Canary Islands Championship: Improved putting points to Pepperell

Golfer Eddie Pepperell
Eddie Pepperell in action last week

The European Tour remains in Tenerife for the Canary Islands Championship and our man's back with his in-depth preview ahead of Thursday's start here...

"Eddie Pepperell finished tied for 33rd last week, despite a poor third round. He signed of the week with a six-under 65 and he ranked a much-improved 5th for Putting Average."

Tournament History

The Canary Islands Championship is a brand new event created to help fill the gaps in the European Tour schedule created by the pandemic and it follows hot on the heels of last week's Tenerife Open, won easily by Dean Burmester

Played on the same track as the Tenerife Open - Golf Costa Adeje - it's a great initiative by the European Tour and one that mirrors their work in Wales and Cyprus last year and in Kenya in March.

The inaugural Celtic Classic preceded the Wales Open in August, two brand new events, the Cyprus Open and the Cyprus Showdown, were played back-to-back in the autumn and the brand-new Kenya Savannah Classic followed the Kenya Open in March this year.

Venue

Golf Costa Adeje, Tenerife, Spain.

Course Details

Par 71, 6857 yards
Stroke Index last week 69.33

As demonstrated by Burmester's winning score of 25-under-par, Golf Costa Adeje is a very easy resort course.

With paspalum fairways and Bermuda greens, it's a bit quirky and there are dangers out there but it didn't take long for 60 to be threatened last week when John Catlin started the event like a runaway train.

Scott Jamieson's 61 on Friday was as close as we came to a round in the 50s but now the pros have all had a decent look, a round in the 50s this week is definitely doable.

COSTA ADEJE TENERIFE 2021 1.jpg

Designed by Jose Gancedo, Adeje was also used for the 2003 edition of the Open de Espana, when the event was called the Canarias Open de Espana.

Weather Forecast

TV Coverage

Live on Sky Sports all four days, starting at 14:00 on Thursday.

What Will it Take to Win the Canary Islands Championship?

Although three of the top-five last week ranked 57th, 59th and 69th for Driving Distance, Burmester's powerful long game was a huge asset.

The 31-year-old South African ranked ninth for DD and tied for eighth place, Scott Hend and Adri Arnaus ranked second and fifth for DD but as expected, it was all about putting again. The highest any of the top-five ranked for Greens In Regulation was 14th and Scrambling was a more important stat, with the first four ranking 10th, sixth, eighth and 24th but Putting Average was the most important stat. The first five home last week ranked sixth, first, 12th, 17th and 10th for PA.

In summary, power is definitely advantageous and the winner will in all likelihood need to have a great week with the putter but a deft touch around the greens is very important. The greens here are smaller than I'd expected them to be and it was noticeable how often good scrambling skills were called upon.

Will we get another South African winner?

As highlighted in the De-brief earlier, four of the last five regular European Tour events have been won by a South African and it would be no surprise to see that trend continue.

It was noticeable just how many of them were waiting to greet Burmester on the 18th green yesterday and they're clearly inspiring each-other.

Is a good performance last week essential?

As this is the fourth time that the European Tour have staged back-to-back tournaments on the same track so I thought it would make sense to take a look at the leaderboards from the three events staged second for two reasons...

Firstly, it shows how many of the top-ten at each had played the week before and how they'd fared, and secondly, to see if there are any players playing this week in Tenerife that have already shown that playing the same track two weeks running has been beneficial.

Wales Open 2020 result with finishing position from the week before in brackets
1 Romain Langasque (NA)
2 Sami Valimaki (T6)
T3 Matthew Jordan (T47)
T3 David Dixon (NA)
T5 Sebastian Soderberg (T10)
T5 Laurie Canter (MC)
T5 James Morrison (T27)
T8 Connor Syme (T3)
T8 Callum Shinkwin (T11)
T8 Calum Hill (T39)
T8 Haotong Li (NA)
T8 Jorge Campillo (MC)
T8 Jason Scrivener (T14)
T8 Gavin Green (T11)

Cyprus Showdown 2020 result with finishing position from the week before in brackets
1 Robert McIntyre (T3)
2 Masahiro Kawamura (T34)
3 Jorge Campillo (T52)
T4 Johannes Veerman (T34)
T4 Callum Shinkwin (1)
T4 Thomas Detry (T10)
T7 Gavin Green (MC)
T7 Alex Levy (MC)
T9 Steven Brown (MC)
T9 Bernd Ritthammer (MC)
T9 Matthew Jordan (T13)
T9 Louis De Jager (T34)
T9 Niklas Lemke (MC)

Kenya Savannah Classic 2021 result with finishing position from the week before in brackets
1 Daniel Van Tonder (won playoff) (MC)
2 Jazz Janewattananond (MC)
T3 Calum Hill (T8)
T3 Sam Horsfield (T8)
T5 David Drysdale (MC)
T5 Jacques Kruyswijk (T5)
T7 Victor Dubuisson (T16)
T7 Joost Luiten (T41)
T7 Matthias Schwab (T52)

It's a bit of a mixed bag but given the two playoff protagonists in Kenya had missed the cut the week before, a strong performance the week before is far from essential.

Romain Langasque didn't tee it up in the Celtic Classic but Robert McIntyre definitely telegraphed his win in Cyprus.

As for the three winners of the first events, Sam Horsfield missed the cut in the Wales Open after winning the Celtic Classic the week before, Callum Shinkin finished sixth in the Showdown, one week after winning the Cyprus Open, and the Kenya Open victor, Justin Harding, traded at odds-on having led the Kenya Savannah Classic by three strokes with a round to go before fading to finish tied for 14th. Winning back-to-back is tough, even at the same venue but it was a bold attempt.

In-Play Tactics

Up with the pace is the place to be when the scoring is low and that was certainly the case last week.

Burmester sat second after round one and four of the eventual top-five had sat inside the top six places after the opening round. Adrian Meronk, who finished tied for third, sat tied 38th after 18 holes and tied 16th at halfway but the first four home had occupied the top-four places with a round to go. It's a case of go low early and just keep going.

Looking at the hole averages for last week's event, the long par four eighth, measuring 560 yards, is far and away the hardest hole on the course and that kicks off a tricky run around the turn with holes eight, nine and ten averaging almost three-quarters of a stroke over-par.

As expected, the five par fives were the easiest five holes encountered last week.

Market Leaders

The last two winners, Garrick Higgo and Dean Burmester, are first and second in the betting and understandably so.

Higgo lost his way a bit on Friday afternoon last week but that side of the draw was disadvantaged to the tune of 2.12 strokes. He didn't quite get going on Sunday but he was never going to get to the impressive winner and he played the long holes better than anyone else, despite knocking some length of his game. If he's fresh enough he can contend again but if I had to side with either of the front two it would be Burmester...

Dean Burmester wins Tenerife Open.jpg

He won so easily that it's impossible to discount him but it's hard to know how he'll be mentally. When he won his first European Tour event - the Tshwane Open in 2017 - he took a month off before finishing 48th at the Trophee Hassan II so it's hard to tell.

The Kenya Open winner, Justin Harding, has caught the eye over the last two weeks, finishing 15th and 12th and Laurie Canter is expected to find plenty of improvement after last week's tied 48th in his first start in a couple of months.

Selection

I may add a couple more once the market matures and I'll update Twitter if I do but for now my only selection is Eddie Pepperell who finished tied for 33rd last week, despite a poor third round. He signed off the week with a six-under 65 and he ranked a much-improved 5th for Putting Average.

Selection:
Eddie Pepperell @ 65.064/1

I'll be back tomorrow with the Wells Fargo Championship preview.

*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter

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