Tuesday, 29 April 2014

The Championship, Masters Course, Laguna National GC, Singapore

As a replacement to The Ballantines Championship, until 2015, The Laguna National GC in Singapore will stage the inaugural “The Championship” this week on it’s Masters Course. It will be the first European Tour event to be played here since the Singapore Masters was held between 2002 –2007. Local favourite, Mardan Mamat has a fantastic record on the Masters layout, having won the aforementioned Masters title in 2006 and the Singapore Mercedes Benz Open in 2009, but he may have a tough challenge from his Asian &  European Tour counterparts this week. 

The 7200 yard, par-72 course, has in the past, produced winning scores in around 275/276. Good tee to green players again should contend this week. Hopefully, it may ignite Peter Lawrie’s season as the Dubliner has had two TOP10s here back in 2007 & 2005 and a return to a course that he should have fond memories of, may help him get back on track. It’s the same story too, for England’s Nick Dougherty, who on his last three visits finished 4-2-1.

As I wrote in this week's edition of Golfing Weekly (free to subscribe and sent out every Monday), Bernd Wiseberger could be the one to beat but he's no certainty to win. The last two weeks has seen him finish a very creditable 2nd in Malaysia and a T10th in Indonesia where it appeared he was frustrated by the weather delays. He may be in the mood to complete his Asian Swing in style by winning this title for the second time. Whilst the Austrian may appear to be the one to beat this week given acclimatisation and current form, he has not played Laguna previously. Englishman, Simon Dyson and Ross Fisher have however, both recording finishes of 3rd in 2006 & 2007 respectively. This will be Dyson’s 5th visit and he arrives this week off the back of a TOP10 in China whereas Ross Fisher arrives having missed the cut in Shenzhen. Dyson is very comfortable in this part of the world having played successfully for a time on the Asian Tour at the start of his professional career, and with a second TOP10 under his belt in his last 5 starts, and the 40/1 is a great price this week. Ross on the otherhand is well underpriced and best left alone. 

Spaniard Rafa Cabrera-Bello produced another TOP10 in China and will play Laguna for the second time. You can ignore his missed cut in Malaysia, as he has produced some solid results in his previous 4 events – 3 TOP5s. That closing 67 in Shenzhen will have him full of confidence for a course that should really suit his game. He can be backed @ 18/1 this week, a price I was expecting and whilst a lot of punters may feel this is too short, given the quality of the field here, I think its a price worth taking, despite the small number of wins on his CV.

 Of the Asian based players, Indian, Anirban Lahiri will be full of confidence having won outside his homeland for the first time in Indonesia. Having finished no worse than twelfth in his last five starts he’ll be the tour’s main hope alongside Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Prayad Marksaeng. The latter won two starts back and has two TOP10s at Laguna, so of the three, would be my pick although Aphibarnrat appears to be hitting some form again but again he's a bit too short and I'd prefer to be on Rafa. Rashin Khan is another Indian golfer starting to make waves and is great form of late, but I do believe the European stalwarts will contend better this week.
Of those, Frenchman, Gregory Bourdy has been playing very consistently for awhile now. The French have shown in the past that they can take inspiration from their fellow countryman winning on tour, and Alex Levy’s win may just inpsire Bourdy to kick on from his five TOP20 finishes from his last six starts. Anders Hansen hasn't been in great form this season until that closing 63 in Shazhen catapulted him up the leaderboard and it's worth noting he has course form at Laguna. That round and final result should put him in good form for this but at 45/1, I'll opt for Bourdy at 28/1 instead being the more consistent this season.
I was happy to collect two place returns in China through Tommy Fleetwood & Francesco Molinari last week, and therefore am a bit relunctant to leave the former out this week. I also wanted a bit more than 33/1 for Andy Sullivan who has been very solid of late, but in a tricky event this week,my staking plan is finalized as per below.
Good luck if you follow!
Staking Plan (8 pts/units)
1 pt e/w S.Dyson @ 40/1
1.5 pts e/w G.Bourdy @ 28/1
2 pts win R. Cabera-Bello @ 18/1
0.25 pts win P.Marksaeng @ 125/1
0.75 pts P.Marksaeng @ 10/1

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