Warmup for the Masters
The European Tour heads to Morocco
The European Tour returns this week and heads to Morocco for the Trophee Hassan II. Bit of a strange event this, it has been around for a few years but this is its debut as a European Tour ranking tournament.
The format too is a bit of a departure with both the resort’s courses in use over days one and two and a pro-am format in place until the cut on Friday.
Molinari enters as favourite
Such an event at this stage in the season was never likely to attract a vintage field and so it has proved. Francesco Molinari is the highest ranked player and enters as favourite.
The Italian seems to be improving consistently so it might be worth scouting around the odds to try and find worthwhile value on him taking the title.
Elsewhere there would seem to be slim pickings in this field. How serious are some Ryder Cup veterans about their chances of making Monty’s team for Wales?
Thomas Bjorn and Darren Clarke are both in need of results to get their season going while Paul McGinley makes his return from injury and will be hoping to prove he’s still capable of at least figuring in the captain’s thinking.
And what of the Montgomerie’s fellow Scots? None of them seem to be ready to make a move up the Race to Dubai leaderboard quite yet.
But the time is coming for players like Richie Ramsay and Marc Warren to really make an impact. Favourable odds might make them worth a look as each way shots this week.
A lot of big names in the Transitions Championship
The Masters – and Tiger Woods – looms large on the PGA Tour and it’s interesting to see how the top players adapt their schedule to get in shape for the season’s first major.
Tiger will not play, but the organisers of the Transitions Championship will be pleased to see a number of the leading players making the trip to the Innisbrook resort in Tampa Bay.
Steve Stricker is the favourite and his dogged consistency and full schedule are certainly ensuring an prolonged stay near the top of the rankings at the moment although I’d certainly be looking elsewhere for value bets this week.
Does Garcia still have it?
Sergio Garcia continues to struggle on the greens and it’s maybe time to accept that the Spaniard is not going to have the career many predicted.
He’s still capable of pulling something out of the bag though and it would be typical of El Nino to find some form as the majors come into view. His poor form so far this season should also provide some generous each way odds.
Garcia is joined by some of the usual European suspects in the shape of second favourite Padraig Harrington – fresh from a tie for third last week – and Ian Poulter.
Odds on Justin Rose offer value
Justin Rose has had a spell of indifferent form but I’m certainly tempted by his each way odds this week while Scotsman Martin Laird will also be looking for great improvements and would certainly be a dark horse in the top European market.
What of the Americans with their own Ryder Cup aspirations? Boo Weekley’s recent record has been disappointing but a top 25 in a weather hit Puerto Rico last week might be the kind of springboard he needs.
Jim Furyk is also in need of something after a steady but uninspiring start to 2010.
Finally America’s bright young thing Rickie Fowler has had a topsy turvy season of impressive finishes and missed cuts this season. After missing the weekend in the Honda Classic he might well be due a good finish this week.
– Fergus Jack –