Quesne to spoil Stenson party
David John fancies Julien Quesne to put last week's missed cut behind him and contend for the Nordea Masters.
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World number two Henrik Stenson must be quietly optimistic about his chances this week at the Nordea Masters after big guns Rory McIlroy and Adam Scott did the business at Wentworth and Colonial.
With the US Open just around the corner followed by a host of big events, this is the time when the elite in the game will hope to take full advantage and find their best form.
Stenson heads the market at no better than 7/1 and I am sure plenty of punters will be ready to step in and back him to make it three extremely well fancied winners in the space of a week.
- 1pt e.w. Julien Quesne at 75/1 (bet365 1/4 1,2,3,4,5) - has some course experience and playing well despite MC last week
- 1pt e.w. Tom Lewis at 90/1 (bet365 1/4 1,2,3,4,5) - consistency catches the eye and on a high after securing US Open spot
- 1pt e.w. Roope Kakko at 250/1 (bet365, Sky Bet 1/4 1,2,3,4,5) - solid form close to home and could follow compatriot Mikko Ilonen
There are one or two notes of caution though as this is Stenson's national event at a course where he used to sponsor The Princess a few years ago on the Challenge Tour.
He has been made an honorary life member at PGA Sweden National and told the European Tour website that this is his "busiest week of the year", suggesting that he will have plenty to occupy his time off the golf course.
That said, Rory rather exploded the myth that you have to be totally zoned in to win a tournament so I do expect Stenson to be in the mix all things considered.
From his rivals at the head of the market, I would probably opt for Thomas Bjorn despite the disappointment of not being able to close out the deal at Wentworth as McIlroy swept by on the final day and pounced.
The Dane played some excellent stuff and admitted in Sunday's post-round interview that "my good has been absolutely brilliant". He is far too wily a fox these days to dwell on the issue so will surely kick on and seems far from disconsolate.
The remarkable Miguel Angel Jimenez is 25/1 and it would be in his wildest dreams to win two of his last three starts while Jonas Blixt's light is no longer hidden under a bushel with the Swede on an upward curve and form in the event at Bro Hof Slott 12 months ago having chased home Mikko Ilonen.
So the plan is to take on some of the obvious names with a quartet at bigger odds and the starting place is Julien Quesne.
The Frenchman continues to impress with his admirable consistency in 2014 and I have every belief that his missed cut at the BMW Championship was a mere blip.
He does have the benefit of some course knowledge too under championship conditions having finished T4 behind Ricardo Santos at The Princess back in 2010.
The layout had only been open a year at that point and conditions may have altered a little over the seasons but a heads-up in terms of what can be expected will not harm Quesne's chances.
We had US Open qualifying on Monday over 36 holes at Walton Heath and it is always a bit of an enigma trying to interpret those results going forward.
Does a player who made it have an added spring in his step while one who missed out feel it was a waste of time and a disruption to the working week ahead of his next event?
Who knows really but while Quesne missed out, Brooks Koepka and Tom Lewis did book their place in the line-up next month for Pinehurst so we should have all bases covered.
The young American players who have decided to come to Europe to gain some experience continue to interest me and Koepka could potentially turn out to be the best of them.
I had a feeling as well that this course should be right up his street - the Kyle Phillips design has been described as a "beautiful piece of Florida in the heart of Skane" which should have the resident of West Palm Beach feeling right at home.
However, he's decided to withdraw having secured his US Open spot and instead we turn to Lewis.
The set-up should also appeal to the Welwyn Garden City pro, who is gradually moving in the right direction again after a quiet period last year following his breakthrough win in Portugal.
The signs have been better lately with four cuts made from his last four events and a 30-footer drained to snaffle the final place up for grabs at Pinehurst.
The 74 bunkers and water that comes into play on a number of holes strikes me as a similar test to the one Lewis conquered in dramatic fashion at Oceanica. His profile overall leads me to believe he is set for a prominent role this week.
The final selection goes to Finland's Roope Kakko at three-figure odds.
He should be able to take some inspiration from the fact his compatriot Ilonen has won this event on two occasions while Kakko himself has hinted that he is at the stage of his career where he is ready to take that next step.
He was a winner last season on the Challenge Tour in Oman and that display helped him along the way to eighth spot in the rankings, a place on the main tour and no trip back to the dreaded Qualifying School.
He has put in some nice displays in Hong Kong and Dubai already and did not look a million miles away at Wentworth last week. He boasts some good form in events around Scandinavia and may just be worth a punt at big odds for things to click.