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.

Advertisements

Wyndham Championship 2015

Prize Fund – $5,400,000wyndham

Winner’s Share – $954,000

Course – Sedgefield CC, Greensboro (7,130 yards par 70)

Our 2014 Picks – Bill Haas – T2, Ricky Barnes – T24, Freddie Jacobson – T2, Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano – MC, John Huh – T57

After a sensational performance from Jason Day last week, the major year has come to a close and all eyes will quickly turn to the last event before the season ending Final Series. In 5 tournaments time we will have crowned the new FedEx Cup champion who’ll pocket a cool $10 million. Outrageous scenes.

So keep an eye out for all those bumbling along outside the top 125 in the standings as they will be doing everything possible to make sure they’re teeing it up at the Barclays next week. For these lads, it’s crunch time –

120 – Scott Stallings 121 – Jamie Donaldson 122 – Spencer Levin 123 – Nicholas Thompson 124 – Luke Donald 125 – Charl Schwartzel 126 – Scott Langley 127 – Seung-Yul Noh 128 – S.J. Park 129 – Camilo Villegas (won here last year…!) 130 – Ryo Ishikawa 131 – Bily Hurley III 132 – Alex Prugh 149 – Martin Kaymer 156 – Graeme McDowell 170 – Ernie Els 187 – Tiger Woods

Stallings and Donaldson are the only two names above that aren’t playing this week, which is a massive risk if they want to qualify. There are obviously plenty of guys below Prugh who can jolt up the standings with a win, so keep tabs on the storylines as they develop throughout the week.  And yes, Tiger Woods IS PLAYING.  Madness.

As for the event itself, the Wyndham Championship is held at the Donald Ross designed Sedgefield Country Club. The 7,127 yard par 70 has played host since 2008 after 30 years at Forest Oaks and whilst being a cracking track, it’s often provided the players with little bit in terms of scoring.

The winning numbers have been very low and even with the subtle re-designs on the greens, Patrick Reed’s 2013 score was the lowest since the 08’ renewal.

The newly laid Bermuda greens did cause some changes in playability last year – the small, undulating and fast greens arguably provide the only true defence. Therefore we have to look at putting stats and GIR because you can’t score if you’re not giving yourself the chances but clearly going to take a peak at the scoring stats themselves as well.

5 tournaments to go ladies and gentleman, 5 tournaments to go.

Brandt Snedeker 20/1

Brandt Snedeker is looking like he’s getting close to his old self, finally putting that back injury behind him once and for all.

He is putting well again – 40th birdie or better % and 7th one-putt % – whilst his irons are nearly there.

He’s been scoring far better as well. After winning the AT&T earlier this year, pretty much from nowhere, he has gone on to record some very decent finishes.

5 top 12’s in his last 7 outings shows the sort of level we’re talking about at the moment – especially considering that includes a US Open and the PGA Championship…  He was hitting 65% of fairways and greens at Whistling Straits, whilst his putting is still is usual self – that 40-footer on the last bringing great entertainment to all of us!

All in all, we feel it would be a silly move not to at least consider the mighty Sneds, even with the shorts odds.

Ryan Moore (40/1 various)

Ryan Moore is an interesting one this week – on the surface he has the game to really challenge on this sort of track. However, his form hasn’t been the most eye-catching this season – his last top 10 came back in March… There’s been glimpses no denying, but he hasn’t been able to put four rounds together for quite a while.

So why plump on him here? Well, he looked in decent knick tee to green at the PGA, finding over 71% of fairways and 68% of greens, whilst a few weeks ago he had 83% driving accuracy and 72% GIR.

That is a potentially potent combination for this course, especially considering the fact he’s won here and recorded a T6 in the past.

He’s also 56th for strokes gained putting, 25th in total putting and 29th for one-putt percentage.

Decent shout.

Vaughn Taylor (125/1 various)

Vaughn Taylor may have a ridiculous way of spelling his name, but that doesn’t put us off the fact he’s a pretty decent shout this week.

He is a two-time PGA Tour champion believe it or not (2 Reno-Tahoe Open wins in 04’ and 05’) but his career has mainly been plugging away on the Web.com, NGA and other such Tours.

However in his last year before he turns 40, he’s been making some sort of inroads on the PGA circuit this season. A couple of top 10’s and only one missed cut in 11 outings is not a bad return and we feel he’s got something to offer on the sort of track.

He is 28th for driving accuracy, 25th GIR and 79th for strokes gained putting which really is a cracking combination – he’s also 13th for scoring average which just goes to show he can shoot low when he’s in the groove.

Much like Moore, he has to find the consistency to do it for four rounds and then we could have a cheeky outsider on our hands.

Hudson Swafford (200/1 various)

Hudson Swafford is someone that is worth looking at because of the very high odds and the fact he does, theoretically, suit this track.

A MC last time out at the Barracuda, but before that he was playing well for a couple of rounds in several tournaments in a row, only to have a stinker on at least one of the days.

He must keep his form going over a few days and he really could challenge here.

37th for GIR, 29th strokes gained putting, 71st scoring average and 48th 3-putt avoidance is now bad for someone who is at 200/1…

Why not?

PGA Championship 2015

Prize Fund – $10,000,0002015_PGA_CHAMPIONSHIP_TICKE

Winner’s Share – $1,800,000

Course – Whistling Straits (7,514 yards par 72)

Our 2014 Picks – Sergio Garcia – T36, Hideki Matsuyama – T36, Marc Leishman – MC, Hunter Mahan – T7, Louis Oosthuizen – T15

So here we go, one last push, one final hurdle. The golfing Major season will come to a head at a Pete Dye classic, as arguably the best field of the four big ones battle it out to win the PGA Championship.

It often gets moved aside for the traditional majors and is only considered slightly bigger than The Players in some circles, but do not be fooled – The top 100 players automatically qualify whilst tournament winners in the past 12 months also get a spot (as well as some of the PGA Pro’s that got through their own qualification process) so this is a huge event with an unbelievable history and the very best players at this moment.

A history that includes some memorable moments as well. Y.E Yang defeating Tiger in 09’, the new boy Keegan Bradley toppling the world in 2010, Rich Beem and his heroics in 2002, Shaun Micheel in 2003. We really could go on, but there are so many magnificent sporting stories that come to the fore with this 4th Major.

So, before we get talking about Mr. Dye’s beautifully set up track, let’s have a look at some of the trends and recent history of the PGA Championship.

For starters, there are three points that consistently crop up with PGA winners –

  1. 13 of the last 15 champions recorded a victory in the same year.

This is no surprise in a lot of ways because the field is made up of winners, but it may help narrow down your search slightly. It does show that you have a recent knack of knowing how to get the job done and some sort of form.

  1. Since the WGC Bridgestone became the unwritten warm-up to the PGA in 2006, the winner has always been in the field and remarkably, always finished inside the top 22. (A big argument can be made to stretch that to those who finished T25 this year)

The lengthy nature of Firestone makes this little surprise as well – PGA tournaments are always on long tracks, so the comparison is obvious. Plus, another indicator that the winners’ game is in decent knick.

  1. Barring Jason Dufner in 2013, every winner going back to Vijay Singh in 2004 has averaged over 291 yards before the win

Again, hardly surprising considering the length of traditional PGA tracks – barring Oak Hill (2013, 2003), Southern Hills (07’) and Medinah (06’) every course measures in at 7,400 yards minimum.

So, if we are judging everything by that, we can actually narrow down the field to a select few names who fit the categories and they’re as follows (world ranking in brackets) –

  • Jordan Spieth (2nd)
  • Bubba Watson (3rd)
  • Jason Day (5th)
  • Justin Rose (6th)
  • Rickie Fowler (7th)
  • Patrick Reed (18th)
  • Shane Lowry (19th)
  • Brooks Koepka (20th)
  • Danny Willett (25th)
  • Bernd Wiesberger (26th)
  • Branden Grace (28th)
  • Robert Streb (40th)
  • Steven Bowditch (60th)
  • Camilo Villegas (156th)

So, those few names make for very interesting reading. We are now going to be able to whittle the list down even further by looking at Whistling Straits itself.

The Pete Dye layout will play as a 7,512 yard par 72 and is chiselled alongside the shores of Lake Michigan. There is absolutely no doubting there is a resemblance to classic Links tracks often found in Ireland – and even Chambers Bay in some regards, but at it’s core you have an American track that can be over-powered in good conditions and bite in tough, windy weather.

Not bad ay?

Not bad ay?

Eights of the holes are completely exposed to the lake and there are elevation changes of a staggering 80ft throughout the course. But the undulating, rolling landscapes have a cracking defence in the ridiculous 900+ bunkers littered all over.

On the surface you would think that driving accuracy will be key, but Singh and Kaymer were nowhere near the top end in that stats category and looking back at their performances, it seems far more important to have your irons in full flow.

Hitting the small, tough greens is no easy feet, especially trying to the ball to stop. Therefore the usual Links skill of scrambling will be vital for our 2015 winner.

If you look at it – Kaymer and Singh were both inside the top 10 for GIR stats throughout the week as well as the top 20 in scrambling. So, let’s now scrap those names above who are outside the top 40 in both those categories.

Here’s the five left –

  • Bubba Watson (3rd)
  • Jason Day (5th)
  • Danny Willett (25th)
  • Bernd Wiesberger (26th)
  • Branden Grace (28th)

Now you cannot deny those are some very fascinating names. Before we get into the nitty gritty of our own picks, we must mention that for us, Bubba and Day are too short to consider below 20’s – there’s much better value out there, but they should still be contemplated seriously before finalising your staking plans.

For the fourth and final time in 2015 – enjoy this week’s major!

Rickie Fowler (22/1 various)

Come on Rickie, it's time. - courtesy of golfweek

Come on Rickie, it’s time. – courtesy of golfweek

Yes, we’re going there again. We are just so adamant Rickie is going to win a major very soon that when a course sort of suits him, we feel our hands are tied.

He does fit the original trends, but didn’t make the last 5 because he lies in 93rd for scrambling, however we’ve seen how well he can play from tough positions when it matters most.

At the end of the day he won in typical Links conditions in Scotland and got himself into the mix at The Open, so he knows how to play these sorts of layouts. It clearly didn’t work for him at Chambers Bay, but some of that must be to do with the group he was playing in – they were all awful…

And in his last two outings, he finished 2nd at the Quicken Loans and T10 last week at the WGC. He’s in great knick and should be incredibly confident in his abilities.

He is an outstanding bunker player as well, which will without doubt come into play at times this week – his sand saves last week were 88.88%…

Overall, he’s a big hitter, 41st for driving distance – and can get in a real flow with his irons when everything is working well. You’d be a fool not to at least consider him…

Henrik Stenson (28/1 various)

Another big chance for the Swede

Another big chance for the Swede

We’ve heard a few whispers about Stenson recently that everything wasn’t quite going right, but he proved his form by a very solid T6 last week.

He never propelled forward massively, but was consistent in his scoring and should take confidence moving forward to a major that should suit his game.

So he hasn’t won this year, therefore didn’t make the trends, but blimey has he had some good outings – Five top 4 finishes this season say everything, so he isn’t in the worst knick

Looking at his stats, you have to be impressed as well. 38th for driving distance, 1st for GIR and 62nd for scrambling. With his prodigious tee to green game he could overpower this track and use his expertise on Links tracks to perfection.

A really good shout for the ‘top bracket’ of players…

Brooks Koepka (45/1 PaddyPower)

He's used to much tougher Links tracks than this...

He’s used to much tougher Links tracks than this…

Brooks Koepka has slowly been producing the sort of form that warrants him being a very interesting mid-ranger at 45’s.  He is consistently playing well on both sides of the Atlantic – he hasn’t missed a cut since The Players and has recorded 6 top 20’s, 3 of which were inside the top 10.

Last week he looked in good rhythm once again, finishing in a tie for 6th and he didn’t shoot over 70 again, taking his record to 9 rounds of 69 or better in his last 10.  That’s some going.

So, as well as being in good touch, he suits this sort of track down to the ground.  He hits the ball a mile and has the ability to get his irons working ridiculously smoothly – 6th for distance and 19th for GIR, whilst he is actually 49th for scrambling from the rough which bodes well here.

His overall scrambling isn’t great stats wise (155th) but we’ve seen enough of him to know that he can handle the pressures of an up and down in linksy conditions – 3 of his 4 Challenge Tour wins were on coastal tracks…  Plus he finished T10 at St. Andrews a few weeks back…

Plus he’s 58th for sand save which basically makes him the complete player.

And don’t forget he’s a two-time winner in the past year, so he knows very much how to get the job done… Intriguing to say the least.

Branden Grace (80/1 various)

Will he be Grace-ing the winner's circle?

Will he be Grace-ing the winner’s circle?

It’s probably quite easy to forget that Branden Grace is actually a 3-time European Tour winner in the past year.  Whilst that is simply ludicrous, you’d have to think he would be around 30’s if that form was on the PGA Tour…

In fact his form across just 2015 is just breathtakingly good – 18 tournaments, 2 wins, 5 top 10’s, 11 top 20’s and only 2 missed cuts.  Unreal.

The South African therefore has to be considered, especially when you think how close he came at Chambers Bay.  There was no bottle there at all, he genuinely had a chance going down 16 and a T4 finish is still no mean feat.

He really is coming into his own now and this could be a perfect fit for someone who is used to these sorts of tracks.  His stats on his predominant Tour in Europe match everything perfectly – 301 yards off the tee, 8th GIR and 18th scrambling.  Not bad.  Plus, he fits the trends and history, so there really is little to not like…

Danny Willett (100/1 various)

Has everything in his locker for this sort of track

Has everything in his locker for this sort of track

Danny Willett has had a pretty stellar year and is consistently recording top finishes. With two wins already this season and a further 4 top 6 performances, you cannot doubt the Englishman is an intriguing shout at 3-figure odds.

As we stated in our preview, he fits all the trends and stats for recent winners – a comfortable, if not exciting T17 at the WGC will definitely stand him in good stead – in fact his recent form line is so impressive – T17, 1st in Switzerland and T6 at The Open.

It was at St. Andrews where we saw the potential big tournament winning Willett really shine – a mini breakthrough if you will. He had every chance of capturing the claret jug going into that weekend but all the adverse conditions definitely didn’t do him any favours.

Overall, you’ve got someone that hits it over 292 yards, lies 23rd for GIR and 4th in scrambling on the European Tour and has the all-round tee-to-green game perfectly suited for this test.

Robert Streb (90/1 various)

Robert Streb showing his delight at winning the McGladrey last year  Stephen B. Morton / Associated Press

Robert Streb showing his delight at winning the McGladrey last year
Stephen B. Morton / Associated Press

Our final pick comes in the form of another non-major champion, making it a 6-man team who would all be debutants into the winner’s circle.

Robert Streb has performed above and beyond this year, pretty much continuing his early season form where he won his maiden title at the McGladrey Classic in October.

He almost won again a few weeks back at the Greenbrier but lost out to Danny Lee in a playoff, but that still shows how far he has come to nearly win 2 in the same season.He is actually 5th in the current FedEx standings, which says a lot for consistency – a stunning 8 top 10’s and 13 top 25 finishes prove how well he’s been playing on a very regular basis.

That playoff defeat was followed by a T14 at the John Deere, a T18 at The Open and a solo 5th at last weeks WGC. He was leading at St. Andrews for a while on that first day, which shows he doesn’t mind the adverse Links conditions or the pressures of the biggest tournament in the game.

Stats wise he is perfect as well – 40th for distance, 11th for GIR, 78th fro scrambling, 84th sand save and even 25th for strokes gained putting for a bit of good measure.

The real deal here.

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

US Open 2015

2015-US-OPEN_LOGO

Prize Fund – $9,000,00

Winner’s Share – $1,620,000

Course – Chambers Bay (7,585 yards Par 72)

Our 2014 Picks – Jordan Spieth – T17, Luke Donald – MC, Charl Schwartzel – MC, Hideki Matsuyama – T35, Keegan Bradley – T4, Brooks Koepka – T4

The US Open is just a week away now and the excitement is gathering momentum. It’s been a truly remarkable year in golf with big names doing big things and you can only really think that the majors will produce outstanding drama in 2015.

And we can expect drama befitting of the West End or Broadway for this years US Open. The USGA are taking a completely different approach by selecting Chambers Bay and in our eyes, all stats, history and trends can pretty much be flung out the window – in some respects.

Of course, it’s still good to have a look at US Open form however unique the course is, because the correlation of tough, grinding track will certainly cross over.

So, our major preview this year is going to rely on incredibly different aspects to usual and an in-depth look at the track that is causing various degrees of mayhem, controversy and excitement.

#14 Pano

Chambers Bay

Primarily, what do we actually know about the place?

Well it is in Washington, which is a first in itself and has been built and moulded on top of what was an old quarry site. Whilst we’ve seen coastal type golf at Pebble Beach before, never have we witnessed anything like this. It’s a bonafide links track, never really seen in the States, but very common in the UK.

Designed by the legendary Robert Trent Jones Jnr, he pretty much had next-to-no restrictions on how he was able to construct the layout because of it’s history. That’s why there are intriguing holes, tough contours and uneven ground.

We’ve been lucky enough to spend some extended time with one of the guys who helped in the construction, agronomist John Clarkin. He, like many others, was drafted in from a British and Irish background knowledge of Links tracks to help grow and design this unprecedented place.

Clarkin stated how Links-like it is and that you can draw pretty much no comparisons with any US courses – it’s simply like extracting a British seaside course and plonking it on a Washington coastline.

The rough is full of fescue and overgrown, natural grass that will pretty much mean a drop shot if you’re hacking out of there. However, the fairways are slightly wider than we could expect, which brings to the argument that big hitters will fare well. However, if you are spraying it all over then you are going to have absolutely no chance.

The second cut will not be particularly long either and alongside the fact there are no real fringes around the greens, the whole course just manoeuvres and meanders around itself, flowing into one mammoth challenge.

Iron play is going to be absolutely vital as well – the best player from tee to green will without doubt be in the mix. But obviously we have to factor in the sloping and rapid greens (potentially around 12 on the stimpmetre) that will cause havoc and 3-putts galore.

Just to throw even more of a spanner in the works, there’s a bunker being ingeniously coined ‘Chambers Basement.’  It’s a 10-foot deep pot bunker, slap bang in the middle of the 18th.  Expect to see a few hacking out of there and it could be like Adam Scott at The Open when Ernie Els sneaked in to grab victory…

That looks like a fun bunker doesn't it?

That looks like a fun bunker doesn’t it?

But the main thing to really look out for, as with any Links course we’ve ever bet on, is the weather. Wind being the main source of potential destruction. At the time of writing, the wind will not be particularly horrendous, but simply due to the exposed nature of some of the holes, a slight breeze can still be tough to deal with.

http://www.theweathernetwork.com/forecasts/golf-report/7-day-weather-forecast/united-states/washington/chambers-bay

The last big thing to think about is the fact that whilst the par 72 stands at 7,585 yards – we’ve already been told that the USGA are going to play around with several holes on various days, making each one completely unique.

We could have anything playing rom 7,350 right up to 7,800. That is simply madness for players and caddies, but amazing for us as spectators.

So, all in all, what sort of player should you be looking for?

  • Someone who has Links form is an absolute must for us. If you’ve never performed on a coastal track, you will find it difficult to suddenly come to a US Open and win against the very best
  • A tee to green proficiency and understanding of when to attack and when to defend
  • Ability to manoeuvre the ball and play different when the conditions change and when the USGA alters the layout
  • Obviously putting is ultimately the difference at the majors…
  • Some sort of recent form. We feel you can discount pretty much anyone who has not been playing well in recent outings, because you need to be in good knick before a US Open (even Lucas Glover had a T2 a few weeks before his victory in 09’)
  • When the US Amateur was held here in 2010 (Peter Uihlein won the event) the scoring average was 79.25.  That shows you need a grinding nature when the going gets particularly tough…

Chambers Bay from everyone else’s perspective:

Mike Davis, USGA Executive Director:

“Virtually every hole out there we will be playing from different teeing grounds on different days. In some cases we may end up putting tee markers on slight slopes as opposed to you think, well, you’re always going to have teeing markers on very flat areas. But there may be some where we give the players a little downhill slope, a little uphill slope, a side slope. So that’s interesting.”

Ian Poulter, social media maverick:

“Well several players have played Chambers Bay in prep for US Open. The reports back are its a complete farce. I guess someone has to win.”

Phil Mickelson, Mr.America (and hopeful contender for inclusion in the new Rory McIlroy PGA Tour game):

“I really like it. The first time you play it, it’s like St. Andrews. You don’t know where to go. You don’t know what mounds do what to do the ball.”

Jordan Spieth, everyone’s hopeful successor as Mr.America (speaking after the US Amateur):

“The course was ridiculously difficult”

Tiger Woods, a fan of Miss.America’s:

“We don’t see this even at the British Open because the greens aren’t banked like this.”

Jason Day, husband to a very attractive wife:

“It’s a little funky.  More Links kind of style golf course, I’m excited to see how it shows it’s teeth”

Henrik Stenson, Swedish Meat-ball-playing, tee-to-green guru:

“It’s a tricked-up links course. It’s got some high elevations, some five, six holes that we normally don’t see on a regular links course, and then we’ve got some more severeness, I’d say. It’s going to be different and it’s quite tricky in places. It’s going to be so much down to the weather as well. If the wind blows and if you were to add a bit of rain, you don’t want to stand there on a 240-yard par-three down to a postage stamp. You need to be sharp with your short game there, it’s going to be tested.”

Brooks Koepka, the lady-lover (according to his Instagram):

“If you just hit a bad golf shot, you’re going to be screwed”

And Finally,

Bubba Watson sinking a ridiculous putt during a practice round…

https://twitter.com/bubbawatson/status/609418048106139648/video/1

So if you’re able to work any of that out and have a few players in mind, we’d say go with your hunches.

We have a few lads that we are quietly confident can be up there challenging, but before we showcase the might six, we must stress that Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth and Justin Rose all have (obviously!) ridiculous appeal, but are slightly too short for us…

Our Picks

Phil Mickelson (22/1 BetFred)

World Number 19

Phil getting those fists pumping.  Come on! Phot Courtesy of USA Sports Today

Phil getting those fists pumping. Come on!
Phot Courtesy of USA Sports Today

Sometimes you’ve just got to believe things will happen for a reason. 2015 could finally see Phil’s tumultuous affair with the US Open finally come to an end. The guy has 10 top 10’s and 6 runner-ups with Chambers Bay being his 25th start at this major!

After visiting the course for the first time a few weeks back Mickelson said it “resembled a course you would find in Britain” and that he’s “excited” about Chambers Bay. Looking at his Scottish double back in 2013, we know he has exactly what it takes on these sort of tracks.

The fairways being slightly more generous than usual will only go to help him and if the wind picks up we know he’s got a few low stingers in his locker.

As we’ve mentioned, winning a US Open needs recent form. He’s only missed one cut (The Players) in his last 8 events and has a T4 at the Wells Fargo and T2 at the Masters amongst them. Has posted some solid rounds in recent weeks but just hasn’t put 4 rounds together – Chambers Bay and the electric atmosphere of the US Open is where he finally could. Phil produces on the biggest stage.

Open Championship Form since 2003 and European Tour ‘Links’ tracks since 2012:

WIN Top 5 Top 10 Top 25 Made Cut Miss Cut
2 4 4 10 13 2

Plus a T9, T60 and WIN at Pebble Beach since 2012

Last 6 Results:

FedEx St.Jude Classic Memorial Tournament Wells Fargo Champs The PLAYERS The Masters Shell Houston
 T3 T65 T4 MC T2 T17

Rickie Fowler (22/1 Stan James)

World Number 8

Focused - courtesy of golfweek

Focused – courtesy of golfweek

Rickie Fowler showed everyone last year that he has the game to really contend at the Majors.  Followers of DownThe18th will know that we’re big fans of him and have often spoken about his exciting brand of golf.

Winning the Players Championship a few weeks ago (and saving our pretty poor betting season) really cemented his place amongst the big boys, dispelling the ridiculous myth that he’s an overrated player.

He was absolutely superb on the back nine stretch which included 4 birdies and an eagle, then keeping his bottle to win in a playoff.

So, whilst he missed the cut last time out at the Memorial, his form this season is still more than good enough to warrant huge Major appeal.  But one of the biggest reasons we really fancy him for his maiden victory is because of the perfect fit with the track.

He has proven his ability on Links courses and actually has a decent track record.  He’s not been scared to come over to the UK for European Tour events in the past – a T8 at the Scottish Open last year and T30 in Ireland in 2015.  That T30 was pretty much ruined in one hole though, when he was very much contending going into the last day.

He is one of the best drivers of a ball – T23 total driving and his irons can be devastating.  But his scrambling and never-say-die attitude is simply perfect for a course like this, when there will be times you’re hacking out of rough and struggling for a tough up and down from a bunker.

This could be the ultimate message to everyone in golf that we are going to have a 4-pronged future with McIlroy, Spieth, Rose and Fowler.

Open Championship Form since 2003 and European Tour ‘Links’ tracks since 2012:

WIN Top 5 Top 10 Top 25 Made Cut Miss Cut
0 2 3 4 6 1

Plus a T6 at the 2013 Hyundai Tournament of Champions

Last 6 Results:

Memorial Tournament Irish Open The PLAYERS WGC Cadillac Match Play Zurich Classic The Masters
MC T30 WON T9 MC T12

Jim Furyk (40/1 Paddy Power)

World Number 3

 

Jimbo Courtesy of Daily Mail

Jimbo
Courtesy of Daily Mail

We all know about how many near-misses Jimbo had before he won the RBC Heritage back in April. But that win could give him the extra confidence in his mid-forties to find himself another major win.

In 2003, Furyk won the the US Open at Olympia Fields making light work of the field winning by 3 shots. 10 top 10’s since and he still hasn’t won another major. But 2014 was arguably one of his most consistent ever years in the majors (T14 Masters, T12 US Open, 4th Open, T5 PGA). And it’s that sort of form that has seen him rise to 3rd in the world golf rankings. In any sport, 40/1 for the guy ranked 3rd in the world is value.

So what’s going to endear the American to Chambers Bay? Well not only is he brimming with confidence after his RBC win, combined with a 4th in the WGC Match Play and T5 at the Memorial, but his style of play is perfect for this course. Jim finds fairways. He puts the ball where he wants and hits plenty of greens. And when he doesn’t find the dance floor, he’s one of the best at getting up and down (23rd in scrambling on Tour).

It’s hard to see Jim not contending with the way he’s striking the ball at the moment – he’ll know the majors are running out where he can compete with the likes of McIlroy and Spieth so he’s going to be giving 110% this week to win US Open #2.

Open Championship Form since 2003 and European Tour ‘Links’ tracks since 2012:

WIN Top 5 Top 10 Top 25 Made Cut Miss Cut
0 3 3 4 7 5

PGA Tour ‘Coastal’ tracks:

WIN Top 5 Top 10 Top 25 Made Cut Miss Cut
1 1 3 3 6 0

Last 6 Results:

Memorial Tournament Wells Fargo Champs The PLAYERS WGC Cadillac Match Play RBC Heritage The Masters
T5 MC T56 4th WON MC

Ian Poulter (80/1 Paddy Power)

World Number 25

Sir Ian.

Sir Ian.

Okay, so we might not be getting the best feeling out of the Poulter camp regarding his views on Chambers Bay having claimed he will let everyone know his thoughts on the course after “holing his last putt”. If his Wentworth views are anything to go by, Chambers Bay isn’t likely to be making his bucket list.

But quite frankly this is a major, the ultimate in golf and Poults will be buzzing for it. Time and time again we talk about his Ryder Cup exploits but they really do show that the Englishman has it in his locker when needed.

2015 has seen him play arguably as good as he ever has in America, T6 HSBC WGC, T3 Honda Classic, T6 Masters (his best performance at Augusta) and T5 in his last appearance at the Crowne Plaza. The swing is looking immaculate and there can’t be any complaints about the way he’s playing.

Chambers Bay will have a British Open feel to it and Poults is more than capable on these sort of tracks. He’s finished T3 and T9 in 2 of his last 3 Opens and has his best ever major finish at the Open, 2nd to Padraig Harrington in 2008.

A few concerns have surrounded his bottle of late (as much as he won’t like us saying it) given the disastrous 4th round at the Honda but he’s confident in his own ability and we think this week is as good a chance as he will ever get at a major.

Open Championship Form since 2003 and European Tour ‘Links’ tracks since 2012:

WIN Top 5 Top 10 Top 25 Made Cut Miss Cut
0 2 3 5 8 5

Last 6 Results:

Crowne Plaza Invitational The PLAYERS WGC Cadillac Match Play RBC Heritage The Masters Arnold Palmer Invitational
T5 T30 T34 T18 T6 T21

Danny Willett (150/1 BetVictor)

World Number 36

Has everything in his locker for this sort of track

Has everything in his locker for this sort of track

The Englishman was spoken about in the same breath as fellow lads from the UK Donaldson and Lowry but we’ve plumped for Danny and we’ll tell you why.

Firstly, 2015 has seen the birth of Willett on the world stage. Not many American’s will have cared about who he was 6th months ago but they do now. He finished T12 in only his 4th WGC event at the Cadillac back in March which for us, was such a big result for him. But then came the WGC Match-Play. He looked unbelievable winning 6 out of his 7 matches, only losing to Gary Woodland in the semis. He defeated the likes of Reed, Moore, Westwood and Furyk on the way to his 3rd place and 2nd biggest pay cheque of his career. It also catapulted him into the top 40 in the world. All of that means Willett, now with temporary status on the PGA Tour, has to be taken very seriously for this event.

Tee-to-green is where the Englishman earns his bread and his game will be a perfect fit for the British feel of Chambers Bay. His career best major finish was a T15 at the 2013 Open, in what was only his 3rd major start.

The US Open more than any other major seems allow players with no previous major form to come in and contend and Danny is the perfect mould for that.

Open Championship Form since 2003 and European Tour ‘Links’ tracks since 2012:

WIN Top 5 Top 10 Top 25 Made Cut Miss Cut
0 1 2 4 5 4

Last 6 Results:

Irish Open BMW PGA Champs THE PLAYERS WGC Cadillac Match Play The Masters Shell Houston Open
T6 T38 MC 3rd T38 MC

Alex Noren (250/1 Coral)

World Number 70

Red-hot

Red-hot

There are certainly a lot worse bets out there than this one! Last week the Swede won his 4th European Tour title and his first in 4 years. After injury woes put pay to any sort of form in 2014 it seems Noren has come back fitter and better than ever before.

His standout attribute is his ability with irons from the fairway and this week at Chambers Bay, that will help him out tremendously. The putter too in recent weeks has got hot, so no surprises that when he ranked 3rd putts per GIR at the Nordea Masters, he won by 4 shots.

His best major finish to date was a T9 at the Open and has only played in the US Open (2012) twice before. But Noren is a confident character and you have to envisage these players in a potential final pairing with the likes of McIlroy and Spieth – how would they cope? For many of the European Tour stalwarts you’d say not very well, take Wiesberger at the PGA last year for example. But Noren seems like the kind of guy who won’t be phased at all.

At 250/1 and a recent winner, we’re looking for his confidence to continue and put him in contention this week.

Open Championship Form since 2003 and European Tour ‘Links’ tracks since 2012:

WIN Top 5 Top 10 Top 25 Made Cut Miss Cut
0 1 2 4 4 3

Last 6 Results:

Nordea Masters Irish Open BMW PGA Champs Open de España Volvo China Open Shenzhen International
WON T21 T8 T56 T26 T44

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