Though Celtic Manor has been hosting the Wales Open for the last decade, it was only last year that the 2010 Ryder Cup course got its first sighting. Designed by Robert Trent Jones Jnr, the ‘Twenty Ten’ course passed its first test with flying colours, and appears to have the ideal risk-reward combination for the Ryder Cup; a constant supply of birdie opportunities along with numerous hazards to penalise errors.
 
The venue’s reputation for low scoring was also maintained, with Scott Strange winning on -22, though the fact he was eight shots ahead of the 3rd placed player slightly overstates the course’s easy nature. The upper echelons of the leaderboard contained a fair mix of favourites, such as the luckless Robert Karlsson in 2nd, and rank outsiders such as Benn Barham in 5th. Analysis of the stats suggest the key disciplines were greens in regulation and putting average, along with par-5 performance. Plenty of birdies will be required in order to challenge.
 
Every week, I try to assess the merits of the obvious contenders, less on the basis of whether they can win or not, (because of course they are all capable of winning), rather than whether their odds represent ‘value’. Generally, I hate taking short prices and hate betting win only, but only in very rare circumstances would I consider an each-way golf bet at less than 14/1. So this week’s favourite, ROSS FISHER, presents the classic dilemma as a 12/1 chance. In truth, he’s not consistent enough to justify any sort of short-odds each-way bet, but I do rate him far the likeliest winner in what is only an ordinary field.
 
From the start of the season, I’ve been expecting big things of Fisher, who was as good as anyone in Europe over the last six months of 2008. Results have been mixed, though sometimes understandably so as Fisher takes his first steps on the PGA Tour, and on occasion they’ve been outstanding. He was superb in reaching the semis at the world matchplay, and his penultimate effort on home turf at Wentworth rates one of the best performances of the year, even in defeat. Though ultimately going down to Paul Casey at his best, Fisher was clear of the 3rd and certainly did nothing wrong on Sunday. As at Wentworth, he may well murder the par-5s here and having finished 10th on this course last year, looks bound to feature over the weekend.