Prize Fund – €3,000,000
Winner’s Share – €439,796
Course – Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club (6, 967 yards par 72)
Our 2014 Picks – Grégory Bourdy (T18), Hennie Otto (T51), Tommy Fleetwood (MC), Emiliano Grillo (MC), Mikko Ilonen (MC)
Well, we keep saying it, but yet another unbelievable week in golf passes us by and we are all just better for it. Tiger Woods shot the worst round of his career in the same few days as Rory McIlroy cemented his dominance over the sport in the desert, whilst Brooks Koepka truly came of age and showed real guts in his victory in America.
And this week, we should have plenty more thrills and spills as the European and Asian Tours combine for the first time this season as a decent field heads to Malaysia.
Now, this is an event that has traditionally been held at a completely different time of year. In recent editions, it’s been held in April, after Augusta and in fact it hasn’t been pushed back this early since 2007 when Peter Hedblom won by a stroke – remember him?
We do feel it’s a good move by the big wigs because there’s been some horrific conditions the tournament has had to face, so let’s hope the weather is slightly better this time of year!
And from the early forecasts, it looks like there’ll be a few sprinkles of rain on Thursday, but we should get away with it.
We have been lucky enough to travel to the host city Kuala Lumpur in our time and we must warn you, even if the forecast states showers for an hour – that hour will be a complete and utter washout. Nowhere – not even the Ugandan rainforest – have we seen rain that heavy and constant for a short period of time. Madness.
The course is aptly named the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club and stands at a modest 6, 967 yards. By todays standards that will not worry any player on Tour, but the par 72 does have a few tricks and flicks that the field will have to navigate.
It’s very much a parkland layout, with extreme undulations on every fairway and elevations on several greens. The open and exposed track means bigger hitters can release their arms slightly, but have to be careful with natural wetlands that surround the second cut. Water is in play on 13 holes, which does prove you need to be on your game to avoid a serious mishap in dropping shots.
It’s obvious that with the hazards in play, there is a real significance placed on you iron game. Every winner in recent years has been outstanding from the fairway and you can’t be surprised that they’re all proper iron players.
2014 – Lee Westwood – averaged 8th in the field for GIR during the week
2013 – Kiradech Aphibarnrat – averaged 19th in the field for GIR during the week
2012 – Louis Oosthuizen – averaged 4th in the field for GIR during the week
2011 – Matteon Manassero – averaged 3rd in the field for GIR during the week
That simply proves the importance of finding a solid iron player with an eye for the greens. There is a slight advantage if you hit it long – admittedly that goes against Manassero – but on the whole a lot of players have prospered with slightly more length.
It will be another great week of European golf with Victor Dubuisson, Graeme McDowell and Lee Westwood making the trip over and let’s just really cross our fingers that our bets aren’t stuck on the course when that inevitable brief thunderstorm arrives.
Check but later on Monday evening (GMT) to see where our money is going this week!
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!
Pablo Larrazábal (40/1 various)
Now, we have decided to play it slightly riskier this week. Grégory Bourdy came close to our plans, but we halted at his odds, whilst Andy Sullivan and Bernd Wiesberger were far, far, far too short for us.
We have plumped for one of our favourites and most trusted stalwarts in Pablo Larrazábal. We just felt that with a course like this and a field that doesn’t particularly have one outstanding favourite like we saw in McIlroy last week, that a player such as Pablo could really go well here.
He so often achieves high finishes in patches and then drifts off again, before finding his touch once more. His game relies on confidence and security over his free-flowing swing. So, when you see that he has had a bad patch and struggled towards the end of the season and now has finally shown a little glimpse, it makes you think we could finally see a proper performance from the Spaniard.
He finished T20 last week, shooting 3 rounds in the 60s, including a 66 on Friday, which should give him plenty of confidence. Interestingly, his irons were in full swing. On the Sunday he was 16th for GIR, but on the previous 3 days, he found himself inside the top 6. That shows his game is moving in the right direction, so when you think how well he’s played here before, then it does give you some real hope.
He played well last year finishing in a tie for 8th, whilst in 2012 he was looking incredible before the rains arrived and he just lost a lot of momentum. But still, he managed to finish T6 and that proves his liking for the course.
A risk no doubt, but one worth taking.
Thomas Aiken (50/1 various)
Yep. We are going with Thomas Aiken again. It will be the 3rd time this season already and he hasn’t quite delivered yet, but this is the week. Surely?
This is the perfect sort of track for Aiken. As we’ve said before, he is an iron guru who hits it a long way and the undulations won’t halt him in any way.
Either side of us picking him unsuccessfully, he finished T5 and T9, which shows he is still in good knick. In the desert last week, he was inside the top 6 for GIR on 3 out of the 4 days – only 19th on the Saturday and showed his tee-to-green prowess is at a really destructible level.
He has only played on this track once – a couple of years ago, where he finished T11 but his irons were looking incredibly sharp in the reduced hole event. He shot a ridiculous 66 on the 3rd and last day – joint best of the round and he could not be a better fit.
A really, really solid mid-range bet.
Peter Uihlein (50/1 StanJames)
Much like Pablo, going with Peter Uihlein feels as tough it’s another risk, but one we are very happy to take because of his pure class.
The American showed us how talented he is in his first couple of years on Tour, winning Rookie of The Year in 2013, before his best mate came to prominence in 2014 – Brooks Koepka. Now, followers of the game over this side of the pond will know how talented these young Americans are and it’s absolutely no surprise to see Koepka achieving what he did in Phoenix last week.
Surely Uihlein is going to want to toast his pal and what better way than winning his first ‘big’ European Tour event? We know the Madeira Islands Open is a fully fledged event, but it is one of those 2nd fiddle tournaments.
And for us, he poses a real outside threat. We can’t think many will be plumping for him because he’s only played here once, where he missed the cut, whilst he hasn’t been in the most ridiculous, headline grabbing form recently.
However, we saw glimpses from his talent last week where he finished T13. His putting was interestingly outstandingly consistent throughout the week and as always he showed his usual prowess tee-to-green.
He is the sort of player that can overpower a course like this, hitting it miles down the fairway, only needed short pitches to attack the pins and that is a dangerous combination.
Alvaro Quiros (66/1 various)
What an enigma Alvaro Quiros is. He has every tool in his armoury to win at the very highest level, we would go as far to say that he has the skills to win a major. That’s how good he is and we know we aren’t on our own in this line of thinking.
We are also sure he was on the way to achieving some high accolades before that horrendous injury in 2012. That season before he had 2 wins, several top 10s and a T27 at the Masters.
However, to tear ligaments in your wrist will halt anyones progress, but it’s been a slow rehabilitation for the Spaniard. Last year we saw a few top 10s and a couple of glimpses and we do think this year he could re-announce himself on the big stage.
Last week he finished T20 after finishing with a marvellous 64. His putting was still off but, his distance and GIR stats were fantastic. Inside the top 18 every day for GIR shows his class and he did finish T13 at this even in 2014.
You just can’t help but think if he is absolutely tanking it and attacking pins, he could do some real damage.
Robert Rock (80/1 various)
In all our time betting on golf, Robert Rock has rarely featured for us. Mainly because we never feel strongly about his chances, we aren’t fans of his swagger and that lego man haircut. Very harsh words to start off, but we have a completely different outlook on him here because he has a cracking outside chance.
He is an iron player and should suit the requirements of the track perfectly. He finished T9 last week and was swinging unbelievably well. He never left the top 4 for GIR stats and he was consistently driving the ball over 290 yards. That sort of combination here could be lethal and you can’t help but feel that 80s is very decent value.
He has finished T13 on this track before, but never really hit the heady heights of top placings, however don’t put it past Robert to rock on to the top.
David Lipsky (125/1 PaddyPower) and Chapchai Nirat (200/1)
Two decent outsiders this week, both fine iron players and both have some real quality having won on the European Tour in the past – David Lipsky and Chapchai Nirat.
Firstly, Lipsky. The American has been plying his trade in both Asia and Europe recently and he has been relatively successful. He is currently top on the Asian Tour Order of Merit, he was 15th for GIR, averages over 290 yards and won on the European Tour very recently. He won the Omega European Masters in Switzerland beating Graeme Storm in a playoff.
That shows he has some real quality, whilst you can’t forget that he did finish T3 in 2012 on this track. A real genuine outsider.
Secondly, Nirat is a player that has come on our radar a few times when the Asian tour co-sanctions with the European. He is a ridiculous consistent iron player – 4th for GIR in Asia, whilst he won the TCL Classic (yes that was a European Tour event) a few years ago. He has a couple of top 10s in a row which shows he’s in a bit of form. You never know.
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 –
£1.25 e/w on Pablo Larrazábal at 40/1
£1.25 e/w on Thomas Aiken at 50/1
£1.00 e/w on Peter Uihlein at 40/1
£0.65 e/w on Alvaro Quiros at 60/1
£0.50 e/w on Robert Rock at 80/1
£0.35 e/w on David Lipsky at 125/1
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)
Current Standings after 3 weeks
DownThe18th Golf Monthly
European Tour: £-19.20 European Tour: £-20
PGA Tour: £-5.38 PGA Tour: £54
Total: £-25.08 Total: £34
Golf Monthly leads by: £59.08