With the PGA Tour season coming to a close, DP Tour action continues in HimmerLand. Golf pundit Jason Daniels is here to provide us with some insight and betting tips ahead of the action.
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Made in HimmerLand
A decent end to the PGA Tour season, with Rory McIlroy proving once again that he is the best player in the world when it all clicks.
Fortunately, the confidence in the Northern Irishman was justified, with the confirmed spokesperson of the golfing world not only giving the number one, Scottie Scheffler, a six-shot start, but doing it over the final 18 holes rather than the quoted 72.
Whilst Antoine Rozner’s all-par pedestrian finish costing him any chance of challenging for the European Masters trophy, a shared place continues to keep the funds ticking over, and with the Players To Follow column also giving up four winners over the year, it’s been a good few months.
Whilst the PGA Tour takes a couple of weeks’ rest, the DP World Tour takes centre stage for a while.
The star-studded BMW Championship sees a host of golfing nobility take to the hallowed fairways at Wentworth next week, but as a warm-up, players hop over to Denmark for the seventh running of Made In Himmerland (ex-Made In Denmark). In 2015, they played the event at an alternative venue, but there is plenty of course form in runnings since 2014.
A short course by modern standards, Himmerland offers a linksy feel, with a fair bit of fescue grass off the fairways and bunkers taking on a much more natural shape. It is short, though, so whilst it can get tricky in windy periods, winning scores average around 15-under with the best at 21-under the card last season.
With four par-4 holes playing under 400-yards, and with the par-3 16th often reduced to a sub-100-yard pitch, trust those confident in their shorter irons to have opportunities throughout. Indeed, strokes-gained off-the-tee are virtually irrelevant compared to approaches and putting on quality, zippy greens.
Here are the best bets for the Made In Himmerland tournament this week:
When a former world top-25 player shows a return to form in lower grade, it’s worth sitting up and taking notice.
In the case of Matt Wallace, missing 11 cuts from 21 events is a far cry from his days of winning four European tournaments in the space of 18 months, and coming close in a multitude of top events on both sides of the Atlantic.
‘Form is temporary, class is permanent,’ is the oft-quoted saying, and in this case, Wallace dropped a huge hint seven days ago that he could well be leaving this grade behind once again.
Not that it’s all bad. The 32-year-old led the Texas, Wells Fargo and Dutch Open, all within the last 18 months, whilst top-10 finishes at those three plus the Zozo and Rocket Mortgage Classic are plenty of sign that he is almost too good at this level should he put it all in.
Still, nothing like recent evidence to back it all up, and he did that with a huge asterisk in Crans last week.
Yes, the approach to the first play-off hole could have been better, but he led the short-game stats throughout the week, something that allowed him to finish dead level on strokes-gained-total with eventual winner Thriston Lawrence – himself a player that had hinted for a long time that a win was imminent.
Chipping and putting are hard attributes to master if the game has gone, so the fact he could add this to a positive tee-to-green game speaks volumes.
Crans looks a cracking comp with two-time Himmerland winner, Bernd Wiesberger, a runner-up there, whilst last years runner-up, Guido Migliozzi, also holds a top-10 at the shortish, undulating venue.
There is plenty of other relative form between likely candidates.
Wallace carries form from Abu Dhabi – see the Austrian and 2016 Himmerland victor Thomas Pieters for those – whilst he should have been finished higher than 14th at the Renaissance Club in 2019, won by Wiesberger.
At his best, Wallace would be sub-20/1 and he could well be very close to that mark soon, having declared last weekend that he, “felt like I let the tournament slip away a bit in the middle, had to dig deep and go into my catalogue of things to calm me down, relax and try to get on with the job.”
And where has he been?
“I’ve been through a lot. I lost my game middle to end of last year, wasn’t practising. I realised that’s not how I was going to get better, had to sort that out, change a few things in my team. Not blaming them, just needed to change.
“I feel like I’m back. Feel like I’m nearly there and I’ve got different shots. I’m getting a bit emotional about it, but it means everything to me.”
Team changes have worked for the likes of Scottie Scheffler and Rory McIlroy on the biggest stage of them all, and the six-time Alps Tour winner has always believed he should be up there with them. This is possibly the start of the comeback.
"I feel like I’m back. Feel like I’m nearly there and I’ve got different shots. I’m getting a bit emotional about it, but it means everything to me."Matt Wallace
This will not be the first time I’ve put up Marcus Helligkilde, and shall continue to do so at anything over 40/1 in moderate company for the foreseeable future.
Without repeating last week’s column, the 25-year-old is simply dropping hints that his time is near – a tad like Lawrence had done, as well as previous DP maidens Sean Crocker and Adrian Meronk.
Continuing a fine rookie season, the Dane added a top-30 at Crans to a 4th at Galgorm Castle and a 12th in Qatar, all not forgetting back-to-back top-13 finishes at the co-sanctioned events, Barbasol and Bermuda Championships.
At the last two events, Helligkilde has recorded positive figures in all strokes-gained categories, averaging 16th for approaches and around the same for tee-to-green.
As a six-time professional winner – three on each of the Nordic league and Challenge Tour – he knows how to get it done, and, understandably, brings plenty of home form with him this week.
In terms of course efforts, three outings have seen him finish top-5 twice at the regional level and his 25th here last year came courtesy of a final round 64, launching him up the board from outside the top-50.
It’s when, not if. At the price, he’ll continue to garner support.
There is nothing hidden about George Coetzee these days, but when a course has any relation to links, to Portugal, to Scotland, Abu and Crans, the South African is worth a strong look.
Interestingly, just one of his five European Tour wins can be considered anything other than a co-sanctioned home victory, but it was at the Dom Pedro course, a track at which he has an incredible record, with three further top-10s and no missed cuts. Interestingly, besides leaderboards that scream links, Pieters has also won there, whilst unheralded Steven Brown, shock winner in 2019, finished second to Wallace in the 2018 running of the Danish event at Silkeborg Ry Golfklub.
Look at where the 36-year-old has form. There he is, ninth behind Wiesberger in Scotland, runner-up and fifth at Qatar (see Migliozzi as well a general acceptance of the link with Portugal), fourth, sixth and ninth in Abu Dhabi, Morocco, and on and on.
With a win on the Sunshine Tour in every year since 2018, his defence of the Vodacom Origins title was no surprise, but shows he still has ‘it’, and after a following fourth place at another lesser Sunshine Tour event (62/63 bookend rounds) he showed he could still compete with a 16th at Crans last week, which included a hole-in-one!
Not-so-big nowadays, George’s missed-cut here in 2019 was a strange one. Playing perfectly well, a treble-bogey seven saw him inside the top-30 after day one, before a run of four holes cost him six shots in his second 18. Now content playing at his level, he is under less pressure to perform, and sees himself alongside the likes of Branden Grace) as the next few inspiring a generation of South African golf – just as Els and Goosen did for them.
Buoyed by his compatriot’s success last week, and can show he still has it in him to win, especially with Dom Pedro looming up in October.
— DP World Tour (@DPWorldTour) August 28, 2022
As always seems the case, tournaments around the Scandinavian and Nordic countries include entries from players stepping up a level. This week is no exception and, for me, one of the most interesting is Oliver Hundeboll Jorgensen.
There aren’t huge amounts of paragraphs to say about the 23-year-old, but there is enough to believe he can contend when conditions suit.
Winner of one event in his rookie year on the Nordic Golf League, the 2019 Made in Denmark Qualifier, held at his home course of Silkeborg, host of Wallace’s 2018 victory. The subsequent appearance was likely to be a bit much too soon, and his inexperience was on show in rounds of 75-75.
That same year saw Oliver take part in seven events on the Challenge Tour, his best finish being third in Morocco, an event that saw him surrounded by winner Oliver Farr, runner-up Jack Senior, and a top-10 that included Ewen Ferguson and Rasmus Hojgaard, the two of those sharing five European wins over the past couple of years.
With 2020 much of a write-off for obvious reasons, 2021 saw Thomas Bjorn’s club-mate run up two top-10s at Challenge level – significantly 5th in Sweden and 10th in Denmark, whilst he popped back for a one-off on the Nordic League at the Race To Himmerland finale, held at the obvious location, where he was 11th after an opening 62.
Warming up in South Africa at the start of the year, Oliver won on his third start, and after two missed-cuts, at the Mangaung Open, when a co-best-of-the-day six-under 66 saw him win by a shot.
Since that victory, the promising Dane has had 12 outings, finishing fourth at the Limpopo Championship before a fourth and second on the Challenge Tour, the latter losing out in a play-off against equally promising youngster Kristian Krogh Johannessen.
Stepping up to top level, he impressed when ranking fifth in iron-play and coming off the pace to be a never-nearer top-five at Fairmont, and whilst recent finishes of 13th and 31st are a slight drop from the usual standard, he stood in eighth place after three rounds in Denmark, and was fourth after opening day in Sweden.
Currently in second place on the Road to Mallorca, he will look to cement his full DP World Tour card in eight weeks’ time but, for now, can make enough of a splash to want golf punters wanting more when he arrives.