Tempting as it was to include Fisher yet again, I could only afford so many short-priced picks. His case is obvious, having finished seventh and third already on this course, and putting up another solid effort at the Dunhill Links.
Of the favourites, Jimenez was the easiest to oppose. He hasn’t bettered 38th in three attempts at Oceanico, and is arguably less suited to this sort of birdie-fest than others.
Following second place at the Dunhill, and third in Austria, bookies are running scared about the emerging Willett. If he hadn’t played quite so well in Scotland, I’m sure I’d be recommending him at nearer 40/1 than the 20/1 on offer. He has to make the shortlist after finishing sixth on last year’s course debut, but these are short odds about a non-winner, yet to prove his nerve under pressure. Still, I remain convinced that Danny is the real deal, who will show vast improvement in due course.
Both Molinaris endured a miserable time at St Andrews, especially Edoardo’s 81 on Saturday. This Iberian birdie-fest is more his type of thing, but there must be a suspicion that he’s played his best golf of the summer already.
Karlsson took the eye in Scotland over the weekend, bouncing back from a miserable opening 77 to reach the top 30, hitting over 80% of greens in regulation. Oceanico is far more suited to his talents than a Scottish links, as illustrated by top-three finishes here in 2007 and 2008.
Francesco was runner-up last year, and will doubtless register another high finish. His reputation as a bottler grows with each passing winless week, however.
Few finished stronger at St Andrews than Dyson, who registered his third top six in five events. He was seventh at Oceanico in 2008.
Noren is first reserve, after a second encouraging event in a row. Despite starting the year as a contender, the Swede is down in 95th place on the money list, needing something special to make Dubai. He’s made the top 20 on all three visits to Vilamoura, finishing sixth last year.
Webster’s finest hour came when winning here in 2007 with a 25-under-par total, and he put up a solid defence in 2008 too. This year’s form is ordinary, but happy memories could spark something.
A promising late-season bid to make the top 115 must have exceeded even Parry’s expectations, winning in Austria and finishing third in the Dunhill. He’s priced accordingly now.
On the evidence of last month’s third at Crans-sur-Sierre, 17-year-old Manassero is already up to winning. He’s already saved his card, and could plausibly make Dubai.
Derksen has a consistent record here, never missing the top 20, a position he’s made on ten of his last 16 starts. He seems permanently booked to finish just off the pace, though.
Boyd is clearly improving fast, adding fourth place at the Dunhill Links to a runners-up spot in the Czech Open. He ranked second for driving distance last week, and should not be discounted lightly.
Big-hitting Siem rates an interesting outsider. He finished fourth here last year, and has a couple of top tens amongst some consistent summer results.
Larrazabal gave us a decent run for our money at a big price on his penultimate start, finishing eighth in the Vivendi Cup. His attacking style is perfectly suited to this layout.
2010 STATS: +38pts
LONG-TERM ALREADY ADVISED