After 3 weeks off the European Tour returns on Thursday with the Open de Espana, an event with a great history, which includes being the inaugural European Tour Event back in the 1972. A strong field has assembled this week, and as you might imagine on home soil there is a significant Spanish contingent, led by Masters round 1 leader and previous Open de Espana winner Sergio Garcia, along with Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano.
The Parador de El Saler golf course in Valencia, returns as host venue this year – it measures 6,945 yards and has hosted 3 Spanish opens previously along with the 2003 Seve Trophy and the 1993 Turespaña Open Mediterránea . The course has a links; feel but has small, firm and undulating greens – this combined with a forecast suggesting significant winds on Friday and Sunday will make the course a real test despite its lack of length; the second cut of rough is also up at 7 cms so it will be a real advantage to hit the fairways. A combination of a look at the profile of the previous course winners here (Langer twice, Karlsson and Nobilo) and the course characteristics points us towards accurate players , who can hit a variety of shots to deal with both the wind and tricky layout.
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Pablo Larrazabal– 22/1 EW
A fantastic shot maker in the wind, Pablo has been in excellent form as of late finishing 4th and 6th in his last 2 outings, he should enjoy the challenge of creating shots in the wind and is hitting plenty of greens in regulation the season to date (ranked 22nd on tour this season to date). Seems to be putting much better of late, finishing T15th in putting in his recent 4th place finish in Morocco, unlike Garcia, Castano he should be well rested coming into event.
Peter Uihlen– 40/1 EW
Really impressive form this season for Uihlen who has top 20 finishes on both European and US tours to date this season. This form is no fluke with some impressive statistics in place to back his excellent form, ranking 35th in GIR and 57th in average putts on the European tour so far this season, his performances across the globe suggest he has the ability to perform in a variety of conditions and that could be an asset in the changeable conditions this week.
Stephen Webster– 50/1 EW
11th last time out in Morocco with closing rounds of 69-68 at the weekend suggests a return to his early season form, still sits second in GIR on the European tour this season, ranked a fairly terrible 193rd in average putts but unlikely but he is hitting so many GIR this statistic is not telling the full story. Must have putted reasonably well at the weekend in Morocco to shoot 69-68 on those treacherous greens, and his ball striking was mightily impressive (Tied 1st in GIR in Morocco).
Paul Casey– 50/1 EW
Poor recent form but Casey should enjoy this challenge, a shot maker who has is ranked 11th in GIR on the tour this season to date. Far too classy a player to be 50/1 in this field and surely he must return to form soon, he has paid the price for some off course decision that have led to a number of injuries over the years, but a tough test where his ball striking could come to the fore might just bring him back to life.
Julien Quesne – 50/1 EW
3 top 10’s already this season including T9th last time out, he finished T9th in GIR and T20th in putting average in that event. His one win on tour last year was in Spain, at the 2012 Open de Andalucía Costa del Sol and clearly enjoys the ball strikers courses, the price just seems too big for a tour winner who is in good form and fits the course very nicely – 63rd in GIR on tour this season and 99th in average putts, but with his previous win in Spain I very much like the price.
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