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!

Race to Dubai: Maybank Malaysian Open

Race to Dubai:    Maybank Malaysian Open

Hello and welcome to hot and humid Kuala Lumpur for a few weeks of “regular” golf before the focus of the next Major starts once again. Apologies for the recent silence, I’ve honestly been away in Augusta – no seriously! …only in Oz – my travel agent has a lot to answer for and will be replaced (much as Tiger Woods’ nine iron will).

Date:                     12th – 15th April 2012

Venue:                 Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club

We find ourselves right in the heart of KL on a course that has been wholly reconstructed (every blade of grass is new), but routing and layout the same as before. It is to be found on pleasantly undulating ground where trouble, in the form of water, comes into play on no fewer than 13 holes!

Yards:                   7,000 yards dead!

Par:                        Par 72

Field:                   

Five major champion winners take the 30 hour trip back across the globe to KL – well three. The major Major champion winners including Charl Schwartzel, Martin Kaymer and Louis Oosthuisen (all 62/5) – do we have verification that Todd Hamilton (557/1) and Michael Campbell (712/1 – all BetDaq) actually still play golf?

In 2010 an 18 year old Korean outsider won this event – Noh Seung Yul. In 2011 a 17 year old Italian took it to the field for a second Pro win of his career. What are the chances of a 16 year old winning this year round? Too high for anyone! Looking at the longer odds available at the Maybank, take a look at Ramasamy Nachimuthu, Muhammed Arie Fauzi and Muhammad Afif Razif – all of whom sit at 1,000/1 with SkyBet. They are definitely a long shot.

Consider…:

The fairways are small and tight and strike the fear of god into Alvaro Quiros (44/1 with BetDaq), meaning that we are probably looking at an accurate player more than someone with pure length in his armory. Look no further then than Adilson da Silva (406/1 with BetDaq) and Simon Khan (250/1 with BetFred) – with the two highest ranking stats in driving accuracy and greens in regulation respectively.

The forecast for tournament – hot and humid with a daily threat of thunder storms – does this curry favour with the Asians who are more than used to this? History would say not and actually I was in Singapore last week and it was hot and humid – sweaty but bearable.

Ones to watch:

Matteo Mannesaro (16/1 with William Hill) is a year older, a year wiser and with two top-6 finishes in March is certainly one of the European Tour players currently worth beating. Won the tournament as a 17 year old last year to notch up his second win although with a stronger field in the event than last year is this an unlikely title defence and a more likely top 5 finish? I think so.

The son of a fish farmer from Santander, this professional knows his plaice (get it?). Pablo Larrazabel (63/1 with BetDaq) is on the cusp of a return amongst the shoal of the Big Tour – his change in fortunes started in Morocco when he netted a top ten finish. Not much you say, but he has had a few weeks off to bring his game in line with the high standards he set last year when he hooked his BMW win and now looks to progress up the R2D (big fish) ladder.

Ones to win:

Two top tens’ and a top ten world ranking don’t necessarily mean prizes but it’s getting personal as Martin Kaymer (62/5 with BetDaq) slips down all of the rankings. However, he’s is German. He’s probably angry. And he is clinical. Having just shown the golfing fraternity his best performance at the Masters on a course that is not to his liking, just you see, this will be the start of the turning point for the former World number 1. Jawohl?

Currently the man of the hour! Has played outstandingly for much of the season and no better demonstration than last weekend when Louis Oosthuisen (12/1 with Bet365) came up just short in the Masters (in finishing and on the 2nd extra play off hole). Has had 4 top tens including a win in the opening tournament of 2012 – and currently sits 3rd in a tight leader board at the business end of the Race to Dubai league table.

Trick shot:

Simon Dyson at 5/1 (SkyBet) to finish in the top ten after all he had 8 top ten’s across the full season in 2011.

Winning margin to be 1 stroke is also a sure thing at 11/4 with 118Bet. 7 from the last 12 events have ended with a victor by one stroke.

Jenks out!