After much deliberation, this week's staking plan is all in on the Andalucia Valderrama Masters. I'll also run through some outsiders considered for the Rocket Mortgage Classic below but this new event feels like a bit of a lottery.
The contrast could scarcely be clearer. Valderrama has featured on the European Tour for decades. It presents a rather niche challenge involving specific demands. The angles to follow are tried and trusted.
Ormsby fits the statistical bill
This is a very tricky, short, tree-lined course. Driving accuracy is of paramount importance, lest finding the small greens in regulation becomes very difficult. To contend, players need to avoid mistakes and scramble well for pars.
Back Wade Ormsby 1u e/w @ 100/1 (1/5 odds, seven places)
This is definitely one of Wade Ormsby's better chances of the season. The Aussie is too short for most courses but reliably accurate, ranking 19th for driving accuracy among these over the past year, and the second best scrambler this season. He finished fifth two years ago.
His most suitable recent test came when giving us a good run for 54 holes at the Trophee Hassan. Steve Rawlings notes a useful correlation with that course in his preview and past Hong Kong Open results at Fanling are also worth checking. That was the scene of Ormsby's last win in 2018.
Jaidee's experience a big plus at Valderrama
Back Thongchai Jaidee to win 0.5u @ 230.0229/1
Back Thongchai Jaidee for a Top 10 Finish 1.5u @ 16.5
As ever, choosing whether to bet each-way or win only at much higher odds on the exchange presents a conundrum. With Garcia, Rahm, Fitzpatrick and Luiten very strong at the top of the market, some sort of place cover is in order. In this case though, try this combination of win plus Top Ten Finish.
Jaidee is the only player in this field above Ormsby in the scrambling stats. He's 11th for bogey avoidance this season and top-four for both scrambling and driving accuracy over the past three months.
Though this eight-time Euro Tour winner is not the force of old at 49, Valderrama is the sort of track where experience pays and a veteran could win. His best recent result was ninth at the aforementioned Trophee Hassan and his Fanling record is outstanding.
Wu is creeping back to form
Back Ashun Wu 1u e/w @ 175/1 (1/5 odds, seven places)
Wu catches the eye at huge odds having played well for 54 holes last week. Combined with fifth in the China Open, he could be returning to the sort of form that landed three European Tour titles - the last as recent as last September at the KLM Open.
The Chinese star is another short-hitter whose chance must increase here. What he lacks in power is compensated in the key disciplines for Valderrama, ranking top-20 for both driving accuracy and scrambling among these over the past year.
Several alternatives made the shortlist. Soren Kjeldsen's course record very much points to a bet at 110.0109/1 even if recent form doesn't. Jason Scrivener 120.0119/1 ticks numerous boxes - particularly regarding bogey avoidance and Fanling form.
The most interesting though is John Catlin at 600.0599/1. This 29 year-old American was prolific on the Asian Tour and has turned in a few decent efforts on both sides of the Atlantic this year. He's seventh among these for driving accuracy.
Malnati rated top outsider in Michigan
Regarding the Rocket Mortgage Classic, we are at a total loss for course form. The most obvious angle is to study past form at Donald Ross courses and my suspicion is that strokes gained approach will be the key stat, given a premium on finding the right part of the greens.
My top pick here is Peter Malnati at 200.0199/1 - Future of Fantasy list him as a Donald Ross specialist. He's enjoying a decent season, making plenty of cuts and ranks an impressive 38th for strokes gained approach (a generally high class list).
Excellent putting stats also bode well for what could be a low scoring event - his sole previous win came with -18 at the 2015 Sanderson Farms Championship.
Nick Taylor 350.0349/1 also emerges from the Ross stats and is another former Sandersons Farm winner. I'm keen to consistently follow the highly promising Sam Burns 180.0179/1. Broadly though I'm in agreement with Steve Rawlings that this could be one for the favourite, Dustin Johnson. Check out his comprehensive preview here.
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