I confess I’m a little hoarse after spending most of Sunday singing Europe… Europe and Moli… Molinari. However, whilst there’s something uniquely special about the Ryder Cup, the European Tour springs straight back into life this week with the prestigious Alfred Dunhill Links Tournament. This is then followed by three more tournaments in October, the Sky Sports British Masters, the Andalucia Masters, and the WGS HSBC Champions, as the European Tour players try to make sure they finish in the top-60 in the Race to Dubai standings to qualify for the lucrative final three events in November.
Meanwhile, the 2018/18 PGA Tour season also starts this week, just two weeks after Tiger’s amazing win at the 2017/18 season-ending Tour Championship. The season kicks-off with the Safeway Open with the CIMB Classic, The CJ Cup @ Nine Bridges, and the Sanderson Farms Championship also taking place in October.
European Tour Tournaments in October
Alfred Dunhill Links Tournament (October 4 – 7)
The Alfred Dunhill Links is a fantastic pro-am event that sees famous celebrities and rich business men paired-up with top professional golfers. It began in 2001 and has been won by big names like Brandon Grace, Lee Westwood, and Martin Kaymer. Meanwhile, Europe’s 2018 winning Ryder Cup team have done well in recent years with Thorbjorn Olesen winning in 2015 and Tyrell Hatton winning comfortably in both 2016 and 2017. However, you do have to wonder just how much partying Europe’s player have been doing this week and whether they’ll have the mindset to give this tournament their full concentration.
Therefore, a couple of former European Ryder Cup players could be of interest, Chris Wood and Ross Fisher. Wood burst onto the scene when placed in an Open Championship as an amateur and has featured well in the last three renewals of this tournament, finishing 7/9/4. Meanwhile, Ross Fisher has been unlucky to finish runner-up in the last two renewals. Others that catch the eye include Tom Lewis, who won the Portugal Masters for a second time last month and was third here in 2013. The inform Eddie Pepperrell and recent 59-shooter Oliver Fisher must also have chances after finishing in a tie for seventh last year.
Sky Bet British Masters (October 11-14)
New European Ryder Cup hero Frankie “Moli” Molinari may be taking a well-deserved week off this week but he could bid to make even more history in the Sky Bet British Masters. Having already won the Open Championship and the European Tour’s flagship event the BMW PGA Championship this season, he could become the only player to win those prestigious two tournaments and the British Masters in the same season. This season’s British Masters is also being hosted by his Ryder Cup teammate Justin Rose as it heads to Walton Heath Golf Club in Surrey.
The tournament was a regular on tour from 1946 to 2008 but, after a six-year hiatus from 2009 to 2014, the three renewals since it was introduced into the schedule in 2015 have been Matt Fitzpatrick, Alex Noren, and Paul Dunne.
Andalucia Valderrama Masters (October 18-21)
The Andalucia Valderrama Masters is hosted by the Sergio Garcia Foundation and takes place on the brilliant Valderrama golf course that has staged a Ryder Cup, a Volvo Match Play, and many other big European Tournaments. This is another event that has recently returned to the European Tour, after being pulled after just two renewals in 2010 and 2011. Those were won by Graeme McDowell and Sergo Garcia, with Garcia again winning the event when it was reintroduced last season. Whether being host will affect Garcia this season remains to be seen, but he at least showed some of his old form and passion at the Ryder Cup after what has been a poor season by his high-standards.
WGC HSBC Champions (October 25-28)
The 2018 HSBC Champions stakes place at its usual home at Sheshan Golf Club, and it once again promises to be a thrilling event. Since its inception in 2009, it has been won by some of the world’s biggest names including Phil Mickleson, Sergio Garcia, Ian Poulter, Bubba Watson, Dustin Johnson, Hideki Matsuyama, and Justin Rose. That man Molinari has also recently committed to playing in the event and it’s interesting that he won it back in 2010 when nowhere near the player he is today. Meanwhile, Rory McIlroy has also pencilled the event into his schedule.
PGA Tour Tournaments in October
Safeway Open (October 4-7)
The Safeway Open kicks-off the 2018/19 PGA Tour and it takes place at the Silverado Resort & Spa in Napa Valley. The tournament dates back to 2007 and has been won by major champions Mike Weir and Jimmy Walker. However, the last two renewals have been won by Brendan Steele.
This year’s field looks quite weak, with Patrick Cantlay installed as favourite by most bookmakers. It looks a good opportunity for him, though he has no notable event-form. Therefore, it’s a bit of a surprise to see Brendan Steele available at 40/1 to complete an unprecedented hat-trick, though he does arrive here with no decent recent form to his name. Therefore, it’s easy to see why there’s been money around for the 2014 Champion Sang Moon Bae after his recent win.
CIMB Classic (October 11 – 14)
The PGA Tour heads to the TPC Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia again this year of ran event that was added to the PGA Tour schedule in 2013. Ryan Moore won the first two renewals, whilst Justin Thomas won the next two. Therefore, if that pattern continues, last year’s winner Pat Perez should be backed to follow up. However, it’s Justin Thomas’s form here that stands up to the closest scrutiny as he’s an amazing 60 under par for his 12 rounds of golf here.
Meanwhile, another player that took an instant liking to the course last year was Xander Schauffele and it’s likely he’ll have plenty to prove this season after being overlooked for Jim Furyk’s losing Ryder Cup team. Golf fans should also get a look at likeable veteran Ernie Els and Davis Love III.
CJ Cup @ Nine Bridges (October 18-21)
After last year’s inaugural CJ Cup proved a big success, the PGA Tour will also be returning to Jeju Island in South Korea this season for the second staging of the CJ Cup. Justin Thomas may have missed out on his hat-trick bid in the CIMB Classic, but he quickly made up for it by claiming the first prize here. This year, he’s likely to be joined by last season dual major winner Brooks Koepka and a host of other PGA Tour stars looking to get their hands on a share of a $9.25 million prize fund.
Sanderson Farm Championships (October 25-28)
Many of the PGA Tour’s top players will be heading to China this week for the WGS HSBC Champions, but that’s good news for those players that aren’t ranked high enough to get in that World Golf Championship. However, it has been a minefield for most punters in recent years with winners such as Woody Austin, Nick Taylor, Peter Malnati, Cody Gribble, and Ryan Armour not easy to predict.
With only the top-60 players on the Race to Dubai qualifying for the final three events in November, it could be worth a look at the Race to Dubai standings this week if you’re thinking of placing some golf bets. Meanwhile, it’s always worth a look at the golf world rankings to see who’s likely to be pressing for a place in the world’s top-50 and an all-important place at Augusta next April.
Five names outside the current top-60 in the Race to Dubai standings really stand out as we head into October. The three biggest names are Shane Lowry (65), Martin Kaymer (69), and Graeme McDowell (71). Interestingly, all three players have got good previous form at this week’s Alfred Dunhill Links Tournament, so there’s an obvious motivation for them to play well this week. The other two are the inform duo of Tom Lewis and Oliver Fisher who, again, have both posted decent finishes in the Alfred Dunhill Links before. Three big names that are currently in qualifying position that will be looking over their shoulders include Chris Paisley, Danny Willett, and Jordan Smith.
There’s also a trio of players that sit just outside the world’s top-50 that catch the eye due to their form in events at this time of the season. Brandt Snedeker often notches up an early win, whilst Pat Perez will be hoping to repeat his win in last year’s CIMB Classic. Meanwhile, Russell Know scored his biggest win in the WGC HSBC Champions two-years-ago.