Last year’s inaugural GolfSixes event gave us a 9/1 winner and was largely deemed a success, but that has not stopped the European Tour from making some further innovations, Phil Casey writes.
Sixteen teams will again compete over six holes of greensomes match play, where both players tee off on each hole, then choose the best tee shot and take alternate shots from then on.
But four “wildcard” teams have been added and include two female pairs – Charley Hull and Georgia Hall, Mel Reid and Carlota Ciganda – and the mixed duo of Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn and Solheim Cup skipper Catriona Matthew.
The 16 teams have been split into groups of four, with the top two from each group advancing to the knockout stages, with the quarter-finals, semi-finals and final taking place on Sunday.
Throw in loud music, pyrotechnics, long drive and nearest-the-pin contests and the tournament motto of “It’s golf…but not as you know it” seems pretty fitting.
However, once the peripheral nonsense is out of the way, good golf was still required to walk away with the first prize of 200,000 euros for the winning team, with Thorbjorn Olesen and Lucas Bjerregaard obliging for us 12 months ago.
The pair return to defend their title and with Bjerregaard in good form after closing rounds of 66 and 64 in China at the weekend, it’s worth taking another chance on the Danish pair at 6/1, particular in a potentially weak group.
It makes sense to opt for one team from each group and unfortunately that means choosing between Spain and South Korea in Group B.
Adrian Otaegui was second in China and team-mate Pablo Larrazabal has also been in good form, while Jeunghun Wang has finished 13th and seventh in his last two starts and Soomin Lee’s tie for 14th on Sunday was his first top-30 finish on the European Tour in a year.
It’s a close call but with Denmark already on side, the preference is for Korea at 18/1 rather than Spain at 13/2.
Group C looks wide open and the Irish pair of Paul Dunne and Gavin Moynihan can be chanced at 18/1 to get the better of France, Italy and Scotland, Moynihan having finished second in the Challenge Tour’s Match Play 9 event last May.
And in Group D a small bet at much bigger odds could pay dividends, with the England women’s team of Hull and Hall available at 50/1.
Hall’s form is something of a concern, but the format makes allowances for that and with the 22-year-old pair playing from forward tees, distance is not an issue. Add in the possible pressure of “not losing to the girls” and England, South Africa and Sweden could be in for a tough time.