The European Tour is back this week and it is off to Denmark for the Made in Himmerland tournament, a slight modification on the Made in Denmark it has previously been known by! This event was unable to be held last season due to the pandemic so everyone will be pleased to be back in this part of the world.
It was Bernd Wiesberger who won the tournament two years ago and he will defend the title this week, against a much stronger field than we might otherwise have got due to the fact that this event forms part of the US Open qualifying series.
2019 – Bernd Wiesberger
2018 – Matt Wallace
2017 – Julian Suri
2016 – Thomas Pieters
2015 – David Horsey
2014 – Marc Warren
After missing out last year, we are back at the wonderful Himmerland Spa and Golf Resort this week, the scene of the first four renewals of this event and the most recent one two years ago. The highlight of this course is the 16th, a tiny par 3 where an enormous crowd would normally gather to ramp up the pressure on those teeing it up 100 or so yards away.
The course is a par 71 which only stretches to 6,751 yards so you don’t have to be a brutal hitter to get round here. You do need to be an accurate one though as the rough is often unmaintained and is said to be consistent and juicy. Therefore finding the fairways will be huge. The course is exposed, undulating and has a number of hazards dotted around. A look through the previous runnings of this event suggests the best short games come to the fore although there is a new trend growing in the bigger hitters prospering.
As I mentioned above this tournament doesn’t always get the best field, understandably so when you consider its proximity to the majors, but the enticement of the US Open qualifying series coming through here has drawn a few names who might not normally have been here to tee it up, including the highest ranked player in the field Robert MacIntyre, who has Ryder Cup points on his mind as well as that US Open debut next month.
Other big names who tee it up this week are Andy Sullivan, the defending champion Bernd Wiesberger, home stars Thorbjorn Olesen and Rasmus Hojgaard, the Kenya Open winner Justin Harding as well as former winners here such as Julian Suri, David Horsey and Marc Warren. We also have the British Masters champion Richard Bland teeing it up this week along with some future European Tour stars in Calum Hill, Matthias Schwab and Thomas Detry.
Robert MacIntyre is the 12/1 favourite to land what would be his first conventional 72 hole title on the European Tour this week. There are a few concerns to raise with MacIntyre, the first of which is that quote doing the rounds about him saying after the USPGA that he wishes he was going home rather than to Denmark. To be fair he will have said that immediately after coming off the golf course so it might not be the negative that it sounds. The bigger concern would be how his game just went dead during the final round of the British Masters when he was in a position to pounce. Add in that his only win came in that quirky Cyprus format and tentatively he isn’t for me at the price.
The defending champion Bernd Wiesberger is a 20/1 poke to keep hold of the title for a third year having not had a chance to defend it last year. I’m not convinced that whizzing back and forth to the US is going to help his chances at the minute, particularly when you consider all the added issues that comes with flying in these pandemic days. Wiesberger showed two years ago that he is more than good enough to win around here but he was playing better then than he is now so he isn’t really for me.
Matthias Schwab has been slotted in as the third favourite to follow in the footsteps of his countryman and win this week. He is 25/1 to land the title but regular readers will think I sound like a broken record when I say that he still hasn’t won at this level and I’m not massively enthused about backing him at this price until he does. He does smack it a long way which could open a number of these holes up for him but still being without a win puts me off.
Two men who know all about winning come next in the market at 28/1. They are Thorbjorn Olesen and Andy Sullivan. The former has been in contention a couple of times recently but faded fast so will be hoping that home surroundings keep him going for all four rounds. Sullivan will be wanting points in the US Open series here but he was out in the USPGA Championship last week and I just can’t be having anyone who not only has done that trip but has had the mental test of battling that tough Kiawah Island track. It is 33/1 bar.
Justin Harding is the first of my two main bets this week. He recently won on a similar track to this out in Kenya, one which wasn’t massively long but where driving the ball above adequately was necessary and then the second shots and in were what the game was all about. That is the test he finds on ground this week. The differences are this course is a bit softer and the wind is in play here but I don’t see either of those elements changing his chances. Harding was right there after three rounds at The Belfry a couple of weeks ago before stalling on Sunday. That was actually a bit of a surprise but having had that disappointment I think he can rebound here. Harding has a win and four other top 20 finishes in his last seven starts, is one of the better scramblers on the European Tour and if he gets the putter warmed up again he looks to be a very strong runner to me.
I’ve been following Adrian Meronk for a while now and while he wasn’t automatically in my staking plan this week the softness of the course has brought him back in. The Poland star is in pretty good form having finished in the top three in two of his last three starts including the prestigious British Masters. It is actually his efforts last year that brought him to my attention most notably his sixth in Wales and tenth in Ireland which shows he can play traditional courses, something he backed up two weeks ago. Meronk smacks it a long way which will open a lot of holes up here and he is getting up and down well when he does miss greens. There is talk about a lot of players yet to win but I think Meronk is the next one to do so and at a more than fair price I’ll keep siding with him here.
Ashun Wu has been one of the best scramblers on the tour this season but almost as importantly is he is eighth in par 4 scoring this term and that is often a statistic which goes well around here. The softer conditions might mean that his scrambling skills don’t come into play as much which will be absolutely fine but I fancy the Chinese player to go alright here. Most Asian players will still be inspired by Hideki Matsuyama and his win at The Masters last month and on a track where smashing it to all parts isn’t the necessary tactics, I think the short game strength of Wu could see him run well this week.
Dale Whitnell isn’t someone who will be on the radar of everyone yet but he is ticking along nicely in the areas I’m looking for this week. He was T15 in Austria and T21 at the British Masters and I’m not completely concerned about the three weeks in between because those -25 shootouts suit some and not others. This tighter track might suit him better and he is hitting a lot of greens and when he is missing the greens his scrambling statistics are good. He shot 70 on the final day at The Belfry when not many went out and made the most of conditions so that tells me that he is hitting the ball well. His GIR and scrambling numbers make me think he’s an outside chance this week.
My final pick is Chris Wood, a player who might be coming back into form now we are back in Europe. He was T21 in Austria, improving throughout all four days, and then T11 at the British Masters. Again I’m not worried by the shootouts in between. In Austria he was seventh in the field for greens hit and at The Belfry only two bettered him on the putting statistics so if he can put those two together we have ourselves a runner. He gained strokes around the green in both those tournaments so all parts of his game is coming back. Equally as importantly his confidence looks to be returning. Wood is a three time European Tour winner so if he has got the bug for the game again he could be a danger here.
Back J.Harding to win Made in Himmerland (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 34.00 with Betfair (1/5 1-7)
Back A.Meronk to win Made in Himmerland (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 51.00 with Betfair (1/5 1-7)
Back them here:
Back A.Wu to win Made in Himmerland (e/w) for a 0.5/10 stake at 101.00 with Coral (1/5 1-8)
Back C.Wood to win Made in Himmerland (e/w) for a 0.5/10 stake at 111.00 with Coral (1/5 1-8)
Back D.Whitnell to win Made in Himmerland (e/w) for a 0.5/10 stake at 126.00 with Boylesports (1/5 1-7)
Back him here: