Nick Dougherty: The forgotten man of the European Tour
The European Tour is finally arriving on the Tour's home continent, attention is now focused on the Costa del Sol and the Andalucia Open at the Parador de Malaga. It last hosted a European Tour event in 1999 when the winner was a Malaga native, Miguel Angel Jimenez.
This course will not be the easiest to punt on because as with many of the European Tour visits to Spain, the Open's rarely return to the same course.
The course has been adapted since 1999, Jimenez scored a 10-under-par 62 to win in round three. This week's course has a total par of 70, as two of the par-fives have been reduced in length and become par fours.
Nick Dougherty had little desire to play golf in 2008 after the sudden death of his Mother. His form understandably dipped dramatically as he struggled to cope with the bereavement and it culminated with his dismal performance at the 2008 Royal Birkdale Open Championship with a four round total of 302.
The three time European Tour winner is unable to find the consistency required to become a recognised member of the World's top 50 - he is currently ranked 122. From a high of 46th in the world just over two years ago, he has missed out on the first two World Championships this season
He has shown glimpses of his talent and his form improved in 2009. That year he won, the BMW International Open in Munich, Germany. He was three shots behind the leader Retief Goosen going into the final round. He went on to score a final round 64 and ended with a one stroke win over Rafael Echenique.
At last week's event in Morocco, Dougherty shot his way to a 66 and one-shot lead in the first round of the Hassan II Trophy in Morocco with some superb short-play. The Liverpudlian drifted away from the lead as the tournament progressed and carded an awful last round of 77, however Dougherty was said to be feeling under the weather.
I am going to get Nick Dougherty on side this week because of his price and at 50/1, he looks a value bet. His consistency is poor but his ability has never been doubted. He can prove his critic's wrong and card a consistently low score throughout this tournament on a fairly open course.
Spaniard Pablo Martin is relishing home comforts at the Open de Andalucia this week, his family home is next to the Parador de Malaga Golf and he played there regularly whilst growing up. He won the season opener, the Alfred Dunhill Championship but has since also suffered a family bereavement with the loss of his Father.
His knowledge of the course can provide him an early advantage over the other European Tour golfers, yet the course is extremely flat and clear so the other Pros can take to it quickly. Other than Jimenez his knowledge of the course is unique, I would have a small flutter on him being the 1st round leader at 70/1.
Golf throws up fairytales and a win for Martin would be just that after his recent trauma. With his course knowledge, 80/1 may be a little generous.