Instead of any of those though, I’m looking much further down the list for my other selections. This drop in grade offers the ideal opportunity for a stream of capable outsiders still searching for their breakthrough European Tour win to add to previous success at the lower Challenge Tour level. Before I get to the last two picks, I should mention that Michael Lorenzo-Vera, Sam Little and Marcus Higley were all discarded from the original shortlist. In particular, Lorenzo-Vera will win sooner or later at this level.
Promising Scot RICHIE RAMSAY is preferred after an excellent rookie season. Ramsay was formerly the world’s leading amateur, largely due to winning the US Amateur Open. He also won a couple of times on the Challenge Tour, so I doubt he’ll struggle to cope with the pressure should a winning situation arise. None have as yet, hence the 80/1 odds, but Ramsay has regularly been on the fringes of contention. His problem all season has been an ability to convert birdie chances; a weakness that was shared by many players to have previously thrived at Fontana.
Something similar could probably be said about LEE SLATTERY, who is still searching for that elusive first title five years after topping the Challenge Tour rankings. Back then, he finished 2nd at Fontana and his two results here since the tournament’s status was elevated were respectable finishes of 33rd and 25th. Its only a few weeks since Slattery was impressing with 11th and 4th placed finishes in Sweden and the Czech Republic, so it would be no surprise to see the Englishman return to contention in this similarly low-grade affair.
AUSTRIAN OPEN preview
2.5pts ew MARKUS BRIER @ 20/1 (BET365, BLUESQ, EXPEKT)
2pts ew MARTIN ERLANDSSON @ 28/1 (PADDY POWER, SKYBET)
1.5pts ew IGNACIO GARRIDO @ 35/1 (BET365, BETFRED)
1pt ew RICHIE RAMSAY @ 80/1 (GENERAL, 90/1 STAN JAMES)
0.5pt ew LEE SLATTERY @ 100/1 (GENERAL)
LONG-TERM ALREADY ADVISED
RACE TO DUBAI
2.5pts ew ROSS FISHER @ 20/1
2.5pts ew PAUL CASEY @ 20/1
6pts win PAUL CASEY @ 8/1
1.5pts ew OLIVER WILSON @ 33/1
2008/2009 STATS: -142pts
2007/2008 STATS: +618pts