Malnati a Capital pick in Wichita

The Tour returns to action with a long established event the Air Capital Classic, one of the original events it started in 1990 and for many years was the Wichita Open. Whilst the course used has always been the Crestview CC in Wichita. Winner in his first ever Tour event last year was Sebastian Cappelen. It starts fairly soon and will be underway at 12pm UK Time on Thursday 25th June.

The Course

There are two courses at the Crestview CC and it is the north course that is used for this event. It's a parkland course that works it's way through tree-lined fairways and around 3 or 4 lakes which affect 11 of the 18 holes. Another course this week under 7,000 yards at 6,959 and last year played as a par 70 after 11 years as a par 71, with no par 5's on the back 9.
The winners of event here have been:
Year Player Score Players Under Par Winning Margin
Sebastian Cappelen
Scott Parel
Casey Wittenberg
Mathew Goggin
Jhonattan Vegas
Chris Tidland
Scott Piercy
Brad Elder
Kevin Johnson
Joe Daley
Bradley Hughes
The same winning score of 18 under par for the last four years, although the average score has varied over that time with 70.78 in 2013, the highest since 2002 which is the period I've looked at, and 69.60 last year. Overall though quite easy scoring.

The Contenders

Winning on his debut here means Dane Sebastian Cappelen has the perfect record here. He shot a pair of 66's which sandwiched a pair of 65's in between, giving him an average round of 65.50 which is a shot and a half better than the next best, and one of thirteen to have all rounds under par, although that does include those that did miss the cut. Apart from his win and an 11th & 6th a few weeks later he has generally struggled. Whilst recently he has missed 4 of his last 6 cuts, although one of them was last week at Chambers Bay when he shot a second round 85. He had been 18th the week before at the Rust-Oleum Championship which was his best performance, but missed the cut at the Greater Dallas Open, 55th at the Rex Hospital Open and missed the two cuts prior to that.
Also making his debut here last year was Rod Pampling and he finished 10th, 6 shots behind Cappelen after a pair of 68's to start, then matched his 65 and a 67 to close. He has the 2nd best average round at 67.00 and all four rounds under par. Dominated the BMW Charity Open to pick up his first win since the 2008 Australian Masters. Followed that with 22nd at the AT&T Byron Nelson on the main tour, but then missed the cut at the Greater Dallas Open and then the Fedex St Jude Classic on the main tour. Whilst form before the win wasn't great either with 71st in Louisiana and missed cuts at the Valspar & Arnold Palmer Invitational on the main tour.
Twenty eight of the ninety seven who have played here before missed the cut in their only previous visit or visits here and one of those is the favourite for this week and current Order of Merit leader Patton Kizzire. He played back in 2009 having turned pro the year before and it was one of five events that year he played missing all five cuts, shooting 73, 76 here to miss the cut by 10 shots, an average round of 74.50 which is 95th of th 97 who have played here before. But he's come a long way since then and has been in excellent form this year with seven top 10's in twelve events. He was 2nd in Mexico and again in the Rex Hospital Open, with 5th & 10th in between, did drop off in Dallas when 33rd before bouncing back in the last event a couple of weeks ago with 3rd at the Rust-Oleum Championship.
The second favourite this week also has one appearance here when Peter Malnati finished 15th two years ago in his first full year on tour. He opened well with a 68 & 67 before a weekend pair of 70's dropped him down a little. He's now number two in the Order of Merit and starting to find some form again after his early season win in Brazil. Followed his win with a missed cut in Chile, before an ok run of 16th, 8th & 14th, dropping to 41st at the BMW Charity Pro-am. It's been an improving run since then with 30th at the Rex Hospital, 12th at the Greater Dallas Open and 5th in the last event two weeks ago.
One of those with several visits here is Aaron Watkins who has played here seven times in the past. Only one top ten when 6th in 2011 but has four more top 25 finishes with 22nd & 14th in the last two years. Also 13th in his first year on tour in 2007 and 11th in 2008 when he played just three events having lost his card the year before. Returned to the tour in 09 and played here again in 2010 when 62nd, 6th in 2011 and a missed cut in 2012 round out his performances, giving him an average round of 68.46 which is 11th best in the field and 81% (21/26) rounds under par which is 18th best in the field but 12 of those ahead have just one appearance.
My pick in the last event was Michael Kim and he duly obliged with a 3rd place finish, which followed 8th the previous week in Dallas. That was an improvement on his run before that having been 18th at the United Leasing Championship, 26th at the BMW Charity Pro-am and 51st at the Rex Hospital Open. Played here last year and missed the cut three after rounds of 70 & 71.
A few in the field played at the US Open last week and the notable contender there was Jamie Lovemark who finished 18th after two rounds of 70 sandwiched a 68 and a poor 75. That continued his good run of form with 8th at the Rust-Oleum and 14th in Dallas in the two weeks prior, mind you 75th & two missed cuts before that was not inspiring form. Typical I write that & then notice he's not actually playing, but good form something to note for coming weeks.
In his last two visits here Matt Weibring has been 11th & 2nd, a few years between those with the 11th in 2011 and runner up last year. Whilst before that he played in 2007 & 2006 missing the cut on both occasions, 9th in 2005 and 38th in 2003. Those three god results help him to an average round of 68.65 which is 15th best and 75% (15/20) rounds under par. Concern would be his form, and ability, and he's managed no more than 3 top 10's per year in the last 7 years, and missing 50% of cuts in most years. One of those missed cuts was last time out at the Rust-Oleum ,but he had been 8th the week before in Dallas, 45th & another missed cut before that.

My Selection

Staying with Michael Kim is tempting as he is in good form and should improve from his missed cut last year, but I think for me Peter Malnati just pips it as he too is in good, and improving form, and also did well in his previous visit here in 2013.