A change in approach this week, after a series of near misses in the last few weeks; the latest of which was a place for 40/1 tip Luiten in Ireland last week, leads me to switch things up by going for place/top 10 bets with some outsiders in both events this week. A brief summary of each course, a glance at the weather for each location and then 2 selections for each event is the way I’m going to play it this week.
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Firstly – Open de France 2013
Le Golf National course measures over 7,300 yards, it is a stadium style course and has water coming into play on holes 15,16 and 18 making for a tremendously difficult closing stretch, the bunkers here are links style with sharp deep faces making them more hazardous than on many other courses of this type. Players winning here traditionally have a good week tee to green, avoiding the punishing bunkers in particular; it is also worth noting it has not always been the big guns that have been successful in this event, especially since moving to Le Golf National back in 1991 (winners include Storm, Bickerton & Golding in the last 10 years).
The weather looks to be generally good for the event with light winds, freshening on Sunday and little rain.
Soren Hansen – 33/1 Place AND 16/1 Top 10
Fantastic course form is the simple reason for his inclusion this week, an incredible 5 Top 10’s and 6 Top 20’s over this course in the last 11 seasons, also an impressive 6th in this season’s GIR statistics. Dead last in putts per round this year to date, explains his relative lack of success this season but seems to find his putting touch on this course, let’s hope that is the case this year and we can expect Soren to feature once again.
Alexandre Kaleka – 50/1 Place AND 18/1 Top 10
Fancy him to go well this week despite his MC’s here in the last 2 years, playing at home should be more of a comfort rather than a pressure as he matures. Ranked an impressive 53rd in putts per round this season, not so impressive in GIR but is ranked 14th in driving distance so clearly strikes the ball well, has made 3 straight cuts coming in, looks to be finding his form coming into his home Open.
Greenbrier Classic 2013
A course that was beaten up badly on its debut on tour in 2010 with the players averaging 68.5 on the Par 70 layout, in 2011 the course was lengthened from just over 7,000 yards to a yardage of 7,274 yards with just an added 15 yards this year. The new lengthened layout produced a fairer scoring average of just over the par of 70 in 2011 and put a greater emphasis on driving distance and accuracy, proximity to the hole from the rough went from 39th to 9th most difficult, making total driving a key factor this week. Bearing this in mind and an average winning score of 13 under since the course changes in 2011, I have gone for players with good proximity to the hole and (if possible) putting stats, this should enable low scoring on this relatively easy Par 70 layout.
The weather looks to be generally good for the event with light winds and warm weather, but a chance of thunderstorms in the afternoon of each day.
Brian Stuard – 50/1 Place AND 22/1 Top 10
Has already performed well at low scoring venues this year with Top 5 finishes in the Sony and the Puerto Rico Open, ranks an impressive 10th in proximity to the hole and 56th in strokes gained putting. Should be ideally suited to a low scoring layout, is also an accurate driver so should be firing in from the fairways, which will aid his scoring, very hot putter when in form.
Nicolas Thompson – 25/1 Place AND 14/1 Top 10
Horrible putting this season has prevented him scoring better, although this was not in evidence at the Humana challenge earlier in the season when he finished 6th in a -23 under par total. Really selected because of his encouraging recent form, 3 top 30’s in his last 3 starts suggest he should give us a good run for our money this week, like Stuard he has no real course form, but is an improving player.
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