Rhys Davies continues to impress in his rookie season on the European Tour and another stellar effort in Madrid last week bodes well back on home turf in the Celtic Manor Wales Open.
The 25-year-old from Bridgend only found Luke Donald too good in the Spanish capital and a similar display at the home of the Ryder Cup in a few months would surely secure him a second title this season.
Davies showed no sign of backing away from the issue and only Donald’s eagle on the par five 16th proved to be the difference in the final reckoning.
His closing four under par round was compiled with no bogeys and in his interview afterwards he spoke of how happy he was with the way he had competed against a very experienced player despite Donald’s lack of recent visits to the winner’s circle.
Davies looks to be a viable option once again to keep up the momentum although there is the slight worry that contending so strongly in Madrid could have taken away a little bit of sparkle.
But considering he was T17 here 12 months ago on a sponsor’s exemption – finishing top Welshman – and also posted a victory on home soil in the Swalec Wales Challenge, when he beat fellow rising star James Morrison after a play-off, I reckon he will rise to the occasion in front of his own fans at a very reasonable 28/1.
An interesting contender at three-figure odds is Lee Slattery and he looks worth a second glance with his confidence sky high at the moment.
Slattery has promised much in his career but things have never really taken off on the European Tour.
However, a tough work ethic over recent months paid off in fanstastic style on the Challenge Tour in Belgium last when he led from flagfall to lift the Telenet Trophy by four shots.
He said afterwards: “I have worked so had over the last three months putting in the hours and I feel great.”
He looks back in the sort of form that saw him top the Challenge Tour rankings back in 2004 and like Davies, he is worth following while holding the hot hand.
Slattery showed back in 2004 he can produce high finishes in quick succession while he has made the cut at this course in the last two years with a best of T26 last year.
He obviously steps up in grade her but is fully entitled to outplay the odds he has been priced up at.
Another improver who has progressed from the the Challenge Tour is Scot Peter Whiteford and he has claims at 150/1.
He has not made quite as many headlines as Davies but has enjoyed a consistent 2010 and his T2 in Andalucia suggests he could get off the mark this season.
He boasts some course form at Celtic Manor too having started 67-68 here in 2008 before the wheels came off somewhat over the weekend.
But with that under his belt and the gains he has made since, Whiteford has the potential to make the frame at least.
Final tip this week goes to Gregory Bourdy, who has been ticking over nicely in the first half of 2010.
The winner in Hong Kong last November, he has put together two good performances at the Twenty Ten course with a T21 in 2008 and T10 in 2009.
I would not be at all suprised to see those improved on significantly considering some of the low scores he has posted in his last six events.
If he can gather it all together over four rounds, he is a factor here for certain.
2pts e.w. Rhys Davies at 28/1 (Betfred, Stan James 1/4 1,2,3,4,5). Just touched off last week and can make amends on his own patch.
1pt e.w. Lee Slattery at 125/1 (Sky Bet 1/4 1,2,3,4,5). Winning form in Belgium last week and can keep up the momentum.
1pt e.w. Peter Whiteford at 150/1 (General 1/4 1,2,3,4,5). Progressing nicely and has shown some course form.
1pt e.w. Gregory Bourdy at 66/1 (General 1/4 1,2,3,4,5). Ticking along in 2010 and could be on the brink of a big week.
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