The three-week Canary Islands Swing comes to an end with the inaugural Canary Islands Championship on the same course as last week. This will be the fourth time in the past year that the same course has been used for two weeks in a row, but this is probably the last time that it will happen, for a while at least.
As this is the third week in the Canary Islands and, presumably, as the Tour has a Wednesday start for next week’s British Masters, there is a much weaker field on view this week. Joost Luiten, Joachim B. Hansen, Max Kieffer, Thorbjorn Olesen and all three of last week’s selections, Mattias Schwab, Antoine Rozner and Kurt Kitayama, have decided to skip this event. All but the last two have already entered next week’s event at The Belfry.
In terms of the course, there is not much that can be added one week on from last week’s preview. This is a resort course for golf tourists so that means that there are wide, rolling fairways and very little rough. Dean Burmester won last week and ranked 1st in driving distance which confirms that impression of the course, however it was notable that the driving accuracy stats were very low. John Catlin led that stat last week with just 56% of fairways hit. The last time that the percentage of fairways hit was so low was the 2004 Open de Madrid. The low scoring despite the lack of fairways found confirms the lack of penal rough.
In terms of the other previewed characteristics, the greens were smaller than expected, but the unusual structure of six par-3s, seven par-4s and five par-5s was borne out. There were lots of birdies (28 for Burmester) and players had to score well on the par-3s much more than in previous tournaments.
With little else to add to last week’s preview, the following angles have been identified as potentially effective predictors this week.
Angles to consider:
1. Birdies not strokes gained: approach the green will be an important predictor
Last week, the #1 angle was on strokes gained: approach the green and given that Burmester won and ranked 1st in that category, Nicolai Von Dellinghausen finished 2nd and ranked 3rd in that category, Adrian Meronk finished 3rd and ranked 2nd in that category, Kalle Samooja finished 3rd and ranked 17th and Catlin finished 5th and ranked 5th in that category, it could be seen as very strong evidence in favour of the angle. But let’s remember that is predictive stats that are important, not ex post. Burmester ranked 95th in that category on the European Tour prior to the event, Von Dellinghausen ranked 156th, Meronk ranked 79th, Samooja ranked 47th and Catlin ranked 45th. There was no indication from their pre-event stats that they would fill the top-5 places in that stat during the week and so the top-5 places on the leaderboard. This makes Golf Costa Adeje an unusual low-scoring course on which it is normally stokes gained: putting that identifies the top of the leaderboard when looking back at the event. Therefore, it will be that other measure of ability to create lots of birdies that will be the metric used for this angle this week: birdies per round. I don’t have rankings for this category prior to last week’s event, but Burmester currently ranks 23rd, Von Dellinghausen currently ranks 6th, Meronk currently ranks 37th, Samooja currently ranks 18th and Catlin currently ranks 78th in that category.
2. Par-3 scoring stats cannot be ignored on this course
This stat was overlooked last week, but the importance of the six par-3s to overall scoring has been highlighted above. But, more importantly, it was also a good predictor of success on this course. As with the birdies per round stats, I don’t have rankings for this category prior to last week’s event, but Burmester currently ranks 2nd, Von Dellinghausen currently ranks 6th, Meronk currently ranks 30th, Samooja currently ranks 12th and Catlin ranks 23rd in par-3 scoring on the European Tour this season. Those are impressive rankings given the quality of field this week.
The above angles have been used to create a shortlist from which the following players has been selected.
Samooja wasn’t in the original field for this event, but clearly enjoyed his experience here last week. He started the final round in a share of the lead and eventually finished 3rd to record his fourth top-5 finish in his last 20 European Tour starts. In terms of birdies and par-3 scoring, he ranks high in this category as explained above, but he also ranks highly in terms of par-5 scoring – 16th on the European Tour. It all points to a good week against a weaker field on this course.
Winning back-to-back on the same course was an angle in the second Kenya event with Justin Harding and when he led by three shots at the start of the final round, it looked to be a very profitable angle. The reasons for that angle were explained in the preview for the Kenya Savannah Classic, and there are still reasons for this to hold with Burmester. He looked extremely comfortable when winning by five shots on Sunday, the camaraderie was evident amongst the South African players when he won on the 18th green and he was the fourth South African to win in five events on the European Tour. He has the form and ability to at least match Harding’s performance in Kenya for three rounds and this time convert the chance for a back-to-back victory.
After the disappointment of failing to win consecutive events in Kenya (he finished 14th in the second week after a final round collapse), Harding missed the cut in the arctic conditions in Austria and then finished in the top-15 in both events in the Canary Islands. He is a very different player to his compatriot, Burmester, but it is difficult to argue against this form and it has been on low-scoring resort courses – his tournament scores have 21-under-par, 15-under-par, 15-under-par and 15-under-par.
1pt e.w. Kalle Samooja 25/1 (Paddy Power, Betfair Sportsbook, Boyle Sports 1/5 1-2-3-4-5-6-7)
1pt e.w. Dean Burmester 18/1 (Bet365 1/4 1-2-3-4-5)
1pt e.w. Justin Harding 18/1 (Paddy Power, Betfair Sportsbook 1/5 1-2-3-4-5-6-7)