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Thursday, 17 January, 2019

Punters could be raising a glass to Lucas Bjerregaard

Danish dude ready to thrill home galleries

Lucas Bjerregaard has some experience of this new venue
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Sky Sports Golf from 10.30am Thursday

Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn is at his home course this week as he finalises plans for the European team to face the United States in Paris next month.

The eight automatic qualifiers for Bjorn's side will be decided by close of play in the Made In Denmark, with Thorbjorn Olesen, Matthew Fitzpatrick and Eddie Pepperell battling it out for the last remaining slot.

Then Bjorn will name four wildcard picks next week. Sergio Garcia, Henrik Stenson, Ian Poulter, Thomas Pieters, Paul Casey, Russell Knox and Rafael Cabrera-Bello are all currently in need of a helping hand from the great Dane.

Palmer's top tip
Lucas Bjerregaard 40-1
The Silkeborg Ry Club, which has never previously been a European or Challenge Tour venue, is a step into the unknown for the vast majority of the Made In Denmark field. Some low-grade action on the ECCO Tour (the Danish circuit) has been staged there, though, and Lucas Bjerregaard should be more comfortable than most.

Bjerregaard was born in the Jutland region of Denmark and still lives there, an hour's drive from the Silkeborg Ry layout, and he teed up in the 2015 Jyske Bank Championship (ECCO Tour) there and finished in 11th place.

As a youngster he loved competing close to home, twice winning the Danish Amateur then the 2010 European Amateur in Finland before topping the 2012 Nordic Golf League Order of Merit, and he is probably ready to start making a serious impression in Denmark as a European Tour professional.

The occasion has got the better of Bjerregaard in previous starts in this event – his 28th place last year was his best effort – but he has returned this week as a European Tour champion for the first time. His maiden title came in the Portugal Masters last September, so he walks with more self-belief and assurance these days.

Two months of magnificent golf in the middle of this season underlined how dangerous Bjerregaard, who has just turned 27, has become. He was sixth in the China Open, fifth in the Sicilian Open, third in the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth and fifth in the BMW International Open.

More recently, a withdrawal after a first-round 70 in the Nordea Masters may put punters off, but that was for personal reasons and had nothing to do with injury or illness. The strapping six-footer is fully fit and ninth place in the Czech Masters after an eight-under-par weekend was an excellent warm-up.

Silkeborg Ry, short and tricky, may not be ideal in terms of Bjerregaard's naturally attacking instincts, but he is a versatile player who has twice finished in the places at the Hong Kong Open (runner-up in 2015) on the tightest and most fiddly layout on the circuit. He will be perfectly happy hitting irons off the tee when necessary, determined to contend in his homeland, and the slow greens will take pressure off the weakest part of his game.

Next best
Tapio Pulkkanen 140-1
Another player able to hit the ground running at Silkeborg, with some competitive course experience under his belt, is Tapio Pulkkanen. The 28-year-old Finn won the Made In Denmark Qualifier at Silkeborg in 2015.

Pulkkanen, a six-time winner in the Nordic Golf League, topped the Challenge Tour rankings last season, winning the Kazakhstan Open in the process, and flew out of the traps in his European Tour career with third place in the Joburg Open just before Christmas.

A fallow period has followed but Pulkkanen contended for a long way in the Czech Masters last week, dropping to 44th after making a triple-bogey six at the 16th. Those late water horrors capped a savage Sunday, but he handled himself well in the penultimate Saturday twoball alongside Padraig Harrington and there were plenty of positives to take from the week.

Other selections
Jason Scrivener 150-1
Marcus Kinhult 66-1
Jacob Glennemo 250-1
Morten Orum Madsen 600-1
A tight, probably windswept track, looks right up the alley of Perth man Jason Scrivener, who bounced back to form with a closing 67 for 18th spot in Prague last week. He was a six-shot winner on the Australasian Tour in November, sixth in the Dubai Desert Classic in January, and looks capable of winning a low-grade European Tour event like this one.

Marcus Kinhult has made the short hop from Sweden to Denmark, fresh from a closing 67 (bettered by only nine players) in the Nordea Masters last time out, and the accurate youngster has shown on a number of occasions this year – third in Qatar, 12th at Wentworth, fifth in France – that he is a winner waiting to happen. This looks a tremendous opportunity.

Jacob Glennemo won the last significant competition staged at this track, the Jyske Bank Championship at the end of spring. The Swede has been in electric form in the Nordic Golf League, with results of 2-6-11-1-MC-16-9-2-35-7-1-2 from his last 12 starts, winning the Holtsmark Open by three shots the week before last.

Complete a big-price attack with Morten Orum Madsen, who was born in Silkeborg, still lives there, and finished third in the Jyske Bank Championship at this track last year. The Dane has been missing cuts on the Challenge Tour, but he has won three times in the Nordic Golf League and won the 2014 SA Open on the European Tour. Home comforts and knowledge could allow the 30-year-old to rediscover his old sparkle.

Others to note
Thorbjorn Olesen
The favourite will be praying that Fitzpatrick and Pepperell fail to threaten the trophy. Olesen has twice missed the cut in the Made In Denmark, feeling the weight of expectation on home turf, and the pressure is greater than ever this time with a Ryder Cup debut up for grabs. A top-seven finish would be enough to guarantee automatic qualification.

Matthew Fitzpatrick
The Englishman has been handed a dream layout to make a late bid for a Ryder Cup spot. Silkeborg should suit, but he has not been playing well over the last few weeks, so may not be able to take advantage.

Soren Kjeldsen
The Danish veteran should also love the Silkeborg set-up and can force his way on to the leaderboard, but he is winless for more than three years and blew a golden chance of victory in the 2015 edition.

Thomas Pieters
The star of the last Ryder Cup needs a big performance in Aarhus to retain his place on the team. He wasted a first-round 64 on a more suitable track in Prague last week.

Jazz Janewattananond
The accurate Thai showed with sixth place in the Nordea Masters that he is starting to feel comfortable outside of Asia. Could go well in Scandinavia again.

Staking plan
L Bjerregaard
2pts each-way 40-1 general
T Pulkkannen
1pt each-way 140-1 bet365
J Scrivener
1pt each-way 150-1 BetBright
M Kinhult
1pt each-way 66-1 general
J Glennemo
0.5pt each-way 250-1 Coral
M O Madsen
0.5pt each-way 600-1 bet365

The lowdown

Course Silkeborg Ry Golf Club, Aarhus, Denmark

Prize money €1.5m (€250,000 to the winner)

Length 6,975 yards Par 72 Field 156

When to bet By 6am Thursday

Where to watch Live on Sky Sports from 10.30am Thursday

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

Last week – Czech Masters 1 A Pavan (50-1), 2 P Harrington (100-1), 3 G Green (125-1), T4 S Jamieson (66-1), L Slattery (45-1), 6 T Lewis (55-1)

Course overview The European Tour moved to uncharted territory in 2014 for the inaugural Made In Denmark event, which was played at the Himmerland Resort for four years.

This week, a new venue takes over, a relatively short par-72 with four par-fives. It is cut into hilly pine forests and the undulating track has been used on the ECCO Tour (Nordic Golf League) for the Jyske Bank Championship from 2014 to this year.

Huge crowds attended the Himmerland events and around 100,000 spectators are expected at Silkeborg. All the fairways are heavily bunkered and there are lots of doglegs. The greens are fairly slow by Tour standards.

Story of last year Julian Suri won his maiden European Tour title in fine style, cruising to a four-shot success at Himmerland, going 13 under par for the final 36 holes.

Weather forecast Heavy showers for the first half of day one, then clear and breezy for the remainder of the tournament.

Type of player suited to challenge Course-management and accuracy appear the keys to success on a bunker-strewn layout with water hazards and lots of tricky doglegs, especially with some stiff breezes expected.

Key attribute Accuracy

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Ninth place in the Czech Masters after an eight-under-par weekend was an excellent warm-up
E.W. Terms
Sky bet