Links golf, a matchplay format and a pre-determined draw. Paul Krishnamurty says that means ideal trading conditions and recommends a four-man staking plan geared towards building a green book by the semi-final stage...
"Murcar Links looks set to produce an accuracy test, and that should play to the strengths of Bourdy, a great ball-striker with plenty of links form to his name."
It may be a pretty low-key affair compared to the plethora of big tournaments around this time of year, but in many respects the inaugural Paul Lawrie Matchplay has the makings of the ideal betting heat.
First, matchplay always offers significant punting angles, in that some players are much better suited to this format than others, and to some extent strokeplay form can be put to one side. Second, links golf always offers a similar, nuanced theme, strongly favouring those with a positive experience of these specialist conditions.
Third, a pre-determined draw means we can identify which players have the easier routes towards the latter stages, by which time their odds will have tightened up.
Finally, unique to this particular matchplay event, is the very weak field. When 64 players line up at the WGC Matchplay, some sort of case could be made for almost anyone. This one, however, includes dozens of players with no recent form or pedigree in either of those two key categories.
Just like that much bigger event, a great betting plan is to back one player from each quarter of the draw, thus leaving open the dream scenario of bagging all four semi-finalists. Combined, the quartet pay well above 7.06/1 so if just the one reaches the semis, there will be an opportunity to have cover bets if desired.
Back Richie Ramsay 4u @ 21.020/1
Given that weakness amongst the outsiders, the top dozen in the betting look very solid, with favourite Richie Ramsay a perfect case in point. As Steve Rawlings explains, local lad Ramsay will enjoy a big advantage in terms of course knowledge and there are very few in this section with comparable recent or links form credentials.
The only potential opponents of note before the quarter-finals are Edoardo Molinari and Alvaro Quiros (both badly out of form) or Alex Levy, who has lost all six previous matches in either version of the World Matchplay. Indeed, the only other player in the entire section that makes any appeal is potential quarter-final opponent James Morrison.
Back Paul Lawrie 2u @ 36.035/1
Similarly, the other local favourite and tournament host has tremendous trading potential from odds of 36.035/1. Lawrie is not only a course expert and links specialist, but he's often shown a strong liking for this format, whether that be in the Ryder Cup or Volvo World Matchplay.
Again, the number of realistic alternatives is small. The draw is very promising for Joe Dyer's each-way pick Chris Wood and, given longstanding links and wind prowess, he would be my alternative. David Howell has recent form and pedigree, though his first round opponent Daniel Brooks is dangerous.
Back Gregory Bourdy 2u @ 42.041/1
This section is considerably more competitive, and therefore not so straightforward for the likes of Marc Warren and Tyrell Hatton, although both have solid claims. A good argument can be made for Dan Geraghty's each-way pick Peter Uihlein and his stated alternative, Matthew Fitzpatrick.
As Steve points out in his preview, Murcar Links looks set to produce an accuracy test, and that should play to the strengths of Bourdy, a great ball-striker with plenty of links form to his name. First-round opponent Nicolas Colsaerts has a good reputation in this format, but is in poor form, wildly inaccurate off the tee.
Back Scott Jamieson 1.5u @ 60.059/1
The draw has presented a dilemma here, with three very likeable candidates in the same mini-section. Raphael Jacquelin is my pick in our each-way column, for which Kristoffer Broberg was the alternative. Add on-fire Mike Norman's selection Max Kieffer and we've got three big contenders of whom only one can reach the quarter-finals.
Instead, I'm looking at the mini-section that will produce the relevant quarter-final opponent, and it is terrible by comparison. The only two I can make any case for meet in the first round - Jamieson and Thomas Aiken.
Jamieson gets marginal preference on the basis of bigger odds and a slightly superior record on links, twice finishing top-eight in recent Scottish Opens. He also enjoyed this format when reaching the quarter-finals of the 2013 Volvo World Matchplay.