Last year, Edoardo Molinari birdied his last three holes to win the tournament and convince 2010 Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie he was worthy of a captain’s pick.
This year, there will be many players hoping to do the same, with in-form Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts the only player possessing a mathematical chance of forcing his way into the automatic qualification places.
The European Tour’s longest driver must finish in the top two to push Martin Kaymer out of the team, but there will be plenty of others, including Rafa Cabrera-Bello, hoping to replicate Molinari and secure a place in the team through the back door.
The eventual winner at Gleneagles, as with any links course, will be someone who is in control of their golf ball, someone who keeps their ball in play and someone who shows good imagination, both in terms of short game and shaping shots.
Nicolas Colsaerts, at 12/1 with Ladbrokes, is the obvious choice this week. He is in good form, and his confidence will be sky-high after a string of impressive performances in the majors and a top 10 last week at the Wyndham Championship. He is the longest hitter on the European Tour, ninth in Stroke Average and 13th in Greens in Regulation. He will also be extremely determined to finish in the top two and play his way into the European Ryder Cup team on merit.
Rafa Cabrera-Bello is well priced at 40/1 with Ladbrokes, and will still believe he has an outside chance of a captain’s pick if he performs well this week. Should Kaymer fall out of the automatic places and Cabrera-Bello have a good week, he has an outside chance of being chosen ahead of the German. He finished second on the links at Portrush, and has a victory and four top 10s to his name already this season.
Pablo Larrazabal, at 40/1 with Ladbrokes, is also someone worth considering. He finished in the top 10 at the recent Lyoness Open in Austria, his best finish since May, and will have good memories of Gleneagles, having played well enough to get into a play-off last year. The Spaniard is somewhat erratic but his potential is undisputed, and if he finds some form on the greens, he could well contend this week.
Mark Foster, at 66/1 with Ladbrokes, is another who took part in last year’s five-way play-off at Gleneagles. He is a solid performer on the European Tour and someone who plays particularly well on links courses, as he showed with a fifth place finish at this year’s Irish Open.
Joel Sjoholm, at 125/1 with Ladbrokes, is worth an each way bet. He is an excellent putter and a solid all-round golfer, with three top 10s this season and a sixth place finish the last time the Johnnie Walker Championship was contested.
Johnnie Walker Championship advised bets:
2pts outright on Nicolas Colsaerts at 12/1 with Ladbrokes
2pts each way on Rafa Cabrera-Bello at 40/1 with Ladbrokes
2pts each way on Pablo Larrazabal at 40/1 with Ladbrokes
2pts each way on Mark Foster at 66/1 with Ladbrokes
2pts each way on Joel Sjoholm at 125/1 with Ladbrokes