We’re now moving into the core of the European Tour season with some of the flagship events coming over the next few weeks. This year’s Open De Espana is back at the PGA Catalunya Resort for the first time since 2009 when Thomas Levet took the title.
The 7,172 par 72 looks like it is going to be a high scorer with generous fairways and reasonable weather. The rough will be up and fairways will be tight none the less so accurate ball strikers are needed. Trees and water are in play on plenty of the holes making life tricky if you are wayward off the tee. As long as you are finding fairways, GIR and putting will be where this tournament is won.
Course form is tough to go on other than 2009 but the final stage of Q-school is annually held here meaning many of the boys in the field possess valuable course experience.
The field is one of the best we’ve seen for some time now so it should be a joy to watch. Garcia, Molinari, Jimenez and Bjorn lead the betting.
Francesco Molinari (14/1 Various)
If odds were completely irrelevant then it would have been a tossup between Francesco and Sergio. But seeming as the latter finds himself at 5/1 in most places, we have plumped for the Italian.
Molinari is one of the top iron players in the game and on paper this course is perfect for him. What has been surprising is the fact he has not won on the European Tour since taking this title two years ago. But the signs have been promising over the past few months and last week at Sawgrass he really caught our eye. 6th place in one of golf’s biggest events shows the kind of form he is in and his stats back it up too. He ranked T17 driving accuracy, T4 GIR and 34th putting average. Considering the field strength, if he takes that into this week not many will be able to handle him.
He will know that he is due a win and Spain has been kind to him in the past. We are very confident he can take the title this week.
Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano (40/1 Coral)
We know this is one of the best fields on the Tour for some time but even so, we feel 40s for a home favourite is a bet we cannot resist.
His form we agree is not the best but he has still only missed one cut in his last nine starts, and that is on the much tougher PGA Tour. In 2014 Gonzalo made the bold decision to live in America and ply his trade on the PGA Tour full time meaning this week will make a very pleasant change. Besides WGCs and the Masters, the Spaniard’s last stroke play event on the tour was in early January where he finished T19 at the Volvo Golf Champions.
In terms of his game, he is much like our first pick, an iron specialist. What is frustrating at times is his putting. But last week at the Players he finished T20 in putting average which was the final bit of information we needed to back Castano on home soil.
Fabrizio Zanotti (80/1 Various)
Zanotti is one of those picks where you have to go there because everything points towards him. 3rd place last week in difficult circumstances is promising and combined with two consecutive 2nd places on this track, makes the Paraguayan a good bet at 80/1. He also finished 15th in the European Tour event back in 2009.
He is relatively accurate and was putting well last week.
Carlos Del Moral (125/1 BetVictor)
Another Spaniard and someone else who we again think is good value. Del Moral won here in 2013 at Q-School after five of his six rounds were in the 60s. And like Zanotti, also has two runner-up spots here too. It is clearly a course that fits Carlos perfectly.
We stated earlier putts will need to be holed in high scoring event and he ranks 15th in putts per GIR on the Tour this year. We are sure plenty will fancy both Zanotti and Del Moral and rightly so.
Simon Wakefield (300/1 Stan James)
A final pick at massive odds is Englishman Wakefield. He won Q-School on this track in 2010 and came 12th last year. He finished T8 just three weeks ago in Catalunya on a different course and is playing reasonably well. Ranks 1st in driving accuracy on the European Tour and 49th GIR. Definitely worth a few pennies.