Andalucia Masters First Round Leader: Look to Larrazabal for early gains

Spain's Pablo Larrazabal
Spain's Pablo Larrazabal can start fast
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The European Tour heads to Spain this week and Dave Tindall has three each-way selections to make a fast start at Valderrama...

"He was the first-round leader here thanks to a 66 in 2010, third after 18 holes in 2017 and sixth following the R1 action in 2016."

Back Pablo Larrazabal each-way @ 80/1

Each-way terms: 1/5 odds, 6 places

Weather forecast for Valderrama: There's some pleasant sunshine and temperatures reach the early 80s in the afternoon but check out those strong winds. It could blow seriously all day, although the morning starters may not have it quite as tough.

First-round leader history at Valderrama:

2019 - 65 Victor Perez
2018 - 66 Ashley Chesters
2017 - 66 Sergio Garcia, Joost Luiten
2016 - 66 Alexander Levy

Strategy: The wind will definitely be a factor and the forecast, which could change, suggests the early starters could have a slight edge (smoother greens too). It's not massively clear-cut though so I'll spread my tips through the day.

Pablo the pick

Pablo Larrazabal has struggled to piece together four good rounds at Valderrama and that's why his best finish is tied 12th in 2017.

But in terms of starting fast, it's a completely different story.

He was the first-round leader here thanks to a 66 in 2010, third after 18 holes in 2017 and sixth following the R1 action in 2016.

A 68 on day one last year continued the theme and put him 11th.

As for recent events, it's a similar story: fast starts but mixed finishes.

That suits us, of course, and at the beginning of August a 64 put Larrazabal second after the first lap of the Hero Open.

Home-soil comforts may just take on extra importance this week as players jet in after the six-week UK Swing.

And given his ability to go low on day one at this course, the Spaniard stands out at 80/1.

He heads out at 8:45am from the 1st.

Make it Meronk

Adrian Meronk is making his debut at Valderrama but the Pole could hit the ground running.

A winner of the neighbouring Open de Portugal on the second tier last September, he certainly enjoys this time of the year and this part of the world.

Meronk posted 9-18-7 in three Challenge Tour events in Spain in 2019 and showed up strongly just two starts ago when taking tied sixth at the Celtic Classic.

He did that via an exceptional short game, gaining 6.299 strokes Around The Green (ranked 1st) and that is a big key to success at Valderrama where everyone misses greens.

As evidence, last year's winner here Christiaan Bezuidenout ranked 1st for SG: Around The Green and plenty of other Valderrama winners boasted excellent Scrambling numbers.

On the season-long stats, Meronk is 11th ATG while Larrazabal is 3rd.

Meronk was fourth after day one in Wales two weeks ago while his other most notable R1 performances came in late August/early September last year.

He was the first-round leader at the Rolex Trophy thanks to a 66 and second following Thursday's action at the Open de Portugal before lifting the trophy.

Take the 90/1 on Meronk, who starts at 10:50am.

Place faith in Pavon

For an afternoon starter, I'll take Matthieu Pavon, who heads out at 2:20pm.

Frenchmen have taken pole position after 18 holes in two of the last four events at Valderrama and Pavon has the skills to make it three in five.

In terms of having a hot short game, he's ranked in the top 10 for Strokes Gained: Around The Green in two of his last three events and that helped him land a top-six finish at the Hero Open in early August.

Pavon had his first look at Valderrama last year, finishing a highly respectable tied 23rd, and he did his best work on day one.

An opening 67 put him seventh at day's end and he has a fair bit going for him at the industry-best 95/1.

Staked: £630
Returned: £366.19
P/L: -£263.81

Dave Tindall,

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