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David Thompson 31st May 2011 - 15:36

Can McDowell ‘Manor’ a victory like in Twenty-Ten?

Saab Wales Open

Whilst the majority of the big names have hopped the Pond this week and taken up the offer of the USPGA's invitation to compete at the Memorial in Ohio, US Open Champion Graeme McDowell 12/1 has decided to stay and defend his title.

The Saab Wales Open will be staged at the famous Celtic Manor Resort in South East Wales. The Twenty-Ten Course was host to an epic Ryder Cup battle back in October with McDowell clinching the win for Europe with a vital point in the last pairing of the final day singles against Hunter Mahan.

The course should provide a pleasant four days for the golfers, many of whom were still upset and generally critical of the Ernie Els designed Wentworth course, that many felt was still too challenging. Birdies are easier to come by and come Sunday the leaderboard will be a whole lot more red that what we saw last week, especially as early weather reports predict a dry weekend in Wales.

Home favourite Rhys Davies 20/1 should feature following a successful four days at Wentworth finishing two over par. Having lost out here last year despite carding a final round 62, it's hard to see him not making the top five at odds of 4/1.

Compatriots Jamie Donaldson 33/1 and Bradley Dredge 45/1 will be hoping to upset the odds and finish above Davies as top Welshman, and having finished in tied 7th at Wentworth last week at one under Par, Donaldson has a realistic chance of achieving that accolade.

A quick scan of the runners and riders reveals a field short of big names which the European Tour has over recent months become accustomed to. This opens the possibility for a big price winner and where better to start than with those with past course success. Past winners include: Simon Khan (2004) 200/1; Jimenez (2005) 22/1; and Jeppe Huldahl (2009) 150/1.

My tip for the three above; put them to finish in the Top 10. Big prices are still to be had in this market for this event: Khan 18/1; Jimenez 17/10 and Huldahl 14/1.

However the best value looks to be on 2008 winner Scott Strange who holds a tournament record 22 under Par around this course and appears to be a big price considering the strength of the field at odds of 125/1.

If a match bet interests you, then the two on offer that appeal are the 10/11 you can get on Chris Wood to beat Danny Willett and the 6/5 on the Iberdrola Open Champion Darren Clarke to beat Miguel Angel Jimenez.

Having mentioned Clarke, who has been in great form of late, the 2/5 on him to make the cut and progress to the weekend, must appeal to those who like a short priced certainty.

At a glance it appears Graeme McDowell is a class apart from the rest of the field, however the Northern Irishman will not have it all his own way in South Wales with many in form and capable of shooting low scores on this forgiving, 7,378 yard Par 71 course.


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