Thomas Aiken

South African Aiken To Reign In Spain Again

The European Tour’s oldest event the Open De Espana, formerly known as the Spanish Open, returns to the Real Club de Golf El Prat this week.

The Tournament
It’s the national golf Open of Spain, and last year Miguel Angel Jimenez became the third Spanish player to win it this century, and the fourth in the last twenty years, a list that begins with the late great Seve Ballesteros in 1995.

The quality of the line-up varies but this year’s field looks solid and includes a high profile previous winner in Sergio Garcia.

The Course
This year the tournament returns to the Real Club de Golf El Prat which last hosted it back in 1998. It’s a tree-lined course of moderate length and the wide fairways give big hitters plenty of margin for error from the tee.

There are a few long par-threes, but the toughest challenges are likely to be the numerous bunker complexes and the large, hard-to-read greens. Solid long-putting and good scrambling skills are a must.

In The Bunker
Sergio Garcia is the antepost favourite after his strong performance at the Players Championship last week. He is sure to get a more welcoming response from his home crowd than he did at Sawgrass, and if he brings his best form with him across the Atlantic, he could be hard to beat.

Although he won this event in 2002, he’s failed to make the top ten on any of the other occasions he’s played it and whilst he probably deserves to be favourite, odds of 5/1 look too short to me.

Recommended Bets
Thomas Aiken made a solid start to 2015 with three top-ten finishes before a creditable top-twenty-five at the WGC Cadillac, and on his return to action after a couple of months off, put in an impressive performance at the Mauritius Open, finishing fourth after going into the final day just one shot off the lead.

A former winner of this event, he’s bang in form and worth backing at 22/1.

Another player who enjoyed his golf last week was young Dane Thorbjorn Olesen, who returned to action after a poor start to the year with an eye-catching performance in Mauritius, finishing second to George Coetzee.

He’s always had plenty of potential, and having picked up his second Tour win in October last year, his career appears to be on the up. Back him to go one better this week at 33/1.

Another young player worth adding to your shortlist is Peter Uihlein. He missed a few weeks with injury and sickness, but bounced back from his enforced absence to finish fourth at the Shenzen International and followed up with another top ten at the China Open. He could be a player to watch this summer and is worth backing at 40/1.