Two months after beginning a self-imposed exile from golf to recharge his batteries, Garcia is back for the tournament he hosts at his home course. Despite the lack of a single top ten this year, bookies have run scared of the home advantage factor and installed Sergio as favourite. Having won the title in 2008 and finished fourth last year, he clearly warrants respect, but given the state of his game during the summer, Garcia remains an extremely risky betting proposition.
Without taking anything away from Sunday’s heroics, a return of four titles in 14 years doesn’t suggest Green is the likeliest back-to-back winner. There must be a suspicion that he won last week by the only means he can; by posting an early target when the pressure is off. Even then, his finish was far from flawless.
Last week’s runner-up must have come away thinking what might have been, after several characteristic disasters on the greens. Still, Gonzo’s long-game must be in great nick to finish second in spite of the crisis in that area of his game. Neither previous outing on this course offered much promise though.
With top 15s on three of his last four, Wilson is clearly in good form, but even his supporters are beginning to wonder whether he’ll ever land that elusive first title, having finished runner-up on nine occasions. Presented with another good opportunity last week in Portugal, Oliver was far from convincing.
Parry was also in the mix going into Sunday, but couldn’t quite make the frame for the third week in a row. Nevertheless, that was his fifth straight top 25, and his performances in Austria and Scotland prove he isn’t afraid to get the job done.
The ever-consistent Bourdy has now made 19 straight cuts, and the top 25 on four of his last five. He hasn’t contended very often during that spell though, and was well beaten on this course in 2008.
Garrido always warrants respect in his homeland, and last week’s top ten was his best result since May. Finishes of 33rd and 15th were respectable returns from his two previous visits.
After consecutive top tens, making it six top 25s from his last nine events, Boyd is making big progress and could well win his breakthrough title before the year is out.
Gallacher has enjoyed his most consistent summer yet, registering eight top 20s in the last five months, so should have high hopes on a course where he was ninth last year.
Horsey made the shortlist as he seems the type to enjoy a birdie-fest. He made the top 20 here during last year’s rookie campaign, finished fourth recently in the KLM Open, and hit a couple of good rounds in Portugal last week.
Earlier in the season, Jaidee looked to be closer to reproducing his best Asian form in Europe than ever. Most recent starts have been in much stronger company, and he could be an interesting candidate as we approach Dubai, especially after last week’s top ten.
I was deterred from backing Jacquelin by his missed cut here in 2008, but still suspect this is a very suitable course. He can usually be found near the top of the putting stats, and has an excellent record in the region.
Lara’s best recent form, winning the Austrian Open and finishing fourth in Holland, entitles him to respect as one of the leading home candidates. He’s failed on both previous visits to Castellon, though.
Sunday’s strong finish to share second reminded Euro Tour viewers of Luiten’s fine potential, that was once mentioned in the same breath as the McIlroys and Kaymers of this world. Forget last year’s 48th place, as he was struggling to find his form after an injury lay-off.
Sixth place in Portugal was Lawrie’s third top ten in seven starts, although last year’s missed cut rather dampens any enthusiasm.
2010 STATS: +11pts
LONG-TERM ALREADY ADVISED
5pts MARTIN KAYMER TO WIN THE RACE TO DUBAI @ 9/1