MARTIN ERLANDSSON must be considered extremely unlucky to still be without a win at this level after finishing second at Gleneagles on his penultimate start. When he posted that 62 for the clubhouse lead I felt the Swede was sure to be rewarded with at least a play-off, but Peter Hedblom held his nerve very well to deny his compatriot. That was Erlandsson’s second top-4 in a few weeks and fourth consecutive top-25, leaving the strong impression that he was ready to move his career up a level. He must fancy his chances at Fontana this week, having already made the top-10 in three of four previous visits, including 3rd last year.
Bradley Dredge will doubtless have his supporters, as the Welshman represents a touch of class compared to most of the opposition. However, I can’t help but feel that his odds have been cut too far as a consequence of 2nd last time out at Crans. That Swiss venue is probably Dredge’s favourite in the world, and he’s by no means certain to maintain that level of performance on his Fontana debut. Perhaps a likelier threat on his course debut is Alex Cejka, who made the top-10 last week and has snippets of PGA Tour form that would blow this weak opposition away.
IGNACIO GARRIDO missed the cut here last year, but is in much better form this time around with three top-11s on his last four starts. The experienced Spaniard has been consistently hitting a high percentage of greens in regulation this summer, and that should bode particularly well around Fontana. The key feature of this course is its large, undulating, tricky greens; that tend to bamboozle even the very best putters and as a consequence, those who struggle to convert their share of birdie chances are much less disadvantaged than usual. Such a failure to convert chances has been the story of Garrido’s season.
A case of sorts could be made for several other characters around this 33/1 mark. The ever frustrating Nick Dougherty could overpower this opposition on his best, though last week’s typically erratic performance on one of his favourite courses doesn’t exactly inspire confidence. Thomas Levet should love the emphasis on greens in regulation, and fellow Frenchmen Raphael Jacquelin and Gregory Havret are both well capable of winning at this level. Paul Lawrie showed further signs last week that he is in his best form for some years, and is another who will feel less disadvantaged than usual by those tricky greens. Danny Lee looks a quite outstanding prospect and is bound be winning a second title before long.