5 weeks until the Ryder Cup.
As we get closer and closer to one of the greatest sporting events on the planet I find myself getting more and more excited. I cant believe nearly 2 years have already passed since I was at Hazeltine with DB and Pat watching Europe take a bit of a hiding and I cant believe in a little over 5 weeks time I finally get the chance to meet up with them again and for the second time in succession enjoy their company whilst the best from both Europe and the U.S, go head to head in what could be the greatest Ryder Cup ever. Hopefully this time though it will be Spieth missing that 3 footer to keep it going and, it will be me celebrating, leaving those gates on Sunday with a smile that could stretch across the Pond.
Anyway a little more relevant to what's going on this week with the Czech Masters it was exactly a year ago that Qualification scoring for the Ryder Cup started for the European team and this is the penultimate week before the cut off for automatic qualification.
Last week we saw Thorbjorn Olesen jump into that last spot with his 4th place finish in the Nordea Masters, however there may yet still be changes yet to come, with an opportunity for Eddie Pepperell to sneak in with a couple of good results, starting here with a decent placing at the Albatross resort and still yet opportunities for Poulter, RCB and Knox to the same but whilst competing at the Northern Trust.
Of course there are still Wildcard picks to consider and without doubt Eddie will be in mind as will Thomas Pieters who this week is paired with Paul Waring and Ryder Cup Assistant Captain Padraig Harrington.
More interestingly another Assistant Captain in attendance, Lee Westwood has been paired with Danny Willett and tasked with monitoring his performance for Thomas Bjorn. After the performance two years ago and horrific form up until very recently during our stretch of British links courses I never thought he would be close to their considerations, however they must be toying with the concept and I must admit since a change of coach and more importantly change of attitude he has showed promise of returning to winning ways and when playing his very best obviously has something within him of achieving great things. So if you like obscure markets to throw a few bucks at maybe look for Danny Willett as a Wildcard Pick, stranger choices have been made before.
Venue and Course Details.
Venue: Albatross Golf Resort, Prague, Czech Republic.
Course Details: Opened 2010, designed by Keith Preston
Yardage: 7,467 (6,828m)
Par: 72. (traditional layout of 4 par 5's, 4 par 3's and 10 par 4's)
Greens: Bent Grass, running at around 12ft on the stimp reading. Generous in size but pins can be tucked into segments.
Fairways: Cut narrower than what you would get if visiting on a golf break but still generous in width. Gently undulating and very obvious targets to hit.
Rough: Less lush than previous years due to prolonged spells of dry weather that consequently still have Prague in a yellow warning area for forest fires. Playing patchy in places, wispy and not to punishing to play from in most areas.
Alterations: Since last year there have been a few changes to the course, including the introduction of four new lakes, the revamping and redesigning o a handful of bunkers and the relocation of the 18th green bringing it much closer to the lake in hope to bring more drama to the close of the round.
Thoughts Going Into The Event.
Fantastic course on offer that is a big favourite of many regulars on the European Tour and part of the European Tour Properties portfolio.
5th edition of the Czech Masters and one thing that is very obvious... The course suits all types of player. Big hitters have faired well like Pieters and last years winner Porteous, as have your shorter hitters like Pepperell and Kjeldsen.
Par 5 advantage will play into the hand hugely with the long ball specialst, 2 par 5's stretch over 600 yards and only a handful will stand any chance of getting up in 2 on both these holes.
Par 4's play tough, there are a couple of shorter holes early on and even the 6th being potentially reachable, but a good number get close to 500 yards long and are riddled with danger. Stay patient, take the chances when they come but minimise mistakes and keep big numbers off the card if you wanna win... Easy!!!
Par 3's. Only 1 hole that would be considered to be short and I believe it plays 167 yards, the other 3 all play between 195 and 221 yards long.
Rough is down, less punishing than previous years. Spells of rain and thunderstorms due that will keep the course playing much softer than it would of done a few weeks back. Winds are not forecast to get too strong and this exposed layout may need that to change to offer some real protection against the skill sets these player have. This all adds up to lower scoring, more aggressive style of play and hopefully an even more exciting tournament. Especially with those select few trying to catch the eye of Thomas Bjorn and ready to smash up what is normally a tougher challenge.
Big hitters may have a slight advantage this year and where I will certainly lean more towards and I prefer the potential weather condition for the AM wave, especially very early tee times on Thursday for Draftkings and will be looking at a FRL bet here as well.
Simple Keys Stats of Recent Form, Course History, hitting greens and making putts to consider this week.
Thomas Pieters - $11,700
Danny Willett - $10,600
$9,000 - $10,000
Dean Burmester - $10,000
Matt Wallace - $9,900
Scott Hend - $9,200
$8,000 - $9,000
Nacho Elvira - $8,700
Lucas Bjerregaard $8,500
Tom Lewis - $8,400
Haydn Porteous - $8,200
$7,500 - $8,000
Maximilian Kieffer - $8,000
Jazz Janewattananond - $7,800
JC Ritchie - $7,700
$7,000 - $7,500
Nino Bertasio - $7,500
Sabastien Gros - $7,300
Gaganjeet Bhullar - $7,300
Scott Jamieson - $7,200
$7,000 or less
David Lipsky- $7,000
Gavin Green - $6,900
Tapio Pulkkanen - $6,700