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We're back on the hunt for profits this week after last week's tips ended with just a part-place payout for Steve Webster....a bit disappointing after 250/1 longshot Gaganjeet Bhullar had hit the front on Saturday and only needed a level par round on Sunday to secure us a monster Each Way payout....so near yet so far! Our quest this week takes us to the venue for the 2014 Ryder Cup and a reasonable field has been assembled in Perthshire for us to decipher and dig out some more profitable selections.
To win around the Jack Nicklaus-designed Centenary Course, you'll need to be finding lots of greens primarily, however recent winners have got over the line in differing fashions: Defending champion Edoardo Molinari ranked 3rd for GIR last year and put in a late birdie burst to secure his 2nd European Tour title; 2009 winner (and my tip for that week), Peter Hedblom, hit 83% of greens despite his relatively poor putting ability; 2008 winner Gregory Havret hit 78% of fairways and putted well; 2007 winner Marc Warren simply had a sublime putting week to triumph. You just need to play very well and stay out of trouble to succeed here.
The weather is set reasonably fair this week - nothing spectacular (after all, this is Scotland in late August!), but it should be largely dry and calm. The course is still pretty damp however following a very wet few weeks and the fairways are expected to be slow and the course will play its full 7,300 yards. The greens will be receptive and the USGA standard bent-poa surface will certainly offer good birdie opportunities to those who can get their approaches close - I suspect we'll see a winning score in the mid-teens this week which is slightly better than normal as a result.
The last 5 winners of this event were all previous winners on the European Tour, although form varied dramatically on the run-up to Gleneagles. Edoardo Molinari was having a great season which ultimately earned him a Ryder Cup pick from Monty; similarly Paul Casey in 2006 was at the peak of his form when he won this. The other 3 winners sandwiched in between were having far less impressive seasons - Hedblom, Havret and Warren each had just a single top 10 to their names in the season to date before triumphing here.
My selections for the week are as follows:
The last 2 winners of this event had both finished inside the top 3 of their previous European event - to this end, Scot Stephen Gallacher fits the bill with his 3rd place finish in Ireland prior to his MC in Georgia and is worthy of backing here this week. That finish at Killarney earned us a strong 100/1 each way payout and although his price has now more than halved, there's still value here in the 2004 Alfred Dunhill Links champion as he seeks to repeat Marc Warren's 2007 feat and reward the Scottish galleries with a local winner.
Gallacher's game is centred around strong GIR stats and accurate, lengthy drives - with wet fairways and receptive greens this could be an extremely potent combination this week. In Ireland Gallacher averaged 311 yards off the tee and hit over 83% of greens - that's the kind of form which will see him go very close here in my opinion.
Last year's 14th place finish here doesn't tell the whole story - he went into Sunday a shot off the lead and had a great chance of winning before a final round 77; similarly his 10th place finish here in 2008 featured a final round 73; 2007 saw another final round 76 for a finish of 33rd....expect a prominent performance on a course he can clearly play and, if he can keep his nerve on Sunday, a second European Tour title is a real possibility. RESULT: T6
I was delighted to see Webb Simpson finally land a win last week for my tipping partner Steve Bamford over in the US - Steve has championed Simpson for some time now and it was great for his continued support to finally be rewarded with a victory after a few near misses. Similarly, I'll be backing Richard Finch here for much the same reason as I backed him last week as it would be churlish to write him off after what was essentially one tough round on Thursday.
As with last week, the key to Finch's game is his ability to hit three-quarters of all the greens he attempts - last week was another case in point with 76.4% of greens hit in regulation. 23rd was a creditable effort after a first round 75 had put him in serious danger of missing the cut - coupled with his fast finishing runners-up position in Stockholm and the fact that, at 46th on the money list, Finch needs just 1 more big effort to make the Dubai finals - I'll be backing the Englishman once again this week at 30 points longer than last...RESULT: M/C
South African Kruger sits just inside the top 115 and knows that a push now will secure him a coveted European Tour card and the potential to springboard his career to the next level. Despite limited starts this season outside of the Sunshine Tour where he normally plies his trade, James Barry (hence the 'Jbe') has managed to notch 4 top 10s in Europe this season - all on bentgrass-based putting surfaces and most recently in Italy which will set him in good stead here.
The 25 year old's game is centred around strong ironplay and he current sits top of the European Tour GIR stats with a mightily impressive 77.5% of greens hit in 2011. The 2-time winner on the Sunshine Tour finished 3rd on his last start a fortnight ago at Wild Coast and will be pumped up and ready for a huge performance here this week on a course which will suit him down to the ground. RESULT: M/C
Spaniard Martin is often overlooked by the bookies, however with a victory and 2 top 5s to his name this season already I'm prepared to place my final 2 points on him at a long price. Having successfully defended his Alfred Dunhill Championship title in South Africa at the start of the season, it was no surprise that Pablo took his foot of the pedal somewhat with his card secured once again - however a fast-finishing runners up position in China, then a strong 4th place finish in Stockholm on his last start shows that the hunger for success is still there. At 43rd on the Race To Dubai it will only take 1 more big effort for Pablo to be booking a plane ticket for the end-of-season finale - that could well come this week in my view.RESULT: M/C
Odds and bookmaker offers correct at 17:00BST 23.8.11 but naturally subject to fluctuation