Mallorca Golf Open: Youngsters chanced at Santa Ponsa

Golfer Thomas Pieters
Mallorca Golf Open favourite - Thomas Pieters

The European Tour visits Mallorca for it's third event on Spanish soil in three weeks and our man has the lowdown ahead of Thursday's start...

I thought 40.039/1 was fair for Wilco Nienaber and I was more than happy to take 55.054/1 about another very promising youngster, Germany’s Matti Schmid, who only turned pro in the summer."

Tournament History

This it the first and most likely last edition of the Mallorca Golf Open. The tournament is intended to be a one-off event staged to fill a gap in the schedule caused by the pandemic.

Venue

Golf Santa Ponsa I, Balearic Islands, Spain

Course Details

6,543 yards - Par 72

Designed by Folco Nardi and opened in 1977, Golf Santa Ponsa is described on the venue's website as appealing to "all kinds of players thanks to the wide fairways and the tees where long hitters will enjoy themselves." We don't have much more than that to go on.

As per usual, the European Tour have absolutely no information on their website (not even a correct yardage) but we do have six results to look back on - although the most recent was 23 years ago!

Miguel Angel Jimenez won the first of his two Turespaña Masters titles at Golf Santa Ponsa in 1998 and the course was also used for five editions of the Turespaña Open de Baleares.

Both of those events are defunct and the final edition of the Turespaña Open de Baleares was also staged at Santa Ponsa but at Course II as opposed to Course I. Here's a list of the course winners with their winning scores.

Turespaña Masters
1998 - Miguel Angel Jimenez -9

Turespaña Open de Baleares
1988 - Seve Ballesteros -16
1989 - Ove Sellberg -9
1991 - Gavan Levenson -6
1992 - Seve Ballesteros -11
1993 - Jim Payne -11

Weather Forecast

TV Coverage

Live on Sky Sports all four days, beginning at 12:30 on Thursday

What Will it Take to Win the Mallorca Golf Open?

It's very difficult to know what to expect here. On the one hand, the course looks wide-open and it's described as such but looking at the previous course winners' scores, it's never been convincingly overpowered.

The lowest winning score was Seve's -16 but he was fairly good at golf and Jose Maria Olazabal (another multiple major winner) was six strokes back in second.

It's likely that the variation in scores is largely down to weather and, more specifically, the strength of the wind. So given Friday looks like being the only windy day, and given the advancement of technology in the last 20 years, a winning score of at least double-digits under-par can be expected.

With so little to go on, I've concentrated on the big hitters. Here's the European Tour's latest Driving Distance stats and listed below is the Top-10 for Driving Distance on the European Tour over the last three months.

Wilco Nienaber
Nicolas Colsaerts
Ryan Fox
Nicolai Hojgaard
Callum Shinkwin
Rasmus Hojgaard
Julien Guerrier
Dean Burmester
Min Woo Lee
Sean Crocker

Could Canary Islands form could come to the fore?

Big hitters dominated the three tournaments staged in the Canary Islands in the Spring - The Gran Canaria Lopesan Open, the Tenerife Open and the Canary Islands Championship - and form at those three tournaments could be worth considering here.

Meloneras Golf, which hosted the Gran Canaria Lopesan Open and Golf Costa Adeje, which staged both other two events, are easy but wind-exposed resort courses.

Dean Burmester wins Tenerife Open.jpg

Garrick Higgo won two of the events and fellow South African, Dean Burmester, claimed the second one to be staged - the Tenerife Open. Both players whack it a country mile off the tee.

In-Play Tactics

At this stage, there doesn't appear to be a huge draw bias but the wind is forecast to rise slightly on Thursday afternoon before blowing consistently throughout Friday.

If that changes and the wind is predicted to blow a bit harder on Thursday afternoon then an AM-PM draw would start to look much more favourable.

Market Leaders

The fact that the world number 124 Thomas Pieters, who's won just once in the last five years, is vying for favouritism with European Tour maiden Laurie Canter, who yet again fluffed his lines when in with a chance to win on Sunday, tells us all we need to know about the strength of this event.

Neither men make any appeal at around 20/1 and I'm in no rush to side with any of the market leaders.

Andrew Johnston finished nicely (69 in round four) to sneak inside the top-15 at Valderrama last week but he'd have been disappointed by that given Valderrama is the venue at which he achieved his one and only victory five years ago.

Big-hitting Kiwi Ryan Fox looks a great fit and he's been very well supported but there's plenty of evidence to suggest he's far from trustworthy in-contention and he looks short enough now.

John Catlin shot weekend rounds of 69 and 67 to put in a fairly decent title defence (11th) at Valderrama and he finished fifth at the Tenerife Open, so I thought he was an interesting candidate. If he's recovered from his playoff defeat to Rafa Cabrera-Bello in the Open de Espana two weeks ago, Adri Arnaus looks a great fit.

JOHN CATLIN 2021.jpg

He missed the cut last week with rounds of 77 and 80 but he must have been despondent following his near miss in Madrid and he could very easily bounce back here. Arnaus finished eighth in the Tenerife Open in May and fourth at the Canary Islands Championship the following week where he led at halfway.

Selections

South Africans won the three events in the Canary Islands and, if the big hitters are going to be favoured this week, another may go in here. They don't get much bigger than Wilco Nienaber, who currently averages 325 form the tee, and he arrives on the island in fair form.

After a run of four missed cuts, the 21-year-old has made the weekend on each of his last four outing and whilst his tied 49th last week was underwhelming, his top-six finish the week before at the Open de Espana was an encouraging performance and he should enjoy this test. I thought 40.039/1 was fair and I was more than happy to take 55.054/1 about another very promising youngster, Germany's Matti Schmid, who only turned pro in the summer.

The 23-year-old joined the pro ranks after finishing as the low amateur in the Open Championship and he's already impressed. He missed the cut at the Open de Espana last time out but in his two previous outings he traded at odds-on before finishing second in the Dutch Open. He finished inside the top-10 at the Alfred Dunhill Licks Championship.

Selections:
Wilco Nienaber @ 40.039/1
Matti Schmid @ 55.054/1

I'll be back later today with ZOZO Championship preview.

*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter

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