The European Tour makes its first Spanish appearance of 2013 at this week’s Open de Espana in Valencia.
The tournament is historically one of the most popular on the European Tour schedule, and the strength of field reflects that.
The likes of Paul Casey and Miguel Angel Jimenez – who makes his return after six months out with a broken leg – are also in the field.
Molinari won by three shots at Real Club de Golf de Sevilla in 2012. This year, the tournament has switched location to Parador De El Saler on the Valencian coastline.
The course is located in El Saler natural park next to the Mediteranean Sea. It’s both tree lined and exposed, with the seven seaside holes surrounded by sand dunes providing a links feel.
Sergio Garcia has been installed as the 5/1 favourite with Ladbrokes this week, but he’s not worth backing at such short odds.
But his compatriot Pablo Larrazabal, at 20/1 with Ladbrokes, is. The 29-year-old is in good form, finishing in outright fourth at the Trophee Hassan II and tied for sixth at the Maybank Malaysian Open – his last two events. Larrazabal often plays his best golf on home soil, as he proved with a runner-up finish in last year’s Open de Espana. If he finds some form with the putter, his traditional nemesis, he won’t be far away come Sunday evening.
I’m expecting Anders Hansen, at 25/1 with Ladbrokes, to do well this week. The Dane’s game is well suited to a golf course that places a premium on accurate hitting and short-game prowess. He finished 16th in his last outing at the Maybank Malaysian Open and his record in the Open de Espana is exemplary. Indeed, he came 16th last year and second in 2011.
Shane Lowry, at 33/1 with Ladbrokes, is also one to keep an eye on this week. With strong breezes expected on Friday and Saturday and several holes running parallel to the sea, his ability to control his ball in the wind will be extremely useful. He hasn’t played on the European Tour since February, but his tie for 15th at the Valero Texas Open indicates he’s in good form.
Ricardo Santos, at 66/1 with Ladbrokes, looks well priced this week. Granted, he’s missed his last two cuts, but I’m expecting a return to familiar territory to spark a resurgence. Santos plays some of his best golf in sunnier climates and often excels in Spain and Portugal. Last season, he won his first European Tour event at the Madeira Islands Open and he’s already notched three top tens in six starts this season.
Andy Sullivan, at 80/1 with Ladbrokes, is worth an each way bet this week. The Englishman has made a fine start to life on the European Tour, recording four top-12 finishes to all but secure his playing privileges for next season. He’ll be relaxed, carefree and well rested after a three week break. I wouldn’t be surprised to see his name on the leaderboard come Sunday.
Open de Espana advised bets:
2pts each way on Pablo Larrazabal at 20/1 with Ladbrokes
2pts each way on Anders Hansen at 25/1 with Ladbrokes
2pts each way on Shane Lowry at 33/1 with Ladbrokes
2pts each way on Ricardo Santos at 66/1 with Ladbrokes
2pts each way on Andy Sullivan at 80/1 with Ladbrokes