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BlogWales Open Preview and Picks

ISPS Handa Wales Open

September 18 – 21, 2014

The Celtic Manor Resort

Newport, Wales

Par: 71 / Yardage:

Purse: $2.3 million

with $383,445 to the winner

Defending Champion:
Gregory Bourdy

by Sal Johnson

Founder, Chief Data Officer, GOLFstats

E-mail me at:
sal@golfstats.com

This week’s field includes:

The field includes 15 of the top 100 in the latest Official World Rankings, with the highest rank player in the field being #28, Jamie Donaldson and #30 Thomas Bjorn.  Here are the other top-100 players in the field: #34 Stephen Gallacher, #41 Lee Westwood, $42 Thomgchai Jaidee, #48 Joost Luiten, #49 Francesco Molinari, #62 Paul Casey, #63 Shane Lowry, #65 Pablo Larrazabal, #66 Bernd Wiesberger, #71 Marc Warren, #81 Rafael Cabrera Bello, #90 Danny Willett and #97 Simon Dyson.

Last year there were 13 top-100 players so there are two more this year.

There are four players that will play next week in the Ryder Cup, Jamie Donaldson, Thomas Bjorn, Stephen Gallacher and Lee Westwood.

The field includes 27 of the Top 50 on this year’s Race to Dubai money list.  Those players include ##3 Jamie Donaldson, #4 Thomas Bjorn, #9 Stephen Gallacher, #13 Thongchai Jaidee,  #16 Joost Luiten, #17 Shane Lowry, #18 Marc Warren, #20 Lee Westwood, #21 Pablo Larrazabal, #22 Simon Dyson, #24 Francesco Molinari, #25 Kristoffer Broberg, #27 Edoardo Molinari, #32 Rafa Cabrera-Bello, #34 Danny Willett,  #35 Bernd Wiesberger, #36 Andy Sullivan, #37 Robert Karlsson, #39 Romain Wattel, #40 Tyrrell Hatton, #41 Hennie Otto, #45 Paul Casey, #46 Ross Fisher, #47 Michael Hoey, #48 Matthew Baldwin, #49 David Howell and #50 Oliver Fisher.

The field includes 5 past champions: Gregory Bourdy (2013),Thongchai Jaidee (2012), Robert Karlsson (2006), Simon Khan (2004), and Paul Lawrie (2002).

The field includes 14 players that have won on the European Tour this year: Morten Orum Madsen (South African Open), Thomas Bjorn (Nedbank), Pablo Larrazabal (Abu Dhabi), Stephen Gallacher (Dubai Desert Classic), Ross Fisher (Tshwane Open), Marco Crespi (NH Collection), Lee Westwood (Maybank Malaysian Open),  Daniel Brooks (Madeira Island Open), Thongchai Jaidee (Nordea Masters), Mikael Lundberg (Lyoness Open),  Marc Warren (Made in Denmark), Jamie Donaldson (Czech Masters), Hennie Otto (Open D’Italia) and Paul Casey (KLM Open).

A perfect way for fantasy golfers to check on the past performance of all the players in the Handa Wales Open field is our performance chart listed by average finish. One last way to check who is the best is through a special formula worked out in Golfstats that gives us the best average performances at Handa Wales Open in the last five years or check out our brand new and sortable 8-year glance at the Handa Wales Open.

A good cheat sheet is this list of odds from the top bookmakers in England.

Another cheat sheet is this list of odds from the top bookmaker in Las Vegas.

Time to look at our who’s hot and who isn’t:

Who’s Hot in the field for the ISPS Handa Wales Open

Player KLM Open The Barclays Tour Champ. European Masters Italian Open Deutsche Bank Czech Masters BMW Champ. Made in Denmark Wyndham Champ. PGA Champ. WGC Bridgestone Russian Open
Marc Warren
(195.67 pts)
T41
(9)
DNP DNP T13
(37)
T35
(15)
DNP DNP DNP Win
(88)
DNP T15
(46.67)
DNP DNP
Jamie Donaldson
(184.17 pts)
DNP DNP DNP 7
(55)
DNP DNP Win
(88)
DNP DNP DNP T24
(34.67)
T37
(6.5)
DNP
Joost Luiten
(182 pts)
T5
(70)
DNP DNP DNP T4
(80)
DNP T52
(0)
DNP DNP DNP 26
(32)
T56
(0)
DNP
Richie Ramsay
(175 pts)
T9
(45)
DNP DNP 8
(50)
T4
(80)
DNP DNP DNP T70
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP
Eddie Pepperell
(170 pts)
4
(80)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP T5
(46.67)
DNP T4
(53.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP
Paul Casey
(168 pts)
Win
(132)
T22
(28)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T18
(21.33)
CUT
(-13.33)
DNP DNP
Simon Dyson
(167 pts)
2
(100)
DNP DNP DNP T7
(55)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T22
(18.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP
Romain Wattel
(164.67 pts)
T5
(70)
DNP DNP T9
(45)
T11
(39)
DNP DNP DNP T34
(10.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP
Tommy Fleetwood
(151.33 pts)
T28
(22)
DNP DNP T5
(70)
T24
(26)
DNP T5
(46.67)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-13.33)
DNP DNP
Bernd Wiesberger
(137 pts)
DNP DNP DNP T13
(37)
6
(60)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP T15
(46.67)
DNP DNP
Bradley Dredge
(135.33 pts)
DNP DNP DNP T61
(0)
DNP DNP 2
(66.67)
DNP 2
(66.67)
DNP DNP DNP T44
(2)
Tyrrell Hatton
(132.33 pts)
T11
(39)
DNP DNP T3
(90)
CUT
(-10)
DNP T30
(13.33)
DNP T61
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP
Hennie Otto
(129.33 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP T61
(0)
Win
(132)
DNP T39
(7.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
James Morrison
(125.33 pts)
T28
(22)
DNP DNP T25
(25)
T11
(39)
DNP T13
(24.67)
DNP T28
(14.67)
DNP DNP DNP T51
(0)
Danny Willett
(121.33 pts)
DNP DNP DNP T5
(70)
DNP DNP T13
(24.67)
DNP DNP DNP T30
(26.67)
DNP DNP
Andy Sullivan
(112.33 pts)
3
(90)
DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
T11
(39)
DNP T52
(0)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP
Stephen Gallacher
(108.17 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP 3
(90)
DNP T7
(36.67)
DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
CUT
(-13.33)
T47
(1.5)
DNP
David Howell
(105.33 pts)
T41
(9)
DNP DNP T47
(3)
2
(100)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP T52
(0)
DNP
Lee Slattery
(103.33 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP T9
(45)
T7
(55)
DNP T30
(13.33)
DNP T76
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP
Oliver Fisher
(95.67 pts)
T9
(45)
DNP DNP DNP T46
(4)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T4
(53.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP
Richard Bland
(90.33 pts)
T19
(31)
DNP DNP T40
(10)
T24
(26)
DNP T60
(0)
DNP T15
(23.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP
Edoardo Molinari
(81.33 pts)
T11
(39)
DNP DNP T13
(37)
T59
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T46
(5.33)
DNP DNP
Thorbjorn Olesen
(78.33 pts)
T50
(1)
DNP DNP T36
(14)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T7
(36.67)
DNP T30
(26.67)
DNP DNP
Graeme Storm
(73.33 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP 2
(100)
CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T61
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP
Tom Lewis
(70.67 pts)
T36
(14)
DNP DNP DNP T24
(26)
DNP T39
(7.33)
DNP T15
(23.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP

How Player Rankings are Computed

Who’s Not Hot in the field for the ISPS Handa Wales Open

Player KLM Open The Barclays Tour Champ. European Masters Italian Open Deutsche Bank Czech Masters BMW Champ. Made in Denmark Wyndham Champ. PGA Champ. WGC Bridgestone Russian Open
Daniel Brooks
(-43.33 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP
David Higgins
(-36.67 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
Victor Riu
(-36.67 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP 84
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP
Eduardo De La Riva
(-33.33 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
T69
(0)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP
Jeev Milkha Singh
(-33.33 pts)
T72
(0)
DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP
Ricardo Santos
(-30.33 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP T47
(3)
CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP
Jose Maria Olazabal
(-30 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Lucas Bjerregaard
(-28.33 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP DQ
(-5)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP
Niclas Fasth
(-26.67 pts)
71
(0)
DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP
James Kingston
(-26.67 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP T79
(0)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP

How Player Rankings are Computed

The Buzz:

With Billy Horschel and Paul Casey winning last week many are asking the question, do captains Tom Watson and Paul McGinley think that maybe it’s time to change the rules on wildcard picks.  The whole reason for these wildcard picks is to get the best players at the moment on the team.  But with the picks coming with three weeks of golf left, doesn’t this rule defeat the reason for the wildcard picks?  I understand the reason for doing it three weeks before the matches, but on something this important I don’t think you will get any complaining from players chosen a week before the matches began.  Of course the worst is that a player could say he isn’t playing, in the case of Horschel whose wife is having the couples first child next week, BIlly may of taken a pass.  But you never know, maybe the child could have been induced early and Horschel would have played but isn’t the point of the picks to get the best players at the moment?

Hopefully, wiser minds will prevail in the coming years, but it’s too bad that some of the hottest players right now won’t be at the Ryder Cup matches.

I know that this week is about the European Tour, but since there isn’t a PGA Tour event for three weeks, just have to comment on Billy Horschel win.  It was great, money wise he saved his best golf for when it counted.  Amazing to think that after Horschel missed the cut at The Barclays, he was 82nd in the rankings and had to play hard at the Deutsche Bank just to continue in the playoffs.  Another amazing thing to think of going into the BMW Championship he had made 24 PGA Tour starts in 2014 and only had two top-tens, a pair of six place finishes.  So the least think on anyone’s mind was him winning the FedEx Cup playoffs.

Personally I have a problem with a year long program in which a guy can win the whole thing in the last 12 rounds of the year.  Yes, Horschel played great as he was 38 under par in those 12 rounds, but winning a total of $13.4 million to many could be a bit extreme.  If you ask Horschel if he would rather win one Masters or U.S. Open instead of the $13.4 million, it would be interesting to see his answer.  Talking about winning a major, Tiger won 14 of them and earned $14.3 million over the course of just 11 years.  But the riches of the PGA Tour are so great that over the course of three weeks if you play the best you can win a million shy what Tiger won by winning 14 majors.

Season is way too long with Football killing it:

One last thing to tie up the end of the PGA Tour, in just two weeks players will be gathering for the start of the 2015 season.  Now to many these playoff events weren’t very popular.  The ratings were dismal, matter of fact if you take out the majors and WGC events you would probably be shocked at how low the ratings were for 2014.  But that is another topic, the point I am trying to make is that the PGA Tour season has to be shortened.  Of course, we have no complaints about the upcoming seven events in the fall, they take care of the need of the hard core fan.  But come January 9th the real season begins at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions and will stretch to September 27th, the last day of the Tour Championship.  I just think it’s high time that the PGA Tour does something to shorten this.  First of all the PGA Tour shouldn’t start until the week of Thursday January 15th, which would be the week of the divisional NFL playoffs.  The season should end on Labor Day weekend and shouldn’t go past that point.  I think that after the PGA Championship many turn golf off and the PGA Tour should heed that.  The ratings prove that and these playoffs are getting lost, so something has to be done before the 2016 season.  With this move, you will have to lose four events, by thoughts is that you don’t lose them but move them.  You can easily take the Hyundai Tournament of Champions and Sony Open, two events played in Hawaii and move them either before the WGC-HSBC Champions in China or afterwards.  With the CIMB in Malaysia, it would be a great stepping stone to having the two Hawaiian events before or after.  You could also move the Humana Challenge to the fall, all three are Golf Channel shows so you’re not screwing these tournaments.  That would leave one other events to get moved to the fall, probably the Valspar Championship or the Valero Texas Open, the point is to clear out the main network events, so they don’t compete against the NFL and to end the season early.

Back to Wales:

This week the European Tour is in Wales and goes to the site of the 2010 Ryder Cup.  Only four Ryder Cup players are in the field, but the event is important because for many, this is important in the Race to Dubai and get ready for year-end honors.

The big question will be is this a good warmup for those playing in the Ryder Cup?  Yes and no, the courses are similar but the grass are totally different.  For many it’s important to be ready by playing the week before but for the 20 other players you can see that a week off is welcomed.  This event is also important for the European Tour, it may be in Wales but it’s still on the British Island.  The first year of this event, if you don’t count the British Open there were 11 events in England, Wales and Scotland and three in Ireland.  In 2014, not counting the British Open there are just five events in England, Wales and Scotland with Ireland only having one, so each event on the British Islands is important.

Here are some of the secrets of what it takes to play well at the ISPS Handa Wales Open:

Key stat for the winner:

If you look at the last five winners, they have something in common, hitting lots of greens.  2010 winner Graeme McDowell led the field while 2011 champion Alex Noren was T2nd.  Last year Thongchai Jaidee was T7th, hitting 53 of the 72 greens so look for good ball strikers to rule.  Last year Gregory Bourdy only hit 48 of the 72 which is the lowest of the champions, but I still think you have to hit a lot of greens to do well in this event.

Here are some more key stats to look to for this week:

Length is obviously not an issue so that opens things up quite a bit. Look for the winner to be someone who doesn’t like to muscle up with the driver, and just settle for using a long iron for control. Look at some of the past winners of the event they don’t over power the course so looking for accuracy over length.

Water hazards come into play on 10 holes, and wind is often a factor on this relatively flat course that sits in a Valley.

Just because a player won this event in the past doesn’t mean instant success this year.  Of the past champions done of them have had much success in years after so just because someone played well the previous year doesn’t mean he will play well this year.  I would look at our who’s hot list of players from the European Tour to find a winner.

The weather looks like it’s going to be perfect for all two of the four days with rain on Friday and Saturday.  But temperature wise every day will be in the low 70s so it’s going to be nice.  Of for those wondering about the Ryder Cup, since weather can be touch and go in September in Scotland, the weather the last three weeks has been perfect.  Unfortunely things are changing this week and it’s getting colder with more bouts of rain.  It looks like each day of the Ryder Cup will have temperatures in the mid-50s with a chance of rain.  Hopefully that will change but as one friend in Scotland told me over the weekend, the weather has been way too good for about a month now, it can’t last.

Who to watch for at the ISPS Handa Wales Open

Best Bets:

Paul Casey

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
2

Don’t be surprise to see him making it two in a row, last time he played in this event in 2004 was runner-up.

Joost Luiten

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
T4 T2

Shown us the last two years that he knows how to play Celtic Manor. Plus that was T5th last week at KLM.

Thomas Bjorn

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
T58 T2 CUT T9 T43 T21 WD

Looking to get his game into shape for the Ryder Cup, he was runner-up here in 2012.

Best of the rest:

Jamie Donaldson

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
WD T8 T46 CUT T15 T64 T54 T10 T14

Game has been sharp and he is looking for it to get even better by the end of the week.

Romain Wattel

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
T52 T8 T15

Could of won last week, comes to a course that he has played well on.

Stephen Gallacher

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
WD T42 CUT T4 CUT T58 T20 T34 T60 T34 T21 CUT

Another Ryder Cup player looking to improve, remember in his last two starts was 3rd and T-7th.

Edoardo Molinari

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
CUT T4 T31

Watch him, his game is trending upwards of late.

Solid contenders

Simon Dyson

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
T18 T20 T18 T6 CUT CUT T7 WD WD

Played great last week, could rub off on his play this week.

Thongchai Jaidee

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
T26 Win CUT T26 T39 WD T42 CUT

Just coming off a injury and will be looking to regain his form.

Bernd Wiesberger

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
CUT CUT CUT T26

Also playing well, could rub off this week.

Oliver Fisher

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
T31 T46 CUT T72 T6 CUT CUT CUT

Was T-9th last week, does have a top-ten in Wales.

Long shots that could come through:

Peter Uihlein

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
2

His game is coming around as he is healing and getting healthier. Have to remember he was runner-up last year.

Shane Lowry

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
WD CUT T39 CUT

Has never played well in Wales but that may change this week.

Tyrrell Hatton

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
First time playing in this event

Was T11th at KLM and T3rd in Switzerland so is playing well.

Needs a really good week:

Lee Westwood

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
CUT T42

Barley made it onto the Ryder Cup team, he needs a good week in Wales so that he can get up some confidence for Gleneagles.

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