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European Masters betting preview
By Ben Coley Last updated: 1st September 2010
Ben Coley previews the Omega European Masters and is tipping Welshman Bradley Dredge to come out on top.
Perched on the side of the Swiss Alps, Crans-sur-Sierre golf club in Switzerland is surely the most picturesque location on the tour so it's no surprise that a host of quality players assemble this week for the Omega European Masters.
This is a tournament steeped in history with a roll of honour that includes Seve Ballesteros, Ernie Els and Sir Nick Faldo, so whoever is crowned champion on Sunday will have put themselves among a prestigious group.
The way to win here is to find your greens. Of the last four winners, two men (Alex Noren in 2009 and Bradley Dredge in 2006) led the field in greens hit, while Jean-Francois Lucquin in 2008 was second in that field. The trend continues right through the past two decades so there's no reason to expect any different this time and, while he'd not be known for hitting his greens season-long, when Dredge comes here the irons find their targets.
Last year the Welshman charged to push Noren close with a closing 65, clocking in at 33rd in the GIR rankings. Two years previously he ranked sixth for greens hit on his way to a solo third and in 2006 came perhaps his finest hour on tour when he romped to an eight-shot success, leading the field in greens hit and putting the opposition into submission.
Quite simply, Bradley Dredge loves it here. His last seven starts on the track have yielded a win, a second, a third, a share of fourth and two other top-20's so the only questions to be answered are is his game in good enough shape to contend and, crucially, do quotes of around 20/1 offer value?
My answer to both is yes.
Seven top-20 finishes and only three missed cuts in 18 events make 2010 a good year for Dredge and a tie for seventh at Gleneagles last week couldn't have come at a better time as he bids to win on tour for the first time since that superb triumph here in 2006. Having putted very well in the Johnnie Walker - he was eighth for both putts per greens hit and putts per round - the 37-year-old need only find more greens to go very close and a return to Switzerland can help him do that.
Along with the bias towards men who rank highly in greens hit is a continuing theme of low scoring at the course. In the last decade only double-digits under-par has been enough to contend and that should continue. Not only does this help strengthen the case in Bradley Dredge, whose tour victories have come in scores of 16-under or better, but it also points towards a bold show from 2007 winner Brett Rumford.
The Aussie very nearly landed Dave John the jackpot at Gleneagles only to find Edoardo Molinari's breathtaking finish snatching victory but he should be spurred on by that and a closing 70 in testing conditions advertised the fact his game is in fine order. That's backed up by a look through his recent results, with three top-10s in his last four starts, and as we know he loves it here the case for him is clearly strong.
The trouble is, we got 25/1 a place last week but now have to take similar prices for the win, so there might be some mileage in getting him on side in another manner by backing him to lead after the first round.
Rumford has often shown that he's a quick starter and rarely more so than when he comes here, particularly in the last few years. In 2009, he led with an outstanding opening 62 while a year prior to that he shot 67 to tie for third after day one. Rumford can also call upon a 64 in 2006 as well as that 2007 triumph and it'll be disappointing if he doesn't continue where he left off last week. In my mind he's more likely to lead after day one than he is to win the event, yet we can have 40/1 about the former.
Back to finding the winner, how about the evergreen Miguel Angel Jimenez? The Spaniard is in the middle of a stellar season having just sealed his Ryder Cup spot with another fine effort at Gleneagles on the back of a similar one at the Czech Open and history suggests he'll go close here.
Jimenez has played this event for the last 21 years, with eight top-10 finishes, four of them being inside the top-5, and two of those have come in the last two seasons. It's true he doesn't fit the bill in terms of a fairways and greens golfer but when you've got a short game like Miguel's that doesn't matter and he'll be desperate to win at the course.
It's asking a lot for Edoardo Molinari to win two weeks on the spin and he's got limited experience of the course, Charl Schwartzel is a better golfer than when sixth here a year ago but his best efforts have come right on the back of a good week so the break is a negative while Louis Oosthuizen is priced up on his Open win rather than exploits here, so Jimenez looks the nearest thing to a top-5 banker on show this week.
Next to a couple of men who could surprise, firstly Philip Archer.
Here's a man who has missed the cut the on his last two visits to the course but it's interesting that those efforts came on the back of a missed cut the week before; his game clearly wasn't in good shape. In contrast, he lost in a play-off here in 2007 having finished inside the top-30 a week before and grabbed a T12 in '06 on the back of another solid display.
So the key to this week's chance is to look at last week's effort.
Archer finished in a share of 10th at Gleneagles for a season's best performance, including a share of ninth for that all-important greens in regulation stat. All of this adds up to a fair each-way case and I don't think the bookmakers have quite cottoned on in pricing him up at such big odds, so a small bet looks the way to go.
Lastly a chance is given to Felipe Aguilar, a talented South American who in five starts here has made four cuts, with last year's T14 a personal best. He finished in a share of 26th at Gleneagles and that would've been a top-10 had he not toiled in the Sunday wind but even more interesting is the fact he led the field in greens hit. Add that to his three wins on the Challenge Tour coming in scores 17-under or better and this week's venue could be perfect for him; at the price I think we should pay to find out.
2pts e.w. Bradley Dredge at 22/1 (totesport 1/4 1,2,3,4,5). Past champion with a fantastic record and the only thing lacking this year is a win.
2pts e.w. Miguel-Angel Jimenez at 18/1 (Betfred, Stan James 1/4 1,2,3,4,5). Dual 2010 winner who arrives in form and knows this course better than any.
0.5pts e.w. Philip Archer at 200/1 (totesport 1/4 1,2,3,4,5). Tends to put big performances together and lost a play-off here in '07.
0.5pts each way Felipe Aguilar at 200/1 (Betfred, totesport 1/4 1,2,3,4,5). At his best when the birdies are flying in and led the field in greens hit last week.
1pt Brett Rumford to be first round leader at 40/1 (Victor Chandler, Stan James 1/4 1,2,3,4,5). Shot 62 to lead this last year and is on top of his game at present.
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