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Masahiro Kawamura (NAP)
It’s obviously very hard to see past Jon Rahm winning the Spanish Open this week. But, this is golf, and if one or two shots go awry for the world number one, he could be vulnerable. I like Masahiro Kawamura to win this, he’s been one of the most consistent and improving players on the European Tour. He’s a really good driver of the ball as well.
If you are watching him on your TV coverage you might not like his technique, but it’s very effective for the Japanese player. Although he missed the cut last week at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, that is a unique event over three courses and Kawamura is not much of a links golfer. I’m going to ignore that outing, and before that event he was in really good form.
Adri Arnaus played brilliantly here at the Club de Campo Villa de Madrid in 2019. He’s also very good friends with Jon Rahm and they played the first two rounds together that week. Arnaus rose to the occasion back then, leading the field at the half-way stage. Rather understandably at the time – given he was a rookie then – he ended up giving way to Rahm in the end.
His form lately has been really encouraging. He was a leader after Round 1 of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship last week. He was also 12th at the Italian Open a couple of weeks before that and he played his first nine holes in 28 shots at that tournament, so he has had bursts of good scoring. I’m hopefully he can improved even further now that he is back home here, as we often see players from continental Europe, especially, play well at their respective national opens. Adri Arnaus is certainly capable of repeating that trick here.
Adrian Meronk is looking to become the first Polish player to win on the European Tour and he was the first person from the country to win on the Challenge Tour a couple of years ago. I reckon he has impressed a lot of people this year as he has had four top three finishes. When he plays well, he tends to make it pay as they are his only top 10s. He tends to stick around at the top of the leaderboard when he gets up that high on it.
I believe his power off the tee will be a real weapon here. If you look at the players who have won this tournament previously, specifically Rahm and Charl Schwartzel, they have dominated the Par 5s and Adrian Meronk is definitely capable of doing that as well. His form may suggest that he has gone off the boil, but he actually won back in Poland a few weeks ago and he’s not as far away as people might think.
Jazz Janewattananond is a young Thai player who is edging closer all the time to his first European Tour win. He is another who didn’t play well last week, he had one bad round at Carnoustie, but I can forgive anybody that. The week before that, he was in the top 10 at the Dutch Open. The reason I like him in Spain, even though it’s the first time he’s played here on the European Tour, is because the course is tree-lined and tight at turns. It’s very similar to a lot of the courses you find out in Asia, where Janewattananond was the standout player in 2019.
He has since established himself on the European Tour since then and all of his form seems to come when he gets this sort of course. He was second in Kenya and in the top five in Northern Ireland last year on another tight, tree-lined course. So, this is the kind of test that he wants, whereas last week wasn’t his cup of tea. Therefore, he can shake off his big price to go really well here.
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