G-Mac represents the biggest threat to Kaymer’s ambitions, both this week and in terms of the Race to Dubai. He certainly knows how to play Valderrama, finishing eighth and fourth in the last two Volvo Masters. Moreover, even if McDowell’s rise hasn’t been quite as meteoric as the German’s, his status as US Open champion also illustrates the significant improvement made since last playing this course.
For all my incessant criticisms of Garcia, 33/1 is quite tempting at Valderrama. In nine visits, he’s only once missed the top seven, and been runner-up three times. There was nothing encouraging in last week’s missed cut on his home course, though.
Although he has gone well at Valderrama, losing a play-off to Tiger here in 2000, Jimenez’s longer term course record is pretty sparse, registering only two top 20s from his last ten visits. Nevertheless, he is impossible to write off after an excellent summer campaign.
The usual comments apply to Francesco, who has made the top 20 on his last two Valderrama visits and has the right sort of game for it. Finishing runner-up last time in Portugal was wholly predictable, as usual involving superb golf when there was no realistic hope of victory.
Dyson is first reserve should any of the picks withdraw. He was runner-up here in 2007, and has excellent recent form, registering three top sixes since bouncing back to form with 12th place at the USPGA.
Gonzo remains on the ‘avoid list’ after again floundering in contention over the weekend. He’s failed to make the top 20 on four previous visits, and backers might want to close their eyes every time he addresses a short-putt on these murderous greens.
Placed 30th was a decent follow-up to Green’s victory in Portugal, and he again rates a strong candidate around a course that suits his accurate style. Green already has four top-15 finishes to his name at Valderrama.
Kjeldsen offered precious little carrying our cash last week, but warrants consideration here as he is something of a course specialist. He won the last Volvo Masters title easily, and was also runner-up in 2007.
After two disappointing efforts since his Ryder Cup debut, Edoardo makes his Valderrama debut. That point alone is a negative on a course that takes some learning.
Given the historical significance of 17-year-old Manassero’s maiden victory, it would surely be asking too much for him to win back-to-back. Nevertheless, he ticks the right boxes in terms of accuracy and putting confidence.
Last week’s runner-up could appeal to those looking for an in-form Spaniard to capitalise on home advantage. A best of 34th from four Valderrama attempts is less encouraging.
I’ve mentioned Luiten a few times over the season, and consecutive top-threes appear to vindicate that interest. Luiten has solid gir and scrambling stats, but this will be his course debut and in any case, all the value has disappeared from his odds.
Quiros was well beaten on his course debut, but did improve with each round, closing with 69. He is hard to fancy, however, after an awful display on the greens last time, when presented with an ideal layout.
Parry’s outstanding run continued at the weekend with his sixth straight top 25, four of which have involved winning or strongly contending. He’s another course debutant who will need to learn Valderrama’s secrets fast.
As a very accurate driver in great form, finishing top six in both events over the last fortnight, Lawrie must be considered. He will need to improve vastly on three previous attempts, however, that yielded a best result of just 39th in fields of no more than 60.
2010 STATS: +49pts
LONG-TERM ALREADY ADVISED
5pts MARTIN KAYMER TO WIN THE RACE TO DUBAI @ 9/1
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