Both Schwartzel and Willett come into that category as they are clearly in good form. Schwartzel played very well last week considering he was trying new clubs for the first time, and left a lot of shots on the greens. This field is notably weaker, so 20/1 as opposed to last week’s 40/1 is justifiable. Club de Campo represents a similar test to the two seen over the past fortnight, and both Schwartzel and Willett have shown they thrive on this type of course. Last year’s result showed a marked advantage to long hitters and those ranking high in par-5 performance.
It has been particularly frustrating to see Willett miss the places by one shot in consecutive weeks, effectively as a consequence of failing to birdie the late par-5, not least as he is normally so effective on the long holes. My only slight question mark is whether this youngster can hold his form for a third week in a row, but evidence from earlier in the year suggests he can. Willett made three consecutive top-10s in June and July, and given the nature of this course looks likely to be there or thereabouts once again.
There are several other leading candidates, but none have much of a win ratio to get excited about given their prices. I’ve repeatedly put Soren Hansen into this ‘avoid at all costs when at short odds’ camp, and every time he’s found himself in contention this year that theory has been borne out. Peter Hanson has strong claims on last year’s seventh and Sunday’s fourth place, but two wins in eight years makes it hard to justify odds of 20/1.
Two more very big names worthy of discussion are Martin Kaymer and Angel Cabrera, though both are overlooked for different reasons. Cabrera’s omission is straightforward, as he is spending the next 48 hours in Bermuda for the Grand Slam of Golf. It would hardly be a shock were he to withdraw. Kaymer on the other hand is making his return from injury, after breaking his foot. If he were certain to be at his best, Kaymer would definitely be a selection, but that’s quite an assumption to make.
Justin Rose could be more plausible, after returning to form with sixth place in Portugal. That was Justin’s third good effort in his last five events, which is his best spell of form in a long time. Rose too has questions to answer about his ability to win though, as its a couple of years since his last and that laboured finish came after a string of final day failures. Nevertheless, Rose would be my ‘first reserve’, so lets hope he doesn’t follow in Westwood’s footsteps.
Now, I really need to justify why, when I’m overlooking all these decent players with poor win ratios, I then stick with Willett, despite the fact he’s have never won before. Quite simply, Willett has yet to show weakness under pressure, whereas the others have repeatedly failed to convince when offered chances to win over much longer careers. A similar argument could easily be made to support another ‘first-time winner in waiting’, Chris Wood.
One man who has always impressed with his temperament under pressure is JOHAN EDFORS. It was particularly encouraging to see the Swede bounce back to form with sixth place at the weekend, and as a very long hitter, he ticks all the right boxes for this course. Edfors did land a tournament in Thailand earlier this year, but he is long overdue a fourth European Tour victory.