The European Tour returns to the mainland and for the first time in a lengthy spell we have a familiar and stellar line up on home soil. Departing Sawgrass, destination PGA Catalunya Resort in Girona, is the itinerary of a handful of the market leaders, most notably the ever dominant on home soil Sergio Garcia, who heads the betting at 6.00.
The Open De Espana hits its current venue for the first time since Thomas Levet took the honours in 2009, but a number of the field will have plenty of experience here through European Tour Qualifying School. The home assault this week will be backed up by the likes of Gonzalo Fdez Castano 34.00 - one of the players on the plane from Florida, and a simmering Alvaro Quiros 34.00. Fan favourite Miguel Angel Jimenez always seems to perform in his homeland, and he trades at 23.00.
The course - PGA Catalunya Resort
Playing 7,172 yards in length to a par of 72, PGA Catalunya comprises a set of challenging par threes and breakable par fives. All the long holes are reachable in two shots and big hitters may have an advantage in this area. An undulating track, forgiving from the tee for the most part but don't stray too far or you'll find yourself in thick fescues or blocked out by the tree line. Emphasis this week will be on greens in reg.
Three from the pack
The Dutch birdie machine Joost Luiten 34.00 is another player to make the flight from the US this week as he returns to familiar territory. Big things are expected of Joost - a possible Ryder Cup candidate. The 27 year old is yet to catch fire this season, although he's posted top 30s at the WGC Cadillac and Masters. He was a feature early on at the Players championship despite missing the cut. The winning total here in 09 was -18 and Luiten is known for streaky runs of par breakers. The three-time European Tour winner owns an average GIR percentage of 73% through 2011-13 and stands out in the ball striking department.
Gregory Bourdy also comes in at 34.00 or 7.50 the place and will be looking to emulate compatriot Thomas Levet's success here in 2009. The Frenchman brings in some steady figures to this week's event, carding four successive top 20s, culminating in a top 6 at Laguna. Bourdy also owns a top 10 here from the latest outing back in 09 so he knows the intricacies of the course. Gregory ranks 6th in Greens in reg in 2014, hitting 77%.
Chris Wood is my biggest value fancy this week relative to the market and he comes in at 50.00 or 11.00. Wood gained his European Tour card in Girona in 2008 with a top five finish here at Q school. The following year the Englishman opened with a 66 to be in contention at the Open De Espana. He carded a round three 79 but bounced back to secure a top 25 position. Chris' ball striking ability will stand him in good stead here and it's obviously peaking off the back of a top five at Laguna.
It seems a bit strange putting the defending champion in this bracket but at 67.00 or 14.00 the place, Rafael Jacquelin falls into this category. I've been watching the progress of the Frenchman closely in recent weeks - ever since he flew out of the blocks in China, only for a quad bogey to bring him to a stop. Jaca finished in the top 25 that week and went on to post 17 birdies in Singapore the following one on his way to a T8 finish, so a solid defence is likely.