Prize Fund – €2, 500, 000
Winner’s Share – €353, 257
Course – Doha Golf Club (7,400 yards par 72)
Our 2014 Picks – Rafael Cabrera-Bello (T3), Thomas Aiken (T5), Stephen Gallacher (T28), Hennie Otto (T37), Andy Sullivan (MC)
A pretty poor start from us on both sides of the Atlantic last week, so we’re itching to get things back on track – admittedly bottles from Martin Kaymer and Tim Clark at a combined final day total of +7 don’t help anyone…
Moving swiftly on and we’re into the second of this Persian Gulf tri-series of events, now in Qatar. The Doha Golf Club hosts the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters for the 17th time, which certainly helps all of us from a betting sense.
Since 2006, the lowest winning score has been -14 by Thomas Bjørn in 2011 and we’ve seen the likes of Adam Scott reach -20 (08′), so there is plenty of scoring to be had here.
The par 72 course plays at a deceivingly long 7,400 yards, which on paper makes it look like a bombers track. Now, you cannot deny you will need distance here, but you won’t need to be prodigiously long that’s for sure. If you look at recent winners, there is length yes, but it is not bombing galore –
Sergio Garcia – 295.225
Chris Wood – 295.2
Paul Lawrie – 299
Thomas Bjørn – 281.85
Whilst if you have a look at the GIR stats from those same years, you can see it’ll be important to get the irons working. This is the average position they were for GIR amongst the field –
Sergio Garcia – 33.25
Chris Wood – 15
Paul Lawrie – 11
Thomas Bjørn – 8.75
All this shows that it will be key to hit the ball a fair distance, but be a players whose irons are fluid and consistent, you can even just tell that by those 4 names above. There is plenty of water along the fairways and around the greens, hence why that accuracy is important – especially on 3 out of the 4 par 3’s where there’s daunting water to contend with.
The exposed fairways are eye-catching but were tightened a couple of years back with the rough coming in, hence why players like Alvaro Quiros who won in 2009 haven’t fared so well since.
We are in for an interesting tournament, with the likes of Garcia, Stenson, Justin Rose and Charl Schwartzel making the trip over, so after plenty of deliberation, this is where our money is going…
DON’T FORGET – Our weekly competition with renowned magazine Golf Monthly continues, take a peak at the end of our selections to see how our stakes have been distributed this time.
You can follow us throughout the week on Twitter @downthe18th for the latest news, betting + banter. Please get in touch and let us know what you think of our picks and who you fancy as well!
If you’ve followed us over the past 18 months or so, you will know how we feel about Charl Schwartzel. He has rarely made it into our plans simply because we are unable to trust him with the putter (mainly in recent times) and when we have gone there, he’s been sublime tee to green but once again failed with the short stick. Now that is highly frustrating.
However, our heads were swayed for a couple of putting reasons. Firstly, in his last 3 outings here he bounced around the 7th-25th positions for putting average on all 4 days of each tournament. That shows he had an eye for the contours and green structures.
Secondly and more importantly, he has been putting very, very well in the past couple of weeks. He finished T9 last week, averaging 3rd for putting stats at the weekend, whilst his playoff defeat the week before he didn’t leave the top 15 in putting for the final 3 days.
That encourages us so much to think he could be getting some sort of rhythm going. Yes, there was a 5-shot bottle from him in that defeat to Andy Sullivan in South Africa and you can’t help but be worried about that, however it doesn’t take away from how well he played on the whole. It also didn’t effect him the week after when he made another top 10, so hopefully it’s out his system because this is a track that should suit him down the ground with his length, iron play and apparent increase in putting ability.
Not a bet for the feint-hearted, but a solid 22/1 nonetheless.
What a year Alexander Levy has had. We’ve followed him with great intrigue since he won us some healthy returns when he finished 2nd at the BMW Masters. Then we went to the French and got to witness him first hand. He may have gone on to have a shocking Sunday, completely dropping out of the running, but so did most players that day and we were in awe of his charisma, unflappability and all-round game.
Tee to green, on his day, he is a monster. Throughout 2014, he was 14th for driving distance and 28th for GIR. Combining that brute force is deadly for a course like this. Admittedly he’s only played here once and that was when he missed the cut last year, but we are taking that with a pinch of salt. He is a different animal now and confidence/form are two attributes you cannot underestimate.
Just look at Victor Dubuisson – he missed the cut horrifically 2 years in a row for the Abu Dhabi, but went on to finish T4 last week. When you build up that rhythm, style and arrogance, you can attack courses completely differently. And that is what we feel Levy will do here.
He gave in a solid performance last week to finish T20. He had a pretty poor final day 74, but the previous 3 days there was some top quality golf. He looked like he’d be in the hunt at one point.
Basically, the Frenchman has everything to go far and we will not be surprised if this is another defining year for him.
George Coetzee (55/1 StanJames)
An interesting mid-range bet comes in the form of George Coetzee. He has all the tools to play some fantastic tee-to-green golf, all be it he can at times not show it.
He has seemed to of lost some of his length over the past couple of years, but he still averages over 290 yards, which will suit the track. His iron game hasn’t been as great as we would expect in recent weeks, but he will be coming onto a course where he has played magnificently in the past couple of years.
He shot a gorgeous 64 in the 1st round last year to take an early lead, but a 73 on the Saturday cost him a probable win. The other 3 rounds were of top quality and when you think he only finished 2 behind playoff winner Garcia, you can’t help but wonder what could’ve been.
Then, as we remember so well, he almost pushed Wood over the line to force a playoff in 2013. We had him that year and the 65 he shot on the Sunday meant he was so close. He propelled up the leaderboard into 2nd and if he can replicate that sort of form, he will have a chance again.
We do have a good record with the South African as well – he won for us at the Joburg Open last year to go alongside that 2nd place.
Thomas Aiken (80/1 various)
Weirdly enough, to follow on from Coetzee, we had Thomas Aiken at both the same Qatar Masters and Joburg Open and he got us returns finishing T5 in both. Weird, weird, weird omens to start off there…
The second South African on our list has the perfect game for this track. He averages the ball at 295 yards, is straight and has an unbelievable iron game. He was 1st for GIR throughout 2014, 68th driving distance and 8th driving accuracy. That is one meaty combination.
We know he missed the cut last week, but he showed his true game in South Africa the event before, where he finished T5. He was consistently inside the top 30 for all the key stats for the final 3 days and because he’s coming onto a course where he’s had a couple of top 10s in the past, he should be full of confidence.
A solid player for the odds he’s at.
Our final pick and big outsider is the highly talented Oliver Fisher. The young Englishman has a similar game to Aiken, in that he is consistent across the board tee to green.
He has never found a top 10 here admittedly, although he came close with a T11 in 2007, but we are intrigued by his recent under the radar form and type of game that should theoretically suit the track that’s had it’s changes since he last played here.
Last week he finished T12 and he was playing some very decent golf. He found himself inside the top 8 on the final 3 days for driving distance and barring an indifferent opening round, was solidly inside the top 20 for GIR. His putter worked here and there, but the idea of him putting more of it together over the 4 days here excites us and is certainly worth a punt at 150s.
We will be 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 do 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.
So, for this Commercial Bank Qatar Masters our £10 against Golf Monthly will be as follows –
£3 win on Charl Schwartzel at 16/1
£1.60 e/w on Alexander Levy at 33/1
£1 e/w on George Coetzee at 50/1
£0.45 e/w on Thomas Aiken at 80/1
£0.45 e/w on Oliver Fisher at 150/1
Each way bets ¼ odds for top 5 finish. Prices sourced from Paddy Power
Find the Golf Monthly Preview and their £10 picks here – (http://www.golf-monthly.co.uk/news/tour-news/qatar-masters-golf-betting-guide-2-64390)
Current Standings after 1 weeks
DownThe18th Golf Monthly
European Tour: £-3 European Tour: £0
PGA Tour: £-7.88 PGA Tour: £-10
Total: £-10.88 Total: £-10