The DP World Tour returns to mainland Europe for the first time this year and our man’s back with his preview of this week’s action here…
The DP World Tour returns to action this week with a brand-new event – the ISPS Handa Championship in Spain.
It’s the first chance the DP World Tour’s rank and file have had for to play since the Qatar Masters at the end of March and it’s the first time the Tour has visited mainland Europe since the Portugal Masters way back in early November last year.
The ISPS Handa Championship in Spain is the first of two events in Spain, as we’ve got the inaugural Catalunya Championship to look forward to next week before the Tour moves on to England for the Betfred British Masters.
The Lakes Course, Infinitum, Tarragona, Spain
Par 70, 6963 yards
Original called Lumine Golf Club, Infinitum has two Greg Norman designed tracks – the Lakes Course, which hosts this week’s tournament, and the Hills Course.
Prior to the rebranding to DP World Tour, the two tracks jointly hosted the European Tour’s end of season Qualifying School, staged over 108 holes, between 2017 and 2019 so a number of players have prior experience of the venue.
Andy Swales has listed the players with form at Infinitum here.
The Lakes Course also hosted the Challenge de Catalunya on the Challenge Tour back in 2014. Spain’s Antonio Hortal, who was a tournament invite, won the weather-reduced 54-hole event in 13-under-par (his only win), with England’s Callum Shinkwin three strokes back in second.
The course also staged the Nordic Golf league event – the Lumine Lakes Open – between 2016 and 2020.
Situated in an exposed wetland location, the Hills used to be a par 71 but the second hole has been converted from a par five to a par four for this event. Water is in play on 14 of the 18 holes.
Live on Sky Sports all four days, starting at 13:00 UK time on Thursday
What Will it Take to Win the ISPS Handa Championship in Spain?
There are no stats to look back on for any of the previous tournaments here so we’re very much in the dark.
With so much water in-play, this doesn’t look like a track that can be attacked with gusto. It’s not a long course so it’s debatable how important length off the tee will be and it may well transpire that the more accurate types come to the fore but we’ll know more as the tournament progresses.
Is There an Angle In?
Looking at the weather forecast there could be quite a sizable draw bias if the current predictions pan out.
Strong winds and rain are set to hit on Wednesday afternoon, and it doesn’t look like it’s going to clear completely before Thursday afternoon so the early starters on day one may just get the worst of it, with Friday morning predicted to be less breezy than Friday afternoon.
As always, it’s dangerous to read to much into weather forecasts but at the time of writing, those drawn PM-AM may get the better of it on both Thursday and Friday.
Denmark’s Jeff Winther won the Mallorca Golf Open back in October, on the last occasion the Tour visited Spain and it’s another Dane, Rasmus Hojgaard, that heads the market this week after a successful foray onto the PGA Tour, where he finished sixth at the Corales Puntacana Resort and Club Championship and 18th in the Valero Texas Open, where he putted superbly.
Rasmus also has a bit of course experience, as he finished sixth at the Lumine Lakes Open in 2019, but I’m a little surprised to see him so much shorter than his twin given Nicolai is the one that’s been winning of late.
The Austrian Ryder Cup star, Bernd Wiesberger, is next best in the market but with 2022 form figures reading 12-24-MC-57-33, he makes little appeal and the same can be said of Adri Arnaus, who’s yet to win on the DP World Tour.
This is Arnaus’ first outing since he missed the cut at the Qatar Masters but that’s a result we can probably ignore given it came straight after his latest near miss…
Arnaus has been runner-up on the DP World Tour on four occasions and he’s traded at odds-on twice fairly recently. He was beaten by fellow Spaniard, Rafa Cabrera-Bello, in extra time at the Open de Espana in October and he hit a low of 1.84/5 at the MyGolfLife Open before getting eliminated at the first hole of the playoff there.
With so many unknowns, I’m in no rush to get stuck in here but I did think one of Matt Cooper’s three picks, Nicolai Hojgaard, looked generously priced at 32.031/1.
Nicolai has won two of his last 14 tournaments. He’s missed his last four cuts but three of those were on the PGA Tour and the first of the four came a week after he’d won the Ras al Khaimah Championship – an event he won on the back of two other missed cuts.
And prior to those weekend offs, the talented Dane had finished second at the Portugal Masters and fourth at the DP World Tour Championship after a couple of missed cuts. He strikes me as someone who’s either on or off and if he’s on, he’s too big.
I’ll have a few picks here for the Find Me a 100 Winner column tomorrow once the draws been made but for now I’m happy to go with just Nicolai who did me a favour at the Ras al Khaimah Championship when winning at 40.039/1.
Nicolai Hojgaard @ 32.031/1
I’ll be back later with the Zurich Classic preview.
*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter