Paul Williams' Tips for the 2012 Open de Andalucía. Follow Us On Twitter @Golfbetting
The Tour hits European shores for the first time in 2012 as we make our way to the Aloha Golf Club in Marbella for the 6th instalment of the Open de Andalucía. After the 2 WGC events of recent weeks, we welcome back to action many of the European Tour's top players who aren't lucky enough to qualify for those lofty events and most will have had an enforced 3-week break while the World's elite fought it out in the States.
Of those who did play in one or more of the WGCs, both Paul Lawrie and Gonzalo Fernandez Castano have both withdrawn from the event due to illness, and whilst the likes of Matteo Manassero (WGC Match Play), Robert Rock (both WGCs), Rafael Cabrera-Bello (both) and Miguel Angel Jimenez (both) are prominent in the betting it will be interesting to see if the travelling and intense competition of the last few weeks takes its toll as it has with Lawrie and Gonzo.
The event returns to its roots this week at the Aloha Golf Club following a 3-year break, during which time the tournament was played at nearby courses in Malaga and Seville, so be careful when looking at the last 3 years results - although it's fair to say that the courses bear similar characteristics in terms of setup. The 2007 event (click here for the final leaderboard) and 2008 event (click here for the final leaderboard) therefore hold much more relevance in terms of picking a winner and both suggest a winning score in the 16-20 under region will prevail in the calm, dry and sunny conditions that are expected this week on the south coast of Spain.
The course itself is a short par 72 by today's standards at just 6,881 yards. With 4 par 5s and 7 par 4s of less than 400 yards, you could easily be excused for backing the bombers off the tee, however the short setup requires a bit of thought to ensure the ball can find the rights parts of fairways to allow attacking second shots to the generally small, sloping greens. The rough is expected to be quite lenient this year after a dry winter so for me this could come down to a putting competition for those who react on the bent and bent/poa mix greens. My selections are as follows:
I backed the German on his last outing in India and he gave us a real run for our money at 33/1 - he ultimately finished 2nd on the week, taking eventual winner Jbe Kruger up the 18th on the final day before finally conceding defeat. That followed an excellent 4th place finish the week before in Dubai where he seemingly found a level of internal calmness under pressure that has been missing for most of his career.
Siem topped the putting stats in India and will arrive here in rude health after 3 weeks off and on the back of 7 top-13 finishes in his last 11 events, safe in the knowledge that his playing privileges for 2013 are already secure. His sometimes wayward drives won't be punished this week with the rough being so light and his aggressive nature coupled with excellent putting could well see him right in contention on Sunday for a 3rd consecutive tournament as he looks to improve on his 12th place finish last time he played this course in 2008. RESULT: T17
The Welsh putting sensation was touted as a Ryder Cup player of the future back in 2010, however he's really not progressed since then with a decidedly off-the-boil run of results in the last 18 months or so. He should have bucked that trend when defending in Morocco last April but a missed 4-footer for victory at the last to let David Horsey off the hook - that defeat clearly took its toll on the 26 year-old who failed to secure a single top 10 until November when he a recorded an excellent 3rd in the reduced 3-round event in Malaysia behind Joost Luiten.
Players have a tendency to improve their game as they approach a tournament they're defending - well, using a similar logic, with Davies returning to Morocco next week I think he'll be arriving here without any weight of expectation and will find a course that suits him down to the ground. His last start in India (tied 10th) showed great promise as he excelled in all aspects from tee-to-green - if he can couple that with even an average putting display then he'll go close here, however he's by no means an average putter and the return to bent-based putting surfaces could signal a return to winning ways for Rhys...RESULT: M/C
In recent times it has been the young pretender Matteo Manassero who has grabbed all the Italian column inches as he's climbed the World Rankings and established himself as a quality player with a couple of wins early in his career, however favouritism in this event is a little generous given his overall form in the last 9 months of just 1 top 10 finish in 16 attempts...for me, compatriot Edoardo Molinari is a much better bet this week at around twice the odds.
Whilst it's fair to say that Edoardo's brother Francesco inherited the ball-striking genes, this will be of less consequence this week as the course will play far more to the older brother's strengths and his excellent putting can come to the fore. 24th in Dubai on his last outing was a fair result seeing as he struggled off the tee for most of the week; of more relevance to this setup was his 5th place finish in Singapore and particular his first round effort at the short Tanjong course resulting in a 9-under 71. Finishes of 12th and 2nd in his last 2 attempts at the short, fiddly layout in Crans-Sur-Sierre also suggests he can play these types of course well. Molinari is far too talented a player to be languishing so far outside of the World's top 50 players (currently 88th) and I'm expecting a far better season from him in Ryder Cup year, starting this week in Spain. RESULT: T11
I complete my quartet for this week with Aussie Marcus Fraser who arrives in Spain fresh from his best-ever performance in a WGC event, eventually finishing 24th at Doral and playing the final 3 days in 10-under par - bettered only by a handful of players at the very top of the leaderboard. Fraser's previous start was in India where he finished 4th, backing up some strong play at the end of 2011 where he finished inside the top 11 3 times in his last 5 events.
What I like about Fraser (and all my selections) is his prowess with the putter and his ability to compile a score in favourable conditions. He's never going to be the longest off the tee - which is fine around Aloha GC - however the rest of his game is neat and tidy, plus he currently ranks 5th in terms of putts once he's on the green for the season to date. I suspect he'll take real confidence from his performance last week and will hit the ground running here in Spain. RESULT: T20
Odds and bookmaker offers correct at 18:50GMT 13.3.12 but naturally subject to fluctuation.
Our tips, picks and predictions for the 2013 edition of this event will be published here on the Tuesday before the event - bookmark this page and come back soon!