Another place pay-out for the in-form team last week but it could have been so much better but for Kiradech Aphibarnrat's doule bogey on his 70th hole. We're off to iconic Valderrama this week, and the guys are keen on this quintet of hopefuls...
- Dan Geraghty: Back Aaron Rai @ 66/1
- Paul Krishnamurty: Back Maximilian Kieffer @ 80/1
- Steve Rawlings: Back Alejandro Canizares @ 50/1
- Mike Norman: Back Stephen Gallacher @ 66/1
- Joe Dyer: Back Alexander Bjork @ 66/1
*EW Terms: 1/5 Odds | 6 Places
Dan Geraghty: Back Aaron Rai @ 66/1
Aaron Rai's career is at least six months ahead of schedule after he earned a shotgun promotion to the European Tour following three quickfire Challenge Tour victories earlier this year. The first of those victories was in Kenya in March and Rai said of the venue "It's not an overly long course, it's pretty firm, and it's quite tight in places so I think (keys are) hitting it well off the tee and keeping yourself in a good position." I was personally blown away by how straight Rai hit the ball at US Open qualifying at Walton Heath in May, I don't think he missed a fairway - Valderrama could be ideal and certainly looks like it will play to the strengths of the Englishman's game.
Paul Krishnamurty: Back Maximilian Kieffer @ 80/1
Currently 82nd on the rankings, Max Kieffer needs something special if he wants to make the field for the lucrative Race to Dubai finale but, following four rounds in the 60s in Italy to land his best finish in months, hope springs eternal. I think the nature of this Valderrama challenge will suit much better than last week's birdie-fest. In order to even be competitive around this famously tough layout, one needs a very accurate long game. The German is one of the most accurate drivers on this tour - ranking fifth amongst this field throughout 2017 - and has been hitting plenty of greens in regulation of late. A further positive is his record in Spain - finishing top-nine in their national Open three years consecutively from 2013 to 2015.
Steve Rawlings: Back Alejandro Canizares @ 50/1
With such a disappointing field assembling at Valderrama, we're faced with the choice of taking a very short price about either of the two hot favourites, Sergio Garcia and Jon Rahm, or a much shorter price about other players than we're used to taking. A case can be made for backing Garcia each-way given his incredibly strong record here (placed more often than not) but the one I quite like is fellow Spaniard, Alejandro Canizares. Both his previous wins have come at tree-lined courses and he has a fine record here too. In three starts, he's finished 21st, seventh and 11th and he played really nicely last week in Italy, where he finished tied for 15th. Canizares' second victory was in the Trophée Hassan II at the Golf du Palais Royal which is another tree-lined Robert Trent Jones Sr design so it's not surprising that Valderrama fits his game.
Mike Norman: Back Stephen Gallacher @ 66/1
I'm hoping for a lot better luck with my Stephen Gallacher selection this week than I did when putting him up at the Portugal Masters last month, where he made a quadruple bogey during a very poor opening round before withdrawing. But there were some very encouraging signs before Portugal - hence the selection - and there have been some even better once since. The popular Scot finished 15th at the British Masters, where he ranked fourth for Driving Accuracy throughout the week, and a fortnight ago he finished 12th at the Alfred Dunhill Links, where no player in the field hit more greens in regulation. Those two stats - DA and GIR - are crucial around Valderrama's tight track, so it bodes well that Gallacher has ranked high in both disciplines recently. It's also encouraging that in his last visit here - albeit six years ago - he finished 12th. And perhaps also significant is that Gallacher needs to get a wriggle on; he currently sits 77th in the Race to Dubai standings, meaning he needs a very high finish this week to climb inside that all-important top 60.
Joe Dyer: Back Alexander Bjork @ 66/1
As Steve points out in his excellent preview most Valderrama winners excel in certain areas - accurate off tee and fairway, and excellent scramblers should they miss the small, fast greens. Course form also counts for plenty on this tricky track and while that all points to a Sergio Garcia win, his price is no good for this column. In the absence of a grizzled veteran with bundles of Valderrama form available to back at an attractive price I am putting my faith in a talented youngster who looks to have the skills to contend this week - Alexander Bjork is the fifth best scrambler on tour, and ranks in the top 30 for driving accuracy and greens-in-regulation. This has been some debut full season on tour for the 27-year-old Swede with a tie for third at the Open De France, another tough track, his best result. It'll be some achievement to finish top of the pile in Spain, but the price is given a boost by Garcia and Rahm and I'm happy to support him with six places paid on the Betfair Sportsbook.
2017 Season P/L to date: -£122.84
- Italia Open, Kiradech Aphibarnrat @ 66/1 - PLACE (Paul)
- Alfred Dunhill Links, Robert Rock @ 200/1 - PLACE (Mike)
- British Masters, Graeme Storm @ 100/1 - PLACE (Mike)
- British Masters, Shane Lowry @ 28/1 - PLACE (Adam)
- KLM Open, Eddie Pepperell @ 40/1 - PLACE (Mike)
- Czech Masters, Eddie Pepperell @ 50/1 - PLACE (Paul)
- Made In Denmark, Chris Paisley @ 110/1 - PLACE (Joe)
- European Open, Zander Lombard @ 150/1 - PLACE (Steve)
- The Open, Brooks Koepka @ 25/1 - PLACE (Dan)
- The Open, Marc Leishman @ 55/1 - PLACE (Andy O'Rourke)
- Scottish Open, Anthony Wall @ 200/1 - PLACE (Paul)
- US Open, Brooks Koepka @ 40/1 - WIN (Dave Tindall)
- Lyoness Open, Dylan Frittelli @ 40/1 - WIN (Paul)
- Lyoness Open, Mikko Korhonen @ 50/1 - PLACE (Joe)
- Nordea Masters, Chris Wood @ 33/1 - PLACE (Joe)
- Nordea Masters, Thorbjorn Olesen @ 50/1 - PLACE (Steve)
- Open de Portugal, Mark Foster @ 50/1 - PLACE (Mike)
- Golf Sixes, Denmark @ 10/1 - WIN (Dan)
- Golf Sixes, Scotland @ 12/1 - PLACE (Paul)
- Volvo China Open, Dylan Frittelli @ 35/1 PLACE (Paul)
- Masters, Paul Casey @ 50/1 - PLACE (Steve)
- Hero Indian Open, Carlos Pigem @ 80/1 - PLACE (Paul)
- Tshwane Open, Dean Burmester @ 16/1 - WIN (Paul)
- Abu Dhabi Championship, Martin Kaymer @ 30/1 PLACE (Steve)
- Alfred Dunhill Championship, Thomas Detry @ 66/1 - PLACE (Dan)
- Alfred Dunhill Championship, Richard Sterne @ 22/1 - PLACE (Paul)
* Total P/L for 2016 Season: +£267.58
* Total P/L for 2015 Season: +£958.37
* Total P/L for 2014 Season: +£251.75
£5 E/W Per Bet