Johnnie Walker Championship Tips

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Paul Williams' Tips for the 2012 Johnnie Walker Championship. Twitter @Golfbetting. Facebook: GBS Group

European Ryder Cup qualification is the focus this week as the culmination of this week's Johnnie Walker Championship will see the 10 automatic selections confirmed leaving captain Jose Marie Olazabal clear to make his final 2 picks. Sergio Garcia's excellent victory at the Wyndham Championship last week has lifted him into a safe position and now it's down to Martin Kaymer (not playing) and Nicolas Colsaerts (playing here) to battle out for the final qualification spot given the reduced World ranking points for this event.  With the German playing indifferent golf of late there's a possibility of a more left-field pick from Olazabal should he get knocked out of the automatic spots  - meaning that a few of those a little further down the list have one final chance to shine this week in Scotland in front of the European team captain.

Gleneagles itself will be used for the 2014 Ryder Cup and the course has been renovated somewhat since last year's Johnnie Walker in order for original architect Jack Nicklaus to get it ready for competition in 2 years time. The primary objective of the changes was to protect what is a relatively short course against modern golfing equipment - to this end expect the 1,000 tonnes of additional sand added to the remodelled bunkers over the last 12 months to demand a more strategic approach off the tee this time around, plus more extensive changes to 6,9 and 18 should make the course more scoreable to those who can find the fairways and greens on those holes. A new sub-air system has also been installed which has improved the quality of the greens considerably, tackling an issue which has been griped about over the years.

The weather shouldn't be a major factor this week - relatively calm breezes and a few spots of rain, but nothing extreme in the forecast at this stage. The course is still pretty damp however following a very wet few weeks and the fairways are expected to be quite soft. 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 low-to-mid teens this week which is slightly better than normal as a result.

The last 6 winners of this event were all previous winners on the European Tour, although form varied dramatically on the run-up to Gleneagles. Thomas Bjorn won a 5-man playoff last year to add a 2nd title to his name in 2011 before picking up a 3rd victory the following week; Edoardo Molinari was having a great season which ultimately earned him a Ryder Cup pick from Monty in 2010; 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.

Putting all the factors together, my selections for this week are as follows:

Marcel Siem 1.5pts EW 33/1 with Sky Free Bet Get a £5 free bet no deposit required via this link: Sky Free Bet

The last 2 winners of this event (Thomas Bjorn and Edoardo Molinari) had both already won a tournament in the same season and that trend could continue here for the much improved German. It's a bit of a stretch to say that a win here might get him a captain's pick from Olazabal, although that will be the only thing in Siem's mind this week as he tackles a Gleneagles course that has seen him finish inside the top 7 on 3 occasions from 7 attempts. The 32 year-old is a stronger proposition now with short game coaching from Mark Roe and an ever-improving temperament and, after a quiet few weeks, I think we may see a bounce back to form from the German here.

With contending performances in Dubai, India and Germany - plus an excellent 7th at Wentworth - it looked like Marcel was going to continue his ultimately fruitless string of results before arriving at the tough 2018 Ryder Cup venue, Le Golf National, and winning the prestigious French Open with an excellent all-round performance. His 6th place finish prior to that in Germany was on a Jack Nicklaus course featuring similar bent/poa greens where he putted extremely well (2nd in the field). So arriving here, with no pressure or expectation, on another Ryder Cup course around which he's performed well in the past and on a surface he's comfortable with, could signal another cracking week for Siem who has been well-backed here so far. RESULT: T19

Thorbjorn Olesen 1pt EW 25/1 with 888sport promotional code NEW OFFER! Get up to treble odds via this link: 888 Sport free bet

The Dane is fast becoming a contender on the World stage and, like Siem, already has a 2012 victory under his belt which now allows him to play with a little more freedom - as was evident with an excellent top 10 at Lytham where he went toe-to-toe with his idol Tiger Woods on the Saturday, plus a top 5 the week after in Austria which he could easily have won had he not ultimately run out of steam. With a week's rest following a creditable top 30 at Kiawah, the 22 year-old will arrive here with no expectation on his shoulders whatsoever and his high GIR game could well be rewarded with a strong finish come Sunday afternoon. His Sicilian success was on a strong par 72 and his top-5 in Spain a month later showed that he has the control required to tackle a more strategic decision-making is required - if he can play in a similar vein to those and recent weeks then he'll go very close here. RESULT: T15

Soren Kjeldsen 1pt EW 40/1 with stan james bonus code Get a £10 free bet via this link: stan james promotion

Olesen's compatriot Soren Kjeldsen - a former Gleneagles Champion - could also have a say in matters this week at a tasty price. The Dane's first taste of European Tour success came in these parts back in 2003 and his neat and tidy tee-to-green game is often rewarded on shorter tracks when his putter is compliant. 3rd in Sicily behind Olesen and 2nd behind Francesco Molinari at the demanding Spanish Open (where he putted very well on the bent/poa surfaces) both jump off the page. After a mid-season lull he returned to form with a 9th-place finish in France - Le Golf National was a little on the long side for him in my opinion - and followed that up with a strong top 5 in Scotland the week after. Full rested and raring to go, conditions and course to suit, favourite putting surface, good recent form and a course winner to boot - Kjeldsen is a cracking option this week at what may look like a bargain 40/1 by Sunday. RESULT: MC

Nicolas Colsaerts 1pt Win 14/1 with Ladbrokes Free Bet NEW OFFER! Get a £50 free bet via this link: Ladbrokes Free Bet

Sergio Garcia proved last week that Ryder Cup motivation is massive and whilst the course doesn't really suit the Belgian bomber, I'm still going to have a small saver bet on Colsaerts to emulate the enigmatic Spaniard and grab a last-minute automatic spot with victory here. It's go-for-broke time for 29 year-old who needs an absolute minimum of a tie for 2nd to accumulate the requisite World Points to move him above Kaymer. Put simply, the Volvo World Match Play champion must try to win this  - whether he's up to the task remains to be seen, however the carrot being dangled for success is huge and I can certainly see Colsaerts finding a way to improve on last week's top 10 in the US and get mighty close to lifting this title. RESULT: T19

Joel Sjoholm 0.5pts EW 150/1 with stan james bonus code Get a £10 free bet via this link: stan james promotion

One day the quirky Swede will hang around at the top a leaderboard when he finds himself in position and reward longshot punters with a hefty payday. Whilst he may look a bit odd wandering around the fairways and greens in his plus-fours in this day and age, his play is far from odd and he's capable of making masses of birdies as one of the best putters on the European Tour. 3rd in Sicily, 8th at Celtic Manor and 6th here at Gleaneagles in 2011 suggests however that it's the slightly higher-scoring affairs that are more to Joel's liking, backed up by 8th place finishes in Germany and at Celtic Manor again this term. He lead the field for putting in Germany (Jack Nicklaus design, bent/poa greens) however hit the front a bit early when he took a 2-shot lead into Saturday - these experiences will all help though and he knows that 1 more decent week will see him secure playing rights for 2013. I wouldn't be at all surprised if he achieves that this week. RESULT: T54

Odds and bookmaker offers correct at 18:00BST 21.8.12 but naturally subject to fluctuation. Author Paul Williams, Find us on Google+

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