USPGA Championship European Tour Each-Way Tips: Lowry can revive Por on the shore

Shane Lowry golfer
Shane Lowry can land a second major at Kiawah Island.

The year's second Major heads to Kiawah Island, scene of the War on the Shore, and European Tour tipster Matt Cooper has three European each-way selections with the Betfair Sportsbook paying ten places...

"If it’s windy, as it tends to be, the 2019 Open champion is likely to enjoy that factor rather than fear it, and he’s had plenty of practice on Paspalum grass since he joined The Bear’s Club in Florida."

Shane Lowry each-way @ 51.050/1

Main Bet: Shane Lowry each-way @ 50/1

The fact that this column's major championship arsenal is limited to European Tour members has often reminded me of a simple restaurant menu, in the sense that the restricted options provide a clarity that is in marked contrast to the diner who is overwhelmed by too many options and spends most of his meal fretting that he should have chosen something else.

The obvious counter is that there's a pay-off between that simplicity and a lack of ammo, but it didn't harm performance last time out, with Justin Rose doing us proud at the Masters, and, anyhow, there are many good reasons to be encouraged by European Tour prospects this week at Kiawah Island.

Because although the track was scene of Europe's rancorous Ryder Cup defeat in 1991, when it hosted the PGA Championship 19 years later the leaderboard rather resembled a European Tour event in Portugal or Spain.

True, the winner Rory McIlroy hasn't played much in Iberia, but the Europeans who trailed in behind him have always loved travelling to the south-westerly tip of the continent.

Runner-up David Lynn racked up seven top tens in Portugal, including a win and third at Dom Pedro. Behind him, Carl Pettersson, Ian Poulter and Justin Rose were involved in the tie for third; the Swede was a winner at Val do Lobo, the Postman has three wins in Spain, Rose is a winner there too.

Completing the Euro presence in the top ten was Jamie Donaldson (seven top tens in Portugal, five in Spain) and Peter Hanson (two top four finishes at Dom Pedro, two wins in Spain).

Nor did it stop there. Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano and Alex Noren were tied second after 18 holes, Joost Luiten was tied sixth at that stage, and Padraig Harrington made the top 20 - all of them have had good weeks at Dom Pedro.

If Santiago Luna, the great sage of Iberian seaside courses, had somehow been granted an invitation, he would have been in his element and we might still be talking of the greatest major upset of all-time.

Back in the real world, does this tie-in make sense? I think it does.

The obvious starting point is that the Pete Dye-designed Kiawah Island is famously blustery and so are Iberian courses by the ocean.

"It suited Europeans," Lynn told Golf Digest in a recent interview about 2012. "It was windy and I was always good at knocking the ball down."

There's often talk of Kiawah and Iberian coastal courses being links-like, but such notions are always to be taken with a pinch of salt - elements of seaside golf can be reproduced, but if the grass is grainy it will never suit playing the ball along the ground.

But that in itself creates a similarity - a short game is required that accommodates the wind while not staying low to the ground.

On the putting surfaces themselves, Iberian courses are predominantly Bermuda, Kiawah uses Paspalum. It's a difference, but they are both grainy.

The water hazards and resort vibe are constants and so, too is quirkiness of design. Iberian layouts are known for having to make the most of awkward plots of land, Dye designs are rather more wilfully idiosyncratic.

I'm sold and therefore The Iberian Connection (the novel Frederick Forsyth never wrote) will inform my choices this week.

First up is the 2012 winner of the Portugal Masters at Dom Pedro, the Irishman Shane Lowry.

In addition to enjoying that track he's also always thrived in Spain and has four top 20s at Valderrama, including a fourth and second.

What about his form this season? His two top ten finishes came at TPC Sawgrass and Harbour Town (he was also third there in 2019) and what do they have in common? Both Dye designs.

Don't overlook his T21st at the Masters, either - it was his best effort there. If it's windy, as it tends to be, the 2019 Open champion is likely to enjoy that factor rather than fear it, and he's had plenty of practice on Paspalum grass since he joined The Bear's Club in Florida.

Next Best: Tom Lewis each-way @ 400/1

In his comprehensive preview, Steve Rawlings makes a strong case for Tyrrell Hatton this week and I won't tread on his toes with that Euro pick. Instead, I'll hunt lower.

There's no getting away from the fact that the last two picks are enormous prices and real outsiders, so the staking should reflect that (my usual in this column is one point each way; with these two make it half a point), but it also factors in the excellent ten places on offer.

Can either of them win? Maybe, if there's a return to old ways of the PGA Championship providing upsets (and the stars aligning with Pluto while retrograde to Mercury). But, can they land a top ten and a tasty return? Absolutely.

We'll kick off with Englishman Tom Lewis who is a two-time winner at Dom Pedro and a golfer who knows how to drill a low ball in the wind.

He's a fine links performer who first showed up on our screens leading the 2011 Open as an amateur and also finished third at the Dunhill Links when bang out of form.

After Dom Pedro, probably his most consistent golf on tour has come at Verdura (more blustery resort "links-like" golf by the sea), he's finished third at Royal Greens on Paspalum, was second in the WGC St Jude Invitational last season, and his best golf this year has come at Pebble Beach (T14th) and Harbour Town (T25th).

tom lewis zurich.jpg

Final Bet: George Coetzee each-way @ 400/1

Big George Coetzee is another golfer who loves Dom Pedro.

Even before he rocked up there last autumn he'd racked up six top 25 finishes in seven visits - and then he won.

In all, he's landed ten finishes of T31st or better in 11 trips to Portugal, six of them top tens.

His ability to cope with wind is also emphasised by six top 12 finishes in eight appearances at Doha in the Qatar Masters and he was T10th on those Paspalum putting surfaces at Royal Greens in February.

The clincher is that his only top ten in a major came at Dye's windy Whistling Straits - tied seventh in this event in 2015.

MATT'S 2021 P/L
Staked: 76pts
Returned: 146pts
P/L: +70pts

2020 P/L: -32pts

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