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After 4 years at the Himmerland Golf Resort and Spa in Farso, the Made In Denmark heads to pastures new this week as the Silkeborg Ry Golf Club makes its European Tour debut. Thomas Bjorn will be centre stage this week for a couple of reasons: the Silkeborg-born veteran was involved in the 2007 renovation of the course which saw the complex increased from 18 to 27 holes, plus there's the small matter of Bjorn's Ryder Cup team being completed following this week's event from an automatic qualification perspective with Thomas making his 4 wildcard picks live on Sky Sports on the 5th September.
While we're on the subject of the Ryder Cup, there are a couple of (potentially) important points to consider this week. Only points gained from the Made In Denmark count towards qualification now, so those players who've chosen to play in the United States and aren't already qualified will be relying on a Captain's pick - specifically we're talking about the likes of Ian Poulter (9th), Rafa Cabrera-Bello (10th) and Paul Casey (11th) in the current European World Points List. There was some speculation that Cabrera-Bello specifically might make a late call and fly to Denmark, however at the time of writing that hasn't happened.
Of those in attendance here, Matt Fitzpatrick (12th) and Eddie Pepperell (15th) both have mathematical chances of working their way into the 8th and final automatic spot, however both need to win the event and hope that Thorbjorn Olesen slips up. In any case, Olesen can protect his automatic spot by finishing solo 7th or better, so clearly there will be a fascinating sub-plot to this week's tournament.
Over on the PGA Tour, Steve Bamford previews the Dell Technologies Championship - you can read his thoughts on that event here.
Course Overview. Silkeborg Ry Golf Club dates back to 1966, however it's the 2007 version of the course that we'll see this week which is an amalgamation of 18 holes from the three sets of 9 to create a 6,975 yard par-72. Classical and tree-lined in style, the course shares some characteristics with the heathland tracks of southern England and features a variety of aesthetically pleasing holes as the course meanders though a pine forest and alongside lakes. Although not a long track, the addition of 160 bunkers to add to the challenge of trees and water from off the tee and on the approach to greens gives the layout some necessary protection.
Whilst this will be the first European Tour event to have been played at Silkeborg Ry, the layout has hosted the Jyske Bank PGA Championship for the past 3 seasons on the ECCO Tour. 54-hole winning totals of 204 (-12), 203 (-13) and 204 (-12) over those three events suggests that the course is scoreable and three rounds of 63 have been recorded in that tournament over those events. Clearly these European Tour players should be a cut above those on the ECCO Tour and despite a presumably tougher set-up, I'd still expect this to be a relatively low-scoring affair.
Par-5s measuring between 538-558 yards will all present scoring opportunities, as will the short par-4 3rd which can be made driveable from the tee. That said, these shorter, tree-lined courses tend to put more emphasis on strategic placement from off the tee and I suspect that this will bring the accurate, shorter hitters right into the picture.
Tournament Stats. We've published some key player statistics for this week's Made In Denmark that will help to shape a view on players who traditionally play well at this event. As previously noted, we're playing at a new course this week so the past 4 years' worth of event history should be considered accordingly: Current Form | Tournament Form | First Round Leader Stats | Combined Current/Event Form Stats
Predictor Model. Our published Predictor Model is available here. As always you can build your own model using the variables available.
Winners & Prices. 2017, Julian Suri: 60/1; 2016: Thomas Pieters: 12/1; 2015: David Horsey, 80/1; 2014: Marc Warren, 30/1. For a summary of winners' odds on the European Tour for the past 8 years based on the 2017 schedule click here.
Weather Forecast. The latest weather forecast for Aarhus is here. Pre-event rain will likely linger into Thursday's opening day, however after that the weather's set fair with pleasant temperatures peaking in the high 60s Fahrenheit and light winds.
Tournament Trends & Key Factors.
Yet another European Tour event heads to a new track that has no previous events with tangible stats to review, so we'll need to base any decisions on the raw specification this week. Winning scores on the ECCO Tour of between -12 and -13 over 3 rounds suggests that the course is scoreable and with favourable conditions I'm expect a lot of red numbers here this week.
Event Winners - Incoming Form
Marc Warren arrived in Denmark 4 years ago in decent form having finished 3rd at the Scottish Open, 39th at the Open Championship then a creditable 15th at the US PGA Championship. He'd been putting consistently well for a few weeks, ranking inside the top-20 for putts per GIR on each of his last 4 starts and found enough greens on the week in windy conditions to compile a winning score. David Horsey's form the year after was less obvious having recorded 4 top-20 finishes in the season, however he too had been putting reasonably well recording 3 top-20 putting performances out of his most recent 4 cuts made. Thomas Pieters was 2nd favourite for this title 2 years ago having arrived after finishes of 4th at The Olympics and 2nd the week before when defending in the Czech Republic and his chance was a fairly obvious one, whereas Julian Suri was still relatively under-the-radar 12 months ago as he was still playing predominantly on the Challenge Tour, however a runner-up finish in Portugal and 16th on his previous start - where he was 4th going into the final day - suggested that he wasn't far away from winning at this kind of level:
The four Made In Denmark events we've witnessed so far have all pretty much boiled down to who's putted best on the week and despite a change of venue this year, the set-up of the course and favourable weather conditions may well mean that little changes in that respect this year. Those players who have the discipline from off the tee to plot their way around the course and the ability on the greens to convert birdie chances may well gravitate to the top.
My selections are as follows:
My kneejerk reaction for his week was Matthew Fitzpatrick given the way the course sets up and with the considerable Ryder Cup carrot being dangled in front of his nose, I suspect he'll give this week a thoroughly good go. Pressure can work one of two ways of course and we've seen the weight of expectation bear down on the likes of Thorbjorn Olesen and Thomas Pieters in the past fortnight from positions that they'd have been expected to convert, however at around twice the price than that pair started their respective events in recent weeks, I'm willing to take a chance that Matt can handle the pressure and be in a position to convert when he most needs to. The objective for Fitzpatrick is fairly simple from his point of view: he simply must win this week to stand a chance of sneaking that 8th and final automatic spot in Bjorn's team - if that happens then the only thing that can stop him is a solo 7th place finish or better from Olesen.
Of course what could happen here is that the Sheffield lad falters early on and that could lead to a weekend off, however I suspect he's made of sterner stuff than that with 4 European Tour titles to his name including the 2016 DP World Tour Championship where he held off the best that the European Tour could offer at that time. The 23 year-old also defends his Omega European Masters title next week which may in a funny way help relieve some of this week's pressure as we often see as players approach the anniversary of a victory and the additional commitments that it entails.
For me, this layout best suits a generally accurate type who can find form on the putting surfaces and that's Matt down to a tee. Wins at Woburn and that aforementioned success at Crans are both big ticks in the tree-lined, plotter's course box and although he's been successful on more exposed tracks too, I suspect that this kind of layout still plays most to his strengths. In all truth 2018 hasn't been the best of seasons for Fitzpatrick, however of the more relevant results we see 8th at Wentworth, 12th at the US Open in world-class company and 14th at the Scottish Open in another classy field where he was 2nd heading into the final day. 66 to open at Firestone on a track that doesn't play greatly to his strengths is positive and he signed off his most recent start on the PGA Tour's Wyndham Championship with a 65/68 weekend where plenty of putts were dropping. With Olesen needing to defend his position and Pieters likely deflated after blowing last week's chance, I can see Matt getting into a birdie-making mindset here and giving this event his undivided attention. RESULT: T7
Matt Wallace 2pts EW 40/1 with New customers: Bet £10 get £30 & 30 free spins. 18+, T&Cs apply** (6 EW, 1/5 odds):
It would have been very easy to drop Matt Wallace after last week's disappointment in the Czech Republic. Needing to realistically win both last week and this to make any kind of impact on the Ryder Cup team, his chance has now gone bar the unlikeliest of call-ups from Thomas Bjorn, however with the pressure lifted I wouldn't be remotely surprised to see the Englishman find some of his best golf. A Friday round of 65 in Prague elevated the 28 year-old up to 7th place at the halfway point and going into the weekend it looked like he'd be one of the contenders at the business end of the event, however after an early birdie on Saturday it simply didn't happen for Matt and he eventually drifted to a tie for 36th. Perhaps there was too much pressure and expectation from himself that held him back when push came to shove, however I don't think that's cause for a further drift in his price for this week and given what we've learnt about the Hillingdon man in his relatively short career to date, he's well capable of bouncing back and winning an event of this stature. 9 wins from 69 starts at all levels is a statistic that nobody in this field can get remotely close to and that could have been more had he converted 54-hole leads in China earlier this year and, from a classical, tree-lined perspective, at Monza last autumn at the Italian Open. With no obvious flaws in his game and his putter still running warm, plus with the weight of expectation well and truly lifted from his shoulders, I wouldn't be at all surprised to see him win this week. RESULT: Winner
David Horsey 1pt EW 90/1 with Get a £30 welcome bonus*** for new customers, 18+, T&Cs apply (6 places, 1/5 odds)
Thomas Aiken 1pt EW 90/1 with New customers: Bet £10 get £30 & 30 free spins. 18+, T&Cs apply** (6 EW, 1/5 odds):
Two longer prices to complete my team this week. First up David Horsey who has an excellent record in Denmark and arrives here after a welcome 4-week break. An opening round of 63 in this event in 2015 at the Himmerland track set the Englishman up for what was his 4th and most recent European Tour success and he came close to matching that effort last year, again at Himmerland, when finishing 2nd to an outstanding Julian Suri. Notably both of those efforts came after a few weeks off in the summer where the 33 year-old recharged his batteries and both followed indifferent spells of form immediately prior to that break - MC/MC/66/33 and 75/48/43/MC respectively - so an incoming form line of 27/40/MC/39 and no competitive action since the end of July suddenly doesn't look all that bad. A relatively short player who's neat and tidy from tee-to-green and can be excellent on the greens seems like a potent combination for this week and, despite his form line, there have been signs in those performances that his game isn't a million miles away having ranked 2nd for Driving Accuracy when finishing 40th in Ireland and he topped the putting stats when finishing 39th on his last start in Germany. The Stockport man has bemoaned his lack of consistency of late, however with some good time spent resting and re-focussing his game for the final part of the 2018 season, at the price on offer I'm happy to take the chance that he'll hit the ground running once again after his summer break in a part of the world that he gets on with very well. RESULT: T56
Other players who interested me at tasty prices included Romain Wattel who showed a bit of form in Germany recently, David Lipsky who tends to react on this type of track and Zander Lombard who backed up a prominent performance at the Open Championship by winning his first professional event on the Sunshine Tour just over a week ago, however if accuracy is going to be an important factor then I see no reason why an in-form Thomas Aiken can't feature. The South African came within a play-off of winning his 4th European Tour title at the Nordea Masters, producing a birdie on the 72nd hole to take Paul Waring all the way before succumbing at the first extra hole. The 35 year-old didn't do a great deal wrong though up until that point aside from the odd wobble and his pinpoint accuracy could well get him into the frame here this week. What's been noticeable with Tommy of late is that he's putting much better and that always spells danger when coupled with a player who hits a lot of fairways and greens: 1.68 putts per GIR at the Italian Open ranked 14th in the field and he produced his best putting average for over 2 years a few weeks later at the Irish Open, ranking 3rd in the field with 1.66 putts per GIR. Recent putting efforts in Germany and Sweden have also been noteworthy in the context of his overall game and he could well build on his solitary attempt in Denmark back in 2016 which ended up in a tie for 13th. 3 top-10 finishes at Wentworth over the years rubber-stamps his tree-lined credentials and at the price I'll take a punt on his putter behaving here this week. RESULT: T71
Watch these tips on YouTube with Steve Bamford: Golf Betting System YouTube Channel
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