EUROPEAN Tour golf specialist Vince Blissett (@Vince_RFC) returns to share his thoughts on the upcoming Andalusia Masters.
Andalusia Masters | 19th October – 22nd October 2017 | Sky Sports
It’s the Andalucia Masters this week around the historic Valderrama course. It has been host for a number of tournaments under different names over the years but the last three are the ones I’m concentrating on.
In 2010 and 2011 this tournament was played there and more recently, last year’s Open De Espana was also hosted here.
The last few weeks have been birdie fests but if the results of those three are anything to go on, the leaders will be around the par mark come Sunday.
Last year Andrew ‘Beef’ Johnston won with a score of +1, back in ’11 Sergio Garcia won with -6 and before that Graeme McDowell won with a score of -3. Only 14 men scored par or better over both of those tournaments combined, so it’s a tough one.
There’s a clear formula for winning if looking at those tournaments. The three winners have ranked 1st, 11th and 5th in Driving Accuracy and 1st, 10th and 1st in Greens in Regulation. Basically, you need to plot your way around the course strategically and then make a few putts.
Something to note is that this is also the final chance to secure a full Tour card for next season; those in the top 100 in the Race to Dubai after this week will get theirs. That means it’s worth having a look at those hovering around that mark -there’s always someone who puts together a big week to just about jump up far enough.
The bookmakers favourites
It’s a slightly strange market with no player priced between 25/1 and 45/1 but it means there are opportunities to be had. The head of the market is dominated by Sergio Garcia and Jon Rahm who are 6/1 and 17/2 respectively.
Sergio’s course form is sensational (10 top-5s in 12) but is far too short to consider. On paper Rahm shouldn’t be suited to the course and I’ve discounted him very quickly.
Shane Lowry is easily overlooked, for me. Martin Kaymer may well never win again and I can’t find a way of liking Joost Luiten. The only other short price is Soren Kjeldsen, who I’m mightily tempted by.
This course suits Kjeldsen down to the ground and his course form is good. The negative is he hasn’t played at all for seven weeks so could be rusty. Ultimately, I’m leaving him out as well.
Nacho Elvira (50/1 Coral)
I like having a homegrown guy on-board in these type of events, which almost backfired last week when I disregarded Nino Bertasio in Italy. There’s plenty more chances of a Spaniard getting a win this week than an Italian last time out, mind.
Looking past the top two, there’s a whole raft of Spaniards in the second string who have the ability to win. The one I like though is Nacho Elvira, who’s 50/1 with Coral.
His form is pretty decent, with six top-20s in his last nine starts, the best of those being a seventh-place in nearby Portugal. For the season, he ranks 33rd in DA and 18th in GIR.
He was 53rd round Valderrama last season but he did have two rounds of 72 in there, which is encouraging. He hasn’t won on the main tour so it may be a stretch to think he can win his first on an historic course but he’s got the ability.
Jamie Donaldson (70/1 Bet365)
Jamie Donaldson ranked 11th all around last week but finished down in 26th. He was 1st in GIR, which is a plus, but his accuracy was his weak point. However, the week before at the Alfred Dunhill he hit 87.5% of fairways but missed the cut as his putting let him down.
None the less, all aspects of his game have been there in recent weeks, just not at the same time, so surely its only a matter of time before it does.
Jamie ranks well at 43rd for the season in DA, 20th in GIR and 52nd in Putting giving further evidence he’s been playing solid without kicking on. As a result of sporadic top-20 finishes, he finds himself way down in 118th in the Race to Dubai so needs a good week to have a chance of a card for next season.
70/1 is maybe a little shorter than I was hoping for but he’s got the experience to handle the pressure and I’d want to have him onside.
James Morrison (100/1 SkyBet)
The man in 101st in the Race to Dubai is the last main pick. He needs a good week to keep his card too and at 100/1 is a good price.
Last year Morrison was fourth on this course and also won that tournament, the Open de Espana on another course in 2015. He’s missed the cut three of the last four weeks with a 25th at the Alfred Dunhill the exception.
With a card on the line and playing on a course he has form on I’d expect him to up his game slightly.
Jose-Felipe Lima (250/1 SkyBet)
Finally I know everyone likes a huge price and there’s a 250/1 shot who’s worth a small play. Jose-Felipe Lima is the man and his form reads MC-20-5-16 with the 5th in his half native Portugal.
Half the time he misses the cut but when he doesn’t, he tends to be top 30 or higher. Recently it’s been his putting that’s been the catalyst for his results but he’s perfectly capable hitting fairways and greens.
He’s erratic – hence the price – but for me, its still too big and worth a small play.