GOLF analyst Lewis Blain (@LewisBlainSport) shares his betting thoughts ahead of the Andalucia Masters on the European Tour.
Andalucia Masters | 27th-30th June | Sky Sports
The European Tour heads to Spain from Germany for one of the Tour’s most frequently used and popular tracks. Valderrama has hosted all sorts of Spanish golf events dating back to the 1980s and in recent times former Masters champion Sergio Garcia has dominated with three wins from three in this very tournament.
With the PGA Tour going to a new venue this week, this will take centre stage.
- Real Club Valderrama, Cadiz, Spain.
- Par 71 – 6,988 yards.
- Robert Trent Jones Snr design.
- Very tough but short tree-lined parklands course.
- One of the tightest tracks on the European Tour with twisting narrow fairways.
- Errant tee-shots will be punished by trees rather than long rough – think Augusta National but more severe.
- Water comes into play on some holes but wind is a bigger factor if the weather is up.
- Small bentgrass greens protected by bunkers.
- Hugely all-round test meaning the best players normally rise to the top. Big pedigree of winners including Garcia, Justin Rose, Padraig Harrington, Graeme McDowell, Miguel Jimenez, Ian Poulter etc.
- Importance on accuracy, both driving and greens in regulations.
- Premium on ball-striking = SG: OTT+SG: APP.
- Winning score around here hasn’t been huge so bogey avoidance must be considered. If you can make par & minimise mistakes, then you’ll give it a good go. Garcia has won on -12 last two years, -6 in 2011 and -3 in 2010 (usually October). Andrew Johnston won the Spanish Open here in April at +1.
- Opportunities to score will come on the par-5s.
- Course history is hugely beneficial.
- Not looking at many correlated courses but form in Spain (both ET and Challenge Tour), Le Golf National (similar layout – French Open), Golf du Palais Royal (same designer – Trophee Hassan II), Celtic Manor (same designer – strangely pops up), recent tree-lined form (ie. Kenya Open).
- Jon Rahm, Garcia and Matt Fitzpatrick are all very worthy favourites for the event but I’m happy to let them go, all at under 10/1. The next rung of players looks like a team of people who have let us down in recent tournaments, Detry… Suri… Schwab. Again, all worthy to be priced there. I feel the best value is further down the odds list.
Ashley Chesters (66/1 Betfred)
Chesters is one of the most accurate hitters in Europe, ranking ninth for driving Accuracy this season. He also ranks out well on approach (44th), greens in regulation (23rd) and bogey avoidance (21st) so he very much looks appealing for this sort of test.
He has improved on both of his trips here. In 2017 he finished T12 (-1) before a solo fourth place last year (-5). That finish earlier in October came from sort of nowhere, well, he wasn’t pulling up any trees with finishes in the 40s and a few missed cuts.
It’s a similar story with his recent form now – he’s made five of seven cuts with a best finish of 21st which was at this weekend’s BMW International.
Aaron Rai (70/1 Betfred)
Another Englishman gets the nod despite a barren run of form, though, it appears the corner is turning. Rai had missed four cuts in six tournaments before a T18 at the Made in Denmark last time out where he showed drastic signs of improvement.
What I like most about Rai this week is where he has won. He has won on the European Tour by claiming the Hong Kong Open back in 2018. Though, that is largely irrelevant, he has three Challenge Tour victories of huge interest – the Kenya Open before it was a ET competition, a win in Spain at the Andalucia Costa del Sol Match Play and the Le Vaudreuil Golf Challenge. The latter isn’t a clear correlation but Johnston has won there and won here so who knows.
Rai is a very accurate driver and regularly hits greens, ranks 15th for both DA and GIR. He too is probably one of the best in the field at minimising mistakes, ranking 8th for bogey avoidance so this sort of grind should suit. He’s out of form but this is the sort of test he will relish to get back on track. Yet to be included in the Open either, he will want one of those three spots on offer this week.
Maximilian Kieffer (90/1 Betfair)
If Kieffer were to win, it wouldn’t come as too much of a shock despite his odds this week. He’d be another one of those players who have been boiling all season to win. Chez Reavie similar at the weekend over on the PGA Tour. He’s a superb fit for the test in Spain and has the course form to back it up.
The German is accurate off the tee (26th), hits a lot of greens (51st), can scramble well if he misses (31st) and can avoid the mistakes (27th). His course form trends upwards sharply with one missed cut sandwiched inbetween a T29 and a T5 back in October.
A T2 at the Oman Open and a T5 at the Maybank Championship had people jumping on the young 28-year-old but since then his form has gone a bit flat. He’s shown up at Palais for the Trophee Hassan in the past and has a top-10 and a top-20 at Le Golf National in much stronger fields.
Victor Perez (150/1 Boylesports)
Victor Perez is another Challenge Tour graduate I like this week at big odds. In 2017, he won the Challenge de Espana and has a couple of other good finishes in this neck of the woods.
His all round game is pretty decent as reflected in his season stats – 30th for GIR, 10th SG:OTT, 51st for SG:APP and 56th for Driving Accuracy.
I’m happy to take a punt on him this week despite not being in the greatest of form. He’s popped here and there on tour this season and is hugely rated so who knows, he might pull something out this week.
Anton Karlsson (250/1 Boylesports)
I’ll end the staking plan with a rank outsider who should play better than his odds suggest.
Swede Anton Karlsson is very talented and can join the list of phenomenal Swede’s to win on this tour – Stenson.. Noren… now Kinhult. It is his form this year that makes the appeal.
A T9 at the Kenya Open is clearly something we’re looking for. He managed that after a T2 the week earlier. His 18th at the Belgian Knockout to end three straight cuts is a good sign too.
He has actually played this course once before but it wasn’t a great finish but least he’s gained some experience from it. His form at Belgium and at the Kenya Open suggests he may well enjoy this test and I’m happy to take a stab at it at these odds.
Andalucia Masters – Ashley Chesters (66/1 each-way Betfred)
Andalucia Masters – Aaron Rai (70/1 each-way Betfred)
Andalucia Masters – Maximilian Kieffer (90/1 each-way Betfair)
Andalucia Masters – Victor Perez (150/1 each-way Boylesports)
Andalucia Masters – Anton Karlsson (250/1 each-way Boylesports)