This week’s European Tour event comes from Seville and the Open de Espana is in the spotlight as the Tour returns to mainland Europe. The tournament will be played over the Real Club de Golf de Sevilla, and the Andalucian venue has already hosted the event in 2008, as well as last year’s Andalucian Open and the World Cup of Golf.
The course itself isn’t overly long by today’s standards, measuring in at just over 7000yards, meaning emphasis should be on driving accuracy rather than distance. Thick rough around the course adds an extra hazard to the course following an extremely wet spring across the region but with conditions in Andalucia likely to be warm and sunny, there could be some low scores.
A strong field has assembled for the event, in which Frenchman Thomas Levet will be defending his title while the only recent tournament favourite to have won is Sergio Garcia.
Bidding to buck that trend is Italy’s Francesco Molinari. It might be four years since he last won a Tour event, but the World Cup winner has been playing exceptionally well in 2010 and a return to winning ways surely can’t be far away. Francesco has skipped both the Far East tournaments so arrives here fresh, and his most recent European Tour appearance – in the Andalucian Open – saw him tie for fourth, before he made his US Masters debut. There he finished in a tie for 30th place and he should go well back on the course where he won the World Cup for Italy with his brother Edoardo. He has been installed as 14/1 favourite by bookmakers which clearly reflects his chances here, and with the Italian Open due next week he’ll be hoping to play well.
Edoardo must also be given a solid chance of taking top honours, having played to a comparative level of form as his brother. A winner of three titles in 2009 as well as that World Cup success, Edoardo’s penultimate start resulted in a second place finish at the prestigious Arnold Palmer Invitational, yet his price is almost double that of his brother. Of the two, he’s the more attractive proposition.
Home player, Ignatio Garrido can usually be relied upon to deliver a solid performance and the Spaniard finished runner up here, beaten by a single shot, in 2008. Garrido’s game is all about accuracy so the course should suit, while his recent performances – which has seen him record top-25 finishes in each of his last four tournaments – should see him among the challengers again at around 33/1.
Last year’s Andalucian Open winner Soren Kjeldsen holds strong claims, and with the emphasis firmly on accuracy should give a good account. Kjeldsen boasts some strong recent form on the PGA Tour in better company than he’ll face in this event as shown by his sixth-place finish in the WGC-CA Championship, as well as good performances at both Redstone and Augusta National. Has the potential to blitz this field at around the 18/1 mark.
David Drysdale is one of the European Tour’s most accurate drivers and the Scot was runner up on this course last year in the Andalucia Open. Drysdale seems to enjoy playing under the Spanish sunshine, having also finished third in last October’s Madrid Masters and his ballpark price of around 80/1 looks too big to ignore.
At a similar price, Richard Finch also looks overpriced based on his current form. Twice a runner up in his last five events, Finch finished in the top ten over this course on his only previous visit and is another player who should enjoy the course.
I’m loathe to desert Johan Edfors, who after two solid performances in his last two tournaments, should continue to challenge. The one concern I have over the Swede is that both those tournaments came in less than ideal conditions and I’m not sure if that form will stand up in the likely warmer climes. He also missed the cut the last time he played over this course.
The classy Alvaro Quiros is a danger to all in this field, but I have a sneaky suspicion his sometimes-wayward driving will derail the Spaniard’s challenge; a similar comment which can be applied to Alex Noren.
Selection: Edoardo Molinari
Savers: Soren Kjeldsen, David Drysdale