Those stats might suggest backing a series of outsiders, but I can’t see how anybody could have picked Larrazabal and co. Instead, at 40/1 and 50/1 respectively, the best value may lie with FRANCESCO MOLINARI and JEEV MILKHA SINGH. Neither has yet challenged seriously on this course, but 13th and 12th respectively last year was no disgrace. Tee to green accuracy is always the key to success at Le Golf National, which must bring Molinari into the equation, especially after an excellent top-30 on his US Open debut. As always with this Italian, the concern is that he doesn’t know how to finish the job when in contention, but 40/1 represents at least each-way value, and that barren three year run without a title will surely end sooner rather than later.
There’s absolutely no worries on that score about Singh, whose odds this week are an insult. This is a guy who improved significantly to win four titles in 2008 and challenged for many more; who prior to the US Open had registered consecutive top-6 finishes. I cannot see any argument as to how Jeev can be twice the odds of say, Kjeldsen. He looks a serious contender every time he tees it up on the European Tour and certainly no 50/1 chance.
Now for the usual list of others who were confidently left out of the staking plan. Several stars have rarely or never prospered on this course; namely Miguel-Angel Jiminez with only one top-10 from eight, Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano whose best from four is just 48th and Louis Oosthuisen whose best from the same number of attempts is 26th. Scandinavian quartet Peter Hanson, Johan Edfors, Niclas Fasth and Alex Noren can boast a best of just 21st from thirteen attempts between them. Anthony Wall, usually a model of consistency even if he never wins, has never bettered 40th in nine visits to Paris. The home contingent look every bit as weak. For reasons that completely escape me, Thomas Levet and Raphael Jacquelin have just two top-20s and no top-10s from 20 attempts between them in their national Open.
There are, however, numerous candidates at both ends of the market who are feared despite being left out of the portfolio. Lee Westwood has twice made the top-6 here, but looks too short at the same odds as Poulter and Hansen, who have both been markedly superior in 2009. Martin Kaymer made the top-10 in his rookie year and remains a threat even if his 2009 form has taken a dip for now. Both Charl Schwartzel and Danny Willett have some form here, the latter before he even turned pro, and strike me as very plausible winners over the next few months.