The European Open returned to the schedule in 2015 after a 6-year break, having formed an important part of the European Tour up until 2009; the event’s resurrection saw a new early autumn slot alongside a new home in Germany, having previously been played in the UK and Ireland at such venues as the London Club, The K Club, Sunningdale and Walton Heath to name but a few.
Those historical results from 2009 and before are little more than interesting facts now though with the event having shifted to Germany; a change in scheduling in 2017 as well as a new track also makes the results from 2015 and 2016 less relevant too as we return to the Green Eagle complex on the outskirts of Hamburg for the third time for this year’s renewal, with its autumn spot in the calendar reinstated.
With the PGA Tour between seasons, this event has managed to attract a strong field with the likes of Paul Casey, Xander Schuaffele, Patrick Reed and Matt Kuchar all in attendance, however as we saw last week with hot favourite Rory McIlroy missing out, golf betting is never straightforward when it comes to the heat of battle on a Sunday afternoon.
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Course Overview. Green Eagle Golf Courses is a collection of 42 holes spread across 3 courses in the ‘Lüneburger Heide’, a picturesque part of Germany on the outskirts of Hamburg. The North Course is being used for this week’s event and the Michael Blesch design is a brute at 7,165 metres (7,836 yards) from its tips for its scorecard par of 73, however with 4 teeing areas on each of the holes there’s considerable flexibility as to how the course can be set up. This week’s layout will reportedly measure 7,544 yards and play to a par of 72, which is slightly shorter than last year with the 15th now playing a mere 594 yards.
As you’d expect with a course of that length, the fairways are reasonably generous and the greens large and undulating so as to give players a chance of compiling some kind of score. Water is in play on all but one of the holes and an element of control is required to avoid paying the penalty for wild tee shots or approaches, however the reward for a safe navigation to the green is excellent quality putting surfaces.
3 of the 5 par-5s ranked amongst the easiest holes to play 12 months ago with the 18th proving to be the easiest of the lot, however the 16th at 663 yards certainly proved to be no pushover and it played exactly to par cumulatively for the 4 days. The short par-4s on the 1st and 7th holes also gave up an awful lot of birdies which reinforces the view that this is a strong risk/reward track.
Tournament Stats. We’ve published some key player statistics for this week’s European Open. Please note, the 2017 and 2018 renewals only were held at this venue. Current Form | Event Form | First Round Leader Stats | Top 20 Finishes | 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 weather forecast for Hamburg is here. Sunshine and showers are expected throughout this year’s event which should keep the course lush and responsive. Temperatures will struggle to get much higher than the mid-60s Fahrenheit and winds will gradually dip after a breezy opening day where 15mph is likely in the afternoon.
Tournament Trends & Key Factors.
Looking back to the 2 events held here at Green Eagle, the eventual winners produced key stats as follows:
- 2018, Richard McEvoy (-11). 276 yards (62nd), 67.3% fairways (6th), 72.2% greens in regulation (8th), 55% Scrambling (8th), 1.67 putts per GIR (8th)
- 2017, Jordan Smith (-13). 296 yards (3rd), 71.2% fairways (7th), 73.6% greens in regulation (15th), 63.2% Scrambling (7th), 1.74 putts per GIR (16th)
Two events played in differing conditions still led to similar winning scores over the past 2 renewals held here at Green Eagle. The course played soft in 2017 following a lot of wet weather which effectively lengthened and widened the track, however to compensate the organisers moved a number of tee boxes forward to keep it relatively fair and Jordan Smith, who ranked 3rd for Driving Distance on the week, ultimately prevailed in a play-off against Alex Levy.
Last year it was much drier which brought some of the shorter hitters into the equation with no (recorded) player finishing inside the top 5 ranking in the top-50 for Driving Distance, including eventual winner Richard McEvoy who averaged a full 20 yards less off the tee than Smith the year before.
With the chance of rain every day for the next week and temperatures languishing in the mid-60s Fahrenheit, I’d expect players with a little more power to hold the advantage this year, however with water a constant threat that aggression needs to be accompanied by the kind of tee-to-green control that both of our winners here have demonstrated so far.
Much of the length of this track comes from the 5 par-5s; however that’s not to say that they’re all a pushover. Looking at last year, Richard McEvoy led the field for par-5 scoring at -12 and one of the runners-up, Christofer Blomstrand, was joint next best at -10; despite there being 20 looks at the par-5s, these were amongst the best scores on display on the week on the long holes. Clearly taking opportunities to score on the par-5s is fairly critical to success around this track.
Incoming Form: Before the venue switched to Green Eagle GC in 2017, the previous two winners Thongchai Jaidee and Alex Levy had both recorded top-7 finishes on their previous start.
With the scheduling for the last 2 years falling immediately after The Open, Jordan Smith hadn’t played at that Major, however prior to that he’d recorded 7 straight cuts made without finishing any better than 20th at the Irish Open, whereas Richard McEvoy had won the week before on the Challenge Tour’s Le Vaudreuil Golf Challenge:
- 2018, Richard McEvoy: MC/65/MC/MC/34/MC/15/MC/26/29/33/1
- 2017, Jordan Smith: 29/17/8/14/MC/48/40/21/44/30/20/58
- 2016, Alexander Levy: 2/63/14/4/28/34/WD/56/73/18/34/7
- 2015, Thongchai Jaidee: 2/10/MC/MC/11/10/31/65/50/57/MC/5
German Form: With little course form to go on, I’ve looked at more general form in Germany for our 4 winners. Jaidee had extensive experience in the country prior to his victory and as a player who was once touted as only being able to play his best golf in Asia, he’d certainly started to produce some more positive results on European soil and this was his third victory outside of Asia. 3rd heading into Sunday at the BMW International Open earlier in the year in 2015 had also signalled some intent for the Thai star.
Despite finishing 55th the year before in this event, Alex Levy had played well previously in Germany having led going into the final day at the 2013 BMW International Open and he followed that up with a 12th place finish the year after.
2017 winner here at Green Eagle, Jordan Smith, was inside the top-20 heading into the weekend on his solitary start in Germany the month before his victory, whereas last year’s winner Richard McEvoy was clearly becoming more comfortable in the region, recording 3 top-30 finishes from his previous 4 German starts and he’d co-led here on this track 12 months prior after 18 holes:
- 2018, Richard McEvoy: MC/MC/MC/45/MC/MC/MC/MC/MC/54/41/55/WD/51/MC/24/59/28/26
- 2017, Jordan Smith: 44
- 2016, Alexander Levy: 3/12/55
- 2015, Thongchai Jaidee: 48/47/MC/MC/MC/36/37/MC/MC/MC/21/MC/21/41/21/MC/8/41/5/11
Boiling it all down, this is a long, challenging course that presents scoring opportunities to aggressive players. Despite having 5 par-5s and a couple of short par-4s, this course isn’t a complete birdie-fest with -13 and -11 winning scores telling us that players will need to pick and choose when to attack this track. With softer conditions expected this year than last, the course will play wider and longer; the huge greens give players a chance to find putting surfaces from the rough though so players with an aggressive mindset are still my preference, especially as the course is likely to play to its full length this time around.
With the likes of Xander Schauffele, Patrick Reed, Paul Casey and Matt Kuchar all going off at relatively short prices this week after their respective efforts at East Lake a fortnight ago, there’s plenty of value to be found further down the list this week.
My selections are as follows: