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The European Tour breaks new ground this week as we head down under for firstly the Vic Open's debut at this level, before moving to Perth for the more established but equally quirky World Super 6 in a week's time. A combined men's and women's event this week is a first for European golf and sends a massively positive signal out with both playing for equal prize money, however there will still be a title up for grabs for the winner of each of the men's and women's competitions. More on that later, however for the avoidance of any doubt I'll be focussing this preview on the men's competition only.
Before we talk the Vic Open, the number of new visitors to Golf Betting System is increasing in the inevitable build-up to The Masters. Welcome to you all and let me point you in the direction of our weekly Golf Betting System podcast (published Tuesday) our Golf Betting Show on YouTube and our hugely popular private group on Facebook - you can Join Here.
Over on the PGA Tour, Steve Bamford previews the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am - you can read his thoughts on that event here.
Paddy Power are attacking this week's Vic Open and are offering an outstanding 7 places each-way at 1/5 odds. If you haven't already got a Paddy Power account then new customers can access a £/€20 risk-free bet which is refunded in CASH if it loses, plus an additional £/€5 Same Game Multi Bet. 18+, T&Cs apply: Promo code YSKA30 required – use this qualifying link to claim.
Event Format. A full field of women from the Australian Ladies Professional Golf (ALPG) and Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) joins a full field comprised of members from the ISPS Handa PGA Tour of Australasia (PGATA) and European Tour for the Vic Open in what will effectively be two events running concurrently on the same course(s) at the same time for the same prize money. With over 300 players in total, two courses are being used for the first two days - the Beach Course and the Creek Course at 13th Beach Golf Links at Barwon Heads, Victoria - before the top 65 and ties from both the men's and women's events head to the Beach Course for Saturday. On Sunday the fields are both cut to the top 35 and ties for the final round which again will be hosted on the Beach Course. For more details on the format click here.
Groups will alternate men and women with the men playing off the back tees (6,796 yards and 6.940 yards for the Beach and Creek courses respectively) whereas the women will play off the forward tees at 6,479 yards and 6,573 yards. So other than the men's tees being set further back, all players will be playing the same holes at the same time and in the same conditions.
Course Overview. Both tracks are short par 72s by modern standard and both are Tony Cashmore designs, with Nick Faldo having a hand in the development of the Creek Course. The Beach Course is built on true links land and whilst it's a modern take on links golf, it shares the links features you'd expect with undulating fairways, pot bunkers and fescue-lined fairways. The Creek Course is a little wider and less penal from the rough and more reminiscent of a sand belt track with the addition of pine trees and the creek from which its name is derived. Both have large bent/poa greens and given the dimensions of each layout, wind is the main protection here at 13th Beach.
Tournament Stats. We've published some key player statistics for this week's event that will help to shape a view on players who traditionally play well at this event since 13th Beach started hosting the Vic Open in 2013: Current Form | Tournament Form | First Round Leader Stats | Top 20 Finishes | Combined Current/Event Form.
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 Victoria is here. A warm start on Thursday (mid-80s Fahrenheit) with the outside chance of a thunderstorm will make way for cooler, breezier conditions for the remainder of the event which will likely keep a lid on scoring. Temperatures will struggle to hit much above 70 Fahrenheit from Friday onwards and average wind speeds will peak at 15-20mph, which on this layout will demand a certain type of game.
Tournament Trends & Key Factors.
Although this event has been running in some capacity since 1957, the combined men and women's format has only been around since 2012 and the courses here have only hosted since 2013, so in terms of this week's tournament stats listed above we've detailed from 2013 only. No specific skill stats have been captured for the 6 winners in this stretch given that it's only featured on the Australasian Tour, however reading between the lines it looks like a game focussed on par-4 scoring and bogey avoidance is more likely to succeed than brute force and bullying of the par 5s. 20 birdies or thereabouts has generally been enough for the winner here with scores ranging from -7 to -16 proving victorious.
This is undoubtedly a better field than previous years with the inclusion of a number of European Tour players, so how much can be read into those past events held here is open to debate, however with a stiff breeze expected I'd suggest that the scoring won't be excessive this week and those players who are comfortable on linksy/coastal tracks and playing in the wind will feel more comfortable here, as will those with a decent short game with plenty of sand in play.
Incoming Form: Of the 6 winners here at 13th beach, each had finished inside the top-40 on their last start globally:
Course Form. Course form is patchy with only 6 years' worth of events in the books, however 4 of the 6 winners had previously recorded a top-15 finish around these parts and 2013 winner Matthew Giles has recorded 2 further top-20 finishes here since his win:
My selections are as follows:
Paul Dunne 1.5pts EW 66/1 with * For the latest bet365 Opening Account Offer details see below, use bonus code SPORT100
It would have been easy to get sucked in with some of the players who the bookies rate as favourites this week, and perhaps I'll be proven wrong and one of them will win this, however 12/1 about Jason Scrivener or 16/1 about the likes of Ryan Fox and Lucas Herbert just doesn't set my pulse racing. Of those players near the top of the market, Adrian Otaegui and Jake McLeod were closest to my team, however given the breezy forecast and linksy conditions I'm going to take a chance on Ireland's Paul Dunne whose effort last week in Saudi Arabia just hinted that his game might be coming back around once again.
Missed Cuts in Abu Dhabi and Dubai weren't the ideal way to start the year after a couple of months away from competitive golf over the festive period, however top-20 heading into the weekend was a marked improvement last week and although he couldn't keep that going until Sunday, this week is far easier and plays far more to his strengths. After a lively first few months of 2018 which saw him rack-up 4 top-8 finishes in 5 starts, the Greystones golfer went off the boil when any lingering hopes of a Ryder Cup miracle run of form or Captain's pick dried up, however he hinted at something better to come when leading the field after day 1 in Turkey in November. In truth though it's been Paul's driving that's been his downfall for some time now and although that's not improved massively so far in 2019, the shorter confines of 13th Beach should take pressure off of that aspect of his game, which in turn opens the way for his immaculate wedge and short game skills to take centre stage. Exposed, linksy tracks that encourage a recovery shot when fairways are missed are always going to appeal to a player like Dunne - after all, who can forget his effort at the 2015 Open Championship when he led after 54 holes as an amateur - and at his best he's a class above the vast majority of this field. A leap of faith is required with this bet, granted, however at the price on offer for a talent like Paul Dunne in this field, I'm happy to take that chance.
Ben Eccles 1.5pts EW 66/1 with New customers: Bet £10 get £30 & 30 spins. 18+, T&Cs apply** (6 EW, 1/5 odds):
Course form does look to be a positive factor judging by the fact that 4 of the past 5 winners here had previously recorded a top-15 finish at 13th Beach and one player whose record sticks out in terms of consistency here is Ben Eccles. The 24 year-old has recorded finishes of 3rd, 5th and 5th from his last 4 attempts at this title and clearly gets on well with the courses, including last year when he signed off with a round of 65 here. A positive wind player who's already a winner on his home Tour at the 2015 New South Wales Open, the Australian produced some of his best golf at the back end of 2018 where he finished 6th and 12th in China before again finishing 6th at the Australian PGA Championship behind the likes of Cameron Smith and Marc Leishman. Eccles was third for Total Driving and first for putting that week and at a lower grade such as this on a course that he clearly reacts upon, I can see him producing another lofty finish here and rewarding each-way backers with a place or more.
Steven Jeffress 1pt EW 150/1 with New customers get £25 in free bets: 18+, T&Cs apply*** (7 places EW, 1/5 odds):
Nick Flanagan 1pt EW 250/1 with * For the latest bet365 Opening Account Offer details see below, use bonus code SPORT100
A couple of 3-figure chances I fancy this week complete my team in terms of outright selections. First up Steven Jeffress who's been quietly playing some tidy golf on the Australasian and Asian Tours of late with 6 top-26 finishes in his last 7 starts globally, including top-10s at the Panasonic Open and Queensland Open. 11th at the Fiji International and 2nd at the Queensland PGA Championship earlier in 2018 suggest that the 43 year-old isn't quite ready to lay down his clubs just yet and his experience may well come in handy this week in what are likely to be challenging conditions at times. The journeyman Australian beat a number of this week's fancied attendees at the 2014 Fiji International and is a winner also in Victoria when he broke his maiden back in 2006 at the Victorian PGA Championship. 6th here at 13th Beach in 2014 and 5th here last year despite opening with a round of 75 offers more encouragement and while he's hitting his irons nicely and his short game is on point, I'm happy to take a chance on him here given the price on offer.
4-time web.com Tour winner Nick Flanagan is a player whose name might just register with those who've been observing the game for a number of years. The 34 year-old won the prestigious 2003 US Amateur before turning professional and earned himself a full PGA Tour card in 2008 after a sparkling 2007 campaign that saw three of those four wins come in quick succession, however despite a further success in 2012 at the same level his career has stalled courtesy of back and thumb injuries. The Australian is still a young man though in relative terms and it was encouraging to see him return to action in 2017 when he grabbed a spot in the US Open through sectional qualifying and 2018 showed further positive signs on the Australasian Tour with 5 top-25 finishes from 9 starts before producing his best finish for well over 5 years with a 6th at the Australian PGA Championship in December, where he topped the field for Total Driving and Ball-Striking. Nick was 2nd to the halfway point here last year despite having played hardly any competitive golf for the previous 2 years and now that he's more into the swing of things, if he should find himself in a similar position this week then I'd suggest he'll hang around a little longer near the top of the leaderboard.
Andre Lautee 1pt Top 20 Finish 33/1 * For the latest bet365 Opening Account Offer details see below, use bonus code SPORT100
I talked briefly about Andre Lautee in this week's podcast and how I hoped to find a suitable market to back him in. At 1,000/1 in places in the outright market perhaps his chance of winning or indeed placing each-way is a little too remote to chance, however this unknown quantity could surprise many and sneak into a top-20 position or better if he's as talented as the murmurings suggest. The 19 year-old is a member of Kingston Heath Golf Club which should set him up nicely for this assignment and despite still being an amateur, he has some practical experience of this event and course when missing the cut with rounds of 77/71 two years ago. His only other start outside of the amateur ranks came at the Victorian PGA Championship in October when he finished 8th despite opening with a round of 78 - none of the professionals in the field could match his rounds of 65/63 and 69 to finish and he's since won again on the amateur circuit. If you're feeling brave then perhaps a pound or two on the outright is in order, however a top-20 finish looks to me to be an option that could produce the goods this week.
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