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While the great and the good challenge for too-many millions of dollars at East Lake, Ryder Cup pressures come to the Albatross track in the Czech Republic.

All of the top seven in the market have some claim to place at the Marco Simone club next month, and with captain Luke Donald looking on, they will almost certainly not want a fairway interview when tied for the lead after 65 holes.

Guessing a player’s mental strength when never before under such scrutiny is pointless, so the Czech Masters will need to be looked at for what it is – a chance for the longer hitters to go driver crazy and overpower many of their rivals.

At just under 7500-yards, this tourist par-72 asks few questions other than getting on the greens in regulation. Of course, hitting irons from 40 yards closer than everyone else helps, surely a contributing factor to the prices of much of the top-10.

Of those favourites, I can leave maiden Ludvig Aberg alone despite his obvious promise, whilst Shane Lowry – a class above at his best – is proving a tad one-paced at present.

Should the Irishman be at the Italian track in a few weeks, there seems little motivation for him around here, a course that doesn’t allow his better-grade game to come to the fore.

Robert MacIntyre seems a touch out of sorts, with a runner-up in Scotland being anything like expected form, so I’ll plow in with both Adrian Meronk and Nicolai Hojgaard in an each-way double with confident FedEx selection Rory McIlroy.

Adrian Meronk or Nicolai Hojgaard

There is little that thrills at 12/1 and 14/1, but their very similar claims are hard to ignore.

The improving Pole currently ranks first for strokes-gained off-the-tee, just two places in front of his market rival, and leads him in tee-to-green (first against second) and in greens-in-regulation (second versus eighth), all figures that sit as well here as they did at the Italian Open, held for the last three years at this year’s Ryder Cup venue.

Both have won in Italy – interestingly with an identical score of 13-under – and both appeared well at each other’s victories – Meronk was runner-up in 2021, Hojgaard tied-fifth in 2023.

Understandably a touch shorter than his rival in the market, Meronk brings excellent correlative form to the table, with a win and top-10 at the Irish Open (see previous Czech Masters Max Kieffer, Johannes verrman and Jamie Donaldson) and plenty of top-10 finishes in the desert – use a myriad of previous winners as examples, particularly Abu Dhabi stalwart, Thomas Pieters, two-time champion around here.

Since his win in Italy, Meronk has finished third at the BMW International (won by 2018 Czech champion Andrea Pavan), 15th at The Belfry and a closing 23rd at Hoylake.

He’s played at Albatross just twice. Ignore his debut as a rookie and look instead at his effort in 2021 when finishing 17th alongside Hojgaard. Back then, Meronk lay in third, second and sixth through the first three rounds, a position he is unlikely to let slip now a far more accomplished player.

There is genuinely not much change when putting up Nicolai’s credentials, though victory at Ras Al Khaimah gives them that slight desert edge.

See the same courses pop up as they did with Meronk, the main difference being the Dane has had two outings since The Open – a missed-cut at the 3M Open coming on the number, and an impressive 14th place at the Wyndham, an event happily used for correlation at the Tour Championship.

The 22-year-old doesn’t always know where his drives are going but, given a wide area to hit it, will use them to offer up impressive tee-to-green figures, such as plus-10 strokes in Italy.

Runner-up at the Corales, top-30 in Texas and Detroit are all finishes that put him in that small, much-classier group this week, and whilst he is rated around a 2/1 chance to make the European team, there will rarely be a more suitable course for him to impress.


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Sebastian Soderberg EW

For the each-way selections, start with Sebastian Soderberg, a player ranked around 30th for tee-to-green and greens-in-regulation and who, in Scotland and Denmark, ranked top 20 off the tee.

The Swede is tough to read but is approaching the fourth anniversary of his sole European Tour victory at Crans (in a five-man play-off that included McIlroy) and his best finish since May – a top-10 at the birdie-laden Barracuda Championship.

Before that, most notable results in 2023 read top-10 in Italy (hello), at driver-friendly Steyn City (9th) and at the first event of 2023, the Abu Dhabi Championship (runner-up to Victor Perez).

The 32-year-old Swede is tough to read but he looks to be heading in the right direction, with a similar route to Crans, when fifth the week before his victory.

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Kalle Samooja EW

Another hard to read is Kalle Samooja, but again his form suggests Albatross will be the place he finds favour.

The 34-year-old stole the 2022 European Open with a final round of 64, impressive around a course even longer than the one he faces this week. In beating Wil Besseling, Victor Perez and Richard Mansell, the Finn overcame some of the most aggressive drivers on tour, and it is that driving prowess that heavily contributed to this season’s best efforts, significantly in Italy when ranking in fourth for off-the-tee and 11th tee-to-green, and in Denmark, when 10th and fourth respectively.

Lying 17th after three days on his debut here, a final round of 76 cost him over 30 places, whilst he was top-30 after both the second and third rounds of the shortened event in 2022.

This is his type of track and the price seems to be based on his recent two missed cuts, one at the Scottish Open when on the number, the other at Hoylake, when inside the top-50 after the first round.

Both the above look decent enough top-20 wagers, but I’ll stick with just one for that market.


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David Ravetto top 20


Although tempted by the likes of huge driver Wilco Nienaber, I’m still not convinced he has the right golf tactics to win at this level. Sure, it will come, but at around 45/1 I can pass in favour of a couple of much bigger prizes, in this case, David Ravetto, at 150/1 or 5/1 top-20.

Again, I consider the 25-year-old to be too naive to win here but we’ve recently seen Dan Brown win his first ever professional event by gagging up at Galgorm Castle, so why not?

Of course, this is a much tougher event than last week, when none of the big guns put pressure on the rookie, but Ravetto has hinted at better to come with a handful of eye-catching performances over the past 18 months.

13th on his first outing at the Di-Data – a bomber’s paradise – he followed that with a top-10 at Steyn City, behind strong-driving JC Ritchie before a form slump of nine consecutive missed-cuts came to an end, followed shortly with five top-20 finishes on the Challenge Tour, including one top-10 and a play-off defeat in Portugal.

Soon after graduating to the higher level, 30th and ninth in South Africa (second at halfway) read well before embarking on the DPWT proper, whatever that means nowadays.

In ninth after the first round in Singapore, he led the SDC Championship at St Francis Bay, a true links course that is found in many of this week’s past history.

Not only in most of the afore-mentioned events but in Japan and Belgium, Ravetto’s finishing positions do not show the full story.

70th reads poorly for the ISPS in Ishioka, as does 67th at the Soudal, but the selection lay eighth and 19th at halfway respectively, surrounding the latter with a closing 40th in Italy and 16th at the KLM.

He’s not been with us for the events in June, but bounced back to form when allowed to open up at Himmerland (24th) and when top-10 at the co-sanctioned Barbasol (99th after round one) and this looks to be another opportunity to gain a placing in the top echelons.

It would have been good to see a touch better at the Marco Simone for my own ease, but there is enough there, at the right tracks, to believe Ravetto can exploit the freedom of Albatross as he has done similar tracks.

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Odds are correct at the time of posting

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