The European Tour returns home to mainland Europe for the summer stretch this week with the Open de España at the Real Club de Golf el Prat. Having been out in the Middle East, Far East and Southern Africa, European fans finally get the chance to see the best golfers the continent has to offer first-hand. This week is especially exciting for Spanish fans who will be cheering on both Sergio Garcia and the defending champion Miguel Angel Jimenez.
Jimenez broke his own record as the oldest player to win on the European Tour last season but will find it difficult to retain his title. He plays much of his golf on the Champions Tour these days and hasn’t set the world alight when playing on the European or PGA Tours this season. The course – a par-72 designed by Greg Norman – plays around 7,300 yards from the competition tees. So, those players who possess big distance have an instant advantage. That may rule Jimenez out but could open the door for Garcia.
Garcia was very impressive at the Players Championship last week but was unable to secure the win in a three-way playoff. His ball striking was as good as ever but he was once again not quite up to par with his putting. His ability with the putter has certainly improved of late as he mixes between a claw and more orthodox grip. Whichever he opts for in Catalunya this week, he will need to keep holing putts to justify his favouritism. Bet365 go 11/2 about Garcia. It’s a short price but you’d have to say he is the best player in the field and won’t suffer from the sort of heckling he endured at Sawgrass last week – even if he is a Real Madrid fan playing near Barcelona!
Thomas Aiken decided to take a two month break from competition after playing at the Masters in Augusta. He made his return last week at the Mauritius Open but did not suffer from any apparent rustiness. He finished fourth then and is the last man to win the Open de España when it was hosted around this track in 2011. That win was his first on the European Tour, he’s since secured two more and could well make it four this week.
Francesco Molinari is the final pick for this week. The Italian has had a few issues with his game of late but has been working very hard to right them. He’s not played on the European Tour so far this season but has amassed some impressive stats in America. He’s the most accurate driver on the PGA Tour and ranks 14th for greens hit in regulation. Along with his coach, Molinari is working to improve his power and distance and the early signs are encouraging. If he produces anything like his best, he’ll be in and around the leaders come Sunday afternoon. The bookies are split on Molinari’s chances with the best value to be found at Bet365 who are offering 35/1. Back him each-way to return to Europe with a bang and land you a very nice profit.