The DP World Tour takes a notable drop in grade in Mallorca, and golf expert Ben Coley believes Nicolai Hojgaard can take advantage.
Golf betting tips: Mallorca Golf Open
2pts e.w. Andy Sullivan at 35/1 (bet365 1/5 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8)
1.5pts e.w. Nicolai Hojgaard at 45/1 (bet365 1/5 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8)
1pt e.w. Gavin Green at 70/1 (bet365 1/5 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8)
1pt e.w. Tom Lewis at 100/1 (Paddy Power, Betfair 1/5 1,2,3,4,5,6,7)
1pt e.w. Alex Fitzpatrick at 125/1 (Unibet 1/5 1,2,3,4,5,6)
1pt e.w. Niklas Lemke at 200/1 (Paddy Power, Betfair 1/5 1,2,3,4,5,6,7)
Sky Bet odds | Paddy Power | Betfair Sportsbook
Officially, there are four events remaining on the DP World Tour schedule, but for the majority of those in the field for the low-ranking Mallorca Golf Open, big things are needed in the first two in order to access the second.
For the top eight in the betting, playing opportunities aren’t a problem. Three of them have won this season, tournament favourite Rasmus Hojgaard has done everything but, and Eddie Pepperell’s sustained run of form has seen him climb to a position from which he’s unlikely to miss the DP World Tour Championship in mid-November.
But you only have to get past them to suddenly arrive at players fighting for something, be it their place alongside Pepperell and co in Dubai, or even their playing status for 2023. This is the business end of the season all right, and anyone witness to Angel Hidalgo’s teary reaction to securing his card should understand what it all means.
In a sense, that makes this weak field particularly top-heavy, those with the best form also with the advantage of freedom. Then again, there have been so many examples of players standing tall when their livelihoods are on the line and there will be more to come over a fascinating fortnight. These two events might be less illustrious than the two that follow, but they’re the ones with real significance.
Son Muntaner Golf Club therefore makes its DP World Tour debut at an important time. A par 71 which plays less than 7,000 yards, it’s not a daunting course by any means, for all that there’s some water in play. In fact in the absence of wind, which might arrive in time for the weekend but seemingly not before, the only thing that looks threatening is the persistence of out-of-bounds lines on the course guide.
This should be straightforward enough regardless. Resort courses typically are, and sparse rough combined with flat terrain but for the odd raised tee make this look like the sort of course professionals will tear apart. There is some guesswork, and Jarmo Sandelin’s win on the Senior Golf Tour Europe (not to be confused with the European Senior Tour), where he shot 68 at this course, hardly helps to clear things up, but we know what we usually get when a new, short, built-for-tourists course comes along: low scoring.
Rasmus Hojgaard is already an island winner courtesy of the Mauritius Open and is firmly the man to beat given the strength of his form, but it’s brother NICOLAI HOJGAARD who I prefer at the prices.
As these twin sensations continue to progress in the sport, we learn more and more about them, and for now it all makes sense. Rasmus’s more rounded game makes him consistent, and his brother is right to admire how cool he is under the gun. That still applies even if he did open the door for Guido Migliozzi to smash his way through in Paris.
Nicolai’s star quality comes from his extraordinary power but he does lack consistency, and you could say versatility. Both victories so far have come on courses where he can reach for driver upon driver, bring a par-four or two to its knees and generally bully both golf course and opposition, which he did to devastating effect in the Middle East back in February.
The risk then is that he can’t employ his preferred tactics here, but I suspect he might be able to do so. All three par-fives should be a cakewalk and the fourth, a par-four, is the sort of hole where he might be among a very select few who are able to go for a green guarded by water. He might also be able to have a rip at the eighth, but again it seems unlikely that’s an option for many.
What I really like, though, is that he is at last showing some of that consistency, or at least hinting at it. Over the course of his last eight starts, all three cuts have been by a narrow margin, and more recently his irons have been ticking over nicely. Watching him closely in Rome, where he started well in the company of Rory McIlroy, it felt to me like a player who has actually come a long way since he won at the same course a year earlier.
Making the cut at Valderrama, where he was 37th, was certainly towards the upper end of expectations and another sign that he’s beginning to mature, a step or two behind his brother. He drove the ball superbly there, leading the field for the first time since that February win, and his approach play was also rock solid. In fact he hit the ball better than Rasmus, whose superior short-game carried him to fifth place.
Nicolai is perfectly capable on the greens, however, and I do think he’ll like it here – there ought to be some similarities with the three-week Canary Islands swing of 2021 and Jeff Winther, who went on to win in Mallorca later in the year, was third in one of those events. Hojgaard managed fourth place and 15th at a time when he was some way off the player he is now.
Inside the top 15 at halfway in Italy and France recently, he’s close to a big performance and this is a fantastic run of events for him. At 67th in the Race to Dubai, he has just a little more work to do to ensure he gets to play in all of them and victory at some stage would come as no surprise. Hopefully, he can take care of everything by securing it here.
Stick with Sulli
Marcel Schneider has been one of the quiet success stories of the year but withdrew from an event he says he loves last week because of a persistent cold. That’s enough of a worry to overlook the German, while Romain Langasque’s hints of form have been built on his short-game, with his ball-striking some way below where we’d expect it to be.
He’s left out accordingly and I have to go back to ANDY SULLIVAN, a confident fancy in France two starts back before a nightmare start eventually resulted in him withdrawing from the tournament.
Sullivan put that behind him when 11th last week and it looks nothing more than a blip in an otherwise encouraging sequence. It happens, and I’d note that Ryan Fox was also poor that week before winning the Dunhill Links, while Adrian Otaegui, also selected in France, went on to miss the cut in Scotland before bouncing back in style.
If we look at O’Sullivan’s body of work, we see someone who has made eight cuts in nine, Paris the exception, led after round one of the high-class BMW PGA Championship, and last week produced his best performance yet at Valderrama where he was 13th in strokes-gained off-the-tee and fifth with his approaches.
Putting has so often been a strength and there’s nothing much to worry about in recent displays, nor is there in his around-the-green game, and Sullivan simply looks like a class act working his way back to form. He’ll be desperate to reach Dubai, where he has a fine record, and has always been best under low-scoring conditions as we saw when he won at Hanbury Manor back in 2020.
For now the objective is keeping his card and last week saw him creep further away from the cut-off mark. At 109th he still has a job to do, however, and this next fortnight leaves him with no excuses given that one win in the Portugal Masters probably ought to be two. Conditions look ideal and if he can warm up that putter, watch him go.
Pepperell and Richard Mansell have to be respected and I prefer the latter under the expected conditions, with Wilco Nienaber and Matthew Jordan perhaps similarly suited to the test in front of us. But if that proves to be correct it’ll also suit TOM LEWIS, a class act who is again offered at odds too tempting to ignore.
Lewis contended when we were on at 160/1 in Italy, ultimately paying the price for being drawn with two elite players in round three. He just wasn’t quite ready for a day alongside McIlroy and Fitzpatrick, the one-two on the Race to Dubai, and his Sunday rally came too late to hit the frame.
Subsequent events might suggest the flame has gone out but I’m not so sure. The Dunhill Links has never been a particularly good form guide and this year’s renewal had a day’s worth of added randomness courtesy of the weather, and since then Lewis bounced back from a slow start in Spain to shoot a rock-solid 68 on day two.
It wasn’t quite enough after an off-day in round one but it was his first start in Madrid and I suspect this assignment should be far easier to get to grips with. We know he likes a low-scoring, resort-style test given both wins have come in the Portugal Masters and at 154th in the Race to Dubai, with no US status to fall back on, the time is now for this quality operator.
Lewis has done everything well in patches since returning from the USA and is just preferred to Kiradech Aphibarnrat, a player in a similar plight and having shown similar encouragement of late – including in the way he bounced back from taking 11 at the par-five 17th hole last Thursday.
The Thai might benefit from a weekend off having spoken of how exhausting he’s found this year and a second-round 68 was admirable, but the extra power at Lewis’s disposal swings it.
Green light for Prague second
Indeed, power is part of the case for GAVIN GREEN, a prolific birdie-maker who almost won for us at 70/1 in the Czech Republic a couple of months ago and can be backed at the same price here.
Green took that cruel blow on the chin and I’ve been quite impressed by him since, making four cuts from four, closing with a 64 in Switzerland, sitting close to the places in Denmark, starting well in Italy, then battling to make the cut before another strong finish in France.
He played well in the Portugal Masters last year when 17th, again spending much of the week around the places, and the Malaysian is one I can see thriving under these conditions with the sun on his back. If the wind does arrive at the weekend, he has the tools to cope as he showed more than once in the Saudi International, and I’m hopeful he can bring his Prague form to this smaller version of a resort course.
Certainly, this is a weaker field and I don’t think he’s done a great deal wrong since, so odds of 70/1 (80s available with fewer places) underestimate him a little. Green is a player I really like, one who was going off among the favourites in similar fields two years ago and who now looks to be firmly back on track.
At bigger prices, I won’t be the only one who’s noted Maverick Antcliff’s improvement lately, with his long-game having turned a corner. The trouble is he’s about the worst putter on the circuit so while my eye was drawn to his runner-up finish in the Canary Islands Championship last year, he’ll need to find serious improvement on the greens or else he’ll be left behind.
Andrew Wilson could go well on his return to Mallorca, where last year he performed a Houdini act at the Challenge Tour Grand Final to earn his card, but I’ll go with the enormous potential of ALEX FITZPATRICK at three-figure prices.
Matt’s younger brother was a quality amateur and he’s well and truly left behind some modest form out in Canada since coming to Europe, turning professional, and taking advantage of invites. Indeed he’s been really impressive so far, making his last four cuts, all comfortably, and never finishing worse than 37th in this run.
That result came last week at Valderrama but the only thing regressing has been his putter, and it’s far too soon to be worrying about that club. In fact we should take a positive view of his performance in Spain, at a course where his brother demonstrated just how quickly and how badly things can go wrong. Alex had previously been 28th in the Dunhill Links and 13th in France, with 27th in Italy coming in a much stronger field than we have here.
This really is solid form and enough to suggest he only need putt better to be in the mix. That’s a chance I’ll take in such modest company, at a course where for once nobody holds an experience edge, and with a big effort needed to secure his card. It’s been done before, including by the aforementioned Lewis who triumphed in Portugal, and it’s not hard to envisage Alex going close here.
Swede success for big-hitting Lemke?
Given the nature of the event I looked closely at a number of outsiders, including the underrated Nicolai von Dellinghausen who went close in the Canary Islands last year and can light up the greens. He was rightly proud of the way he fought back from a rotten start at Valderrama and has plenty to play for from just outside the card cut-off.
Rafa Cabrera Bello is clearly a class act, he grew up on Gran Canaria and I noted Sky’s commentary team said he’d been talking up his game despite mixed results lately, while compatriot Sebastian Garcia-Rodriguez is halfway towards job done in his battle to retain status but isn’t a player I want to be backing at 66s. In fact he placed for us at 200/1 in this event last year and just isn’t one to trust on rare occasions he climbs the betting.
I’ll finish then by returning to the idea that a select few of the more powerful players could bully this course under calm conditions, with NIKLAS LEMKE a fascinating candidate to do so at 200/1.
The Swede has positive memories of Mallorca having been seventh in the event last year, a performance which came out of nowhere. This time around there’s some substance to his form, having been 22nd in Denmark, missed the cut on the number in Italy, then finished 39th in France and 27th in the Open de Espana.
Stepping down in grade, another small step forward puts him in the mix and this sequence of good results hasn’t been freakish. He’s simply begun to hit his irons really well from one week to the next, the surest way to bank nice cheques, and a continuation of that would make him interesting whether his power is particularly beneficial or not.
Sixth in Portugal is a form line I like as is eighth in the low-scoring Golf in Dubai Championship, while his record in Qatar (third and ninth in two of the last three) bodes well if the wind does arrive come the weekend.
Providing he’s in the same sort of shape as when last seen a fortnight ago, Lemke ought to be around for us to put that theory to the test and he’s always been a player of considerable ability, one I’m really keen to chance here.
Posted at 1725 BST on 17/10/22
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