European Tour: Belgian Knockout Preview

Golfer admires his shot

Damien Kayat previews this week's European Tour event, the Belgian Open, set to take place at the Rinkven International Golf and Country Club.

The Belgian Knockout is a jazzed up version of an event that dates back all the way to 1910. Originally known as the Belgian Open, the event was played intermittently between 1910 and 2000. It was inducted onto the European Tour in 1978.

As with so many other European Tour events, it was discontinued in 2000 and has had a long hiatus from the tour. But now the event has been brought kicking and screaming into the 21st century with Thomas Pieters playing host to the reconfigured Belgian Knockout at Rinkven International Golf Club.

Belgian Knockout | 17 May - 20 May | Rinkven International Golf and Country Club

Rinkven has been described as an exposed, flat, Parkland style course that is almost amusingly short at 6,622 yards. So players whose game is based more on accuracy should fare better this week. The format is intriguing, with the first two days played as a straight up stroke-play event. The 144 players will then be cut on Friday night, with the top 64 players progressing to a series of nine-hole stroke play knockout matches against one another, based on seedings compiled from the first two days of stroke-play. Saturday will see the 64 whittled down to 32, then down to 16 and finally down to 8. Sunday will see the 8 whittled down to 4, then to 2, and then the victor will be crowned. So the eventual winner will have to play the equivalent of five rounds over four days, meaning that stamina may become an issue this week.

Joost Luiten and Thomas Pieters lead the market, with the host looking to reinvigorate his game following a protracted period of struggle. In reality, the lack of real high profile names has led to a market that looks exceptionally open, and the fact that this is the inaugural edition of this format make it further complicated to predict. But it is quite exciting to see the European Tour fusing the stroke-play format with match-play mechanics.

Past Winners
No event since 2000

To Win Outright:
Joost Luiten 30/1 | Thomas Pieters 30/1 | Jorge Campillo 35/1 | Adrian Otaegui 40/1 | Jordan Smith 40/1

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Value Bets 

Adrian Otaegui- To Win 40/1, To Place 17/2
This week would appear to be exactly the sort of week where backing favorites appears to offer some decent value. Clearly the stroke-play knockout innovation has perhaps aided in inflating their prices. Otaegui finished runner-up in his last start in China, and he has a remarkable five consecutive top 20 finishes. Combine that with the fact that he hasn’t missed a cut since October 2017, and you should have a recipe for success this week.

Benjamin Hebert- To Win 50/1, To Place 11/1
The 31 year-old Frenchman is a prolific winner on the Challenge Tour, having won six times on that tour already. Though yet to translate to the Tour proper, he has top 10 finishes already in Morocco and Oman, while he has three top 20 finishes in his last five starts on tour. His best finishes seem to come on tight courses that reward accuracy over power. That is reflected in his stats: he currently sits 2nd in driving accuracy on the European Tour.

Brett Rumford- To Win 70/1, To Place 15/1
Coming off the back of two missed cuts, it seems as if the experienced Aussie has been somewhat dismissed here despite last year’s heroics in the Perth World Super 6, which followed a similar format this week’s event. He also contended in this year’s World Super 6 before bombing out on Saturday alongside Lee Westwood. He also had an excellent 5th placed finish behind Jon Rahm at the Spanish Open. He looks a very good bet at 70/1 this week, especially giving his enjoyment of match-play style situations.

The Man to Beat- Joost Luiten – To Win 30/1, To Place 13/2
Due to the relatively poor field and perhaps the funky format, the top end of the market actually has some real attraction to it. Dutchman Joost Luiten looks like terrific value at 30/1. Already a winner in Oman this season, Luiten has always excelled on smaller, tighter courses. He has had a pair of top 10’s since then and should enjoy an event that isn’t too far from a national title. He is looking to qualify for the Ryder Cup thorough old fashioned persistence and should be a factor this week.

Written by Damien Kayat for @Hollywoodbets.net

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