Race to Dubai: Alstom Open de France

Race to Dubai:   Alstom Open de France

From the Chalk white cliffs in Normandy, to the vineyards in Burgundy and everything in between including the Alps, stunning National Parks and Gorges and the azure blue of the Mediterranean. France has it all. Including this week,  the European Tour as its travelling company of golfers rolls into town on a links swing on its way to Scotland and The Open. So sit back, relax and enjoy culture and class in abundance; music Maestro! Players -break a leg!

Date:                     5th – 8th July 2012

Venue:                 Le Golf National (Albatross Course), Gay Paris, La France

25 minutes South of Paris is Versailles – you may have heard of it. It’s more over the top than Disneyland Paris, just as expensive and the original symbol of royal absolutism and embodiment of classical French art. In its garden is Le Golf National – a poncy French test of golf and, despite Seve’s best endeavours, host for the Ryder Cup in 2018. It is a confused offering: a links course but target golf where water hazards and bunkers create the demand for a full set of clubs. It has no hidden secrets but is open to being played properly in order to win including aggressively on the first 6; take the birdie chance on the 12th, and protect your score on the final holes.

Yards:                   7,347 yards

Par:                        Par 71

Field:                   

It’s a strong European field this including Westwood (who missed out on a cracking Irish Open!) (7/1), Poulter (28/1), McDowell (16/1), Rose (16/1), Molinari (22/1) and Casey (110/1 – all Bet365). No Americans have been invited after Bubba Watson riled Francophiles by referring to three French landmarks as the big tower, the archway and the L building and referred to the Palace of Versailles as a castle before ordering a 1787 bottle of Chateau Lafite and pouring it off his hotel balcony. Im sure the appearance fee of $240,000 softened the pain of no return invite…

Consider…:

In the last 12 years (barring the odd year) it has been a happy hunting ground for the mediocre journeyman pro – with wins for such household names (in their own quaint English villages) for John Bickerton, Phillip Golding (1,000/1 with Bet365) and Malcolm McKenzie in 2006, 2003 and 2002 respectively. However, history dictates it also appears to favour the Scots (the miserable weather perhaps?), the French (zut alore!) and the South Africans (lord knows!) who have all sampled the sweet taste of a garlicky and wine fuelled victory here.

Ones to watch:

Fabrizio Zanotti (80/1 with SkyBet) caught my eye last week – and his National flag looks vaguely French! After three good rounds including a closing 66 at Portrush netting him a € 149,140 pay day and second place, the micro Paraguayan still waits for the breakthrough victory but for now – he seems to be happy to continue being the bridesmade, not the bride – and as he showed from a full arsenal of shots and skills in Ireland, could be a contender on a tricky track like this.

As a 17 year old, David Drysdale (123/1 with BetFair) marked the score of Roger Chapman and John Daly in the 1992 Muirfield Open. Now himself a player on tour (despite years of nail biting finishes at the low end of the rankings) he is now an established accurate and consistent player who has compiled three top tens in 2012. Like, Zanotti, showed his ample talent with a closing 66 in Ireland to push him into the top 50 in the Race2Dubai and is a Scot – so plays good when its bad outside!

Ones to win:

Nottingham Forest supporting Tour vet (22 victories) Lee Westwood (7/1 with SkyBet) looks set to take the field by the scruff of the neck following a lazy week (sadly the best  week on Tour for both players, spectators and organisers alike). We all should know his form guide but its good – 4 top 5s in four months, 3rd in the Race to Dubai and over £1m in Euro take home pay already. Plus he’s above red hot Tiger Woods in the World Rankings! A potential winner? I think so…

Mais oui, c’est Victor Duboisson (80/1 with Bet365) qui a looking-a-likely-winner-this-week! With two top fives in his last three outings and with no finish worse than 27th since end of March, the Frenchman is ready for a breakthrough to the league of Tour winners. In 2009 he was world amateur number 1 and now a quiet 132 (in professional ranks) but on home soil, with the whole history of France on his shoulder and Louis XVII looking over him – a likely surge from a strong outing this week will be just what the Les Blues had in mind… But no jumping in the water please.

Jenks Out!

 

Race to Dubai: Irish Open

Race to Dubai:   The Irish Open

They promise us red hair, leprechauns, more pubs than you could ever imagine and more champ with your potatoes and chips than you can shake your stick at. But it’s not all here yet – its quiet, its calm and it’s too early in the week! However with 100,000 tickets sold for golf’s major (home) coming later this week – what a stick shaking carnival this will be. It’s the greatest game on grass and we are here at Irelands second best course (Royal County Down is best!) for the craic at the Irish Open with Guinness on tap and a best guaranteed party atmosphere anywhere on Tour!

Date:                     28th June – 1st July 2012

Venue:                 Royal Portrush Golf  Club, County Antrim, Norn Iron

Royal Portrush has one of the most dramatic entrances of any course – quite simply, it’s has a geography that could make you cough up your colcannon and say crikey. The fairways nestle in natural valleys between towering sand dunes, the putting areas are protected by grassy hummocks instead of the usual bunkers and the greens themselves are small and understated – completing designer Harry Colt’s masterpiece. Look out for the 14th hole suitably monickered “Calamity” – a 210 yard par three with a deep chasm to the right!! It will deliver a cliff hanger alright!

Yards:                   7,143 yards

Par:                        Par 72

Field:                   

This week’s rich field includes 10 major champions not forgetting Irish golf’s great quartet of Clarke (67/1), McDowell (51/5), McIlroy (34/5) and Harrington (58/5). There’s yet more locals – a plethora of Brendans, Michaels, Eammons and a Mooney (969/1) including proven Tour winners in Shane Lowry (92/1) and Paul McGinley (49/1)! And finally a sprinkling of Uncle Sam’s winners too with Keegan Bradley (38/1), John Daly (176/1) and Rich Beem (552/1 – all BetDaq) making a welcome appearance on the European Tour.

Consider…:

In my mind this week it is the home crowd and the local players in this most anticipated event to hit the European Tour in years. What could be better than the home support cheering their own coming down the final stretch? And to anyone else threatening to knock them off the pedestal, what pressure to dare to hold your nerve? It’s a tough enough course this, especially in a wind, requiring solid driving, accuracy and course management to give any true competitor a fighting chance.

Ones to watch:

With 3 top ten’s in 4 recent outings including a tie for third last week at the BMW in Germany….this Irishman has hit form just at the right time! Scoring low last week with a 65 to start and a 66 to finish (marred somewhat by a 77 on moving (backwards?) day on the Saturday!) McGinley (55/1 with Totesport) is clearly feeling that it is time to play serious – especially with his home crowd around him. Remember his Ryder Cup fight back at the K Club, the winning put in 2002? What inspiration does a player need?

With a welcome return to some semblance of form Chris Wood (47/1 with BetFair) is now stringing some better results together with two podium places in the last two months including at the BMW in Cologne last week. The joint tallest player on Tour is well known for his heroics on the links at the Open Championship as an amateur in 2008 (finishing 5th) and as a pro in 2009 (finishing 3rd) and so entering the links season, expect a few contending weeks in the next 4 weeks.

Ones to win:

In five events, Padraig Harrington (12/1 with BetFred) has delivered three top ten’ and in front of his home crowd, this will be like the years fifth major and so expect some significant fighting and effort by the Dubliner… Playing most of his golf in the US in 2012, he has similar standing there – 7 top 25’s and three top 10’s from 10 cuts made. Another links specialist, is this the start of the form that sees 4 weeks of this genre of golf bring Harrington once again to the fore?

With weather looking to include drizzling rain, freshening temperatures and 14 – 18 mile an hour winds, look no further than links and bad weather specialist Paul Lawrie (28/1 with BetDaq) to continue his rich vein of form over the Dunluce Links this week. Well rested after taking a week off whilst others in the top 50 travelled the long way to California and likely disappointed after a tied 20th finish last week – he will be looking at once again striking while the iron is hot to ensure his inclusion in Olazabal’s Ryder Cup squad in August.

Trick Shot

At 16/1 with SkyBet, Peter Lawries recent return to form may just have you reaching for a fiver to take a punt on him finish as the top Irish man in the field….

Local amateur hero and newly crowned Amateur Champion, Alan Dunbar, could cause a stir this week and for returns of 100/1 everywhere for the first round lead, might just enable you to pay for the Guinness that will undoubtedly ensue!

Finally, in the handicap market, take – 4 from Brandon Grace and see what happens. If he then wins – 9/1 with (obviously!) PaddyPower sees the best possible return in that market.

Jenks Out!

Race to Dubai: BMW International Open

Race to Dubai:   BMW International Open

Guten Tag Herr feinen, schönen Abend – willkommen in Köln. We are in Cologne and it smells – I’m unsure if this is connected with being a town twinned with Liverpool or if it’s linked to the local aftershave we now know and love. We are here for one of Germanys many car manufacturer sponsored tournaments which could include The Seat Open, Land Rover International or Mini Match play but doesnt? German eh? However, as with everything Germanic, this is a precise affair starting at 07:30 exactly on Thursday when Bradley Dredge (125/1 with Bet365) clips one into the light rough.

Date:                     21st – 24th June 2012

Venue:                 Golf Club Gut Lärchenhof, Cologne, Germany

The strangely titled Gut Larchenof Golf Club hosts this event for the first time however the venue has previously hosted the German Masters 11 times between 1998-2009. It’s a Jack Nicklaus designed challenge but fair test and, I’m told, all about rewarding precision and intelligence over brute strength. The final holes of both the front and back nein’s deliver the biggest challenge ensuring an exciting finish! Well, it couldn’t be as bad as the US Open!

Yards:                   7,289 yards

Par:                        Par 72

Field:                   

Despite the US Open just last week and the impending British Open, the field stacks up to be of decent quality including six players who have won the German Masters here. This includes 8 time European number one; Colin Montgomerie (1998) (300/1), Sergio Garcia (1999) (12/1), James Kingston (2009) (150/1) and Bernhard Langer (2001) (80/1) who is out to claim the only German-staged European Tour he has not won. And Paul Casey (80/1 – all SportingBet) will make yet another comeback. Again.

Consider…:

Since the days of General Franco and Adolf Hitler chillaxing around World War II with their stuffed donkeys and their lederhosen, the Spaniards have done well in Germany. In golfing terms, these include last year’s winner Pablo Larrazabal (33/1), Antonio’s son – Ignatio Garrido (125/1), the oiley handed Jimenez (55/1 – all SkyBet) and the legendary Seve.  However the English and the funky Swedes also have a rich history taking the Bratwurst and Blue Nun from the Krauts in their own backyard.

Ones to watch:

Fighting for a big €333,330 is local lad Martin Kaymer (15/2 at PaddyPower) who organisers appear is the spectator’s favourite despite the fierce Cologne – Dusseldorf rivalry. That said the former world number 1 (currently 13) is on the ascendancy again with nothing worse than 20th position in his last 7 non-major starts and after an encouraging performance at last week’s US Open (tied 15th) a high finish is just what is needed for certain Ryder Cup inclusion – home crowds or not.

A newbie on my hall of fame but it’s the more German than Austrian sounding Bernd Weisberger (translated to Burnt White Burger?) (50/1 with Ladbrokes) a 2012 winner at the Ballentines in April is one to potentially set the (sort of) home fires burning over the Rhine and in the far hills of the Vienna. Had 4 top fives in 2011, and with his maiden victory should carry enough momentum and local support to achieve a place this week before driving his Trabant back home.

Ones to win:

Rightly cowering like a prisoner of the Gestapo last week to avoid a clearly tough US Open, Paul Lawrie (20/1 everywhere including BlueSq) will be one of the few fresh faced and mentally strong out on the links this week. Focusing on the Ryder Cup (as he is right to do), the Aberdonian still currently carries the best form of anyone else on Tour and hopes it to continue to picking up another trophy before popping the cork on the local Sekt before a fly by from the local Luftwaffe signifies what would be his second win of the year and his 6th top ten in 13 starts. Form indeed!

With three top fives in 9 starts on the regular tour and a pleasing 10th in the US Open, the European Tours best putter, Retief Goosen (26/1 at BetFair), a previous winner of the tournament, is worthy of watching this week. With top 20 rankings for all relevant precision and intellectually technical stats – a place finish is not only likely, it is mathematically guaranteed. Something that those detail driven Germans quite like – vorsprung durch technic, as they often say.

Trick Shot

Given the mentions above, look no further than picking last year’s victor Pablo Larrazabal as top finishing Spaniard for a 6/1 return from Ladbrokes – with the only two real contenders Alvaro Quiros (precision? Nah!) and Sergio Garcia (intelligence?) – it’s in the bag!

Sticking with Spain (well, the Euro Championships are on!) and the podium sitter from last year, select Pablo Larrazabal to only finish inside the top ten and win yourself a return of 50/3 with BWin.

I know I’ve picked mostly Spain here today but there will be no saur krauts unless Kaymer misses the cut (7/2 with BetFair) but even then, this would then deliver something towards your weekend Liebfraumilch. Enjoy!

Jenks Out!

112th US Open Championship

112th US Open Championship

If the famous Frisco fog lifts, and if you can see us, we are safely stationed on the West Coast US in the Bay Area. I say ‘safely’ as there is actually a fault, the San Andreas earthquake fault, lying (currently!) dormant right beneath our spikes on this patch of links; a links like no other. Here there are no water hazards, no out-of-bounds and only one fairway bunker. It’s a place of too many trees – around 30,000 – too little sunshine and holes where the ball may or not roll because of the heavy conditions but the score certainly can roll up. So, roll up, roll up – the greatest show on grass visit San Fran’s legendary no nonsense ‘sleeping lady’ for the 112th US Open Championship!

Date:                     14th – 17th June 2012

Venue:                 The Olympic Club, San Francisco, California

This is the 5th time here and, like the course, cutting straight to the chase, she is wicked! She opens with the hardest six-hole stretch in golf and no more so that the 520-yard par-4 first! It is not a long track by today’s standards, but it boasts an abundance of elevation changes that will test the best players. And don’t expect players to go low: in the four previous Opens here, only four individuals have finished in red numbers. AND if conditions this week seem unreasonably challenging, top golfers know exactly who to blame; McIlroy’s (88/5 with BetFair) ‘cracking’ performance at last year’s Open not only left Congressional Country Club in shambles, but it gave the USGA a considerably bruised ego as well!

Yards:                   7,170 yards

Par:                        Par 70

Field:                   

Of the 156 strong field, what counts is the simple fact that to win someone will need to string together four strong rounds – you would pay for that tip elsewhere!! Just as well that we have then assembled one of the best fields of 2012 including the last ten winners of the US Open from Lucas Glover (343/1) to Michael Campbell (969/1) and 5 years of winners of the other big three including Bubba (55/1), Harrington (79/1) and Kaymer (59/1). Let’s not overlook the top 60 in the world rankings including Lee Westwood (121/10), last year’s Tour Championship field with Bill Haas (135/1) and last year’s 10th place and ties to involve Sergio Garcia (53/1) and with a few other places then there’s the qualifiers from the regional heats including the story of the year about Casey Martin (969/1 – all BetDaq) – the man who sued the PGA Tour and now is permitted to drive a cart!!

Lovely picture but Louis is not in my top tips this week

Consider…:

With its small, firm greens and narrow, tree-lined fairways, Olympic Club generally favors finesse over power and so once again, it’s down to short game wizardry – so Phil Mickelson (24/1 with BetDaq) you think? But, the one who wins is likely to be someone who is not as renowned as the person he beats into second! In support, consider that in every US Open at the Olympic Club, the 54-hole leader has gone on to lose the tournament. Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer, Tom Watson and Payne Stewart all threw away Sunday leads en route to runner-up spot against journeymen or unknown types.

Ones to watch:

Geoff Ogilvy (98/1 with BetDaq), 34, won the Open six years ago at Winged Foot. He’s ranked 50th in the world and has chugged along as a very decent pro without gathering much attention outside his native Australia. In 2012 he’s already had 6 top ten finishes but more relevantly ranks in the top 20 in scrambling, putting from inside 10 feet and top 5 for long range approaches. Similarly, 98 Olympic winner Lee Janzen claimed his first U.S Open title in 1993, five years before he showed up at Olympic to repeat the feat at age 33 with similar Tour stats. Ogilvy is practically a 1998 Janzen clone!

This year, perhaps more than any other, Luke Donald (14/1 with Ladbrokes) is as poised as he will be to win a major. The current world number 1 secured his second worldwide victory this year with a successful defence of his BMW PGA Championship title and ranks eighth on the PGA Tour in fairways hit, fifth in avoiding bogeys but most importantly carries top ten ranks on the European Tour in all putting disciplines with a #1 rank for one putts and extends that to scrambling too.

Ones to win:

Matt Kuchar (31/1 with BetDaq) is a good man, and more importantly a good bet. And, while not outspoken about his religion – as a regular member of the PGA Tour’s Bible study group – by Christ he is a strong bet given his record this season! With top-15s in the last two U.S. Open’s and top-10s in four of his last eight stroke-play starts this season including a win at the 5th Major, The Players. He’s clearly a man on form and lies second in bogey avoidance, 10th in greens in regulation and has a string of GIR and putting top ten stats to support the string of leader board threatening results including scoring average.

This man is becoming a silent robot again! With seven top 25s in his last eight starts Jim Furyk (40/1 with Totesport) leads the PGA Tour in bogey avoidance and ranks second in fairways hit, 25th in greens in regulation and 24th in Strokes Gained-Putting. He’s spent much of the past decade ranked in the World Golf Top 10 and has secured five top five’s in 17 starts in this event alone including his only major win in the 2003 U.S. Open.

Trick shots:

After his win at the Memorial and a lengthy absence, we welcome back Tiger Woods as the bookies favourite (at 7/1) but not being that predictable and more than that, we welcome his odds for missing the cut (9/2 – both SkyBet!) – he’s missed three in the past 18 months! Does that make us more crooked than Lombard Street?

With his last US Open here in 1998 he obtained a rather shock result in ending up in a tie for 23rd, its local qualifying hero and cart bound PGA Tour nemesis Casey Martin, who delivers a remarkable 66/1 (SkyBet) return for merely achieving a top twenty finish! If successful, he’ll be going straight to Alcatraz for that one!

FedEx Cup: the Memorial Tournament

Fed Ex Cup:        the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide Insurance

Greetings from the Midwest and specifically Jacks Place – a dictatorship in any other language where Jack (yes, him of many majors!) controls everything; the committees, the $10M+ valued properties price, the street lighting, car parking and even the prices of the Reuben sandwiches in the Clubhouse. Tour Pros have been coming here since 1976 and as with Augusta; changes are regularly made by Mein Fuhrer so it is always relevant to technology and the game for both tour pros and well heeled members alike.

Date:                     31st May – 3rd June 2012

Venue:                 Muirfield Village GC, Dublin, Ohio

The name of this posh suburb was inspired by Jack’s first Open victory in 1966 at Muirfield in Scotland and since has hosted National and International competitions, including the 1992 U.S. Amateur, 1987 Ryder Cup, the 1998 Solheim Cup and the 1986 U.S. Junior Amateur and has been selected to host the President’s Cup in 2013. It has consistently been among the top 25 courses in the US – little wonder, inspired by a $1,160,000 first prize cheque and two weeks ahead of the US Open, that so many top pros have been called to action this week.

Yards:                   7,265 yards

Par:                        Par 72

Field:    

Unsurprisingly it’s a strong field and includes eight of the world’s top ten, seven of the top ten in the FedEx Cup and nine previous winners including grizzled vets in Stricker (28/1), Vijay Singh (140/1) and Couples (140/1). It also includes some of the greatest players out there from Mickelson (16/1) to McIlroy (12/1) and Woods (12/1) to Webb Simpson (30/1). For novelty sakes, don’t look far past Davis Love III (225/1) or his brother in number, Billy Hurley III (750/1 – all Bet365).

Consider…:

Physically consider only 71 bunkers and water on 11 holes – but with a new routing of the stream on 18. Also this course has a high par for its length but we know that it’s still a challenge for the players with scoring averages around 72. So looking mentally, consider this when deciding who to put your “hard earned” on: Ryo Ishikawa (537/1) with a local caddie, Justin Rose’s (35/2) current form, Jason Days (39/1) Muirfield membership and the return of BubbaGolf (34/1 – all with BetDaq)…

Ones to watch:

With 6 top 20’s in seven starts at the Memorial, and 5 top 5 finishes in 12 starts this year, wrong way golfer Phil Mickelson (88/5 with BetFair) lies 5th in the FedEx Cup and should be a focus for your placed bets this week. Did you know that he is right handed in everything except his golf? Don’t let that curve ball sway you but he also likes baseball.

Looking like an inmate of Guantanamo Bay or an Orange march participant each and every Sunday, it’s Rickie Fowler (181/10 with BetFair) who once again continues a show of consistency following three consecutive top 5s and 16 straight sub par rounds into this event. A former runner up here in 2009, the Floridian lightweight (150lb) would be an easy bet for a place this week as the fight for automatic Ryder Cup selection continues…

Ones to win

Posting four top 15’s in his last 4 PGA Tour starts and 13th here last year, Ohio resident Ben Curtis (73/1 with BetDaq) ranks high in greens hit and leads strokes gained putting. On this rich vein of form, no wonder there is $2.2 Million dollars in his current account from this year alone. You wouldn’t bet against a strong placed finish again here – but will he go one better? With one win already this year, and 4 over his 12 consecutive year Tour history – you wouldn’t bet against it!

Only a man dressed in half baked office attire and wearing sneaker type shoes would be cocky enough to take the fight to Luke Donald’s own BMW PGA Championship last week but while a runners up spot boosted Justin Roses’ (88/5 with BetFair) automatic Ryder Cup hopes, his 6th top ten in ten starts and his previous form here (a win, a second and a fourth) means that on this form, he can wear what he wants and still be a strong contender this and in subsequent weeks.

Trick shots:

Aarron Baddeley to finish top Australian returns 12/1 with Stan James. With odds this good, he only has to be the other 10 wallabies for you to celebrate in style…

Newbie PGA Tour boy, who turned pro post a 62nd finish in the Masters delivers a whopping return of 18/1 with SkyBet merely for turning in a top 20 finish. Easy? Inspired by The Dictator standing by the 18th, no problem…

Thank me later!

Race to Dubai: ISPS Handa Wales Open

Race to Dubai:   ISPS Handa Wales Open

A mere two hours and 30 minutes separates the opulence of the exclusive Wentworth Club and the Showcase of the European Tour from the knock down, discounted (and frankly) tacky looking Celtic Manor resort and an also ran competition struggling for proper sponsorship but for those chasing Ryder Cup entry, it’s 150 minutes that could be well worth it. Welcome to South Wales! (…and by the way, you are welcome to it!)

Date:                     31st May – 3rd June 7th 2012

Venue:                 The Celtic Manor Resort (The Twenty Ten Course), City of Newport, Wales

Far better than the ridiculous resort that engulfs it is the stunning 2010 Course that was built exclusively to host the World’s greatest golfing event – The Ryder Cup, in 2010. With a mind melting six signature holes (how do they do that?) the track offers a links land feel alongside lakeside lined challenges – where water hazards feature on no fewer than half of the holes and classic risk reward considerations frequently add to the drama. A tough finishing stretch culminates in an 18th hole with a sting in the tail…

Yards:                   7,378 yards

Par:                        Par 71

Field:                   

For a competition with winners held in such high regard as Ian Poulter, Robert Karllson and Graeme McDowell – surprising how not one of them has bothered to show face this weekend. Thus leaving spaces instead for the likes of Miguel Angel Jimenez (40/1), Paul McGinley (175/1), 3 Rhys’ (Davies (80/1), Pugh (600/1) and Enoch (750/1)), Knut Borsheim (where do they get them?) (750/1) and likely local lad Zhiqun Lam (1,000/1). Oh, and don’t forget Millenium year winner Steen Tinning (400/1 – all Bet365). (Steen who you ask?)

Consider…:

As last year, it will be accuracy and length that will be major factors once again in 2012. And if not, scrambling is also key what with that thick Welsh wet grass that will nestle balls deep and mess up a tidy score card quite easily.

Ones to watch:

Swede Alexander Noren (25/1 with Ladbrokes); who was winner here in 2011 and also winner in his Native Sweden within weeks to help him rise to 14th in the Race to Dubai in 2011. Comes to Wales off the back of two top tens in April that have helped earn him much of his income for the season to date. Currently 83rd in the World Rankings and 43rd in the R2D but its this period of golf that really suits his game and so watch the charge up the rankings this week.

Spains relatively new kid on the block, Pablo Larrazabel (41/1 with BetDaq) shot a brilliant closing 67 here last year showing his true might (ahead of his maiden win in Germany a month later) in a spell that resulted in a 4th (in Wales), and 11th and then the victory in Munich. Has had two top tens in the last 5 starts and an increasing number of low scores – in particular 67s and 68s and seems to be hitting form at the right time for the lucrative summer spell and a charge up the R2D rankings.

Ones to win:

With exceedingly short odds, it’s the man of the hour with the fantastically smooth and fluid swing – Paul Lawrie (14/1 with Bet365) that could set the heather alight here. Coming off a stunning second place, final round “best of the day” 66 and a crucial £350k closer to a Ryder Cup spot at Wentworth, and as a previous winner here in 2002, no one currently looks a more likely winner in the quality light field this week despite the memory of an 8 putt on the 2nd in 2010.

Another Scot. Following The Great Nations new found admiration for one time Major Champion Paul Lawrie – and following a conscious decision to work harder on (or quit) The Tour, his bretheren from the Motherland will take note of Lawries significant advances up the Race to Dubai and a strong bid for an valuable automatic Ryder Cup spot and be inspired to deliver stronger performances (as McIlroy did after GMac’s major win) in a bid to prove that The Hallowed Land is not a one trick pony now that Sandy Lyle has gone off the boil somewhat… The real possibles then include Richie Ramsay (70/1), Scott Jamieson (113/1), Stephen Gallacher (85/1), Peter Whiteford (151/1), David Drysdale (85/1) and Marc Warren (94/1 – all BetFair).

Trick Shot

Local lad Rhys Davies is quite capable of turning on the style when required – and for just a top ten finish you can see returns of 11/2 (William Hill) – and hes had 6 of them since the Saab Wales Open in 2010.

And for a sure thing, surely the thing to do is opt for a double chance with Molinari and Lawrie (Pa) that will return you 11/2 with SkyBet. Not bad odds for the most on form duo playing.

Jenks Out!

 

Race to Dubai: BMW PGA Championship

Race to Dubai:   The BMW PGA Championship

Welcome to England! The first and only visit here this year excluding the British Open. (Not wanting to gloat but Scotland, (which is not in England by the way America!) has three tournaments every year not including the British Open). Anyway, despite that National trumping, this event is the Flagship of the Tour hence why only the best are playing. And when I say best, I mean the World’s best, as despite the yanks struggling to get passports that allow them entry to this Country, we do have the best golfers! And that gives them a chance on their own soil doesn’t it?

Date:                     24th – 27th May 2012

Venue:                 Wentworth Club (West Course), Surrey, Posh Shire, England

A cracking course to play and, for you Sir, a snip at only £360 for our finest 18. Or why not buy the whole thing – it could be yours for a mere £130 Million (prices based at last sale to fashionable so and so Richard Caring from 2004 before he did a Gok Wan and subsequently butchered the classic heath land course with input from a local -one Ernest of Els). Anyway, the stage is set, the flags are in position, the players’ hair and makeups done – and beyond Anton du Beke Day (Pro-Cel-Am on Wednesday), there’s time only for the fanfares and the tournament can begin!

Yards:                   7,302 yards

Par:                        Par 72

Field:                   

Having dominated the summit of the Official World Golf Ranking since Westwood deposed Tiger Woods in October 2010, the elite of The European Tour’s are set for a titanic battle over this West Course at Wentworth Club. And the field is the best of the season so far; we have the World’s top 3; the 9 European Tour number 1’s since 1993; 10 former PGA Championship winners; 12 victors from the 2012 season; 15 Major Champions holding 21 trophies; 29 Ryder Cup players and 110 European Tour winners holding 458 titles! My question to you – who needs America?

Consider…:

The fact that absolutely everyone can watch their chosen ones in the tournament this week as like only the best events, “Aunty” gets the crowning glory and Sky’s golfed-out audience will have to remind themselves what good golfing coverage on TV is like. The weather will be warm and that suits many of these players but with the fresh winds, the course will be waiting to capture anyone who strays just a little too far from the fairways. Look out for holes 14 – 18; from the par 3, 14th up the hill and the pair of par 5’s to finish. So nothings final ‘til the fat lady sings.

Ones to watch:

With five top tens’ from 10 starts in 2012 including a second in Spain, its 19 year old wunderkind Matteo Mannesaro who looks set to generate some sparks this week. Coming off the back of two 7th place finishes and having finished, guess what? – 7th here last year despite the two disappointing rounds of 72 and 75 to finish. The Tifosi will ignite with odds of 47/1 with BetFair and as the second best putter playing, on these greens – lucky number 7’s a sure thing.

Two second places including a storming finish at The Players Championship mean Martin Laird could have played himself right into contention this week. Taking time for a week off and acclimatizing to the UK, when the chips are down, look no further than a Scot to come good with your bets. A long ball striker, who ranks high in accuracy stats on the PGA Tour, fits right in here on these challenging links. Is he a contender? Och aye….

Ones to win:

Playing his 7th event in “Europe” in 2012 and having a 3rd and a 2nd to his name already, Graeme MacDowell needs only a win to keep his season stats from affecting his OCD – it has been a two year winless streak. After a second place finish in the Match Play, his game is clearly good enough to take on the best but can he replicate Luke Donald’s’ (9/1 with Ladbrokes) 2-1 from these same tournaments last year? At 33/1 with Ladbrokes, many of you clearly favour the OWGR #1 & #2 and not the Irishman.


Nine events entered, nine cuts made, three top tens’ including a win in Spain two weeks ago means Francesco Molinari (37/1 with BetFair) makes my shortlist this week. (He’ll be over the moon!) A consistent 4th in greens in regulation means the Italian is a constant threat on the leader board and the 9th position in the Race to Dubai and World ranking of 32 merely confirm it. The younger of the Molinari brothers will be keen to secure his playing involvement in the Ryder Cup before the nail biting selection process in August. Will he be amongst them? Of course he will!

Trick Shot

It’s the week of Double Chances – that’s the way forward here!

So, look out for MacDowell and Molinari (at 16/1 with SkyBet) to win in a Double Chance. (Compared to McIlroy and Westwood at 5/1 and you see how good a steal it is!)

Also at longer odds, consider Harrington and Anders Hanson in the Double Chance at 25/1 also show that there are some good returns should just one of these guys do good this week.

Jenks Out!

Want to see what my predictions were in 2011? Click here.