Paul Williams

Paul Williams' Porsche European Open Tips 2022

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Sebastian Soderberg was our saving grace last week, grabbing a share of 5th place from the penultimate group on Sunday to give us a skinny profit on the week. Congratulations if you were on eventual winner Victor Perez at 50/1, who rode a red-hot putter in the play-off to defeat a disappointed Ryan Fox, who seemingly had the title at his mercy a number of times before eventually succumbing.

On to this week and 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 fifth time for this year’s renewal, with the same early June spot in the schedule as last year.

Headlining this week’s field is Tommy Fleetwood who’s generally a 12/1 chance following his 5th place finish at the US PGA Championship just over a week ago. 35th last week at the Charles Schwab Challenge means that Tommy’s got to travel directly over to Germany this week, however he’s undoubtedly the class act in this field.

Adrian Meronk is the Englishman’s closest competitor according to the bookies with the new entrant into the OWGR top 100 rating as an 22/1 shot, with the likes of Robert MacIntyre, Jordan Smith, Rasmus Hojgaard and last week’s winner Victor Perez following on behind in the betting.

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hit green in regulation

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 7,603 yards and play to a par of 72, 60 yards or so longer than it did 12 months ago.

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.

Only 3 holes played under par 12 months ago, led by the short par-4 7th which gave up 3 eagles and 92 birdies over 3 rounds. The par-5 9th and 15th both played marginally under par, whereas the other two par-5s were over; given that the 16th plays to a whopping 705 yards and the 18th is shorter at ‘just’ 603 yards , that’s no great surprise.

porsche european open tips

Tournament Stats. We’ve published some key player statistics for this week’s European Open. Please note, the 2017-2019 and 2021 renewals only were held at this venue. Current Form | Event Form | First Round Leader Stats | Combined Stats.

Event Winners. 2021, Marcus Armitage, 80/1; 2019, Paul Casey 7/1; 2018: Richard McEvoy 125/1; 2017: Jordan Smith 40/1; 2016: Alex Levy 45/1; 2015: Thongchai Jaidee 55/1.

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.

A weak weather front moving through the area on Wednesday may soften the course a little ahead of play, however after that clears through the weather looks settled with sunny conditions expected and temperatures rising to the low 70s Fahrenheit by the weekend. Thursday will see the breeziest conditions at 10-15 mph; after that it will be pretty calm in the main.

Tournament Trends & Key Factors. Looking back to the 3 events held here at Green Eagle, the eventual winners produced key stats as follows:

  • 2021, Marcus Armitage (-8, 54 holes). 276 yards (41st), 61.5% fairways (34th), 63.0% greens in regulation (38th), 70.0% Scrambling (6th), 1.68 putts per GIR (7th)
  • 2019, Paul Casey (-14). 293 yards (12th), 69.2% fairways (8th), 81.9% greens in regulation (2nd), 46.2% Scrambling (49th), 1.76 putts per GIR (24th)
  • 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)

Four events played in differing conditions still led to similar winning scores over the 4 renewals held here at Green Eagle, if you factor in that only 3 rounds were possible 12 months ago. 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.

In 2018 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.

Paul Casey’s win in 2019 came in mixed conditions with temperatures struggling to hit the mid-60s Fahrenheit, and although the average driving distance of the top-5 finishers increased over the years before, it still wasn’t an out-and-out slugfest. We still saw, however, the kind of tee-to-green control that both of our winners here had demonstrated to that point, with each of the top 5 finishers ranking inside the 17 most accurate drivers on the week.

Last year’s win for Marcus Armitage came in dry and firm conditions with the event reduced to a 54-hole Saturday to Monday affair due to Covid. Despite the conditions, eventual winner Marcus Armitage only averaged 276 off the tee and the Englishman prevailed with an excellent performance on and around the greens which contrasts with his normally dependable tee-to-green game.

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 2019, Matthias Schwab (2nd) and Niklas Lemke (9th) co-led the field for par-5 scoring at -10; despite there being 20 looks at the par-5s, these were the best scores on display on the week on the long holes. Similarly last year Armitage was just -3 for the par-5s over 3 days so those who rely on that part of their game to get in contention may be at a disadvantage here.

Strokes Gained: From a Strokes Gained perspective, rarely do we see such symmetry with the numbers with SG Tee to Green featuring heavily for all of the top 5 finishers last year. Paul Casey, who finished solo 6th, also ranked 4th for the same metric to reinforce the point:

  • 1st, Marcus Armitage: T: 40th; A: 11th; T2G: 8th; ATG: 3rd; P: 7th
  • 2nd, Thomas Detry: T: 5th; A: 19th; T2G: 3rd; ATG: 2nd; P: 42nd
  • 2nd, Edoardo Molinari: T: 11th; A: 1st; T2G: 1st; ATG: 42nd; P: 44th
  • 2nd, Matthew Southgate: T: 26th; A: 2nd; T2G: 6th; ATG: 25th; P: 19th
  • 2nd, Darius van Driel: T: 10th; A: 28th; T2G: 11th; ATG: 10th; P: 13th

Key: T: SG Off the Tee; A; SG Approach; T2G: SG Tee to Green; ATG: SG Around the Green; P: SG Putting.

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 next 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.

This event was played in early September in 2019 and Paul Casey triumphed having produced the 3rd-best 72-hole total at East Lake for the PGA Tour’s finale, whereas last year’s schedule saw the event in an identical early June position and Marcus Armitage won having finished 8th on his last start in Denmark the week before.

For the trend followers out there, that makes 5 of the 6 winners coming off the back of a top-8 finish on their last outing:

  • 2021, Marcus Armitage: 6/45/61/54/47/MC/10/4/45/MC/MC/8
  • 2019, Paul Casey: 9/MC/4/29/WD/21/5/57/27/13/24/3
  • 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

Course Form: In terms of course form, Paul Casey had finished 7th in 2018 before picking up the title a year later, whereas Richard McEvoy finished 28th on debut in 2017 where he led after the first round. Jordan Smith was making his competitive course debut in 2017, as were the rest of the field.

Last year’s winner Marcus Armitage had missed the cut in 2017, following a first round 73 with an 81 which was the worst round of the day:

  • 2021, Marcus Armitage: MC
  • 2019, Paul Casey: 7
  • 2018, Richard McEvoy: 28
  • 2017, Jordan Smith: Debut

Boiling it all down, this is a long, challenging course that presents scoring opportunities to aggressive players, but plotters can equally contend. Despite having 5 par-5s and a couple of short par-4s, this course isn’t a complete birdie-fest with -14, -13, -11 and -8 (54 holes) winning scores telling us that players will need to pick and choose when to attack this track.

My selections are as follows:

Rasmus Hojgaard 2.5pts EW 28/1 (6EW, 1/5) with Unibet

Whenever a standout favourite jets into a bog-standard DP World Tour event like this we should very wary. Tommy Fleetwood’s addition to the field has quite rightly seen him installed as the clear favourite and this Tour’s winners’ list is littered with players who’ve nipped across the Atlantic and hoovered up titles at a lower level. 2019 here at Green Eagle is a prime example when Paul Casey jetted in a week after finishing 3rd (72 hole score) at East Lake on his previous start and obliged at 7/1.

22nd at The PLAYERS, 14th at Augusta and 5th at Southern Hills are eye-catching finishes for Fleetwood this term on his State-side exploits and to that end he’s head and shoulders above the rest of the field; yet when he has returned ‘home’ he’s been less impressive. 13th at the Dubai Championship, 27th at the DP World Tour Championship, 48th in Abu Dhabi and 12th at the Emirates from his last 4 DP World Tour starts aren’t troubling the bookies from an each-way perspective, let alone as outright winner which his prohibitive price is all but forcing.

All that said, Tommy has to be feared here – if someone is going to beat him then he’ll need to be a classy sort, and to that end I’m taking him on with a couple of capable winners, the first of whom is Rasmus Hojgaard.

In a world where Strokes Gained data is the accepted currency nowadays, I still take a look at traditional stats to back up my thoughts and assertions and it’s interesting to see that on a course that’s likely to reward strong and sufficiently accurate driving, the young Dane’s Total Driving game is trending nicely. 62nd, 47th, 13th and 8th over his last 4 starts is positive and he’s backed that up with 1st and 6th for GIR on his last 2 outings. 35th & 12th for SG Off the Tee, 2nd & 14th for SG Approach and 7th & 13th for SG Tee to Green for those same 2 efforts at the Belfry and in Holland last week suggests that his long game is ready for a fourth title at this level before too long.

10th last week was a little up and down, with an opening 66 followed by a 75; weekend rounds of 70 & 71 were more settled but still don’t tell the whole story as 3 over for his final 4 holes meant he finished lower than he perhaps should have. Positive signs nevertheless and a calmer forecast with the hint of some cut in the ground should help this talented powerhouse get into contention. RESULT: T51

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Matt Wallace 2pts EW 40/1 (6EW, 1/5) with Unibet

A return to DP World Tour action for Matt Wallace last week saw an instant return to form and he’s also the type of player who can compete with the likes of Tommy Fleetwood.

After early-season rust was removed in Abu Dhabi (68th) and Dubai (35th), the Englishman headed to the States where it would be fair to say that he’s had a pretty torrid time. 10 starts resulted in 9 Missed Cuts and a solitary pay-cheque in Mexico where a promising halfway position disintegrated over the weekend to an eventual tie for 67th.

Matt’s better than that though, far better in fact, and if there’s one thing we know about the 32 year-old it’s that he’s got the focus and intensity to keep working tirelessly to get back to contending and winning ways.

It was no massive surprise given the drop in grade that the Hillingdon man was prominent on his reappearance in Europe last week, working his way into a tie for the lead heading into Sunday and his first final pairing for over a year. A flat final round of 72 wasn’t enough, but progress was undoubtedly made and further steps forward could be taken this week in my view.

Strokes Gained ranks of 8th for Tee to Green and 7th for Approach last week were his best combined efforts on those metrics since finishing 3rd at the Texas Open last April on the PGA Tour and more of the same this week would be ideal on a track that rewards that kind of game.

Wallace’s only visit here to Green Eagle resulted in a weekend off back in 2017, however that followed a string of 4 straight Missed Cuts and last week’s effort hints at something better. His last 2 visits to Germany have resulted in a win at the BMW International Open in 2018 and 3rd the following year when defending his title, so he should feel quite comfortable in this part of the world. RESULT: T18

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Kristoffer Broberg 1pt EW 100/1 (8EW, 1/5) with Ladbrokes

My notes from last year’s event here at Green Eagle highlight that eventual winner Marcus Armitage had ranked first for GIR when finishing 8th in Denmark the week before. In a game where lightning can and does strike twice, if the same thing is to happen this week then Kristoffer Borberg’s effort last week shouldn’t be ignored.

14th when defending his Dutch Open title after a 2-month lay-off is noteworthy in itself, not least in the fact that it was the Swede’s best finish of the year by some distance, but also from the numbers that spilled out from his 4 rounds. 7th for SG Tee to Green, 3rd for SG Off the Tee, 2nd for Driving Accuracy and as alluded to 1st for GIR are a strong combination for this week’s task and with the wind in his sails, perhaps he can build on that effort here this week.

3 wins in 4 events on the Challenge Tour back in 2012 marked the 35 year-old out as a potential superstar, although it took 3 further years before he broke through at the European Tour’s BMW Masters. 6 long years passed before he was triumphant again in Holland last year, however perhaps we’ll see a resurgence from a player whose iron-play has always been a huge asset – certainly last week’s stats offer enough encouragement to take a chance on that happening given the price on offer. RESULT: T64

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Marcel Schneider 1pt EW 80/1 (5EW, 1/4)

I’ll close with a couple of locals (well, Germans) who I think could threaten the each-way places. First up Marcel Schneider who’s impressing with increasing frequency of late and deserves some support on home soil.

The 32 year-old has primarily plied his trade on the Challenge Tour thus far, however his successful 2020 and 2021 campaigns at that level have given him increasing chances at DP World Tour level and following finishes of 13th at the Catalunya Championship, 7th at the Soudal Open and 4th last week at the Dutch Open, he currently sits 78th on the Race to Dubai and in great shape to secure an improved status for next season.
Those results, with a solitary missed cut in between times at The Belfry, have been achieved with a solid long game of late, combined with an increasingly compliant putter: 7th & 6th for SG Approach combined with 5th and 11th for SG Tee to Green over his past 2 outings ties in very nicely with contenders here at Green Eagle, and 7th for SG Putting last week ties his best career in-field ranking on that score at this level.

Hailing from the outskirts of Stuttgart, Marcel will undoubtedly be comfortable playing at home and 7th here last year at the Covid-reduced 54-hole affair is encouraging as he approaches this year’s renewal in better form. 3 wins on the Challenge Tour – 2 of them last year – suggests he’s well capable of getting over the line when presented with the opportunity and perhaps a step up to DP World Tour winner status isn’t out of the question here this week. RESULT: T5

Nick Bachem 0.5pt EW 300/1 (8EW, 1/5) with Ladbrokes

Finally I’m taking a chance on the promising Nick Bachem who may be fearless enough to take on his far more illustrious peers here this week.

I remember picking up Matt Wallace’s first win on the European Tour at the Open de Portugal back in 2017, when he was a relative unknown who’d been excelling at lower levels. 6 wins on the Alps Tour had observers keeping a keen eye on the Englishman and he effectively leapfrogged the Challenge Tour with his success in Portugal, having signalled his intent with a 3rd place finish on the second tier on his penultimate start.

In many ways, Bachem’s progress has followed a similar path. Success on the Pro Golf Tour as an amateur in 2020 was followed by 2 further victories at that level last year as the German proved himself to be too good for that grade of golf.

As a professional now, the 22 year-old has found his feet at Challenge Tour level it would seem, recording finishes of 20th, 3rd, 11th and 5th last week as he looks to continue his rapid career progression. Shades of Wallace’s progress in that string of results and a further step forward on comfortable home soil isn’t out of the question here in my view.

Understandably, we know very little about Nick’s game, however his 3rd place finish at the co-sanctioned Sunshine Tour/Challenge Tour Limpopo Championship in April gives us a few clues. 11th in the field for Total Driving that week was supported by 12th for Ball-Striking; that translated to 1st for both SG Off the Tee and SG Tee to Green on the week and if that’s anything to go by then he could be an ideal fit for Green Eagle, having missed the cut here last year on an amateur invite and in far worse form. RESULT: MC

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Odds and bookmaker offers correct at 15:25BST 30.5.22 but are naturally subject to fluctuation.