Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Open de Espana 2014 - Catalunya Golf Resort

The European Tour heads back to mainland Europe this week as the summer season hots up with the Open de Espana where it returns to the PGA Catalunya Resort for the first time since 2009 where Thomas Levet prevailed. Located near Barcelona, this is a top course measuring just over 7300 yards and will prove to be real test this week. The tournament will see many of its home players compete and Sergio Garcia will no doubt tee off the hot favourite to win following an excellent effort at Sawgrass at the weekend. Indeed, Sergio has been involved quite extensively in a  junior golf academy at the resort so he’ll be very keen to emerge victorious this week as he always is when competing for his National Open. This week's event will be welcomed by many fans and players following last week's disappointing event at Madeira, which sadly ended in tragedy with the passing of Alastair Forysth's caddy whilst out on the course. The event never really got going last week with all the fog delays having reduced the event to 36 holes, so it was a shame that the opportunity wasn't taken to cancel it in respect of Iain MacGregor. From a betting perspective, it was a wise move not to get involved hence no preview on the site last week. Anyhow, the tour rolls on and we will have some live TV (hopefully) this week to keep us entertained.

The One to Beat

Sergio will undoubtedly be the one they all have to beat this week but the home contingent can compete quite strongly as well, where recently married Miguel Angel Jiminez and Pablo Larrazabal lead the charge. Sergio arrives on the back of a 3rd place at Sawgrass and will be bidding to add his second National Title, the last having come back in 2002. He’s in form and the one they have to beat but @ 5/1 he's too short to back with real conviction. Apart from his compatriots there are many others that can give us a shout at decent prices.

The Contenders

French and Scandanvian players have had an incredible amount of success at this event over the recent years and they have strong challengers to contend again this time round. French players are finding inspiration off each lately so don’t be surprised to see another win again soon. They’ve had three winners in the past 10 years and could have a good shout in the shape of Gregory Bourdy, Alex Levy and Julien Quesne again. Raphael Jacquelin defends this week too.Bourdy was 8th on this course back in 2009, although the course has undergone renovations since, he’ll have fond memories to back up consistent play of late where he has pocketed 4 TOP20s in his last 4 starts. I thought he'd be a decent price here but he's not @ 33/1 for me.  We’ve had five Scandanvian winners the last 16 years and Thomas Bjorn was one of those and he’ll be smarting following a missed cut in Florida the weekend. Thomas is a value bet this week @ 28/1 and returning to European action ignite his game and of the leading contenders this week it may pay to keep an eye on him over Francesco Molianri who has been simmering quite a bit of late. The Italian finished 6th at The Players to add to his TOP5 three weeks ago and whilst he was earmarked to do well here I'm not so sure he's worth backing @ 14/1

George Coetzee has got his maiden win on the European Tour under his belt, and he should be refreshed and ready to go again on European soil. He’s well rested and has the game for Catalunya where he finished 16th in 2009 and @ 40/1 or better is available, he’s worth a punt.

The event will also see a lot players hoping to re-establish some form, notably the return to action of Swede Alex Noren following wrist injury as well as Ryder Cup start Nicolas Colsaerts. Paul Lawrie also returns and Ireland’s Shane Lowry will be anxious to get going and Catalunya is a course that should suit, but its another home player at big odds that I can see putting a good tournament together and that’s Adrian Otaegui. The 21 year old has a solid amateur career behind him and has appeared on leaderboards a couple of times already this season and is worth a small each way punt or TOP10/20.

Andy Sullivan has been very consistent this season too and he has course form having played the Qualifying School here in recent years.  3 TOP10s in his last 7 starts, including 2 TOP5s augur well and the 80/1 is simply too good to pass up on.

Regular readers and followers of mine on twitter will know that there are three golfers that I've followed and backed quite regularly over the years. All three of those have won this year. Aiken, Fisher & last week's Players Champion, Martin Kaymer. I'm still smarting from not getting involved with 80/1 Kaymer last week and I simply cannot pass up on Ross Fisher @ 66/1 again this week. Ross comes into form around this time of year and back in Europe on a course where good tee to green game is required will suit and he's added to the staking plan. So too does Thomas Aiken (not on original shortlist) as price just too good to pass up on @ 70/1. Sometimes it simply pays to keep the faith with players that you know can win any given week at a decent price and I'd hate to miss out two weeks in a row.

Staking Plan (10 pts)

1 pt e/w T.Bjorn @ 28/1
1 pt e/w G.Coetzee @ 40/1
0.5 pts e/w A.Sullivan @ 80/1
0.50 pts e/w R.Fisher @ 66/1
0.5 pts e/w T.Aiken @ 70/1
0.25 pts e/w A.Otaegui @ 150/1
2.5 pts TOP 20 A.Otaegui @ 6/1

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