This week’s Madeira Islands Open poses a real problem for punters with the field made up of veteran players on the downgrade and some more youthful counterparts attempting to carve a career in the professional game.
Winning form is thin on the ground so it is little surprise to see Ladbrokes go 33/1 the field – the layers are clearly just as much in the dark.
Richie Ramsay is unsurprisingly among the market leaders following his win in South Africa prior to Christmas and he perhaps will not have a much better opportunity of doubling his tally on the European Tour.
He has not played badly in 2010 although not really threatening – and in terms of this event, his credentials look solid enough.
However, he did shoot a bit of a cricket score 12 months ago at Porto Santo Golfe.
A few points bigger in the betting is Branden Grace and he looks worth following this week at 40/1.
The 21-year-old is certainly among the brighter prospects in the field and has already caught the eye of Gary Player as one of the rising stars from a very good current crop of golfers from South Africa.
He has yet to really show his best form outside of his homeland but like many of his peers this week, he has a great chance of a strong showing in what is traditionally a very modest field.
His recent form at home has been pleasing and he does have some experience on Madeira too having posted a top 40 here 12 months ago, a performance let down by a 77 in round three.
With compatriot Louis Oosthuizen breaking his duck on Tour a couple of weeks ago in Andalucia and Ernie Els beating everyone in sight in the USA, Grace can take some inspiration and give himself a decent shot of making the winners’ enclosure as well.
Robert Coles arrives on the back of some useful performances and he also deserves a positive mention at 40/1.
He finished T15 in Morocco and then bettered that with a T4 in Andalucia which included second and third rounds of 65-63.
He was unable to keep up the momentum and a closing one over 71 saw him slip from second spot behind Oosthuizen.
I am prepared to overlook that as Coles has shown he can get the job done with two wins in 2009 on the Challenge Tour and a repeat of that form will be good enough in this company.
At a bigger price, Dutchman Wil Besseling could be worth a stab at 90/1 on his return to the scene of his tie for third place 12 months ago.
That was the highlight for him from a disappointing 2009 having progressed onto the main tour following a decent campaign in 2008 on the Challenge Tour which yielded a win (Colombia) and two runner’s-up spots.
He played in Colombia again at the end of February (T11) and if that performance is anything to go by then he could well repeat the dose at a venue he has done well at in the past.
Like so many in the line-up, he has plenty to prove but this is a week where he could strike gold.
1pt e.w. Branden Grace at 40/1 (1/4 1,2,3,4,5 Boylesports, Sky Bet). Talented player and has the ability to win in this company.
1pt e.w. Robert Coles at 40/1 (1/4 1,2,3,4,5 Betfred, VC Bet). Arrives in decent nick and capable of another bold show.
1pt e.w. Wil Besseling at 90/1 (1/4 1,2,3,4,5 Stan James). T3 her 12 months ago and chance to repeat the trick.
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