Europe's finest move to the warm weather of Spain this week. Barry Plummer has everything you need to know
What a way to spend the weekend – watching Danny Willett comfortably hold off the tide of strong challengers to win the Dunhill Links at the Home of Golf. With the windbreakers and bobble hats now stored for another year, we head off to warmer climates this week with the Open de Espana in Madrid. With a number of big names reporting for European Tour duty, including defending champion and World No 1 Jon Rahm, I have managed to whittle it down to just three of the best value picks. But first…
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Open de Espana details
Venue: Club de Campo Villa de Madrid, Spain
Date: October 7-10, 2021
Course stats: Par 71; 7,112 yards
Course summary: This picturesque, undulating, course is one that we have only seen a handful of times since the turn of the century – and I am so pleased to see it back on European Tour duty. Tree-lined fairways are generous in width but offer challenges through the natural hazards, while tricky multi-tiered greens are designed to torment even the best players. With Jon Rahm arriving as the defending champion and world number one, expect a spectacle in the Spanish sun.
Defending champion: Jon Rahm (-22)
Open de Espana TV coverage
Thursday: Sky Sports Golf from 1pm.
Friday: Sky Sports Golf from 1pm
Saturday: Sky Sports Golf from 12.30pm
Sunday: Sky Sports Golf from 12pm
Open de Espana betting
Bazza’s Banker: John Catlin @ 55/1 with bet365
Catlin is a player who looks perfect for this golf course, with high quality ball striking and an expert short game that will give him a great chance to secure his second European Tour title on Spanish soil. The American famously navigated his way around Valderrama last year to win the Andalucía Masters, and while this is a somewhat easier style course, the demand on precise short game and an ability to find the fairways consistently remain.
Catlin has been in indifferent form since his third European Tour win in Austria earlier in the season, with just a couple of top-10 finishes among a sea of average performances. Despite this however, I like Catlin when he gets to courses that suit his meticulous style of play. Arriving at a course where ball striking and creative scrambling are paramount, he currently ranks 3rd for SG: Tee-to-green and 13th for SG: Around-the-green this season, so a hot week with the putter could be all it takes to get him over the line in Madrid.
Each-way bet: Adri Arnaus @ 60/1 with bet365
Arnaus put in a strong display when fourth at this venue in 2019, so don’t be surprised to see a bold effort from a Spaniard with some respectable recent form. Arnaus finished 24th in Scotland last week, with an opening 64 the highlight on the card. That strong showing will set him up brilliantly for a return to Spain, where he has played some excellent golf in the past couple of years.
In his last five events in Spain and the Canary Islands, Arnaus has three top-5 finishes accompanied by an 8th place finish at the Tenerife Open. That is an incredible run of form for a player that obviously loves playing golf in this part of the world, and with a home crowd buoying him on, I can’t look past him at a fantastic price.
The Longshot: Sihwan Kim @ 200/1 with bet365
When you look at stats for short game on the European Tour, Kim is one of the names that stands out. The American ranks 7th for SG: Putting and 6th for SG: Around-the-green this season, and with the multi-tiered terror that awaits on the small greens in Madrid, he could have the perfect game to combat it.
Although his form looks relatively average at first glance, Kim has two top-10 finishes in his last seven starts and has played at some venues where he may not have had such an advantage with his style of play. Two rounds of 67 when here in 2019 propelled him to a respectable T37 finish, and with the course experience under his belt he will be looking to improve this time around.
At a big price it is a bit of a leap to suggest he could win, especially when up against players of Jon Rahm’s quality, but the value on offer for a small stake each-way bet is certainly appealing.
For more prices, visit bet365.