Paul Williams' tips for the 2010 Avantha Masters
A new event on the European Tour this week and one which is being tri-sanctioned by the European Tour, Asian Tour and the PGT of India. With no tournament history and a number of relative unknowns playing this week, where do we start?! Well the predictor of course! Click here to use this week's free European Tour predictor.
What have we got to go on? Well, the course was designed by Arnold Palmer and is a par 72 at a little over 7,200 yards. There's a good mix of holes - 4 par 5s, 4 par 3s and some good variation in the par 4s with 3 under 375 yards and a couple touching 500 yards. As with most Arnold Palmer designs, you'll need to think your way around the course rather than just bomb it 310 off of the tee. Plus with water in play on a number of holes - creeks and lakes-a-plenty, particularly on the closing holes - plus out-of-bounds on a couple of the tighter holes, this will demand accuracy and placement off the tee.
One other factor is the bunkers which are numerous and deep. If you're missing greens then a great scrambling game is essential otherwise bogeys await. If the course lives up to the specification then don't expect anyone to be breaking 60 this week, however with calm weather forecast we should some scoring opportunities from in-form players who can get the ball into position.
I'm going with the predictor 100% this week - here's the 5 selections:
Australian Fraser is in his 7th season on the European Tour and had some quality performances to show for his efforts last year with 3 top 10s and a further 4 top 20s. A consistent if unspectacular player, he comes top of the predictor by virtue of his solid all-round game, accuracy off the tee plus showed some good form last week in Dubai until a patch of 4 bogeys in 5 holes on Sunday dropped him out of contention. 50-1 reflects the fact that he hasn't won on the European Tour to date, however has the game to contest this in a relatively weak field.
The 29 year old from Belfast is another whose tee-to-green game gets him the nod this week. Ranked 16th for driving accuracy on Tour last year and 23rd for Greens in Regulation; on top of that he was also in the top 40 for putting. 5 top-10 finishes last season suggest he has the quality to go close here. Warmed up for this with a top-20 finish last week in Dubai.
All of the headlines pre-tournament have been about Singh. Being the local man, a victory here would be very popular - plus he's got the stats to suggest he'll do well. Somewhat of a suspect swing is more than compensated for by a great short game and excellent putting stroke - improving form with a top-50 in Abu Dhabi merely shaking off the cobwebs before finishing tied for 15th last week.
It's great to see Darren getting back into something approaching form. At his best he would walk this tournament - he's not quite there yet but certainly showing positive signs. Couldn't quite keep up with Charl Schwartzel in Johannesburg but this is much easier.
Bland completes our picks and offers a cracking price at 66-1. Has finished solidly in 4 of his 5 starts this season and could compete if he can keep his seemingly obligatory 1 bad round off the card. Finished 6th last year for sand saves which will serve him well around here.
All odds and bookmaker offer correct at 11:00GMT 9.2.10 but naturally subject to fluctuation.