Kazakhstan Open betting preview
By Matt Cooper
16th September 2009
After four years at the Nurtau GC, the Kazakhstan Open moves across the city of Almaty this year to the Zhailjau Golf Resort.
Nurtau was widely considered to be one of the best courses on the Challenge Tour schedule so Zhailjau had much to live up to but the early signs are that the players are impressed by the new venue.
The layout was designed by Arnold Palmer and conforms to many of his principles.
Attacking and aggressive drivers of the ball will be rewarded because on at least five holes big drives will catch down-slopes that the shorter hitters will never reach.
Another quirk of the course is that it features five par-fives and five par-threes.
The final par-five – the 15th hole – is a very dangerous hole with a green almost impossible to hold in two, but the other long holes should reap plenty of birdies.
So, too, should the par-threes and the short, driveable par-four eighth.
The suspicion that some players will go low is backed up by some of the scores players have made in practice.
There is one proviso however – many of the greens are raised, a couple are very small and at least two are probably a little too undulating (leaving very few hole locations).
The greens are running slower than normal because of the slopes, but they are also playing hard which means mid- to long-irons are not holding the putting surfaces.
That means the longer drivers of the ball should also gain an advantage on the par-fours, being able to hit higher shots into the greens.
The course has a few water features, and most of them are genuine threats to scoring rather than pretty landscaping, so there are risks, but this course should reward someone who takes risks and is in good enough form to avoid trouble.
Arnold Palmer courses do tend to reward aggressive players (recent winners on his designs include Alvaro Quiros and Steve Webster) and it is also true that players who thrive on his layouts do so again and again.
Given that the slopey greens could frustrate some players it might also pay to back players who have encountered – and prospered on – his style of greens before.
All of which made me very keen on the chances of Nicholas Colsaerts when I had a look at the Palmer form – what a pity he won last week and has had his price dropped to a difficult-to-back 16/1.
So first pick is Sweden’s Fredrik Andersson Hed, whose record on Palmer courses is strong.
Two years ago he was third in the Portugal Masters at Oceanico Vilamoura, he has also finished third at Tolcinasco in the Italian Open and can also boast some good form at the K Club.
Like Colsaerts, Andersson Hed had a good time before the cut last week; unlike the Belgian he went backwards at the weekend.
Bad news for his form maybe, but it keeps him at a backable price so take the 90/1.
Next up is the Spaniard Carlos Rodiles, a class act who has never quite got the hang of winning.
In 2004 he lost in a play-off to Fredrik Jacobson at the Volvo Masters – and now he finds himself playing on the Challenge Tour, fighting for a card for the 2010 season.
He’s played some decent golf at Tolcinasco and the K Club in the past so has a bit of a liking for Palmer layouts.
He’s a player who runs hot and cold so the lack of form doesn’t put me off backing him at 66/1.
Final pick is another Swede – Steven Jeppesen who does have two top 20s on Palmer designs on the main tour and was second on his last but one start.
He’s also long off the tee and has played well when the design is funky and asks for some patience – which applies to this course to some degree.
Take the 80/1.
1pt e.w. Fredrik Andersson Hed at 90/1 (bet365)
1pt e.w. Carlos Rodiles at 66/1 (bet365)
1pt e.w. Steven Jeppesen at 80/1 (bet365)