Maybank Malaysian Open 2015

Prize Fund – €3,000,000Maybank Malaysian Open

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.

A really intriguing course - doesn't it look like it will just chuck it down with rain??

A really intriguing course – doesn’t it look like it will just chuck it down with rain??

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.

2014Lee Westwood – averaged 8th in the field for GIR during the week

2013Kiradech Aphibarnrat – averaged 19th in the field for GIR during the week

2012Louis Oosthuizen – averaged 4th in the field for GIR during the week

2011Matteon 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.

Love it.

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.

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!

Pablo Larrazábal (40/1 various)

None of this please Pablo

None of this please Pablo

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)

Aiken did used to sport a very creepy moustache.  He has since shaved it off to the joy of his misses

Aiken did used to sport a very creepy moustache. He has since shaved it off to the joy of his misses

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)

Expect some wild celebrations if he wins

Expect some wild celebrations if he wins

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)

Lego man

Lego man

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.

Poor.

OUTSIDERS

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.

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 –

£1.25 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

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BMW Masters 2014

race-to-dubai-banner

Prize Fund: $7,000,000

Winner’s Share: $1,160,000

Course: Lake Malaren Golf Club (7,606 yards par 72)

The race is well and truly on indeed.  The ‘Final Series’ gets underway this week as we begin the shuffling, re-shuffling, confusion and countdown to the season ending DP World Tour Championship in Dubai.

If you thought the FedEx Cup was a confusing web of rules, then the adapted version of the European Tours equivalent will make you reach for the cupboard and open that 1975 Malt whisky you got tucked away.

We understand that you no longer have to play 2 out of the 3 tournaments preceding Dubai, which is ludicrous in itself, but if you play all 3 then you are eligible for some sort of 20% bonus points that get added to your overall score.  Basically, we can’t quite get our whisky-fuelled heads round it, but if you want to try – have a look at this graph and a read of these 2 sites –

http://www.europeantour.com/europeantour/news/newsid=238784.html

http://www.europeantour.com/mm/document/tournament/tournaments/18/54/51/_english.pdf

rtb

No idea.

As for this opening tournament though, the Lake Malaren Golf Club in Shanghai plays host to the BMW Masters.  It is an absolute monster of a course, measuring in at a whopping 7,607 yards.  The par 72 has a couple of ridiculous par 4s and one monstrosity of a par 5.  Apart from that though, it is like any other course…

Rory McIlroy teeing it up at Lake Malaren last year.  He isn't here in 2014, but you can see you gorgeous this course is

Rory McIlroy teeing it up at Lake Malaren last year. He isn’t here in 2014, but you can see you gorgeous this course is

It isn’t just about the length though, because this Jack Nicklaus design includes all his trademarks and is a stern test of precision and accuracy as well as brutal power.  Whilst distance off the tee will obviously play a part, GIR gurus will ultimately be the difference, as it has shown in the past 2 outings.  Gonzalo Fernandez-Castaño won last year with an unbelievable iron performance, whilst Peter Hanson had the combined brilliance of holing everything alongside approach-play genius.

Yes both players were not short off the tee, no denying that, but they weren’t in the Colsaerts league either.  The strategists come into play due to the well positioned bunkers and abundance of water that defends the greens and negotiating you’re way round will be a factor.  The undulating greens are quick, tough and will test the field, so it is important to be on your game with the short stick.

You do look at last years leaderboard to see Francesco Molinari and Thongchai Jaidee close behind Castaño and think, well, they aren’t long.  They may not be big hitters, but they are plotters who have an outrageous ability with long irons.  If you are a shorter hitter, your woods and long irons have to be outstanding.

BUT we are throwing a spanner into the works some what.  The weather could make things a little more interesting this week because the first 3 days are scheduled for quite heavy rain, meaning that there could be a bigger emphasis on length, as it will play even longer with soft fairways and potentially be low-scoring. 

We know this may all sound like a jumble of ideas, types of players etc but it is a tough one to call.  There is a whole host of factors to consider and with the small 78 man field, we have extensively gone through to see what could be that winning combination to try and add to our Thorbjørn Olesen victory last week…

TwitterDon’t forget to 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!

Brooks Koepka (20/1 various)

Koepka will be prepared if the weather turns sour.

Koepka will be prepared if the weather turns sour.

My my did we deliberate over this first pick.  It probably wasted an hour of our lives discussing 3 players we really thought could challenge, but were at the wrong end of the market to potentially even have one let alone all of them.  Victor Dubuisson and Chris Kirk understandably took our fancy, as I am sure they will for many others.  We decided Kirk has too long to travel after challenging Stateside last week and we don’t have a bad word to say about Victor, it’s just we had to decide on one.  So, we uncharacteristically went with a player we feel has nearly been priced out of it in Brooks Koepka.

If you’ve followed us for a while, you will know how big a statement it is for us to go Koepka at such low odds, but we just felt too many things were pointing in his direction and it would be too heart-breaking if he were to win and we didn’t have him.

The young American, as all European Tour followers will know, has been a breath of fresh air in the past year or so.  Him and his mate, Peter Uihlein decided to attack leaderboards this side of the Atlantic instead of America and it’s been a great thrill.  However, you get the sense that may be changing as he has started the PGA Tour season and been outstanding.

T4 at the Shriners and T8 at the Frys.com is one hell of a return considering it will still be relatively new for him.  Plus, he was absolutely tanking the ball – recording a drive of 362 yards at the Shriners!  He was 9th in driving distance that week and 1st at the Frys.com – where he was also 9th for GIR.  Basically, this guy is the perfect player for a course of this distance and magnitude, especially if it rains like predicted.

Which brings us to our next point – he is not scared of horrible conditions.  We felt Kirk may not be used to horrendous rain, whilst Koepka has made a cracking living from playing in touch weather these past 18 months or so.  T9 recently at the Alfred Dunhill in wind and rain, bizarre and mixed conditions at the Omega Dubai where he finished T3, a win at the Challenge Tours Scottish Hydro Challenge last year in torrid weather – basically we could go on.  He will be used to it and in the form he is in (a worst finish of T11 in his last 5 outings), nothing will halt him at the minute.

There are so many risk/reward shots on this course and his length, form and confidence is a dangerous combination, because he has the potential to shoot very low here.  If you are worried about his pedigree, then we must remind you of his T4 finish at the US Open…

Plus, he has had a week off unlike many of the field, arriving in Shanghai nice and early on Sunday, compared to the likes of Dubuisson, who was busy challenging for a title in Perth and will not have arrived until at least a day later – food for thought.

If anything, Brooks, don’t make us look like mugs backing you at 20s this week…

Alexander Levy (50/1 PaddyPower)

What a player this lad is turning out to be

What a player this lad is turning out to be

Alexander Levy finally started to show his true promise this season.  He has already picked up 2 titles – over in the rain-effected Portugal Open and interestingly in China back in April.  He played out his skin for that 4-shot win, hitting it long and straight, which instantly makes you think he has the attributes for another victory in China.

We were slightly surprised at his odds of 50s – which has already been reduced to 40s with most – because he is still in fine fettle after that bizarre win in Portugal.  With quite a number of players, we rarely back anyone who has won in the weeks prior to a tournament, simply because the strain, mental strength and consistency is so tough to replicate.  However, we really do feel that winning like he did, means you can take all those factors out of the situation – he went into the weekend after 2 magnificent rounds not having to hit another ball before lifting the trophy.  He will simply gain a shed load of confidence, not be mentally drained.

That was proven by his performance at the Volvo World Matchplay.  We are not denying he lost all his matches, but he was actually -6 for the 3 rounds, which isn’t too bad at all.   He lost the odd silly hole, but it was not a disgraceful outing by any means.

He too, like Koepka, has never played on this course, but the fact he has already won in China, averages nearly 300 yards off the tee and is 45th for GIR, then you have to feel he has a cracking chance to 100% announce himself on the world stage.

Bernd Wiesberger (45/1 StanJames)

In so many ways, Bernd Wiesberger can be such a frustrating player.  He has all the talent in the world with his natural tee to green ability and can hit the ball a mile.  He showed his abilities by winning 2 European Tour titles in 2012, but has failed to fully push himself further since.

But then we all saw how wonderfully he played at US PGA in his tie for 15th.  He went into the final round just 1 shot behind Rory McIlroy, after 3 cracking rounds, only to struggle with the attention of his playing partner and mad surroundings.  We simply cannot class it as a bottle, because it’s the first time the 29-year old challenged for a major and it must be a daunting experience.

Since then, he has only had 1 top 10 over at the Italian Open, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t playing good golf.  Far from it.  He has gone under the radar with solid performances (barring in Portugal) and has only failed to challenge due to one inconsistent round.

He is 45th for driving distance and 13th for GIR across the season – a lethal combination – and he usually enjoys courses that offer the chance for birdies.  Both his wins came at -19 and if the rain softens everything up, he will without doubt be in the mix.

Pablo Larrazabal (66/1 StanJames)

None of this please Pablo

None of this please Pablo

One of our favourites.  We’ve said it so many times in the past about our love for the mercurial Pablo Larrazabal and even when he has let us down, he still manages to win us back.

It is difficult to describe how talented the Spaniard is, he’s just one of them.  He hasn’t had the greatest of season by any means, surprisingly not able to capitalise on a few good performances and push on.  That isn’t like him and we really thought after that win in Abu Dhabi, he would be right up there come this time of year.

He isn’t, that’s fine, but we have seen enough and know enough about him to suggest he could have a decent week over here.

Firstly, he played out his skin at the weekend here last year to finish T5 which shows his liking for the course.  He didn’t start particularly well, but he is one of those players who gets on a roll and it’s difficult to stop him once he does.  There will be periods of tough golf for the whole field this week, it is just how well you play in that purple patch and Larrazabal is someone you want on your side.  He is long, accurate and a genius with his irons, whilst we have to take into account what McIlroy said of this course last year.  The world number one said you’ve got to find the green yes, but when you inevitably don’t, the chipping is completely different to most tracks.  No flops or anything, just the usual chip and run on such quick, large greens.

Taking that in, makes you like Larrazabal’s case even more.  He is a stunning scrambler around the greens and can easily find his way out of many messes.  He arrives in good knick, even though he got demolished by Joost Luiten at the matchplay – although -1 isn’t a disgraceful score.

If his game clicks into place, trust us, he is one to watch.

Rafa Cabrera-Bello (66/1 various)

One thing we do love about Rafa is you will rarely find him grimacing.  Always a smile on his face!

One thing we do love about Rafa is you will rarely find him grimacing. Always a smile on his face!

Another unbelievably talented Spaniard.  Rafa Cabrera-Bello should be winning more tournaments than he does.  No win since 2012 is highly disappointing, although he did come close at another BMW sponsored event this year in Germany where he lost in a playoff.

He usually goes on mini-runs as well, so the fact he finished T12 over in Portugal makes us interested in him for here.  We are certain he would of challenged Levy had the tournament continued, especially after a magical 64 on the 1st day, but that obviously never materialised.

His stats were scary for those 2 days though.  Top 16 in accuracy, distance and GIR across the opening rounds, which makes him frighteningly interesting for this course.  Yes his putting wasn’t amazing, but he was still able to go on a roll or 2 and if he can do anything like that over here, he has a genuine chance.

He also finished T8 here last year, which shows he likes the track and when we first saw him on offer at 80s this morning we jumped on it.  Unsurprisingly he has dropped in the past few hours, but 66s is still very decent value to be had.

Morten Ørum Madsen (200/1 various)

Our cheeky outsider this week comes in the form of Danish youngster Morten Ørum Madsen.  We have followed him for a long time now, since his graduation from the Challenge Tour and we were undeniably delighted to see him pick up his first European title at the South Africa Open right at the start of the year.

It’s been a roller coaster of a year since then however, not finding another top 10 till a couple of weeks back at the Portugal Open.  He finished T4 with rounds of 65 and 66 and if that doesn’t give him great confidence, then we aren’t sure what will.

He enjoys playing in rainy conditions and can hit the ball an absolute mile (21st in driving distance) whilst he was in the top 20 for GIR on both days in Portugal.  A decent price for someone whose just finished 4th and has a lot of natural ability.

How Many Quality Players missed the cut at The Masters?!

header_2014_Masters_sm

What an incredible and emotional start to the years first Major it has been.  2012 champion Bubba Watson leads the pack by 3 after an outrageous back 9 performance and when you look at the leaderboard you do think it is an eclectic mix of bizarreness.

But it is when you see the guys who have missed out on the weekend’s activities that you get dumbfounded.  Take a look at some of the notable absentees from the top 25 in the world who missed the cut this year –

Phil Mickelson +5 (No.5 in the world) – Not gone home before the weekend in 16 years.  That says it all.

Sergio Garcia +5 (No.6) – Many peoples favourite for the jacket (including ours) so an absolute shock to see him miss by 1 shot.  Great season, great record here and yet he churns out a pretty shocking 2 days of golf.  2 bogeys on the final 2 holes ruined it for the Spaniard.

Zach Johnson +6 (No.10) – A former winner here and having an unbelievable season, so in all honesty, a poor performance, after a first day 78.

Dustin Johnson +7 (No.11) – One of our big picks this week.  Simply all over the place.  On the plus side, gets to go home to the misses quicker!

Graeme McDowell +6 (No.14) – Not hugely suited to the course and without a great record here, so understandably struggled.  Still, another world top 20 player though…

Jason Dufner +10 (No.16) – The last major champion in golf started with an 80.  That is pretty much unrecoverable, but got to say showed glimpses of brilliance when he had nothing to lose yesterday.

Charl Schwartzel +5 (No.17) – The 2011 champion has been inconsistent this year, but there is no doubting he will be absolutely gutted to have missed out by one.  Never really got going.

Keegan Bradley +9 (No.18) – Horrendous second day 78.  Not having the greatest season and that shone through this week.

Victor Dubuisson +5 (No.21) – First time here so you cannot say this was a bad effort.  The young Frenchman will be challenging in the future, this would have been an amazing experience.

Patrick Reed +8 (No.23) – Well, well, well.  Should be compared to Tiger Woods? One of the games elite? No, you tosser, you missed the cut at the very first major since your outlandish remarks.  A name many, many, many people will love to have seen packing their bags.

Webb Simpson +5 (No.25) – A former US Open champion missing the Masters is a shock at the end of the day.  Started like a train in round 1, shooting to -3 after 3 but double bogeys on the 5th and 16th, pushed him right back.  Friday saw just 6 holes with a par, which tells the inconsistent story!

NEW – Players to Watch (PGA + European)

We’ve decided to remodel this section to make it more interesting for both you and ourselves. We have each assembled a team of ‘Players to Watch’ from each tour. Lewis will be PGA TourAndy will be European Tour. We have created a point system so you can track how each player has been doing. And come December 2013, you will be able to see which tour’s rising stars have performed the best!

Look at this as DownThe18th’s Ryder Cup – where dreams will be fulfilled, putts will be sunk and titles held aloft in this battle of tours across the pond.

Team PGA (Lewis) Points Team Europe (Andy) Points
Henrik Stenson (C) 0 Alexander Noren (C) 0
Rickie Fowler (VC) 0 Francesco Molinari (VC) 0
Charles Howell III 0 Ross Fisher 0
Ryan Palmer 0 Pablo Larrazabal 0
Kyle Stanley 0 Brooks Koepka 0
Cameron Tringale 0 Peter Uihlein 0
David Lingmerth 0 Morten Ørum Madsen 0
Jordan Spieth 0 Shane Lowry 0
Graham DeLaet 0 Romain Wattel 0
Kevin Chappell 0 Victor Dubuisson 0
Total 0 Total 0

How the scoring works: Win (50 Points), Runner-up (25 Points), Top 6 (15 Points), Top 10 (10 Points), Top 20 (5 Points), Top 40 (2 Points), Missed Cut (-5 Points) (C) Captain earns double points

Team PGA Captain - There is a lot of pressure on the Swede

Team PGA Captain – There is a lot of pressure on the Swede

Team Europe Captain

Team Europe Captain – Alex Noren, a leader of men

Team Profiles:

Players To Win

Henrik Stenson (C) – The big hitting Swede has found rhythm with his swing once again and his iron play has looked fantastic.  Will be surprised if he is not challenge a couple more times this year. Alexander Noren (C) – Playing too well not to bag a win in 2013. Only finished outside top 40 once this year, no missed cuts and five top 6 finishes!
Rickie Fowler (VC) – With only 1 Tour win to his name, it is remarkable how Fowler is so often talked about as 1 of the elite players.  He has had a topsy-turvy year but I will be shocked if he is not challenging for several competitions, ultimately he is too good not to. Francesco Molinari (VC) – Back to near his best after he lost his way a bit at the start of the year. Two top 10 finishes in May and is coming onto a few courses where iron-play is key, and there are few better than the Italian.
Charles Howell III – has not won on Tour since 2007, having gone through a horrendous dip in form.  He came close this year, losing in a playoff at the Humana Challenge, but his consistency and swing are coming back and will not be long before he wins again. Ross Fisher – Slowly getting his game back together, really been impressive in May and June. A win is not far away, and will do well on the links courses coming up later in the year.
Ryan Palmer – Palmer has not won on Tour since 2010 and now at 36, age is slowly running away from him.  He has had an inconsistent season, but there were signs of a revival at The Players.  Could definitely challenge before the new year. Pablo Larrazabal – Just like Noren, playing too well not to have won. Four top 6 finishes already to his name in 2013, and has really been looking good. Some call him a ‘Young Seve’.

Players To Watch (Under 26)

Kyle Stanley – He may have already won last year, but people will often forget that Stanley is still only 25.   He has a stellar career in front of him and is definitely one of the leading youngsters in the game. Brooks Koepka – Absolutely ripped up the Challenge Tour, won 3 times already and has earned automatic promotion to the European Tour. Will definitely want to prove himself, and has booked a place at Muirfield next month.
Cameron Tringale – has recorded only 1 top 10 this year, but now being in his 3rd year on Tour, he should be used to life in the high leagues.  He is far too talented to not be challenging more often – expect to see him surging. Peter Uihlein – Has won a European Tour co-sanctioned event already, but will want to push on and win one of the bigger ones. Hasn’t missed a cut all year and is in the form of his life. These 2 American’s look very dangerous.
David Lingmerth – In only his 2nd start on the PGA Tour, Lingmerth finished joint runner up at the Humana Challenge, after losing to Brian Gay in a playoff.  The Swede has gone on to be inconsistent, but do not be surprised to see his name near the top of leaderboards Morten Ørum Madsen – Big favourite of ours, three top 10’s this season including a 2nd behind Uihlein in Portugal. Was T28 at the US Open. Comes from the same club as Danish legend Thomas Bjorn, has a big future. 
Jordan Spieth – I first saw Spieth at the Tampa Bay Championship where he finished T7.  He looked like a supremely talented youngster who belied his age (Turned 20 in July) and had an incredibly efficient game from tee to green.  He will be around a few more times this year and for many years to come. Shane Lowry – The Irishman is starting to come into real form and usually plays his best stuff at the back end of the year. Will be confident of adding to his 2 European titles he has already 

Players to Breakthrough

Graham DeLaet – Tough choice between the Canadian and Brendon De Jonge, but with DeLaet’s length off the tee, he just edged it.  Has been impressive as the year has gone on. Will be surprised if he has not challenged at least once before the season is finished. Romain Wattel – 22 year old has big future, two top 4 finishes to his name in 2013. Was T3 a couple of weeks back at the Lyoness. Was successful as an amateur and will be looking to do the same as a pro
Kevin Chappell – The 26-year old American is slowly forging an assault to the top of the game, having another consistent year.  He could easily make his breakthrough win this year having already come close. Victor Dubuisson – At 23, it feels like the Frenchman has been round for a while now. Has four top 10’s in 2013 but will want to get that elusive first European title

European Tour Week 17

Ballantine’s Championship

By Lewis Pacelli

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

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

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

What wonderful hair Monsieur Dubuisson

A Loriel star in the making.

Victor Dubuisson (28/1 Coral)

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

Mikko Ilonen (50/1 Various)

Mikko Ilonen showing his abilities in Morocco

Mikko Ilonen showing his abilities in Morocco

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

Peter Uihlein (50/1 Coral)

Whose hair is better? Dubuisson or Uihlein?

Whose hair is better? Dubuisson or Uihlein?

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

Paul Casey (50/1 Coral)

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

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

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