None of the other Europeans near the head of the market make much appeal at shorter odds than usual. Nick Dougherty may have a big reputation, but 33/1 about a man who couldn’t better 38th place in the last six months of 2009 is impossible to justify. At the same price, Rafael Jacquelin is much more plausible on the basis of his play elsewhere but a lack of pedigree in this part of the world plus a poor career win ratio are enough to deter me at 33/1.
 
The likes of Simon Khan, Alejandro Canizares, Pelle Edberg and Fredrik Andersson-Hed owe their reduced quotes to various bits and pieces of recent form, but nothing out of the ordinary. The career profiles of players like this suggest they could well immediately drop back to mid-division. A weak field like this could present an ideal opportunity for promising youngsters such as Danny Lee or Golf Monthly’s touring professional Sam Hutsby. I’d certainly be more inclined to take a chance on these talented prospects than a more reliable player like David Lynn who very rarely wins.
 
Slightly preferred is another decent prospect, MICHAEL LORENZO-VERA, who has decent claims on his form before Christmas. Eighth at Leopard Creek was his second top ten in four starts, and fifth top 25 in his last nine. That may not sound like anything out of the ordinary, but it’s better than most of this field could have mustered, and may be a pointer that the young Frenchman is beginning to fulfil the potential that was first identified when cruising through the 2007 Challenge Tour. As he enters his third full season on the main tour, Lorenzo-Vera is overdue at least a place payout and could be winning a maiden title before long.
 
Several outsiders take the eye, particularly amongst the consistent Sunshine Tour regulars. The likes of JAMES KAMTE and JACO VAN ZYL appear seriously under-estimated. Neither has any wider outside profile, but both are multiple winners and regular contenders at this level. Kamte posted a couple of top threes in a reduced home schedule in 2009, while Van Zyl actually won twice. The former’s recent returns on a variety of continents don’t really add up to much, but 17th at Leopard Creek on his penultimate start was his best ever at that track. As for Van Zyl, six of his seven events between August and October resulted in top tens. Not the form of a 100/1 shot.
 
Likewise, Ulrich Van Den Berg has pedigree in this type of event, and made last year’s top ten. At his Loch Lomond-winning best, 100/1 about another Frenchman, Gregory Havret would be an enormous price. Havret also has prospered in South Africa before, and therefore deserves deeper consideration than his terrible recent form would suggest.
 
Finally, we’ve already seen a good standard set by Challenge Tour recruit Edoardo Molinari, so fellow graduate JOSE-FELIPE LIMA may also be worth following at big prices. Before losing his card, Lima had shown plenty of ability in European events, tending to be suited by low-scoring affairs. He should get that at East London.