Soudal Open 2024 Tips: Thriston one of six picks for Belgium

 | Tuesday 21st May 2024, 20:26pm

Tuesday 21st May 2024, 20:26pm

Jamie DP World

The DP World Tour returns to action this week following a three-week absence, with the Soudal Open at Rinkven International GC. It marks the start of the tour’s European Swing and represents the first time they will have stepped foot on European soil in 2024.

So here we go with  Jamie Worsley's predictions for the Soudal Open 2024.

Soudal Open Betting Tips

  • 1.5 pts Thriston Lawrence each-way (1/5 - 8 places) @ 33/1
  • 1.5 pts Antoine Rozner each way (1/5 - 8 places) @ 35/1
  • 1 pt Adrien Dumont de Chassart each-way (1/5 - 8 places) @ 50/1
  • 1 pt Sam Bairstow each-way (1/5 - 8 places) @ 50/1
  • 1 pt Kiradech Aphibarnrat each-way (1/5 - 6 places) @ 55/1
  • 1 pt Angel Hidalgo each-way (1/5 - 8 places) @ 125/1

TOURNAMENT HISTORY

The DPWT returned to Belgium for the first time in 18 years with the Belgian Knockout – a uniquely-formatted knockout stroke-play event – in 2018 and 2019 (won by Adrian Otaegui and Guido Migliozzi respectively), with both events staged at Rinkven International GC.

After two years away, Rinkven reappeared on the schedule in 2022 minus the quirky format from 2018/19, with the event renamed the Soudal Open.

Sam Horsfield won a challenging contest in 2022, shooting -13 to get the better of Ryan Fox and Yannik Paul by two strokes.

Horsfield was unable to defend his title in the 2023 renewal, which came down to a battle of the Swedes, as Simon Forsstrom fired a score of -17 to beat countryman, Jens Dantorp by one shot for his first DPWT victory. Forsstrom returns to defend this week.

THE COURSE

Rinkven International Golf Club was first designed in 1981 by Paul Rolin, though went through an extensive renovation by Martin Hawtree’s design company from 2014-2016. This involved the complete redesign of six holes, and adjustments to four holes across the two courses (North and South), that exist on the property.

As with the previous two years, as well as those two editions of the Belgian Knockout, this week’s tournament setup will be a composite. It comprises the back nine of the South Course, which plays as the tournament front nine, whilst the front nine of the North Course will serve as our back nine this week.

This par 71 is diminutive in length at 6940 yards. It possesses an unusual 13x par 4s (326-484 yards), 3x par 3s (189-201 yards) and 2x par 5s (542-568 yards).

Whilst there are a handful of more open holes, this well-maintained, flat parkland is largely tree-lined, densely so in places.

The fairways are around average in width, but made to feel tighter by smart bunkering and the encroaching trees. However, only a few doglegs are severe and fairways haven’t been all that difficult to find in the last two years, with many players opting for a more strategic approach and the bigger hitters regularly clubbing down for position.

The subtly-contoured bentgrass greens offer plenty of variety, with an even mixture of small and large. They are strongly-bunkered and sometimes elevated, though have proven relatively challenging to scramble around.

There is water in-play on close to half of the holes, including each of the three par 3s and the two par 5s. This plays into the overriding risk/reward feeling of much of the course, with both of those par 5s reachable for most in this field and four potentially drivable par 4s, all coming in at under 350 yards.

Having said that, despite the plethora of birdie chances, nobody has taken the course apart, with the winning score averaging -15 in the last two years. It should be a lot of fun watching the players tackle this quirky little course once again this week.

THE WEATHER

Rain, rain and more rain is on the cards this week, predicted to fall in the lead up to the event and possibly continuing into Saturday. This should make for a receptive course and with little in the way of wind, we could see the lowest-scoring edition of this event to date.

KEY STATS

  • SG: Approach
  • Greens-in-Regulation

I will keep it simple this week and with the likely soft and benign conditions, I’m expecting quality iron play to be by far the most important area.

This certainly proved to be the case in that 2022 edition, won by Sam Horsfield, who ranked 3rd in approach and 12th in greens-in-regulation that week. His two closest challengers also hit their irons well; with Ryan Fox ranking 1st in approach and 12th in GIR, and Yannik Paul ranking 6th in approach and 7th in GIR.

Whilst not as striking as the previous year’s winner, Simon Forsstrom ranked top-20 in approach and GIR; Thorbjorn Olesen in 3rd ranked 14th in approach.

  • SG: Putting

The putter has also been an important factor previously. Sam Horsfield combined his excellence in approach with a strong putting week, ranking 5th and Ryan Fox also ranked top-10 on the greens.

Though Simon Forsstrom excelled more in other areas, he was a solid 21st in putting last year; with his two closest challengers, Jens Dantorp and Thorbjorn Olesen, ranking 7th and 2nd in this area respectively.

  • Par 4 Scoring

Finally, with the volume of such holes at this week’s venue, it’s obvious that par 4 scoring would be an important stat. Both winners have ranked 1st for the week on the par 4s and of all the players to finish inside the top-3, the worst-ranked par 4 scorer was Ryan Fox in 2022, who ranked 7th.

CORRELATING EVENTS (COURSES)

British Masters (The Belfry – Brabazon Course)

The Brabazon Course at The Belfry is a flat, tree-lined parkland course that provides a similarly demanding tee-to-green challenge as Rinkven.

Notable correlating form:

Guido Migliozzi:

Soudal (1st) / Belfry (2nd)

Yannik Paul:

Soudal (2nd) / Belfry (8th)

Ryan Fox:

Soudal (2nd) / Belfry (8th)

Thorbjorn Olesen:

Soudal (3rd) / Belfry (2nd)

Chase Hanna:

Soudal (4th) / Belfry (6th)

Alexander Bjork:

Soudal (4th) / Belfry (8th)

Andy Sullivan:

Soudal (9th) / Belfry (6th, 9th)

BMW International Open (Golfclub Munchen Eichenried)

Golfclub Munchen Eichenried is another flat, tree-lined course that has closely-matched driving and scrambling stats to this week’s venue.

Notable correlating form:

Sam Horsfield:

Soudal (1st) / BMW International (5th)

Ryan Fox:

Soudal (2nd) / BMW International (3rd)

Andy Sullivan:

Soudal (9th) / BMW International (5th)

Nacho Elvira:

Soudal (9th) / BMW International (8th)

Andalucia Masters (Valderrama)

The land at Valderrama is more dramatic but as another short, tree-lined course that ranks similarly to Rinkven in driving accuracy and scrambling, it has developed some strong form-ties with our Soudal Open venue.

Notable correlating form:

Adrian Otaegui:

Soudal (1st) / Valderrama (1st)

Ryan Fox:

Soudal (2nd) / Valderrama (4th)

Mike Lorenzo-Vera:

Soudal (4th) / Valderrama (2nd)

Alexander Bjork:

Soudal (4th) / Valderrama (4th)

Angel Hidalgo:

Soudal (15th, 15th) / Valderrama (4th)

Omega European Masters (Crans-sur-Sierre)

Again, whilst Crans-sur-Sierre showcases more dramatic elevation changes, it is another short, tree-lined course that requires somewhat of a strategic approach. With a couple of drivable par 4s and demanding a strong level of approach play, it looks a good comp for Rinkven.

Notable correlating form:

Ryan Fox:

Soudal (2nd) / European Masters (9th)

Alexander Bjork:

Soudal (4th) / European Masters (2nd)

Mike Lorenzo-Vera:

Soudal (4th) / European Masters (3rd, 6th)

Oliver Bekker:

Soudal (4th) / European Masters (8th)

Marcel Schneider:

Soudal (7th) / European Masters (7th)

Nacho Elvira:

Soudal (9th) / European Masters (4th)

Made in HimmerLand (HimmerLand Resort)

The largely exposed HimmerLand was one of the shortest courses on the DPWT and poses similar questions tee-to-green as Rinkven. It features many risk/reward opportunities, with several potentially drivable par 4s and can be a helpful guide this week.

Notable correlating form:

Guido Migliozzi:

Soudal (1st) / HimmerLand (2nd)

Adrian Otaegui:

Soudal (1st) / HimmerLand (3rd)

Thorbjorn Olesen:

Soudal (3rd) / HimmerLand (7th)

Alexander Bjork:

Soudal (4th) / HimmerLand (4th, 6th)

Matthew Southgate:

Soudal (4th) / HimmerLand (4th)

Nacho Elvira:

Soudal (9th) / HimmerLand (2nd)

THE FIELD

Jordan Smith is the highest-ranked player in this week’s field at #96 in the world and the only member of the world’s top 100 in attendance.

Last year’s winner, Simon Forsstrom, is back to defend and each of the two winners of the Belgian Knockout, Adrian Otaegui and Guido Migliozzi, will also tee it up.

Talented Belgian, Adrien Dumont de Chassart has slowly been finding his feet on the PGA Tour recently and will make his professional debut in his home country this week. LIV’s Thomas Pieters also tees is it up at home for the first time in two years, desperately seeking some world ranking points having slipped to #488 in the rankings.

Germany’s Marcel Siem will make his first start since undergoing hip surgery in February this year. There are also returns for fellow German, Nick Bachem and Finland’s Mikko Korhonen, who is making his first DPWT start since withdrawing from the Italian Open in May of last year, and then taking an extended break from the game due to exhaustion.

Soudal Open Odds

*Please click on the link above to be taken to the main PGA Championship on betfred.com (or app) for all the live betting prices on this tournament

SELECTIONS

Market leaders: Jordan Smith 18/1, Thomas Pieters 18/1, Adrian Otaegui 18/1, Yannik Paul 22/1, Bernd Wiesberger 28/1

Nothing appeals to me from the very top of the betting, though I am interested to see how Thomas Pieters fares on his DPWT return.

I’m going to start a few spots down from that top quintet and based on some eye-catching comp form, I’m taking South Africa’s Thriston Lawrence to come out on top in Belgium this week.

1.5 pts Thriston Lawrence each-way (1/5 - 8 places) @ 33/1

Lawrence made an excellent start to the season on the DPWT, recording runner-up finishes in the Dubai Invitational and Jonsson Workwear Open across his first seven starts, and has since teed it up on the North American continent for his three latest solo starts.

His results there don’t appear immediately impressive, with missed cuts in the Corales Puntacana Championship and last week’s PGA Championship, though sandwiched between them is a 36th-place finish in the Myrtle Beach Classic two weeks ago, where he hit the ball well and shot every round under par. Now back in the calmer and more familiar waters of the DPWT, he should always rate as a big danger.

He has been hitting his irons solidly this year, but it’s with the putter he is excelling most, ranking 3rd. While his ranking of 19th in par 4 scoring is an added bonus around this setup.

Lawrence made his debut here in 2022, looking good through the first three rounds before fading to 58th after a closing 76. Wins in the Omega European Masters and BMW International Open certainly suggest that he’s capable of better at this course and I expect him to show it this week.

1.5 pts Antoine Rozner each way (1/5 - 8 places) @ 35/1

Antoine Rozner is one of the strongest iron players on tour and relying on this to forge a promising sequence of results in 2024, I was surprised to find him so big in the betting this week.

Rozner has made seven starts this season and missed just one cut, in the SDC Championship in March. He has hit the top-25 in five of those other six starts, turning two into top-10s, when 6th in the Qatar Masters and last time out he finished 10th in the weather-shortened China Open.

The irons have been superb this season, ranking 5th and he’s also 17th in GIR. Though perhaps more encouraging is that he appears to have found something on the greens in 2024, with his current ranking of 21st in that area far better than any of his prior seasons on tour.

It has been the putter that has been the problem for Rozner in each of his previous visits here, however he overcame it to finish 13th in the 2019 Belgian Knockout, before missing the cut in 2022.

Now putting with much more confidence, he can enjoy a better spin around Rinkven this time around and with top-4 finishes at Valderrama and Crans highlighting his potential on this type of setup, he was an easy selection at such an appealing price this week.

1 pt Adrien Dumont de Chassart each-way (1/5 - 8 places) @ 50/1

I was surprised by Adrien Dumont de Chassart’s price this week. The hugely talented Belgian has been showing signs of life in his rookie season on the PGA Tour over recent starts and if transferring that to this lower level, he should be able to contend in his home championship.

Reaching a high of 9th in the amateur rankings – during which time he performed well on the highly competitive collegiate scene in the U.S - de Chassart is one of the most promising players to come out of Belgium in recent years.

He displayed this promise right away after turning pro in June of last year, winning on his first start on the Korn Ferry Tour in the BMW Charity Pro-Am, and following with five straight top-10s, he’d already done enough to earn an instant upgrade to the PGA Tour for this season.

After initially being slow to get going, missing four of his first six cuts and finishing no higher than 60th in the other two, de Chassart has been much improved since finishing 6th in the Puerto Rico Open. He’s only missed two of his following six cuts and recorded a second top-25 of the season in the Corales Puntacana Championship four starts ago; arriving this week after solid efforts of 30th in the CJ CUP Byron Nelson and 40th in the Myrtle Beach Classic on his last two starts.

Judging by his PGA Tour form, it’s hard to see where his qualities truly lie. Though in ranking 2nd in putting and top-15 in each of total driving, greens-in-regulation and scrambling on the Korn Ferry Tour last year, he’s a player who has shown quality in all areas.

De Chassart also ranked 2nd in par 4 scoring last season, which should serve him well this week and despite not performing well when missing the cut here in 2018 as an 18-year-old, that experience of the course could prove valuable.

1 pt Sam Bairstow each-way (1/5 - 8 places) @ 50/1

 

Sam Bairstow continued his promising year by qualifying for the US Open at Walton Heath yesterday, and can lean on that positivity to take him to a first DPWT success in Belgium this week.

The Yorkshireman has made 10 starts so far in 2024, recording an impressive seven top-25s – going closest when 3rd in the Singapore Classic four starts ago - and has missed just two cuts.

He is gaining strokes in all areas and has made the third-most birdies of anyone on tour in 2024. Whilst he is hitting the ball well, possessing both power and accuracy off-the-tee and finding plenty of greens, it’s with the short game he has shone most; especially the putter, ranking 17th.

Bairstow is making his debut here but he has shown ability on all types of courses this year, and it is worth noting that his solo win on the Challenge Tour last year in the Scottish Challenge came at the similarly short and tree-lined Newmachar Golf Club. An experience that should serve him well at Rinkven.

1 pt Kiradech Aphibarnrat each-way (1/5 - 6 places) @ 55/1

Excelling in approach and scoring well on the par 4s in 2024, Kiradech Aphibarnrat looks a good fit for Rinkven. He can capitalise on his strong form to record a first DPWT win since 2018 this week.

Kiradech began his year with underwhelming efforts of 67th in Bahrain and a missed cut in Qatar, but he hasn’t looked back since.

In eight starts across the DPWT and Asian Tour following that missed cut, he’s managed to see the weekend on every occasion. Five of those starts have resulted in top-25 finishes; going closest when 2nd in the Singapore Classic on the DPWT and 3rd in the Saudi Open on the Asian Tour.

The Thai star has been steady off-the-tee and sharp around-the-greens, but as mentioned, it’s in approach he excels, ranking 10th. Combined with his ranking of 21st in par 4 scoring, he has many of the required attributes for this challenge.

Aphibarnrat showed his suitability to this test on debut last year, finishing 15th and shooting every round in the 60s. A 4th-place finish in the BMW International Open and 15th on his only shot at The Belfry offer more encouragement, and make him an even more interesting prospect this week.

1 pt Angel Hidalgo each-way (1/5 - 8 places) @ 125/1

Angel Hidalgo has finished 15th on each of his previous visits to Rinkven and looks attractively priced to occupy a spot near the top of the leaderboard again this week.

Hidalgo has been typically inconsistent this year, missing five cuts in 11 eleven starts. However, he’s a player that can burst into life when conditions suit, meaning that among those missed cuts and underwhelming finishes he’s recorded two top-10s; coming when 9th in the Ras Al Khaimah Championship and 5th in the Jonsson Workwear Open five starts ago.

He’s been at his best with the driver this year, ranking 27th and has maintained a reasonable level of accuracy despite finding some considerably increased length. Ranking top-40 in GIR and putting should be a good combo for this course, and sitting 26th in par 4 scoring, he has the resources to score well on the most prevalent holes.

As mentioned, Hidalgo has finished 15th in both attempts at the Soudal Open, where he’s fired five rounds in the 60s. A 4th at Valderrama in 2022 and 15th at HimmerLand is a strong selection of limited comp form, further showing him to be a good match for this type of setup.

You can find all Jamie's latest Golf Betting Tips over on our dedicated golf Insights hub.

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