The European Tour returns to London GC this week for the Cazoo Classic and Matt Cooper has three each-way selections with the Betfair Sportsbook paying seven places...
"He’s hitting lots of greens in regulation at the moment, an obvious tick given the importance of approaches on Nicklaus designs."
Main Bet: Richie Ramsay 1pt each-way @ 40/1
The London Golf Club, host of this week's Cazoo Classic, was the scene of one of my favourite punting yarns.
The event was the 2009 European Open and on the Wednesday afternoon I went for a saunter, finding myself behind the tenth tee where I watched a golfer duck hook his tee shot into the water and then slice a reload into knee-high grass.
He was soon joined on the tee by Felipe Aguilar who followed a greeting by asking, "What do you make of the course?" The golfer shook his head, pulled a face and explained that he'd be dropping a ball in the fairway.
I hung around and watched him duff that effort whereupon I left him to his struggles, but a couple of hours later I spotted the same golfer, this time on the range, where he was still hitting all sorts of frankly terrible shots.
"Who do you fancy?" someone asked me soon afterwards. "Not Christian Cevaer," I replied, revealing the identity of the wayward player.
Four days later the Frenchman was lifting the trophy.
It was an outlandish week. Earlier the same day I'd interviewed Johan Edfors and he told me he was a massive Muhammad Ali fan just as an old man walked past.
I nodded at him, noting the stooped physique and creaking bones. "He put Ali on his bottom," I said. Edfors did a double-take. "'Enry's Hammer," I added.
Even when I explained who Henry Cooper was, the Swede was none the wiser. It made as much sense to him as the notion of diddy-hitting Cevaer taking down Alvaro Quiros on a course where he couldn't reach the par-4 16th in two blows even when he did hit the ball straight.
It gets odder.
A couple of years ago I bumped into Cevaer and asked him about his sensational turnaround. He laughed and said: "It was even worse than you think! I was suffering from Irritable Bowel Syndrome, mystery dizzy spells and tendonitis, but I had good news that Wednesday about a dispute with lawyers. I remember thinking 'Just enjoy yourself' and I did. Totally crazy."
The moral of the story? Apart from reiterating what an utterly fraught and ticklish business winning in golf is, I'm really not sure, so let's crack on with this week.
The course is a Jack Nicklaus design and I'm a fan of following golfers on his tracks who are confirmed fans of his design principles.
Indeed, 11 years ago, it was a thread of thought that reaped plenty of reward if you regularly backed Soren Hansen whose control of distance on his approach shots was made for Golden Bear creations.
In fact, in 2007, 2008 and 2009 the Dane played nine times on such courses and never ended a week outside the top 10 (winning once).
There's no-one in this week's field quite so dominant but there is a link of sorts because the winner of the last event in that run was Scotland's Richie Ramsay, at Pearl Valley in South Africa.
He's also a two-time top 10 finisher on the Nicklaus course at Gleneagles, finished T18th here in his only start in 2009 (when T112th after 18 holes), and my interest is also piqued by his tied fourth at Mount Juliet at the start of last month.
He's backed that result up with three top 30 finishes since and he's hitting lots of greens in regulation at the moment, an obvious tick given the importance of approaches on Nicklaus designs.
"It's more Race to Dubai points on the board," he said after logging T15th at the Scottish Open, adding: "It's been a significant jump in the last two weeks, which is exactly what I needed."
I sense he's got the bit between his teeth and, on a test that suits, he can maintain that run in style.
Next Best: Andy Sullivan 1pt each-way @ 20/1
Early on in his career I'm not entirely sure that Andy Sullivan quite got to grips with Nicklaus challenges, but the more established version of the Englishman seems to enjoy them.
The most recent example was the Irish Open at Mount Juliet when he was T12th and last summer he won the English Championship at Hanbury Manor.
We then have to spin back to 2018 when he was tied ninth at Gut Larchenhof and two years earlier he was T21st at the same venue.
Before that he landed T13th at Muirfield Village and T26th at PGA National on the other side of the Atlantic, both in high grade fields.
That's a decent trot of form and he's not the second favourite for nothing - his one year scoring average backs it up. I'm keen to have him on-side.
Final bet: Jamie Donaldson 1pt each-way @ 66/1
Three men have claimed success on this week's course at European Tour level, Ross Fisher and Mikko Ilonen joining Cevaer on the honours board.
If you consider that trio, two courses really leap out.
The first is Bro Hoff Slot where Ilonen finished first and tied third, while Fisher landed tied sixth, tied eighth and second (Quiros has also contended there).
Then there is another Swedish track, Arlandastad, where Ilonen again won while Cevaer has been second and T20th.
When I came up with this I got a bit excited because Rikard Karlberg has an excellent Bro Hoff Slot logbook and thrived at Mount Juliet.
Alas, he has better things to do this week so, instead, I'll add Welshman Jamie Donaldson.
His four visits to Bro Hoff Slot have reaped tied eighth, T10th, T22nd and T11th, while his he was tied eighth the only time he headed to Arlandastad.
I'd not be keen to take this evidence on its own, but he finished T10th at London GC in the 2008 European Open and T32nd a year later, when contending after 36 and 54 holes.
He's also got Nicklaus design form in the record book: tied fifth at Gut Larchenhof, tied sixth at PGA National, a pair of top sixes at Gleneagles, T14th behind Sullivan at Hanbury Manor last summer.
Last week he recorded his best Strokes Gained Approach numbers since the spring and that's perfect timing for this second shot test.
MATT'S 2021 P/L
2020 P/L: -32pts
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