With my equilibrium perhaps damaged by the volcanic ash that seems to be enveloping the UK your intrepid correspondent missed the first day’s play at the Volvo China Open.

Or perhaps I’m just struggling to keep abreast of the European Tour’s quite incredibly haphazard early season scheduling.

Pablo Larazabal had a good start

Anyway with a day’s paly out of the way already I’ll restrict myself to pointing you towards a couple of contenders. Pablo Larazabal had a commendable start with a six under 66 leaving him just two shots off the pace.

If you can match the 18/1 that Paddy Power are offering he might keep your interest going into the weekend.

Scottish golf’s seemingly interminable wait for some good news goes on but take a look at the odds offered on Alistair Forsyth who the bookies seem to be leaving in the middle of the field despite a solid 69 seeing him get close enough to the heart of the action in the first round.

After the drama of Tiger’s return and the brilliance and emotion of Phil Mickelson’s win the PGA Tour needs a moment to catch its breath this week. With a number of players sitting deciding to give the trip to South Carolina a miss it seems as though even the Harbour Town Golf Links does not offer relaxation enough during the Verizon Heritage.

KJ Choi is always solid

KJ Choi went hole for hole with Tiger across four days at Augusta and didn’t blink so you can expect the solid Korean to be unfazed by the competition this week.

Paul Casey and Martin Laird lead the British challenge but don’t overlook the third member of the UK triumvirate.

Englishman Brian Davis is full time on the PGA Tour and is capable of the kind of sound play, consistent golf that might just get the job done this week.

Tom Gillis was a Nationwide Tour graduate last season and has got off to a solid start on the main tour this time around. Six cuts made and four finishes inside the top 25 point to a solid enough year and he’ll know that his best chance of securing his card early is to shine in weeks like this when the competition is slightly weaker.

His recent experience on the Nationwide Tour also means he knows his way around a leaderboard as well as most players. His unknown status will make his odds generous and he could be a good outside bet here.

Robert Allenby will soon secure a win

I’d also take a look at South African Tim Clark. A player that seems to have been around ever but gets on with his business as quietly as anyone he’s enjoyed a strong start to 2010.

Three top ten finishes in nine events has been solid enough to take him into the top 25 in the early season FedEx Cup standings and make him look a strong contender in this field.

Finally I’ll stick in the southern hemisphere to cast my eye over Robert Allenby. Few are more consistent tee to green that the unassuming Australian. Question’s remain over his short game – who doesn’t know that feeling – but he’ll find that less of a problem here than at Augusta.

He’s already knocked on the door this season. It surely won’t be long before he holes enough putts to secure a win.

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