Author: Paul Atkin
Published: 10:29 13/05/2014
A quality field has pitched up this week for the Open De Espana, which takes place at the well renowned PGA Catalunya Resort at Girona. The 7172yd Par 72 Stadium Course, last played host to this Championship in 2009 (also hosted the 2000 renewal), but has also been used since 2008 as the venue for the dreaded European Tour Qualifying School Finals (four of the six rounds of any successful card holder would have been played over the Stadium Course). The picturesque venue is certainly an undulating track, with tree lined fairways, and plenty of elevated tee shots, with water hazards featuring on holes 3,4,5,11 and 13th. Accuracy, rather than length off the tee will be vital this week. Sunny skies with light breezes of up to 10-15mph are forecast for the four days.
The field features all the top Spanish players, including Sergio Garcia, fresh from another great week at The Players Championship. Other than a missed cut at Augusta, the enigmatic Spaniard, has been a model of consistency this year, so on a course he knows well and where his Junior Golf Academy is situated, he has to greatly feared in his quest to win his home title for the second time. The layers are certainly taking no chances in pricing up El Nino at around the 5-1 mark, and in my opinion he represents little value, he just does not win enough to warrant those cramped odds. He may well hose up, but not with my hard earned cash on!
The main fancy this week is another enigmatic character Thomas Bjorn, who arrives here fresh from a missed cut at Sawgrass. This may prove a blessing in disguise for the poker faced Dane who seems destined for a spot in this years Ryder Cup team at Gleneagles. He showed his well being in his previous start, with a Tied 8th at Augusta, but more importantly he has a fantastic record around this track. He won the Sarazen World Open here in 1999, and also finished Tied 3rd in the 2009 Spanish Open, so this venue certainly suits his eye. With good karma about the Catalunya Resort, expect a bold show from the Tour veteran.
Another fancy this week is the Englishman David Horsey, who has found a rich vein of form recently. Other than a missed cut in Malaysia, on a course that would not have suited him, his last five starts have resulted in three top 10 finishes a 12th and 24th place finish. He also has course form having finished a highly credible Tied 8th in the 2009 Spanish Open, and this accurate ball striker should be ideally suited by this type of test.
At a bigger price, I have a sneaking fancy for another in form Englishman, the rapidly improving Andy Sullivan. He caught my eye last year, but has looked an improved player this year, with a 2nd place finish in Morocco, a Tied 5th in the Joburg Open, and more recently a Tied 8th in the Volvo China Open. His performance in China was particularly impressive, as it followed a last round meltdown in Malaysia the previous week, when paired with eventual winner Lee Westwood. The 27 year old who only turned professional after the 2011 Walker Cup, has visited this venue in both 2011 and 2012 for the Q School Final, and on both occasions gained the tour card, which shows two things,he loves the track, and he does not lack heart!
Thomas Bjorn 28-1 E/W Coral
David Horsey 66/1 E/W Boylesports
Andy Sullivan 80/1 BetVictor