At long last, top-class televised golf returns to Europe this week, with the Open de Andalucia. This looks a cracking betting heat with a decent number of top-class players lining up and the favourite starting at 18/1.
Though its never hosted this particular tournament, we do have plenty of course form to work from. Real Club de Golf de Sevilla played host to last year’s Spanish Open, plus the 2004 Open de Seville and World Cup. Designed by Jose-Maria Olazabal, its features are wide fairways, penal rough, fast greens and numerous water hazards. The course’s main defence is exposure to the wind, without which low scoring looks guaranteed. Its never easy to find a reliable advance weather forecast, but at present it looks like wind will only be a serious factor on Saturday.
In total, sixteen players made my initial short-list. The problem, however, is that while it is easy to develop watertight arguments in favour of several of them, the individuals concerned are often very rare winners.
Take the example of the favourite, Soren Hansen. The Dane has challenged strongly on both previous visits to the course, finishing 7th and 3rd. Having finished an excellent 13th against the world’s best on his latest start at Doral, Soren’s chance is obvious. However, that chance must be balanced against the fact that he has just two tournament victories to his name this century. So while I do expect he’ll be there or thereabouts, and certainly wouldn’t deter anyone from a bet on the top-5 or top-10 markets, taking 18/1 about such a rare winner would be a breach of the golden rules concerning betting value.
Nor is it easy to either write off, or strongly support his namesake Anders Hansen, who has won twice recently in South Africa. Those two wins, along with two Volvo PGA titles, at least put paid to any suggestion that he’s a bottler. Nevertheless, that only takes his career tally to four in well over a decade, and that recent fine form is more than reflected in the 22/1 price tag.