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Their motivations are different. Stenson has altered his schedule to cut down on those gruelling Stateside visits, and despite failing to win so far in 2008, still harbours Order of Merit ambitions. As for Rose, he’s the most high-profile of several potential Ryder Cup candidates on show, seeking to use the last two qualifying events to boost their claims.

This pair take star billing, but I’m not convinced either will emerge triumphant at Kennemer G.C. Hosting the event for the third year in a row, Kennemer’s par-70 is extremely short by modern standards. This seaside course shares many characteristics with last week’s Swedish venue, with accuracy and ability to play in the wind the most important attributes.

Will this suit a big hitter like Stenson? Prior to the Open I would have comprehensively said ‘No’, but 3rd and 4th in the two recent Majors show he is more than just a big-hitting target golfer and starting to make his presence felt in the strongest company. A win here would improve our long-term Order of Merit position on the Swede so he’s worth cheering on even though 10/1 this week makes no appeal.

Rose is very hard to weigh up. Prior to the USPGA, I wouldn’t have backed him anywhere in the world on 2008 form. However, Justin did play much better to make the top-10 at Oakland Hills, and at his best would be ideally suited to Kennemer. Ultimately though in betting, the odds are the key and 12/1 is still way too short for a very infrequent winner. I’d need to see more evidence that the return to form is permanent before parting with cash.

Next in the betting are emerging superstars Martin Kaymer and defending champion Ross Fisher. Kaymer is right on the cusp of the Ryder Cup side, and played much better over the weekend. The German rates a very strong contender, if a little short at just over 20/1. Fisher is also worthy of the utmost respect after a brilliant show here last year and is only overlooked because of my usual reluctance to back defending champions.

Rather like last week’s similar event then, I’m looking further down the list in search of some each-way value. As this is effectively a links course, DARREN CLARKE rates a top bet at 40/1. He’s not going to make the Ryder Cup side automatically, but if it were down to me, Clarke would be the first choice wild-card pick for Valhalla. His form and more importantly, his enthusiasm, has been a revelation all year and Europe will be weaker without him. Few if any of these are better in linksy, windy conditions than Clarke and his long game stats suggest everything is in place for a big run.

Another former Ryder Cup hero still searching for that late boost is PAUL MCGINLEY. He just missed a place payout for us in Sweden, but confirmed that he’s in good form at the moment with a top-10 finish. His final round 69 was a particularly good effort in driving wind and rain, suggesting the Irishman will relish the strong gusts coming in off the North Sea at Kennemer.

DAVID LYNN hit the same score in Sunday’s tough conditions, a timely return to form ahead of his favourite tournament of the year. Though generally a consistent Euro Tour player who makes his share of top-20 finishes, I doubt I’d back Lynn in any other country than Holland because he’s always looked a dodgy finisher. He loves the Dutch Open though, winning in 2004 and never finishing lower than 18th place. Since the event moved to Kennemer, he’s finished 12th and 7th.

Nick Dougherty is another who could come into it after a return to form in Sweden. Fair play to Dougherty for fighting back to share second place there after suffering back spasms on the final day, though this problem is hardly cause for encouragement. I’d still rather have him than fellow Ryder Cup candidate Oliver Wilson though, who has gone off the boil after such an impressive early season.

Of the other sub-50/1 chances, Alastair Forsyth could come into the argument after a career best of 9th in the USPGA. He will love conditions and has finished 3rd on the course previously, but his 33/1 odds are too short considering his form going into Oakland Hills was poor. Ultra-accurate Soren Kjeldsen looks bound to be there or thereabouts, but showed in Sweden once again that he is simply awful when it comes to closing out tournaments. I wouldn’t be shocked if recent selections Thomas Levet or Soren Hansen came up trumps this week.

My other three selections are all at least 80/1. Firstly, JOHN BICKERTON looks a likely contender on a course that is tailor-made for his accurate game. He finished 12th here last year, and would have strong claims if returning to the form shown in June when making consecutive top-7 finishes. A second round 68 in Sweden showed that, despite missing the cut, there’s nothing seriously wrong with his game.

Accurate driving will be essential for good position on Kennemer’s undulating fairways. DAMIEN MCGRANE drove the ball very well for a mid-division finish in Sweden, and could improve now on a course where he’s prospered before. Two years ago, McGrane took a three-shot lead into the final day only to stall in pursuit of his maiden victory. Having got that monkey off his back at this year’s China Open, the Irishman should cope better the next time such an opportunity arises.

Other outsiders that made the shortlist were wind specialist Stephen Gallacher and last week’s disappointing selections Simon Wakefield and Peter Lawrie. All three should like the conditions, but lack the class of my final selection, MICHAEL CAMPBELL.

Campbell’s topsy-turvy career has been characterised by spells of world-class golf, and bad streaks where he looked like a struggling amateur. The last 18 months have seen the latter trend, but there was much encouragement in his last two starts at the Open and USPGA. Though finishing outside the top-40, Campbell ranked in the top-7 for driving accuracy in both of those Majors, which in itself represents a massive improvement on the rest of his 2008 form. Interestingly too, 12th place in this event last year was one of only two top-20s the Kiwi star managed in 2007. At his best, the former US Open champion would be one of the favourites this week, so 125/1 looks worth a small punt.

Good Luck!



1.5pts ew PAUL MCGINLEY @ 40/1 (GENERAL, 50/1 CENTREBET)
1.5pts ew DAVID LYNN @ 40/1 (GENERAL)
0.5pts ew MICHAEL CAMPBELL @ 125/1 (GENERAL)