Golf Preview: Dell Technologies & Czech Masters

The FedEx Cup play-offs enters its second week with the Dell Technologies Championship whilst the Czech Masters takes centre stage in Europe.

The FedEx is starting to get to the business end as players look to earn a place in the top-30 ahead of the Tour Championship finale next month.

Following the Northern Trust in New York last week, the field was cut down to 100 and that will drop down to 70 this week after the event in Boston, ahead of the BMW Championships next week.

Dustin Johnson and Jordan Spieth battled it out at the Northern Trust with DJ winning a brilliant play-off.

On the back of his win, Johsnon comes into the Dell as favourite ahead of Spieth – but many are looking at reigning FedEx champion Rory McIlroy as the man to beat this week.

McIlroy is the defending champion at Boston TPC and is a two-time winner on the track, and the Northern Irishman is looking forward to the action this week.

“I went into Boston last year 38th in the FedExCup, and that win and just that turnaround in fortunes, it gave me a chance to obviously do what I did at East Lake a few weeks later,” he said.

“TPC Boston has been a great place for me in the past, a place I feel very comfortable at and the kind of golf course I’ve played well on, and to get that win last year was awesome. So great memories. I play the golf course very well. I’m excited to get there this year and see a couple of changes that they’ve made on (holes) 12 and 13. Yeah, just great memories from 2012 and obviously last year, and can’t wait to get back.

“I think the thing you have to realize is there’s just so much more golf left to play.”

Masters champion Sergio Garcia and Australian ace Adam Scott return to the FedEx fray after sitting out the opening play-off.

Scott was expected to miss this week after the birth of his son this week – but he is now ready to feature in order to try and secure his place in the BMW next week as he is currently sat in 66th in the rankings.

The likes of Jimmy Walker, Ben An, Harris English, Luke Donald and Steve Stricker saw their seasons end as they failed to come through the Northern Trust, and the pressure is on again this week.

Bubba Watson, Rafael Cabrera-Bello and Branden Grace are all currently outside the top-70 and will need a decent showing in Boston to progress to next week.


Over in Europe, the Czech Masters takes place in Prague and is the official start to the build up to the Ryder Cup 2018 as this tournament will be the first you can contribute to qualification for the showpiece in France.

Some of Europe’s biggest names will be in Denmark this week with Martin Kaymer, Matthew Fitzpatrick and Lee Westwood all confirmed starters, but Belgian Thomas Pieters is the stand-out name.

Pieters won his first title in Prague in 2015 and was runner-up to American Paul Peterson last year, so he is clearly a big fan of the Albatross Golf Club.

Pieters is clear favourite for the win, but one man who is attracting a lot of attention is American Julian Suri who won his maiden title in Denmark last week.


The pro’s point of view…

Our resident golf expert is Cliff Jackson. Cliff is a leading youth coach and PGA professional at the famed Seaton Carew Links – one of the oldest courses in the world.

In the FedEx – I think Adam Scott could go well and secure his qualification for next week and Bubba Watson for the same reason.

Some good players in the Czech Republic and I think Matt Fitzpatrick will do well and would be my pick.

The Bookie says…

We caught up with BetVictor’s Jack Milner – an expert in the golfing markets

After persisting with Bubba Watson and Jason Dufner the past couple of weeks, and both missing a top six finish after flirting with possible place money, I feel the need to continue the agonising need to follow both over a cliff once more. Bubba needed to birdie either of the remaining two holes to gain us a full place, having been available at 125/1 on the Monday before the tournament.

Bubba does as he pleases however, driving into the bunker on the par three, and then missed his save attempt from just over 20 feet. A comfortable par at the 72nd and final hole of the tournament saw his claim a T10 finish and, with previous around the course, again looks over-priced at a general 80/1.

On a side note, Bubba won the PGA Tour’s ‘Met Life Matchup’ and has made the wonderful decision to donate his $500,000 prize to Sacred Heart Family Hospital. Eladdy.

Jason Dufner, much like Bubba Watson, nearly did column readers a favour last week before faltering on the back nine on both third and fourth rounds, before eventually finishing T20 after a disappointing final round of 72 at the Northern Trust. He was terrific tee-to-green once more, and now has 13 Top 25 finishes from 21 events played on the PGA Tour this season.

Another one likely to go well at a price is Charley Hoffman, who has a career-best season. Hoffman is one of just a couple dozen players to make the cut at all four majors this season, and has three Top 5 finishes in his las 7 starts.

At three-figure prices I could see Charles Howell III and Harold Varner III go well, pun clearly intended, and expect both third generation players to belie their odds of 200/1 respectively.

Dell Selections
Charley Hoffman              50/1
Daniel Berger                    66/1
Bubba Watson                  80/1
Jason Dufner                     80/1

After going all-in Thomas Pieters last week and seeing the Belgian miss the cut at the Made in Denmark it is beggars belief that he heads the market as the 7/1 favourite for this week’s Czech Open and has to be opposed as the tournament favourite.

He was second in the corresponding tournament 12 months ago but was in much better form, having won the Made in Denmark tournament the week before, and having just finished fourth in the Olympics in Rio. He is woefully out of form this year however, and must be opposed alongside Ryder Cup teammates Matthew Fitzpatrick, Martin Kaymer and Lee Westwood.

The latter would appeal of the trio but I’m keen to take a chance on those at bigger prices, and like the price of Marc Warren at 80/1 with BetVictor. The Scotsman lost his way during the first half of the season but went a long way to securing his card with a T14 last week in Denmark, when terrific from tee-to-green.

Others that similarly arrive at the Czech Open having similarly played well in Denmark are Ben Evans and Steve Webster at 100/1 and 125/1 respectively with BetVictor. The former rallied in the final round well to finish T3 (with Webster and Chris Paisley) and it’s difficult to see how both players can be as big as three figures. Steve Webster survived the worst of the draw to hole the 36-hole lead and, despite a disappointing third round, capped-off a terrific week with final round 68 and can be chanced in a wide-open renewal.

Eddie Pepperell is worth persisting with at 50/1, having shown glimpses last week too. I remain adamant he’s a winner-in-waiting on tour and after a previous top five finish back in 2014, should relish playing at The Albatross.

Czech selections:
Eddie Pepperell  50/1
Marc Warren      80/1
Ben Evans           100/1
Steve Webster   125/1

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