Austrian Golf Open Each-Way Tips: Bjork's Diamond opportunity

Alexander Bjork
Bjork finished T15th in his only previous course start.

The European Tour returns to the Diamond Country Club near Vienna this week for the Austrian Golf Open and Matt Cooper has three each-way selections with the Betfair Sportsbook paying seven places...

"In addition to great form on courses with similar characteristics, the Swede also finished a promising T15th on this week's actual layout in 2017."

Alexander Bjork each-way @ 41.040/1

Main Bet: Alexander Bjork each-way @ 40/1

A near-miss for the column last week as Justin Rose, Marc Leishman and Xander Schauffele all carried hopes into the final lap. None could pass the wonderful Hideki Matsuyama, but all placed and on we go, like a wealthy gentleman from the 1970s trying to woo a lady, from roses to diamonds.

Inspiration for this week's selections requires us to head four years back on the calendar, not to Central Europe, but to the Far East, and a two-week period shortly before the European Tour's visit to the Lyoness Open at this week's venue - the Diamond Country Club.

The circuit ventured to China in late April (how quaint that notion seems these days), for the Shenzhen International at Genzon GC and the China Open at Topwin CC.

Just a typical few weeks on the international schedule, you might imagine, but the two leaderboards that fortnight were almost comically crammed with Diamond CC course specialists.

Bernd Wiesberger (a Diamond winner) finished first and fourth, Chris Wood (ditto) landed a fourth, Joost Luiten (ditto) was T29th and T31st, Dylan Frittelli (who would become a Diamond winner just weeks later) was fifth and second, Gregory Bourdy (who should have won at Diamond) landed a third.

Tommy Fleetwood, Pablo Larrazabal and Alex Levy all made top 10s that spring in China - and have also done so at Diamond. Ashun Wu (another Diamond winner) didn't do that well in 2017, but he's had top 10s at both Genzon and Topwin.

Is it mere coincidence? Possibly, but all three tracks are modern designs that utilise similar green, fairway and bunker shaping so I'm happy to ride with it.

First pick Alexander Bjork finished T14th at Genzon in 2017 and backed up his fondness for the place with T19th two years later, but most importantly in-between he claimed a first European Tour title at Topwin in 2018.

He's also finished third and eighth in the Open de France at Le Golf National, another course where Diamond specialists have enjoyed themselves, and he carded a pair of 65s at The Dutch in 2017 - yet another track the Diamond gang have prospered at (Luiten and Wu winning there, Wood and Wiesberger landing seconds).

In addition to great form on courses with similar characteristics, the Swede also finished a promising T15th on this week's actual layout in 2017 with solid stats when only a second round 74 held him back.

In recent times he's been looking for his putter to warm up. His last 14 starts have been solid enough with half of them reaping top 40s finishes.

He's frequently ranked better than those finishes in Greens in Regulation so it's nice to note that last time out in Qatar he ranked first for Putting Average.

Final thought? The weather looks cold and wet this week. If that comes to pass, it reminds me of Walton Heath for the British Masters a few years ago when Bjork finished second.

He came very close to landing a win in Austria on the Challenge Tour in 2015, sharing the 54-hole lead on his way to fifth, and it's well within him to seal the deal this week.

Next Best: John Catlin each-way @ 50/1

I've been waiting for American John Catlin to show signs of having shrugged off his post-European Tour breakthrough and, although it was hardly spectacular, I rather like that it was a little hidden.

His golden period came late last summer when he won at Valderrama, was eighth at Dom Pedro and then won again at Galgorm Castle.

It was a sensational stretch of golf and not entirely surprising that he found it a little hard to live up to: in his next six starts the only cut he didn't miss was one he couldn't (at the DP World Tour Championship).

But he finally played four rounds again at the Qatar Masters, a first step on the road to recovery, and then, after a sluggish start in the Kenya Open (a round one 71 for T79th) he went 69-69-65 for T28th whilst ranking second for Greens in Regulation.

A missed cut followed, but I'm taking this as a case of two steps forward and one step back.

John Catlin swinging.jpg

Unusually for this relative novice on the European Tour, he has course experience, too, and it's good: he opened up the post-lockdown period with tied eighth here last July, improving his position on the leaderboard with every lap.

What's more he also enjoyed Genzon back in 2019, but the effort is another that is a little disguised.

His T19th looks good enough, but having opened with a 66 to lie one shot off the lead he stumbled with a second round 76 and nearly missed the cut before weekend rounds of 68-67 righted the ship.

Final Bet: Ross Fisher each-way @ 66/1

Time to head back to 2017 and to peer at the names of those golfers who landed a top 10 in both events.

One of them is yet to be tested here at Diamond Country Club, so the fact that Ross Fisher was tied third at Genzon and then tied sixth at Topwin gets his name pencilled in.

His form is poor - he's not made a top 50 in four starts this season - but he was tied seventh up against the last field he played in that was remotely like this one, in the pre-Christmas Golf in Dubai Championship.

He's not been seen since an early departure in the Qatar Masters and that, like many this week, could mean anything - at the very least he's had plenty of time to work on his game.

Can he emulate last year's winner Marc Warren? They've had similar careers - plenty of wins, some biggish near-misses, and a lot of so-so efforts in-between.

The Scot bounced back with a win here last July and Fisher does have it in him to do something along the same lines at his best.

MATT'S 2021 P/L
Staked: 46pts
Returned: 41pts
P/L: -5pts

2020 P/L: -32pts

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