July 09 – 16, 2020
Diamond Course – Diamond Country Club
Par 72, 7458 yards
The European Tour eases back into the limelight with a low key Austrian Open co-sanctioned by the European and Challenge Tours. The Diamond Course at Atzenbrugg, Austria has become a regular fixture on the main tour with some well-known winners such as Joost Luiten, Chris Wood, Dylan Frittelli, and Mikko Korhonen. A flat course through tree-lined parkland fairways and water on 50% of holes. Small greens and penal rough mean accuracy is the key ingredient from tee to green. A couple of island greens plus a tough closing stretch of holes tests the player’s nerve.
How should the first event in Europe be approached by bettors?
With caution and small stakes but we have plenty of course form to use and an ability to play well fresh for accurate players could be a recipe for success. With this being the first event for the European Tour since the Covid-19 break it has a weakened field but still a great opportunity for many that they will be grateful for.
No one is better qualified for favoritism than Netherlands’ Joost Luiten, the 2013 champion here with five top 7 performances at the Diamond Course. Since an injury-interrupted 2018, he has struggled for the higher echelons of tournaments despite being consistently making cuts and Top 30 placings. He is easily passed over on the win market but maybe interesting against more inconsistent types in match bets.
European Tour Betting Picks and Predictions
The standout piece of form before the Covid-19 break has to be from Finland’s Sami Valimaki who won the Oman Open on the European Tour in his rookie season. The twenty-one-year-old had already had a top 10 prior Down Under at the start of 2020 and this followed on the heels of a hot 2019 for the flying Finn who won four times at the lower levels. I understand, he has just won a low key event back in his home country and he won his first start of 2019 at the Open Casa Golf displaying the ability to play well fresh which is a desired quality this week.
We need to consider players who have managed some activity in recent weeks, allowing them to sharpen their game ahead of their rivals. American nomad John Catlin has been busy on the minor tours in his homeland and won a small event in Las Vegas where he beat Rico Hoey into runner up when both players were clear of the field. I mention Hoey because he performed well on the Korn Ferry Tour in the TPC Colorado Championship at the weekend indicating that form is reasonably strong.
There was a small event in Denmark recently that Nicolai Hojgaard will have used to sharpen his skills. At nineteen-years-old, this prodigious talent has one piece of outstanding European Tour form when he ran Sergio Garcia close at last year’s KLM Open. This was played on a fiddly track and the presence of Joost Luiten and Ashley Chesters on the leaderboard with them suggest that was a similar test. Another former KLM Open winner was Ashun Wu in 2018 who interestingly won here in 2016 to provide further evidence there may be a correlation.
The 2018 Shot Clock Masters at the Diamond Course saw Connor Syme spring to prominence with a runner up spot when new to the European Tour while the tall Belgian, Nicolas Colsaerts was third. Both players have added this week’s event to their schedule as they attempt to restart their seasons and it was only at the end of 2019 that Colsaerts won the Open De France. Connor Syme began 2020 with promise after a strong effort when fresh in the South African Open followed by another good performance in Oman. Syme decided to drive through Europe with his caddy to play this week which is an indication of how keen he is to restart the season at a venue that holds good memories. Both are highly respected but short in price in this weakened field.
Another player who is highly respected by short in price this week is Italian, Lorenzo Gagli who has been a player mentioned in several previews in the last year during which time he has started to consolidate his position on the European Tour after being on the periphery for several years. The highlight of 2019 was a runner up position at the Omega European Masters but what caught my eye before the Covid-19 break was back to back top 12 finishes tournaments on the Arabian Peninsula in Qatar and Oman. Going back a few years Gagli has twice shown an ability to handle the Diamond Course with a 10th place finish in 2013 the best.
When looking for other players who like the Diamond Course I came across Eduardo De La Riva from Spain who has three top 10 finishes here. He was a shock runner up at Valderama last year in the Andalucia Masters and has an ability to produce big performances when fresh off a break. Most of his best performances have been reserved for his native homeland like when he won the 2012 Fred Olsen Challenge we España but outside of Spain, the Diamond Course is one venue where he excels. Another plus for De La Riva that serves to re-enforce my theory that results correlate with results at KLM Open was when he was runner up there in 2015.
Little doubt Eduardo De La Riva is a quirky player capable of snapping out of poor form with big performances and perhaps we should look to a similar type in forty-six-year-old Swede Mikael Lundberg who was the winner here in 2014. He has been plying his trade on the Challenge and minor tours for the last few seasons but he was still recording tournament wins before the break. Twice a winner of the Russian Open, this course specialist should not be underestimated.
If you want to find a player with a promising recent appearance and course form maybe you should consider Oscar Lengden who finished 23rd here in 2018 after taking the first-round lead. Last week he played the Katrineholm Open when again a low opening round accounted for his week. Noticeably before the Covid-19 break, he played well in South Africa at the Dimension Data Pro Am that was won by Christian Bezuindhout and this looks a natural progression for his career. Therefore, this week Oscar Lengden for first-round leader looks a solid investment.
Frenchman Antoine Rozner has looked the real deal this year on the European Tour after several years on the Alps Tour plying his trade. Already with two top 10s this season and having played a little competitive golf at the end of June in a French Training Tournament, he could be sharper than the rest this week. He did actually win the low key event so we can expect him to be as confident as well as sharp and makes a solid selection for the top 10 market.
Despite no course form I have decided to go for two young players in Sami Valimaki and Nicolai Hojgaard on their outstanding recent pieces of recent form that suggests long-term they could posses a higher class than most of this week’s competitors. Remember this week is a minefield with the majority of players being competitively inactive for four months so keep stakes small. It may pay to keep onside the more experienced players like Eduardo De La Riva and Mikael Lundberg in the place markets rather than to win.
European Tour Betting Picks
- Sami Valimaki – Win @ +3300
- Nicolai Hojgaard – Win @ +6600
- Antoine Rozner – Top 10 @ on request
- Oscar Lengden – First Round Leader @ on request
*Prices taken from BetOnline