After a month hiatus, the European Tour is back in action this week. The Czech Masters has been one of those events to produce unlikely winners since inception (with the exception of Thomas Pieters), so I think going off the beaten path may be a smart way to build lineups this week. None of the defending champions have ever repeated, though Pieters came close in 2016, but outside of that defending champions haven’t fared well in their defense year.
The course has plenty of water to help keep scores close to par and the Tour added more water in play prior to last year’s edition (clearly it didn’t get the result they were looking for). Instead, I expect to see the rough a bit taller this week as the course setup has been changed in the past following a high scoring affair, and this is the best and fairest way to do so without pissing off the players.
Outside of the water hazards and rough, the course is a pretty straight-forward parkland design with green bunkers and large greens. Hitting greens in regulation is vital while also making sure you’re not lag putting every birdie opportunity. I expect scores to dip back down to the -15 range this week.
We’re ramping up towards the end to the Race to Dubai championship, so there will be ample events on the Euro Tour from now until American Thanksgiving. We’ll get the European Tour’s best players back once the FedEx Cup Playoffs is over, but until then, we’ll only have one or two of their top players in the field.
o The Course
· Albatross Golf Resort
· Par: 72
· Yardage: 7,400 yards
· Greens: Bentgrass
o Location: Vysoky Ujezd, Czechia
o Past Champions:
· 2018: Andrea Pavan -22 over Padraig Harrington
· 2017: Haydn Porteous -13 over Lee Slattery
· 2016: Paul Peterson -15 over Thomas Pieters
· 2015: Thomas Pieters -20 over Pelle Edberg
· 2014: Jamie Donaldson -14 over Bradley Dredge
KEY STATS TO TARGET
o Strong Emphasis – SG: OTT + SG: APP, Par 4 scoring, Par 5 Scoring, Birdies or better
o Important – Course History, Scrambling, Current Form
THIS WEEK’S SUGGESTIONS
Eddie Pepperell (DK $10,800)
· History: 9th– 5th– MC – 22nd
· Form: DNP – DNP – 51st– 71st
· Stats: 105th– SG: OTT, 48th– SG: T2G, 49th– SG: APP, 102nd– SG: P
· Analysis: Great ball striker, decent putter, strong off the tee game to the point where he’s one of the few I’m willing to consider at the top of the board. He’s shown up and placed here the last two years in worse form and is one to keep an eye on whenever he’s in a weak field event.
Lee Westwood (DK $10,600): 61st – 9th – 27th the last three years here, comes in three weeks removed from a 4th place finish at The Open Championship where his game looked sharp and, more importantly, he looked as though he was enjoying being on the golf course. Naturally I’m a bit hesitant following a strong performance on a course where his good play was rewarded, but I’m also worried because he was so dialed in most of the time, but when he wasn’t, he got away with some lucky bounces/shots.
Erik Van Rooyen (DK $10,400): Excellent ball striker, especially for this field. I don’t prefer the price on him this week, but we get what we get, and I guess it’s deserved. 34th her two years ago, but comes in with good form having gone 20th at The Open and 14th the week prior. I think he’s a fine cash play and someone to target in GPPs.
Mattias Schwab (DK $8,000)
· History: 9th
· Form: DNP – DNP – DNP – DNP
· Stats: 132nd– SG: OTT, 40th– SG: T2G, 40th– SG: APP, 117th– SG: P
· Analysis: 9th last year in his debut here, hasn’t pegged it for over a month competitively so there’s not much to draw on, but I think he was probably looking forward to a break as he missed the cut in three of his last four events. He gives us a ton of upside at a low cost most weeks, and this week is no different.
Adrian Otaegui (DK $7,800): He’s a better golfer than he’s being priced as this week, so right away I feel comfortable suggesting him as a value play. The price is low because of his two missed cuts here following the 30th place finish in his debut as well as several missed cuts in some strong events over the last two months. Getting back to a weak field Euro event should be exactly what he needs to get back on pace.
Jeff Winther (DK $7,600): 9th– 25th – 27thin the last three years here. Winther’s been just your average cut maker with Top 30 upside this season (and a few outlier good finishes) so I think he’s best suited as a cash and GPP play where our expectations are a made cut and a finish inside the Top 40.
SALARY RELIEF SECTION
James Morrison (DK $6,900)
· History: 36th– 5th– DNP – MC
· Form: DNP – DNP – DNP – DNP
· Stats: 89th– SG: OTT, 147th– SG: T2G, 163rd– SG: APP, 104th– SG: P
· Analysis: Morrison is a bit of a course horse at the Albatross resort having finished in the Top 15 twice in four appearances. The layout isn’t typical for his game, but it is a resort course, which should make things easier even for those who are struggling with their game (as Morrison had been prior to the break having missed his last five straight cuts). I think he’s fine for all formats this week.
Justin Walters (DK $6,600): Walters was struggling a bit leading into The Open, having missed his last two cuts in a row. He offers a bit more comfort in his typical scores when looking at the bottom of pricing. He does possess some upside in his finishing place bonus as he’s finished in the Top 12 here a few years ago and had a Top 30 in his last five events. I prefer him as a one-off in GPPs.
Pedro Oriol (DK $6,400): The ball striking Spaniard is back after his much-needed break. He missed two of three cuts here (34th in the one he made), but he hasn’t teed it up on the Euro Tour in over two months so I’d be a bit timid with my exposure this week and probably just look to have minimal exposure in GPPs until we get a grasp for where his game is.
CONTRARIAN CORE (GPP PLAYS)
Thomas Pieters (DK $10,000): The muscles from Brussels returns after some peaks and valleys performances at during the “Open swing” where he finished 67th at The Open Championship, 20th at the Scottish and MC’d at the Irish. He’s absolutely a course horse here after winning, then finishing runner-up in his defense year, and 9th last year. It’s hard to gauge where his game is after a long layoff, but we know he’s a good course fit.
Robert MacIntyre (DK $9,700): The long hitting Scot makes his debut at the Albatross this week and could be the breakthrough performance that all of the Twitter cappers are expecting. He should be a great course fit as he’s quite long off the tee and possesses a strong approach game which puts him in great situations for ample birdie opportunities. I’m excited to see him play this week and will be backing him in all formats (DFS & betting).
Julian Suri (DK $9,100): 34th here two years ago and someone we were riding when the form was strong. His game dipped a bit during the Scottish and Irish Opens, but we’re back on a scorer’s course, which is where he excels. I think we’ll see his game return to where it was early in the summer, starting with this week.
Honorable Mention – Nino Bertasio DK $7,900, Jason Scrivener DK $7,700, Chris Hanson DK $6,300
Thanks for reading and good luck this week from the FGI team!
– Pari, (@hitthehighdraw)