Ben Coley's Open de Espana free betting preview and golf tips

We have tips from 80/1 to 350/1 below
We have tips from 80/1 to 350/1 below

Golf expert Ben Coley has a quintet of big-priced selections for the Open de Espana, including Pedro Figueiredo at 350/1.

Recommended bets

1pt e.w. Wade Ormsby at 80/1 (1/5 1,2,3,4,5,6,7)

1pt e.w. Lee Slattery at 80/1 (1/5 1,2,3,4,5,6)

0.5pt e.w. Eduardo De la Riva at 250/1 (1/5 1,2,3,4,5,6,7)

0.5pt e.w. Justin Walters at 250/1 (1/5 1,2,3,4,5,6,7)

0.5pt e.w. Pedro Figueiredo at 350/1 (1/5 1,2,3,4,5,6)

After Rory McIlroy's misguided criticism of the European Tour on Sunday, at the end of a fortnight which in many ways showcased the best of the circuit, the Open de Espana presents something of a Catch 22 for Keith Pelley and co.

If Jon Rahm shows up and blitzes the field, as he could well do, then McIlroy may find his criticisms underlined. He reckons courses are too easy, and if anyone is going to shoot four 64s and add another low total to the rolling tally, then it is likely to be the man who has already bullied his way to a handful of tournaments like this one in a professional career not yet four years old.

On the other hand, so weak is the field assembling in Madrid that anything bar a stout defence from Rahm leaves the tournament hanging by a thread. Only three of the world's top 50 are in attendance, all of them Spaniards, and for all Hao-tong Li's talent and Andrea Pavan's form, these are not names to resonate beyond the bubble of the diehards.

Indeed it's hard to think of a field as weak since events like the Belgian Knockout and the Perth Super 6, which is a sorry state of affairs for this prestigious national championship, and that's why Rahm is a popular 3/1 chance despite struggling in last week's Dunhill Links.

Rahm's strike-rate at this level and the strength of his form throughout the year just about justify the odds, but one thing he's yet to do is play well the week after a missed cut. The sample size is small, but his form figures under such circumstances read T36-T43-MC, and there really ought to be no doubts when you're thinking about taking single-figure prices.

His presence will make Garcia an each-way bet to nothing for some, and he certainly appeals more than his compatriot. Garcia has won seven European Tour titles in Spain versus nine elsewhere and it makes sense. Even as he approaches his 40th birthday, there's a boyish insecurity within Garcia which makes him most dangerous when he feels loved.

A winner last time in the Netherlands and rested since, he's surely going to be thereabouts but this is not Valderrama and he's not quite big enough, so it's Wade Ormsby who instead gets the headline vote.

You have to go back more than a decade for any meaningful course form, which immediately diminishes its significance, but Ormsby's two visits to Club de Campo Villa de Madrid saw him finish sixth in 2004 and 12th in 2005.

Unlike most involved in those editions of the Open de Madrid, Ormsby has improved in the intervening years. In 2004, he was an out-of-form European Tour rookie earning his first ever top-10 finish on the circuit, while in 2005 he'd been struggling until a return to this typically Spanish layout sparked immediate improvement.

Back then, he'd failed to make the weekend in the Dunhill Links previously, and that's again the case. Yet Ormsby has never and likely will never master that unique test: last week's missed cut was his eighth in nine starts, with 51st in 2009 his best finish. Rounds of 71-68-69 to miss by one at the weekend are absolutely nothing to worry about.

Wade Ormsby with his first piece of European Tour silverware
Wade Ormsby with his first piece of European Tour silverware

Certainly, playing on short, fiddly courses whose fairways are lined by trees is much more Ormsby's bag. It was under similar circumstances that he won in Hong Kong two years ago, a victory which came after he'd been fifth at Valderrama, and all of his best golf has come when his lack of punch from the tee isn't too much of an issue.

While some prodigious hitters have thrived here - Charl Schwartzel and Ricardo Gonzalez among them - Ormsby's compatriot Marcus Fraser, a player of similar skills, said that he likes Club de Campo because it's short and "not so much of a slog-fest", a course which allowed his short-game to shine back in 2008.

Ormsby is statistically the best scrambler in this field on this year's form and it could pay to take a favourable view of his recent exploits, with fifth place in Sweden and eighth in Switzerland a far better guide than two on-the-number missed cuts in considerably stronger fields since.

At 80/1, he looks a bet to add another chapter of success to his Spanish story, having emerged through Qualifying School on four occasions and avoided such a fate with that performance at Valderrama a couple of years ago.

Those efforts in August and September mean Ormsby has nothing to worry about when it comes to his playing rights for 2020, but for Lee Slattery there remains business to take care of from 114th in the Race To Dubai standings.

Since the Irish Open in the height of summer, Slattery's fortunes have improved significantly - he's made seven of eight cuts since, having missed 10 from 13 previously. The sole cut missed was at Wentworth where a dozen starts so far have produced almost nothing: it was his sixth failure in a row at the Burma Road.

Having done the groundwork, which includes leading at halfway in Scotland and playing well for a couple of rounds last week, he should press on and a return to Madrid, the city in which he won his first European Tour title in 2011, could be all he needs to sort things out in four good rounds.

Like Ormsby, Slattery has played this course a couple of times and while less successful, 37th place in 2008 was solid enough in the context of a poor season. He's certainly better prepared ahead of his return and looks a likely each-way contender, for all that it could be behind-the-sofa stuff should he enter the back nine with a chance on Sunday.

Li was a huge eye-catcher in Scotland and it's likely he wins or threatens to before the year is out. Yet there will be more suitable courses - Portugal, China, Turkey, Dubai - so while this will probably he his shortest starting price, I'm not entirely convinced it represents his strongest chance.

Pavan seems sure to play well but more appealing would be Mikko Korhonen, who has a broadly similar profile and is three times the price. Korhonen won Qualifying School in Spain and has made 14 cuts in 17 standard events, including when third at Valderrama last year. He's now a two-time winner, he's playing well, and that should remain the case.

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Rikard Karlberg and Jeff Winther look the pick of the Scandinavians, but the very fact players of this ilk look strong contenders underlines the lack of depth and for my remaining selections I'm keen to roll the dice.

First, with a strong Spanish presence expected it could be that Eduardo De la Riva upstages many of the bigger names.

The Barcelona man is a steady, unspectacular type, but that's just fine for this sort of course and one thing we know is that he's proven capable of raising his game on home soil.

As well as winning the Challenge de Espana in 2012, De la Riva has been third in both the Madrid Masters and the Open de Andalucia, while in June this year he finished second behind Christian Bezuidenhout in the Andalucia Masters.

Ninth in the Open de Espana and a pair of top-10 finishes at Qualifying School further demonstrate that he's been a fairly consistent factor in Spain and while he's been quiet elsewhere this year, he's ranked seventh and 15th in overall accuracy in two of his last three starts to suggest that Valderrama may not have been a fluke.

De la Riva relies on hitting fairways to compete and if he can continue to do so here, having been eighth at halfway and ninth through 54 holes of the KLM Open last time, he can sustain the challenge right through the tournament.

At a similar price, Justin Walters is worth a very small play in the hope that he might again find light among the dark.

Walters gave an emotional interview last Thursday, after a nine-under-par 63 at the Old Course, revealing that a difficult year on the course had been overshadowed off it by the recent death of his father.

Perhaps understandably, he was unable to build on that spectacular start at St Andrews, where he'd played with his dad previously, but it was nevertheless an encouraging performance which hints at better to come over the next few weeks.

"I've been swinging really well for a while now, and I think I just had to let Justin get a game," he said.

"I think for most of the time, it was just me trying to control things and trying to make things happen. Today I was just so much better at that.

"You know when you're practising and working on things, you can feel things turning. Certainly last week and this week, I could feel things turning a little bit."

It was at St Andrews in 2013 that Walters, playing with his dad, learned of the death of his mother and without dwelling on it too much, he went on to finish second in Portugal on his next start - a performance which remains his best at this level.

He's not the first and he won't be the last to find that golf is suddenly easier when you're reminded that it's just golf, a point underlined again on Sunday when Cameron Champ won the Safeway Open and immediately called his ailing grandfather to share a precious moment.

Writing about these factors in betting previews doesn't come easy, as you might have guessed, but there should be no shame in painting as full a picture as possible before deciding whether to place a bet.

At least this one, at 250/1 or so, comes with the reminder that there are many more important things in life.

It's terribly difficult to leave Raphael Jacquelin out of the staking plan, but being near certain that he's done winning at 45 allows me to pass over the Frenchman - even at prices as big as 300/1.

The case for Jacquelin is that he's won at this course, and over a two-year, eight-round period he actually carded five rounds of 64. That's ridiculously impressive by any measure and reminds us that his accuracy-based game works well here.

Throw in the fact that Jacquelin finally made a cut last week, and that he hit the ball well (11th for GIR), and that he was the first man onto the 18th green to shower compatriot Victor Perez with champagne, and there's a case I'd quite like to make. I just can't quite bring myself to believe it and can't therefore expect anyone else to.

Finally, while the American battalion of John Catlin, Johannes Veerman, Charlie Saxon and Sihwan Kim are all respected at big odds, it's Portugal's Pedro Figueiredo who gets my vote.

Finishes of 35th, 33rd and 49th across his last three starts represent progress for a player who has long been considered capable of better than he's shown, and in a field like this he's immediately on the radar as a result.

And while I remain somewhat sceptical of the European's Tour's embryonic strokes-gained data, which says he's picked up 29 shots on approach over these events, when it comes to a 350/1 shot I'm willing to trust it just enough.

According to that data, Figueiredo has ranked first, second and sixth for approach shots across the European Masters, European Open and KLM Open, and in such weak company away from the top couple in the market that quality rather stands out.

Posted at 1815 BST on 30/09/19.


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