The European Tour crosses the Severn Bridge this week and arrives at Newport in Wales and at the scene of Europe’s dramatic 2010 Ryder Cup victory at Celtic Manor.
Two years on, and four of that victorious team return with fond memories. Joining the winning captain Colin Montgomerie, will be the Molinari brothers, Ross Fisher and Miguel Angel Jimenez. All have work to do to make this year’s team, although Francesco Molinari has ran into some serious form of late.
The Twenty Ten course is one of three at the Celtic Manor resort and is built around the River Usk so not surprisingly water is in play on 10 holes. It is a long, flat and exposed track. Benign conditions are forecasted and therefore low scoring can be expected.
Last year the winner Alex Noren warmed up for the event by successfully qualifying for the US Open on the Monday and this year he has repeated his preparations by leading the field in the 36 hole qualifier in Walton Heath. The powerful Swede is well suited to the demands of this golf course.
Italian Francesco Molinari heads the betting market at 12-1 closely followed by Scotland’s Paul Lawrie who has contended the last two weeks in Wentworth and the Volvo World Match Play in Spain so fatigue would be a concern for the 43 year old Ryder Cup hopeful from Aberdeen. Noren is next in the betting, followed by powerful South African George Coetzee seeking his maiden tour victory and followed then by another Italian in teenager Matteo Manassero who you would think might struggle this week with his lack of length.
Marcel Siem is enjoying a fine season and comes here on the back of a tied seventh finish at Wentworth. The pony tailed German contends regularly these days and will no doubt be greatly inspired by the impressive progress of his best friend on tour Nicolas Colsaerts. It seems inevitability that Seem will collect his first win in eight years very soon.
Super consistent Jamie Donaldson must be the leading hope of the home crowd this week and this would be an appropriate time as any for the 36 year old to claim his first victory at the 253rd time of asking. He has the power required and on his day can be lethal with the short stick in his hand. Another fancied home grown talent not without a chance is 27 year old Rhys Davies who holds the course record here having shot 62 two tears ago.
Of the seven Irishmen in the field, Peter Lawrie arrives in South Wales with a spring in his step after an excellent week, finishing tied second at Wentworth on Sunday and then qualifying for his first US Open on Monday. Michael Hoey remains the only Irish winner on tour this year. Hoping to kick start their 2012 seasons this week will be Shane Lowry, Damien McGrane, Paul McGinley, Gareth Maybin and Simon Thornton.
Richard Sterne is a player who has won this event before and comes here after a fine week at Wentworth finishing 6th so he is in good form. Also in good form and available at huge odds is Marc Warren. The 31 year old Scot finished 21st in Wentworth before coming through the 36 hole US Open qualifier a day later so treble figure odds about a player who is clearly enjoying his golf are too big.
Julian Quesne is a rising star of the European Tour and makes appeal at a big price. The Frenchman has already won this year, in impressive style in Andalucía, and is a big, strong boy with a decent all-round game and an impressive temperament.
Shane Lowry is over-priced also. A player of his calibre is well capable of shining in an event like this and Marcel Siem, as mentioned, is one of the form horses in the race.
Here are this week’s selections;
Marcel Siem 30-1 (skybet)
Richard Sterne 60-1 (sportingbet)
Julian Quesne 80-1 (betfred)
Shane Lowry 80-1 (skybet)
Marc Warren 100-1 (Stan James)