Selectabet: The Walker Cup

Date:                     10th – 11th September 2011

Competition:     The Walker Cup

The Professional games impressive little amateur brother for the best players from the USA and Great Britain & Ireland. Contested by male amateur players in teams of not more than 10 players and a Captain. Much as the Ryder Cup, the Walker Cup is contested every two years, alternately in the USA and Great Britain and Ireland.

Venue:                 Royal Aberdeen Golf Club, Aberdeen, Scotland

Founded in 1780, Royal Aberdeen is the sixth oldest golf club in existence. For the first 35 years, the club was known as The Society of Golfers at Aberdeen, with membership being determined by ballot. The Aberdeen Golf Club was formed in 1815 on the eve of the Battle of Waterloo, and its members continued to play on the Queen’s Links, a strip of common land between the Don and Dee Rivers, until 1888 when they migrated to the current links at Balgownie.

More recently it has been Richie Ramsay’s training ground – a wild and windy frontline for whatever the North Sea wishes to throw at the Scottish mainland.

Yards:                   6,873 yards

Par:                        Par 70

Consider…:

The Americans look stronger on paper. But the Great Britain & Ireland have the home advantage. But the US are always favourites but….and it’s a huge but, the weather is set to be wet and windy. It’s a tough links and I know from recent personal experience that they have tightened the course in a little and while the greens are relatively slow for this standard, 10.5 (or so) on the stimp, they will most definitely be tough in these conditions.

Ones to watch:

Patrick Cantlay – Cantlay has had a stellar freshman season at UCLA, winning three events and being named Golfer of the Year, first-team All-American and first-team All-Pac-10. He was recipient of the Jack Nicklaus Award (NCAA Division I player of the year) and the Phil Mickelson Award, presented to the freshman of the year.

He was the low amateur at the 2011 U.S. Open at Congressional Country Club, tying for 21st place. He shot 60 in the second round of the Travelers Championship on the PGA Tour, which set the record for the lowest round in a PGA Tour event by an amateur. He went on to finish 24th in the event. He also had a top-25 finish at PGA Tour’s AT&T National at Aronomink outside of Philadelphia and tied for ninth at the RBC Canadian Open. He claimed the 2011 Southern California Golf Association Amateur and was runner-up to Ethan Tracy at the Western Amateur, losing the final match, 1 down.

He currently is the top-ranked amateur, according to the World Amateur Golf.

Tom Lewis – Lewis announced himself to the world of golf at Royal St George’s this July when he became the first amateur since Sir Michael Bonallack in 1968 to lead The Open Championship. Lewis compiled an opening 65 to share the lead with Thomas Bjorn, and went on to finish joint 30th to take the silver medal as leading amateur. He won the St Andrews Links Trophy in June.

He finished 59th in the Dubai Desert Classic, his first European Tour event. He ended the 2010 season with two outstanding performances on the Australasian Tour, finishing 12th in the Australian Open and losing a playoff to Peter O’Malley in the New South Wales Open.

Ones to win:

As there are only three possible outcomes – it’s a surprisingly hard one to call. Essentially, its better “big event” ready players (US) versus the links friendly home advantaged. 

The available odds tell the full story: the US being offered at 8/15 with Betfair while Team GB & I, are at 9/4 with Ladbrokes and SkyBet.

The odds of a tie (where the US retain the trophy) are valued at 10/1 with practically everyone including William Hill, Stan James and BoyleSports.

I’m going with my gut instinct on this one and saying that Team GB & I will dominate (courtesy of the wind and rain) day one – much as the Europeans do in the Ryder Cup and while it will be a close call at the end, the Americans will eek out a vital win (again).

Jenks out.

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Selectabet: KLM Open

Date:                     8th – 11th September 2011

Competition:     KLM Open

It’s just a short hop from the height of the Alps (and its’ 2 correct predictions) to Holland and with many of the top Europeans getting high and flying the friendly skies, the 2011 KLM Open has its strongest field yet and will be one of the closest fought events on this years’ tour. Founded in 1912, long before the Tours arrival in 1972, the Dutch Open is a long standing well attended boys outing. And besides the obvious things guys do when they go near Amsterdam, they can also get stoned and go to prostitutes. It’s not all museums you know…

Venue:                 Hilversumsche Golf Club, Hilversum, Netherlands 

It is the most exclusive golf club in the Netherlands and winds its way through the woods and forests and is similar to England’s fine heath land courses of Woburn, Sunningdale and Wentworth. The course begins and ends with testing par fives with many fine holes in between including fine pairs of par fours at 3 and 4 and in the back nine at 15 and 16. The par 3’s are outstanding and 3 of the 4 are less than 160 yards from the back pegs: a course worthy of both a smoke, and a pancake, in the 19th hole.

Yards:                   6,906 yards

Par:                        Par 70

Field:                    150

The event is considered by the organisers as having the best field in their 99 year history but it is pot luck week this time around as everyone stands a fighting chance while consecutive winner Thomas Bjorn steps down to give others a go at winning. Equally, I’ve taken time to weed out the tulip seeding wooden shoe wearing homegrown locals who include Jurrian Van Der Vaart (949/1), Inder Van Weerelt (949/1), Joost Luiten (66/1) amongst their peoples and the most well known of the flat land cycling ball strikers, Maartan Lafeber (142/1 all at BetFair).

Consider…:

As almost half of the Netherlands is land reclaimed from the ocean and as its scheduled to rain until the weekend you would think this leads to plugged balls and much placing of the ball but actually no – the sandy subsoil makes for all year round play. And despite the frequent sighting of aesthetically pleasing windmills, there won’t be that much of the invisible interfering nuisance this weekend or any anticipated sightings of Camberwick Greens’ Windy Miller.

That said, the course is tight by anyone’s standards and with Kyle Phillips recent remodeling, Hilversumsche now determines that successful players now have to be long as well as straight to stand a chance.  

Ones to watch:

Johan Edfors (123/1 at BetFair) is a truly consistent player – one of the more consistent on the Tour, who likes this type of course having finished 7th at Wentworth in the BMW PGA and is a fierce competitor with 5 top ten finishes in 2011 alone. Is accurate and generally plays well where Lee Westwood (see below) is a real contender.

Nick Dougherty (142/1 at BetFair) is on “form” having made the cut for the first time in 2011 at the Omega Masters, and after his stunning 45th placing delivering his first winnings from 23 outings this season; he is my one to watch this week. With SkySports Di Dougherty on your side – how could you fail after that stellar improvement?

Ones to win:

With 300,000 wooden clogs and a lump of cannabis up for grabs this week, what better shoe cupboard to fill than that of a strictly heterosexual ale swilling Yorkshireman in the form of his life. Simon Dyson (26/1 with BetFair) with 6 top ten’s including a 3rd place over a tricky Wentworth course, a win at the Irish in 2011 and a previous KLM victory in 2009 over this very tight course, Dyson will be a player fighting to maintain (and improve on) his top ten Race to Dubai position.

With seven top ten’s in 15 events, only one missed cut and only one Big Tour win in the current 2011 season, former World Number 1, Lee Westwood (19/2 at BetFair) is surprisingly dropping down the Race to Dubai rankings (currently he is in 5th) thanks to a resurgence (at the right time) from Martin Kaymer (57/5 at BetFair). Ever the fighter though, the Wizard of Worksop is keen, during the busy mainland Europe swing, to fight for his place atop the listings and so expect more from Lee than just “window” shopping in Amsterdam this weekend as he goes all out to score big for both OGWR, R2D and his own winning tally. Westwood hopes a Holland win would be dope.

Jenks out.