At least ten others currently available between 33/1 and 66/1 could be given a decent chance. Nick Dougherty has won the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship before, so could very plausibly improve on the 28th and 21st placed finishes of the last two years. However, he’s cost me one too many times to consider at the moment, and was very disappointing last week. Another Englishman, Steve Webster, has made the top-20 on both former visits and made the initial short-list having already won in Portugal. As always at this level, a case could be made for the likes of Simon Dyson and Graeme Storm.
Raphael Jacquelin finished runner-up here in 2007, and has shown some decent form in the last couple of months. Similar comments apply to Damian MacGrane, 6th in this last year and placed twice recently. Others to come in for consideration included Ross McGowan, who so nearly landed a big priced touch for us in Australia, recent winner Estanislao Goya and the consistent Spaniard Jose-Manuel Lara.
Instead, I’m going for three players around the 40/1 mark. IGNACIO GARRIDO has been playing very well lately without reward. Three of his last four starts have yielded top-15 finishes, with the experienced Spaniard registering some outstanding greens in regulation stats in the process. Though he has missed the cut here in both of the last two years, that may be excusable as his form was poor at the time, and it could make sense to look instead at his 8th place at Oitavos back in 2005.
As a former runner-up in the Open Championship, its safe to say THOMAS LEVET knows what he’s doing around a links layout. It was around this time last year that he broke a long losing run by landing the Open de Andalucia, and if recent results and stats are anything to go by, he could be about to strike again. As usual, Levet’s greens in regulation stats are exemplary, and his last two starts; 14th at the weekend and 20th in Dubai; were perfectly respectable. And while 24th last year may look pretty ordinary, he wasn’t beaten that far and opened with 67/64.
Finally, though his best form has come in Asia, exciting prospect GARETH MAYBIN must surely have plenty of links experience as he hails from Northern Ireland. Maybin was hugely impressive when losing a play-off in the South African Open, and confirmed his status as one of the players to follow in 2009 with another near miss in Malaysia. Its notable that, having done enough in the early season to secure his card, Maybin is picking and choosing his targets carefully from a limited schedule. This seems very sensible to me, and I fully expect him to be bagging a maiden Euro Tour title before long.
US Masters 2009 on Golf Monthly