Despite missing the cut last time when carrying our money, GARETH MAYBIN could be worth another chance. That bet was based on the assumption that, as he hails from Northern Ireland, Maybin would be adept at handling the linksy Oitavos Dunes. As it turned out, I picked the wrong promising Northern Irishman, with Michael Hoey going in at a big price. On reflection, that was my mistake and the missed cut shouldn’t have any bearing on my view of Maybin, whose best form has come outside Europe. Not only did he win a Challenge Tour event in China, but his best performances to date came in South Africa, and also in Malaysia, where he coped perfectly well with slow, undulating greens that may be similar to this week’s surfaces.
Try as I might to find a decent outsider, obvious candidates are thin on the ground. Peter Lawrie has the right profile, but is hard to back after failing to make a single top-10 since winning last May. If 100/1+ had been available, I might have been tempted, but because there is such lack of strength in depth the best on offer is just 66/1.
Instead, the final place in the staking plan was between four similarly priced Aussies. Eventually, I discarded very rare winners Peter O’Malley, Marcus Fraser and Scott Strange in favour of BRETT RUMFORD, who has impressed with his finishing ability in the past. Rumford always strike me as a good player whose best long game work is often undone by his inability to frequently hole putts. With the greens in Beijing extremely slow and tricky, this may work in his favour because everybody will be struggling to convert. Rumford’s recent form is fair enough, with consecutive top-20s in the Gulf against world-class opposition the highlight of 2009. And having made the top-15 on four of his last eight visits to China, there’s a strong suspicion that he enjoys golf in this part of the world.
Good Luck!