So close, yet so far. I had two horses in contention last week (Bradley Dredge and David Lipsky), but they finished 2nd and 3rd to Thomas Pieters. A good week could have been a great week, but his birdie streak finish propelled Pieters to another victory and a likely Ryder Cup berth. He’s been incredible, and he’s another young gun that the Americans will have to face for the next decade. With that being said, it’s a travesty that Russell Knox isn’t on this team. He’s being punished by silly rules and qualification points, but clearly he’s a world-class player who deserves a spot on Europe’s side. I understand the need for veteran leadership in Kaymer and Westwood, but ultimately, wins will come from good golf. With the exception of Pieters and Stenson, nobody is Europe has played better that Knox over the past month.
This week, we head to Montana. Well, not that Montana, but Crans Montana, Switzerland for the Omega European Masters. Much like our Big Sky state, this gem of a course (Crans-sur-Sierra Golf Club) sits in the mountains and has plenty of postcard-worthy views. The course is a very interesting par-70 layout: it measures only 6,848 yards and features five par-3s and three par-5s. The two par-5s on the back nine sit back-to-back (holes #14 and #15), so you’ll see many birdie streak bonuses in that part of the course. In addition to the short yardage, it plays significantly shorter due to the altitude, so basically anyone in the field can hit the ball over 300 yards off the tee. With that being said, there has been a decent correlation between driving distance and success here, although it’s going to be nearly impossible to predict who will hit it furthest this week and who will club back off the tee. For instance, last year’s top-10 averaged nearly 310 yards off the tee collectively, but most of the names aren’t your typical bombers: Danny Willett, Matt Fitzpatrick, Florian Fritsch, Pelle Edberg, Raphael Jaquelin, Rikard Karlberg, and Robert Dinwiddie. So as usual, I’m going to be targeting birdie makers who are hitting the most greens. The winning score this week should challenge -20, and chances are we will see a couple 61s and 62s out there. I’ll also be looking for value with the pedigree players, because this event has a long history of top-tier winners: Seve Ballesteros, Jose Maria Olazabal, Nick Faldo, Nick Price, Ian Woosnam, Colin Montgomerie, Lee Westwood, Luke Donald, Sergio Garcia, and defending champion Danny Willett headline the list of winners.
- Greens in Regulation
- Driving Accuracy
- Birdie or Better %
- Stroke Average
Let’s take a look at my favorite plays this week:
Danny Willett ($12,400) – Not only is Willett the defending champion, but he finished 5th in 2014 and 2nd in 2012 as well. The class of this field, he’s definitely trying to find some form before the Ryder Cup (his best finish over the past ten weeks is a 37th at The Olympics). Although the form has been bad, Willett still leads the Race to Dubai and is 24th in GIR%, this week’s key stat. The course clearly suits him and I wouldn’t be surprised if Willett walked away with another title this week in Switzerland.
Tyrrell Hatton ($12,200) – Hatton is probably my favorite to win, and I love that his price is so close to Willett’s…that should keep his ownership low. The past two years at the Omega Masters, Hatton has finished 3rd. Recent form is solid, as well: although he missed the cut at the Wyndham by a stroke, he had previously gone 17th, 10th, 5th, and 2nd (in a stretch that included two majors). He won’t make the Ryder Cup this season, but I think we will be seeing him several times in the future.
Matthew Fitzpatrick ($11,400) – Shall we ride the Fitz-coaster once more? He burned me in Denmark with a MC, but I think he was lacking a little motivation after being named to the Ryder Cup team. This week, the masters of all Masters returns to a course where he finished 2nd a year ago with rounds of 69-65-64-66. When he’s on, Fitzpatrick is one of the world’s best GIR% specialists, and this short course should suit him well. Speaking about the mountain and lakeside views in Crans, they’re not too unlike the Nordea Masters, where he won this summer.
The Value Mid-Tier:
Richie Ramsey ($9,200) – Chalk another one up to #TeamCH. Ramsey won the event in 2012, finished 8th in 2014, and was 10th last year. It’s been a bit of an up-and-down year for Ramsey, especially since taking time off when his wife had a baby. The form however, seems to be coming back, with Ramsey making three of his past four cuts on Tour including a 6th, 16th, and 26th. He also had a top-10 finish in the unofficial Paul Lawrie Match Play event, so things are looking good for Ramsey as he comes to a course on which he’s extremely comfortable.
Richard Sterne ($9,000) – Sterne broke a really steady streak of golf with a MC at the Czech Masters, but bounced back to finish inside the top-10 in Denmark. Sterne is a steady veteran who fits the mold I’m targeting this week. He has had some success here at Crans, with a 13th, 41st, and 14th in his last three tries. I really like the price on Sterne this week, and he’s averaging nearly 60 DraftKings points per event.
Tommy Fleetwood ($8,100) – Another boom-or-bust GPP play, Fleetwood falls firmly into #TeamCH. Although he missed the cut last year, he had previously gone 19th, 9th, and 5th in the Omega Masters. It’s been a down year for Fleetwood, especially on the greens, but he’s not made three of his past four cuts including a 16th at the Czech Masters his last time out. What’s especially encouraging is that at the Czech Masters, Fleetwood finished 3rd in Driving Accuracy and 4th in GIR%, two key stats this week.
David Howell ($8,000) – When we’re talking about old man courses, David Howell is one of my favorite targets (and this week’s cover boy). Fairways, greens, and great scrambling skills. It also doesn’t hurt that his form is trending up. He’s made his last four cuts on Tour including at 3rd place finish at the Czech Masters. Howell has also made five of his last six cuts at this event, making him a really safe cash game option.
Alejandro Canizares ($6,900) – Boom-or-bust course history over the past decade, with five MCs matched with 4th, 9th, 11th, and 16th place finishes. The kicker for me is that Canizares has made three of his past four cuts, including an 8th place finish his last time out, and a quarterfinal appearance in the Paul Lawrie Match Play. He’s made 10/15 cuts this season with two top-10s, and has shown plenty of DraftKings scoring upside.
Craig Lee ($6,800) – I’ve written up Lee the past two weeks, so I’ll give him one more backing at a course where he’s had a solid history. He’s made two of his last three cuts at Crans, including a 2nd place finish in 2013 (where he fired a 61 on moving day). Lee’s also had two solid weeks in a row, with a 19th in Prague followed by a 34th in Denmark last week.
Renato Paratore ($6,800) – Paratore has been one of my favorite cash game values all season, and I’m rolling him out again this week. He finished 24th at the Omega Masters last season, and has the recent form trend I always target: his last four finishes are 57th, 32nd, 27th, and 18th. I could definitely see Paratore threatening the top-15 this week at a very fair price.
Pelle Edberg ($6,300) – Edberg is a boom-or-bust GPP only play. He finished 4th here last year, including closing rounds of 66 and 63. He’s made three of his past four cuts on Tour (although with modest finishes), but I’ve been encouraged by his recent play on the Challenge Tour. Edberg is always someone I target at places where he’s had success before, and his 34th in Denmark last week is enough to take a shot.
Graeme Storm ($6,300) – Storm has made eight of ten cuts at this venue, including a 2nd place finish in 2014 and several other top-25 campaigns. He’s made his last three cuts on Tour, and has two recent top-10s to draw upon. I had projected him at close to $7,000 this week, so this price offers tremendous value in all formats.
Edoardo Molinari ($6,100) – The lesser Molinari boasts strong course history and a little flash of his former Ryder Cup form. He’s made five straight cuts at the Omega including a 2nd, a 12th, a 13th, and a 14th place finish. Although it’s been a fight for Molinari all year and he has mostly mediocre finishes, he’s not made seven straight cuts and offers some safety in your cash games.
Brett Rumford ($6,000) – #TeamCH president this week. Rumford is in the midst of a horrible summer, but he comes to a course where he has this record: 13th, 15th, 19th, 65th, 13th, 32nd, 23rd, WIN, 44th, 69th, 56th. Yes, that’s 11 straight cuts (including a win) for $6,000. I won’t go all in because European Tour golf is so volatile, but Rumford is the value this week.
Oliver Wilson ($5,400) – This is just an egregiously low price. Although he’s missed his last two cuts here, his five prior finishes were 5th, 23rd, 5th, 17th, and 23rd. Recently, he’s made his last five cuts on Tour including a solid 26th place finish in Denmark, where he spent much of the weekend inside the top-10.
Good luck this week!