Four golfers to oppose short priced favourite Jon Rahm with in this week’s Open de Espana

The European Tour heads to Spain for three weeks and the action begins at Club de Campo Villa Madrid.

There's a big week ahead for Jon Rahm who is heading home to Spain in search of a hat-trick of wins in his national championship.

The Open de Espana was cancelled last year, but before that the World No. 1 claimed the title twice in the capital city of Madrid.

The first win came at Centro Nacional in 2018 when he turned a two shot 54 hole deficit into a two shot victory with a final round of 67.

A year later he rocked up to Club de Campo Villa Madrid - this week's host club - and found himself two behind again, this time after 36 holes.

He duly thrashed a Saturday 63 to open up a five stroke lead on the field and a Sunday 66 which kept the chasers comfortably at bay.

He'll have good vibes on his return and, whichever way you look at it, the 26-year-old looks a brutal opponent for the field.

We've seen that his course form is superb and two wins from two starts makes his championship record even better.

In Spain alone he has two wins and one second since he missed the cut on his home soil debut in 2017.

In regular European Tour events - not counting the Majors and the World Golf Championship - he has six wins from 16 starts.

Form? In the last six months he would have won the Memorial Tournament but for a positive Covid test (he was leading by six with 18 holes to play), he did win the US Open, he tied the low score in the Tour Championship, in-between those latter two events he was never outside the top 10, and he was Europe's top scorer in the Ryder Cup two weeks ago.

Moreover, he is not only the World No. 1, but he is the only player in the field ranked in the top 50 (and only six others are in the top 100).

His three year stroke average on the European Tour is 2.28 shots better than the man in second. That amount to 9.12 strokes per tournament which is obviously an enormous margin.

Put together, the numbers and those log book truths will have many quite convinced that, despite his short price, the home favourite is a good thing this week.

But if you want to take him on, here are four options.

Guido Migliozzi

The young Italian burst onto the scene in 2019 in sensational fashion with victory in the Kenya Open and he soon backed it up with another win in the Belgian Knockout.

It was all the more extraordinary because, although he was a three-time winner on the third tier Alps Tour, he was more or less completely untested in-contention on the Challenge and European Tours.

This campaign he has finished second three times, in the Qatar Masters, British Masters and the Made in Himmerland.

He was also a very fine tied fourth in the US Open.

More intriguingly, he was tied seventh in the mountains at Crans in August and T17th last week in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.

So he's been close to that third win three times this year, he's got a win at altitude, form at altitude, and form last week.

Justin Harding

Madrid is far from Mexico City in terms of altitude but, at over 500 metres above sea level, thin air is an issue.

And South Africa's Justin Harding has proved throughout all of 2021 that he is well-suited to such conditions.

He first encountered them in March during the fortnight the circuit spent in Kenya.

Harding, who had finished second in the event in the past, first won the Kenya Open and then, a week later led the Savannah Classic, on the same Nairobi course, by three with 18 holes to play.

He ran out of puff in that second event, but next found himself landing a European Tour top five at June's BMW International Open in Munich which, like Madrid, is at an altitude of just over 500 metres.

At much higher altitude is Crans in Switzerland, where Harding was in the top 10 heading into the weekend before finishing T32nd.

He was also tied seventh on this course two years ago.

Joachim B Hansen

The Dane, like Harding, was in-contention at this event when it was at Club de Campo back in 2019.

He laced together four rounds in the 60s which had quite a profound effect on his career.

In the first instance, his tied fourth finish began a fine run of form that took in five top 25s in six starts that first saved his card, but it also boosted his confidence.

A year later he landed tied seventh at the BMW PGA Championship and then won the Joburg Open at Randpark.

That latter result is a reminder that he, too, plays well at altitude.

He's also very fond of playing in Spain and his last 14 starts there, taking in action from the top three tiers of European golf, have reaped 12 top 25s, eight of them top 10s, one of them a win.

Santiago Tarrio Ben

It's been a wonderful year for the 30-year-old Spaniard Santiago Tarrio Ben and this week gifts him a great opportunity to transfer that form into his home championship.

In a recent European Tour blog he revealed that having turned professional at 17 the economic crisis of 2008 ruined his early hopes, he took work as a waiter, and it took another eight years for him to travel internationally.

That year he met his girlfriend and she encouraged him to take a mind coach and commit to the game. She later became his caddie.

This year he's landed eight top six finishes on the Challenge Tour, including two wins in June.

In addition to that, he was T15th at the ISPS Handa World Invitational and tied third in the Hero Open on the European Tour.

READ MORE: St. Andrews hero Danny Willett: The man for the big occasion but a conundrum for punters

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