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Tuesday, 22 January, 2019

Colsaerts has the power to blast his way to Match Play glory

Belgian bomber has opportunity to show his class

Belgian bomber Nicolas Colsaerts
1 of 1

Sky Sports Golf, 11.30am Thursday

Wilkerson's top tip
Nicolas Colsaerts 25-1
It is three weeks since the European Tour has had a regular tournament after it stepped aside for the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and USPGA Championship and it will be another seven days before conventional stroke-play hostilities recommence in Denmark.

In the meantime, 64 players head to Germany to duke it out for the third incarnation of the Paul Lawrie Match Play and form students will be delighted to see that while it is the first time the tournament has been played outside Scotland, the Beckenbauer course at Bad Griesbach hosted the 2015 and 2016 European Open.

It is a potentially demanding week as the winner will have to win six 18-hole matches in four days to follow in the footsteps of Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Anthony Wall.

And on a course where length is strength, particularly when significant rain is anticipated before the competition heats up at the weekend, it could pay to go with the player with the best match-play record.

Belgian bomber Nicolas Colsaerts beat a better field than this week's when he won the World Match Play in Spain in 2012 and he built on that later that year by playing a full part in arguably Europe's greatest Ryder Cup when they upset the odds by fighting back at Medinah.

The pressure will be nowhere near as great as it was that week and Colsaerts should be comfortable on the course.

He was 13th in last year's European Open when it was reduced to a 54-hole event due to rain and he closed with two rounds of 66 on that occasion.

That was the same score he mustered in the second round of the 2015 version when he finished 14 shots off the pace, but he heads to Germany in decent form despite failing to make the cut at the USPGA last week.

That was only the second time in his last ten outings that the 35-year-old has failed to be involved at the weekend and that run included a third-placed finish at the PGA Championship at Wentworth, when he closed with an excellent 65, and eighth at the Nordea Masters.

The field cannot be considered elite this week and this looks a decent opportunity for him to claim his third European Tour victory.

Next best
Richard Bland 25-1
Richard Bland almost claimed his first victory on the Tour the last time he played in Germany at the BMW International Open in June and that second place to Andres Romero must have given him confidence that he can break his 414-tournament run without a win.

Bad Griesbach could prove a great venue for that to happen as Bland has the best course form in the book, having finished ninth and seventh in the last two European Opens.

He should be well-rested after a creditable 22nd finish at the Open at Royal Birkdale, which followed a top-20 position at the Scottish Open, so his stock looks to be in the ascendancy. 

Other selection
Paul Dunne 33-1
Irishman Paul Dunne is another player with a second-placed finish on his 2017 resume - he was runner-up at the Trophee Hassan in Morocco in April - and he could enjoy his week if he gets on a roll.

He dropped out of contention at the European Open last year when he hit a third round 73, but he should have been encouraged by his opening 66 and a Friday 68.

Dunne has climbed more than 90 places in the world rankings since the end of 2016 - he finished 13th at the French Open - and he is another player who can prove he is on the upgrade in what looks an average field.

Others to note
Anthony Wall
Won this last year and put in his best performance of the season when he was tied for fourth at last month's Scottish Open.

Matthew Southgate
Should be full of beans after finishing tied for sixth at Birkdale and was second at the Irish Open. Finished seventh at last year's European Open.

Victor Dubuisson
Finished runner-up in the WGC Match Play in 2014 but has been in freefall down the rankings since and has missed his last three cuts.

Staking plan
N Colsaerts
1.5pts each-way 25-1 general
R Bland
1pt each-way 25-1 general
P Dunne
1pt each-way 33-1 Betfred, Coral, Ladbrokes

Paul Lawrie Match Play
Course The Beckenbauer Course, Bad Griesbach, Germany
Prize money €1m (€166,000 to the winner)
Length 7,188 yards Par 71 Field 64

Course records – 72 holes 267 Thongchai Jaidee (2015 European Open) 18 holes 62 Alexander Levy (2016 European Open)

When to bet By 7am Thursday
Where to watch Live on Sky Sports Golf from 11.30am

Course overview This is the third year of the the Paul Lawrie Match Play and the third different venue to be used after Archerfield Links and Murcar Links in the 1999 Open champion's native Scotland.

The competition is a straight knockout containing 64 players so the champion will have to win six 18-hole matches in four days. The last-16 and quarter-finals are played on Saturday while the semis and the final take place on Sunday.

The Beckenbauer, named after the German football legend Franz, is one of six courses on the Golf Bad Griesbach complex. Designed by Bernhard Langer, it hosted the European Open in 2015 and 2016, which were won by Thongchai Jaidee and Alexander Levy. 

Water hazards feature on the majority of holes, punishing the errant, while numerous bunkers add to the challenge. There are doglegs aplenty and this flat course typically plays soft and long. The 502-yard par-four sixth is a brute.

The four par-fives (the third, eighth, tenth and 12th) vary in length from the easy 514-yard tenth to the giant 625-yard third.

The three par-threes on the front nine are all more than 217 yards apiece. The two threes on the back are better birdie chances and the back-nine, with three short par fours, is significantly easier than the front.

Story of last year Anthony Wall won his first European Tour event for more than 16 years as finalist Alex Noren was unable to force extra holes, missing a 15-foot putt on the 18th to tie.

Weather forecast The competition should get off to a fine start, but the course could be softened by rain that is expected on Friday night. That could continue for most of Saturday but it should be dry on Sunday for the closing stages.

Type of player suited to the challenge With water everywhere and three enormous par-threes, this track demands long, straight hitting

Key attribute Power

Molinari faces an early exit

It has been a while since Robert Karlsson was among the European golfing elite – he was once ranked the sixth best player in the world – but he should be able to navigate his way past Edoardo Molinari.

Karlsson has a string of missed cuts earlier in the year but 30th in the Irish Open and 45th in Scotland have steadied the ship a little and he should relish a return to Bad Griesbach, where he finished third in last year’s European Open.

Unlike his brother Francesco who was runner-up at the USPGA, Molinari has failed to finish higher than 70th in his last ten tournaments.

Double up your Karlsson bet by backing defending champion Anthony Wall to beat Kristoffer Broberg, who has one top 20 finish on the European Tour in the last 18 months.

Wall, meanwhile, should be buzzing after finishing fourth at the Scottish Open.

R Karlsson 4-6 & A Wall 4-6
1pt double bet365, Sky Bet

It is a potentially demanding week as the winner will have to win six 18-hole matches in four days
E.W. Terms
Sky bet