This will be the third renewal of the Castello Masters, an event which has previously produced highly contrasting winners. In 2008, tournament host and local hero Sergio Garcia delivered for favourite backers at a very short price, but the second renewal was won by one of the biggest outsiders in recent years, Michael Jonzon. It should be added however that Martin Kaymer finished second and Garcia fourth, so the formbook wasn’t completely useless.
If there was a lesson to be learned from Jonzon’s victory, it was not to underestimate the capacity of struggling players to suddenly find form when most needed, once their playing privileges are on the line. It really is now or never for those currently below 115th place on the money list, which includes Jonzon down in 150th. Given the fact he’s missed his last five cuts and registered only three top 30s in the 12 months since, I don’t recommend betting on lightning striking twice.
Castello Masters betting guide
For a par 71, scoring at Club de Campo del Mediterraneo has been very low, with both previous renewals won on -20. Birdie accumulation is definitely the order of the day around this tree-lined layout, and according to the stats, putting average is about as important here as anywhere. In addition, greens in regulation and birdie average should offer some clues .
2pts ew ALEXANDER NOREN @ 25/1 (GENERAL, 28/1 CORAL)
Back in January, Noren was rated a plausible outsider for the money list, yet with time running out, he’s languishing in 90th place and needing something pretty special to make the top 60, and a chance to win fortunes in the Dubai World Championship. I wouldn’t rule him out just yet, however, as there have been definite signs of improvement in recent weeks. Though last week’s 36th was a regression from third place in Austria and a top 20 in classier company at the Dunhill Links, Noren ranked third for putting average in Portugal and did most of the damage during one short spell. I’m expecting a much stronger challenge back on a course where he was third in 2008.
2pts ew SOREN KJELDSEN @ 28/1 (GENERAL)
Kjeldsen is also surprisingly outside the top 60, but also seems to be responding well to this late-season challenge with third in the Vivendi Cup and a top 25 last week. Few could match his record in Spain, where he has won twice and registered a further four top-six finishes from his last ten visits. That run includes fourth in 2008, on his sole visit to Castellon.
1.5pts ew RHYS DAVIES @ 33/1 (GENERAL)
With a strong emphasis on putting and birdie accumulation, this may be the week that Rhys Davies returns to the sensational form seen earlier in the year. His fortunes seemed to dip almost as soon as people started talking about Ryder Cup qualification. Now that distraction is over, we might see an improvement as there were many positive signs last week. He too has a good record in Spain, winning on the Challenge Tour and finishing an unlucky runner-up in the Madrid Masters on his last visit.
1pt ew MATTEO MANASSERO @ 50/1 (GENERAL)
Sooner or later, 17-year-old Manassero is going to become a regular pick, at shorter prices than this week’s 50/1. From what we’ve seen already he is an incredible prospect, as good as anyone I can remember at his age. Third at Crans last month, behind two hot golfers in Jimenez and Molinari, showed he is ready to win at this level. His putting stats are superb, so I expect his best chances lie in this type of low-scoring Mediterranean affair.
1pt ew PABLO LARRAZABAL @ 80/1 (GENERAL)
Larrazabal could be one of the best Spanish hopes, as he will relish the emphasis on birdie-accumulation back at a course where he made the top 20 last year. He ranks third in birdie average amongst these over the last six months, and has made the top 25 on two of his last three starts, including a close eighth in the Vivendi Cup.