Selectabet: Andalucia Masters
October 25, 2011 Leave a comment
Date: 27th – 30th October 2011
Competition: Andalucia Masters
Hello, welcome to Spain, the Number 1 ranked course in Continental Europe and the last European event of the 2011 Race to Dubai season. We are at Club de Golf Valderrama, a few miles North of Gibraltar in Paella Country.
As the race hots-up nicely for a dramatic climax with the Dubai World Championships a few weeks away – all eyes are on the 15 individuals who are a mere 3,000,000 Euros behind run away Race to Dubai Money leader, PGA Tour Money Winner and, lets’ not forget, World Number 1 (without a major)…Luke Donald.
Venue: Club de Golf Valderrama, Sotogrande
Navigating subtle doglegs on gently undulating parkland terrain through a cork forest, this Robert Trent Jones Sr. design seems so simple and effortless one does not have a day go by without pondering why every golf course can’t be like this. It is, by no means, an easy course – nor was it intended to be, but designed to call for thought and precision on every shot. Now one of the world’s most famous clubs, Valderrama features small, raised greens defended by heavy bunkering and cork trees. (I said cork imbécil….!)
Yards: 6,988 yards
Now that the US PGA Tour has come to a giddy money grabbing climax (congratulations again Luke), it’s the turn of the European Tour to turn up the heat on those focusing on a top 60 position for the Dubai World Championships and specifically the top 15 who can qualify for their share of the $7.5 Million Bonus Pool. Those currently wide of the mark include Padraig Harrington, Justin Rose and Jeev Milka Singh who this weekend will flamenco head to head for 500,000 small golden reasons why they should make this year’s draft and take their strutting to the Arabian desert.
This course favours length, accuracy and with such small greens, meticulous putting (Paul Lawrie is not playing). This week, those hotly tipped for these very reasons include Richie Ramsay (75/1), Thomas Aiken (28/1) and Ross Fisher (35/1 – all Bet365) although none of them made Jenks’ shortlist this week.
Last year’s winning score was minus 3 (-3) but despite that, look out for the 536 yard par 5 17th that delights golf nuts each year with everything from albatrosses to wet feet as the round draws to a close!
Ones to watch:
One player, likely to never complain about Valderrama’s 17th hole is Miguel Angel Jimenez (69/1 with BetDaq). In the 1994 Volvo Masters, Jimenez carded an albatross, eagle and two birdies over four rounds. Currently sitting in 16th position outside the bonus pool, the athletic, flexible and clean living Miguel needs to quit the siestas and put in solid performance in the busy coming schedule to secure his position within the crème of the crop.
With its tight fairways and small greens, Valderrama suits Graeme McDowell (20/1 with PaddyPower) down to the ground. He currently ranks fifth on Tour in GIR, hitting 13.9 per round, which coupled with his above average driving accuracy (9.1 fairways per round) should see him fare well this week. And whatever the venue it always helps to putt well, and with the Northern Irishman ranking 16th in putts per GIR the numbers really do seem to be in his favour.
Ones to win:
One of the many local heroes, Pablo Larrazabel (81/1 at WBX) has played consistently and solidly across the whole length of the season. Pulled off a great win at the BMW International to cement his Tour Card (to avoid future work on the family fish farm) but will be keen to avoid playing like a donkey and put in further good performances to put him in with the big hats in the European Tours valuable top ten club.
Moving to England from South Africa was just the start of Justin Rose (22/1 at Bet365 & VictorChandler) and his link to the world of golf – first breaking 70 aged 11, playing off plus 3 at 14 and playing in the Walker Cup aged 17 years and 10 days. 14 years later, and now playing much of his golf in the US, he finished 5th in the Fed Ex Cup in 2011 and requires 4 more outings to meet European Tour obligations (having played 9 events) and a number of high placed finishes to ensure a decent position in the rankings let alone an exclusive top 60 or even top 15 finish! His US win in late September proves he has it to compete for the sangria from the silverware while the Marcha Real plays on!