World Cup Of Golf: Irish can make mark in Melbourne

Shane Lowry and Graeme McDowell can thrive this week
Shane Lowry and Graeme McDowell can thrive this week

Dave Tindall brings us his analysis and tips for the World Cup Of Golf at Kingston Heath in Australia...

"Both Graeme McDowell and Shane Lowry have winning records when playing under a team (foursomes/fourballs) format and G-Mac even has course form."

Main Bet: Back Ireland @ 15.014/1

I'm a fan of coming up with systems that try and make sense of chaos and it seems fair to adopt such an approach in this week's World Cup of Golf.

There's an awful lot of guesswork involved in this event and even more so when most of this field are seeing the course - Kingston Heath in Australia - for the first time.

One method could be just to add up the two teams' respective world rankings in which case American pair Rickie Fowler (12) and Jimmy Walker (19) with a combined tally of just 31 would win easily. Hosts Australia - Adam Scott (7) and Marc Leishman (53) - are next best with 60.

However, the saying that you're only as good as your weakest link could have resonance this week.

First, the cream tends to rise to the top on quality layouts and Kingston Heath was recently ranked the 18th best course in the world by Golf Digest.

Second, the format looks designed to expose the weaker players.

It's two rounds of alternate shot foursomes (Thursday and Saturday) and two rounds of better-ball fourball (Friday and Sunday).

The star name may be able to carry their teammate in fourballs but that won't be the case in foursomes. It's easy to see World No. 46 Bernd Wiesberger getting somewhat frustrated in rounds one and three when he plays the same ball as 1,315th ranked Martin Wiegele.

Therefore, it's worth looking at what number the lowest ranked member of each team sits. There are nine teams with both men in the world's top 100 so, in order, here are the rankings of the 'weaker' player along with their team's Sportsbook price:

Best lowest ranked player

19 Jimmy Walker (USA), 9/1
40 Andy Sullivan (England), 12/1
53 Marc Leishman (Australia), 5/1
56 K.T. Kim (South Korea), 16/1
65 David Lingmerth (Sweden), 12/1
70 Thorbjorn Olesen (Denmark), 20/1
75 Kiradech Aphibarnrat (Thailand), 20/1
81 Graeme McDowell (Ireland), 14/1
99 Ryo Ishikawa (Japan), 8/1

It's hardly earth-shattering but I'm prepared to say that the winner comes from one of the above teams.


Team Match Play record

The next filter is to look at the match play records of the nine nations listed above when their players have gone into battle with a partner. This is taken from fourballs, foursomes and greensomes performances in Ryder Cup, Presidents Cup, Seve Trophy, Royal Trophy and EurAsia Trophy.

USA - Jimmy Walker (W2 L4 H3) & Rickie Fowler (W2 L5 H4)
England - Chris Wood (W7 L4) & Andy Sullivan (W2 L1)
Australia - Adam Scott (W9 L14 H5) & Marc Leishman (W1 L5 H1)
South Korea - K.T. Kim (W4 L5 H2) & Byeong-Hun An (W1 L1)
Sweden - Alex Noren (W3 L2 H1) & David Lingmerth (N/A)
Denmark - Soren Kjeldsen (W0 L4 H3) & Thorbjorn Olesen (W3 L4)
Thailand - Thongchai Jaidee (W8 L8 H2) & Kiradech Aphibarnrat (W3 L3 H2)
Ireland - Shane Lowry (W2 L0) & Graeme McDowell (W13 L6 H3)
Japan - Hideki Matsuyama (W2 L3 H2) & Ryo Ishikawa (W8 L8 D1)

It's surprising how few players have winning records. There are just five and, interestingly, four of those are split between two teams. English pair Chris Wood and Andy Sullivan have excelled in the format (Wood won alongside another compatriot, Justin Rose, in his only non-singles match at the last Ryder Cup) while Irish duo Shane Lowry and Graeme McDowell also possess strong winning records. The only other player above 50% is Sweden's Alex Noren.


Course form

Only a handful of players have seen Kingston Heath. Bernd Wiesberger was 14th in the 2009 Aussie Masters there but I've already ruled out Austria due to his poorly-ranked playing partner. Again the focus is on the teams with both players in the top 100.

Australia - Adam Scott (3rd 2013, 1st 2012, 6th 2009, 13th 2000), Marc Leishman (57th 2009)
Ireland - Graeme McDowell (8th 2012)


Australia form

General form in Australia is worth considering given that plenty of courses have similar traits.

USA - Jimmy Walker (22nd 2007, 8th 2004) & Rickie Fowler (2nd 2013, 14th 2011)
England - Chris Wood (32nd 2013, MC 2011) & Andy Sullivan (MC 2012)
Australia - Adam Scott (Last 10 - 14-2-5-2-5-2-2-3-1-1) & Marc Leishman (MC-11-7-11-8-42-6-MC-14-17)
South Korea - K.T. Kim (6th 2011) & Byeong-Hun An (N/A)
Sweden - Alex Noren (31st 2009, 4th 2008, 30th 2007) & David Lingmerth (9th 2015)
Denmark - Soren Kjeldsen (48th 2014, 43rd 2013, 21st 2006) & Thorbjorn Olesen (MC 2016, 1st 2014, 25th 2013)
Thailand - Thongchai Jaidee (10th 2002) & Kiradech Aphibarnrat (5th 2013)
Ireland - Shane Lowry (44th 2013) & Graeme McDowell (15th 2013, 8th 2012, 21st 2005)
Japan - Hideki Matsuyama (N/A) & Ryo Ishikawa (5th 2013)


Conclusion

Australia will be hard to beat but will Adam Scott's putting be vulnerable in foursomes?

That format may also shine a light on out-of-form Jimmy Walker so I'll swerve the USA too.

Ireland seem to have a bit of everything going for them so at 14/1 they are my main tip.

They have two players in the world's top 100, both Graeme McDowell and Shane Lowry have winning records when playing under a team (foursomes/fourballs) format and G-Mac even has course form.

The Northern Irishman finished 65-65-68 to finish T24 in the OHL Classic last time and made the top four in the British Masters two starts before that.

Lowry shot a pair of weekend 69s to crack the top 20 in last week's DP World Tour Championship and both men hit the ball straight so will keep it in play for each other from the tee when they use just one ball.

I'll also play Sweden at 12/1.

Alex Noren is coming off a four-win season, boasts a winning record in team match play and has some positive memories of the country to draw upon having finished fourth in the 2008 Aussie Masters.

Partner David Lingmerth has some even more recent location form via a top 10 in last year's Australian PGA Championship.

He also played nicely to finish T13 in the Nedbank Golf Challenge two weeks ago (a tournament Noren won) so the Swedes (Nos. 9 and 65 in the world) look to have a decent chance of emulating Henrik Stenson and Robert Karlsson, who won this event in China in 2008.

I'm tempted to add in England given that Sullivan and Wood have excellent records under this format but neither have performed well in Australia although it's limited evidence.

Japan (Hideki Matsuyama and Ryo Ishikawa) have been practising at Royal Melbourne since last Tuesday but the market seems to have found them at 8/1.

Spain (Rafa Cabrera-Bello and Jon Rahm) could go well but 9/1 looks short while if it was just fourballs you'd have to give a big chance to Belgium (Thomas Pieters and Nicolas Colsaerts) but the foursomes might catch them out.


Recommended Bets

Back Ireland e.w. at 14/1
Back Sweden e.w. at 12/1

Each-way terms: 1/5 odds, 4 places

Dave's 2016 P/L (based on £5 e/w per selection outrights, £10 win top 5s/10s)

Staked: £1270
Returned: £1683.75
P/L: +£413.75

(After the RSM Classic)

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