Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Volvo China Open - Genzon GC

China hosts the latest instalment on the European Tour, a country that I think European Golf will be leaning on quite a bit over the next few years so it’s refreshing to see some star players teeing it up this week in Shenzhen. We have another new course to get our heads around but it’s probably not a bad idea either to have a “neutral” venue, although the course website does boast that this is a club that wants to become elitist with their tagline “Business, High End, Members Only”.  Nonetheless, Genzon GC is a mere 7200 yards, par-72 course and from the looks of the photos that I’ve seen, should the weather behave itself, we may have a birdie fest in store this week. I’m raging over Lee Westwood and Matt Kuchar both winning last week. I had backed them the week before at the Masters, both finished T10 at Augusta and brought their form into last week to win at 11/1 & 18/1 respectively. In hindsight, both were value on the back of their form….I gotta “keep the faith” more. So, what does that mean for this week? Well, market leaders are Henrik Stenson & Ian Poulter. Regular readers will note I also backed Poults at Augusta. He loves China! Do I back him? Maybe I should, but both he & Henrik are good buddies of the “Worksop Wonder” and both will be motivated to win here following that win in Malaysia. Stenson for me is well worth a punt here. He finished TOP15 at The Masters, suggesting his game is there or thereabouts and he is the quality player in the field. You could argue that Jason Dufner, a Major winner is the quality player, but whilst it is fantastic to see Duffer play abroad, it’s worth noting that he has yet to challenge for a title on the European Tour and wife, Amanda, will be keen to get some shopping done in the One District in Hong Kong during their visit. Christ, my wife couldn’t help herself when I brought her! Of the two, Poults & Henrik, I prefer to back the European Number One, despite being a fan of Poults. Given that the course is offering no advantage really to market leaders, I’m backing the Swede to ignite his 2014 season for a win!

 My shortlist threw up a number of players representing bloody good value this week and they included the 3 additional players I want to have a wager on here.
Pablo Larrazabal should be buzzing (I’m no journo, it’s the best pun I could come up with) this week and at 28/1 think he’s the real value in the field. Pablo is a winner and is playing very nicely of late yet again. This shortish course will reward those that finds the fairways and greens and those that make putts when it counts. Pablo ranks highly in the putting stats, for both putts per round and putts per GIR (top10 on tour in both categories). He hits it 285 off the tee and should he improve on his GIR stats here, he’ll be right in the mix. I rated Pablo around 18 - 20/1 this week, so I’m definitely on board.

Italian Francesco Molinari has just 3 European Tour wins to his name…..so, he’s due one right ? Solid tee to green, the Italian has much better GIR stats than Pablo yet has quite similar putting stats. He lacks a bit of length off the tee but that’s OK here. His coach, Denis Pugh will have added interest with fellow pupil, Ross Fisher also teeing it up so I expect the stable to be really focussed, especially given that the Ryder Cup qualification race is starting to gather pace.  25/1, again seems decent for me and I’m happy to have such a solid, tidy player on my team this week.

I won’t be backing the aforementioned, Ross Fisher this week. He’s on the radar for Wentworth next month alright so I’ll be keeping an eye out for in-play investment of perhaps a 2nd round threeball bet. My third pick this week though is Scott Jamieson who I had shortlisted last week and a player that is well capable of putting four decent rounds together and compete for a title. He’s a player simmering of late, putting well, very well, and if he can find fairways he’ll make his putting stats count for a better return. He plays with local hope, Ashun Wu on Thursday alongside Anders Hansen, nice and early off the tenth tee…..if he gets that all important good opening round under his belt, he can grow in confidence and make the 125/1 look huge.

Tommy Fleetwood continues to be a big price. He missed the cut last week after a nice opening round of 70, but I’ll overlook that as weather conditions were tough and it was a course that if you got out of position you got punished. Tommy is not playing too badly, and his tee to green game should be 
well suited here and as stated last week, he’s overpriced at 80/1. Nothing really changes here and I’m happy to keep on board.

Staking Plan (8 pts) 

2.5 pts WIN H. Stenson @ 9/1
1 pts e/w P. Larrazabal @ 28/1
1 pts e/w F. Molinari @ 25/1
0.25 pts e/w S.Jamieson @ 125/1

0.50 pts e/w T. Fleetwood @ 80/1

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