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Scandinavian Masters betting preview
By Ben Coley Last updated: 21st July 2010
American Rickie Fowler looks a good bet to win this week's Nordea Scandinavian Masters in Sweden, says Ben Coley.
The Nordea Scandinavian Masters enjoys a change of sponsor this week and, with that, a change of venue as for the first time the Robert Trent Jones Jr designed Bro Hof Slott hosts a European Tour event.
Regarded as one of the best courses in Europe , let alone Sweden, a tour around Bro Hof's website is enough to take your breath away; make no mistake, this place was made to host big-time golf tournaments and if I could I'd bet the Ryder Cup will be here one day.
So, we know we're in for a spectacle, but can we find the winner?
With no course form to go on, let's hear from course architect 'RTJ2' and see if we can establish what type of player we're after:
"Placement is more important than length, position more important than distance.
"Just hitting the ball in the air isn't enough - it must land in the right place. It is like chess - you have to establish a strategy for every shot or move, in order to be able to take advantage of your strengths.
"The greater your mental preparation, combined with skilled hitting, the greater your chances of mastering the course.
"Everything is big at Bro Hof! The holes are longer, the green are bigger, the course has more water and the bunkers are larger and well-placed. Besides which, the wind is always part of the game.
"On the dog-leg holes you not only have to hit the balls a long way, you also have to get them to stop. Mother Earth must have created this area for a golf course."
You get the picture.
So it seems important we find ourselves a shot-maker, a ball-striker who can think their way around a golf course as well as find the length off the tee to ensure approaches aren't impossible, while length is still a key asset even if not as important as accuracy.
Step forward Rickie Fowler, who might have the reputation of a grip-it-and-rip-it golfer, but the stats tell you otherwise.
Young Rickie currently sits top of the ball-striking stats on the PGA Tour, a stat that combines total driving (11th) and greens in regulation (2nd), while the fact that he's seventh for top-10 finishes and 15th in the FedEx Cup race adds strength to the argument that he's surely not far from his first PGA Tour win.
Of course, he can't get that this week, but what he can do is really announce himself on the world stage with a win in Sweden on our version.
Last week he arrived to play in his first Open Championship and after an opening 79 managed to turn things around and finish in a share of 14th alongside Robert Karlsson and Dustin Johnson, who re-oppose here,.
If we forgive him that opening round, then there's no doubt who impressed the most.
Fowler hit 15 out of 16 fairways in round two on his way to a 67, then made just one bogey during the weekend and that came on the Road Hole.
Impressive stuff then from the 21-year-old Californian and, while in this particular event it's hard to be full of confidence about anyone, he does appeal as the most likely winner if he can carry that momentum forward.
An extra positive is taken from the fact he never threatened to win last week so, unlike Karlsson and DJ, should have spent the weekend enjoying himself instead of overly exerting on the mental front.
Take the 20/1 that's widely available.
There are two interesting angles that I hope can pave the way to finding some other contenders this week.
First is a look at other courses designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr and the two that stand out are Celtic Manor, host of the Wales Open, and Penha Longa, used a week after the Wales Open as the site of the Estoril Open de Portugal.
Interestingly both tournaments were won with very low scores by players who have excellent form in the wind in Graeme McDowell and Thomas Bjorn. Neither tees it up this week but it can pay to search for players with a similar profile as wind looks set to play a big part in Sweden.
With that in mind and despite the fact I'd got him earmarked for the Irish Open next week, I'm going to get involved with Robert Rock.
The Englishman hasn't yet won on the tour - the closest he's come so far is that play-off defeat in last year's Irish Open - but if he can build on recent form that should change soon.
I like the fact he was fourth at Penha Longa and shared the same spot at Celtic Manor too, suggesting he's got a bit of love for RTJ2 designs, and the stats from both weeks bode well for this.
At Celtic Manor, Rock was 10th in driving distance and 19th in driving accuracy, while he also finished sixth in putts per round.
A week later in Portugal he filled the same spot for driving distance, clocked in at 21st for driving accuracy and 14th in putting.Of course you could argue that these stats simply suggest he was in-form rather than represent a love for this type of course and whilst I'd differ, those of that school of thought can gain encouragement from his effort last week where only a second round 78 cost him a realistic chance of winning The Open. Three other rounds in the 60's with greens-in-regulation figures of 17/18, 15/18 and 15/18 for a finish of T7 show what this man can do when on-song and a big performance here appears entirely possible.
Like Fowler he was never really in contention after that 78 and played with a smile all week so should arrive here fresh enough - snap up 33/1.
The second angle worth considering is the record of Scandinavians in this event.
We've seen already this year with Charl Schwartzel's wins in Africa and the victory of Alvaro Quiros in Spain that having the home support behind you can be a big factor and two of the last three winners of this have been from Sweden and Finland, while in 2006 Robert Karlsson lost only after a play-off to Marc Warren.
I'm going to narrow it down even further here and zone in on a Swede and two caught the eye, namely Peter Hedblom and Pelle Edberg.
Picking Edberg over Hedblom wasn't easy, with the latter arriving on the back of a week off following a season's best 4th-placed finish in the Scottish Open and having a tie for 2nd here in 2007 to call upon.
However, Edberg has been in more consistent form all year, highlighted by his second in the Saint-Omer Open at the end of June and a previous fifth in Mallorca.
Statistics help to back that up too as Pelle is fifth in driving distance, something that will serve him well on this lengthy layout, and he can putt too as he's fourth in both putts per round and putts per greens in relation.
Edberg is another tour maiden but that is more than factored into his price and hopefully the man who has seven top-30 finishes from 12 events this year can give us an each-way payout.
The three angles I thought it wouldd pay to look at are hopefully covered then; we've got a ball-striker, a local and a man with form on Robert Trent Jones Jr layouts on side.
So to complete the staking plan I'm going to suggest an investment on one player with form in this event and another who has never played in it.
Firstly it's Raphael Jacquelin who ticks plenty of boxes, especially with his record in the Scandinavian Masters.
Last year at the not-dissimilar Barseback in Malmo he finished in a share of 43rd, not bad considering he opened with a 76 and closed with 78, while in 2008 he finished T8 and in 2006 T5 having missed the event in 2007.
From that we can see he plays well wherever they take this event - indeed in 2008 it was held at Arlandastad not too far from this year's venue - and he arrives in rude health too.
At Loch Lomond a fortnight ago the bearded Frenchman took third, he was 18th in the French Open prior to that and a fortnight earlier finished second in the Saint-Omer Open.
Going back to an earlier angle too, Jacquelin played well at Celtic Manor earlier on this year and it's about time this classic swinger of a golf club got back on the winning trail.
Arriving fresh having narrowly failed to qualify for St. Andrews a bold show can be anticipated.
Last then is James Morrison, who has rather gone off the radar of late following an earlier win in Portugal.
That was the highlight of a run that included four top-six finishes in five starts so he's very much a player to get on while hot and, although it couldn't be said he's bang in-form at present, a tie for 55th at the Scottish Open hinted at a return to form.
A closer inspection of the stats enhances that belief as he was top 10 in putting and 35th in accuracy off the tee, something he'd been struggling with when missing cuts previously, and while he's far from a confident pick and definitely not worth going crazy with my inclination is that he's turning the corner.
We all know that once a player gets on a roll the bookmakers run for cover, but with Morrison I'm hopeful we might just beat them to the punch and there's no way he's a 175/1 shot on early season form.
At that price, he's surely worth a small wager.
2pts each way Rickie Fowler 20/1 (Bet365, Betfred, VC, Boylesport and BlueSq) Fowler ticks all the boxes on what appears to ba a testing course in Sweden.
1pt each way Robert Rock 33/1 (Sportingbet, VC, Paddy Power) Rock's recent form is good and if he can maintain it then he should go close.
0.75pts each way Pelle Edberg 55/1 (Bet365 and Paddy Power) Home support could count for plenty so Edberg is in with a chance.
1pt each way Raphael Jacquelin 33/1 (Skybet, Betfred, Sportingbet, VC and Stan James) Jacquelin has shown good form in the event several times and can do so again.
0.5pts each way James Morrison 175/1 (Bet365, 150/1 general) Not in the best of form, but if Morrison turns up and plays well he can right up there.
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