European Tour: D&D Czech Masters Preview

Golfer admires shot

The European Tour returns just as the FedEx Cup approaches its epic climax. These events were always likely to suffer commercially due to the near hegemony that the PGA Tour exudes these days. 

The 2019 European Tour | D&D Czech Masters
Albatross Golf Club, Prague, Czech Republic
Thursday 15 August - Sunday 18 August 2019

The post Open sabbatical period for the European Tour has afforded the players one last rest period prior to that Race to Dubai push. The ecstasy following Shane Lowry’s heroics at Royal Portrush has been tempered by the unsavoury - and unexpected - allegations surrounding Thorbjorn Olesen. This will be the sixth renewal of an event which has been played at the exact same course for every edition: Albatross Golf Club.

Designed by Keith Preston and only opened as recently as 2010, Albatross Golf Club is an extremely long track, even by modern standards. Stats seem to suggest that distance isn’t essential around Albatross, though it is likely more integral than accuracy from the tee. The bentgrass and fescue fairways are quite inviting while the bentgrass greens run at around 12 on the stimp. The brisk surfaces of the greens have unsurprisingly proved decisive in all editions, with the putting average of previous winners reading 4th, 1st, 2nd, 2nd and 1st respectively. The low scores of previous editions are indicative of a putting contest.

Andrea Pavan returns to defend the title he won so impressively last season. Eddie Pepperell looks to be the leading figure in markets with the recently resurgent Bernd Wiesberger just behind. Lee Westwood will look to exorcise the demons of yet another missed Major opportunity. Erik Van Rooyen should be able to power his way around this course while Thomas Pieters needs to find more consistency in his game. The former champion always flatters to deceive and - even at such a young age - he is already starting to live on past reputation.

Past Winners
2018: Andrea Pavan (-20)
2017: Haydn Porteous (-13)
2016: Paul Peterson (-15)
2015: Thomas Pieters (-20)
2014: Jamie Donaldson (-14)

Outright Betting (To Win)
Eddie Pepperell (10/1)
Bernd Wiesberger (12/1)
Lee Westwood (14/1)
Erik Van Rooyen (14/1)
Thomas Pieters (18/1)


Value Bets

Lee Slattery
To Win (45/1), To Place (19/2)

Lee Slattery is just the sort of player who can thrive in these eviscerated fields. The 41-year-old Englishman will be looking to win his third European Tour title and first since the 2015 M2M Russian Open. Slattery just rediscovered some form with a 27th place at the Irish Open followed by a top 10 in Scotland. But what draws my eye to Slattery is his form in this event. He has played in every instalment at Albatross, with course figures that read T30, T34, MC, 2 and T4. I like the way his recent uplift in form dovetails with potent course credentials.

Matthias Schwab
To Win (66/1), To Place (14/1)

Considering the respective quality of this week’s field, you could do a lot of work than Schwab. Still looking for his maiden European Tour victory, Schwab has enjoyed a consistent campaign, with three top 10 finishes. That included a highly respectable tie for third at the BMW International. He also sits fourth in scrambling and 16th in shots gained around the green. That sounds like a good recipe for success around here. But another factor that drew me to him was his top 10 at the Trophee Hassan II earlier this season. That immediately followed a similar dormant period for the tour. You add that to a top 10 here last season and you could have the perfect recipe for a 66/1 outsider.

The Man to Beat

Tom Lewis
To Win (28/1), To Place (6/1)

Ignoring some of the more ‘marquee’ names, I have opted for Englishman Tom Lewis this week. He caused quite a stir in 2011 by shooting the lowest score by an amateur at the Open Championship (65). He hasn’t enjoyed the greatest of seasons, his best result being a near-miss alongside Paul Waring at the quirky GolfSixes event. But Lewis has a pedigree in this event, finishing third at Albatross in 2017 and sixth just last year. He currently sits ninth on tour in greens regulation, which should put him in good stead to have a go at these slick greens.

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