Our golf expert brings you his preview and predictions for this week's European Tour event, Gran Canaria Lopesan Open.
Gran Canaria Open - Winner
Meloneras should represent a nice change from the cold conditions last week in Austria and with any luck a trip here may result in it staying on the schedule in the coming years. The course here is by the coast and is subject to warm winds but the yardage of roughly 6500 yards should present plenty of birdie opportunities throughout the week. We don't see a lot of Paspalum greens on either tour so any results on those surfaces could be worth a glance when narrowing down the field. As ever I'll be keeping an eye on those who score well on coastal layouts but strictly speaking this is us for grabs this week with the low scores anticipated.
Rafa Cabrera-Bello at 22/1 (6 places)
Tournament hosts are usually up against it throughout the week but I can't help but feel Cabrera Bello stands every chance of overcoming this. During a pandemic the roles for these guys are greatly reduced and Meloneras is a place with nothing much bar restaurants and hotels that a relaxing atmosphere is guaranteed, even for the host. Cabrera Bello is loved in these parts and has played out of this course for most of his career. He also got married in a hotel half a mile from the course so this should be a very comfortable week for the Spaniard. Throw in the fact he has won the Scottish Open and has a handful of top 3s in Qatar and we have the perfect fit for this track. He kicked off this year in fine fashion finishing 4th in Abu Dhabi in a much better field and despite some average form since put together a respectable effort in Texas last time out. I thought he'd be fighting for favouritism here this week so more than happy to take the plunge at 22/1 after the 25s has disappeared.
2.5pts e/w Rafa Cabrera-Bello 22/1
Garrick Higgo at 40/1 (6 places)
Garrick Higgo showed his class again last week finishing 4th in Austria adding to his super results since joining the tour late last year. It didn't take him long to get off the mark winning in Portugal and given some of his results since he can be expected to win again sooner rather than later. 14th in the DP World Tour showed us exactly what he is capable of even in better company. Top 20 in Qatar was worth noting where he ranked 4th in SG Putting for the week there on Paspalum greens. The conditions should suit the South African and he could give a bold showing should he manage to reproduce that putting performance from Qatar.
1.5pts e/w Garrick Higgo 40/1 (1/5 6)
Chris Wood at 150/1 (6 places)
A final round 68 in Austria saw Chris Wood post his first top 25 finish since 2018 and if he manages to kick on should relish the test here in Meloneras. Wood has always performed best at coastal layouts and tracks where wind is a factor and a similar performance to last week could see him in the mix over the weekend here. A win in Qatar and a handful of top 5s in Open Championships is enough evidence he enjoys a test with wind. Dig deeper and we see solid results on the coast finishing 2nd in Mallorca to Clarke and 2nd to Olesen in Sicily. His best result since his top 25 last week was in Oman, another coastal track where he finished runner up to Luiten in 2018. Enough evidence last week suggested another run at a coastal layout is possible and 150/1 is tasty enough to chew on.
1pt e/w Chris Wood 150/1 (1/5 6)
Sebastien Soderberg at 175/1 (6 places)
Sebastien Soderberg has shown he can cope with windier conditions before and his four rounds in Kenya of 68-67-70-66 last time out show us he can't be in such bad nick. The Swede got off the mark in Crans, another short track which yields plenty of birdies and he showed bottle in finishing off a five man playoff which included Rory McIlroy. A few top tens in Portugal in similar conditions to these should prove beneficial also. The performance in Kenya was a small sign he got back on track after three missed cuts and I'm more inclined to back a few at these prices towards the end of the market given the nature of the test this week.
1pt e/w Sebastian Soderberg 175/1 (1/5 6)
Zander Lombard at 250/1 (7 places)
Zander Lombard is another worth a small bet at big prices. The South African signed off the week in Austria with a fine 66 to finish inside the top 25. Were it not for a disastrous 3rd round 77 which included a 9 on the par 4 9th he could well have been in the mix come Sunday evening. He is another who has shown a likeness for coastal tracks with two top 10s at Irish Opens and a runner up spot at the Rocco Forte back in 2017. His finish last week was masked by that horror 9 on day three and at 250/1 he looks a fair bit of value for this test.
0.75pt e/w Zander Lombard 250/1 (1/5 7)
Paul Dunne at 350/1 (6 places)
I'll take a small chance on Paul Dunne at big prices. He is more than capable of coping with any wind which may cause an issue this week and has shown he can score on the easier venues before. He has shown absolutely nothing until a 33rd spot last week and I'm taking a big chance his game is back into some sort of decent shape. He has performed beyond expectations in Punta Cana on Paspalum greens finishing 5th and 12th there down the years on the PGA tour. It's a big leap of faith that he returns to any sort of form that will make him super competitive here but at the prices I'm prepared to take the chance.
0.75pt e/w Paul Dunne 350/1 (1/5 6)