Double Delight: European stalwarts can go well either side of the pond

Lee Westwood and Miguel Angel Jimenez can go well this week
Lee Westwood and Miguel Angel Jimenez can go well this week

Mike Norman fancies a mixture of veterans and in-form players on both the European and PGA Tours this week as his serch for the ultimate big-money double continues...

12 x 1pt E/W Doubles

Jimenez @ 10.09/1
Karlberg @ 34.033/1
Stal @ 71.070/1

X

Westwood @ 21.020/1
Palmer @ 23.022/1
Jacobson @ 51.050/1
Guthrie @ 101.0100/1


Lyoness Open (¼ odds, 5 places)

Back Miguel Angel Jimenez @ 10.09/1
Back Rikard Karlberg @ 34.033/1
Back Gary Stal @ 71.070/1

With the second Major of the season, the US Open, on the horizon there's perhaps understandably a weak-looking field assembled in Austria for this week's European Tour event - the Lyoness Open.

While agreeing that the three players at the head of the market deserve to be there I'm a little surprised to see Miguel Angel Jimenez (10.09/1) at a bigger price than the winners of the last two renewals of this tournament, Joost Luiten (6.05/1) and Bernd Wiesberger (8.515/2).

Admittedly, odds of 9/1 about the Spanish veteran hardly jump off the screen but I feel that of the three market leaders he is the one most likely to perform to his usual level of performance.

Following an excellent fourth place finish at the US Masters Jimenez then recorded back-to-back wins, first winning on his Champions Tour debut, and then finally getting his hands on his home title, the Open de Espana last month. Despite a decent start in Sweden last week he put in one of his worst performances of the season to eventually finish 70th, but that's a performance I find quite easy to forgive.

It was a new venue in Sweden, and while every player was in the same boat you sense that Jimenez needs a few looks around a course before he shows his best form. He has finished top-20 in each of his last three visits to Diamond Country Club and it's easy to see him improving on those performances given his current form.

I was close to making Jimenez my sole selection here but I really haven't had much luck this season when banking on one or two fancied players so I'm also including Rikard Karlberg (34.033/1) and Gary Stal (71.070/1).

Apart from the likes of Luiten and Jimenez there aren't many players in this week's field who have shown a consistent level of form over the last month or so as much as Karlberg has.

The 27-year-old has finished fifth, 11th, and 15th on his last three starts on Tour and also has some decent course form to his name courtesy of a fourth-place finish here in 2012. He is steadily improving each year at this level and is set for his best season yet - a purse of at least €50k will confirm that improvement so fingers crossed he earns it this week by finishing in at least a place.

You can never be too confident about a big-price selection but in Stal's case I have a hunch that he can go really well in Austria this week.

The young Frenchman has been in decent form of late, making the cut in each of his last eight starts on Tour without really threatening to win, however, his respectable finish in the BMW PGA International is perhaps better than it first looks given he shot a final round 77 at Wentworth.

Stal won twice on the Challenge Tour in 2012 (once in Austria) so we know he can get across the line, and perhaps significantly those wins both came at this time of the year. He ranks ninth on the Tour's Greens in Regulation stats which puts him amongst the leading players in that attribute amongst this week's field so it's highly encouraging that GIR has been a key stat at this venue in the last four years.

And it's always comforting when you find out after you've arrived at your selection that the brilliant Steve 'The Punter' Rawlings agrees.


St Jude Classic (¼ odds, 5 places)

Back Lee Westwood @ 21.020/1
Back Ryan Palmer @ 23.022/1
Back Freddie Jacobson @ 51.050/1
Back Luke Guthrie @ 101.0100/1

I'm a fan of golfers playing a tournament a week before a Major; their game should be at its peak and the competitive juices ought to be flowing.

The chances of Lee Westwood ever winning a Major are quickly deteriorating though he will definitely arrive at Pinehurst next week in better form than he turned up at Augusta six weeks ago - his best finish in 2014 prior to the US Masters being a tie for 17th at the Shell Houston Open.

Westwood found a bit of the old sparkle around a venue he clearly enjoys playing when finishing seventh at Augusta and he has since gone on to win the Malaysian Open on the European Tour before recording another high finish (sixth) at the Players Championship last month.

Although he was slightly disappointing at the BMW PGA International a fortnight ago (he definitely caught the worst of the weather) I can see him going well back in the States at a venue where he has won at and finished 11th on his last two visits.

Odds of 21.020/1 might be a little short, but when you consider that Phil Mickelson - who has yet to record a top-10 finish all season on the PGA Tour - is even shorter then Westwood's odds start to appeal.

Ryan Palmer (23.022/1) is bound to be a popular selection this week given that he appears to love playing TPC Southwind, finishing in a tie for third here in 2012 before coming back a year later to finish fourth. He started 2014 with a top-10 finish at the Sony Open and has since recorded a further four top-10 finishes including two seconds and a top-five at Colonial last time.

Recent form and course form are always a great combination (though often reflected in price) so look no further than Palmer if that's what you are after this week.

There's nothing more annoying in golf than backing someone regularly at big odds only to see them win or place when your money isn't down, and that's what has happened to me with Freddie Jacobson (51.050/1. Three times in the last few months he's been a selection though I failed to back him at triple-figures odds a fortnight ago when he placed at Colonial. I think they call it Sod's Law.

Six times Jacobson has finished in the top-12 this season, nine times in the top-20, so he's more often than not there or thereabouts. He ranks highly on the PGA Tour for Strokes Gained Putting and Total Putting so if he can have a good week with his irons then I can see him going close once more.

My final selection is a man who should be full of confidence after the incredible last four days he has just had.

Luke Guthrie (101.0100/1) commenced his Memorial bid with a disappointng 75, but Friday, Saturday, and Sunday yielded rounds of 69, 66, and 70 to help him finish in the top 10 before going on to book his place at Pinehurst next week in Monday's US Open qualifying.

That top-10 finish at Muirfield Village last week came out of nowhere, so the fact that he was able to continue that form a day later, and the fact that he finished top-20 here on his first look at the venue in 2012, augurs extremely well for a 100/1 shot.


12 x 1pt E/W Doubles

Jimenez, Karlberg, Stal (Lyoness Open)

X

Westwood, Palmer, Jacobson, Guthrie (St Jude Classic)


*Each-way doubles are settled on a win-to-win place-to-place basis using Betfair's Sportsbook product and therefore any winnings are exempt from commission


You can follow me on Twitter - @MikkyMo73


Season P/L

E/W Doubles
Wagered: 238pts
Returned: 184.75pts
P/L: - 53.25pts

Win Singles (1pt win each selection)
Wagered: 83pts
Returned: 120pts
P/L: + 37pts

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