EUROPEAN Tour golf specialist Vince Blissett (@Vince_RFC) moves onto the Czech Republic this week with his D+D Real Czech Masters views.
D+D Real Czech Masters | 31st August – 3rd September 2017 | Sky Sports
Golf has taken a back seat for a little while for me for a few reasons, mainly the start of the football season coming around and generally being busy but I’m back on it now for the final stage of the season.
This week on the European Tour it’s the D+D REAL Czech Masters, which is into its fourth year at the Albatross Golf Resort near Prague. And no, there isn’t a fake tournament too, D+D Real are a local company who are sponsors.
This week sees the start of the qualifying process for next year’s Ryder Cup, so there are early points available to rack up for those teeing up this week. It’s also getting towards the stage of the season where those players further down the Race to Dubai rankings start thinking about needing a good performance or two to secure their cards for next season.
Albatross is a long and exposed course so it’s natural to presume big hitters will prevail. However, we’ve seen more than once already this season very short hitters doing very well on long courses.
SSP Chawrasia winning in India and Siddikur Rahman finishing third at the European Open being examples of that. Indeed, that’s been the case to a slightly lesser degree on this very course.
Last year’s winner Paul Peterson ranked 40th in driving distance but won due to ranking third in Driving Accuracy, first in Greens in Regulation and second in Putting Average. In 2015 big-hitting Thomas Pieters won ranking first DD, 27th DA, 22nd GIR and first PA.
To round things off, it’s only fair to mention Jamie Donaldsons winning stats from the first staging: 23rd DD, 34th DA, second GIR and fourth PA.
From that you can see that although distance helps it isn’t necessarily a requirement. The standout stat is in fact Putting followed by Green in Regulation. Having the flat stick on fire looks to be necessity this week.
There’s only a few years worth of data available but there are a few interesting things to take away from last year’s renewal. Firstly, five of those who finished in the top-10 had finished within the top-20 at one of the first two renewals.
Also, four of those top-10 had had a top-25 finish in the three weeks directly before the tournament. And if you want to increase the boundary slightly, seven of them had a top-35 in the weeks prior. So it looks as though course form and recent form could be of interest.
Matthew Fitzpatrick (16/1 William Hill)
If course form is your thing then you can’t get much better than Thomas Pieters or Matthew Fitzpatrick. Pieters won in 2015 and followed up with a second last year, which means he’s been chalked up as favourite at 8/1 (Ladbrokes).
He’s too inconsistent for my liking though and at that price he’s not for me, although I couldn’t put anyone off it. I much prefer Fitzpatrick at 16/1 (William Hill) with course form of fifth and third.
The youngster from Sheffield has had a mixed season so far having carried good form through from this time last year to the beginning of June before going off the boil in a very busy stretch.
He’s had a break though having not played USPGA and could well be fresh and energised at a course he obviously likes. He doesn’t stand out in any of the limited number of stats the European Tour keep track of but the course form is enough for me.
Haydn Porteous (66/1 Boylesports)
Next up is Haydn Porteous, not to be confused with his namesake Garrick Porteous, at 66/1 (Boylesports).
Haydn is another young South African, of which there seems to be many at the moment. He hasn’t quite been able to transfer his good performances on the Challenge or Sunshine Tours over onto the European Tour but at some point he’ll make a mark and it could be this week.
Last week saw him pick up his best finish yet on the European tour with sixth place. He doesn’t have any course form to speak of but is a big hitter, ranking fourth in DD last week and seventh on Tour this season so it may just suit him.
Marc Warren (100/1 Boylesports)
Marc Warren is someone I’ve always quite liked for some reason but has had a tough year. Prior to last weeks 14th in Denmark, his last eight tournaments read seven missed cuts and a withdrawal (I don’t count matchplays).
That return to form though is significant because one of his three wins on tour came at that same course in 2014, so it’s a place he likes. Time will tell but that could also be the case for the Albatross this week as he finished 11th here last year.
Last week’s performance also saw him rank second in GIR and 13th in DD from out of nowhere, which are big pluses. One other thing to pick up on is, although the Scot has had a terrible year, he still ranks sixth on tour in overall putting so he’s doing something right and worth backing at 100/1 (Boylesports).
Pontus Widegren (175/1 Paddy Power)
Finally, I can’t overlook a nice looking 175/1 (Paddy Power) shot in Pontus Widegren.
He’s been mixing the Euro Tour and Challenge Tour this year and been pretty consistent over both. As has been shown in the last fortnight where a 23rd last week in Denmark followed a 25th on the Challenge Tour at the Viking Classic.
Last week he ranked eighth in putting – a stat in which he’s ranked 29th in over the course of the season (European Tour only). He also ranks highly in GIR over both the season and last week, 23rd and 12th respectively.
D+D REAL Czech Masters – Matthew Fitzpatrick (16/1 each-way William Hill)
D+D REAL Czech Masters – Haydn Porteous (66/1 each-way Boylesports)
D+D REAL Czech Masters – Marc Warren (100/1 each-way Boylesports)
D+D REAL Czech Masters – Pontus Widegren (175/1 each-way Paddy Power)