Winner’s Share – $540,000
Course – Tomson Shanghai Pudong Golf Club (7,296 par 72)
Our 2014 Picks – Pablo Larrazábal – T36, Nicolas Colsaerts – MC, Wade Ormsby – MC, Wen Chong Liang – T54, Grégory Bourdy – T19
We are staying in China for the 2nd week running and once again we’re off to relatively unknown territory for the Volvo China Open. The Tomson Shanghai Pudong Golf Club has hosted European Tour events before – between 2004 and 2008 when the Asian Open came to town. When you list the winners, you get a real sense of what type of player will do well here and on first glance, you think that only iron gurus will be challenging for the trophy.
2008 – Darren Clarke
2007 – Raphaël Jacquelin
2006 – Gonzalo Fernández-Castaño
2005 – Ernie Els
2004 – Miguel Ángel Jiménez
If you ever wanted a list full of GIR specialists, that would be it. When any of these guys are playing their best golf, they tend to have the ability to attack pins and do it regularly – just look at Ernie’s opening 2 rounds at The Masters – his irons were simply sumptuous. And looking at Clarke and Raphaël’s victory, there was an obvious trend over the 4 days that they were inside the top 10 for GIR every day, but both hitting the ball relatively long considering what we might imagine these days. What they were for definite though, is straight off the tee. They both regularly found the fairway, giving themselves the chance to attack the greens and that is clearly an important ability to possess for this track.
Looking at the pictures, there’s plenty of water in play and long, glowing white sands surrounding the fairways and protecting the relatively large greens. The winning scores were not particularly high, but you get the feeling there is a low number there for someone who goes out and attacks. It is one of those weeks were it will be a slight hunch galore, but one we are certainly hoping can break our horrendous form that we simply cannot get out of at the moment!
Peter Uihlein (40/1 Paddy Power)
It wasn’t too long ago that we were talking about this guy as one of the hottest prospects for American golf having come over to Europe and shown what he was all about. But Brooks Koepka and Jordan Spieth later, it’s all gone rather flat in the Uihlein-camp.
But he’s still got it, we know that, he just needs to regain his confidence on the course and his last few showings have seemed to show that. T13 Dubai Classic and a T16 in Malaysia were the first glimpses of his old self. And then last week his T4 in China was the best finish he’s had on the European Tour since the Alfred Dunhil back in 2013!
It wasn’t just his finish but the putter was working and he wasn’t too shabby from the fairways either. He’s sure to be a much-fancied pick this week as we all know the American can go on a roll. The only worry would be his accuracy off the tee on a course where finding fairways is vital.
Wade Ormsby (45/1 Coral)
Last week he started poorly but managed to turn it around with a fine weekend performance – a 67 on Saturday and 66 to finish. That shows his game is in fine fettle and we feel it’s the right time to lump on the Aussie on a course that should actually suit.
He may not be particularly long, but just look at those previous winners. His tee to green accuracy more than makes up for his lack of length – 6th for driving accuracy and 9th for GIR on Sunday show his form.
His T9 result at the Trophee Hassan a few weeks back prove that he can play in varying conditions and on difficult tracks, whilst the fact he’s played here before really makes the appeal greater.
One MC and a T20 don’t make the most incredible reading, but he’ll be on of a few that have 6 rounds on this track!
Mikko Ilonen (55/1 Various)
So you look at his form and think that’s not the best but when you delve deeper those finishes were at the Masters, Shell Houston and WGC Cadillac, where he did finish T23 at the latter. Let’s be honest, he’s been competing at a far higher level than a lot of the guys in the field this week.
To do well on this course you need to hit it long and straight and be a demon from the fairway, well that’s exactly what Mikko does.
He did also turn up here in ’07 and ’08 but failed to perform. Even so, that will give him vital course knowledge. We like this one.
Gregory Havret (80/1 BetVictor)
So the Frenchman is someone who rarely gets into our selections and it’s pretty refreshing to see him here. In short, he has finished 18th and 15th in 2 of his last 3 starts where last week he was firing on all cylinders from the fairway. 2nd GIR and 9th driving accuracy – this will get it done on most courses but particularly this one. And then like Ilonen, Havret has also had a few rounds here back in ’07 and ’06 finishing a best of 33rd.
Lucas Bjerregaard (125/1 BoyleSports)
We were incredibly excited about Lucas Bjerregaard when we first saw him break onto the scene last year and we thought we could have a proper player on our hands.
He is yet to really fulfil his long-hitting destiny, but we are plumping with him again on a track that could suit.
Last week he finished T15 with a complete miss-match in rounds. Two 67’s either side of some poor rounds, makes it rather confusing about where his game is at.
However, during his final round he was, as expected, ridiculously long and 27th for GIR, but most interestingly, he found himself 16th for driving accuracy.
We are adamant that someone with the potential to hit the ball as far as Lucas will be ridiculously dangerous if he’s hitting it straight as well.
This sort of track could be over powered by that sort of treatment and the big Dane could take it apart.
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 –
£1.25 e/w on Peter Uihlein at 40/1
£1.50 e/w on Wade Ormsby at 35/1
£1.25 e/w on Mikko Ilonen at 40/1
£0.60 e/w on Gregory Havret at 80/1
£0.40 e/w on Lucas Bjerregaard at 100/1
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 14 weeks (and it makes for horrible reading…)
DownThe18th Golf Monthly
European Tour: £-38.70 European Tour: £-53.75
PGA Tour: £-69.38 PGA Tour: £58.50
Total: £-108.08 Total: £4.75
Golf Monthly leads by: £112.83