After missing out on the inaugural Race to Dubai schedule, one of the European Tour’s most famous venues returns to host this new tournament. Valderrama was of course the long-term host of the lucrative money list finale, the Volvo Masters, before last year’s switch to Dubai. The key difference is that whereas the Volvo Masters was an elite event for Europe’s leading 60 players, this is no more competitive than the usual weekly fare.

The principal interest this week concerns runaway Race to Dubai leader Martin Kaymer, who is bidding for his fourth consecutive victory in proper tournaments (excluding last week’s four-man 36-hole Grand Slam of Golf). Furthermore, if Kaymer finishes in a tie for second with one player, he will take over from Tiger Woods as world number one.

Andalucia Valderrama Masters golf betting guide

Valderrama is renowned as one of the toughest courses in Europe, presenting a test that many otherwise decent players simply never come to terms with. A tree-lined, undulating layout with numerous strategically placed hazards demands long-game accuracy, while brutal greens place a particularly strong emphasis on a high-class short-game. That combination tends to favour the very best players, as illustrated by previous results here.

Of the 46 top-five places registered this century at Valderrama, 21 went to Ryder Cup players and 11 to either past or future Major champions. We have seen outsiders win here, but given the elite nature of those events, the likes of Soren Kjeldsen and Jeev Milkha Singh can hardly be described as unpickable. Greens in regulation and scrambling have tended to be the most pivotal stats.

Betting selections 

8pts win MARTIN KAYMER @ 13/2 (GENERAL)

Regular readers will know I’m generally loathe to back short-priced favourites, but Kaymer’s case is too strong to ignore. Irrespective of the vast progress he’s made recently, he was already in the notebook for this tournament, on the basis of two hugely promising performances in 2007 and 2008. Kaymer was sixth and second in those two Volvo Masters, around a course that favours experience, and is a far better all-round player now. Doubtless, this streak can’t last forever but both his wins since the USPGA were comprehensive and basically flawless. If maintaining that level of form, he is certain to contend in an event which usually boils down to two or three candidates separated from the rest, at which point even these reduced odds would represent value.

2.5pts ew ROSS FISHER @ 20/1 (GENERAL)

Again, in backing Fisher I’m expecting his class to pay dividends against a mediocre field, two thirds of whom are easily written off. Fisher made the top 15 on both previous visits, and again has made strong headway on the wider world scene in the two years since. He’s tended to ruin recent chances with one poor round, but his long-game form is rock solid.

2pts ew PETER HANSON @ 28/1 (GENERAL)

Hanson was instantly forgiven a rare failure at the Dunhill Links, as it came immediately after his Ryder Cup debut. Assuming he returns to his previous stellar form, which has yielded two titles in easily his best ever season, Hanson must rate a very strong candidate. He was fourth, as a nobody on his course debut, in 2004 and registered top 15 on his last two Valderrama outings.

1pt ew ALEJANDRO CANIZARES @ 55/1 (SKYBET, TOTE)

Canizares is interesting after showing his best form for a while at Castellon, registering some particularly impressive gir stats over the weekend to finish 13th. Remember, up until the final round of the Open, he was playing as well as anyone in Europe and had done everything but win a title. This home favourite ticks the right stats boxes too.

0.5pt ew THOMAS LEVET @ 125/1 (GENERAL, 140/1 BET365)

This is a huge week for the former Ryder Cup star and Open runner-up, who is currently six places below safety in 121st place on the Race to Dubai. Consecutive top 20s last month in France and Scotland suggested he’d grasped the urgency of the situation, so it would be no surprise to see Levet bounce back on a course that has always appeared to suit his accurate style and good scrambling. Thomas was 13th on his 2002 course debut, and went well for the first two rounds in 2008.