The Najeti Open: Tullo can make his Mark, says The Punter

Mark Tullo, the Punter's pick for the Najeti Open

The US Open is by far the biggest event this week but it's not the only one. There's also action in France on the European Tour at the newly-named Najeti Open. Our man takes a look at what it will take to win the week's second-string tournament...

"With a top-five finish at East London in February and a runner-up finish at the recent Madeira Islands Open (another fairly similar venue – hilly and wind-exposed) the Chilean looks to have what it takes to win here."

Tournament History

Co-sanctioned by the European and Challenge Tours and formally known as the St Omer Open, the Najeti Open, or to give it it's unimpressive and expansive full name, the Najeti Hotels et Golfs Open presented by Neuflize OBC, has been in existence since 1997 but it's only appeared on the European Tour schedule, and always in the same week as the US Open, since 2003.


Aa Saint Omer Golf Club, Lumbres, France

Course Details
Par 71, 6,825 yards
Stroke index in 2012 - 73.97

Aa St Omer is a short and hilly parkland course, with some holes very exposed and some tree-lined. The fairways are fairly narrow and the greens, which will run quite slowly at 10.3 on the stimpmeter, are reasonably undulating. In windy conditions it's a really tough test.

Useful Sites

Event Site
Course Site
Tee Times
Weather Forecast

TV Coverage

There is no live coverage of this event.

Last Five Winners

2012 - Darren Fichardt -5
2011 - Mathew Zions -8
2010 - Martin Wiegele -7
2009 - Christian L Nilsson -13
2008 - David Dixon -8

What will it take to win the Najeti Open?

With a blustery day forecast on Thursday, an ability to play well in breezy conditions is certainly going to help here. The wind is due to drop a bit after day one but it will still be an ever-present throughout the week.

From a stats perspective, the last five winners have all ranked at least as high as 4th for scrambling but nothing else really leaps out. All five have ranked fairly high in all aspects of their game.

Is there an angle in?

Given last year's winner, Darren Fichardt, also won this year's Africa Open at East London, that event might be a good place to start. Like Aa St Omer, the South African venue is tree-lined in places, wind-affected and fairly short.

Is there an identikit winner?

Without doubt, it's the European Tour lesser lights rather than the young Challenge Tour players that hold sway here. It's a tricky venue where experience goes a long way and just a quick scan at past results shows that those already in possession of a European Tour card fare better than those playing on the Challenge Tour. Not only do the Challenge Tour players tend to be younger and less experienced, they also have the added stress of trying to gain immediate graduation to the ET with a win here.

That said, those trying desperately to cling onto their ET cards are under the gun too and although this may not have the immense pressure of the US Open, a win in this event will be a huge deal for everyone in the field.

In-Play Tactics

Playing alongside the US Open and with no TV coverage, liquidity will be slow in-running. If you plan to trade on the event it may make sense to do so in between rounds and if you plan to lay any back on day four, should you have someone in serious contention, be prepared to do so at what may be a bigger than usual price.

Although three of the last four third round leaders have gone on to win, I would still be cautious of backing anyone in front at short odds after 54 holes. Those three winners were 3, 4 and 5 shots clear and prior to that their success rate wasn't so hot.

In the nine years between 2000 and 2008, a total of 15 players led or tied for the lead after three rounds but only three were able to convert. In 2004, five players were tied at the top through 54 holes but none of the five managed to win.

It looks as though you need to be up with the pace here. I don't quite know how David Dixon managed it in 2008, but he won having trailed by nine, in a tie for 105th, after round one, but he's the only player in the last seven years not to be in the top-six after the first round.

Market Leaders

In what's a tight and tricky looking affair, Challenge Tour hotpot, Brooks Koepka and European Tour cold dish, Simon Dyson, are vying for favouritism, closely followed by former Frenchman, and now Portuguese, former winner Jose-Filipe Lima.

As already stated, experience seems to count here and although the young American has been a sensation on the Challenge Tour so far this year, the fact he's making his debut in the event puts me off.

Dyson was one of the five men tied at the top in 2004 with a round to go so we know he can play the course but he's been out of form for a while now and although he is showing small signs of encouragement, I'm more than happy to look elsewhere.


I thought I might struggle to find a fancy here but that's been far from the case and I've finished up backing a couple for small stakes.

Mark Tullo dropped away in round four last year, once it was clear that Fichardt had it all sewn-up but he could just be the one to beat this week.

With a top-five finish at East London in February and a runner-up finish at the recent Madeira Islands Open (another fairly similar venue - hilly and wind-exposed) the Chilean looks to have what it takes to win here.

Simon Wakefield has form in the book at Aa St Omer already and he's glimpses of form this year already. Wakefield lost his chance on day one, when a selection last week in Austria, but he played quite well after that and 50.049/1 looks a fair price to me.


Mark Tullo @ 36.035/1
Simon Wakefield @ 50.049/1

*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter

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