After all the rain in Europe, the Lyoness Open in Austria must be under some threat and the chances of a reduced event are high but that might be a good thing if Steve's In-play plans come to fruition...
“If it does get reduced to 36 holes, those drawn late-early will have an opportunity to post a score and the chances are, when they do, they’ll be unaware that they’re posting what could be a winning score.”
A fortnight after the European Tour's flagship tournament at Wentworth, we move on to Austria for what can only be described as a low-profile event. In stark contrast to the BMW PGA Championship, where Europe's elite lined-up in Surrey to fight it out for just shy of five million Euros, a much less impressive field will assemble in Alzenbrugg on Thursday to chase a mere million.
Formerly the Austrian Open, this will be the 23rd staging of the Lyoness Open.
Diamond Golf Course, Alzenbrugg, Austria
Par 72 -7,386 yards
Stroke Index in 2011 - 72.32
Designed by Jeremy Pern and opened in 2002, the Diamond Course has water in play on half the holes and both the par 3 11th and 15th holes are played to an island green.
The fairways are of an average width, fairly flat and quite exposed and the thickest cut of rough is described as consistent and penal. The greens are described as in very good condition and running at 10.6 on the stimpmeter.
The start is pretty tough and so is the finish - the first two and the last three holes have all averaged over par in each of the last three years.
But the big question about the course this week is what sort of state is it going to be in? Austria is one of the countries hit by heavy unseasonable rain and the event itself must even be in some doubt. This is what defending champion, Bernd Wiesberger, tweeted on Tuesday afternoon.
"Still a lot of rain today but course is holding up. We need some break with the Weather tho! Great work by Greenkeepers!"
Live on Sky Sports all four days, starting at 10.00am on Thursday
Last Five Winners
2012 - Bernd Wiesberger -19
2011 - Kenneth Ferrie -12 (playoff)
2010 - Jose Manuel Lara -17 (playoff)
2009 - Rafael Cabrera-Bello -20
2008 - Jeev Milkha Singh -15
What will it take to win the Lyoness Open?
An analysis of the first three year's stats suggest that an ability to find greens with regularity is the key attribute and with the course so wet and the rough penal, finding fairways may well be key too. The rough was thick and punitive three years ago when Jose Manual Lara won and he topped the driving accuracy stats.
Is there an angle in?
With just three years worth of form to look at, it's hard to draw too many conclusions but there is a bit of a trend emerging. All events have seen experienced journeymen pros contend. Lara and 2011 winner Kenny Ferrie are certainly no spring chickens and French veteran, Thomas Levet, traded as short as 2.0621/20 before Wiesberger's late swoop twelve months ago.
Keeping an eye on the weather is essential this week as there's a strong likelihood that the event will get reduced to 54 or maybe even 36 holes, so it might make sense to side with the fast starters and I'd play particular attention to those that start well that are assigned a day one afternoon tee-time.
If it does get reduced to 36 holes, those drawn late-early will have an opportunity to post a score and the chances are, when they do, they'll be unaware that they're posting what could be a winning score.
The last event to get reduced to 36 holes was the Nelson Mandela Championship last December and that panned-out in typically haphazard weather-delayed fashion but it offered up plenty of in-running betting opportunities.
As could be the case this week, the Royal Durban was flooded and it was never clear when the event would start or restart after delays. Eventually, it was declared a 36-hole tournament and those drawn early-late were faced with chasing a target score none of them could reach.
All three playoff protagonists were drawn late-early and first round leader, Tim Clark, drawn early-late, was matched as low as 1.51/2 in-running as punters assumed he'd reach the seemingly easily attainable target. Unlike those on the other side of the draw, Clark carried the burden of knowing what he had to do to win and it was burden too heavy to carry.
The event may not pan-out this way at all but be mindful that if it's likely to do so, get with those that won't have to do it the hard way.
Being aware of the hole averages is always essential when betting in-running and knowing how tough the finish is here may give you an edge. As mentioned earlier, the last three holes are tough but before then, the players have a chance. The scoring section is between holes 10 and 15, so if one of your selections is leading in the final round, after the 15th hole could be the time to lay some potential winnings back.
Following his fast-finishing third at last week's Nordea Masters, the in-form defending champion and home favourite, Bernd Wiesberger, understandably heads the market in what is a decidedly weak looking field.
He was around a 20.019/1 shot twelve months ago when he backed-up his 2011 5th placed finish here so at a single-figure price he does look a little short, though with both strong course and current form, it's impossible to argue against his case.
In-form Spaniard, Pablo Larrazabal, traded at less than 4.03/1 on day one last year when he shot 64 but he followed that up with a very disappointing 76 on day two before eventually finishing tied 10th. So, like Wiesberger, Larrazabal also has course and current form but he always looks like an accident waiting to happen to me and I don't fancy taking such a short price about him.
After the two youngsters, there's not much to choose between two vets vying for third favouritism. Both Thomas Bjorn and Miguel Angel Jimenez have found a bit of form of late and both men obviously fit the experienced criteria. Bjorn is making his course debut but Mig has played here a couple of times already - finishing tied for 15th in 2010 and for 14th in 2011.
With the weather being so wet, and with the genuine prospect of a reduced event, I'm being very cautious before the off but I have had small wagers on three veterans...
On his only visit to the track, Simon Wakefield was beaten in a playoff two years ago. He showed a modicum of form last week in Sweden and his accurate game off the tee could prove a real asset this week. I was hoping for a smidgen more than 110.0109/1 but the fact that he's now been drawn in the afternoon on day one, as detailed earlier, could prove to be a positive.
Robert Jan Derksen finished inside the top dozen last year on his course debut and he too has a fairly solid and reliable game. He's missed his last two cuts and that's an obvious negative but if he plays as he did last month, when fourth in China, he could go close in this company.
And finally, I was onboard Thomas Levet twelve months ago when he came so close to winning and I felt I had to stick with him at such a big price. He's not shown much this season but he did contend for the first two rounds in Madeira recently and a return to a venue he's played well at recently might just rekindle the Frenchman.
Simon Wakefield @ 110.0109/1
Robert-Jan Derksen @ 130.0129/1
Thomas Levet @ 170.0169/1