It would be churlish to argue with the credentials of the clear favourite. After adding the runners-up spot at Wentworth to some impressive results in the States, Luke answered his critics with his first title in four years over the weekend. Whatever his previous shortcomings in contention, his temperament held up brilliantly faced with the challenge of leading from start to finish.
Kaymer hasn’t lived up to my confident predictions in recent weeks, but it would be no surprise to see him bounce back here. The field is ordinary by comparison to others he’s beaten, and top 25s on both previous cracks at Celtic Manor courses suggest he will have no problems with the layout. This isn’t really a week to be taking short prices, though.
Though Sunday’s third place must go down as yet another missed opportunity for this nearly-man, I felt that for once, Molinari coped well enough with being in contention. Rather, both Donald and Davies set a very high bar. He’s already finished a distant fourth here two years ago, so another high placing looks likely.
This year remains a disappointing one for Ross, but there was enough in his tenth at Wentworth last time out to suggest he’ll be winning again, once a few putts start dropping. I’m less interested this week, though, as he was beaten quite a long way on both previous attempts at the ‘Twenty Ten’.
Scores of 64 and 74 over the weekend perfectly sum up Quiros, and why he’s so hard to predict. Beyond recognising the fact that courses that favour extreme driving distance are bound to be his forte, I’m loathe to express a confident opinion about him. He missed the cut on his sole visit to Celtic Manor in 2008.
Wood is the shortest price of those aforementioned Euro Tour maidens. Having contended
on his last three starts, he is clearly a winner waiting to happen, and warrants serious consideration having made the top ten here last year. I have been less than convinced with his temperament to date, though.
Willett’s Wentworth performance truly demonstrated his potential, as a more experienced course manager would have improved his score by several shots. He was fourth here last year, and came very close to making the staking plan. The only negative is similar concerns to Wood, in terms of his performances to date when in contention.
McDowell must have strong claims after a flawless closing 65 to make frame in Madrid. He will need to improve on a moderate Celtic Manor record, but equally the added incentive of impressing his Ryder Cup captain must be a positive.
Usually so consistent, Soren has been strangely below form since the Masters, and is hard to make a case for, having managed only 35th on his sole previous visit.
Despite an almost total lack of form this year, Dougherty made the shortlist after registering some much improved greens in regulation stats in Madrid. Finishing 21st was no disaster in that low-scoring affair, and he’s got plenty of previous at Celtic Manor, including when fourth in 2008.
Garrido is another player who I have never been able to get right, and therefore am loathe to support. His chance is obvious though, having finished third last year, and made the top 30 on seven of last eight starts.
With home advantage in Wales, and top tens on five of his last six starts, Donaldson will get few better opportunities to break his Euro Tour duck. I was very tempted to back him, even considering restricted odds and numerous disappointing displays when in contention.
And here’s another player still looking for his first title, having missed many chances. Wilson has yet to find his very best form in 2010, but Sunday’s closing 65 suggests it could be imminent.
Much as I like Kjeldsen as a player and a competitor, his most recent performance at Wentworth was inexplicably disappointing in ideal conditions. He also struggled here in 2008.
One plausible outsider in a wide-open event is last week’s disappointing pick Ramsay, who made the top-ten last year and remains a player worth keeping an eye on at huge prices.
2010 STATS: -44pts