It was a pretty successful week at the Nordea Masters (which could have been extremely successful if not for the Thomas Pieters WD on Thursday). Matthew Fitzpatrick notched his second career win and showed some of the promise that he has. We’ve seen him a few times over in the U.S. this year – most notably his top-10 finish at the Masters – and he’s definitely going to be a Ryder Cup stalwart for Europe starting this season. A lot of our top picks made some waves, including Nicolas Colsaerts, Romain Wattel, and Lee Westwood. Let’s try to have as much success this week, at the Lyoness Open.
This event is not nearly as attractive as the past two we’ve seen on the European Tour, and the strength of field suffers dramatically. It’s going to be a stars and scrubs week for sure, because a handful of players are in a different class than the rest of the field. This week, the venue is Diamond Country Club, about an hour outside of Vienna, Austria. The course is challenging in all aspects of players’ golf games: it features four par 5s (two reachable, two most likely not reachable), four par 3s (including the finishing hole), a couple of island greens, and tons of water hazards throughout the course. Although some bombers have had strong finishes here, accuracy is definitely at a premium.
For this week, I’m going to focus on players in good current form and those who have played well here in the past. This is the seventh straight year at the same venue, so you can look back at course history since 2010. European Tour stats are notoriously unreliable, but from the digging I’ve done, here are the key stats of the week:
- Driving accuracy
- Stroke average
- Greens in regulation
And now on to the picks! After a solid week of picks last week, let’s try to keep things rolling. Balancing course history, current form, and the above mentioned key stats, here are the plays I love in a stars and scrubs week:
Joost Luiten ($11,900) – Although Luiten’s form is a bit shaky this month, his course history is elite. In three tries at this course, he’s gone 3rd-1st-3rd. He also ranks 1st in my statistical model this week: He’s 5th in scoring average, 14th in GIR %, and ranks 37th in driving accuracy. THE JOOST IS LOOSE! Luiten is my pick to win this week.
Bernd Wiesberger ($11,600) – This is the Austrian’s home event, and you know he will be motivated after MC here last year and losing in a playoff in 2014. With that being said, Wiesberger is a former champion here who checks the statistical boxes in scrambling, GIR %, and stroke average. He’s a little wayward off the tee sometimes, but again, I’m going to overlook that due to his elite course history.
Gregory Bourdy ($10,600) – Along with Joost Luiten, I think Bourdy is my favorite play this week and will make every cash lineup. He’s 22nd in driving accuracy, 24th in stroke average, and above average in GIR % and scrambling. Bourdy has made his last seven cuts on Tour, finished 6th and 8th in his last two appearances here, and recently was the medalist in a U.S. Open qualifying event.
James Morrison ($10,000) – Morrison is a bit of a gut play here. Although his stats are OK, nothing jumps off the page. Course history wise, he’s finished 32nd and MC in his two appearances. But in a weaker field event, young, up-and-coming players like James Morrison tend to have great showings. He will likely be the 5th or 6th highest ranked player in this field, which is a testament to the weakness of the overall tournament.
Richard Bland ($9,600) – Bland is another staple of most of my lineups this week. He’s 15th in stroke average, 47th in GIR%, and above average in accuracy off-the-tee. He’s made his last six cuts on Tour and has never missed a cut in five tries at this event.
The Value Mid-Tier:
Lucas Bjerregaard ($9,400) – A fun name to say, but a good player as well. Bjerregaard had a sneaky top-20 last week at the Nordea Masters after starting poorly. He ranks 32nd in GIR % but is a bit wayward off the tee. But he’s another up-and-coming young Danish player who should perform well in a weak field
Lee Slattery ($9,000) – Slattery is my sneaky play of the week, and he should be fairly low-owned that this increased price. He ranks 29th in driving accuracy and 33rd in GIR % this season. He’s also made all four cuts at this event, including 9th and 4th place finishes.
Callum Shinkwin ($8,700) – Very similar to James Morrison. 40th in driving accuracy, 59th in GIR%, and has made his last five cuts on Tour (with some high finishes). Look for him to be inspired by Matthew Fitzpatrick’s win.
Johan Carlsson ($8,200) – Carlsson is a pure value play. Based on odds, Carlsson should be the 7th highest priced player in the field, so there’s a major discrepancy here. The Swede has made four of his last five cuts (although there aren’t many high finishes), but ranks fairly highly in scoring average and scrambling this season.
Dylan Fritelli ($7,500) – Fritelli is another one of my sleeper picks of the week. He’s 21st in driving accuracy, and ranks above average in scrambling, GIR %, and scoring average this year. He’s been playing really well on the smaller tours this season, but look for him to make a mark in this weaker field event.
Gut Punt Plays:
Chris Hanson ($7,200) – Hanson recently tweeted a snapshot of his world ranking, explaining that this is the highest he’s ever been. That’s got to be good for his confidence. He’s made his last four cuts on Tour, including a 4th and a 5th place finish. A solid value option this week.
Tjaart van der Walt ($6,800) – He ranks 8th in driving accuracy, which is exactly what we want this week. Also, van der Walt is 3/3 in cuts at this event, never finishing worse than 32nd. He’s coming off a 10th place finish at the Nordea Masters, which should be good for his confidence.
David Lipsky ($6,800) – We needed a token American in this article. He’s made 9 of 13 cuts on Tour this year with three top-10 finishes. He checks most of the statistical boxes this week, ranking 15th in my model. For this price tag, Lipsky is a pretty safe bet to make the cut and threaten the top-20.
Mikael Lundberg ($6,600) – Lundberg is a course horse here, making four straight cuts including a victory in 2014. He MC last week in Sweden but played well enough to qualify for the U.S. Open recently. Not the most accurate player, but he ranks 21st in scrambling and 31st in stroke average this season. A solid value play.
Terry Pilkadaris ($6,100) – Our deep sleeper of the week is the Aussie, Terry Pilkadaris. He hasn’t played many events on Tour this year, but he does have three top-22 finishes, including a 7th a few weeks ago. But statistically, he ranks 17th in driving accuracy and 19th in scrambling, two of my keys this week. The low price tag allows you to pay up for Luiten or Wiesberger pretty easily.
Good luck this week!