Main Bet: Joakim Lagergren each-way @ 70/1
This week, for the fourth time in the post-lockdown era, the European Tour is holding back-to-back tournaments on the same course.
It first happened last summer in Wales, Cyprus and Kenya followed, now it happens once more in Tenerife at Golf Costa Adeje and what have we learned from the first three instances of these repeat events?
At Celtic Manor weather conditions impacted, with the second week colder and wetter, consequently the winning score was ten shots higher. Even so, the runner-up Sami Valimaki and 54-hole leader Sebastian Soderberg had finished top 10 the week before.
In Cyprus there was a format change, from pure strokeplay to the novel showdown concept. There was a similar pattern, nonetheless: Callum Shinkwin finished first-fourth, Robert MacIntyre third-first, while Valimaki and Jamie Donaldson contended in both weeks.
And on safari in Kenya? Justin Harding was the winner in week one then the three-shot 54-hole leader in week two (although his eighth round saw him finish T14th so maybe beware fatigue), Sam Horsfield went eighth-third and Jacques Kruyswijk fifth-fifth.
You could easily argue that none of this was especially surprising and yet some of those players mentioned remained attractive prices in the second week.
Valimaki in Wales, for example, was 66/1 and Soderberg 100/1 (indeed, he was tipped in this column). MacIntyre remained a similar price despite proving he liked the course (mid 20s), Horsfield also continued to be rated in the 20s and Kruyswijk was available at 50/1.
I’m taking that as my leading train of thought this week: looking for players who performed well last time, but remain attractive each way options.
First up is Sweden’s Joakim Lagergren, winner of the 2018 Sicilian Open and someone who has started to look like he’s ready to claim a second European Tour title sooner rather than later.
He’s never been an entirely consistent sort, but he’s always enjoyed playing in windy conditions and by the sea so should the breezes rise to anything like the very blustery wind that has occasionally buffeted the course over the last fortnight (the forecast says it might), he’d not be too despondent.
His win in Sicily was on a resort course by the ocean and it also required him to go low, posting a third round 63. More recently, he’s landed tied third at the Portugal Masters and tied eighth at the Golf in Dubai Championship – more breezy resort golf (he’s also the winner of a mini tour event on a Spanish resort course in Marbella).
Last week he carded 67-69-66-67 to finish T18th and it was particularly notable that his putter warmed up at the weekend: he ranked fifth for Strokes Gained Putting in round three and first in the final lap (he also leads the Putts per Round averages for the season).
I also like his excellence on par-3s.
Last week’s winner Dean Burmester ranks second in this field for the short holes (there are six of them at Adeje) and Garrick Higgo, who contended all week, ranks third.
Who’s ahead of them? Lagergren, who has needed, on average, less than three shots per short holes since the start of the 2020 season.
Next Best: Sebastian Garcia Rodriguez each-way @ 50/1
There was something wonderfully, aristocratically 17th century about the leaderboard after 54 holes last week.
Nicolai Von Delinghausen led, chased by Alfredo Garcia-Heredia and Sebastian Garcia Rodriguez. The trio read a little like the signatories of the 1687 Treaty of Cadiz – the Prussian Foreign Minister and his Spanish counterparts maybe.
More seriously, for Garcia Rodriguez who ended the week tied eighth, it was a further hint that he’s getting to grips with the business of contending at this level.
He’s been around for a decade now, but only last year did he break out of the second and third tier.
Interestingly, perhaps, his first sniff of a lead at those lower levels came at Tecina Golf, on the Canary Island of La Gomera which can be seen across the sea from Adeje.
Garcia Rodriguez was tied ninth there in 2012, his first cut made at Challenge Tour level, and he spent the first 36 holes inside the top two.
He’s been a winner at the hilly, resort-style Cabanillas and the open Miglianico on the Alps Tour, while the closest he’s come to victory on the second tier was when second at Morgado in the 2019 Open de Portugal – more Iberian resort golf.
He’s played nicely, if inconsistently, over the last year or so, picking up five top 10s. I like that he showed he could go low (opening with a 62) when T10th at Hanbury Manor, that he hung around all weekend when tied sixth at Dom Pedro, and last week he opened with a 66 and added a 64 on Saturday.
Sunday’s 70 might nag at him, but it might also put the bit between his teeth.
Final Bet: Louis De Jager each-way @ 50/1
Will the Canary Island Swing witness a South African hat trick? It wouldn’t be a big surprise and Louis De Jager might finally get his breakthrough beyond Sunshine Tour level.
The 34-year-old is a five-time winner on his home circuit, but for a long while he struggled on the European Tour.
All that began to change in late 2019 with a second tied fourth at Heritage in the Mauritius Open (a course that is not without some parallels to Adeje – resort in design, undulating terrain, sea breezes).
During last summer’s UK Swing he picked up a couple of top 20s, then briefly contended in Italy and was slightly more involved in Cyprus.
In 2021 he’s made five of six cuts and was T12th last week with the fourth best Strokes Gained Tee to Green stats, only bettered by the winner, runner-up and tied third.
He’ll need to up his putting game, but he’s well capable of it, as evidenced by topping the Strokes Gained Putting rankings in the Qatar Masters.
He’s also another whose par-3 numbers are strong – and so, too, his record on the par-5s (of which there are five).