Golf expert Ben Coley makes Sam Horsfield his best bet for the Porsche European Open, where another young Englishman got off the mark a year ago.
- For details of advised bookmakers and each-way terms, click here
Masters champion Patrick Reed is presumably on a promise as he once again heads to Hamburg for the Porsche European Open, an event which for the second year running is held at the brute that is Green Eagle Golf Course.
Last year, Jordan Smith broke through for his first European Tour title in what was his rookie season - although it's fair to say he had help. Alex Levy ought to have won to further enhance an excellent record in Germany, but the Frenchman instead managed to miss from three feet before losing in a play-off.
The only other notable form we have to go on at the venue comes courtesy of a 2010 Challenge Tour event, but at least Smith's victory added up. This is a seriously long par 72 which features five par-fives, a rarity in itself, and in that respect it's little wonder a big-hitting youngster got the job done, even if the circumstances were somewhat strange.
One year on, there is a significant caveat before we all pile into the power players, many of whom have already been supported, and that's the weather. There's been no rainfall of note for a few weeks now whereas Smith and Levy were throwing darts throughout a week which included weather delays; there is no guarantee that last year's form, or even the profile of the two main contenders, holds up.
Another point worth making is that the big-name players in the field 12 months ago failed to get going, all having arrived from the Open at Birkdale. Favourites Reed and Charl Schwartzel both managed top-20 finishes, but that speaks more to the lack of depth in an event which will struggle to attract genuine members of the elite given its timing, history and purse.
Reed is worthy of respect nevertheless while Schwartzel is out to 25/1 from around half that, which in itself could be an overreaction. The South African was tempting at the price but the fact of the matter is that virtually all of his victories have come when right at the top of his game, which he hasn't been for the best part of two months now.
With so few proven performers on show here it may therefore pay to tread a little carefully, with Sam Horsfield nominated as the headline selection at 50/1.
Like Smith, Horsfield is a European Tour rookie who started the year with a couple of near-misses, including when narrowly missing out at the Tshwane Open - for Smith, it was the South African Open, but both marked our cards early on having arrived at this level with tall reputations.
A mid-season lull shouldn't come as too big a surprise but Horsfield sprang back to life with 15th place in the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth, where he held his own alongside Rory McIlroy in the third round, while more recently he followed 24th place in Ireland with 23rd in Scotland.
That form is better than most in this field can offer and there is a lot more to come from Ian Poulter's protege, who was a world-class amateur and will surely continue to climb the professional ranks having dominated European Tour Qualifying School late last year.
His power should be considered a major weapon despite the weather shift and if things do get really firm, then his performances in Perth, South Africa and indeed at Wentworth suggest this youngster can cope just fine.
Horsfield is itching to get back out on the course and if he returns at the level produced in those Rolex Series events in the UK, he should be right in the mix despite this being his first visit to Green Eagle.
Having put up Scott Hend at a three-figure price for the BMW International Open, where he finished a galling seventh, he was towards the top of my shortlist as the Tour returns to Germany.
However, for all that Hend's 14th place in Scotland last time confirms that he remains in very good shape, he's not a player I like to side with at much less than 100/1 given his propensity to do something, well, Hend-like at an inopportune moment.
Nacho Elvira is also around the 50/1 mark and looks short enough given his modest form at present, and I prefer to roll the dice with a couple of French players, namely Julien Guerrier and Matthieu Pavon.
Guerrier is top of the par-five charts among this rabble whether your measure is three, six or 12 months, and that's a very encouraging starting point here at Green Eagle where there are five across the closing 10 holes.
He's tasted contention several times this season, bagging three top-10 finishes in the process, and it could be significant that he also played well in the China Open at Topwin where Levy has won and Smith has finished third.
Elvira, Ashley Chesters, Mikko Ilonen and Rikard Karlberg are others to have contended at both venues and given how new they are to the circuit, and how little else we have to go on, it's an angle worth pursuing to some degree.
Sky Bet specials
12/1 - all selections to make the cut
12/1 - any selection to win the event
18/1 - any two players top-five (inc ties)
Guerrier promises to be suited by firm conditions and while his form has dipped a little since May, he recovered really well to make the cut in Ireland and then opened 65-69 in Scotland to suggest that his game is not far away.
Pavon meanwhile has returned to his best lately, finishing 25th in the US Open and 10th in Ireland while also showing some good signs in Scotland, performances which suggest a missed cut on home soil was a mere blip.
He ended last year as a player who appeared ready to win on the European Tour and the 25-year-old has the power to succeed at this course.
Richard Sterne looks rock solid again but continues to frustrate when it comes to actually contending for a title so I'll conclude with a trio of really speculative plays, starting with Scott Fernandez.
This youngster hasn't kicked on in the manner that was expected when he turned professional, but there have been more positives lately, particularly when seventh over the border in Austria.
Last time out he opened 64-67 in the Scottish Open to lie sixth at halfway and the fact he ended that high-class tournament ranked fourth in the all-around ranking certainly catches the eye.
Ricardo Gouveia was also solid throughout the bag in Scotland and making cuts there, in Ireland and in France puts the Portuguese on the front foot again after a difficult spring.
A multiple Challenge Tour winner, including here in Germany, he has a touch of class and it could be that a field such as this offers him the opportunity to show it.
Last year's missed cut at Green Eagle helps the price, the much firmer conditions should suit a player not known for his power and he's big enough to chance at 150/1.
Chase Koepka was a well-backed 66/1 chance for this tournament a year ago and is now as big as 500/1, but his game has deserted him since and the victory of brother Brooks in last month's US Open doesn't yet appear to have inspired him to get back on track.
On that note, Edoardo Molinari is exactly the sort of emotional character who really could spring to life following his brother's historic Open Championship success, but his preparations for this will have been interrupted and there's little more to the case so he too is overlooked.
Instead, I'll finish with a real wild card in South Korea's Rak Cho.
This 25-year-old has shown flashes of his ability throughout the season, notably when shooting rounds of 64 and 65 for 12th place in the Open de Espana won by Jon Rahm, and he rubbed shoulders with the likes of Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas when an amateur at the University of Oregon.
Last time out, he carded four rounds in the sixties for an excellent 30th in the Scottish Open and it's that performance which leads me to take a chance in an event where there are so few golfers who arrive in peak condition.
There were some surprise names on this leaderboard last year and if he can build on that effort at Gullane, Cho is a potential contender at around the 300/1 mark having been third at Topwin previously, where he also produced one of his best European Tour performances to date.
Posted at 1925 BST on 23/07/18