It might be a year away but the focus for many in Newport this week will be the Ryder Cup, as qualification for Paul McGinley’s team to face the Americans at Gleneagles in 2014 starts at Celtic Manor, with the ISPS Handa Wales Open.
With many of Europe’s big names away playing on the PGA Tour, this is an opportunity for the rank and file of the European Tour to remind McGinley of their talents and get some all important points on the board as they attempt to make the squad for next autumn.
Thorbjorn Olesen will be more than hopeful of playing against the USA next year and while his numbers dipped earlier this season, ninth place in the Johnnie Walker Classic on Sunday suggested a return to form. It’s worth remembering that in the early spring Olesen was seventh in the Arnold Palmer Invitational and sixth in the Masters.
A minor car accident may have dented his confidence after that, but he comes into this week on the back of three sub 69 scores and made the top 20 at Celtic Manor 12 months ago, so Olesen is a solid selection at 25/1.
Simon Dyson has been close to qualifying for Ryder Cup teams in the past but hasn’t quite managed to make it. A disastrous quadruple bogey nine on the 18th on day three at Gleneagles, just when he hauled himself back into contention, scuppered the Yorkshireman’s chances in the Johnnie Walker Championship. However, three top-20 finishes at Celtic Manor coupled with three top-dozen efforts in his last four starts this summer, mark him down as a player to follow at 25/1.
Finally, this event has thrown up the odd massive-priced winner – remember Jeppe Huldahl in 2009 – so with that in mind it could pay to take a flyer with Mikko Korhonen at 100/1.
The Finnish golfer, who didn’t turn professional until he was 24, is arguably in the form of his life on the full tour, with 10th place at Gleneagles coming hard on the heels of another top-10 finish in the Russian Open.
Unlike, Olesen and Dyson, it’s extremely unlikely that we’ll see Korhonen in Ryder Cup action next season, but with fellow Scandinavian Huldahl’s triple-figure odds success as inspiration, he could run a place in Wales this week.
My three off the tee – Olesen, Dyson and Korhonen.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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