Padraig Harrington is looking for a pre-Ryder Cup pep-up as he bids to justify the favouritism shown him by Colin Montgomerue when he tees off in the Vivendi Cup this week on the outskirts of Paris.
The three-time major winner remains a somewhat controversial pick in some quarters for Celtic Manor on October 1 considering his overall form in 2010 and I am sure he would love to prove of his doubters wrong with a big performance here.
He showed up nicely in the Irish Open and Bridgestone Invitational in early August (2-T9) but his performances since have been well below what we have come to expect – MC-T47-MC with the latter seeing him eliminated from the FedEx Cup.
He has chosen this event rather than the Irish PGA at Seapoint to prepare but I much prefer the case for team-mate Peter Hanson at a couple of points bigger in the betting.
It is tough to get away from the fact that he brings drastically better form this season into the event than Harrington and I don’t think the Swede will be far away from notching his third title of the campaign.
He has missed just one cut from 18 starts and his success in Mallorca was then bettered by a gutsy victory in the Czech Open where he saw off Gary Boyd and Peter Lawrie after a play-off.
That performance was made all the more creditable as he knew he was playing for his place on Colin Montgomerie’s team so you have to take your hat off to how he rose to the challenge under extreme pressure.
This week should be much more relaxed with mission accomplished and Hanson looks highly likely to thrive as the excitment mounts with a little over a week to go before Europe take on the Americans.
His last two visits to France and Le Golf National in Paris have yielded results of T6 and T4 so Hanson has a very solid profile at the 12/1 on offer.
The first couple of days at least should provide a reasonably jovial atmosphere as this event takes a pro-am format.
Two courses will be used at Golf de Joyenval – the Retz and the Marly – with the latter used for the pros over the weekend to decide the title.
Harrington teams up with his brother while Chris Wood will play alongside his father and hopefully that could inspire him to a well deserved first title on the European Tour.
Wood has been knocking on the door all season with near misses in Italy, Mallorca, Wentworth and Ireland and his form shows no sign of tailing off to any great degree as his latest events in Switzerland and at the KLM have seen him finish T15 and T11.
He skipped Austria so has had a week’s break to freshen up and I really reckon he will be in mix on Sunday afternoon at 18/1.
There is a pretty good home challenge in the French capital and I am going for a trio of their representatives for glory, headed by the ultra-consistent Gregory Bourdy.
He has played 22 events so far in 2010 and only failed to make the weekend three times – that sort of form sees him safely inside the the all-important top 60 in the Race To Dubai.
Sixth in the Open de France back in June, I get the impression Bourdy will rise to the occasion once more on home soil and is a big threat to take the title.
Our selections so far all have obvious claims and are priced accordingly, but two outsiders who are worth are a second glance are Christian Cevaer and Julien Guerrier.
Demon putter Cevaer tends to go for long spells in the doldrums but he has taken winning chances when they have been presented to him, as he showed in the 2009 European Open when he gallantly held off a host of challengers at the London Club.
A lot of his dips in form have been down to recurring injury issues and they have bothered him again over the past month or so with an elbow problem that has flared up.
It makes his displays at the Czech Open, Gleneagles and the KLM all the more worthy, particularly the latter where he shot eight under over the final three rounds.
He is apparently raring to go after a week’s break to rest-up and we as punters can also take encouragement from him working with a new caddy that has helped improve results on the course.
He looks better than a 125/1 chance.
Guerrier is also 125/1 and also brings some good recent form here with a T5 in the Czech Open and a T19 at Gleneages – the latter disappointing after he blew his chances with a closing 78.
Still only 25, he seems to be starting to find his feet in the paid ranks following a sparkling amateur career which saw him land the 2006 Amateur Championship which got him in the 2007 Masters at Augusta.
He has shown form in France on the Challenge Tour and should not lack for motivation this week as he sits 121 in the Race To Dubai and has work to do to get inside the top 115.
Guerrier has much to play for and I would not be shocked to see him thereabouts.
2pts win Peter Hanson at 12/1 (Ladbrokes). Twice a winner in 2010 and should be in upbeat mood ahead of Ryder Cup.
1.5pts e.w. Chris Wood at 18/1 (1/4 1,2,3,4,5 Stan James). Hugely consistent year and decent chance to get a deserved win.
1pt e.w. Gregory Bourdy at 22/1 (1/4 1,2,3,4,5 general). Looks a big threat and heads up the home challenge.
1pt e.w. Christian Cevaer at 125/1 (1/4 1,2,3,4,5 Coral). Hinted at some good form recently and solid competitor when in the mix.
1pt e.w. Julien Guerrier at 125/1 (1/4 1,2,3,4,5 totesport, Boylesports). Has form on home soil and recent efforts have been promising.
World number four feeling confident.
Home favourite wants to press home advantage.
Merger to create better opportunities.
Spanish ace extends sponsorship.
Mallorcan course impressing.
Definitely one for the bucket list…
Englishman excited for future.
What a decade it has been!
What does Portuguese gem offer?
Incident mares fourballs.