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Saturday, 15 December, 2018

Lengthy track sets up perfectly for Nacho Elvira to attack

Big-hitting Englishman Sam Horsfield ready to make an impression in Germany

Nacho Elvira is close to a breakthrough in Europe
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Sky Sports Golf, 10am Thursday

An eclectic mix of players have jetted from a thrilling Open Championship in Scotland to the far less intense Porsche European Open in Germany, with Masters champion Patrick Reed headlining the field.

Reed is joined by compatriots Bryson DeChambeau and Pat Perez in Hamburg, world number 15 Paul Casey is also in the field, while Francesco Molinari's brother Edoardo will probably be getting more attention than normal after the name Molinari was inscribed on the Claret Jug.

The brothers of the last two Major winners are teeing up – Chase Koepka competes – while Matt Fitzpatrick's brother, Alex, makes his European Tour debut.

Palmer's top tip
Nacho Elvira 50-1
A long track with five par-fives sets up well for attacking players with plenty of length in their locker and Nacho Elvira must have an excellent chance of an overdue European Tour triumph.

Elvira had won four times on the Challenge Tour by the end of 2015, and has threatened on the main circuit since, but the 31-year-old is yet to get over the line in front. He lost a duel with his formidable compatriot Jon Rahm for the Spanish Open in April.

A playoff loss in the 2016 Hassan Trophy was hugely unfortunate – the putter of Jeunghun Wang turned into a magic wand in the closing stages to deny the Spaniard – and Elvira is clearly good enough to claim European Tour silverware.

The BMW International Open, where he has finished eighth and ninth the last two years, is a possible tournament for the breakthrough, but another event in Germany – this one – also suits him extremely well. He tied for 12th place last year.

Elvira has been playing decent golf for three months and a missed cut on the mark in the Scottish Open last time out, when he carded a second-round 66, is easily forgiven. He played well in the US Open qualifier at Walton Heath last month, losing in a playoff. 

Next best
Sam Horsfield 40-1
Last year a big-hitting young Englishman – Jordan Smith – used the European Open for a maiden European Tour victory, and 12 months later Sam Horsfield could repeat the trick. Horsfield, raised in Florida from the age of five, will appreciate the Florida-like conditions in Hamburg and should immediately fall in love with the North Course.

Horsfield, 14th at Bay Hill in March, should turn into a US Tour star over the next few years, but first a couple of European Tour triumphs are probably on the agenda. He was fourth in the World Super 6 in Perth in February and runner-up in the Tshwane Open in March.

A share of 15th place on his Wentworth debut in May was another superb effort and two other solid tournament debuts in his latest two events – 24th in the Irish Open, 23rd in the Scottish – have provided further evidence that the 21-year-old is going places fast.

Other selections
Thomas Detry 40-1
Mikko Ilonen 50-1
Sebastien Gros 200-1
Thomas Detry finished second in the BMW International Open last year, losing by a shot, and the improving Belgian could go close on another fairly straightforward German parkland layout this week. He is short of links experience, so ignore his failure to make an impact in Ireland and Scotland on his last two starts, and respect a sweet-swinging 25-year-old who is strong in all departments.

He won on the Challenge Tour by a 12-shot margin and it seems only a matter of time before he succeeds on the main circuit.

Mikko Ilonen is a five-time European Tour champion who closed with a course-record 65 at the North Course last year, sharing eighth place, a fine performance which came after form figures of 62-MC-MC-MC-MC-58 in his previous six events.

The Finn clearly likes the layout and has been in much better nick this term, finishing third in the Hassan Trophy at the end of April, and 19th in the Irish Open, where he was third for greens in regulation, at the start of this month.

Complete your staking plan with Sebastien Gros, the power-packed 28-year-old Frenchman who has won twice on the Challenge Tour and could make merry on the North Course par-fives. Gros tied for 26th in the BMW International Open the last time he tackled a suitable course and his best finish of 2017 came at the North Course, four under-par rounds for 19th place.

Others to note
Lucas Bjerregaard
The Danish powerhouse should be suited to this assignment and must be considered, but he missed the cut by eight shots last year. Finished fifth in the BMW on his last trip to Germany.

Alexander Levy
The Frenchman has European Open form figures of 1-2, but he appears to have run himself into the ground in his desperation to qualify for the Ryder Cup in Paris and has badly lost his sparkle.

Scott Hend
The Aussie powerhouse has been playing well and could easily take a shine to the North Course on his first visit.

Adrian Otaegui
The Spaniard won his maiden European Tour title in Germany and he was fifth in this event last year. A dangerman who won the Belgian Knockout in May.

Staking plan
N Elvira
2pts each-way 50-1 BetBright, BoyleSports
S Horsfield
2pts each-way 40-1 BetBright, Betfred, BoyleSports
T Detry
1pt each-way 40-1 Coral, Paddy Power
M Ilonen
1pt each-way 50-1 Coral, Paddy Power
S Gros
0.5pt each-way 200-1 BetBright

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The lowdown

Course North Course, Green Eagle Golf Courses, Hamburg, Germany

Prize money €2m (€333,330 to the winner)

Length 7,583 yards Par 72 Field 156

Course records – 72 holes 275 Jordan Smith, Alexander Levy (2017) 18 holes 65 Eric Ramsay (2010 ECCO Tour Championship), Mikko Ilonen (2017)

Course winner taking part Jordan Smith

When to bet By 6am Thursday

Where to watch Live on Sky Sports from 10am Thursday

Time difference Germany is one hour ahead of the UK and Ireland

Last week – The Open 1 F Molinari (33-1), T2 K Kisner (250-1), R McIlroy (20-1), J Rose (16-1), X Schauffele (110-1), T6 K Chappell (250-1), E Pepperell (175-1), T Woods (30-1), T9 T Finau (100-1), M Kuchar (80-1), J Spieth (25-1)

Course overview The European Open is being staged in Germany for the fourth time and at the Green Eagle Golf Courses complex for the first time. The North Course at Green Eagle hosted a Challenge Tour event in 2010 – the ECCO Tour Championship.

Andreas Harto won the tournament with an eight-under-par total on what was a par-73 layout. The North Course, which is 7,836 yards from the back tees, is billed by event organisers as the longest course on the European Tour and the most difficult track in Germany.

There are six par-fives on the standard scorecard – the fourth, ninth, 11th, 15th, 16th and 18th – but the fourth will play as a par four for the second year running.

Story of last year Alexander Levy and Jordan Smith contested a playoff, having finished 13 under par, and the Frenchman missed a tiddler for victory on the first extra hole. The Englishman birdied the second extra hole to claim a maiden European Tour title

Weather forecast Hot, sunny and calm for most of the first three days, although moderate breezes are expected on each of the first two afternoons, peaking on Friday afternoon, and early tee-times may be needed on Saturday to avoid a forecast Saturday evening thunderstorm. Light rain for round four.

Type of player suited to challenge This is an enormous layout which favours powerhouses who can fully attack the five par-fives.

Key attribute Power

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Elvira had won four times on the Challenge Tour by the end of 2015, and has threatened on the main circuit since
E.W. Terms
Sky bet