The European Tour hops from Gran Canaria to Tenerife for the first renewals of the Tenerife Open in 26 years at a venue not used since 2003. Steve Rawlings has the lowdown ahead of Thursday's start here...
"It goes against the grain to be backing someone at 36.035/1 that hasn’t won in more than 200 starts on the European Tour but I can’t leave Germany’s Max Kieffer out."
Previously known as the Turespaña Open De Canaria, the Tenerife Open returns to the European Tour schedule for the first time in 26 years, having been originally staged in six years out of seven from 1989 to 1995.
Following last week's Gran Canaria Open and prior to next week's Tenerife Championship, which will also be played at this week's venue, Golf Costa Adeje, the Tenerife Open is the second leg of the Canary Islands Swing.
Golf Costa Adeje, Tenerife, Spain
Par 71, 6857 yards
Golf Costa Adeje is another very easy resort course that the pros are going to devour.
Designed by Jose Gancedo, Adeje was used for the 2003 edition of the Open de Espana, when the event was called the Canarias Open de Espana and as Matt Cooper details in his each-way column, the records tumbled before Kenneth Ferrie got the better of a pair of Peters - Hedblom and Lawrie - after the trio had reached 22-under-par.
The paspalum fairways are wide, the Bermuda greens large and according to the European Tour website, it will play to a yardage of just 6857, with a quirky set up of holes.
The yardage listed increased by around 200 yards before last week's event in Gran Canaria so the figures from the Tour's official site can't be relied upon but if the numbers are correct, the layout has five par five and six par threes.
That differs slightly from the 2003 edition of the Open de Espana held here, when the eighth hole played as a par five. It's listed as a par four this time around but at 560 yards, it measures longer than four of the five par fives so that may not be correct.
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What Will it Take to Win the Tenerife Open?
This is a short course with expansive fairways so neither driving metric is important if the 2003 Open de Espana stats are anything to go by.
The three playoff protagonists ranked 21st, 60th and 71st for Driving Distance and 17th, 35th and 51st for Driving Accuracy and finding the large greens with regularity wasn't vital either, with the trio ranking 23rd, 37th and 67th for Greens In Regulation.
Although no Scrambling stats were produced, I suspect an ability to save par whenever a green was missed was important as momentum always counts for plenty in a birdie fest and that's exactly what we're going to get.
Looking at the 2003 edition of the Open de Espana, the only thing that stands out statistically is putting and that makes sense. Denmark's Mads Vibe-Hastrup, who finished tied for fourth, beaten by one, topped the Putting Average stats for the week and the three that made the playoff ranked third, eighth and 12th for Putting Average.
This is almost a carbon copy of last week's examination where the winner, Garrick Higgo, ranked first for Strokes Gained Putting and the first three home had Putting Average rankings of third, second and fourth.
Is There an Angle In?
The combination of a sporadic stop-start European Tour schedule and a very straightforward venue, means strong current form is more important than ever this week and it was interesting to note how well last week's contenders had fared the week before in Austria.
The winner, Garrick Higgo, had finished fourth at the Austria Open and the runner-up, Max Kieffer, was finishing second for the second week in-a-row. Both have been putting the lights out and in an event that should play out the same as last week's Gran Canaria Open, I'd be very surprised if the contenders on Sunday will have suddenly found something.
We can expect a similar looking leaderboard to last week's and taking the shorter prices about the bang-in-form players may be worth it for a change.
Player's prices are often cut a little more than they should be after a good week (and conversely, they often drift too much for one bad week) but we shouldn't be worried about paying the in-form tax here.
It's always hard to make up ground when the scoring is very low and we saw that here in 2003 when only one player in the top-nine, the aforementioned, Vibe-Hastrup, had trailed by more than four strokes after the opening round.
It was a similar story last week too, with 16 of the final top-20 having sat within four of the lead after the opening round and I'd definitely recommend concentrating on the fast starters but if it really is as easy as last week's venue, an off the pace winner on Sunday can't be entirely ruled out.
A couple of players overcame slow starts last week, with a pair of super-low rounds, so in theory, it can be done. Scotland's Connor Syme shot 61-62 on Friday and Saturday and Jeff Winther shot 62 -64 over the weekend. That saw Syme climb from 123rd to tied second before the final round (finished tied fifth) and Winther went from tied 33rd at halfway to finish third.
Peter Lawrie made the play-off here having trailed by three in a tie for 14th with a round to go at the 2003 Open de Espana but it might be a stretch to imagine anyone winning from much further back than that on Sunday.
The recent Qatar Masters winner, Antoine Rozner heads the market and he commands plenty of respect after his tied 15th last week. He signed off the event with a six-under-par 64 but he'll be chomping at the bit to get going again after playing the back-nine in five-under but he will need to improve on his putting figures.
Garrick Higgo was mightily impressive last week and it wouldn't be any sort of shock to see him go in again. The big-hitting lefthander may even be more effective at this venue given the addition of two par fives a round and I wouldn't want to put anyone off him.
Matthias Schwab is holding his form nicely and his current figures now read 7-7-8 but he looks opposable at the prices given his inability to handle the pressure of contending. The Austrian sat second and just two off the lead last week but failed to break 70 on a day that the course averaged 67.89 and I'm more than happy to swerve him.
It goes against the grain to be backing someone at 36.035/1 that hasn't won in more than 200 starts on the European Tour but I can't leave Germany's Max Kieffer out.
There's a huge chance he's mentally drained after two seconds in-a-row but it's a chance I'm happy to take. He did vey little wrong in Austria or last week in Gran Canaria and I have no doubts about his temperament.
He's ranked tied for fourth on the par fives in each of the last two weeks, so more long holes is a plus, and he's ranked seventh and second for Putting Average.
As highlighted above, I fancy current form to count for plenty this week so in addition to Kieffer, I'm following Matt in with a wager on Connor Syme and I'm also chancing Jeff Winther for small stakes too.
I'll be back later today with my Valspar Championship preview.
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