The Gran Canaria Open kicks off the three-week long Canary Islands Swing and our man fancies the tournament host to enjoy what looks like an easy test...
"It’s no coincidence that six of the last 14 European Tour events in Spain have been won by a high-class Spaniard and Rafa looks a very fair price at around 30.029/1."
The Gran Canaria Open is a brand new event on the European Tour and it kicks off a three-week stint in the Canary Islands dubbed the Canary Islands Swing with the Tenerife Open and the Tenerife Championship at Golf Costa Adeje to follow.
Rafa Cabrera-Bello, who was born in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, is this week's tournament host.
The event marks the European Tour's return to the Canary Islands for the first time since 1995, when Sweden's Jarmo Sandelin defeated legendary Spaniard Seve Ballesteros and England's Paul Eales by one shot to win the Open de Canaria at Campo de Golf da Maspalomas on Gran Canaria.
Meloneras Golf, Maspalomas, Gran Canaria, Spain
Par 70, 6503 yards
Designed by Ron Kirby and only opened in 2006, Meloneras Golf is a short resort course aimed primarily at the tourist market.
The front-nine offers up some magnificent mountain views and the back-nine opens up to take in views of the ocean, including three holes on the coastline.
Fresh from his success with John Catlin last week in Austria, Matt Cooper has a bit more on the venue here with his each-way piece.
Live on Sky Sports all four days, starting at 14:00 UK time on Thursday
What Will it Take to Win the Gran Canaria Open?
Given we're off to a new venue, we're in the dark with regards to any statistical analysis so caution is most definitely advised before the off.
The venue is short and, looking at videos and photos of the track, it appears to have generous enough fairways so with the absence of any significant wind. It looks likely that the pros are going to really enjoy themselves this week and I'll be surprised if we don't see a very low winning total.
I suspect the tournament will develop into something of a putting contest and that always presents a problem as it's almost impossible to know who will putt well from one week to the next.
Here's the the top-10 for Putting Average last week in Austria but whether they will putt as well this week is debatable.
Nicolai Von Dellingshausen
Is There an Identikit Winner?
The Spanish have a decent record in their homeland and the British contingent tend to perform well here too. Going back to the Madrid Masters in 2010, a third of the 21 tournaments staged in Spain have been won by either a UK or Irish player and six of the events have been won by a Spaniard.
Given I fancy this will be a low scoring affair, keeping up with the pace is going to be the place to be. It's never easy making up ground when the scoring is low and keeping your powder dry until after the opening round looks like a sensible way to play.
Once again, we witnessed three players trade at odds-on last week so laying anyone who dips below even money is never a bad tactic on the European Tour.
Justin Harding, Jazz Janewattananond and Calum Hill all traded at odds-on without winning in the penultimate event on the European Tour - the Kenya Savannah Classic - and waiting until the weekend and laying the contenders is arguably a better tactic than backing a few before the off when we are, to a large extent, guessing about the course set-up and the players' wellbeing.
Antoine Rozner heads the market and that's understandable given he's won two of his last seven starts and that he performed admirably at the WGC Match Play last time out - beating Bryson DeChambeau and Si Woo Kim.
He was beaten in a play-off in the Mauritius Open in 2019 (a low scoring event that I would have looked at more closely as one that might correlate had any wind been forecast). His first victory on the European Tour was in the Golf In Dubai Championship in December, where the winning score was -25.
Sam Horsfield looks a bit on the short side after an ordinary effort in Austria last week where he putted really well but made silly mistakes. This is a considerably better field than last week and he's five or six points shorter so is readily dismissed.
Andy Sullivan relishes a low-scoring event (should have won the aforementioned Golf In Dubai Championship) and has a great record at the Portugal Masters. That's another event played in the sun at an easy resort course but he hasn't been at his best yet in 2021 and I'm happy to overlook him too.
Matthias Schwab did OK in his homeland last week but no better than that and he's still in search of his first victory on the European Tour.
The only one I like towards the head of the market is the tournament host, Rafa Cabrera Bello.
It's no coincidence that six of the last 14 European Tour events in Spain have been won by a high-class Spaniard and Rafa looks a very fair price at around 30.029/1.
Miguel Angel Jimenez, Jon Rahm (twice) and Sergio Garcia (three times) have all won in Spain in the last decade and Rafa could easily join them at a venue he should know better than anyone.
Rafa hasn't done anything of much note since finishing fourth in Abu Dhabi in January but he did at least sign off the Texas Open with a bogey-free four-under-par 68 last time out when finishing 44th.
I've got at least one outsider I like but I'll save him for the Find Me a 100 Winner column so the only selection for now is a very modest play on the tournament host.
Rafa Cabrera Bello @ 29.028/1
I'll be back later with the Zurich Classic of New Orleans preview.
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