Betting in the days immediately following a Major is always a tricky business, and that rule applies more than ever this week. Both European and PGA Tour events are played on courses for which there is a total lack of recent form to study, so a large element of guesswork is involved.
For what its worth, the Scandinavian Masters has produced a mixed set of recent results. Five of this century’s winners were world-class and another champion, Graeme McDowell, went on to become world-class. Last year’s result, when Ricardo Gonzalez topped a distinctly weak leaderboard, left most of us scratching our heads. This year’s line-up is similarly lacking in strength in depth, but is boosted by the presence of a few PGA Tour stars. The sponsors will also be delighted, no doubt, to welcome the new Open champion, Louis Oosthuizen.
Course and stats
The consensus about Bro Hof Slott GC, a new Robert Trent Jones design, is very positive. Some are even suggesting it is the best course in Scandinavia. It certainly does appear to have all the hallmarks of a championship layout, designed to test every aspect of a player’s game. It is long, and reportedly playing its full distance, but penal rough, water and deep bunkers should place an equal emphasis on accuracy as power. The course is very exposed to wind, and fast greens will demand accurate iron play. Greens in regulation looks like being a particularly important stat, along with total driving.
Betting selections
2.5pts ew RICKIE FOWLER @ 20/1 (GENERAL)
PGA Tour form usually reads very well in Europe, and Fowler rates the best pick of the overseas contingent in Sweden. Fowler’s Open debut was yet another signal of his outstanding potential. After starting with a catastrophic 79 on the easier first day, nobody shot lower in the last three rounds. A 67,71,67 finish was enough to reach the top 15, and left me looking out for big prices about next year’s Open and beyond. Nine top 15s, thrice as runner-up, is a superb return from his first nine months on the PGA Tour. He’s done everything apart from win, and that statistic could well change this week.
Having tipped him several times this year, it was frustrating to miss out on Edoardo’s breakthrough win at Loch Lomond, not least because he was very much short-listed. No matter, for I’m confident there are more wins to come. Placed 28th was a fair enough result on his Open debut, better than many previous Scottish Open champions have mustered. Notably, Molinari retained his long-game excellence at St Andrews, topping the greens in regulation stats.
Choi’s failure to make the St Andrews cut came as no surprise, as he’s never been particularly good on links. The consequence of that failure is that his odds are better than expected, and the extra two days rest could offer an advantage. Prior to a fortnight ago, he’d made every cut in 2010, usually in top-class US events, the best of which was fourth in The Masters. Choi’s world-class long iron play should be a useful asset around this championship layout.
Bourdy will certainly be fresh, having missed The Open altogether. Previously, he’d taken the eye as a potential winner-in-waiting, finishing sixth in the French Open and going well for three rounds at Loch Lomond. Bourdy has made his last 11 cuts, never finishing outside the top 40, usually hitting a high percentage of greens in regulation. He’s won a tournament in each of the last three seasons, and could well keep the run going.
1pt ew PETER HEDBLOM @ 50/1 (GENERAL, 60/1 BET365)
I’m expecting this course to favour the best ball-strikers, so Hedblom’s return to form last time out is interesting. Peter is a very streaky player, but when he’s good, there are few better ball-strikers on this tour. That was the case when fourth at Loch Lomond, a level of improvement that he put down to the Scottish air. Indeed, a good record in Scotland is another reason to think he’ll like this exposed course, especially if the wind gets up.