Stick with Nixon in Moscow
Matthew Nixon heads David John's three selections for this weeks M2M Russian Open near Moscow.
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The players who took part last year in the M2M Russian Open seemed unanimous in their praise for the Tseleevo Golf & Polo Club just outside Moscow.
Designed by Jack Nicklaus and closing in on 7,500 yards, the word appears to have spread and a stronger-looking overall field seems to have assembled for the 2014 renewal.
Make no mistake, there will be none of the superstars who played at Hoylake making the long journey east but there are a decent sprinkling of middle-tier European Tour pros who have a legitimate opportunity to make an impact.
One of those is Matthew Nixon and I am keen to have him onside once more having tipped him up last month at the BMW International Open in Germany.
He was a bit of a speculator at 300/1 and finished inside the top 30 but I was quietly impressed with the way he went about things.
He improved on that with a T12 in France and throw in the fact that he previously secured a T14 in Ireland then it is fair to say he is in a decent little run of form.
The wheels came off a bit in Scotland with a missed cut but I would not be overly worried. A week off to regroup and a drop in class makes him of interest once more and a repeat of any of those solid recent performances should get him involved.
He chased home Michael Hoey here 12 months ago - at a respectable distance of four shots - so Nixon offers a solid blend of good recent play and some course form.
I have quietly been keeping a close eye on Nixon's compatriot Adam Gee and there are reasons to believe he can be competitive as well this week.
Gee's credentials are not obvious but he has shown flashes lately without being able to seal the deal over 72 holes. That said, there was not too much wrong with his overall game in Austria and Ireland last month.
The clincher for me is that his biggest cheque as professional came with a T4 in Russia back in 2007 so maybe a return to the country could give him that little piece of added inspiration.
He represents what sounds like a marvellous place - the Surrey Golf Lab - so Gee could also benefit from a little less strength in depth this week with the big guns resting up.
Scot Craig Lee has watched his fellow countrymen Stephen Gallacher and Marc Warren perform with great credit in recent weeks and may just feel this is a good chance to step things up himself.
Lee proved he had what it takes to be a success in Europe with a gritty effort last year in Switzerland, only going down in a play-off to Thomas Bjorn.
He had plenty of pressure to deal with on that occasion with his 2014 card up for grabs going into the final round after a 61 on Saturday.
But he dug in well and impressed with the way he applied himself, despite ultimately not posting the victory.
Lee had another two-shot lead in Abu Dhabi earlier this year with 18 holes to play but saw his score rocket to a 77 on the final day so just getting over the line when in contention looks the final piece of the puzzle.
Easier said than done I know, but this less testing company should help with those experiences to draw, on while a top 20 at Royal Aberdeen on his most recent outing looks a firm foundation to build on in the context of this event.