Paul Williams

Paul Williams' Made In Himmerland Tips 2021

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After a short break on the European Tour as the world of golf enjoyed the majesty of the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island, we’re back this week as the Tour heads north from the Canary Islands for the next 3 weeks, and firstly to Denmark for the newly-titled Made In Himmerland.

Formerly called the ‘Made In Denmark’, for course form students it will be a welcome return to the Himmerland Golf Resort and Spa in Farso as we have renewals from 2014-17 and 2019 to analyse, as well as a smattering of Challenge Tour and Nordic League events that have been staged on this property over the recent past.

A young Thomas Bjorn won his first professional event around these parts on the Challenge Tour way back in 1995, before a 2012 renovation saw every green re-laid with A4 bentgrass and every bunker re-modelled, so only those who have played since that date have any practical experience of the track in its current guise, with the notable exception of Lucas Bjerregaard who’s attached to the club and plays the course regularly when at home.

9 players are heading straight back from Kiawah Island to play this week – namely Aaron Rai, Andy Sullivan, Bernd Wiesberger, Brandon Stone, Jason Scrivener, Kurt Kitayama, Rasmus Hojgaard, Robert MacIntyre and Thomas Detry – with Scrivener faring best of the bunch last week with a tie for 23rd. MacIntyre (49th) and Hojgaard (79th) were the only others to make the weekend in South Carolina.

As the highest-ranked player in the field, MacIntyre leads the betting at a general 12/1, from 2019 Made In Denmark winner Bernd Wiesberger at 20/1. With a full field of 156 players and plenty available in the 20/1 to 40/1 bracket, there’s a lot of value to be had a little further down the list this week though in my view.

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Backtee Course, Himmerland Golf & Spa Resort, Farsø, Denmark. Designer: Jan Cedermolm, re-designed by Philip Spogaard, 2012; Par: 71; Length: 6,751 yards; Fairways: Bentgrass/Festuca; Rough: Rye/Festuca; Greens: A4 Bentgrass; Stimp: 11ft.

Course Overview. From its tips the Backtee Course can stretch to nearly 7,400 yards for its par of 71, however from the renewals we’ve seen here it has played much shorter than that and according to the European Tour website it will play just 6,751 yards this year.

As ever, caution should be exercised when taking that yardage as given as organisers have the choice of 5 tee boxes on each hole to flex distances as they see fit, however it’s played sub-7,000 yards on each of the past 2 renewals held here and it seems unlikely that we’ll see a complete about turn this week.

An exposed, inland track with water in play on 5 of the holes and linksy in style, the main defence is the breeze in what is often a windy part of the world – the forecast is for moderately breezy (10-15 mph) conditions at times and any wind tends to be accentuated on this type of exposed track, however at those levels the course should still encourage a reasonably low score.

In terms of the layout itself, 5 of the par-4s measure under 400 yards, plus there’s a 128 yard par-3, however the par-5 11th measures well over 600 yards making it a 3-shotter for the vast majority of the field.

Aside from the driveable par-4 14th which at 262 yards ranked the easiest hole on the course 2 years ago, the two par-5s on the front 9 – the 5th and 8th holes – offer the best scoring opportunities, with 22 eagles and over 300 birdies made on just those two holes last time we visited here.

The greens are excellent quality bentgrass that run very true and they tend to appeal to the better putters on Tour.

made in himmerland tips

Tournament Stats. We’ve published some key player statistics for this week’s Made In Himmerland that will help to shape a view on players who traditionally play well at this event.

As previously noted, we’re back at Himmerland this year which hosted this event for the first 4 years of its existence as well as in 2019, so the results from the 2018 season 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. 2019: Bernd Wiesberger, 70/1; 2018: Matt Wallace, 40/1; 2017, Julian Suri: 60/1; 2016: Thomas Pieters: 12/1; 2015: David Horsey, 80/1; 2014: Marc Warren, 30/1.

Weather Forecast. The latest weather forecast for the area is here.

Occasional sunny spells are expected this week with temperatures struggling to get much higher than the low 60s Fahrenheit until later into the weekend. Winds will be moderate at 10-15mph on Thursday and Sunday, with lighter winds expected on the middle 2 days.

Tournament Trends & Key Factors.

Analysing the final stats of the winners from the first 3 years played here at Himmerland plus 2019 gives us a little more insight into the requirements for this test:

  • 2019: Bernd Wiesberger (-14). 60.7% fairways (28th), 73.6% greens in regulation (8th), 52.6% scrambling (52nd), 1.61 putts per GIR (1st).
  • 2016: Thomas Pieters (-17). 57.1% fairways (29th), 66.7% greens in regulation (41st), 70.8% scrambling (5th), 1.63 putts per GIR (2nd).
  • 2015: David Horsey (-13). 50% fairways (52nd), 76.4% greens in regulation (8th), 52.9% scrambling (38th), 1.69 putts per GIR (10th).
  • 2014: Marc Warren (-9). 44.6% fairways (61st), 68.1% greens in regulation (16th), 56.5% scrambling (31st), 1.67 putts per GIR (3rd).

No stats were captured for Julian Suri in 2017 as he was plying his trade predominantly on the Challenge Tour at the time.

From what we’ve seen over the 5 renewals, Driving Accuracy is seemingly less important than some tracks and the course neither alienates the shorter hitters nor overly favours the bombers – the common denominator from the stats above is primarily the ability to putt well on these slick bentgrass greens.

Although the stats are patchier for 2017, of the 7 players with recorded stats and finished inside the top 9, all of them ranked inside the top 27 for putting average, included in which we had 1st, 3rd, 7th and 9th place finishers in that stat. The first two home the last time we came here to Himmerland, Bernd Wiesberger and Robert MacIntyre, ranked 1st and 5th for putting average respectively.

For the 2019 renewal, we also have Strokes Gained data which further backs up the need for a hot putter. Of the top 8 finishers, eventual winner Wiesberger ranked 26th for SG Putting and was the worst of the 8; Larrazabal (1st), Langasque (3rd), Wilson (4th), MacIntyre (5th), Dunne (8th), Paisley (10th) and Schmitt (20th) each did the bulk of their scoring with the flat stick.

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 4 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 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.

Matt Wallace arrived in Denmark in 2019 following a disappointing 36th in the Czech Republic when chasing an unlikely Ryder Cup qualification. With his only remaining chance to win here and impress an on-looking Thomas Bjorn, the Englishman did just that by birdieing 5 of his final 6 holes to make a 4-man play-off which he won with birdies at both the first and second extra hole. Wallace had already won the Indian Open and BMW International Open in the season:

The last time we were here at Himmerland, Bernd Wiesberger arrived with some steadily improving overall form to his name, having started the 2019 season slowly. 23rd at the Indian Open contained some brief glimpses of improvement before a 68/68 weekend in China had registered his best finish of the year. A final round 76 on his last start at the British Masters masked his overall progression and 70/1 was the reward for those who sided with the Austrian:

  • 2019: Bernd Wiesberger: MC/MC/51/42/MC/MC/MC/55/MC/23/14/70
  • 2018: Matt Wallace: MC/3/20/51/MC/1/MC/MC/MC/MC/19/36
  • 2017: Julian Suri: 31/1/3/23/11/MC/27/23/MC/16
  • 2016: Thomas Pieters: 28/26/MC/27/16/29/30/86/4/2
  • 2015: David Horsey: 42/15/MC/MC/38/11/MC/MC/66/33
  • 2014: Marc Warren: 33/28/16/MC/29/MC/26/3/29/15

With limited course history, performances of the 5 Himmerland winners on this track prior to their respective wins are sparse with only Thomas Pieters (finished 35th) and David Horsey (39th) with any tangible experience around these parts prior to their wins.

My selections are as follows:

Ryan Fox 2pts EW 45/1 (6EW, 1/5) with William Hill

Bookies’ favourite Robert MacIntrye and a number of the leading players will need to make a quick adjustment to their games and body clocks if they’re going to contend here this week following their excursion to a tough, lengthy track last week, however in truth – with the possible exception of Jason Scrivener – none of the other returning players did much to warrant a scribble in the notebook.

Of the other leading protagonists who didn’t venture across the Atlantic last week, Thorbjorn Olesen was the closest for me on home soil, however he’s not been the most dependable of late when having put himself in some handy positions and his Himmerland record is mixed with 3 missed cuts from 5 attempts.

Calum Hill and Matthias Schwab also have their merits, but again have faltered when push comes to shove and, all things considered, I’ve gone for Ryan Fox who arrives in fine form having won back-to-back events on his home minor tour last month and relishes this kind of terrain.

Jennian Homes Charles Tour victories at 23-under (by 7 strokes) and 25-under (3 strokes) in April need to be taken into context I guess, however some competitive action and a winning feeling is never a bad thing in any standard of golf and the 34 year-old should be brimming with confidence as he heads back to the European Tour. Fox also became a father earlier this year and will undoubtedly want to make the time he spends away from his family worthwhile as he moves forward.

More significant and tangible form is evidenced from his 6th place finish at the high-class Saudi International the last time that we saw him on the European Tour, where he opened with a pair of 65s to lead heading into the weekend before dropping back a little. That was the Kiwi’s best effort since lockdown eased though and it was no surprise to see him find his game on a coastal track seeing as most of his best work has come on either coastal and/or exposed, links-style tracks over the years.

6th at the Open de France, 4th at the Irish Open and 4th at the Scottish Open in consecutive weeks leading up to the 2017 Open Championship reinforces the point as to the style of track that Ryan prefers, and 2nd at the Irish Open and 8th at the Scottish Open the following year do little to disprove that assertion.

A breakthrough win came at the World Super 6 in 2019 on a Perth track that’s a few miles inland and susceptible to the local trade winds, and he came closest to following that up at the Vic Open last year at 13th Beach which is, as the name would suggest, an exposed coastal track. With spirits high, I can see Fox seriously contending here this week. RESULT: MC

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Minwoo Lee 1pt EW 80/1 (8EW, 1/5) with Ladbrokes

With Richard Bland and Phil Mickelson reminding us all over the past week or so that age is just a number when it comes to golf, Minwoo Lee could strike a blow for the younger generation once again this week.

At the age of 22, the younger brother of LPGA star Minjee Lee is already a winner at European Tour level, having won the Vic Open on home soil last February, and this week’s assignment isn’t dissimilar to that as he looks to pick up the reins with fellow 22 year-old Garrick Higgo having won 2 of the last 4 regular European Tour events. 13th Beach, the host course of that event in Australia, is another track with linksy features that Lee mastered in blustery conditions to beat this week’s headline selection by 2 strokes.

Digging through the record books, there’s already some correlation between 13th Beach and here with 2015 Vic Open winner Richard Green who was 2nd to halfway here at Himmerland the same year before finishing 6th; likewise 2019 runner-up Wade Ormsby also finished 6th here in 2017, having led after the first round. Small signals from a limited number of players crossing over on both events, but enough to capture my attention.

2 top-5 finishes in Perth over the years also interests me given the demands on short game and putting on that track, combined with often breezy conditions from the Freemantle Doctor, and 4th at the Saudi International is more solid form in better company than this.

It makes sense that Minwoo should relish coastal, exposed and/or breezy conditions given his Perth upbringing which has made him master the low stinger, an effective weapon in those conditions. Thursday and Sunday look the breeziest days to employ that tactic this week, which could be pivotal to getting off to a flying start and a strong finish.

His breakthrough win last year effectively got Lee his first WGC start at the end of February via the Australian Order of Merit, and 28th there – including recording the low round of the day with a Saturday 66 – is a decent effort in elite company. 3rd for Putting Average and 1st for Putts Per Round was an impressive flat stick performance at The Concession and he looked sharp on his reappearance at the Belfry, finishing 21st after shaking the rust off with an opening round of 75. RESULT: T52

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Julian Suri 1pt EW 100/1 (6EW, 1/5) with Betfred

A fairly straightforward selection for me given the price on offer is Julian Suri.

The American’s only European Tour victory came here at Himmerland in 2017, when he romped to a 4-stroke victory over David Horsey despite only having partial status on the Tour at the time. 8th place finishes at the Andalucia Masters, Turkish Open and DP World Tour Championship followed that season before he kicked off the following campaign with a runner-up finish in Hong Kong, as the American closed in on a top-50 spot in the OWGR which would have opened many doors.

A hernia issue and subsequent operation slowed down his progress though and in truth he’s not managed to find the same level of consistency since that 2017 season, despite finishing runner-up at the Open de France (2018) and Trophee Hassan II (2019).

Interesting then that we’re finally starting to see some signs of life in his game which could coincide beautifully with a return to the scene of his breakthrough win. 64 to Open the Gran Canaria Lopesan Open was positive, despite shooting 72 the following day to miss the cut; a Saturday 65 a fortnight later in Tenerife put the 30 year-old in 9th position heading into Sunday before drifting backwards with a round of 70.

A 21st place finish at The Belfry on his last start was fuelled by opening and closing rounds of 68 which were both among the best efforts on the day. 4th for SG Around the Green and 12th for SG Putting were noteworthy efforts in Sutton Coldfield after leading the field for SG Approach the week before in Tenerife, and if he can put it all together this week then a repeat performance of 2017 isn’t out of the question in my view. RESULT: MC

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Paul Dunne 1pt EW 300/1 (8EW, 1/5) with Ladbrokes

At the age of 28, Paul Dunne has had a colourful career to date. He’s led an Open Championship into Sunday (as an amateur, no less), won the British Masters, flirted with a top-50 OWGR ranking and now finds himself outside the world’s top 1,000 players with only partial status on the European Tour and a need to take every opportunity that arises, such as this week.

To be fair to the Greystones man, the last 18 months have been blighted by injury rather than a simple loss of form and he eventually had to bite the bullet and opt for surgery on his hand which was always going to take time to heal. Lockdown helped in that regard with his rehabilitation coinciding with a period of time when golf wasn’t even an option to the fittest of golfers, and he now describes himself as ‘fully healthy’ and ready to advance his career once again.

33rd in Austria was the first sign of form that we saw this year, before finishing 45th and 52nd at the Canary Islands Championship and British Masters respectively. Neither leap off the page, granted, but an opening round of 65 and a Saturday 66 in Tenerife showed promise and he sat in 16th place heading into the final 2 rounds at The Belfry as he continued to show signs of improvement.

Dunne’s last top-10 finish came here on this track in Denmark back in 2019 and his overall course form of 10/14/4 suggests that the layout suits his eye. Room off the tee helps in that regard and, provided he can find his ball, his short iron and wedge game is outstanding when he’s on song, as is his putting which has shown real sparks with rankings of 2nd and 7th for SG Putting over those last 2 outings.

2nd at the 2018 Spanish Open to Jon Rahm was on an inland track with linksy features and 3rd at the 2019 World Super 6 also correlates well on that track in Perth that’s just inland and often breezy. 7th at the Dunhill Links and 5th on the PGA Tour at the Corales Championship are also eye-catching finishes that work well for this week’s task, and I can see him recording his best post-injury finish here by some stretch this week on a course that suits. RESULT: WD

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Chris Wood 1pt EW 175/1 (6EW, 1/5) with William Hill

Another player on the comeback trail who could outperform his price this week is Chris Wood.

Until his 11th place finish at The Belfry on his last start a fortnight ago, the Bristolian had, like Dunne, slipped outside the World’s top 1,000, having previously reached the dizzy heights of 22nd following his BMW PGA Championship win in 2016 in a year that also saw him make his Ryder Cup debut at Hazeltine.

Back and neck issues have hampered his progress since that time, as have wider technical issues with his game, however under the tutelage of Alan Thompson, who also works with Tommy Fleetwood, the results are starting to show and he’s in a much better place physically and also mentally now. 21st in Austria was the first real sign of improvement as he ranked 1st for SG Approach that week, before his aforementioned effort on his last start where 3rd for SG Putting was the highlight.

A missed cut here at Himmerland in 2014 is the 33 year-old’s only course form and 77/70 that week hardly inspires, however this is the kind of terrain that should suit him best. 5th at the Open Championship in 2008 was an outstanding effort as Low Amateur and he followed that up with a 3rd place finish at Turnberry the following year, having turned professional in the meantime. 2nd at The Dutch and 2nd at Le Golf National are both solid outings at inland tracks with more than a hint of links about them, and he’s also won at Doha – another links signpost – as well as at Diamond CC which correlates with the last winner here, Bernd Wiesberger.

Talking about his struggles might be the final piece of the jigsaw for Chris and a more relaxed attitude to his game might just see the results continue to improve. RESULT: MC

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Odds and bookmaker offers correct at 16:55BST 24.5.21 but naturally subject to fluctuation.