'After the Lord Mayor's show' is a phrase which springs immediately to mind when writing these thoughts on this week's annual trip to the Crans Montana mountains in Switzerland. With thoughts of Ryder Cup qualification removed entirely from everyone's mind, many of the players - and punters - could be excused for giving this week a miss. That's not the case though as we have a strong entry list combined with some great course history and statistics to help us pick a winner! Combined with the spectacular scenery, this week is once again shaping up to be a belter...
A final word on the Ryder Cup before moving on. From a personal perspective, whilst I feel that Paul Casey or Justin Rose would have added something to the team, I have to admire Monty for sticking to his guns and rewarding Luke Donald and Edoardo Molinari for their successes in Europe in the past few months. The European team is looking mightily strong for the showdown at Celtic Manor and, whilst my pre-season pick Simon Dyson just missed out, congrats to my GBS partner Steve Bamford for correctly picking Miguel Angel Jimenez at 6/1 to make the team.
On to this week then. With a wealth of tournament history to wade through, it's worth looking at a few stats:
- The only multiple winner of this event to have triumphed in the last 20 years is Eduardo Romero; other than that it's all single victories.
- There has been a mix of first-time winners (Noren 09, Lucquin 08, Gonzales 01) ranging through to the likes of Ernie Els, Robert Karlsson and Sergio Garcia who have won many tournaments between them.
- None of the last 10 winners finished in the top 10 of their previous European Tour event, although all of them did finish in the top 20 in at least one of their previous 4 events.
- Greens in regulation is the key stat here - in recent years the winner has invariably been the leader in terms of GIR for the week, or at least very close.
So, we're looking for a non-winner of this event who hits a lot of greens, no top 10 last week but some recent top 20 form to fall back on. My 10 points are therefore spent as follows:
The smile on the Spaniard's face after his final round 66 a fortnight ago in the Czech Republic told me everything I needed to know - Gonzo is going to win very soon! Invariably his putter has been the one ingredient in his game which has let him down in the past, however he's playing with a new-found confidence with the flat stick and that's a potent combination on a course which suits him down to the ground.His 11th place finish at Prosper Golf Resort was his first outing since a creditable 33rd at Whistling Straits; his previous start was 3rd place at Killarney. In each case his putting has been the difference and, coupled with his strength from tee-to-green, I think he could take this title from a number of physically and mentally-tired competitors, having taken last week off. To round things off, he also has an impressive recent record around Crans-Sur-Sierre with a 21st place finish in his last start in 2008 (finishing with a best-of-the-day 64) and 6th in 2007 despite only managing level par on the final day - time for European Tour win number 5 this week I feel...RESULT: Withdrew
You'll remember Wood as an amateur at Royal Birkdale when he finished an outstanding 5th place to take the Silver Medal, then he proceeded to follow that up with a 3rd place at Turnberry. The lanky Bristolian started to find some form in May with top 6 finishes in Italy, Majorca and at Wentworth and found something again in Ireland to finish 3rd before missing the cut at Whistling Straits.
His tee-to-green game has been exceptional in recent times and if the putts drop then don't be surprised to see Wood on the leaderboard very late on Sunday. Recent post-round interviews have hinted at his game being very, very close to its best - on a course that again suits his strengths this could be his week. RESULT: T15
Since being handed a £815,000 fine for tax evasion in May, former Ryder Cup player Hansen hasn't had much to smile about and his golf has suffered badly. However the Dane still sits comfortably inside the World's top 100 and can easily get all of his money back in the next year (less tax of course!) by doing what he does best.
It was of interest to note that Hansen popped up on the leaderboard Friday & Saturday last week before falling to 19th in Sunday's tough conditions, admittedly on a course which he loves. However momentum is key and I have a feeling that we'll now see an invigorated Hansen for the remainder of this season - if that's right then 50/1 is far too long for a man of his undoubted quality. Despite his troubles, Hansen still sits inside the top 20 for GIR this season on Tour - that stat on it's own, for a man of his quality, is worthy of support this week. RESULT: Withdrew
It has been very hit-or-miss for Edfors this season with almost as many top 20 finishes as missed cuts without much in between, however on that basis we're due another good performance from the Swede this week. Would have been much closer in Loch Lomond save for a poor second round; his performances since of MC/14/MC are again indicative of his inconsistency.
Edfors is another player who relies heavily on his iron-play to earn him a crust, however when his putter starts working he can be very, very good and pile in the birdies. His putting at Loch Lomond was well inside the top 10 performances for the week, and was also pretty strong at Killarney. If it's a 'hit' week for Edfors then 100/1 is very generous indeed. RESULT: Missed Cut
All odds and bookmaker offers correct at 19:30BST 31.8.10 but naturally subject to fluctuation.