Prize Fund – $2.5 million
Winner’s Share – €386,168
Course – Genzon Golf Club (7,145 par 72)
Our 2014 Picks – No Tournament
The European Tour heads to the east this week after a 2-week break (obviously The Masters does count towards RTB though!)
Not many from Augusta have made the trip over, but surprisingly Bubba Watson is heading the market and taking a plunge at European glory, probably because he’s won in China recently – the WGC HSBC Champions last year.
It’s a new tournament and track, but we did get to see everyone at Genzon GC at the Volvo China open last year when Alexander Levy came out on top with a solid 4-shot victory.
His sheer distance and GIR abilities outshone the field and you can definitely expect more of the same. Everyone inside the top 13 had ridiculous GIR stats and those that didn’t hit the ball particularly long, were very good around the greens.
Although the track is clearly short at 7,145 yards, there’s were obvious signs that you can overpower the course. Levy, Alvaro Qurios, Henrik Stenson and Rafa Cabrera-Bello finished inside the top 8 and all tanked the ball, however the likes of Ian Poulter, Anders Hansen and Mikko Ilonen also finished high and don’t even come close to their big-hitting counterparts.
That basically suggests a variety of players could do well here and you can make a case for several.
We’re hoping we can find the value and winner in what should be quite a decent tournament.
Pablo Larrazabal (25/1 Various)
Despite an un-inspiring 36th on this course last year, you delve a little deeper and you see that the Spaniard loves it in in the far east and China in particular. His 2 appearances in the HSBC Champions, in China, have been 14th (2014) and 20th (2011). He has a 5th place in 2013 at the BMW Masters and most impressive are his China Open showings – 5th (2013), 18th (2012), 10th (2011), 8th (2010). His form in Dubai isn’t too shabby either, his win at the Abu Dhabi HSBC last year epitomising that.
So he loves the area, but what shape is he in at the moment? His 3rd at the Trophee Hassan in his last outing had a blend of what he is all about. 14th GIR, 15th driving distance and of course a few missed putts along the way. But if there’s one thing we’re really confident on is that one top 5 with this guy usually manifests itself into a couple more in the coming weeks.
Morten Orum Madsen (40/1 Various)
For someone who is in decent form, one of the few to have played this track and hits the ball a mile.
He shot a 68 and 69 at the Volvo China Open last year, on his way to a T19 finish and that previous knowledge of this track will stand him in great stead. You can definitely say that since then, he has become a far more mature and all-round player, so it is quite exciting to think what he could do on his 2nd trip to the course.
Six finishes inside the top 25 this season, including a T3 at the Africa Open and T4 in Dubai. Everything seemed to stem for a solid outing in Portugal last year where he ended in T4 as well.
Most recently he played at the Investec Cup in Africa, where he finished T18 and kept his run of form going. He hasn’t dropped outside the top 20 in 3 starts and we have some real he can continue that and go even higher in China. 24th in driving distance and 28th in putts per round add to the appeal.
Alvaro Quiros (66/1 Various)
We’re sure many want to see it and we are certainly top of that list because here you have a player with a ridiculous amount of potential. His star quality has been seen on bigger stages than this already, so it must be frustrating for him and his team that he hasn’t got back to the top quite yet. There’s been signs, don’t get us wrong and one of those signs came on this course a year ago. At the Volvo China Open, he recorded an impressive T3 finish – one of his highest since his injury – and that just proves he took a liking to this track.
It would seem simply foolish not to at least think about the Spaniard once again this year because he has played for a longer period now and whilst his performances have been poor this season, it’s definitely worth the risk on this sort of track. He hits the ball a ridiculous length and has irons that can be so fluid. Why not.
Maximilian Kieffer (80/1 Various)
The German when he first burst on the scene was all about distance but over the past year or so we’ve seen considerable improvement in his iron play. It seems he has found the right balance. All he needs now is start churning out some big money finishes.
His T32 on this track here showed signs of promise, ranking top 20 for putting and 8th driving distance. Now like we said, Kieffer has become a lot more consistent from the fairways and at the Trophee Hassan it really started to show – he ranked 4th GIR for the week. It’s also good to note he played in the BMW Masters in China at the back end of the year, so he’s no stranger to the environment.
Michael Hoey (90/1 BetFred)
Despite not being a monster off the tee, Hoey is never usually lower than top 20 when it comes to distance. And his ability from the fairway is well documented as one of the best in the business on his day.
You’ll always find him at this sort of price which tells the story, consistency is often missing. So with no real performance this year of note we’re looking at his T8 on this course last year. He ranked inside the top 25 in all facets of his game and enjoyed the track. Like one of our other picks, Kieffer, the Northern Irishman gave a good account of himself at the BMW Masters finishing T34.
His Trophée Hassan performance does not thrill us but top 30 in both GIR and driving distance certainly isn’t bad. We’re looking for his game to finally all click on a course that will bring back good memories from last year.
Every week we’re running a weekly betting competition on both Tours with esteemed magazine Golf Monthly. It is a bit of fun between us and them to see who has the better tipsters! We have £10 to put on each tournament and will write up a weekly post for their site detailing the horrors we are sure to endure throughout the year – so keep an eye out.
It will also (for the first time from us at DownThe18th) show some sort of staking plan we have for out bets. Obviously, this isn’t the exact stakes we will put on our players, some weeks we won’t even enter a couple of our picks, but at least it can be shown roughly where our thoughts are money wise.
Our £10 against Golf Monthly will be as follows –
£3.00 WIN on Pablo Larrazabal at 25/1
£1.50 e/w on Morten Madsen at 40/1
£0.75 e/w on Alvaro Quiros at 66/1
£0.75 e/w on Max Kieffer at 80/1
£0.50 e/w on Michael Hoey at 80/1
Each way bets ¼ odds for top 6 finish. Prices sourced from Paddy Power
Find the Golf Monthly Preview here (http://www.golf-monthly.co.uk/news/tour-news)
Current Standings after 13 weeks (and it makes for horrible reading…)
DownThe18th Golf Monthly
European Tour: £-28.70 European Tour: £-43.75
PGA Tour: £-59.38 PGA Tour: £68.50
Total: £-88.08 Total: £24.75
Golf Monthly leads by: £112.83