Luiten can rise to challenge
David John says Joost Luiten can give his Ryder Cup hopes a boost with a big week at the D+D REAL Czech Masters.
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Prague has staged the world yo-yoing championship already this summer and now it is the turn of the golfers as they have a crack at the D+D REAL Czech Masters.
Like last week in Denmark, punters are left a bit in the lurch with a new venue in use - the Albatross Golf Resort, which measures up at over 7,400 yards and includes a pair of back-to-back par fives that are both over 600 yards.
This course has been used on the Ladies European Tour in 2011 and 2012 and the reports on condition were glowing while the closing stretch of five holes were heralded as a particularly good test.
We have a bit of depth this week as Stephen Gallacher, Jamie Donaldson and Joost Luiten try and put in the final touches on a tense quest to make Paul McGinley's Ryder Cup team.
All three are pencilled in for Italy next week as well when qualifying ends and if they have not done enough to earn a place, then the plan will be at least do enough to catch the eye of McGinley and get in the running for a wildcard selection.
Donaldson is in as we stand via the World Points list but I think that Luiten can make significant inroads and go very close to the victory he needs.
Like all three, the Dutchman has been trying to ignore the issue and focus on playing his best golf but at times it is tough - even at the US PGA earlier in the month, American journalists who probably know very little about him twigged what his situation was and bombarded him with questions on the subject.
Luiten remains on the fringes then and has been raking in the Euros regularly but has not had a big finish since his third place as defending champion at the Lyoness Open.
That was in neighbouring Austria so perhaps a return to central Europe can be the foundation of some good omens, although the prize fund is on a similar level and Luiten is really going to have to win it all and probably in Italy too to give himself a shot.
There are similarities though to be drawn between him and Peter Hanson back in 2010, who won a play-off in the Czech Republic to book his place on Colin Montgomerie's team at Celtic Manor, so it can be achieved.
Luiten won his national title last autumn under intense scrutiny so I have no doubts with him on that score and even if he does come up shy, two good weeks should at least show McGinley he is at the top of his game and well worthy of consideration.
The betting is pretty tight at the top with Bernd Wiesberger prominent as well after his decent effort all things considered at Valhalla and this is a course that should be right up his street with his power from the tee.
Luiten may have had to fend off questions about the Ryder Cup in Louisville but poor old Bernd suffered an inane quizzing about how to say his name and even if he knew Franz Klammer - apparently he does - as he took a share of the lead into the final round at the US PGA.
He was never at the races on the final day on the way to a 74 and the theory is he will have learned loads from the situation - in my eyes all he learned was that he and the rest of the field are a zillion miles behind Rory at the moment.
I am not massively tempted by the 16/1 so I will look to English duo Ollie Fisher and Steve Webster, who both have good records in the country.
Fisher won a title here back in 2011 - his maiden success - and told the European Tour website about how much he is looking forward to going back.
He said: "It will be nice going back to the Czech Republic. A few of my friends are coming out for the week. The win in the Czech was my first European Tour win and it will always be a great memory."
We tend to think that young talent gets a win and then the floodgates open - but that is rarely the case and Fisher has spent time since trying to really establish himself in Europe.
But 2014 will perhaps be the year when he really gets a foothold with a number of promising displays, including doing very little wrong when runner-up to Thomas Aiken at the Africa Open in February.
He played very well last week in the Made In Denmark event to finish T4 and while others may have the Ryder Cup on the their mind, Fisher should be able to go about his business somewhat under the radar. His price just about passes muster in this field.
Webster started 2014 strongly with fine efforts in Qatar and Dubai but then took an extended period of time off before returning to action in June at the Irish Open.
He has taken a little bit of time to get his sharpness back but the signs are there that he is not far away considering he had a couple of rounds in the 60s in some tough conditions in Denmark.
Webster is a bit of a Czech specialist with a second in the country in 2009 and a fifth in 2011 so I would not be shocked to see him go well again and kick-start a decent second half of the year.
Danny Willett has the form to be bang there but the 20/1 price is reliant on his back holding up as it was still giving him some grief at Valhalla while Nicolas Colsaerts remarkably needs something to happen sharpish at just outside the top 110 on the Race To Dubai.
The Belgian was brilliant two years ago in the Ryder Cup in Medinah but has been on a rough trot this summer and looks a risky proposition currently despite tackling a course that will suit his big-hitting game.
Finally, I think that Rikard Karlberg might be worth a look at 66/1 as he battles away as well to make it into the top 110 on the Race To Dubai.
It is obviously coming down to crunch time but the Swede is on the brink of securing his playing rights for 2015 from a limited number of starts and one more solid week should seal the deal.
I get the impression Karlberg can get in his own way a little bit and throw in a silly round but there was very little wrong with his effort in Denmark last week in tough conditions which yielded a top-10 finish.
He has the length from the tee to make an impact around here and the pick of his form in 2014 certainly gives him a sporting chance of getting involved when it matters.
- Preview posted at 1600 BST 18/08/2014