our final picks, we came across Stenson and thought he was completely overpriced by Ladbrokes at 66/1.  Many bookmakers had him at 40s, which is roughly where he should be and after delving into his statistics, form etc. we chose to jump at Ladbrokes’ offer.  Subsequently he shot a 64 on the Friday at the Scottish Open and his prices slashed.  He went on to shoot 66 the following day, taking a two shot lead into Sunday, however a +1 73 meant he ended in T3, with Mickelson lifting the trophy.

We can only apologise for our 5th pick being at odds nearly half what we staked, but we do have an inkling that the Swede is back to form and in complete control of his game at the moment – even with the slight break down at Castle Stuart.

His tee to green abilities are up there with anyone and considering he has enormous power as well, he can challenge on any course at any tournament.

But he has shown a liking for links golf, with an admirable recent record, whilst two T3 finishes at The Open prove he can compete with the best.  In both 2008 and 2010 he rallied home on the final day to surge up the leaderboard, but without ever really contending.

Whilst he finished well at the Masters and US Open (T18 and T21 respectively) and he has only ever made the cut at both opening majors once – back in 2009 when he finished T13 at that years Open.

In all honesty, he should be higher up this list, because he has only missed 2 cuts all year, with four top 10s and if his putter gets going, he will be incredibly dangerous.

Links form since 2010

Win Top 5 Top 10 Top 25 Made Cut Missed Cut
1 4 7 12 18 3

Recent Open Championship History

2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2002
68th T3 T13 T3 MC DNP

European Tour Statistics

Driving Distance Driving Acc GIR Scrambling Sand Saves Putts Per Round
9th 67th 8th 118th 162nd 148th

PGA Tour Statistics

Henrik Stenson Stats

The Outsiders

Jamie Donaldson (125/1 Bet365)

NO this is NOT Brandt Snedeker, it is his long lost brother, Jamie Donaldson

NO this is NOT Brandt Snedeker, it is his long lost brother, Jamie Donaldson

Considering this is a man who is currently 38th in the world rankings, won on the European Tour this year and has a solid links record, 150/1 is outrageously over-priced.

Donaldson has impressed us throughout 2013, showing his ability tee to green and there have been few better scramblers.  If and when he finds trouble around Muirfield, the Welshman is the exact player you have every confidence in turning trouble into fortune.

In his last 2 outings he ranked 3rd for GIR in France (T6 finish) and 7th for GIR in Ireland (T10 finish).  We are aware that his overall stats do not jump out, but we feel they do not represent fully the excellent golf he has been playing over recent weeks.

At the end of the day this is a heavy outsider and with plenty of places on offer from PaddyPower and BetVictor, it would be foolish not to get involved with Donaldson, who has every capability of mixing it with the best and finding the top end of leaderboards at majors.  And for us, the Open represents the competition that will suit his style the most.  Don’t forget, he did finish T7 at the PGA last year, so he does have major pedigree…

Links form since 2010

Won Top 5 Top 10 Top 25 Made Cut Missed Cut
1 2 7 9 11 6

Recent Open Championship History

2012 2006
T60 MC

European Tour Statistics

Driving Distance Driving Acc GIR Scrambling Sand Saves Putts Per Round
85th 153th 122nd 2nd 88th 43rd

Our other outsiders we have looked at are Richard Sterne (100/1 various) and Mikko Ilonen (125/1 various)

Both guys have been winners on the European Tour this year – Sterne at the Joburg Open and Ilonen at the Nordea Masters and we were on them both times!

But intriguingly they have good links form and Ilonen made the cut here back in 2003, the year after he finished T9 at the Open.

Sterne has recorded 3 top 10s in his last 9 links tournaments and won the Alfred Dunhill Links back in 2009, whilst Ilonen has 2 top 10s.

If you prefer looking at outsiders and value, then these 2 guys are top professionals who will be used to the type of course, weather and conditions, whilst arriving in good form.  If you think they are the top end of the market for most European competitions – they are at the top of their game.

European Tour Week 17

Ballantine’s Championship

By Lewis Pacelli

After a week in Europe it is time for another long haul flight for the players as we arrive in Seoul, South Korea for the Ballantine’s Championship.

It will be only the third time the tournament has been hosted at Blackstone Golf Club in Icheon, after Lee Westwood won in 2011 and Bernd Wiesberger in 2012.  Both winning scores were in double figures and something similar will be expected for the victor this week.

Interestingly, last year the average for the top 15 in putts per round was 28.3, which would be inside the top 30 in putting average on tour this season. Whilst the top 5 averaged 75.9% GIR, which would be inside the top 20 on tour.  It is quite difficult to gage what the course will be playing, but it seems the longer ball strikers who can hole their putts will do well, BUT then you wonder how Westwood won?! Well he was 13th for putts per round on his way to victory… What we do know is that it is a par 72, measuring at 7,281 yards and there are plenty of water hazards with tree-lined but generous fairways.

What wonderful hair Monsieur Dubuisson

A Loriel star in the making.

Victor Dubuisson (28/1 Coral)

The Frenchman with gorgeous long flocks has been slowly coming into a bit of form over recent months, recording 3 top 10s in his last 5 outings – all of which were in Asia, which bodes well for the trip this week… Whilst two of these top 10s were at courses of similar length and he has proven himself to be another one of these younger breakthroughs with the potential for a mammoth drive.  He is currently 13th for driving distance this season and he could attack this course a lot more than he did in Span last week. Even though he finished 61st in what was a difficult four days after a 3-week break, he currently lies 44th for both GIR and stroke average which add to his appeal band it does not mean he cannot handle the expected windy conditions. His best professional performance was here last year where he finished T3 in relatively tough conditions and had he not shot 75 on Friday he could have definitely challenged for the title.  Two 68s and a closing round of 66 will give the 22-year old great hope going into Thursday and there is no reason why this can’t be his first Senior title.

Mikko Ilonen (50/1 Various)

Mikko Ilonen showing his abilities in Morocco

Mikko Ilonen showing his abilities in Morocco

When we backed Ilonen a few weeks ago, he played outstandingly in Morocco to finish T2 and give us a solid return.  We feel confident putting our money on the Finnish star again as he looks in such good form that his price seems to high at 50s.  He also finished T17 in Malaysia the week before Morocco and had a T9 in Qatar earlier in the season.  If it was not for a poor 75 in the first round here last year, he could have contended, but he did manage to recover well with 3 rounds under par.  His distance will not be a problem either, lying in 42nd on tour, whilst he is 26th for stroke average proving he can hit low and consistent scores.  27th for putts per round and 16th for putts per GIR show his ability with a putter and he has not been outside the top 5 in any putting stats in his last two outings.  With his work on the greens on fire he could challenge every tournament and it will be no different this week

Peter Uihlein (50/1 Coral)

Whose hair is better? Dubuisson or Uihlein?

Whose hair is better? Dubuisson or Uihlein?

The American is in superb form at the moment, playing consistently well over recent months. In his last 3 European Tour starts he has finished T8, 4th and T19 and with his swashbuckling style he could get his first professional win here.  4th for driving distance will help him attack the longer holes, whilst he is 43rd for GIR and 29th for putts per GIR.  Tee to green that is the perfect combination on a course that has forgiving fairways and could really suit someone with Uihlein’s game.  And confidence will be at a premium having played very well in Spain last week, finishing T8 and finding himself 1st for driving distance, 22nd for GIR, 6th for putts per GIR and 12th for putts per round.  Pushing himself that bit further is within his reach and even tough he has never played here, he could really defy the odds he’s at and mount a strong challenge come Sunday.  There is a reason the American has plied his trade on the European and Challenge Tours and that is to gain experience and wins. This could be that first big leap.

Paul Casey (50/1 Coral)

The mercurial talent and the well, erm elder statesman share a handshake.

The mercurial talent and the well, erm elder statesman share a handshake.

The mercurial talent that is Paul Casey.  Destined to be one of the great English golfers, his well-documented demise has started showing signs it may finally be over.  He has the game to destroy many fields on his day and he should have way more than the 11 professional wins he has.  There has also been an odd pattern emerging where he has won a tournament every other year since 2007, so doing the math, he should be picking up a title this season.  And why not in South Korea?  Without a top 10 as of yet, he has finished T19, T18, T23, T37, T37 and T16 in Spain last week. That is unbelievable form for someone whose game is supposed to rocky and we really feel he could push on and challenge on a course that will play into the hands of the Englishman.  A very able wind player who averages around 290 yards and is 11th in GIR this year would grab the attention of any punter.  Then when you think he 46th for stroke average and even finished 20th for putts per GIR last week, you realise Casey has the perfect game to adapt to whatever course is infront of him.  In Casey we trust.