Phelan good in Madeira
Ireland's Kevin Phelan is selected by David John to make an impact at 66/1 in this week's Madeira Islands Open.
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The forays to the Far East are over for the time being and we are back in Europe for an extremely low-key Madeira Islands Open.
The tournament is severely lacking even a few of the established regulars who may take a dart at an event like this in years gone by and we are left with a field made up mainly from the Challenge Tour and below.
The event does not come at a great time either with some prestigious alternatives around the corner which the bigger guns may want to rest up for while the quirky course at Santo de Serra perched by the sea can be at the mercy of some peculiar weather patterns not to everyone's liking.
- 1pt e.w. Connor Arendell at 45/1 (Betfred, totesport 1/4 1,2,3,4,5) - can follow the lead of last year's winner Peter Uihlein
- 1pt e.w. Mark Tullo at 80/1 (Stan James 1/4 1,2,3,4,5) - went close here last year and could be inspired by Felipe Aguilar's heroics
- 1pt e.w. Kevin Phelan at 66/1 (General 1/4 1,2,3,4,5) - top-class talent in the making could be a class above most of this lot
So I am going to keep things straightforward and after last year's victory from the classy Peter Uihlein, I get the impression his compatriot and good friend Connor Arendall could go well at 50/1.
He, Uihlein and Brooks Koepka all have close links to Florida and played together in college with the latter pair certainly providing a blueprint for young Americans to build up some valuable tournament experience on this side of the Atlantic.
"What they are doing here is a good reference to follow," Arendall said as he bids to follow in the footsteps as well of John Hahn, who played very nicely earlier in the year to make the frame behind Thomas Aiken at the Africa Open.
We are very much in the dark in terms of course form but Arendall has admitted he can play when the wind blows thanks to his Floridian roots and a recent T3 at the blustery Challenge de Catalunya rather backs up that theory although his winning chance went thanks to a disappointing one-over 72 in what was the third and final round.
I have a lot of time for this type of player who comes out ready to play via the tough college circuit in the USA and I would not be surprised to see Arendall involved over the weekend in this company.
I tipped Mark Tullo here 12 months ago and he chased home Uihlein with a very decent T2 having led going into the final round.
Although his closing 18 holes contained a hole-in-one, he was unable to convert a promising winning chance as the American surged by so Tullo remains a maiden on the European Tour.
Backing the Chilean does not come without the obvious risk considering his current form which stands at T27-T52-MC this season.
But a return to a venue where he has some form and more importantly, watching compatriot and World Cup partner Felipe Aguilar win so dramatically last week in Singapore, could inspire an upturn in fortune for the man from Santiago.
Finally, Ireland's Kevin Phelan should not feel overawed in this sort of company and despite still being pretty inexperienced, has the raw ability to go well.
He has already posted a T6 this season at the Tshwane Open having made it on to the European Tour via the Qualifying School and it looks only a matter of how long he takes to get fully adjusted to the pro ranks before he gets off the mark.
Phelan had a decorated amateur career and has the right sort of grounded attitude that bodes very well indeed and although he has some questions to be answered at this level, I get the feeling he could turn out to be a class apart from this field.
Conditions could suit as well around here and although I may not have put forward the most convincing argument, I have a gut feeling about Phelan's ability and 66/1 looks worth a play.