Nobody could argue about Molinari’s right to favouritism after finishing 14th at Doral, following on from other lucrative performances in elite events. Whether that makes him a good bet at 16/1, though, is an entirely different matter. I couldn’t even consider it, given his terrible conversion ratio and failure to win since that sole success on home soil in 2006.
It would be no surprise to see Oosthuisen take inspiration from his young compatriot and rival Charl Schwartzel’s heroics at Doral. Recent form is exemplary, with fifth place in Abu Dhabi followed by a top 15 in Qatar and a pair of further top threes on the Sunshine Tour.
Noren remains high on my list of players to follow in 2010, and his best would surely be enough against this moderate field. However, he struggled in the Gulf and couldn’t practice last week due to a finger injury.
Danny has been another regular pick over the past year, and there can be no complaints as he’s paid his way with places, despite a habit of finding disaster at the most critical moments. I’m not sure this positional course is ideal, though.
As an excellent scrambler, this course should suit Clarke down to the ground. His form is pretty good, with eighth on his penultimate start and second at the Joburg Open.
After top-six finishes on two of his last four starts, Davies must come into consideration, even if the bookies seem to have his measure.
Should any of the selections withdraw, Fasth is first reserve. Top tens amongst high-class fields in Qatar and Singapore suggest this once top-class player is on the way back.
Nick has generally been in the doledrums recently, but did win an event last year, proving he’s always worth keeping an eye on at big prices.
Liang again performed well in a big international event with 30th at Doral last week, and is worth considering at 50/1 on that basis. His weak putting could be less of a disadvantage here, too.
Levet would appear the ideal accurate type for this course, as illustrated by fourth in the 2001 Moroccan Open. Recent form is ordinary, but the Frenchman is always dangerous at this level.
Wall is very consistent, and his long-term greens in regulation stats suggest another high finish, but the Englishman has a truly awful conversion ratio.
Prior to missing his last cut, GM’s touring professional had made seven on the spin and registered a top 20 in Qatar. He is well capable in a weak field like this, if taking to the course.
Horsey looks another first-time winner in waiting, and rates a massive candidate on the basis of consecutive top 20s in all three Gulf Swing events.
Hedblom won his first title here way back in 1996, and remains a capable if inconsistent performer. He also won on another par-73, Gleneagles, last summer.
Jamie probably deserves his 80/1 quote after disastrous efforts on his last two starts, but had previously looked a very plausible first-time winner. The Welshman showed marked improvement in 2010, and has the right scrambling skills for this layout.