Paul Lawrie Match Play: Accuracy could be the key, says The Punter

The main this week - Paul Lawrie hosts the Match Play event
The main this week - Paul Lawrie hosts the Match Play event

Steve looks forward to this week's brand new event on the European Tour which will see 64 players aim to win the inaugural Paul Lawrie Match Play at a gem of a links venue. Read Steve's in-depth preview here...

“Nicolas Colsaerts may improve markedly on anything he’s done of late. He’s a former Ryder Cupper and a winner of the Volvo World Match Play so he’s going to be chomping at the bit to get going here.”

Tournament History

Only added to the European Tour schedule as recently as November, this will be the first ever Saltire Energy Paul Lawrie Match Play and the event will be part of the Race to Dubai for the next three years at least.

Given the crowds that turn up whenever a tournament is staged in Britain or Ireland, I've often wondered why we get so few events here each year and I've also pondered why the players haven't got involved with hosting new events, so Paul Lawrie should be applauded loudly for his efforts here.

If you're anywhere near Aberdeen, you can't possibly crab the cheap admission charges. You can go every day for just £35, any single day is only £15 and under-18s are free. And they even receive a free cap! The event deserves to be a well-supported success.


Format

In contrast to the WGC-Match Play and the Volvo World Match Play, where organisers insist on persisting with a stupid group stage system, Lawrie and co have had the good sense to make this event a straightforward knockout competition for 64 players.

The 1st and 2nd rounds will be played out on Thursday and Friday, the round of 16 and the quarter-finals will be played out on Saturday with the semi-finals, final, and third place playoff match staged on Sunday.

The draw will be made live on Sky Sports at 3.30pm on Tuesday so I'll be back tomorrow night, or first thing on Wednesday morning with my selections.


Venue

Murcar Links Golf Club, Aberdeen, Scotland


Course Details

Par 71, 6,516 yards

Royal County Down served up a memorable and tough Irish Open in May, Gullane hosted a terrific Scottish Open and this year's Open Championship at St Andrews was an absolute cracker so traditional links tracks have already provided us with three great tournaments and now we're all set for match play drama from start to finish at another gem of a course.

At just 6,500 yards, Murcar is too short to host a stroke play tournament on the European Tour but it's bound to create all sorts of excitement in this format.

Murcar is right next door to Royal Aberdeen which hosted last year's Scottish Open and it was used for the Scottish Challenge event on the Challenge Tour in 2006, when local lad, Richie Ramsay finished 4th.


Useful Sites
Event Site

Twitter Link
Draw
Weather Forecast
Alternative Weather Forecast


TV Coverage

Live on Sky Sports all four days, staring on Thursday


What Will it Take to Win The Paul Lawrie Match Play?

Look to players with previous form at links courses. Look at the Scottish Open over the last five years, the Irish Open in 2012 (Royal Portrush) and 2015 (Royal County Down), Open Championship form and also form at the Dunhill Links Championship, which is staged each autumn over three links courses.

As is always the case with links golf, wind will be a factor to look to players that can handle breezy conditions.


There an Angle In?

The front-nine at Murcar opens with a par 4 measuring just 305 yards and it closes with a par 4 of just 323 yards, and both par 5s look easily reachable for the big hitters. Those that bomb it off the tee will look to make hay on those four holes at least but I've also read that the course is narrow and that the fairways are sometimes 'cruelly tight' so any advantage they gain there may be soon lost elsewhere.

The greens are described as being sited on raised tables protected by pot bunkers and although it's hard to form an opinion when you've not seen the course, it sounds like it will favour the more accurate types and that length will be pretty much an irrelevance.

Paul Lawrie and Richie Ramsay should enjoy a sizable advantage given they'll know the venue intimately.

There are many great research tools on the internet but when it comes to match play you won't better Adam Sarson's Match Play Records database here.


Is There an Identikit Winner?

Match play is a very different format to stroke play and many players thrive in this format and others just don't take to it. I know the field isn't especially strong but someone like Nicolas Colsaerts may improve markedly on anything he's done of late. He's a former Ryder Cupper and a winner of the Volvo World Match Play so he's going to be chomping at the bit to get going here.

Use Adam Sarson's database to check out anyone's match play form and if there's someone you like that isn't listed, try and find out a bit more about their record as an amateur when they would have played lots of match play.


Strategy

I'm going to wait for the draw tomorrow and then I'll probably look to back a player from each of the four quarters with the (nigh on impossible) aim of getting all four semi-finalists onside but given we know very little about the venue it may make sense to keep some stakes back and to take a more measured view after round one.


In-Play Tactics

Before they ruined it by changing the format to please the sponsors, when, like this event, it was a straight and pure knockout event, the day for shocks at the WGC-Match Play was always day one. If you want to play outsiders I suggest you do it then when the course is new to everyone and the favourites might just get caught cold on Thursday.

As the event progresses, be wary of backing someone who's already had a tough week - especially on Sunday. At the aforementioned WGC event, there have been numerous occasions when someone has fought so hard to get to the final that by the time they've got there they have nothing left.

I distinctly remember Rory McIlroy running on empty after knocking out his big rival Lee Westwood in 2012 when he lost to Hunter Mahan. And 12 months later, Hunter put everything in to knocking out match play specialist Ian Poulter in his semi-final before tamely losing to Matt Kuchar in the final.

At this stage, I would normally write about the market leaders and highlight my selections but as already mentioned, with the draw not being made until tomorrow afternoon, I'm going to wait before making a move so I'll be back tomorrow evening, or maybe first thing Wednesday with my picks.


Selection Update 11.30 - July 29, 2015

Paul Krishnamurty has played one from each quarter here but I've decided to wait and take another look after round one but I did manage to grab a bit of the 25/1 available about Richie Ramsay on Monday.

I've been looking at the first round matches and I like one or two outsiders and in-particular, Jeev Milkha Singh to beat Scott Hend but I'm going to get more involved as the event progresses and I'll be back tomorrow night or first thing on Friday with the In-Play Blog.


Selection:
Richie Ramsay @ 25/1 (Sportsbook)


*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter

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