The Race to Dubai will stage its first event on European fairways this week, with the NH Collection Open at La Reserva de Sotogrande Club de Golf taking place in southern Spain.
It’s a new tournament that holds dual status (along with the Challenge Tour), and while the best golfers from this side of the Atlantic are elsewhere preparing for next week’s Masters, it gives the opportunity for the next generation to shine and grab precious playing privileges.
The layout hasn’t been used to host a European Tour event before, but some of the field will know it from local tournaments and given its proximity to Valderrama – just a few hundred metres away – it’s likely to hold few surprises. Home favourite, and recent easy winner of the Trophee Hassan II, Alejandro Canizares describes the course as ‘longish’ but ‘fairly generous off the tee’ with wind ‘a big factor’.
The Spaniard vies for top spot in the betting with David Horsey and Bernd Wiesburger at 16/1, with the Austrian the weakest of the market principles in terms of current form. However, his length off the tee will certainly make the layers wary.
If distance with the driver is key, this could be the event Lucas Bjerregaard drops his maiden tag at odds of 25/1. The Dane commands plenty of yards with the Big Dog, ranking sixth on tour in 2014 in driving distance. The Challenge Tour graduate has form figures of 9-2-21-11-15 coming into this week and won’t be as rusty as some given he played in the Investec Cup in South Africa a fortnight ago.
Another Scandinavian, Jens Dantorp, a 66/1 shot, could also prosper. The Swede is another big hitter, and four consecutive top 30 finishes on tour over the past six weeks suggests he is comfortable in top flight company after initially progressing from the Nordic Tour. He won nine times on the third tier schedule before moving up to the Challenge Tour, where he claimed the Rolex Trophy last term.
Finally, Andy Sullivan (33s) is a streaky player punters should stay on the right side of when in form. The former Walker Cup player finished better than everyone in the last European Tour event in Morocco, carding a Sunday 63 to rocket up the leaderboard and grab second spot. Sullivan ranked inside the top ten in four of the five main stats categories in North Africa and cannot be discounted.
My three off the tee – Bjerregaard, Dantorp and Sullivan.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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