A profitable week in Denmark with 66/1 shot Pablo Larrazabal securing a full each-way payout courtesy of his tie for 4th place, combined with the generous place terms being offered by Boylesports last week. Having endured the worst of the wind on Thursday and the wettest of the weather on Friday, the Barcelona man worked his way into contention with a solid Saturday and a blistering start on Sunday to tie the lead as he completed his front 9, however he couldn’t maintain his momentum sadly and we had to settle for a place.
On to this week we go then and we return to the Rinkven International Golf Club in Antwerp for the second edition of Belgian Knockout, following last year’s successful introduction to the schedule. Match Play/hybrid format specialist Adrian Otaegui returns to defend the crown that he won impressively 12 months ago, gamely holding off Frenchman Benjamin Hebert in the final. Thomas Pieters heads the betting once again this week at a general 25/1 in a market that is understandably blown wide open as a result of the event’s quirky format.
Similar in a way to the World Super 6 that we’ve seen on the European Tour for the past 3 seasons, the first 2 rounds of this week’s event will be played as a regular strokeplay event over the full 18 holes. On Friday evening the cut will be made to 64 players, with anyone finishing in a tie for 64th being required to progress through a play-off in order to be involved on the weekend.
Once we’ve whittled the field down to 64 players, they are then split into two groups of 32 players – the first 32 will play on the front 9, the second 32 will play on the back 9 on Saturday. 9-hole (strokeplay) matches will then ensue based on a player’s leaderboard position from the strokeplay element, so in effect the leader of the 36 hole strokeplay will be seeded 1 – although whether that holds much, if any, benefit is debatable.
There will be 3 rounds of 9-hole (strokeplay) matches on Saturday, with a play-off following any tied matches, so there’s potential for players to need to be playing 27 holes or more on Saturday. 8 players will make it through to Sunday where again there’ll be 3 rounds of 9-hole matches to determine who will eventually lift the trophy.
As with the World Super 6 in Perth from earlier this season, punters will have choices as to how to play this week’s event. Some bookmakers are offering a 36-hole strokeplay market (it was 54-hole in Perth with the slightly different format there), so if you’d like to take the vagaries of the 9 hole matches element out of the equation then you could opt for that market.
Alternatively, punters can opt for the outright market which is based on the final finishing positions: generally for the outright market, most bookmakers are offering 1/4 odds for a top-4 finish, however a few bookmakers such as Betfair, Paddy Power, Boylesports and Sportingbet have taken this a step further and are offering 1/5 odds for a top-8 finish, meaning you’ll get an each-way return if your player makes it through to the quarter-finals on Sunday.
Course Overview. The Course at Rinkven is a parkland affair originally designed by Paul Rolin in 1985 and subsequently updated by Martin Hawtree. Some holes are tree-lined whilst others are exposed, however it’s generally a flat, scoreable track.
After 36 holes last year, 39 players were under par with Jorge Campillo leading the way at 8-under. The layout played 12 months ago was a composite of the North and South courses and measured 6,924 yards for its par of 71. The front 9 is slightly longer than the back 9 with a solitary par-5 on both halves, however the short par-4 16th played the easiest of all the holes, yielding 117 birdies from the opening two strokeplay rounds. The greens are Poa Annua-based, but overseeded with Bentgrass each year to achieve the desired playing surface of 80% Bentgrass, 20% Poa.
Tournament Stats. With only 1 year’s worth of history, this week’s stats are combined current form and 2018 stats only: Combined stats
Predictor Model. Our published Predictor Model is available here. As always you can build your own model using the variables available.
Weather Forecast. The latest forecast for Antwerp, Belgium is here. Temperatures will gradually rise as the tournament progresses as a cloudy start slowly gives way to a sunny weekend with the mercury hitting the high-70s Fahrenheit by the time we finish on Sunday. The wind will be at its strongest on Thursday, peaking at 12-15mph before it slowly subsides as the weather improves.
Tournament Trends & Key Factors.
Analysing the final stats of the top 2 after the 36-hole strokeplay element gives us a little insight into this test.
- 1st: Jorge Campillo (-8). 73.3% fairways (1st), 80.6% greens in regulation (5th), 28.6% scrambling (87th), 1.66 putts per GIR (12th).
- 2nd: James Heath (-7). 50% fairways (87th), 69.4% greens in regulation (35th), 18.2% scrambling (110th), 1.68 putts per GIR (18th).
Looking at the same 36-hole data for the eventual winner and runner-up gives us another angle:
- Winner: Adrian Otaegui. 60.0% fairways (28th), 69.4% greens in regulation (35th), 54.5% scrambling (25th), 1.76 putts per GIR (50th).
- Runner-up: Benjamin Hebert. 70.0% fairways (8th), 83.3% greens in regulation (1st), 33.3% scrambling (74th), 1.80 putts per GIR (64th).
It’s worth considering that the stats above include the entire 144 man field, so Campillo’s tee-to-green performance to lead after 36 holes gives some clue as to the best way to approach this test. Benjamin Hebert’s effort was driven by a similar set of statistics and although eventual winner Adrian Otaegui wasn’t as impressive statistically, he played some excellent, controlled golf in the matches over the weekend to take the title.
Rinkven GC was also used for the Telenet Trophy on the Challenge Tour in 2010 won by Lee Slattery (final leaderboard is here) with a 21-under total. Although there were 4 par-5s on the course, it was the par-4s that proved pivotal for Slattery 9 years ago as he finished -11 for those holes over the course of the week. Runner-up Edouard Dubois led the field for par-4 scoring at -13 on the week, so although we’re playing a different format of golf for the weekend over a different course routing, it may well be worth considering positive par-4 performance as a critical success factor.
Looking at the same players who finished in the top-2 after 36 holes last year, we have Jorge Campillo who was one of the form horses coming into the event with 4 top-5 finishes in his previous 6 starts. James Heath, on the other hand, was on a poor run of form and had picked up a solitary (small) paycheque on his penultimate start in Morocco:
- Jorge Campillo: 35/27/MC/12/14/MC/2/4/27/5/46/3
- James Heath: 50/51/MC/16/MC/MC/MC/MC/MC/MC/72/MC
Similarly to Campillo, eventual winner Adrian Otaegui was also in a rich vein of form coming into this event with 5 consecutive top-20 finishes to his name and a runner-up finish in China behind Alexander Bjork on his previous start:
- Adrian Otaegui: 12/73/60/42/40/22/39/12/10/12/19/2
- Benjamin Hebert: 63/15/56/19/32/MC/17/9/61/63/13/MC
This isn’t a week to get too heavily involved with in my view given the numerous vagaries of the event, however I have 3 players that interest me this week and I’ll be backing them both outright and in the 36-hole markets.
My selections are as follows: