Author: Paul Atkin
Published: 08:32 16/09/2014
With just a week to go before Gleneagles plays host to the 2014 Ryder Cup, four members of Paul McGinley's team will tee it up this week at the ISPS Handa Wales Open, which returns to the Twenty Ten course at the Celtic Manor Resort in Newport. The assembled field includes Lee Westwood and Thomas Bjorn, as well as Ryder Cup rookies Jamie Donaldson and Stephen Gallacher, who are all hoping to sharpen their games in preparation for next weeks test.
The 7,352 yard Par 71 track was specifically designed to host the 2010 Ryder Cup, and features nine holes routed through the Usk Valley, as well as nine holes from the former Wentworth Hills course that have been extensively re-fashioned. Water hazards feature on several holes, including the 18th,which is the ultimate risk and reward par 5. Warm sunny conditions, and only light winds are forecast for the tournament.
From a punting perspective, we hit the post again last week, with our tip Simon Dyson being touched off by a shot, but at least rewarded each way support at a tasty 30-1. We also had further each way returns pocketed last week on our strong fancy Joost Luiten at 12/1, so lets hope we can highlight some more value bets in this open betting heat.
My main fancy is the previously mentioned Simon Dyson, who despite shooting 66 and 65 over the weekend, was narrowly touched off in the KLM Open by a rejuvenated Paul Casey. The gritty Yorkshireman, who certainly wears his heart on his sleeve, showed again in Holland that he is close to recapturing the sort of form that has previously netted him six European Tour victories, and he proved with his Tied 6th in the 2009 renewal here, that he is well suited to this track. The bigger prices have been snapped up by the early sharks (possibly by his dad, who is a bookie!), but he still represents solid each way material.
My next fancy is Danny Willett, who arrives here in good heart after finishing Tied 13th and Tied 5th in his last two starts in the Czech Republic and Switzerland. The 26 year old has played some really solid golf all season, most notably a Tied 3rd in the Irish Open, Tied 8th in the BMW International Open, and a Tied 11th in the Scottish Open, all high quality events. He has course form to give further confidence, having finished Tied 4th here in 2009, so expect a prominent showing from this confident character.
An outsider who seems overpriced in the market is Raphael Jacquelin, who after a decidedly lean spell, showed a welcome return to form, with a Tied 11th place finish in Holland last week. The smooth swinging Frenchman has showed in the past that this venue suits his eye, with a 3rd place finish in 2008, and a smattering of other decent finishes, so expect another prominent showing this week.
Of the Ryder Cup players, the jury is still out on the form of Lee Westwood, whilst Thomas Bjorn seems out of form, and has rather strangely parted company with his experienced caddie Dominic Bott, the week before Gleneagles?. On the other hand, don't rule out either Jamie Donaldson, or Stephen Gallacher, who both arrive at Celtic Manor in great nick. Both have previous course form, and in particular the Welshman Donaldson will be well motivated to win his home title for the first time.
Simon Dyson 25-1E/W Paddy Power
Danny Willett 30-1 E/W SkyBet
Raphael Jacquelin 125-1 E/W Stan James