Winner’s Share: €389, 150
Well we hope everyone is ready to join us on the roller coaster that is betting on a tournament where the course has never been played on before! New tracks are always a lottery as until you see them played on it’s hard to judge quite how they suit certain players. Sadly we don’t know any locals who have played at Genzon Golf Club, but we have done sufficient research none the less.
It’s a very prestigious week for the event as it celebrates the 20 year anniversary so Messrs Stenson, Dufner, Molinari, Colsaerts and many more European Tour regulars have made the trip to the south of China. The course will be playing 7,145 yards so it is on the short side for professional standards. As always there will be stunning scenery with the natural lakes and tropical forest being prominent features. From the Championship tees the fairways are tight and tree lined with accuracy being crucial. There are plenty of risk reward holes on the course but course management will be key to whoever wants to contend. Accurate and sensible play is what will be needed.
Although on a different course, the Volvo China Open will naturally feel similar to previous Open’s. So do not overlook previous form in this tournament, or any other tournament held in China for that matter.
Pablo Larrazábal (33/1 Stan James)
The Spaniard, as we have discovered over the past few years, works in spells. He will miss cut after cut for a few months and then spring into life racking up a few top 10’s – or as he did back in January, win, in Abu Dhabi. Well we feel his T8 in Malaysia last week will spark another burst of form.
Coming to a course that will be fresh for everyone means stylish shot makers like Pablo will thrive. He is a magician at times with his irons and has made a living out of picking apart short tracks like this on the European Tour. Last week he ranked 17th in GIR but was just not clinical enough on the greens. His top ten finish will give him confidence coming to China knowing if he can sink a few more putts, he can mount a serious challenge. He ranks 4th putts per GIR and 7th putts per round on the tour, so we know he can do it.
He also possesses a fabulous record in China, finishing T5 at the 2013 BMW Masters and T18, T10 and T8 at his last three Volvo China Opens. With a title already under his belt in 2014, Larrazábal will feel very confident he can do it all over again this week.
And if you haven’t seen it yet, have a look at this from last week… (We still can’t believe he made birdie).
Nicolas Colsaerts (25/1 Various)
It’s a shame the Belgian Bomber, as he’s affectionately known, has gone off the radar somewhat over the past year or so. He has struggled to adapt over in America which has surprised many considering how long he hits the ball. Despite this, whenever he does come back to the European Tour, he will feel like a big fish. And last week’s T2 finish, his first appearance on the tour of 2014, behind the very assured Lee Westwood proved this. After all, he came into it off the back of a WD, two MC’s and a T65 on the PGA Tour – not exactly confidence building performances. But this week, he comes to a tournament which earned him his first ever European Tour win in 2011.
We have of course outlined the track for the accurate strikers but with so many of the holes being risk/reward, a confident Colsaerts, who averaged 312 yards off the tee last week, could certainly take advantage of these. And even more impressive was the fact he ranked 1st in GIR. By all accounts his putting was awful, so imagine if he improves that this week! And last week was a course not too dissimilar to this. And given the lack of knowledge everyone will have of the course, someone striking the ball this well could have a massive advantage.
Either side of the Belgian’s 2011 victory in China came a T8 and runner-up finish. He enjoys this tournament.
Wade Ormsby (80/1 BetFred)
The 34-year-old Aussie has really caught our eye this week. His last four performances across the globe on the European Tour have been 18th, 5th, 8th and 15th. In those 12 rounds he has not shot higher than 72 and is a combined 40 under par – that’s consistent by anyone’s standards.
Like many other of his compatriots, Ormsby is also a regular member of the Asian Tour and is well acquainted with the golf tournaments in this part of the world. His first professional win came on the Asian nearly exactly a year ago.
Last week Wade ranked 11th GIR and 4th driving accuracy (hitting over 75% of the fairways). If he brings that to this week, he will be up at the top end of the leaderboard once again. And his stats for 2014 read 23rd GIR, 8th driving accuracy, 10th stroke average, 64th putts per round. At these odds, you can’t help but be confident in him.
Wen Chong Liang (140/1 Bet365)
We think it’s fair to say Wen Chong is our favourite Chinese golfer – albeit we don’t know that many of them. We backed him a few times last year and we know what he does. He is a strong, solid driver of the ball, GIR specialist and someone with huge credentials in Asia. He was the first Chinese winner of the Asian Tour Order of Merit and the only Chinese player to reach the top 100 in the world rankings.
He comes into this week off the back of a missed cut last week but had two previous finishes of 8th and 15th. These odds for a local favourite and top golfer seems like something we are not going to miss out on.
Grégory Bourdy (50/1 BetFred)
The Frenchman was one of our headline picks last week and rightly so, he has been playing really consistently of late. We outlined that he was dominating the statistics and not much has changed. He lies 7th GIR, 4th driving accuracy and 5th stroke average.
Last week in his T18 finish, Bourdy ranked 8th in GIR and 10th driving accuracy. This means he is striking the ball as clean as he would like but just lacking that end product on the greens. But the way we look at it is, if he keeps playing tee to green as consistently as this, the putts will start to drop soon enough. He is also yet to miss a cut in 2014. His time is surely now.
Quick Mention: Young Japanese talent Masahrio Kawamura (100/1 Ladbrokes) was heavily on our radar last week due to his great recent form and putting prowess. His last four starts have produced four top 20’s including two 4th places. On the Asian Tour his putting has been remarkable and he brought that to the European Tour last week in his T13 finish. He ranked 11th putts per GIR and 17th putts per round. Now he has proven himself with Europe’s best, it’s time for him to push on.