Our golf expert brings you his preview and predictions for this week's PGA Tour event, Austrian Open.
Austrian Open - Winner
The European tour arrives back on familiar soil this week with our first jaunt to this continent in a fair while. Diamond CC is a place we know well having held this event under different names since 2010. Throughout the years this course has rewarded those with a solid long game with those hitting the most greens gaining the best results. The big difference this time around though is that we play it in April and the weather forecast suggests it will be rather chilly. Snow is even on the horizon and it'll be interesting to see how a course copes with that as we very rarely see it. Damp conditions may play into the hands of the bigger hitters and I'm tempted by a couple, one particular.
Adri Arnaus at 33/1 (6 Places)
Adri Arnaus maybe hasn't hit the heights we thought he would just yet but as we've seen before it takes plenty of time for some of these talents to develop and strictly speaking it is still very early days for the swashbuckling Spaniard. His short game lets him down on many occasions and his putting stroke leaves a lot to be desired. That said, some of the best in the game right now have a weakness on the greens and I expect him to make enough gains off the tee to compensate. His putting has been ok of late so I'm a bit more confident than usual. He certainly looked to have reached a more consistent level with a couple of top 6s towards the end of 2020 followed by 10th at the DP World Tour then 12th and 9th at the restart in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. A missed cut followed in a stronger field in Saudi before he withdrew with Covid symptoms in Qatar. He managed to shoot level par the first day there so maybe his game was in better shape than some might think given his health condition. Overall I think his game off the tee here could shoot him into contention and I expect the bigger hitters to make hay here this week. 33/1 is a nice price for someone more talented than a few ahead of him in the market.
2pts e/w Ardi Arnaus at 33/1 (6 Places 1/5)
Niklas Lemke at 50/1 (6 Places)
I'll take my chances on another big hitter off the tee Niklas Lemke. The Swede is on a remarkable run finishing outside the top 15 only once in his last six starts. The field has improved this week in Austria but given his prowess off the tee I believe another big performance is achievable. He was ahead of Bezuidenhout in Joburg late last year and ahead of the likes of MacIntyre in Dubai. In Qatar he was alongside Kitayama and ahead of a handful above him in the market here. Clearly he has the game right now to compete and the colder conditions just may give the Swede the extra advantage he has been looking.
Niklas Lemke 1.25pt e/w at 50/1 (6 Places 1/5)
David Horsey at 50/1 (6 Places)
If it doesn't materialise that the longer hitters have the advantage this week I'd like a little bit of cover and David Horsey provides that. His long game is usually neat and tidy and has already seen him notch three top tens here in the past. He looked in excellent nick last time out in Saudi finishing 12th whilst ranking 3rd in Approach. A first round 61 there was just about the round of the year so far. He couldn't keep pace simply with the quality of field but alongside Garcia and ahead of Bryson and Poulter to name a few is a firm piece of form and despite a lay off I'm prepared to take a chance on a course that he has perfromed well on before that he is somewhere back towards his best.
David Horsey 1pt e/w at 50/1 (6 Places 1/5)
Pep Angles at 140/1 (7 Places)
Emilio Cuartero Blanco at 500/1 (6 Places)
First Round Leader: Emilio Cuartero Blanco at 200/1 (Places)
Finally I'll take a chance on another couple of Spaniards. Pep Angles was relatively lightly raced last year but managed to run Garrick Higgo close home for a runner up spot in Portugal and a win in his native Spain in the Andalucia Challenge on the Challenge Tour. 67-66 over the first weekend in Kenya saw him finish 8th there and this big hitting 28 year old may just be hitting his stride after losing his card in 2018 following a disappointing year. Another Spaniard who hits it even further and who looks slightly overpriced this week is Emilio Cuartero Blanco. The Irish Challenge winner in 2019 had a disappointing 2020 but finished the year off in better fashion with a top 20 in the Italian Open then two top 15 finishes on the Challenge Tour. The first event in Kenya he missed the cut but fired a very respectable 67 in round 2. The following week he opened with a 66 on the same course only to fall down the field over the following three days. Nevertheless he is capable of a bold showing here if distance becomes an advantage and I'll have a small bet on First Round Leader also.
Pep Angles 0.75 e/w at 140/1 (7 Places 1/5)
Emilio Cuartero Blanco 0.75 E/2 at 500/1 (6 Places 1/5)
First Round Leader Emilio Cuartero Blanco 0.5 e/w at (6 Places 1/5)