That Zanotti is not very high up the Open de Espana betting market is understandable on some levels. After all, Zanotti has not won a European Tour event and his two professional victories have been in low-quality competitions. But, as ever with Rags To Riches, dig beneath the surface and one finds reasons to back the highlighted bet at long odds.
First, Zanotti has gone very close to breaking his European Tour duck on at least three occasions. He was runner-up to Jamie Donaldson in the 2012 Irish Open, runner-up to Martin Kaymer in the 2010 KLM Open and, most interestingly of all, runner-up to Thomas Levet in the 2009 Open de Espana. The Open de Espana is a nomadic European Tour event in that it moves from venue to venue. This year’s Open de Espana will take place at Girona’s PGA Catalunya Resort, which is hosting the tournament for the first time since 2009.
Second, there is more to Zanotti’s course form than his 2009 Open de Espana second-place finish. The reason that Zanotti holds a European Tour card is that he played extremely well at the PGA Catalunya Resort in last year’s final qualifying stage. Zanotti shot rounds of 66, 70, 67, 68, 68 and 68 to finish the high-pressure six-round competition at 21 under par, five strokes behind Carlos Del Moral but six strokes ahead of Marco Crespi. The top 27 earned European Tour cards, with Zanotti 13 strokes clear of the cruel cut.
And third, Zanotti recorded a hugely positive pre-Open de Espana result when he was third in the Madeira Islands Open that European Tour officials reduced to 36 holes after fog played havoc with the competition. Zanotti fired rounds of 70 and 68 to end up one shot out of the play-off in which Daniel Brooks beat Scott Henry at the first extra hole.
Sergio Garcia is the hot Open de Espana favourite with every bookmaker but, while one would not be at all surprised to see the Spaniard win his national open for the second time in just four attempts, Zanotti appeals as a better bet at roughly 15 times bigger odds. One could put a line through Zanotti’s other Open de Espana numbers because only one of his six appearances have been at the PGA Catalunya Resort. However, his Open de Espana average score of 71.20 strokes per round, irrespective of venue, is the seventh lowest of this year’s entries – equal to that of Francesco Molinari and lower than that of Miguel Angel Jimenez. Molinari and Jimenez are likely to be the second and third favourite respectively when the Open de Espana gets under way.
Naturally, conservative followers of Rags To Riches may want to back Zanotti not to win the Open de Espana but to perform reasonably well. Zanotti is available at odds of 8.00 with many bookmakers, including Coral and William Hill, to make the Open de Espana top 10. And Zanotti is trading at odds of 4.50 with Bet365 and Paddy Power to make the Open de Espana top 20. Both offers are very attractive.
Finally, it is worth going back to Del Moral because his PGA Catalunya Resort form is excellent, including three top-two finishes on the course in European Tour qualifying events. Del Moral‘s recent form is not up to the same standard as that of Zanotti but he does look worth a nibble at odds of 126.00 with Spreadex. It would appear that Spreadex’s golf team does not know much about the Open de Espana’s history or how the European Tour uses the PGA Catalunya Resort.
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