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!

Selectabet: BMW PGA Championship

Dates:                  26th – 29th May 2011

Competition:      BMW PGA Championship

Venue:                 Wentworth Club (West Course)

The BMW PGA Championship is the flagship event of The European Tour and returns to the recently remodeled West Course at Wentworth Club for the 28th time. Surrounded by heath and heather, the West course provides a stern but fair test posing questions of every area of a golfers’ game. The course delivers elevation changes, fairways that turn both ways and significant bunkering to test anyone but the most accurate of strategic ball strikers.

Yards:                   7,261

Par:                       71

Field:                    143

The field consists of the usual high placed European Tour players with some of the higher ranks from the regional orders of merit but crucially includes 12 major champions holding 19 major titles and six of the World’s current top seven players.

Consider…:

Course changes were made to stymie advances in technology by Ernie Els and restauranteur, Richard Caring and, for some, still leave a nasty taste. And agreement or not, as the UK’s most televised course, even viewers will find the visual changes hard to swallow. Two holes stand out; the uphill 179 yard par three 14th with tiered green always delivers more bogeys than birdies; the bunker-less par 5 17th offers a tight tee shot with a sloping fairway that kicks balls further from the green leaving second shots long, difficult and no certain birdie.

Controversial last hole at Wentworth looks different without hospitality

Ones to watch:

For me, it’s the week of the ‘azzurri’. All 5 foot 8 of Francesco Molinari at 40/1 (Skybet) is one to keep an eye on; he handles the pressure of big events – a classy win at the HSBC Championships in 2010 guaranteed him a Ryder Cup place – and his game suits the course but is it a tall order? As the youngest winner in Tour history, Matteo Mannesaro at 45/1 (Bet 365), has the statistics in support of a promising weekend at Wentworth ranking in both driving accuracy and greens in regulation. If he keep his nerve and uses experience of two wins already in his professional career he will certainly be teaching the old dogs new tricks…

One to Win:

Martin Kaymer at 16/1 (Bluesq, PaddyPower, 888Sport & Bet365) ranks high in most stats most months, his results this year are improving by the week and while always be a strong contender for the 750,000 euro first prize, if he is to repeat his feat of running away with the Race to Dubai crown and regaining world number one spot he will need to start the victory marches sooner rather than later.

Each Way:

“The Mechanic”; lover of fine wines, cigars, and fast cars, was a prolific winner in 2010. In 2011, Miguel Angel Jimenez at 45/1 (Skybet) in a vehicle sponsored event has the performance for the big events, the drive and experience to boot. You could you call it karma [car-mah]….

http://www.selectabet.net/