This weeks European platter offers up the Albatross Resort just outside of Prague for D+D Real Czech Masters. An event which is still in its infancy but nevertheless is beginning to hold up a half decent reputation. The course is spectacular although not overly challenging off the tee. There are water challenges spotted throughout the course which challenge the odd tee shot and approach shot but nothing overly daunting. Overall scoring should be good and the power hitters will be at an advantage. The prize money is quite weak here also and the likes of Fitzpatrick and Westwood will be playing for Ryder qualification.
The field heading here this week is very top heavy. Pieters, Sullivan, Westwood and Fitzpatrick are the real star names at the top of the leaderboard. None of whom are easy to back at the prices for me personally. Pieters won this last year but was very suspect last weekend at the Olympics. That may be understandable but for someone in the early throws of his career to have single figures quoted about this tournament is shocking, regardless of field. Sullivan at the same prices represents a better betting proposition given his quality and experience, but again at single figures is unbackable. Westwood very rarely wins despite some good golf lately. Fitzpatrick is quite inconsistent even though I rate him the more talented of the foursome at the front of the market. He is liable to do anything and I'm not falling over myself to back him at those odds either.
Jamie Donaldson is certainly overpriced to win this week. He has struggled badly lately with plenty of missed cuts but the signs were there at the PGA that his game is returning and it'd be silly to write him off here this week. After three very impressive days at the PGA where he was on the fringes of contention he fell away on day four but his swing looked to be in solid shape. Ball striking was quality which took us back to a few years ago when he made the Ryder team. He subsequently missed the cut at the Travelers but I'm not overly concerned with that. Donaldson won here in 2014 and if he brings the same game he had at the PGA to Prague this week then it'll take four very good rounds to beat him.
This could be a tournament where young players flourish in years to come and I wouldn't put it past Haydn Porteous gaining his second win of the season. He went through a real mixed bag for a while there before churning out a top 30 in the Open followed by a quarter final exit in the Paul Lawrie Match Play. This is a welcome return to form for the highly talented South African. A win in Joburg in January was backed up by a top ten a few weeks later at the Dubai Desert Classic. Interestingly that Joburg win came after six successive missed cuts. So the missed cuts previous to these latest decent performances don't overly worry me. He has game this lad and is slightly overpriced as he begins to hit some form.
I was impressed by Bradley Dredge's game a few weeks back at the PGA. We had backed Donaldson against him in the Top Welsh bet there which eventually landed but Dredge gave us enough of a scare over the four days. He was under par for two days in the PGA before faltering to near last position after two poor rounds over the weekend. However, he has little experience on those shores and I was mighty surprised to see him make the cut. He finished tied 2nd in the Irish Open and a has had a few other decent results these last few months scattered in among some missed cuts. That is inevitable with looking at a field this weak though and won't put me off. He finished 2nd here in Prague in 2014 and has a solid enough long game to tackle this layout.
In a week where we will play relatively small stakes I believe Jaco Van Zyl is worth a speculative play. This will be his first time taking to this Albatross layout so we are running a small risk with little knowledge as to how he'll suit it. However, he has a solid tee to green game when he's on song and given how weak the field is he is worth a small bet considering the amount of experience he has gained in the last few years.