Porsche European Open: Levy to put up a bold defence in Germany

Defending champ, Alexander Levy
Defending champ, Alexander Levy

We're off to Germany for the Porsche European Open this week where the field faces a new and very long test at the Green Eagle Golf Resort near Hamburg. Read Steve's in-depth preview of this week's European Tour action here...

"The North Course is a monstrously long track and length off the tee has to be a big advantage."

Tournament History

The first Porsche European Open was staged back in 1978, when Bobby Wadkins got the better of fellow American, Gill Morgan, and Scotland's Bernard Gallacher in a playoff at Walton Heath.

The tournament was a nomadic ever-present on the European Tour until 2009 when it fell off the schedule.

It returned to the rota in 2015 and for the last two years it's been played at the Beckenbauer Course in Bad Griesbach. The tournament stays in Germany this time around but it's been switched to the Green Eagle Resort just outside Hamburg and it's been moved forward in the schedule from September.


Venue

The North Course, Green Eagle Golf Resort, Hamburg, Germany


Course Details

Par 72, 7,831 yards

The North Course at the Green Eagle resort (one of three courses there) is extremely long at around 7,800 yards. It's the longest used on the European Tour and it's reported to be one of the 10 longest worldwide.

Designed in 2008, the North Course was used on the Challenge Tour two years later for the ECCO Tour Championship, which was won by the then amateur, Andreas Harto, in eight-under-par.

According to the European Tour website, the course has the highest slope rating (greens) and is the most difficult golf course in Germany.

The North Course looks like a flat parkland course with fairly wide fairways but with water in-play to varying degrees on almost every hole. The flyover below gives a good feel for the terrain.



Weather Forecast


TV Coverage

Live on Sky Sports all four days, starting on Thursday.


Last Five Winners

2016 - Alex Levy -12
2015 - Thongchai Jaidee -19
2010 - 2014 No event
2009 - Christian Cevaer -7
2008 - Ross Fisher -20
2007 - Colin Montgomerie -11


What Will it Take to Win the Porsche European Open?

The North Course is a monstrously long track and length off the tee has to be a big advantage.

Andrea Harto is no slouch off the tee so with very little to go on, concentrating on the big hitters could be one place to start. And Par 5 Performance could also be a stat to consider.

Here are the top-ten players on the European Tour for DD over the last three months

Julian Suri
Ryan Fox
Nicolas Colsaerts
Sebastian Heisele
Haydn Porteous
Alvaro Quiros
Thomas Linard
Pep Angles
George Coetzee
Scott Henry

And here are the top-ten players on the European Tour for Par 5 Performance over the last three months

George Coetzee
Scott Hend
Peter Uihlein
Matthew Fitzpatrick
Jordan Smith
Michael Hoey
Pablo Larrazabal
Henrik Stenson
Andy Sullivan


Is There an Angle In?

With a new course in play this week, we're struggling a bit so I thought I'd take a look at the last 10 winners on the European Tour in the week after the Open Championship to see if there are any clues there.

With the Olympics in the schedule last year, there wasn't a tournament in the week after the Open and after a blank week the Tour's elite players moved on to the US PGA Championship two weeks later, so I've ignored 2016 but reading backwards, here are what the winners were up to the week before in the ten years prior to that.

2015 - Danny Willett (European Masters) sixth in the Open
2014 - David Horsey (Russian Open) DNS in the Open (missed three previous cuts)*
2013 - Michael Hoey (Russian Open) DNS in the Open (missed cut previous start)*
2012 - Bernd Wiesberger (Lyoness Open) DNS in the Open (missed cut previous start)*
2011 - Alex Noren (Nordea Masters) MC in the Open and in his previous start *
2010 - Richard S Johnson (Nordea Masters) 74th in the Open
2009 - Ricardo Gonzalez (Nordea Masters) DNS in the Open (missed cut previous start)*
2008 - Mickael Lundberg (Russian Open) DNS in the Open (missed three previous cuts)*
2007 - Andres Romero (Deutsche Bank Players' Championship of Europe) sixth in the Open
2006 - Robert Karlsson (Deutsche Bank Players' Championship of Europe) 35th in the Open

Only five of the ten winners actually played in the Open. Alex Noren was the only one to miss the cut and two of the four that made the weekend - Danny Willett and Andres Romero - contended in the Open so that's a fairly mixed bag.

Those that didn't play in the Open (and Noren) had all missed cuts before they won and three of them, Bernd Wiesberger, Noren and Richard S Johnson won in their homeland the week after the Open had been staged. It's leftfield for sure but having missed cuts and not qualified for (or played poorly in) the Open, they'd teed up in their homeland with something of a point to prove and won.

Interestingly, six of the ten winners played in the Scottish Open staged the week before the Open and they all missed the cut. I've highlighted the six with an asterisk.


In-Play Tactics

The first three home in 2010 were inside the top-ten all the way and never more than four strokes off the pace (Matthew Zions, who finished third, was four adrift with a round to go). The first and second sat one off the lead and tied for the lead after round one and they were tied for the lead with a round to go.

Whether any credence can be given to such a tint sample size is debatable.


Market Leaders

Charl Schwartzel and Patrick Reed are vying for favouritism but neither makes much appeal. Schwartzel found himself in-the-mix early on at the Open Championship last week but he soon lost his way.

Patrick Reed missed his last two cuts but given they were both on links tracks I'm happy to overlook those efforts. Prior to that, on the PGA Tour over the last few months, he keeps promising plenty but delivering little and I'm more than happy to swerve him here.

Thorbjorn Olesen is a lot shorter than he usually is and even though it's a fairly weak field, I'm not really sure why given his last two outings - 48th at the Irish Open and 62nd last week.

The only one of the market leaders that tempted me was the defending champion, Alexander Levy. The Frenchman finished third when defending his China Open title back in 2015 so he's shown that defending won't necessarily be an issue and given he's won twice in his last 21 starts, he's a fair price at around the 25/1 mark. He also finished third at the BMW International Open in Germany in 2013 so it's clearly a country he feels at home in.


Selections

I've had a saver on Alexander Levy and I'm throwing a few pounds at a few big-priced outsiders...

Whether any of what I've analysed is worth a lot is debatable but if it is, then Germany's Marcel Siem might be worth chancing. He sat at home last week watching the Open after missing cuts (including at the Scottish Open) and he certainly gives the ball a good biff off the tee.

He hasn't got the greatest of records in his homeland but he has got four top-tens in his last 26 starts in Germany.

In addition to Siem, I've also chanced fellow Germans, Alexander Knappe, who was in-contention at halfway at the Scottish Open, and I've also backed Sebastian Heisele at a massive price.

Heisele was born in Germany but he was raised in Dubai and he went to college in Colorado so he's a real stab in the dark given I very much doubt he's seen the course before but like Knappe, he's long off the tee.


Selections:
Alexander Levy @ 32.031/1
Marcel Siem @ 110.0109/1
Alexander Knappe @ 200.0199/1
Sebastian Heisele @ 500.0499/1

I'll be back later with my RBC Canadian Open preview.


*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter

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