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Its a big week for Thomas Bjorn

 

This upcoming weekend is going to be a big one for Thomas Bjorn, captain of Team Europe for next month's Ryder Cup battle in France.

This in part because this week's 5th edition of the Made in Denmark tournament is set, for the first time, to be played at the Silkeborg Ry Golfklub, the course where he cut his golfing teeth and of which he said when learning that it would host this year's tour stop in Denmark: “I don’t know how many rounds of golf I’ve played at Silkeborg – a lot, for sure.

"But to finally play a European Tour event on the course where I grew up will be an extraordinary experience, one that I’m really looking forward to."

But perhaps of greater importance to Bjorn this week, is the fact that the Made in Denmark is the last event in which 2018 Ryder Cup hopefuls can still earn qualifying points as the fight for the eighth and last automatic qualifying spot in the European team comes to a final climax.

Francisco Molinari, Justin Rose, Jon Rahm, Rory McIlroy, Alex Noren, Tommy Fleetwood and Tyrrell Hatton have already accumulated enough Ryder Cup points to be sure of their places, but in-form home favorite Thorbjorn Olesen can join them with a top six finish or better this week.

Belgium's Thomas Pieters, and Englishmen Matthew Fitzpatrick and Eddie Pepperell are also still in with an outside chance of qualifying, but each of them will need to win the Made in Denmark and see Olesen finish outside the top six to make it.

That surely is why the bookmakers have, at 8/1, established Olesen as their Made in Denmark favorite followed closely at 10/1 by Pieters and at a wider distance by Fitzpatrick at 18/1 and Eddie Pepperell at 20/1.

Even without winning on Sunday, the above mentioned four - Olesen especially - could still, by virtue of some late brilliance this week, make it into the European team when it is named on Wednesday, this via one of Bjorn's four wild-card pics.

It's happened before, the last time in 2016 when Pieters did it and then became the European team's biggest star, and it could happen again.

Turning now to the Silkeborg Ry Golfklub's championship course, we find ourselves looking at a shortish, 6,975-yard, par-72 tree-lined woodland layout guarded by numerous doglegs, a fair amount of water and plenty of bunkers and where accuracy off the tee may be more important than distance despite the fact its four par-fives - they measure just 540, 558, 538 and 553 yards - all look reachable, especially to a big bomber like Pieters.

It will hinder rather than help, though, if the greens are only reached after tee shots have first clattered into the trees, run through dog legs or found water.

Looking at the field, the bookies were probably right to see Olesen, Pieters, Fitzpatrick, and Pepperall as the most likely winners, but there are a number of others, who, on their day, are quite capable of coming up tops on Sunday.

Germany's two-time major winner Martin Kaymer is one of the old guards among them who could do it and England's former World No 1 Lee Westwood and 2016 Masters champion Danny Willett being two more.

Given their recent underwhelming form, however, it is more likely, though, that one of the European Tour's exciting new kids on the block like Lucas Bjerregaard of Sweden, Adrian Otaequin of Spain, Eric van Rooyen of South Africa or Matthias Schwab of Austria will prove to be the greatest threat to the four Ryder Cup hopefuls.

Last year Julian Suri, an unheralded American inspired by the fact that three-time major winner and World No 2 Brooks Koepke had begun his pro career on the European Tour, put up his hand and went on to win the Made in Denmark.

Suri hasn't returned to defend his title, but another dangerous US young-gun has arrived on the scene compliments of a sponsors invitation.

He is Hunter Stewart who played for the same US Walker Cup team as last week's big FedEx Cup playoff winner Bryson DeChambeau and has recently picked up one top 10 on the US PGA Tour followed by two more in Europe and whose game, which has featured accurate iron play, looks to be a good fit for the tight-looking Silkeborg.

Another factor that could be in his favor is that Silkeborg will be a new course to all but Bjorn and one or two other Danes and as such it should level the playing field for first-time contestants like Stewart.

Leading odds
(Tuesday a.m. Aug 28, 2018)

Thorbjorn Olesen 8/1
Thomas Pieters 10/1
Matthew Fitzpatrick 18/1
Eddie Pepperell 20/1
Danny Willett 25/1
Matthew Southgate 33/1
Matt Wallace 35/1
Lucas Bjerregaard 35/1
Matthew Southgate 33/1
Martin Kaymer 40/1
Robert Rock 40/1
Thomas Detryn 40/1
Soren Kjeldsen 40/1
Joakim Lagergren 40/1
Lee Westwood 45/1
Dean Burmester 45/1
Lee Slattery 45/1
Tom Lewis 45/1
Erik van Rooyen 50/1
Adrian Otaeguin 60/1
Matthias Schwab 60/1
Richard Sterne 60/1.

NOTE: For all the latest odds go to oddschecker.com/golf/made-in-denmark/winner.

And to place, a wager on tournaments visit BetWay

Neville Leck

Written by neville@golfweather.com.