Wales Open Each-Way Tips: Mikko Can Conquer The Manor

Korhonen Wales
Korhonen can make it three wins in three seasons
Join today
View market

The European Tour stays in Wales this week and Matt Cooper has three each way selections for the action with the Betfair Sportsbook paying seven places...

"He seems to be an excellent example of a golfer for whom the fight to establish himself was not exhausting, but defining."

Back Mikko Korhonen each-way @ 28/1

Main Bet: Mikko Korhonen each-way @ 28/1

For the second time in 2020 punters are faced with the unusual task of trying to unravel a field that is grappling with the same course as the previous week.

When it happened last month on the PGA Tour Muirfield Village was first set up rather straightforwardly for the Workday Charity Open and then transformed into a major championship-style examination for the Memorial Tournament.

Accidentally, the fortnight became an intriguing demonstration of the extent to which conditions determine how a course plays and, consequently, the outcome.

It's an experiment we've not been primed to expect a repeat of when the 2010 course at Celtic Manor hosts for a second time, although the weather looks set to subtly alter the test by producing a different wind direction.

But for the most part we're left wondering if the Celtic Classic form will hold up or if, instead, players will tire of the challenge during the Wales Open.

It is no mere coincidence that the first pick dodges such bullets for the simple reason that Mikko Korhonen didn't play last week.

An apparently unassuming and even diffident character, I've often wondered if his body language is actually deceiving.

He's made 12 visits to Qualifying School, a total he will hope never to add to, and, whilst it suggests some sort of initial fragility, the truth is that in later visits he was actually a very resilient performer there.

In fact, he seems to be an excellent example of a golfer for whom the fight to establish himself was not exhausting, but instead defining - far more so than any guesswork about the way he walks in fact.

This season is on track to be his sixth inside the top 100 in the rankings and he's also pegged a win in both of the last two completed campaigns - a six-shot demolition of the field in the 2018 Shot Clock Masters followed by play-off success at last year's China Open.

Back in 2013 he plotted his way to tied eighth in this tournament, at the time his career-best finish on the European Tour.

He's a much more assured performer these days and has twice threatened to make it three wins in three years this season.

The first occasion was when tied for the 54-hole lead in the Oman Open (he finished tied fourth) and then he was one shot back of Sam Horsfield's third round lead at the Forest of Arden ahead of ending the week tied sixth.

He's not been seen since, but returns for the concluding weeks of the UK Swing and I see no reason why he can't press himself into contention once more in the first of them.

Next Best: Alexander Bjork each-way @ 35/1

In the long run, if and when first tee walk-on tunes are the norm, I dream that Alexander Bjork selects his namesake's hit "It's Oh So Quiet" with perhaps a marshall gently miming the "shoosh" in the direction of the galleries.

In the short run, I'm hoping he maintains the form he discovered after making the cut on the number last week.

His weekend rounds of 66-68 were not the best in the field, but they were mighty competitive with the lowest totals.

Moreover, he needed to make a couple of late birdies on Friday to confirm his participation in all 72 holes and, once he did so, he kicked on.

That suggests he's got his head in a decent spot and further backs up the feeling that the 2018 China Open champion is close to playing his best golf again, something he has often alluded to on Instagram.

He was tied sixth at the Qatar Masters prior to lockdown, went low in practice, made the cut in his first start back and then added tied third in the Hero Open at the Forest of Arden.

As noted last week, winners at Le Golf National have an excellent record on the 2010 track (three men have won at both courses - Alex Noren, Thongchai Jaidee and Graeme McDowell).

Whilst Bjork is not among their number as a winner in Paris, he does have an excellent record at the home of the 2018 Ryder Cup, landing tied third there in 2017 and tied eighth a year later.

Final Bet: Sebastian Soderberg each-way @ 100/1

Quite naturally the books are wary of golfers who thrived last week, but another strategy in solving this week's riddle is to look at those players whose efforts in the Celtic Classic have been somewhat overlooked.

Which leads a path to another Swede - Sebastian Soderberg.

He opened last week with rounds of 66-69-65 to lie in a tie for third on Saturday evening before a final round 71 left him tied for tenth.

I would argue that is a promising week and am quite surprised he's languishing among those rated three figure shots.

Back in 2014, when making his first start in a professional event, he thrashed a 67 in round one of the Nordea Masters to lie third on Thursday evening.

He slipped backwards that week, but a year later he lasted the full 72 holes, landing tied third, and those events were hosted by PGA Sweden National, a modern track not unlike the 2010 course (indeed Noren and Jaidee have won on both tracks).

soderberg640.jpg

It's taken him a little time to come to terms with the pro game, but mostly in terms of consistency rather than his ability to win when given a chance because he's nabbed two titles on the Challenge Tour and another on the third tier Nordic League at Lumine in Spain, home of Q School.

The last time he made a top ten out of nowhere was again on home turf, in last summer's Scandinavian Invitational, but he rode the wave - or perhaps it would be better to say he hit the heights - because he headed the following week to the European Masters in Crans.

There he shot a pair of weekend 66s to make a play-off during which he outlasted Kalle Samooja, Lorenzo Gagli, Andres Romero and, rather more impressively, Rory McIlroy.

I suspect Soderberg has been graded as something of a surprise merchant after last summer's win, but I think he's got more in the tank and he could prove as much this week.

Matt Cooper,

Discover the latest articles

Read past articles