Back to Spain this week to the island of Majorca for the second edition of this event - last year's inaugural Iberdrola Open won by Ryder Cup star Peter Hanson after a windswept Sunday scuppered the chances of many of the players. As well as last year's form to study, there is some more assistance this week as the Jose-Maria Olazabal designed Pula Golf Club hosted the Mallorca Classic 5 times between 2003-2007 with Miguel Angel Jimenez, Sergio Garcia, Olazabel himself, Nicolas Fasth and Gregory Bourdy comprising the 5 winners. The results from all of these events have been combined in this week's predictor under the 'Mallorca' stats.
Pula GC is a short (6,800 yards) par 70 with just 2 par 5s and 5 of the par 4s are under 400 yards. The course is a tight, tree-lined affair with water in play on a number of the holes, therefore the wayward are likely to be punished with penalty strokes or sideways chips. With a good weather forecast a double-digit score under par will be required to be in contention come Sunday afternoon, although don't expect any crazy-low scoring out here.
With the World's elite teeing it up at Sawgrass this week (check out Steve's tips for that event here), it's a chance for some of the European Tour undercard and rising stars to potentially get an all-important victory. Over the past few weeks we've seen 2 of the Tours most eligible winners finally make the grade in the shape of Nicolas Colsaerts and Thomas Aiken - this can only help to enthuse the likes of Chris Wood and Danny Willett who I hold in similar regard. However whether a short, fiddly course suits those two is wide open to debate and instead I'll be going for the following selections:
The whole of Spain was crying out for an emotional Spanish victory last week in Barcelona following the devastating news of the passing of Seve Ballesteros - Larrazabel was the most likely contender but he couldn't make the necessary move on Sunday. This week could well be a different story, however.
When searching for a potential winner here I'm looking for a) someone in consistent form as all previous winners have been in solid top-20-or better form for a few weeks; b) someone who plays short courses well; and c) someone who hits a lot of Greens In Regulation. Larrazabel ticks all those boxes - form of 18/44/29/10/3 is ideal for this; despite an indifferent couple of seasons, his best finishes have tended to come on shorter tracks such as Hong Kong 2009 (4th), Costa Azahar & Andalucia (3 top 20s in last 2 seasons) and last year's Vivendi Cup (8th); finally Larrazabel ranks inside the top 10 for GIR this term with over 75% of greens hit from his 34 rounds played.
For me this is a great chance for the Spaniard to add a second win to his CV following his 2008 French Open triumph and, despite the relatively skinny odds, I'll take the 22/1 on offer from Fred. Result: T49
Evergreen Scot Paul Lawrie ended a 9 year drought when landing the Open de Andalucia 6 weeks ago in fine fashion. The par 70 setup in Malaga suited Lawrie's game perfectly and his improvement in driving accuracy this season was rewarded handsomely.
Having dined out on that win for the last month, the man from Aberdeen then sneaked into a top-5 position last week in Barcelona with an excellent Sunday round of 67 which was bettered by just one player. It wouldn't surprise me at all to see Lawrie continue his outstanding form into another week and contend for this title on what's proving to be lucrative Spanish soil. Result: T5
Having recovered from a fractured wrist sustained in the icy Irish winter, Lowry has now got his 2011 season started and has played some eye-catching golf in the last fortnight which makes him worthy of backing this week in my opinion. His lone victory as an amateur at the 3 Irish Open at Baltray in 2009 kick-started his career and the 24 year-old is far too talented for that to be his is only victory.
13th behind Lee Westwood & co in Seoul was a welcome return to form for Shane, backed up by 11th place finish last week. His (usually) accurate game off the tee will help him put the ball in the right position and with a putter that's been warming up over the last few rounds I'm expected a big week from the big man here. Result: T5
If you're looking for a player who performs well on shorter courses then the 27 year-old Dane is your man. All 4 of his top 10s last season came on course that were sub-7,000 yards, including this event (9th), Estoril (3rd), Saint Omer (7th) and the Vivendi Cup (3rd) - all of which added up to 117th place in the rankings and the final 2011 European Tour card for 2011 by the skin of his teeth.
4 cuts made out of 5 starts this season sounds impressive, however only his 7th place finish in India is worthy of mention as the others were distant finishes. Putting is his biggest asset - if he can get himself in position from tee-to-green then expect a prominent performance from Haastrup here at a long, long price. Result: W/D
Odds and bookmaker offers correct at 20:00BST 10.5.11 but naturally subject to fluctuation.
Finally, we run a weekly competition on our facebook group where you can win a £25 free bet with Paddy Power simply by predicting who will win each week’s events – it’s great fun and free to join, here’s a link to the page: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=254181393361
Our tips, picks and predictions for the 2012 Iberdrola Open will be published here on the Tuesday before the event - bookmark this page and come back soon!