European Tour: D&D Real Czech Masters Preview

Golfer admires his shot

The European Tour continues this week as we head into the D&D Real Czech Masters taking place at the Albatross Golf Resort in Prague. 

D&D Real Czech Masters | 23 August - 26 August | Albatross Golf Resort, Prague

Last week proved to be slightly disappointing for Thorbjorn Olesen, though he did manage to sneak into the automatic Ryder Cup qualification spots with a fourth-place finish at the Nordea Masters. So to some extent, it justified backing the heavy hitter in the smaller field. This week may provide some with the opportunity to make a late claim for Ryder Cup selection. Let’s not also forget that, with the season-ending playoffs approaching, players will need every Race to Dubai point available. The D&D Real Czech Masters was first staged in 2014 and this will be the fifth renewal at Albatross Golf Resort.

This course was designed by Keith Preston and was opened as recently as 2010. As I noted earlier, this has been the host event since the tournament’s inception. This is a fairly monstrous par 72 at 7,467 yards. The fairways are of an average width and are a hybrid of bentgrass and fescue. The greens are bentgrass and run at around 12 on the stimp. There have been minor alterations made over the last few years clearly in an attempt to toughen up the course in the wake of Pieters’ -20 winning total in 2015. New green side lakes were added on the first and 12th holes. 27 new trees were also planted and it seems as if the adjustments have had some effect: Porteous could only manage a winning score of -12 last year.

Thomas Pieters has shown glimpses of a return to form and is a clear favourite for this week’s event. The 2015 champion will be looking to impress Thomas Bjorn as he stakes a claim for a captain’s choice pick. One must also remember Pieters’ fine Ryder Cup debut when assessing his chances of participating at Le Golf National. Eddie Pepperell is also a man on the periphery of selection while defending champion Haydn Porteous looks to steady the ship for what has been an inconsistent campaign.

Past Winners
2017: Haydn Porteous (-13)
2016: Paul Peterson (-15)
2015: Thomas Pieters (-20)
2014: Jamie Donaldson (-14)

To Win Outright:
Thomas Pieters 13/2 | Eddie Pepperell 16/1 | Danny Willett 22/1 | Matt Wallace 22/1 | Lee Westwood 25/1

Value Bets

Tom Lewis- To Win 45/1, To Place 19/2
Englishman Tom Lewis looks far better value than Eddie Pepperell and his form seems to be trending in the right direction. Lewis finished in third here last season and has clearly shown an affinity for this event. Since May Lewis has four top 30 finishes, including a tie for 29th last week. It’s been some time since that 2011 Portugal Masters victory and it’s perhaps fair to say that Lewis hasn’t really delivered on his notable potential. But yet another poor field should introduce an opportunity for the sweet ball-striking of Lewis to flourish.

JC Ritchie- To Win 50/1, To Place 11/1
The big-hitting South African is absolutely huge off the tee and will be looking to emulate compatriot and fellow bombardier Haydn Porteous. While playing predominately on the Sunshine Tour, Ritchie managed to finish in third at the highly competitive BMW SA Open. Only Chris Paisley and Branden Grace finished above him. He is also entering this relatively weak field on the back of strong form. He finished in third place last time out and won his second professional event a week before that.

Sebastian Gros- To Win 110/1, To Place 24/1
While this will be the Frenchman’s debut at Albatross, the effortlessly powerful player should revel on this course. He made some headlines last week with back-to-back scores of  two and one on a pair of par 3’s that sent him shooting up the leaderboard. He ended in a tie for 13th and looked to be returning to his more encouraging early season form. Gros can also call on Czech experience having almost won the Czech Challenge three years ago. He finished in fourth after thoroughly messing up the final hole. His most recent victory on the second tier came at the Kazakhstan Open, which is a course that tends to favour long hitters. 110/1 looks a sensational price this week.

The Man to Beat- Thomas Pieters- To Win 13/2, To Place 14/10
Feeling somewhat justified by my selection of Olesen last week, I’m once again backing a favourite at even less appealing odds. But Pieters’ suitability to this course is unquestionable. He was cut on debut in 2014 but won the title in 2015. Had he not run into a demented Paul Peterson in 2016, he could well be competing for a hat-trick of titles this year. Pieters has experienced something of a late-season surge. He finished in sixth at the Scottish open before a creditable 28th at the Open. He then shocked all with a tie for sixth at Bellerive.

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Written by Damien Kayat for

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