The ISPS Handa Wales Open will attract one-tenth of the golf world’s attention this week but punters should not dismiss the European Tour event because there are several decent wagers available in 72-hole tournament match markets.
Bookmakers are betting 21.00 the field for the ISPS Handa Wales Open title and, honestly, nothing leaps off the page as representing outstanding value. One could have as many as 12 players on one’s shortlist and that is insufficiently short to facilitate betting on the championship winner.
Fortunately, though, bookmakers have paired three of the strong ISPS Handa Wales Open contenders with golfers whose credentials for this week’s event are not so compelling,
Gregory Bourdy loves playing at the Celtic Manor Resort if his results in the ISPS Handa Wales Open are anything by which to go. Bourdy missed the cut on his first two ISPS Handa Wales Open starts but since then he has not finished lower than 39th in half a dozen appearances, including a 10th in 2009 and a second in 2011. Bourdy finished 23rd in last week’s Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles, firing four under-par rounds, including a final-day 68, so he travels from Scotland to Wales in very sound form.
Bourdy is generally available at odds of 41.00 to win the ISPS Handa Wales Open but a safer and smarter bet is backing him to finish higher on the leaderboard than Brooks Koepka, a play that Bwin is offering at odds of 1.91. Koepka has won three Challenge Tour titles this year and he is a golfer of tremendous potential but the young American has not played at the Celtic Manor Resort before so course specialist Bourdy holds a big advantage in this mythical match.
Paul Waring may not appeal at odds of around 56.00 to win his first professional tournament but he is worth a bet at odds of 1.91 with Bwin to perform better in the ISPS Handa Wales Open than Danny Willett. Waring overcame a shocking Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles first round – he posted a 75 – to shoot 63, 67 and 67 in the second, third and fourth rounds respectively and end up only two strokes adrift of the three golfers who took part in the play-off. Waring has not visited the Celtic Manor Resort since 2009 when he was 10th in the ISPS Handa Wales Open. Willett, on the other hand, is an ISPS Handa Wales Open regular who has missed the last three cuts since his fourth in 2009. Also, Willett has been well down the field on his last two starts away from the Celtic Manor Resort, including in the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles that he ended feebly.
Thongchai Jaidee is the defending ISPS Handa Wales Open champion and, while he has won back-to-back titles on the European Tour previously – he won the Carlsberg Malaysian Open in 2004 and 2005 – he appeals more in match betting than tournament betting. Bookmakers have paired Jaidee with Marc Warren, with both Betfred and Totesport inviting punters to back the Thai at odds of 1.91. Jaidee’s Celtic Manor Resort is a bit of a mixed bag but it is light years ahead of that of Warren, who has missed the cut in four of his last five ISPS Handa Wales Open appearances. Warren missed the cut in the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles as well, whereas Jaidee finished 17th.
Other ISPS Handa Wales Open competitors that are worth a mention include Miguel Angel Jimenez and Ricardo Gonzalez. Jimenez was a member of Europe’s 2010 Ryder Cup team that beat the United States of America at the Celtic Manor Resort, with the Spaniard scoring two out of a possible three points. Furthermore, Jimenez won the ISPS Handa Wales Open in 2005 and his last three starts in other tournaments have produced placings of fourth, 13th and 29th. Of the ISPS Handa Wales Open favourites, Jimenez is the best option at 26.00 with Coral and Ladbrokes. Gonzalez is in terrific form – he was one of the three Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles play-off participants – and he was second in the ISPS Handa Wales Open two years ago. Gonzalez is 81.00 in several places and he would be worth an interest if his Celtic Manor Resort numbers were not so up and down.