Though very much a second-division affair, as one might expect in the week following a Major, the Czech Open retains it’s place on the Race to Dubai schedule after last year’s debut. With Ryder Cup points on offer, the field is slightly stronger this time. Even after several significant withdrawals, there are still eight members of the world’s top 100 lining up at Prosper Golf Resort.
 
Last year’s result was far from obvious. Champion Oskar Henningsson was a very big price, and hasn’t made a top ten since. Even less likely were runner-up Sam Little or fourth placed Marc Cayeux. So far as this column is concerned, I still have bad memories of our 40/1 pick Gareth Maybin managing somehow to miss out on the places, despite standing on the 15th tee in a share of the lead, four shots ahead of the rest. The lesson to be learnt is that this course has the potential to produce significant late swings, and should aid the cause of those trading in-running.
 
Course and stats
 
Prosper is a short par 72 designed by Miguel Angel Jimenez, situated 450m above sea level against a beautiful mountainous backdrop. The designer himself says the key is straight driving to counter narrow fairways and a good short game. The key stat last year was greens in regulation and there may be some mileage in studying form above sea level. The ball travels further through the air, making shot selection a more refined art. The obvious event with which to compare this one is the European Masters at Crans-Sur-Sierre.
 
Golf betting selections
 
2.5pts ew MIGUEL-ANGEL JIMENEZ @ 20/1 (GENERAL)
 
The Mechanic is an obvious pick, and not just because he knows the layout better than anyone. This is Jimenez’s last chance to cement a Ryder Cup place, and a big run looks guaranteed. He may have missed the cut at Whistling Straits, but went well for a long way in 22nd previously at Firestone. With two victories this year already, in markedly stronger fields than this one, Jimenez has won more tournaments in 2010 than Tiger and Mickelson combined.
 
2pts ew ALEJANDRO CANIZARES @ 28/1 (BETFRED, HILLS)
 
These are very attractive odds about a winner waiting to happen. Canizares has only missed one of his last 12 cuts; twice finishing runner-up amongst seven top 25s during that run. Even when he hasn’t made that mark, the Spaniard has often looked a substantial improver, such as when challenging for three days at The Open. His chance is further strengthened by the fact that he is fresh having missed the USPGA.
 
2pts ew BRADLEY DREDGE @ 30/1 (BOYLESPORTS, 33/1 SPORTINGBET)
 
Again, the fact Dredge didn’t travel to the US last week must be a bonus. We have to forgive a missed cut when carrying our money last time in Europe, but I’m prepared to do so as he’d looked to be coming into form beforehand. Dredge’s outstanding record at Crans-Sur-Sierre is another plus.
 
1pt ew RICHIE RAMSAY @ 66/1 (GENERAL)
 
Placed 32nd last year looks an ordinary result, but Ramsay was in contention until a final-round 78. He is one of the straightest drivers in Europe, and usually ranks near the head of the crucial greens in regulation stats. Ninth last time out in Ireland was his best result since winning the South African Open last December.
 
0.5pt ew FABRIZIO ZANOTTI @ 100/1 (TOTE, BOYLESPORTS)
 
After last year’s result, there must be a fair chance that another outsider wins, though picking anyone at 100/1 or better in good enough form to consider is far from straightforward. Zanotti, however, is somebody who has struck me before as capable of winning this type of second-division event, and four top 20s from his last nine is a fair return. The Paraguayan is usually reliable from tee to green, and contended for three days last year before falling back to 17th with a poor final round.