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From sombre to enthralling, the BMW PGA Championship had the lot.

After the nation stopped, following the passing of Queen Elizabeth II, Wentworth had a job of getting golf excited about the final two days of a shortened flagship event – but delivered in spades.

It took a bogey-free 54 holes for Shane Lowry to edge past the brilliance of Jon Rahm’s final round 62, before holding on from pre-event favourite Rory McIlroy, himself missing an eagle putt at the last to tie and take it into a play-off – by an inch.

Back to Earth this week as the DP World Tour has its second consecutive outing at the Marco Simone Country Club, venue of next year’s Ryder Cup.

After a couple of years of lesser fields, McIlroy, Matt Fitzpatrick and Viktor Hovland stick around to provide real class to the Italian Open field, whilst on the PGA Tour, although they can’t quite match the world rankings of those stars, Hideki Matsuyama, Max Homa and Corey Conners provide three players ranked in the world’s top 25 to a tournament that feels like it’s the opener to a new season, and that’s exactly what it is.

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Italian Open

Whilst nodding at the chances of the three players currently situated inside the world’s top dozen players, none make any appeal at the prices.

If given no choice, look to the Northern Irishman, and for the winning distance for last week’s runner-up – he’s awfully short but could easily gag up on a course that will offer untold chances off his top-class tee-to-green play. At 4/1 he leaves no margin for error, though, and with Fitz and Hovland both fading away after having chances over the weekend, I’ll take a look further down the list for a trio of ‘no tears’ wagers.

Adri Arnaus

27-year-old Adri Arnaus has long been a player that the golf community wants to be with, but he flirts in and out of form, hence the reason we can get a large price for a player that finished 12th here last year after a missed-cut at Crans.

Constantly long off the tee, a feature of both Nicolai Hojgaard and Adrian Meronk in their one-two of 2021, Arnaus should fare better than late given the more forgiving nature of the fairways compared with Himmerland and Wentworth, courses at which he is historically four from seven in missed-cuts.

32nd for greens-in-regulation this year, the Spaniard has proven a lot tidier in his tee-to-green game this season, can take advantage of his length and tee-to-green game and it will all be down to the way he operates on the greens.

This isn’t the Alps, a region Arnaus does well at, but amongst his wins in Italy is the victory at the Challenge Tour Grand Finale, where he beat Victor Perez. Hosted by the Al Hamra course at Ras Al Khaimah, that course has seen a victory from Hojgaard and a runner-up and sixth from Meronk – all from just a combined handful of outings – that’s the correlative form of correlative form, and I have no issues putting up his top-10 efforts in Dubai as evidence of his class.

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Callum Shinkwin

29-year-old Callum Shinkwin is one of those players. Try to pigeon-hole him as a pure links player and he’ll make you look silly, yet there is something about his style that leads me to think that given the chance to open up on a track that has those elements, he can go silly low.

Another whose Wentworth form is less than ordinary, ignore that and he comes here off three progressive results. The Moor Park star was sixth at the halfway mark when overall 16th at Hillside, a closing seventh at Fairmont, and finally an easy four-shot winner at Celtic Manor just over a month ago, his second win on tour.

Past form indicates he should improve on the 46th last year, his fifth at the KLM Open linking in Dutch form of many of last year’s leaderboard (Hojgaard runner-up) whilst an 8th behind Thorbjorn Olesen and Frani Molinari came on Gardagolf, an equally open course that one reviewer called “relaxed.”

No stress, open the shoulders, bit of quality with the irons, and Shinks is right there.

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Rafa Cabrera-Bello

Rafa Cabrera-Bello was once 16th in the OWGR, and if last week indicates his future play, he can start inching his way closer to that than his current position outside of the top 150.

One swallow and all that, but I felt there would be more of a reaction to some excellent play last week when the Spaniard ranked 24th off-the-tee, sixth for approaches and third for tee-to-green, behind only winner Lowry and Abraham Ancer. Indeed, the 38-year-old ranked second in his second round for both that and his approaches. Anything resembling that sees him able to contend with even the very best, as he did when winning in Dubai and contending at Sawgrass, WGC Mexico and Jordan Spieth’s Open victory at Birkdale.

There is no suggestion yet he is back to that level of form, but something clearly clicked during his nine-birdie second round and having ranked eighth in birdies for the three days, he can bring that confidence to a course he may not have played on before, but to a country in which he is ‘played one, finished fourth’ – in 2018, two shots in front of Shinkwin.

That isn’t the only connection between the two. In fact, bring all three into a form-line.

Rafa has won six times at professional level, two wins via a play-off. In 2017 he bested Shinkwin to win the Scottish Open, whilst when winning his home Open, he beat Arnaus in a tense finale.

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Fortinet Championship

Just a couple in the outright market this week.

While Corey Conners holds impressive claims this week, he does only have one victory to his name, albeit the potentially relevant Texas Open. At under 20/1 though, I can leave him alone, especially as he will be a bigger price for better events, yet still hold similar claims to contend.

Cameron Davis

Instead, take 27-year-old Cameron Davis to kick on after opening his PGA Tour account last year at the Rocket Mortgage Classic from Troy Merrit, a player with finishes of 4th/15th/16th around Silverado.

The Australian has taken his time to settle down on tour but his best efforts read well in the context of the challenge this week in an area he loves.

Third at the 2021 American Express behind Si Woo Kim and Patrick Cantlay, he finished in front of Tony Finau (good record here) whilst at Harbour Town in April this year he was just a shot behind top class Jordan Spieth and Patrick Cantlay.

That was the start of a run of 11 cuts and just one weekend off, at the Wells Fargo, after an uncharacteristically poor second round saw him miss the cut by two shots.

In those 11, Davis has top-10 finishes at the classic Charles Schwab and John Deere, and at the Barracuda, and he backs those up with three recent top-20 finishes at Twin Cities and Detroit before 13th and 35th at the first two play-off events.

Over the past three months, Davis ranks 16th for ball-striking, 28th for par-5 performance, 31st for greens, and 2nd in birdie conversion.

Very much at home in California, where he has made his last 12 cuts, he looks the type to progress his game to another level this year, very much in the Max Homa way of 2021.

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Brendan Steele

It may be a bit too obvious to go for two-time winner Brendan Steele here, but despite winning back-to-back in 2016 and 2017, his best form of the last year suggests he can still compete around a course he clearly loves to play, and is a price that works.

A winner not only of two events at the Napa Valley track but also in Texas, his places at the Sony, Sawgrass, River Highlands and Pheonix highlight the tracks he plays well at – he is tidy and that presents itself with chances on the greens. This isn’t a track players want to be giving shots away because of poor approach play and Steele’s best results have been when he is top-20 in both driving and irons.

For evidence of those crucial elements, examine the 39-year-old’s figures from his last five completed starts.

Average rankings for off-the-tee and approach is around 13th, leading to 12th for overall tee-to-green; in old money Steele ranks fifth for total driving, second for ball-striking, and sixth in greens-in-regulation.

Down to the flat stick. At a ‘bullseye’,  take the chance.

No prices are out yet, but have a look at Chez Reavie for possible first round leader this week. With an average first round position of 14th in his last six starts here and bests of 1st and 4th, an early start would be a bonus.

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Emiliano Grillo - Top South American


No prices are out yet, but have a look at Chez Reavie for possible first round leader this week. With an average first round position of 14th in his last six starts here and bests of 1st and 4th, an early start would be a bonus.

Instead, snap up any evens about Emiliano Grillo to be top South American.

As always, this is about context with the market rivals, of which there are three.

Augusto Nunez had a decent run on the Korn Ferry Tour from June and July, but regressed with two missed cuts from the three championship starts and has never played around here. Nicolas Echavarria is another to have only won on the South American Tour, but does come here off a top-five at the KFT finale. Yet again, though, he has no form in California, yet alone around Silverado.

Finally Tano Goya has regressed dramatically since looking a potential future star in the early 2010s. Now ranked outside the top 600, he looks to be on the way back after a couple of injury-ravaged seasons, but again, a pair of top-six finishes in 20 starts should not trouble the favourite.

Grillo is easy to make a case for.

Known as one of the most difficult of players to win with, the Argentinian still competes strongly despite struggling to get his head in front.

Winner of this event, when known as the Open, he backs that up with three further top-30 finishes in six starts, but his 2022 form leads me to think he can better those by some margin.

J.T Poston had a short-lived fright as Grillo stuck with him for much of the final round at Deere Run, whilst he split a flying Tony Finau and Sungjae Im at the 3M Open just a fortnight later – form of a different level to anything his market rivals can offer.

Since then, the Argentinian took part in the first two play-off events, finishing 31st at St. Jude (ninth at halfway) and 19th in the BMW at Wilmington, both events again on a higher level than his competition has ever seen.

Grillo continues to present a top-class tee-to-green game, ranking 30th in total driving, 14th in ball-striking, ninth for greens-in-regulation, eighth for par-4s and 31st for the longer holes. Given these stats are all for full-field PGA Tour events, he should be able to win this market with a few to spare.

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