Particularly the second favourite, CHARL SCHWARTZEL. In the long term, Schwartzel will prove to be a different class to most of these, and while I’ve been saying that for what seems like ages, he does appear to have become more consistent in recent months. He usually saves his best golf for low scoring affairs, most recently when winning last October’s Madrid Masters with a -19 total. Since then Schwartzel has only missed one cut, and very much took the eye with a pair of 69s in tricky conditions to make the top-5 last weekend. Like Molinari, its hard to envisage Schwartzel being too far away, but as he has proved his ability to win so many more times already, the South African is preferred at a slightly bigger price.
Though its hard to be certain of the course demands, the expected emphasis on low scoring suggests to me that the stats to focus on are greens in regulation, putting average and birdie average. Schwartzel scores notably well across all three, and so does another proven winner, ALVARO QUIROS. This highly promising Spaniard is possibly the biggest hitter in the world right now, and must always enter calculations when low scoring is expected. All three of his Euro Tour wins; a fine return for a man who’s only been playing at this level for two full seasons; came in birdie-fests.
Not entirely unpredictably, Quiros struggled badly on a couple of recent US outings on tough courses, though had previously confirmed his promise the WGC at Doral, contending for a long way before finishing 13th. Any lingering ill-effects had gone on the basis of Sunday’s evidence, where a final round 67 elevated him to another top-20 in Spain. Quite simply, Quiros is a massive contender at this level, and excellent each-way value at 25/1.