ALVARO QUIROS is another who looks ideally suited to this layout and he could prove best of a predictably strong home contingent. Besides Garcia and Quiros, Miguel-Angel Jimenez, Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano and Rafael Cabrera-Bello are all amongst the market leaders, but the first two of that trio are easily opposed having previously played poorly on this course.
Huge-hitting Quiros also struggled here in 2007, but has vastly improved in the two years since. I’m happy to overlook disappointing results on his last three starts, and remember the top-25s registered previously in the WGC-Bridgestone and USPGA. Quiros remains an excellent prospect and very dangerous on any course to which his attacking game is suited.
As for Cabrera-Bello, regular readers will doubtless understand why I am absolutely sick about missing his recent Austrian Open triumph at what must have been a crazy price. (I’m not actually sure what it was, as I was away that weekend, but it was at least 200/1). Clearly, my earlier predictions about his potential are coming to fruition, and under different circumstances I’d probably be backing this young Spaniard now. However, having confirmed his form with a top-5 in Scotland, Cabrera-Bello’s odds are now at an all-time low and simply too short.
When he was struggling to gain that elusive first win, it was often said that once ALEXANDER NOREN broke his duck, more wins would follow quickly. Now is the time to test that theory to destruction. Noren should love this layout, and wasn’t beaten too far in 23rd here during his rookie season. His performance in winning at Crans was first class, and as a sometimes birdie machine, I’m expecting big things this week.
The emphasis on driving distance should favour RICARDO GONZALEZ, who has been in solid form over recent weeks. Since winning the SAS Masters at the end of July, Gonzalez has registered three top-20s from five starts, and closed well with 68/66 over the weekend in Scotland. Furthermore, the powerful Argentinian has a fine record in this part of the world, winning this event in 2003, the Seville Open in 2004, and registering eight top-10s in Spain since 2003, including runner-up in this event last year.