Belgian pair set to dominate Czech Masters partners
Fitzpatrick and Kaymer are failing to sparkle
Sky Sports Golf, from 10am Thursday
Event starts 6.15am
Three members of the last European Ryder Cup side – Thomas Pieters, Matthew Fitzpatrick and Martin Kaymer – tee off together in the first round of the Czech Masters at 12.05pm UK and Ireland time.
A couple of horror holes meant Pieters missed the cut in Denmark last week, but the Belgian can be expected to boss his group at the Albatross Resort, Prague. He has finished first and second in this event the last two years and relishes the dimensions of the course.
Pieters, of course, can feed off plenty of positive Ryder Cup vibes as qualification for the 2018 match starts this week. He was top scorer in the last contest against the United States, scoring four points. Fitzpatrick drew a blank on his Cup debut, while Kaymer scored only one point.
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Fitzpatrick has not played since missing the cut by three shots in the USPGA Championship and there is plenty of rust in his system. He has only 18 competitive rounds under his belt in the last two months, having also missed cuts in the French Open and the Scottish Open. It has been a disappointing summer for the English youngster.
Kaymer missed the USPGA with a shoulder injury and was short of sparkle on his return, sharing 31st place in Denmark. The German has not posted a top-ten finish on the European Tour since the Abu Dhabi Championship in January.
Pieters, who has placed four times on the US Tour this year, including fourth place in the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at the start of this month, should be a short-price favourite for this threeball. The layers appear to have overreacted to his short spell of cardbusting golf in Denmark.
Thomas Detry, something of a protege for Pieters, is also worthy of day-one support. The classy, in-form youngster, who is putting with confidence, is a surprisingly big price to beat weak opposition in the shape of Mike Lorenzo-Vera and Marc Warren in the 11.25am gathering.
Punters looking for juicier odds should consider Paul Waring, who performed well at the Albatross on his last visit, and possesses the necessary power to tame the four par-fives. Waring has been impressive in short bursts this year and is well capable of upsetting Aaron Rai and Lee Slattery in the 12.25pm threeball.
2pts 13-8 Paddy Power
2pts 6-4 Betfred
1pt 3-1 Paddy Power