Czech Masters betting preview and tips from Ben Coley

Golf
Thomas Pieters in action
Thomas Pieters in action

Ben Coley says Thomas Pieters rates a strong favourite for the Czech Masters, where a trio of big-hitting outsiders also feature in the staking plan.

Recommended bets

4pts win Thomas Pieters at 8/1

2pts e.w. Dean Burmester at 33/1 (1/5 1,2,3,4,5,6)

1pt e.w. Sebastien Gros at 125/1 (1/5 1,2,3,4,5,6)

1pt e.w. Pedro Oriol at 200/1 (1/5 1,2,3,4,5,6)

1pt e.w. Bradley Neil at 200/1 (1/5 1,2,3,4,5,6)

While Thorbjorn Olesen couldn't quite earn the Nordea Masters victory which would've sealed his Ryder Cup debut, the Dane's fourth place on Sunday not only saw him move into the automatic qualifying spots but also confirmed that these incentivised, classy types in fairly low-grade fields are so often capable of rising to the challenge.

Edoardo Molinari, Sergio Garcia and Thomas Pieters have all done it before and the Belgian, who finished sixth in the PGA Championship to confirm the suspicion that he's back close to his best, can repeat the trick here.

Pieters' first European Tour title came at Albatross Golf Resort three years ago when he powered his way to 20-under, making 25 birdies and an eagle, and were it not for an inspired Paul Peterson would have defended his title 12 months later when searching for that Ryder Cup spot and losing out to a birdie on the 72nd hole.

Of course, a week later he made no mistake in taking the final event of qualifying with an impressive success in Denmark to force Darren Clarke's hand so there can be little doubt, especially in light of his performance at Bellerive, that this big-time talent is a huge danger when there's something more than silverware to play for in what's otherwise a fairly run-of-the-mill European Tour event.

Sixth place in Scotland prior to the Open, where he was a solid 28th, and a run of cuts made which dates back to Italy in May means that there's depth to his form and Pieters should be extremely hard to beat having exuded control from tee-to-green up to the penultimate hole of the PGA Championship.

The fact that Olesen came up just short last week should not temper enthusiasm - he was, after all, hampered by the draw and beaten just two shots anyway - and it will be both a surprise and a disappointment if Pieters is not bang in contention at a course which his made for his game.

Albatross is a par 72 which stretches close to 7,500 yards which makes it a very different test to last week's and that should be reflected in the leaderboard. Pieters' 2015 success came at the expense of Pelle Edberg, a monstrously long hitter, and when veteran Swede Peter Hanson says this is a course for the big-hitters, it's worth paying attention. After all, he's a former winner in the Czech Republic who has played just about every track on the circuit.

With that in mind, perhaps Dean Burmester can succeed fellow South African Haydn Porteous and win his first European Tour title outside of his homeland should Pieters fall short.

Burmester's form here reads 35-14, which is in line with his career progression, and both performances came at the end of difficult summers including when he ranked eighth in the all-around last year.

This time around, he's freshened up after ninth place in the high-class Scottish Open won by another compatriot, Brandon Stone, and performing off an absence shouldn't be an issue for a player who was inside the top-10 at Wentworth last year on the back of a similar period away and who went close at the season-opening BMW SA Open earlier in the campaign.

Click on the image for Sky Bet's latest odds

Burmester has been playing well for some time, to the extent that he was pretty disgusted with his performance on his major debut at the US Open despite making the weekend, and he has an ideal make-up for this with effortless power and a penchant for making birdies - very much the order of the day on a course where opportunities need to be taken as trouble does await to compound any mistakes.

His sole victory at this level so far came on the back of 11th place a week earlier so that performance in Scotland is significant and, like Pieters, the truth is he's been ticking over very nicely for some time and perhaps just waiting for the right course to come along. Albatross is precisely that.

Danny Willett's return to form is welcome but hasn't gone unnoticed, and the fact that he's 20/1 in a place underlines the lack of depth here. More appealing would be Eddie Pepperell, who has two top-five finishes to his name at this course, played nicely enough in the PGA Championship and before that enjoyed a stunning fortnight in high-class events closer to home.

He's respected, but this course hands a definite advantage to those with a little more power at their disposal and this is an event to attack purely with one type of golfer.

With that in mind, the hugely underestimated Sebastien Gros is next.

This talented Frenchman made a highlights reel of his own last week when going 2-1 across back-to-back par-threes, shooting up the leaderboard in the process, and an eventual share of 13th represents a return to his encouraging early-season form.

Gros is one of the most effortlessly powerful players on the circuit so Albatross should suit him down to the ground and while this is his debut at the course, he can call upon fourth place in the Czech Challenge three summers ago when he had the chance to win before making a mess of the final hole.

The most recent of his two titles on the second tier came in the Kazakhstan Open on a course which lends itself to long hitters - see victories for Scott Henry, Johan Carlsson and Tapio Pulkkanen - and there's every hope the 28-year-old can build on his performance on a far less suitable course in Sweden.

Certainly, at 125/1 it's worth paying to find out and he's preferred to the aforementioned Carlsson, who finished alongside him last week but was playing on home soil and still looks some way short of his best as he works his way back from injury.

American youngster Doug Ghim could be a class above most of these in time and certainly caught the eye with his ball-striking at the Wyndham Championship, but it's asking a lot to fly to these very different surroundings and pick up where he left off.

With that in mind I'll stick to the European Tour regulars with Pedro Oriol next on the list.

Oriol paired up with compatriot Scott Fernandez to win European Championships gold at Gleneagles prior to the Nordea Masters, evidence perhaps that he's ready to produce a breakout performance at this level.

Perhaps on reflection it was asking too much for him to perform last week, especially as he was grouped with Fernandez for the first two rounds, but Sunday's closing 65 certainly caught the eye - even more so given that the round started with a triple-bogey seven.

Oriol is a fantastic ball-striker who ranks 18th on the European Tour in strokes-gained off-the-tee and his prodigious length is a serious weapon at a course where he finished 34th on debut, sitting seventh after round one and inside the top-20 with a round to play.

He's improved since then and won this week a year ago on the Challenge Tour, so with his last round something to work with and that gold medal safely tucked away, he looks one of the more interesting outsiders.

Finally, Scottish golf is flying at Challenge Tour level and Bradley Neil could take inspiration from that as he seeks a European Tour breakthrough.

Neil played with last week's winner Calum Hill as an amateur and was by far the better prospect, one who looks capable of picking up a title like this one if building on 21st place on his return to action in Sweden.

That came on the back of a break which followed three missed cuts, but they all came in Rolex Series events and for now this is much more his level, and I've little doubt Albatross will be more to his liking than the tighter host course in Sweden.

Neil finished second on his last visit to the Czech Republic and having played really well for three of last week's four rounds - enough to have been right in the mix had he not suffered a nightmare Saturday - this power-packed youngster is fancied to go well at a price.

Finally, it's worth mentioning that a fairly simple formula for finding one here has been to spot those who struck the ball well without reward in a previous visit. That led me to Tom Lewis ahead of his third place last year and would also have unearthed Lee Slattery, so perhaps keep an eye on 300/1 chance Laurie Canter.

Another who gets it out there, Canter was inside the top 10 for distance and greens on his debut at the course and there was enough in his own performance in Sweden, which was very similar to Neil's, to suggest he could also perform better than most expect.

Posted at 1830 BST on 20/08/18.

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