This week's outsiders column focuses on the Italian Open, where Paul Krishnamurty says the presence of some world-class market leaders has inflated the odds of some very capable types...
"Stats-wise, Lee's case is very interesting. He ranks second amongst this field for birdie average over the past three months and has hit nothing less than 72% of greens in regulation and only once less than 62% of fairways in his last eight starts."
So far as searching for outsider winners is concerned, there really is no contest between this week's two main events. Although there are plenty of players at [100.0] or better in the field, the CIMB Classic generally proves a graveyard for anything other than obvious market leaders with plenty of course form. As Steve Rawlings argues in his preview, this may be a rare occasion where the favourite, Justin Thomas, is good value.
In complete contrast, the Italian Open has a long history of producing massive-priced winners. It is almost always a low-scoring birdie-fest - ideal for outsiders as anyone at this level can get hot with the putter - and this renewal looks no exception. A short par-71, lacking penal rough after a hot, dry summer, with very little wind forecast, offers very little resistance. Francesco Molinari won on -22 last year and I suspect we'll see at least -20 again.
Furthermore, the presence of some world-class market leaders means much bigger odds than might normally be the case about numerous highly-capable, mid-ranking players. Sure favourite Jon Rahm warrants plenty of respect but it is perfectly plausible that the Spanish bomber gets left behind after one average day on the greens. Compared to Thomas in Malaysia, for example, this favourite looks poor value.
Back Chris Hanson 2u @ [250.0]
Place order to lay 10u @ [25.0]
Place order to lay 15u @ [12.0]
Given these inflated odds, I'm persisting with a couple of recent selections, who enjoyed contrasting fortunes when carrying our cash. Chris Hanson earned us a profit at the British Masters by hitting the first lay target but his failure to hit the second target left a rather sour taste. How often does somebody who shares the final round lead fail to trade down to [10.0]?
Nevertheless, that was another good effort from a player who has found form when most needed, propelling him inside the top-100 of the Race to Dubai to secure playing rights. He's been hitting fairways and greens for fun since the summer and that usually produces results. Hanson also earned us a profit in this event last year after opening with 66/65.
Back Lee Slattery 3u @ [280.0]
Place order to lay 12u @ [30.0]
Place order to lay 15u @ [20.0]
Slattery was also a frustrating pick in that British Masters, trading down to [19.0] during the second round, just shy of our target at [15.0]. Whilst he fell away over the weekend, I'm very surprised to see the market over-react like this, considering he was in cracking form previously, finishing runner-up in the Czech Masters and an excellent sixth following a poor start at Crans.
Stats-wise, Lee's case is very interesting. He ranks second amongst this field for birdie average over the past three months and has hit nothing less than 72% of greens in regulation and only once less than 62% of fairways in his last eight starts. For me, he is massively overpriced around a course where his relative lack of power is irrelevant. Plus at these odds, we don't need to set ambitious lay targets in order to secure a profit, as laid out above.
Back Mikko Korhonen 2u @ [330.0]
Place order to lay 10u @ [30.0]
Place order to lay 15u @ [12.0]
Whereas the first two were confident, straightforward selections at the odds, the final one was a tough call between several possibilities. Korhonen - a player I fancy to break through somewhere at big odds pretty soon - gets the nod. Twice a runner-up already this term, at the Tshwane and Lyoness Opens, he hit three rounds of 67 or better last time at Close House.
For me, Korhonen is best suited to a shortish track on mainland Europe where his accurate driving will enable setting up plenty of birdie chances. Golf Club Milano looks just the ticket. In his preview, Steve reports local pro Marco Crespi suggesting driving accuracy is the key and last year's winner Molinari is one of the best in the world in that regard.
Now, to those numerous alternative outsiders. At the bottom end of our price range, David Horsey is obviously well-suited to this test and his record in Italy is excellent. My each-way pick Kiradech Aphibarnrat is just below at [90.0], as is first reserve Nacho Elvira.
Elvira is also one of five players earmarked in my piece regarding players with extra money list incentives. Three more of those - Robert Karlsson, Chris Paisley and Nino Bertasio - were also on the very long shortlist for this column. And finally [290.0] about KLM runner-up Austin Connelly - who also enjoyed a fabulous Open debut - caught the eye.