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Home : Golf NewsBack to News

The Spanish Open is back

 

Spanish Open 2018 preview

 

After a month's break, the European Tour is back in mainland Europe for the first time this year.

This for the Spanish Open at the Centro Nacional de Golf in Madrid where England's Andrew 'Beef' Johnston will defend his title this week against a powerful, 25-strong Spanish lineup that will include seasoned Rafael Cabrera Bello and 23-year-old Jon Rahm, the World No 4 and currently the biggest star in the Spanish golfing galaxy.

Both are taking a break from the US PGA Tour to support a national open golf championship which has a proud history dating back to 1912 and was one of the first tournaments to join the European Tour when the Tour was launched in 1972.

Johnston won his Spanish title when he beat Dutchman Joost Luiten at Valderrama in 2016, but he'll be coming back to Madrid as the defending champion because the Spanish Open was not on the European Tour schedule last year.

The championship is returning to Centro Nacional de Golf, the headquarters of the Spanish Golf Federation, for the first time since 2008 when South African Charl Schwartzel shot a 16-under par total to claim his second European Tour victory.

Despite the fact that both Rahm and Cabrera Bello will be coming to the Madrid directly from last week's Masters and may find it harder than usual to rustle up their A-Game inspiration, the British bookmakers have established them as this week's favourites with Rahm notably firm at 15/4.

Cabrera Bello is at a distant 14/1 followed by fellow Spaniard Pablo Larrazabal at 18/1, Ireland's Paul Dunne at 20/1, South African George Coetzee at 22/1 and Johnson at 25/1.

That Rahm is the overwhelming favourite is a no-brainer. He knows Centro Nacional like the back of his hand, having spent two years there combing his studies with his early golf development and he'll be coming home to something of a heroes welcome fresh from his highly visual 4th place finish at the Masters.

But against these advantages, this huge talent from the Basque country will have to overcome a fair amount of physical and mental exhaustion - and dampen down a temper that has not been doing him any good in this year of great expectations.

He has won once on the US PGA Tour - the CareerBuilder Challenge - but he might have been more successful if he could have kept his anger in check more often. We once more saw flashes of it at Augusta last week when he was threatening the leaders

Along with Rahm and Sergio Garcia, who is not playing this week, Cabrera-Bello has clearly been one of Spain's best golfers in recent years, but his record at Centro Nacional is not a very good one and it is quite possible that other Spaniards like Pablo Larrazabal, Pablo Larrazábal, Alvaro Quiros and Adrian Otaequi might be the Spanish flag-bearers this week.

Johnson hasn't had the same kind of form lately that he carried into his victory in Spain two years ago, but don't write him off.

It's quite possible that, chased by fellow Englishman Andy Sullivan, Eddie Pepperell and Matt Wallace, the inform Dunne, the so often capable Coetzee, Thorbjorn Olesen of Denmark or Victor Dubuisson of France, he'll be up there in the forefront along with Rahm and the strongest of the Spanish Amada coming down the closing stretch on Sunday.

LEADING ODDS
(Tuesday AM, April 10, 2018)

Jon Rahm 15/4
Rafael Cabrera Bello 14/1
Paul Dunne 20/1
Pablo Larrazabal 18/1
George Coetzee 22/1
Andrew Johnston 25/1
Andy Sullivan 33/1
Eddie Pepperell 35/1
Matt Wallace 33/1
Seungsu Han 40/1
Jorge Campillo 33/1
Thorbjorn Olesen 35/1
Dean Burmester 40/1
Victor Dubuisson 45/1
Stephen Gallacher 45/1
Fabrizio Zanotti 66/1/
Sam Horsfield 60/1
Thomas Detry 55/1
Adrian Otaegui 66/1
Jeunghun Wang 60/1.

NOTE: For all the latest odds go to www.oddschecker.com/golf/open-de-espana/winner.

For betting options visit BetWay

Neville Leck

Written by neville@golfweather.com.