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British Masters

Robert MacIntyre
Max Kieffer
Ewen Ferguson
Guido Migliozzi
Kiradech Aphiebarnrat - top 20

Rocket Mortgage Classic

Tom Kim
Sungjae Im
Brian Harman
Kevin Yu

Working on tee-to-green figures is a given for any golf punter, but there are a few ways to get there.

Over in Detroit, it may seem too easy to say ‘bombs away,’ but with Bryson, Matt Wolff, Joaquin Niemann, Cam Davis and Taylor Pendrith just some of the big drivers that have won or contended, we’ll take that as the metric for success.

Back in leafy Warwickshire, the t2g game is naturally vital, but there have been a variety of ways to get there.

Whether it’s off the tee or via the irons, the leaderboards of the past two runnings have contained nine of the top 10 from peg to short stuff. Enough evidence for me.

Let’s have the ‘simple’ formula of players in some form over the past few weeks, along with form at similar tree-lines or narrower tracks.

Contenders over the past couple of years Sebastian Soderberg, Richie Ramsay, Richard Bland and Guido Migliozzi may total a small sample but all point to form at Crans, Kenya, Valderrama and the AD Links, little surprise to anyone looking for players that thrive on quality ball-striking.

In that regard, Jordan Smith must hold interest even at 18/1. His latest outing resulted in a top-20 at the US Open and followed a brave attempt at regaining his European Open title. Still, I found it tough to split him and Adrian Meronk, two of the best players on the tour so have left them alone.

Not long ago, we might have expected Robert MacIntyre to have been contending for favouritism this week, so at double the price of the Polish star, I’ll take a chance that recent changes will see a return to the sort of form that beat Matt Fitzpatrick, Victor Perez and Rory McIlory in Italy in September last year.

Having had the Ryder Cup as his number one target for a while, the significance of that win at this year’s host venue cannot be overplayed. Indeed, recent changes to his coaching staff and caddie can only point to the belief that he has one target in his head.

“It is my main goal, my only goal for the next year,” MacIntyre said after winning in Italy. “I have done it on the golf course.”


He had been doing nothing wrong, but equally nothing outstanding before that second DPWT victory, “but we worked on a few things on Tuesday and Wednesday and I felt so in control of my golf ball this week.”


It’s a similar story coming into the British Masters.


April saw a run of three top-10 finishes, including in Kenya and Korea where, at both, he went off in the final group.


The 26-year-old’s recent improvements, from 68th to 18th in Munich and 80th to 14th at Green Eagle, must surely give him hope for upcoming tournaments, including the Scottish Open and final major of the year.


Last season’s 36th place finish here disguises that he was the only one of the top-10 ranked from tee-to-green that failed to finish in the top-20. Everything fired apart from the putter, with which he lost nearly five strokes on the field.


Runner-up at Hillside in 2019, he has a top-10 around this venue, at Valderrama, Joburg (Bland runner-up, Meronk third) and at the Gary Player Club. It’s a when, not if, and any slight improvement on last week’s gains from the fairway and with the putter will see him right there.


32-year-old Max Kieffer has given his home support much to cheer about when running-up at Green Eagle and finishing third in Muich a couple of weeks later.


Things could have been better for Kieffer, having disputed the lead for much of the European Open, a similar tale to his play-off defeat at the Austrian Open in 2021. That he could compete on a lengthy track that didn’t play to his advantage is a pointer to even better around The Belfry.


A week after the five-hole trial against John Catlin, the German recorded a final round 62 to finish second again, this time in Gran Canaria.


Given Kieffer recently went 16th/5th in Korea and Italy, it’s worth holding onto him when in form. With his stats in rude health – third for driving accuracy, 20th for ball-striking, 34th in greens, and top-30 for putting average, and proven when in form, he goes on the plan.


Guido Migliozzi was a much bigger price when the market opened, but still represents value at 70.1.


The Italian was put in the class of ‘could-be-anything’ after his two impressive victories in 2019, one of which significantly came at the Kenya Open at Karen.


It hasn’t been easy-going since then, but he ran up three times in 2021 – in Qatar (when beaten by a wonder-putt from Antoine Rozner) at Himmerland when thrashed by a rampant Bernd Wiesberger and, in-between, by Richard Bland around here, beaten after having missed a two-putt from a middle distance on the final par-five). The 26-year-old also put up top-10s at Crans and the U.S Open (!) for good measure, whilst a 12th at Karen is no harm.


Guido’s Qatar form links nicely with this week’s defending champion Thorbjorn Olesen, whilst his previous form at Valderrama and the Links give the hope that last week’s 10th is the catalyst for better to come on a more suitable track.


Figures have been trending nicely. Guido had a spurt through April that gave his many supporters real hope. However, after drifting away again, he left Munich recording positives in tee-to-green and putting, and he arrives at a place we know he can play.


I’ll add Ewen Ferguson simply as he is continuing to look too big for a multiple winner.


It is just 14 months since the inexperienced Scot threw away a final day lead in Kenya before winning a grind in Qatar (Meronk third with Justin Harding, a perfect link to all significant tracks, in fifth place).


In August, the 26-year-old waltzed home with a stunning display at Galgorm Castle and would have made it three for the year but for an indescribably brilliant display on the dance floor by Oliver Wilson, whose only previous victory was the Alfred Dunhill Links.


So form ties up nicely, we just need to forgive two recent missed cuts. I can do that.


Fergy’s last eight starts have yielded consecutive top four finishes in South Africa, 10th at the KLM and 14th at Green Eagle, an event at which he held a place in the top-10 for 54 holes.


The Scot continues to churn out quality figures for approaches (top-20 for all his last six completed starts) and tee-to-green (plus figures for all six). Should he repeat those, I’m expecting him to leave his two missed-cuts well behind.


Kiradech Aphibarnrat makes no sense stats-wise.


The Thai has had a mixed season, but the best reads well. Alphie has recorded top-six figures for irons and tee-to-green in Singapore (finished 49th), top-10 for both to finish 15th in the Soudal, and eighth for tee-to-green to finish in the top five in the KLM.


It’s clear he has issues away from his irons at the moment, but I can’t forget how he should have won at Wentworth in 2021, and has relatable form at Malaysia, Links, Nedbank and Italy.


It might be an ask on immediate form but it’s in May that he secured back-to-back top-15 finishes in similar company. Back him to do that again.


Over in Detroit, the defending champion described the course as ‘easy’.


Okay, that’s pretty simple when cruising clear of Patrick Cantlay et al, but with recent rain now making it even easier, think of last week’s form at River Highlands, when softened greens made it a birdie-fest. Who knows what Big Tone will say of it now?


The event itself doesn’t make as much appeal as the one taking place at The Belfry, but I’ll row along with four players that should give us a run.


Up top, it’s tough to split Tony Finau and the red-hot Rickie Fowler.


Finau looks ripe to go well again under even easier conditions than last year’s romp. With three of his five wins coming in 20-under or lower, the drop in grade out of ‘elevated’ status means he has to go well. He would be my choice for those looking for a safe place return at worst.


Another safe conveyance should be Sungjae Im, who drives me a bit mad with his lack of wins, but for whom this drop from the highest grade should be a boost.


Previous to missing three of his last five cuts, the Korean went on a run of four top-10 finishes in five starts before winning a lesser event on his home tour.


Sixth at Sawgrass works well with previous contenders Bryson, Cam Davis, Taylor Pendrith and Cam Young, while the seventh place at The Heritage works with most of those named, plus Patrick Cantlay, of course runner-up to Finau 12 months ago.


Cantlay also ties form in with the Shriners at Summerlin (see the one-two from 2020), the scene of Sungjae’s most valuable victory (Wolff second, with Aaron Wise being another link between the comp courses).


With Wyndham form in abundance, his best game lines up with Si Woo Kim, a Memorial specialist that helps tie in Cantlay again. KIt also brings in Kevin Kisner, a similar short driver, whose form at Sawgrass and Heritage rides nicely alongside two top-10s around the Detroit track.


Fairway-finding should enable Sungjae to attack the pins as he can, and I can see both him and compatriot Tom Kim giving the Koreans plenty to shout about.


Let’s talk about Tom Kim.


If the comp courses are correct, the 21-year-old’s two victories give him more than leading claims.


A five-shot victor over the first selection at Sedgefield, he then followed up with a three-shot victory over Cantlay and Matt NeSmith, a repeat contender at the Shriners.


Last week’s top-40 at the Travelers could have been so much better but for dropping 10 shots at the start of his back nine through rounds one and three.


Of note, however, is Kim’s final round 65, five-under on the card but one that could have been far better, consisting of six birdies and one eagle. That brings back memories of his final round at Detroit on debut last year, when he shot a best-of-the-day 63.


It’s all coming together after a very respectable top-10 at the U.S Open, and whilst Im has to be priced as he is, perhaps Kim deserves to be.


The hugely consistent Brian Harman is too tempting to ignore, particularly after a closing 64/64 had him run-up to Keegan Bradley last week. That wasn’t the first solid effort from a player that surprised me by being #27 in the world rankings.


Placed many times at Harbour Town, Sawgrass, and Sedgefield, Harman is the unsexy player of the world, never really given the respect his consistency deserves but, with similar conditions in front of him this week I’ll take him to overcome a pair of missed cuts over the last two years.


The diminutive 36-year-old has never played badly here, with a pair of 70s and 71s simply not good enough to make the weekend against low scoring. He hasn’t played here since 2020, but he arrives with his irons good enough to rank him in the top-20 for his last three completed starts.


I was tempted by the case for Taylor Pendrith but it lies purely with the driver and I’m not sure the rest of his current game is anywhere near the right form to exploit it. Instead, go for the totally unexposed Kevin Yu.


Chan-an Yu, or Kevin to his friends, qualified status on the KFT via the PGA Tour’s University programme, a complicated system that rewards the very best of college golfers. His full story is here.


That doesn’t really matter. What does is the excellent start he has made to his PGA Tour rookie season and his mid-season ranking of third off-the-tee, 37th for approaches and a combined ninth for tee-to-green.


Scoring-wise, the Chinese Taipei player ranks in sixth for par-4 birdies or better and 14th for the longer holes, expected of someone averaging 308 yards off the peg.


Form is improving too in 2023, an opening 20th in Hawaii followed by 44th at Torrey Pines, seventh place at Pebble Beach and last week’s 49th at River Highlands, dropping from inside the top-10 at halfway. That follows some progressive hints at the end of 2022 when top-20 at the Sanderson Farms and third in Bermuda.


An Arizona graduate, Yu was third in the 2019 NCAA D1 Championship, behind none other than Matt Wolff, and in the same year won the Australian Master of the Amateurs, held at Royal Melbourne, a course that hosted Aaron Wise’s victory three years previously.


Yu’s glaring weakness is the short game but that will come. For now, get with a player for whom there is no visible ceiling and who brings what might be the most vital asset to the table.


Odds are correct at the time of posting

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