It’s a case of after the Lord Mayor’s show with the golf this week but backing a big priced double is rewarding regardless of the circumstances. Brandt Snedeker and Bradley Dredge are the players to combine on the two main tours this week and the double pays 1188/1 and even the place element returns 87/1. After two majors and the Olympics over last the last month there is a lull before the post-season playoffs and Ryder Cup so two players just below the highest level can have a week in the sun.
Justin Rose won the gold medal at the Olympics and is the first golf champion at the Games since 1904. Golf is not a sport that lends itself to the team format but it was refreshing to see players on the course with no advertising logos on their clothing and visors. Rose didn’t earn a penny playing for Team GB and his win was not worth any ranking points but he didn’t care. The sell out crowd on Sunday enjoyed a great exhibition and virtual matchplay scenario between Rose and the Open champion, Henrik Stenson.
For seven years Rose has expressed his commitment to playing for Great Britain in Rio. Many other players made polite excuses and didn’t show up and maybe they are regretting that decision now. Golf is guaranteed a place at the 2020 Games in Tokyo and then a decision will be made about the sport’s continued involvement. Golf did not seem a good fit for the ideals of the Olympics but Rose and others did great things to promote the sport around the world. Golfers measure their standing in the game by the numbers of majors won but there are four a year and only an Olympics once every four years and Rose will be the Olympic champion until 2020.
Golf professionals don’t generally respond to the team and representative environment and the only team competition that really gets the juices flowing is the Ryder Cup. Europe play under the flag of the European Union so it will be interesting to see how that pans out for Rose, Danny Willett and any other players from Britain who qualify in the light of Brexit and all that palaver. Rose and Stenson were partners in the 2014 contest and were unbeaten in three matches. Both have produced their best at the business end of majors and either would be worthy winners of Olympic gold.
They are close friends off the course but there seemed to be little friendly banter over the closing holes in Rio. Rose only clinched the gold medal on the final green but the fact two major champions went head-to-head for 18 holes can only help the sport and its prospects of staying in the Games after Tokyo. Rose and Stenson are not playing this week and the fields for the Wyndham Championship and Czech Masters lack many stellar names but a win still earns full exemption privileges. This is a chance for players to secure their cards for next season and qualify for the playoffs.
Rickie Fowler and Patrick Reed have made the journey from Brazil to play in the Wyndham Championship on the PGA Tour and Jim Furyk may still be recovering from shooting 58 on his last outing. Ten of the top 30 players in the world rankings are playing at Sedgefield Country Club which has hosted the tournament formerly known as the Greensboro since 2007 At 7,127 yards and with a par of 70 the course is short by modern standards and that should suit Snedeker. Greens in regulation and strokes gained putting are the key skills for good scoring this week and Snedeker has a decent profile in that context.
The Czech Masters on the European Tour is being played at the Albatross Golf Resort near Prague for the third successive year. This is a course that favours the big hitters and last year the winner and runner-up were first and second for driving distance. Greens in regulation and putts per round were the other significant skills and driving accuracy was not so important. Dredge’s putting gives him a chance at this level to win in Europe for the first time since 2006. He has made 10 of 14 cuts this season and had three top 10s and can excel in this company.
The winners of this week’s tournaments will go in the record books but generally the wins in regular tournaments will soon be forgotten. Rose will always be an Olympian and gold medal winner and had a 0.01% chance of picking up the Zika virus which makes his contemporaries look a bit stupid for not playing in Rio.