Jason Daniels steps in for Ben Coley to preview this week's European Tour action which again takes place in Tenerife – he has six selections for the staking plan.
1.5pts e.w. Sami Valimaki at 25/1 (1/5 1,2,3,4,5,6,7 Betfair Sportsbook, Paddy Power)
1.5pts e.w. Louis De Jager at 55/1 (1/5 1,2,3,4,5,6 Betfred)
1pt e.w. Nino Bertasio at 60/1 (1/4 1,2,3,4,5 Bet365)
1pt e.w. Nicolai Von Dellingshausen at 66/1 (1/5 1,2,3,4,5,6 BetVictor)
1pt e.w. Sebastian Garcia Rodriguez at 60/1 (1/4 1,2,3,4,5 Bet365)
0.5pt e.w. Pedro Oriel at 110/1 (1/4 1,2,3,4,5 Bet365)
As the very likeable Dean Burmester completed a bogey-free nine-under fourth round and a five shot victory romp, he was greeted by a host of compatriots who must all now believe they are going to win very soon.
Burmy became the fourth South African to win in the last five weeks on this tour, a sequence broken only by John Catlin in freezing cold Austria, and after the vastly experienced Scott Hend confirmed this course and greens had an 'Australian/Asian' feel to it perhaps we should all have been on Ben Coley's latest winner. It appears many were.
Still, this is a week on and we are presented with the same conditions once again, dull for a few, exciting for others. As it ever was.
It seems to make some sense to look at leaderboards from the three events that also held back-to-back tournaments – Wales, Cyprus and lately Kenya – although the middle of those is more relevant as an island resort course given the change in scoring methods.
Celtic Manor and Karen held their events at opposite ends of the Lockdown period but both bring up interesting results.
Back in August, Wales two saw a leaderboard of mixed recent form. Indeed, whilst four of the top-20 recorded a top-10 the week before with a further four following up a similar position, winner Romain Langasque, tied-third-placed David Dixon and joint-eighth place finisher Haotong Li did not play in the first event. Furthermore, top-five finisher Laurie Canter and tied-eighth Jorge Campillo played but missed the previous weekend.
Kenya was not dissimilar.
Of the eventual top-19 at the Kenya Savannah Classic, only five had a previous top-10, a further two had a top-20, but crucially, the winner, Daniel Van Tonder and runner-up Jazz Janeattewond had missed the cut. Add that to more than a handful of players making moves from mid-low table finishes at the Magical Kenya Open and there are simply no hard and fast rules for these repeat events – confidence with current iron play looks to still be the rule.
With five par-fives averaging a total of 22.64 against a par of 25 and giving up a total of 71 eagles, this is where the score will be made, but anyone with seemingly progressive improvement in their approaches will have a multitude of chances.
We could yet see another South African winner, and they hold a very strong hand, not only with last week's winner, but Garrick Higgo, a player the Press can't stop salivating about.
Their chances are obvious but this is a big ask of Burmester, emotional after his victory on Sunday, keen to see his family, and trying to break into the world top-100 before USPGA cut-off day in just a week or so.
21-year-old Higgo was probably trying just a bit too hard to close a three-shot gap on Sunday but having finished a closing fourth in Austria before gagging up in Gran Canaria, he lacks nothing in confidence and an eighth place finish is hardly screaming that he is finished yet.
Long off the tee, an outstanding iron player and ranking third in strokes gained putting, he is hard to ignore, especially seeing his card from last week – a tournament leading 18-under for the par fives. Take that horrible seven away from Friday's 15th hole and he ends up in the final two groups on Sunday. He was very tempting but might be worth waiting for to get on in-running.
I'll chance compatriot LOUIS DE JAGER, similar to our latest winner in that he doesn't win as many as he should, having won four times at home but not since the Eye of Africa in 2019.
Aside from the victories, De Jager's top efforts include a tied runner-up finish behind Guido Migliozzi in Kenya last year and next to Adri Arnaus and Justin Harding, winner of the first of the Kenyan events a month ago (last week's third Kalle Samooja tied sixth).
Equally, a third at the Tshwane reads well given last week's winner has that trophy on his mantlepiece, and a top five in Mauritius gives us that Asian link suggested by Hend.
He ably demonstrated his suitability for this course with a combined 19-under for the par-threes and par-fives last week, all contributing to his overall seasonal ranking of 26th and seventh respectively while of note is the improvement from week-to-week on these double-headers – 63rd to 15th in Wales, 34th to ninth at Cyprus and latterly 33rd to 20th in Kenya.
Improving his tee-to-green stats by 55 places to lie fifth at the Savannah Classic, he ranked fourth last week for the same, seemingly vital, stat. Yes, he will occasionally drive you mad on the greens but having ranked top-10 in putting at Cyprus and Qatar, he does look a challenger in waiting.
I was torn between another couple of soon-to-be winners, Laurie Canter and SAMI VALIMAKI.
As mentioned, Canter missed the cut at the Celtic Classic before a tied-fifth at the Wales Open, so a lowly debut here can be ignored. The issue is that whilst he shot 12-under for the par-fives, he was four-over for the six shorter holes, something that will see you mid-table.
Instead, go for another possible inspired player in the 22-year old Finn, whose maiden victory in Oman was watched greenside by compatriot Kalle Samooja, tied-third on Sunday but who had chances to go a couple better, although whether a player with needs to be inspired after five professional wins, two runner-up finishes and eight further top-10s is in doubt.
Proven with wind after that three-hole play-off win against Brandon Stone, he also has a top-10 at Valderrama and top-15 at Dubai, hardly similar but demonstrating his skills lie in all directions and he was progressive with his play last week, ending with positive figures for all figures bar off-the-tee, something not particularly relevant by the end of play. Not unlike Burmester in attacking style, it was good to see him finish just outside the top-20 after a spell out of form, certainly something to build on.
The final push over the fence came looking at his finishes in these repeat events – sixth then runner-up in Wales and then tied-sixth at Cyprus before a big push to make payday at the Showdown. If he is truly back, he is a big player here.
The mid-section is full of chances but after finishing tied with Valimaki without accessing his best asset, NINO BERTASIO is worth another try.
As soon as the words 'six par threes' were mentioned last week, pundits scurried to locate their short hole stats and the Italian's name sung loud and proud. Top three before last week's event, a level-par-three tournament has seen him slip to eighth place in that particular table, certainly not horrendous given he ranked 12th in that regard for the entire 2020 season, a figure that would rank him number one in this field.
That he was able to finish just off a top-20 without managing a plus figure is encouraging, as are the two eagles for the week, comfortably matching the best of the top-10.
Top-20 at Qatar before a 12/10 finish in Kenya, the closing 63 at Karen shows not only does he learn from a first outing but that he can shoot low. He can prove best of a strong Italian challenge, one containing the afore-mentioned Migliozzi, a player that may end up at Higgo-esque figures in a few months' time.
Best of the mainland Europeans though may be the home contingent, strong with the likes of a back-to-form Adri Arnaus, but whose return to form hasn't been ignored by the bookmakers, now 25-1 from more than double that price.
Instead, I'm not certain there has been enough reduction in the price of either SEBASTIAN GARCIA RODRIGUEZ and PEDRO ORIEL.
The former, looking and behaving like the love-child of Sergio Garcia and Pablo Larrazabal, does occasionally show similar brilliance.
Tempestuous at times, the 32-year old has always had more ability than his win record, his eagerness to please probably the cause of missing chances at Portugal twice and at Austria last year.
However, there is little wrong with his past wins on the Alps tour (Arnaus and Victor Perez behind) or a couple of victories on the same tour in 2019, let alone a tied runner-up in Spain on the Challenge Tour just behind two-time Dubai winner Antoine Rozner and Rasmus Hojgaard, and in front of Adrian Meronk, tied third here last week.
Since Lockdown began, Rodriguez has recorded a fourth in Austria, sixth at the Forest of Arden, 10th at the Portugal Masters and a fourth and 14th in Kenya – all that prior to last weekend's eighth place finish which could have been bettered bar the two bogeys coming home, both on par-fives.
Looking in detail though, he still recorded 14-under for the long holes and an impressive six-under for the short ones. Overall, that leaves Rodriguez ranking 12th in stroke average through 18 rounds, 12th in eagles, 11th in birdies, and well inside the top-20 of this field for most scoring stats.
He can raise his game again and is well worth another go to record his sixth top-eight on home soil.
Pedro Oriel's top-10 at Tshwane in 2018 may not mean that much at first glance, but Burmester won that event a year earlier and the top-10 was littered with winners – Daniel Van Tonder, in tied-fourth, winning the recent second Kenyan event on a course that the Spaniard finished second on in 2014, again behind a home player.
As with Rodriguez, the 34-year old raises his game when at home, as seen when recording a pair of tied-third place finishes on the Challenge Tour, and he will be buoyed by last week's effort when destroying the 11th and 13th holes (nine-under for the eight tries), finally working his way to positive figures in all three scoring sectors.
High in the tee-to-green stats on three of the four days last week, he also recorded a large plus figure in that regard in Austria. In form and having had just one bogey through his final 36 holes, he has another chance to show friends and family his true game.
Talking of not being 'sexy' enough, it's surprising to see NICOLAI VON DELLINGHAUSEN at such a price after last week's scoring stats – 16-under for the par-fives and two under the card for both sets of shorter holes.
Winner of multiple events at a lower level after a lauded junior career at home, he led in Austria at this level last season before fading during the final round and again had a prominent position after three rounds at the same venue a month ago after an excellent 65 on Moving Day. Clearly learning all the time, his first couple of rounds last week, 64 and 62, took him to the front at halfway and whilst it looked as if he was retreating yet again when it counted, his bogey-free final nine rallied him into a clear runner-up finish.
16-under the card for his par-fives and an equally split four-under for the other two sectors reads very well, as does that one-bogey 14-under for his combined back-nines, all contributing to some excellent overall stats – eighth in scoring average, sixth in birdies and par-threes and heading the table for strokes-gained-putting, putts per green, putts per round and probably the best at Crazy Golf too.
There are a few tempters down there in the basement away from the obvious, but this may be a case of riding form before the season gets serious and the big players return.
Posted at 1215 BST on 04/05/21
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