Andalucia Masters Odds & Betting Preview: Six selections for European Tour event in Cádiz
Rafa Cabrera-Bello was a really popular winner in Spain at the weekend. Making a superb up and down on the 18th to force a play-off with compatriot, Adri Arnaus. Then proceeding to make birdie on the first play-off hole to take home his first title since 2017, no doubt the most important one of his career.
The tour stays in mainland Spain for another week, as we head to Real Club Valderrama for the Andalucia Masters.
Valderrama is one of the most iconic courses in Europe. Known famously, as the host of the 1997 Ryder Cup. It has also held a number of stroke-play events over the years, most notable of them the Volvo Masters from 1988 – 1996, and then again from 2002 – 2008, as well as a WGC from 1999 – 2000, none other than Tiger Woods winning in 1999.
Most recently, it returned as the host of the Open de Espana in 2016, and since 2017 has hosted this event, the Andalucia Masters, after previously hosting an event of the same name from 2010 – 2011.
Valderrama has provided an incredibly tough test, right through from the 1988 Volvo Masters to last year’s edition of this event. Only ever being won by a score better than -12 on four occasions, often providing winners in single digits and over par. So, what makes this such a difficult test of golf?
Andalucia Masters Tips
- Thomas Pieters 30/1 – 1/5 7 places (Boylesports) – 1.75 pts ew
- Robert MacIntyre 40/1 – 1/5 6 places (Betvictor) – 1.25 pts ew
- Calum Hill 50/1 – 1/5 7 places (Boylesports) – 1 pt ew
- Shubhankar Sharma 66/1 – 1/5 6 places (Betfred) – 1 pt ew
- Santiago Tarrio 90/1 – 1/4 5 places (Bet365) – 0.75 pts ew
- Ashun Wu 200/1 – 1/5 7 places (Boylesports) – 0.5 pts ew
“Everything!”, would be the correct answer to that question. It has a suffocating feel throughout. That despite not necessarily being incredibly narrow off the tee, but the density and placing of the trees make it feel so. The rough is thick, bunkers intelligently placed and penal, with putting surfaces that are not only small and undulating but incredibly firm and fast. It is an excellent test of golf, where every aspect of your game will be under the microscope, and you can soon find yourself putting up some huge numbers.
As a par 71, measuring 7028 yards, this Robert Trent Jones design is an advocate for golf courses not needing to be unfathomably long to test some of the world’s best golfers.
John Catlin won last year with a score of +2 and though it will still be tough, the players had to deal with brutally strong winds last year. There is still expected to be plenty of wind about this week, particularly over the first two days, but it doesn’t, as of now, look quite as bad as last year.
Jon Rahm is once again the headline act and will be looking for a better showing than last week. Matthew Fitzpatrick also teeing it up for only the second time, in his first start since the Ryder Cup.
Jon Rahm once again heads the market at a comparably short price to last week, now coming off the back of that underwhelming (by his standards) showing, it’s easy to leave him alone. Hopefully he’s still a little off his game and we concentrate on the rest of the field. I’ll start this week with Belgium’s Thomas Pieters. A player who is playing exceptional golf tee-to-green and showing more positive signs with the putter.
2021 has been a year of great consistency for Pieters. Just 3 missed cuts in 18 and racking up top 20s in half of those appearances. Though it’s over two years since he last won and there’s no doubt he would like to have been contending more.
Statistically, it’s hard to see how he hasn’t gone closer. He’s the 3rd best player on tour tee-to-green, equally as strong in all three areas that make the stat up. Added to that, his usual Achilles heel, the putter, has been much better this year. Ranking outside the top 150 the previous two years, Pieters has improved markedly on that, to sit 92nd in 2021.
He has just one previous visit to Valderrama, finishing a respectable 26th in 2016. Also possessing a runner-up finish on the PGA Tour, at Riviera in the Genesis Open back in 2017. A course known for it’s tough, slick putting surfaces and general difficult setup, pointing to a player more than capable, when at his best, of taming this fantastic course.
As one of absolute most talented players in this field, probably only 2nd to Rahm in that respect, he is capable of winning just about anywhere. If he can keep up that solid putting and combine it with his typically outstanding tee-to-green game, I believe it’s only a matter of time before he tastes victory again.
A couple of young Scots up next and though his recent results haven’t been good, I think Robert MacIntyre hasn’t quite been playing as bad as they suggest.
It’s been a tricky couple of months for MacIntyre. Having to decide whether to go over to the Korn Ferry Tour in the States, to try and win his PGA Tour card, or stay in Europe and try and get himself onto the Ryder Cup team. Unfortunately, he succeeded in doing neither, his results seeming to take a hit as a consequence of the double-barreled pressure he was under.
In his last five events, he’s finished 65th and missed four cuts on the spin, which is not ideal. Having said that, in his two most recent starts he hasn’t missed by far, missing the cut by one in the BMW PGA Championship and by two in the Alfred Dunhill Links, showing that he might not be playing as bad as the bare results suggest.
This is backed up by his stats, where his short game looked in good nick in Scotland on his last start, but he struggled with the long game. Conversely, the complete opposite was true of his performance at Wentworth, where he hit the ball well but struggled on and around the greens. Meaning that at some point in those last two missed cuts, he’s done everything well, if not putting it all together at the same time.
He’s played Valderrama once before, when finishing 24th last year and there was a huge amount to like about that performance. Opening with a dreadful 80, to sit just 7th bottom after round one, he could’ve been forgiven for accepting his fate and just putting it down to experience, but he rallied superbly over the next three days. Firing a 69 on Friday, the 2nd best round of the day, a 75 on Saturday and then another quality round on Sunday, when he shot the 4th best round of the day, with a score of 70.
As a player who possesses a pretty solid all round game, an in form MacIntyre would be just about as well suited to Valderrama as anyone for me. Excellent around the greens, which he hits with great regularity. If he can build on the good experience he had here last year and put some of the play he has produced in those last two starts, together at the same time, he can bounce back and have a good week in Sotogrande.
Another hugely talented young Scot, Calum Hill picked up his first European Tour title a couple of months ago and has continued to play well. Possessing a good skillset for the test that awaits this week.
Since winning the Cazoo Classic in August, Hill has maintained his form. Playing five events, missing just one cut, notching up a top 10 and a top 20 in the process. The top 10 coming at Crans in the European Masters, a course which often throws up form-lines with Valderrama.
His game is one of all round quality. A rock solid tee-to-green game, that sees him rank 44th on tour but excels in scrambling, ranking 8th and putting, ranking 15th. This adding up to a player who makes fewer mistakes than most, as he sits 7th on tour in bogey avoidance, imperative when you come to Valderrama.
He played here for the first time last year, finding the going extremely tough, as many did, missing the cut by three, but anyone is forgiven struggling on debut here, particularly in the conditions they faced.
Along with that 7th at the Euro Masters, he’s also a winner of the Euram Bank Open on the Challenge Tour, played at Adamstal. A similarly quirky, tight tree-lined course. Offering further evidence of a player who has the ability to handle Valderrama.
I think that missed cut last year would have been a great learning experience and expect a much better showing from Hill this time around.
India’s Shubhankar Sharma has been in superb form for a while now and looks a player really close to entering the winners circle again. After a 3rd place finish in the Open de Espana last week, where he led the field tee-to-green, he can go well again in Spain.
That superb run of form for Sharma has seen him miss just one cut in ten and hit the top 20 on five occasions, turning three of them into top 10s. Predominantly down to a quality long game, where he ranks 19th in approach for the year and an advantage this week, he’s also more accuracy over power off-the-tee.
He’s twice played Valderrama, missing the cut both times, but arrives this week in substantially better form than on those occasions. There is encouragement to be found as to his potential to go well here in some of his other performances though, most notably the two top 10s in the Hong Kong Open in Fanling, a course plentiful with form that ties in with Valderrama, more accurate players typically suited to another tight tree-lined course.
He’s a proven winner and it was only three years ago that he was sitting inside the world’s top 100 and contending for WGCs. Arriving here in good form I expect a much better showing than his two previous visits to the course.
After a solid 24th place finish when backing him in last week’s Open de Espana, I fancied giving Santiago Tarrio another try. In hindsight, last week’s test, which suited strong drivers, wasn’t necessarily the right fit for him and I feel this week’s more demanding setup, in which a quality short game is often an advantage, may suit him better.
Last week’s display was by no means disappointing. He shot under par every round and started Sunday with a flurry, threatening to even get himself into the mix to win the thing. Before fading towards the end of the round. He lost ground to the bigger hitters off-the-tee, though still drove the ball accurately, which will be beneficial around this tighter track. He was solid in approach and putting, but it was around-the-greens where he really excelled, ranking as the 3rd best player.
This is very much in-keeping with his performances on the European Tour so far. Where he’s now recorded three top 25s in just five starts. Playing well tee-to-green most weeks and also showing to be more than adequate with the putter.
He played here back in 2019, missing the cut, though did open with a rock solid 70 in his first spin around the course, which is no mean feat. He wasn’t half the player the, that he is now, going into that tournament off the back of six missed cuts.
He looks the ideal type for the test and expect he’ll improve significantly on that solo effort this time around.
After a break of 10 weeks, Ashun Wu returned to action at last week’s Open de Espana and I believe his performance there, coupled with a book of form at courses which correlate nicely with Valderrama, makes Wu an appealing prospect at the prices.
That performance last week resulted in an MDF, meaning he made the cut after round 2 but didn’t survive the cull after the 3rd round. Though he didn’t get through to Sunday, he started with an excellent 66, and it’s fair to assume that after a 10 week break, that lack of sharpness caught up with him as the week went on.
His year up until last week has been a very solid one. He’d missed just 3 cuts in 13 and hit the top 25 on four occasions. His all round game is solid but particularly excels with the short game, where he’s 3rd for scrambling, 21st around-the-greens and 44th in putting. Also, an impressive 6th in bogey avoidance will come in handy this week.
He has a solid record here, playing three times, making the cut twice, and a best of 31st. Wu also possesses an interesting book of form at correlative courses.
He finished 6th at the European Masters in 2018, a course previously mentioned as a comp but the major standout is that victory in the Lyoness Open in Austria, back in 2016. An event that last year’s Andalucia Masters winner, John Catlin won earlier this year, with the likes of Joost Luiten and Max Kieffer, amongst others, holding form at the two courses.
After years of playing on the Japan Tour, Wu is well accustomed to tight tree-lined courses and seems to relish tougher tests. Hopefully those three rounds in Madrid last week will have shaken off the cobwebs and he can use his straight hitting and quality short game to give a better showing of himself at Valderrama.