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Johnnie Walker Championship Preview & Picks
Posted by: Golf Shake on Thu 23 Aug 2012
Weekly feature from David Jenkins @ Fettes Management looking at the top players and picks for this week's Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles.
Race to Dubai: Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles
This week we find ourselves in the beautiful mountains of Perthshire and while it was lovely here this morning (Wednesday), the rain clouds were advancing over the hills faster that water falls off a ducks derriere. So welcome to Scotland and its suitable seasonal weather…well the Swedes and the Danes are not complaining!
That said, for one of two players this may prove to be the most critical week of the last two years and the build up to automatic selection for the Ryder Cup in four weeks time and made all the more interesting as one of said players can’t do anything about it – he is not playing and watches instead from the luxury of a supremely well made hand crafted sofa in Germany. For the Ryder Cup also rans, it offers a good chance to make a charge up the Race to Dubai while Europe’s Atlantic crossing finest battle it out in the Barclays. So, Ladies and Gentlemen, rain hats on please, keep behind the ropes and let’s welcome the greatest game on grass to Gleneagles as the travelling circus comes to town for the 4 x 6,544 metre dash to the Ryder Cup!
Date: 23rd – 26th August 2012
Venue: The Gleneagles Hotel, Perthshire, Scotland
I would be lying if I said the host resort claimed to be the inspiration for Fawlty Towers, as it the “other” Gleneagles Hotel that looks over the large sweeping bay at Torquay that inspired a vacation nightmare a generation ago…
Instead, this one is rather plush – and good enough for the stars of the European Tour and some of USA’s finest exports including course architect Jack Nicklaus – who claimed this was the finest parcel of land that he had ever been given the chance to work with when he created the PGA Course. As well as being Scotland’s most scenic course, it’s also Scotland’s longest inland track – and plays longer given there is no run on the fairways and much stop on the greens.
It’s a beauty and with its recent course tweaks proving to be an improvement by most players with the exception of Pablo Larrazabal (43/1 with BetFair) (who thinks “it still is not good enough!”) it sets itself up nicely not only for the 2012 Ryder Cup selection but also proves to be a rehearsal for the same event here in two years time.
Yards: 7,060 yards
Par: 36 + 36 = Par 72
This event errs on the smaller side of the spectrum of pot of gold size – largely due to the fact that most of the Ryder Cup automatic spots are taken (by the Trans Atlantic players) and it’s the start of the lucrative FedEx Cup playoffs. Thus it creates an outing for many outside the world’s top tier to knock on the Euro Tours big door of success including Banchory’s James Byrne (969/1), Banchory's Greig Hutcheon (969/1) and (near) Banchory’s Craig Lee (334/1). Let’s not forget the Banchorian who started it all off – now two time Ryder Cup participant and former Open Champion - Paul Lawrie (30/1 – all BetDaq). Despite having a crap course - Banchory is officially on the golfing map!
Length – it’s going to play far longer than its paltry 7,000 yards this week due to the rain and no fairway will provide much run. And weather – it’s going to rain, rain and rain again with Thunderstorms forecast for Friday afternoon…
Ones to watch:
Nicolas Colsaerts (14/1 with BWin)– despite a pasting from his pro-am colleagues earlier on Wednesday about joining them at the Dormie bar in the hotel this evening for a dram of Perthshire’s finest, Nicolas has a job to do. For in order to make the Ryder Cup automatically he needs to win or come second on his own otherwise the honour falls to non-team playing Martin Kaymer. One would have to say his stock is valued highly with his recent consistent performance but one wouldn’t want to leave a wild card pick to chance – especially as it would appear Ian Poulter has nicked one and the other one might head in the direction of Irish good luck charm, Padraig Harrington…
With form and consistency on the increase with this veteran Tour player, it’s the highly talented and all time tour topping ball striker Stephen Gallacher who, in the second of his home nations tournaments, follows a number of lucrative second placed finished across 2012 and has delivered a vast improvement to his inconsistent form of late last and early this season. If not Stephen, certainly a weather tolerating local will be riding high come Sunday night.
Ones to win:
With four top tens in 2012 in the hunt for his 4th European Tour victory in 3 years, its inform Swede Alex Noren who looks positive, confident and out to do some damage this weekend. A 3rd at the ‘other’ Scottish Open followed by a 9th in the Open Championship, lead to a well earned break before and a rare outing in a US major. Form in inclement weather would determine that this 6 foot, World ranked 63 has an outstanding chance at The Glen this year.
With three top tens across 2012 including two top fives in the last 4 weeks, its Englandshires David Lynn (35/1 with 888Sport) who is well deserving of a win this week after a magnificent (but still with room for improvement) 2nd place finish at the PGA Championship behind Rory McIlroy. He topped his career earnings with that placement and barring a major win – will likely not match it again – but it has helped his ascendancy up the Race to Dubai as he now sits in a commanding 15th place.
If bad weather aficionado Tom Lewis (remember the Open?) finishes in the top ten, you will reap 20 of what you sow with StanJames.
With a handicap – Paul Lawrie (minus 4) offers decent odds of 8/1 with PaddyPower.
And at 5/1 following a largely impressive showing at the ‘other’ Scottish Open, expect Marc Warren to finish top Scotsman (similar style to his 2007 victory here) and reap the rewards from William Hill.
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