With the Memorial taking place stateside, the DP World Tour shouldn’t be overlooked and with a good field in place for the Porsche European Open in Germany, our man Jamie Worsley has five men catching his eye heading into the event…
Porsche European Open 2023 Tips
- Robert MacIntyre – 1/5 8 places – 2 pts ew – 22/1
- Romain Langasque – 1/5 8 places – 2 pts ew – 28/1
- Dan Bradbury – 1/5 7 places – 1 pt ew – 70/1
- Connor Syme – 1/5 7 places – 1 pt ew – 80/1
- Rafa Cabrera Bello – 1/5 8 places – 1 pt ew – 100/1
The DP World Tour’s journey around mainland Europe moves on to Germany this week, to Green Eagle’s North Course for the Porsche European Open.
The European Open debuted on the schedule of the DP World Tour in 1978, spending the entirety of its first thirty years in the UK & Ireland, with The K Club the longest-reigning host in the history of the event, providing a home for ten years between 1995-2005.
Following the cancellation of the tournament in 2010, the European Open returned in 2015, this time sporting Porsche as the new sponsor and jumping across to Germany; taking place at the Bad Griesbach course before moving to Green Eagle’s North Course in 2017 and remaining here since.
The rich history of the event has resulted in a star-studded list of players to have had their name engraved on the trophy. American, Bobby Wadkins won the inaugural edition in 1978 at Walton Heath, followed by two-time major winner Sandy Lyle in 1979 at Turnberry and 1992 US Open winner Tom Kite back at Walton Heath in 1980.
A list of major-winning European Open winners is enhanced by wins for Sir Nick Faldo, Bernhard Langer and Greg Norman amongst others; whilst two of the greatest DPWT players of all time, Colin Montgomerie and Lee Westwood have also etched their name onto the roll of honors; Langer and Westwood two of four two-time winners of the event, joined by Sweden’s Per-Ulrik Johansson and Scotland’s Gordon Brand Jnr.
We have seen seven different players lift the trophy since the event returned in 2015, with English golfers enjoying a particularly fruitful spell, collecting four wins on the spin from 2017–2021 for: Jordan Smith in 2017, Richard McEvoy in 2018, Paul Casey in 2019 and following a one year absence in 2020, the 2021 championship went to Marcus Armitage, who triumphed in a weather-shortened 54-hole event.
Finland’s Kalle Samooja ended that English dominance of the event last year, scything through the field in incredible fashion in Sunday’s final round with a closing 8-under 64. That was the best round of the week by three shots and saw him jump from 22nd and seven shots behind at start of play, to finishing the event a two-shot winner.
Previously dubbed as the “Green Monster”, Green Eagle’s North Course can play in a variety of setups and stretches out to over 7800 from the back tees, though the players arrive at a course displaying a new setup this week.
They reduced the distance last year to a 7475-yard par 72, which didn’t improve the playability of the course. The course’s length has been shortened again to 7457 yards, though will play as a par 73 this week, as the 4th hole has been converted from a 488-yard par 4 to a 532-yard par 5.
In addition to this, the par 5 15th has been shortened from 594 yards to 551, whilst the par 3 17th has been reduced from 170 yards to 151. Changes that should make the course more scoreable though it still a very quirky setup, with a huge six par 5s (four of them coming on the back 9 and includes the mammoth 663-yard 16th), five par 3s and an unusually low amount of par 4s, with seven.
The largely exposed course is quite spacious off-the-tee, possessing some of the easiest to hit fairways on the DPWT. However they are well protected, with some challenging rough, strategically placed bunkers and an abundance of water on show; in-play on sixteen of the eighteen holes.
The challenges aside the fairways – as well as the length of the course – makes hitting the relatively big, undulating and often multi-tiered greens rather challenging, holding the third-lowest GIR percentage on the DPWT over the last four years.
This adds further problems, as the North Course ranks 8th in scrambling difficulty, with the green boundaries littered with imposing bunkering and thick rough, whilst many of the greens lie right on the edge of the water.
The course is an absolute brute, ranking only 2nd to Valderrama in lowest birdie average and ranks 5th-highest in bogey average; culminating in the event having an average winning score of -10.4 in the five renewals of the European Open here. However, with those alterations made to the course setup this year, it’s fair to expect scoring to be a little kinder for this 2023 renewal.
- SG: Approach
- SG: Off-the-Tee
- Driving Distance
- SG: Around-the-Greens
- Par 5 Scoring
Despite the length of the course, it has seen many types go well here and showcasing a variety of skillsets. We’ve had the short and steady Richard McEvoy catch fire on the greens in 2018, Paul Casey dominating with his ball-striking – particularly his irons – in 2019; whilst last year Kalle Samooja produced an electric tee-to-green performance and won despite losing strokes on the greens.
I do believe that first and foremost, you have to hit the ball well, the green complexes can be challenging but the big numbers will be racked up around here with errant driving and or/approach play.
Though Samooja gained strokes in each T2G area last year, it was in approach he excelled most, gaining over 1.6 strokes a round and it was a similar story for Victor Perez in 3rd. In addition to that, along with Will Besseling in 2nd and Richard Mansell in 3rd, all of the top 4 drove the ball well and are players who possess plenty of power.
Marcus Armitage’s biggest asset is his approach play and though he shone more with the putter in his 54-hole win in 2021, he still hit his irons well. Whilst all the players who tied 2nd: Edoardo Molinari, Darius Van Driel, Thomas Detry and Matthew Southgate, all gained strokes in approach and OTT.
As mentioned previous, Paul Casey’s ball-striking guided him to victory in 2019, particularly his iron play, in which he gained over 2.6 strokes a round. Robert MacIntyre tied for 2nd and also shone most with his ball-striking; and whilst Bernd Ritthammer and Mattias Schwab leaned heavily on the putter, they too were solid in approach.
Of the other winners, Richard McEvoy complimented his quality putting with a solid ball-striking display when winning in 2018 and Jordan Smith in 2017 has long been one of the best ball-strikers on the DP World Tour.
On a course where greens are tough to hit and difficult to scramble around, it makes sense to put some weight onto those who show quality around-the-greens too. Finally, with six par 5s making up this year’s setup, those top-ranked par 5 scorers should be able to take advantage of the most obtainable scoring opportunities.
Correlating Events (Courses)
Wales Open (Celtic Manor – Twenty-Ten Course)
Played on a lengthy, challenging, exposed course and ranking closely to this week’s venue in GIR percentages, scrambling difficulty and bogey averages, the Wales Open can give us some clues on those who are likely to perform this week.
Edoardo Molinari has two top 5s at both courses; Renato Paratore has a 2nd in Wales to go with a 3rd here; past European Open winners, Marcus Armitage and Richard McEvoy have finished top 10 in Wales and Pablo Larrazabal has top 7s across both events.
Austrian Open (Diamond CC)
Diamond CC – which hosted the Austrian Open up until 2021 – is a long, exposed and water-laden course; possessing some strong form-ties with this week’s host course.
Marcus Armitage and Richard McEvoy have both finished top 5 there, whilst last year’s Euro Open runner-up, Will Besseling has recorded finishes of 3rd and 4th in Austria.
Darius Van Driel finished 2nd in Germany in 2021 and has finished 4th in Austria; Marcel Schneider has a 2nd there to go with two top 7s here; Zander Lombard has a top 5 at both and Pablo Larrazabal possesses top 10s across the two.
Italian Open (Marco Simone G&CC)
Exposed and challenging are two boxes ticked by Marco Simone G&CC, the course which has hosted the Italian Open since 2021 and is set to host the Ryder Cup later this year. Bogeys are made by the bucket-load there, whilst it ranks closely to the North Course in scrambling difficulty and in the generosity of the fairways.
Marcus Armitage and Kalle Samooja have both recorded top 10s there and 2019 runner-up in Germany, Robert MacIntyre won in Italy last year. Victor Perez has 3rds at both courses, Edoardo Molinari has a top 5 there, Pablo Larrazabal has finished 8th and Jordan Smith has twice finished inside the top 16.
Nedbank Challenge/2020 South African Open (Gary Player Country Club)
Gary Player Country Club is a long, challenging course that ranks closely to this week’s venue in bogey/birdie averages, scrambling difficulty and GIR percentages.
Form-ties aren’t as strong due to the typically elite, limited-field at the Nedbank, though Robert MacIntyre has an 8th in South Africa, as does Zander Lombard, whilst Julien Guerrier has top 10s at both courses.
The weather should provide the field with pleasant playing conditions this week, with no rain currently forecast, warm 20 degree+ temperatures and only a mild breeze currently accompanying. It will rely on the course itself to make things difficult.
World #62 Victor Perez is the star attraction this week and one of just four players from inside the world’s top 100; the others being Thorbjorn Olesen (87), Adri Arnaus (92) and Robert MacIntyre (97).
Just outside at #101 is 2017 Porsche European Open winner Jordan Smith; one of six former champions teeing it up, including last year’s winner Kalle Samooja.
Jamie Donaldson makes his first start following an over two-month absence and there’s a strong home contingent in attendance, including 2023 DP World Tour winners Marcel Siem and Nick Bachem, along with 2023 Challenge Tour winner, Max Rottluff.
It’s another uber-competitive betting heat on the DP World Tour, which is this week headed by Victor Perez, who is out from 12s last week to 16/1 this after missing the cut in the Netherlands. That looks a decent price with no Meronk in the field here and with his travel back from an excellent performance in the states in the PGA Championship a valid reason for his underperformance last week, he was well under consideration.
That thought can apply to many though, with Rasmus Hojgaard second-favourite at 18/1 after returning to form last week and past winner here, Jordan Smith comes next in the betting at 22/1.
You could make strong cases for each of those, though that is true for a large portion of the field and this week I’m going to start with a man who may be looking for something to prove after missing his first cut in a major on his 11th appearance last-time-out – ending an impressive run of strong major displays – Robert MacIntyre.
Robert MacIntyre – 22/1
Prior to the Scot’s missed cut at Oak Hill, he withdrew from the Italian Open, though spoke about feeling much better before the PGA Championship and another two weeks down the road, I’ve no concerns about his fitness this week.
Before withdrawing in Italy, MacIntyre had finally started to find some form following a slow(ish) start to the year, recording three consecutive top 10s when finishing 7th in the Kenya Open, 6th in the ISPS Handa Championship in Japan and 7th in the Korea Championship. A level of form I’m expecting him to return to this week.
MacIntyre had been hitting the ball well for most of the year before Oak Hill, ranking 6th off-the-tee, 24th in greens-in-regulation and 39th in approach on the DPWT this season. He doesn’t lack for power either, which helps him on his way to being a top 20 par 5 scorer and when we add in his good scrambling ability, where he ranks 35th, he has all the tools required to perform well this week.
His ball-striking prowess was on show here in 2019, when he finished a superb 2nd on his first try at this unique course. Though he missed the cut last year on his second try, I am encouraged by his win in Italy last year; an 8th at the 2019 Nedbank is another positive.
MacIntyre is an aggressive player, which whilst meaning he may find trouble a little more than others, also means on a going day he is likely to go as low as anyone here this week, especially with those abundant par 5s on offer. With him ticking more boxes for this challenge than most in the field, I’m expecting him to go close in Germany.
Romain Langasque – 28/1
Romain Langasque has been the best tee-to-green player in this field over and throughout the last six months. Mixed with some handy correlating form, I’m expecting him to put those two factors together to correct an uninspiring record at Green Eagle’s North Course this week.
Langasque is having a strong year so far, having missed just two cuts in eleven starts and recording five top 25s. The majority of these quality performances have come over recent weeks, with the Frenchman finishing 9th in the Jonsson Workwear Open and 2nd in the Italian Open over his last five starts; coming into this week off the back of a 16th place finish in the Netherlands last week, at which if his putter had fired he’d have surely gone close.
As mentioned, he’s the best tee-to-green player in this field at the moment and has been going back six months, gaining strokes in each recorded area. Add this to his excellent par 5 scoring ability, where he ranks 4th, along with top 25 rankings in driving distance and scrambling, and his profile fits perfectly for this challenge.
With that, it’s surprising to see Langasque possess such a poor record here. He missed his first two cuts at the course, though did improve to finish 40th last year despite a poor ball-striking display; looking good on and around the greens. I’m certain he’s capable of improving on that again, significantly so this week.
His win in Wales in 2020 and runner-up finish in Italy this year increase my level of expectation and completes a compelling case for Langasque to make his second DPWT breakthrough this week.
Dan Bradbury – 70/1
Dan Bradbury has been hitting the ball as well as anyone over recent weeks and with his form starting to pick up again after a subpar run of performances, he can go well on his first crack at the North Course this week.
Bradbury burst onto the scene with that impressive victory in the Joburg Open at the end of 2022, in what was just his third DP World Tour start as a professional.
He continued to look solid after and into the new year, particularly in his 28th place finish in the Dubai Desert Classic; an event in which he sat in 2nd place after the third round but succumbed to a final-round 76 that sent him tumbling down the leaderboard – understandable to see nerves playing a part, as he was grouped with eventual winner Rory McIlroy in that final round.
His form suffered a little thereafter, though following a run of three missed cuts six starts ago, he’s bounced back over the last three as we’ve arrived in mainland Europe, finishing 32nd in the Italian Open, 10th in the Soudal Open and 29th in the KLM Open last week; a positive upturn in form I’m hoping he can continue this week.
Bradbury looks well-suited to the test due to his ball-striking qualities. He ranks 22nd on tour this season with the driver – where he’s both long and accurate – and is 30th in approach; both skills that can be upgraded when looking at his most recent form, ranking 2nd OTT and 7th in approach over the last 20 recorded rounds.
He uses that ball-striking quality to his advantage on the par 5s, ranking 22nd in par 5 scoring and with evidence that you can go well here first-time up on offer from MacIntyre in 2019, I’m expecting Bradbury to follow suit this week.
Connor Syme – 80/1
Though he’s only mustered up one top 25 finish this year when 14th in the SDC Championship, Scotland’s Connor Syme has been steady so far in 2023. He’s missed just one cut in eleven starts and I’m taking this return to a course he’s enjoyed relative success – combined with a book of correlating form better than most in the field – to spark him into a contending performance in Germany.
He’s actually been hitting the ball pretty well, particularly his irons, with which he ranks 19th in GIR and 33rd in approach this year, whilst he’s also been solid enough on the par 5s, ranking just outside the top 50 in par 5 scoring.
His short game has been the issue, though he has shown positive signs in recent weeks with the putter, gaining strokes both in Italy and last week in the Netherlands; which I’m hoping he continues this week.
Syme putted these greens well when finishing 22nd on debut in 2018; a result he improved on when 18th in 2021 and made it 3/3 made cuts last year when finishing 51st.
In addition to this, his correlating form provides massive promise. He’s recorded 2nd and 3rd place finish both in the Austrian Open and Wales Open; adding a further top 10 in Wales when 8th in 2020 and has also finished top 10 at Gary Player Country Club.
I’m hoping he can combine the positive form – both course and correlating – with that recent upturn with the putter and if hitting his irons as well as he has for most of the year, Syme can achieve his best finish to date in 2023.
Rafa Cabrera Bello – 100/1
Rafa Cabrera Bello is enjoying a solid enough year back on the DPWT full-time in 2023 and with most areas of his game showing positivity, he can follow compatriot and friend Pablo Larrazabal’s success last week, to earn himself a fifth DP World Tour title in Germany.
Rafa has maintained a decent level of form throughout the year so far. He opened with a quality 10th place finish in Abu Dhabi, then finished 13th in Ras al Khaimah two starts later.
Following a missed cut in Singapore when the tour headed east, Cabrera Bello produced his best finish of the year to date in Thailand on his next start, finishing 5th and has since recorded two top 25s in his next six; whilst was 40th when we last saw him in Italy four weeks ago.
He is playing pretty solid stuff all-round, shining especially with the short game, where he ranks 15th in scrambling and 33rd around-the-greens, which should be a big asset this week with the proven difficulty this course throws up in scrambling. He’s also the 10th-best par 5 scorer on tour and on his latest start in Italy, produced one of his better driving performances of the year.
Rafa has surprisingly not played here before but he has a runner-up finish in Austria going back to 2015, as well as good efforts in Wales and at Gary Player Country Club. Which leads me to believe he is capable of a big effort on his first try at the venue this week.