Paul Williams

Paul Williams' Catalunya Championship Tips 2022

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From a promising position at halfway with both Rasmus Hojgaard and Lucas Nemecz sitting in a tie for 4th after 36 holes, neither managed to push on and secure us a return in Tarragona last week, so we head to the opposite side of Barcelona this week for the Catalunya Championship hoping for a change of luck.

As per last week, a full field of 156 are in attendance here for what’s a largely similar looking market with the likes of Bernd Wiesberger and Rasmus Hojgaard contesting favouritism from last week’s winner Pablo Larrazabal. The addition of Jordan Smith and Richard Bland over last week’s affair has meant that odds in general are a little longer compared to 7 days ago, which can only help our cause.

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Course Overview. Although the exact yardage for 2022 is still to be confirmed by the Tour at the time of writing, the last time this layout was used for Q School in 2016 it was listed as a 7,333 yard par 72, and despite some updates since we should be looking at something in the same ball-park this week, with reportedly just 20 yards added in the meantime.

Tree-lined and classical in style, the Stadium Course was created with the vision of hosting a Ryder Cup – it was Spain’s candidate for the 2022 bid – and has the lofty aspirations of being Europe’s answer to TPC Sawgrass, apparently. To that end, water is in play on 5 holes as the course navigates around the local lakes to create some island-style greens to accompany those where the trees are the principal danger for the errant.

I’ve mentioned Q-School and alongside the neighbouring ‘Tour’ course the PGA Catalunya Resort hosted the final stage from 2008-16 which forms part of our supplementary course data this week. The Stadium Course was used over the final 2 rounds of these events, however the 2 courses were rotated in the 4 rounds prior so that should be considered when using these stats.

The 1999 Sarazen Open; 2000, 2009 and 2014 Spanish Opens; and the PGA Catalunya Resort Championship on the Nordic Golf League from 2016 to 2022 also made use of the course and results from these events form our main combined stats and course stats pages for this week.

catalunya championship tips

Tournament Stats. We’ve published some key player statistics for this week’s Catalunya Championship that should help point you in the right direction: Current Form | First Round Leader Stats | Course Stats | Combined Stats | Combined Stats – Q School.

Predictor Model. Our published Predictor Model is available here. As always you can build your own model using the variables available.

Weather Forecast. The latest weather forecast for the area is here.

It should be a little calmer this week in Girona with winds topping out around 10mph in the afternoons, after last week’s more challenging conditions. Temperatures approaching the mid-70s Fahrenheit will accompany sunny conditions for the most part, which will allow the organisers to get the course as firm as they choose.

Tournament Trends & Key Factors.

Although we have various Q-School and Nordic events that used the Stadium Course in some capacity, perhaps the most tangible results we have are from the 3 Spanish Open and the Sarazen World Open where basic skill stats were captured:

  • 2014: Miguel Angel Jimenez (-4). 297 yards (22nd), 71.4% fairways (10th), 58.3% greens in regulation (56th), 70% scrambling (2nd), 1.76 putts per GIR (10th).
  • 2009: Thomas Levet (-18). 291 yards (27th), 71.4% fairways (10th), 80.6% greens in regulation (1st), 64.3% scrambling (16th), 1.72 putts per GIR (12th).
  • 2000: Brian Davis (-14). 284 yards (21st), 71.4% fairways (26th), 73.6% greens in regulation (20th), 57.9% scrambling (8th), 1.69 putts per GIR (3rd).
  • 1999: Thomas Bjorn (-15). 280 yards (19th), 75% fairways (20th), 77.8% greens in regulation (11th), 62.5% scrambling (6th), 1.78 putts per GIR (22nd).

Statistically there’s a lot of correlation between the performances of the 4 winners, with all of them ranking in the top 30 for Driving Distance on the week combined with over 70% of fairways hit. Miguel Angel Jimenez had to rely on his short game more in the tough 2014 renewal, however in general all aspects of a players’ game need to be in order to contend here it would seem.

Par 3, 4, 5 Splits.

Dissecting the winning performances a little further, we can see that the bulk of the scoring by each of the winners detailed above was achieved on the Par 5s:

  • 2014: Miguel Angel Jimenez: Par 3: Level; Par 4: +2; Par 5: -6
  • 2009: Thomas Levet: Par 3: Level; Par 4: -4; Par 5: -14
  • 2000: Brian Davis: Par 3: +4; Par 4: -6; Par 5: -12
  • 1999: Thomas Bjorn: Par 3: +1; Par 4: -6; Par 5: -10

Incoming Form.

The last 12 event form for the same 4 winners is as follows:

  • 2014: Miguel Angel Jimenez: 72/70/8/20/1/15/10/MC/MC/33/13/4
  • 2009: Thomas Levet: MC/37/40/53/20/25/37/50/27/20/14/MC
  • 2000: Brian Davis: MC/MC/31/MC/30/10/16/3/46/5/MC/22
  • 1999: Thomas Bjorn: 4/20/30/MC/52/70/34/2/32/24/16

Miguel Angel Jimenez had finished 4th at Augusta on his previous start and had also won the Hong Kong Open at the end of 2013 to suggest he was in decent enough form. Thomas Levet was a little harder to spot although 2 top-20s in his previous 3 starts was positive, however both Brian Davis and Thomas Bjorn had contended in the recent past, recording 3 top-5 finishes between them.

From what we can glean, the Stadium Course requires sound course management and a good all-round game that should lead to a mid-teens under par winning score in normal conditions. The renovations here since the Tour last visited will allow the organisers to control the firmness of the course, however with little in the way of wind in the forecast I suspect that birdies will still outweigh bogeys by some distance this week.

My selections are as follows:

Adrian Otaegui 2pts EW 25/1 (7EW, 1/5) with Betfred

Of the leading players in this week’s field, Adrian Otaegui makes most appeal. Pablo Larrazabal’s first win on home soil last week sparked massive celebrations for home supporters and players alike, and perhaps Otaegui can follow that up with more success for the Spanish contingent.

3 times a winner on the DP World Tour, Adrian shared top spot with Ulrich Van Den Berg and Daniel Im here at PGA Catalunya at the 2015 Q-school, having shown his intent the previous year when finishing in a tie for 5th on the Stadium/Tour course rotation. The bulk of his scoring was done on the Tour Course that week, granted, however he did close with a 4-under round to secure his playing rights for the following season in style.

3rd at the Ras al Khaimah Championship, 5th at the Qatar Masters and 2nd last week in Tarragona, where he can count himself a little unfortunate to run into an inspired Larrazabal on the final day, screams that further success is imminent and with no obvious flaws in his game right now, I’m happy to support him here. RESULT: MC

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Romain Langasque 1pt EW 50/1 (8EW, 1/5) with Ladbrokes

Followers of Romain Langasque have every right to feel a little hard done by so far this term as the Frenchman has flattered to deceive on more than one occasion.

12th in Abu Dhabi and 18th in Dubai to start the year at Rolex Series level were good indicators for the state of his game, and 9th after a slow start at Pecanwood was then followed by 8th at Steyn City the week after to suggest he was close. All those efforts were positive, despite ultimately being just a touch short for each-way backers to be happy with the performances.

5th to halfway in Qatar was also positive, as was a 2nd round 65 last week Tarragona after an opening round of 77 had given virtually no chance of making the weekend. Still, signs of a good underlying game despite the odd (significant) hiccup and this week’s test should suit the 26 year-old if he can produce a positive week with the driver. Strokes Gained Off the Tee would seem to be a positive way to succeed around these parts and Langasque has that in abundance when everything clicks, ranking 10th on that count for the full season last year, despite not quite hitting the same heights this year to date.

Success at the 2020 Wales Open still rates as Langasque’s only victory on the DP World Tour, and he’s yet to tee it up competitively here at PGA Catalunya, however I get the feeling he’ll enjoy this week’s test. RESULT: MC

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Tom Lewis 1pt EW 100/1 (6EW, 1/5) with Spreadex

Given what we’ve seen in the past from Tom Lewis, any hint at a return to form has to be taken seriously and last week’s tie for 10th in Tarragona is more of a sledgehammer than a subtle clue. 5 missed cuts on the Korn Ferry Tour had preceded that effort, however perhaps the comfort of the DP World Tour, where he’s won twice in near by Portugal in the past, has helped him rekindle the kind of game that we know he has.

A recent top-10 finish prior to both of those victories suggests that he’s the kind of sparky character who can build on positivity when it arrives in his game and with his Korn Ferry Tour Championship success in 2019 we can also evidence his tie for 11th in far loftier company a few weeks before at The Open.

Aside from those efforts mentioned thus far, a runner-up finish at the 2019 FedEx St Jude is also light years ahead of many here this week, as are two top-7 finishes at the DP World Tour Championship and a trio of 3rd place finishes at the Saudi International, Dubai Desert Classic and Dunhill Links.

Despite missing all those cuts on the KFT, his long game hasn’t been wildly inaccurate and he arrives here having had two positive spins at PGA Catalunya in the past, finishing 15th at the 2014 Spanish Open and 11th 2 years later at Q-School finals. RESULT: MC

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Michael Lorenzo-Vera 1pt EW 150/1 (6EW. 1/5) with William Hill

Putting complete faith in the caddie-collated stats from last week’s ISPS Championship is a dangerous game, however the long game seemed to fire for Mike Lorenzo-Vera last week and he could build on his tie for 23rd here this week.

An excellent putter when on his game, it’s a surprise really that the door has never fully opened for him on the DP World Tour, with his solitary career victory coming on the Challenge Tour way back in 2007. 4 runner-up finishes since the start of 2018 suggest that he’s still giving it a good go though and if he can find that magical week when the long game and putter form collide then he’s capable of breaking through in my view, even at the relatively late age of 37 by today’s standards.

The Frenchman’s Spanish form is generally positive, with his most eye-catching finishes in the region of late coming at Valderrama which takes no prisoners from off the tee. 6th in 2016 saw Mike leading into the final day, and he proved that was no fluke by finishing 2nd on his next attempt at that tree-lined challenge 3 years later.

3rd at the Open de France ties in nicely with both Levet and Jimenez who are winners here at PGA Catalunya, and a decent record at Crans-sur-Sierre, which is also another strategic thinker’s track, also works well with Jimenez and Bjorn. RESULT: MC

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Odds and bookmaker offers correct at 17:15BST 25.4.22 but are naturally subject to fluctuation.