Euro Tour Odds & Picks: A True Tee-To-Green Test at the Celtic Classic
Adam Davy/PA Images via Getty Images. Pictured: Gavin Green
It’s been a run of birdie-fests the past few week on the European Tour.
But we could be in for a shift this week at the Celtic Classic.
The tour heads to Wales and Celtic Manor for the first of two events in consecutive weeks, similar to what the PGA Tour did at Muirfield Village last month.
This course was created to host the 2010 Ryder Cup, when Europe came out with a 14.5-13.5 victory.
The Twenty Ten Course at Celtic Manor is a true tee-to-green test and will represent a more stern challenge than we’ve seen on these shorter courses the past few weeks.
It measures a little over 7,400 yards for a par 71, consisting of four Par 5’s and five Par 3’s.
Nasty rough has been a factor in the past, along with the water in play on about half the holes. Depending on the weather, we’ve seen scores as high as six-under par win here.
Notable champions include Graeme McDowell, whose win came just two weeks prior to his U.S. Open triumph at Pebble Beach, Alex Noren and Joost Luiten. Tommy Fleetwood and Shane Lowry were the runners-up here in the most recent event at the course in 2014.
Basically, long and straight off the tee and a strong iron game will be required to keep the ball in play and generate birdie opportunities.
Speaking of Luiten, he opens this week as the favorite along with last week’s winner Andy Sullivan at +1100. It seems like we’ve been saying this a lot since the restart in Europe, but Luiten is the prototype for the kind of player we’re targeting this week — great total driver and hits a lot of greens. I’m not interested him at these numbers, but a win and runner-up here shows that he’s the type of guy who plays the course well.
Right behind them are the Belgian duo of Thomas Detry and Thomas Pieters. Detry seems poised to finally grab his first win on tour, but at +1600, he’s not of interest to me. Pieters at +2200 generates the most interest for me of the group, but it’s his first event back from the hiatus and I’ve been steering clear of the high-level players in this spot.
I’ll start off here with Gavin Green at +4000 on DraftKings. Green missed the cut last week in his first event back, but I won’t hold that against him. He shot a pair of 69s to miss by one shot.
Prior to the shutdown, he was hitting the ball great. His driving distance, accuracy and GIR all ranked inside the top 20 on the Euro Tour and he’s a great putter.
We’ll also try Jordan Smith at +3500 on Bet365. Smith is another solid tee-to-green player, but doesn’t have the putter of Green. Smith has been in decent form the past month and finished 14th last week. But he simply hasn’t been good enough on the greens to reach these 20-under par numbers required to win in England.
If Celtic Manor plays to its usual difficulty, it should put more of an emphasis on Smith’s strengths and mask that weakness with the putter a bit.
I’ll jump back in on Antoine Rozner one more time at +7000 on DK. Rozner is the total package from tee to green, where he ranks 12th on the European Tour. He’s made the cut in each event since the restart, and does have a 10th place finish, so the game isn’t too far off.
In both his Challenge Tour wins last season, he was the only player to shoot better than 10-under in either event, so the tougher scoring conditions may be more to his liking than the birdie-fests we’ve seen in recent weeks.
We’ll also go with Marcus Armitage here at +8000 on Bet365. Armitage is a guy I usually target in the triple-digit range but I still think he’s got value here.
He’s finished 14th and 15th the past two weeks and is a solid player from tee to green. He ranks inside the top 25 in both strokes gained approach and off the tee and is an above average scrambler.
With so many guys near the top, I’ll be limited in the long-shot range, but there is one play I like.
I’ll back Wil Besseling at 160-1 on Bet365. His recent form in England isn’t great, but he did finish third in Austria the first week back. Those events were more of a tee to green test than what we’ve seen, so I’ll give him another chance on a more difficult track.
He leads the tour in GIR and ranks inside the top 15 in both driving distance and accuracy. The 34-year old is still looking for that breakthrough win, but this might be a decent chance for him at a big number.
The Celtic Classic Card
- Jordan Smith +3500 (.94 units)
- Gavin Green +4000 (.83 units)
- Antoine Rozner +7000 (.47 units)
- Marcus Armitage +8000 (.41 units)
- Wil Besseling +15000 (.22 units)
Total Stake: 2.87 units