Scott Fernandez – 1.5 points each-way @ 33-1
Christopher Mivis – 0.5 points each-way @ 140-1
Nico Geyger – 0.5 points each-way @ 80-1
Chase Koepka – 0.5 points each-way @ 66-1
Bradley Neil – 0.5 points each-way @ 125-1
Mark Flindt Haastrup – 0.25 points each-way @ 2501-
Having been busy over the weekend and watching our bets play moderately, it was via a couple of hilarious wags on Twitter that I learned that 66-1 shot Aaron Rai had won the U.S qualifier at Walton Heath on Monday. For those that joined in the ante-post bet on the Wolverhampton youngster for the Race to Oman, this was a kick in the teeth. Due to Suri’s victory in the Czech Challenge topping up plenty of Euros from Portugal, it now looks as though Rai will have to win at least another event to regain top spot. The irony being that would be his third victory and automatically entitle him to the main tour card. This is a no-win situation for us, and we can only hope at some point in the future we can make a profit from the progressive Englishman.
This week’s Swiss Challenge takes place once more at Golf Sempachersee, a typically picturesque course in a country full of the same. The rough has been a lot heavier in recent years and is expected to be again, so again accuracy and ability around the greens will count for plenty with a winning score around 14-under.
In terms of recent winners, all of Riu, Relecom, Im and Knappe had shown progressive form leading up to their victories, whilst experience from similar courses (on the Alps, Nordic Golf League and continental tours) helps somewhat.
I actually backed Riu back in 2013 on the basis on improving form and with Relecom recording 40th Kenya and 22nd Czech before his win and Daniel Im posting form figures of 17/56/11/22(Czech again) it shouldn’t have been that tough to find Alex Knappe, who had come into the event with form in South Africa during the close season and an 8th in Kenya.
In terms of bets this week, the 12-man short-list is narrowed to 6, though should one of the others win, there will hardly be shockwaves in the HH camp.
Scott Fernandez – plenty of folk expecting the Scot-Spaniard to leave this level behind fairly quickly. Quoted as the best player ever from Iowa State, he qualified for the 2016 Open after an opener of a couple of top-5 finishes on the Alps and Nordic league. That second season also saw him record 4 x top-13 finishes at this level, including 11th in Finland whilst 2017 has already seen an upwardly moving profile.
Warming-up with a top-50 in Kenya, he missed the cut in Turkey by just one shot but has since gone 26/19/4, that latest top-5 being an ever-present last week in the Czech challenge. He clearly is settling down at second-tier level and has a similar profile to a few of the past winners here. He hasn’t quite got the attention of a Rai or the ultra-confident Suri, but it may not be long.
I’m taking a chance that Christopher Mivis is now in the form that landed four wins on the PGT tour, eventually ranking 2nd (2013) and 3rd (2016) on the order of merit. At 29, he is almost bang on the average age of recent winners and his recent form indicates he may adhere to the old adage that golfers mature at 30 years of age.
Three sub-70 rounds at Kenya landed a top-20, whilst there is a 64 in the midst of his efforts in Turkey. Two missed-cuts are not horrendous reading especially as one was at the matchplay, but last weekend’s final 64 to finish a closing 5th must surely give him a boost, arriving at a course on which he has posted finishes of 48th (two sub-70 rounds) and last season’s 12th. None of it reads like a 140-1 shot and I thank my friend on twitter for pointing out this particular strawberry.
Nico Geyger is tough to read but goes on mini-runs and this may be the third decent event in a row. There is nothing wrong with his calculated 9th in the matchplay, or last week’s 16th and having had spurts of form such as 6/29/13 last year and 4/13 (Czech/Swiss) in 2015, he has the game to challenge if he can keep that consistency.
Chase Koepka carried his brother to 5th in the Zurich Classic and anything like that form sees him challenge here. Ok, that’s not strictly true but playing and competing with such a high-ranking partner and family member can’t do any harm and maybe last week’s top-20 in the Czech is a sign he is maturing enough. The all-time wins leader at his University, it will just be a matter of time before he makes it on to one of the main tours and currently described as ‘not big or particularly strong’ he is said to be able to play the course rather than smash it, a la Brooks. That will help round here and he has enough in his make-up to be shorter than 66-1.
Talking of young progressive types, return to the UK with Bradley Neil, hitherto disappointing to viewers if not to himself. Winner of the Scottish Boys, he hit the headlines when winning the Amateur Championship in 2014 beating the now fast-improving Zander Lombard in the final. Being a close friend of Justin Rose, the myriad of missed-cuts at the start of his pro career have not fazed him – lest we forget Rose had 21 consecutive blobs – and his 2017 results indicate far more stability.
Last week’s final 67 nabbed his second top-30 of the year, and backing that up with 11th in Turkey (75 final round knocked him down the field) is progressive enough to take the chance with at treble figures.
Finally, backing a player with three missed-cuts on the Challenge Tour this year goes against the suggested format. However, I cannot resist a small bet on Mark Flindt Haastrup at 250-1.
The Dane turns up every so often but most noticeably in France, where he has recorded top-15 and top-10 finishes. That sparks interest given the relative success of the French here and maybe, as Espnana, once said, perhaps it is that they can see the Alps, just a short hop from home. Either way, Haastrup came into 2017 having gagged up on the Nordic Golf League in 2016, winning four events. He clearly takes to this region of Europe and perhaps that is enough to spark him into life, especially as we start a four-week run starting here and continuing around Belgium, France and Denmark, easily his best chance of gaining points.