Open de Andalucia

Preview – Open de Andalucia and Arnold Palmer Invitational

First Europen Tor event in Europe for the season!

The European Tour’s relaxed attitude to geography means that this week’s Open de Andalucia is actually the first of the season’s events to take place in Europe.

The tournament is co-promoted by Malaga native Miguel Angel-Jiminez and the Spanish influence is extended throughout the field.

Jiminez has won four out of his 16 tournament victories in Spain and we can expect him to justify his place amongst the favourites with a strong showing this week.

The big hitting Alvaro Quiros leads the betting just now and he to should still be involved in the final shake up on Sunday.

Pablo Martin ready to bounce back

Take a look also at Pablo Martin. Another local boy, he had a great start to the season with a win at the Alfred Dunhill Championship and a tie for sixth at the South African Open.

His form has dipped since then but that is a lot to do with the death of his father and a tie for 38th on six under in Morocco last week suggests he’s finding his feet again.

This will be an emotional homecoming and if he can feed into the goodwill he can challenge at the weekend.

Danny Willett would look to lead the British challenge. A former world amateur number the Yorkshireman has already posted three top ten finishes in six events this season.

He was only denied an each way placing last week with a double bogey down the last. He looks set fair to build a solid professional career and odds in the mid twenties could well tempt this week.

No Tiger in the Arnold Palmer Invitational

Tiger continues to dominate the US headlines without yet hitting a ball in anger. He’s skipping the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill, maybe a relief to the rest of the field who have watched him take home the honours six times in the past.

With no Tiger around, Phil Mickelson slots in as favourite, but is still searching for form in 2010.

Steve Stricker is best of the rest with the bookies and I’d say it’s worth looking around to try and find odds generous enough for an each way punt on the American.

Graeme McDowell sat last week out and will arrive fresh from his tie for sixth place at the WGC-CA Championship a fortnight ago.

His closing 66 there was an indication both of his form and his love for being in at the sharp end in big American events. Expect another strong showing as he finishes his preparations for his beloved Masters.

Another with an eye on Augusta will be former champion Mike Weir. A solitary top ten finish would seem to be scant reward for a solid enough start to the season for the Canadian left hander.

Good news for us though as the odds are likely to make backing the unassuming Weir more than tempting.

Pat Perez came close here last year before finishing tied for fourth and although his form since then has been patchy this is a course that suits him.

Last year’s experience will have given him the confidence to deal with any pressure that comes his way in Arnie’s backyard. Another top five finish is not impossible this year.

The South Africans

Finally a couple of South Africans catch the eye.

Charl Schwartzel has been in great form to lead Europe’s Race To Dubai so he’ll be keen to make an impression in the States.

And Trevor Immelman, another former Masters champion, has not had his troubles to seek in the past couple of years with injuries and poor form. He’s too good a player to stay in that rut forever and it won’t be long before he is challenging again.

Where better to start than at the home course of the man who is still, in many people’s eyes, the greatest Master of them all?