Tuesday, 8 March 2016

True Thailand Classic - Black Mountain GC 2016

European Tour action heads to Black Mountain GC in Hua Hin, Thailand this week where local boys, Thongchai Jaidee & Kiradech Aphibarnrat hope to make their mark after some eventful few weeks for both. Whilst Jaidee was falling ill with a fever in Malaysia, his compatriot was off getting married before taking on the big boys at Doral. They will both be glad to be back at home and relax, and Jaidee will do so at his home beside the ninth green this week. With home comforts at his disposal, he is sure to be well tuned for a big week where he and all his compatriots will be incentivized to win the "Pride of Thailand" trophy come Sunday evening.

The Course

The first staging of the Thailand Classic at Black Mountain GC was twelve months ago although the course has been used a number of times on the Asian Tour. The par-72 is located at the foot of the Black mountains in a valley that is conducive to wind and is regarded as one of the finest courses in South East Asia. It has very strong links with Sweden and many of the Swedish pros are spending their time out here during the European winter so expect to see the likes of Pelle Edberg, Johan Carlsson, Rikard Karlberg and co. play well this week. Johan Edfors, who won on this course back in 2009 speaks highly of the course and the resort in the video below.

Water is aplenty throughout but scoring shouldn't be severe and those with a good approach game should do well, but those with the local knowledge will have an advantage as Andrew Dodt showed by winning last year on the back of previous course form.

Market Leaders

The betting market is led by the flying Dutchman, Joost Luiten, who has kicked off his 2016 campaign in a determined fashion. No doubt the Ryder Cup is in his mind and he'll be looking to build on that solid start to 2016 from which he has played five tournaments producing no worse than 15th finish. (results read 5-5-13-8-15). It is his first visit to Black Mountain GC although he has had decent form in this part of the world with ten TOP25s in his last thirteen starts in Asia. He heads the betting market ahead of the two local favourites but its the veteran, Jaidee that I'd prefer here if he has fully recovered from the virus he picked up in KL that prevented him from moving onto Doral last week. He went close here in 2015 when finishing a shot behind Dodt. His previous two visits in 2010 & 2009 yielded fifth and seventh places, so he has the course knowledge; a win would complement the experience. Kiradech is returning to some of the form he showed in 2015 but with a postponed honeymoon to consider and talk about when back amongst his home people, he may just find this week to be a big ask given the pressure to perform following a grueling week at the Blue Monster. Behind these in the betting comes Thomas Pieters and Peter Uihlein who should also play well. Whilst the Belgian makes his debut here, Uihlein will be keen to show what he can do again having had to withdraw after two rounds when nicely positioned after 69-70 start, due to illness twelve months ago. I was close to backing Pieters for this week it has to be said and I've decided to leave the American out purely on price. I backed Prayad Marsaeng here last time where he opened with a nice 67 before going through the motions to finish T25th. The 50 year old has been in form of late and could surprise again this time round having won at the course in 2014.

Ones to watch out for!

Whilst Prayad Marksaeng and Miguel Angel Jiminez take on the younger guys this week, it could pay to watch out for the youngster, Phachara Khongwatmai who at just sixteen has been showing some real potential. Now in his second season as a pro, the Thai kid has already won four times and has qualified for The Open at Troon next July. He has his card secured for the 2016 Asian Tour and can take this week as a real opportunity to assess where he is amongst the big boys as form has dipped since his Open qualification display last December before finishing fourth at the Bangladesh Open.


It's a tough week to work out if there is any real value to be had and it might be prudent to concentrate on the market leaders again if going ahead with a bet. Last week was a disaster for the blog where Bill Haas never got going and big hitting Scott Hend just couldn't handle the Blue Monster this time round but he may feel more comfortable in this field if not too exhausted from last weeks exploits. But for me, I'd be happy to pass on him this week despite being a much weaker field.

As mentioned above, if fully fit, Thongchai Jaidee is the man to beat this week. He can be backed @ 15.00 which is a couple of units higher than my tissue and knows the course as well as anyone. There is nothing better then winning your home Open, other than a Major, and Jaidee may have sidestepped last week to ensure he is recovered and fit for this- let's hope so! He was runner up last year when he really should have won and he missed a tiddler on the 72nd hole to make a play-off. That will have hurt and he can go one better this time. Jaidee played eighteen European Tour events in 2015, making the cut in fifteen. He produced nine TOP20s (50%), of which six were actually TOP10s (33%). Three of those were TOP5s and he had a W at the European Open. From his five starts this year, Thongchai has already a TOP10 and a further TOP20 in the locker emphasizing the consistency around the forty six year old and he makes a solid case for a win in his homeland.

My initial tissue price for Johan Carlsson may have been a bit too high as on close inspection the Swede has been playing a lot more consistent of late than ever before. One of those Swedes that spends time here at Black Mountain in the winter, Carlsson will see this as a home game this week and he can capitalize on that recent form with a bold effort. His last four events have yielded solid results of 18-13-16-7 and he was seventh twelve months ago too. Whatever about my tissue being a bit out, I do think 45/1 is a bit short but I like his TOP20 chances @ 3.25

Mikko Ilonen last played here in 2010 & 2009 but missed the cut on both occasions but he arrives in fine form this time round and is not without a chance. As alluded to here on the blog in my preview of the Perth International, the Finn had a fine spell prior to it yielding returns of 22-13-16 in the desert and a 12 in Malaysia. Karrinyup didn't appear to be a course of his liking and so it proved with a MC there. Black Mountain should be right up his alley and arriving fresh this week could see him contend and he's included in the TOP20 market @ 2.75

Staking Plan

1.25 pts WIN T. Jaidee @ 15.00
2.75 pts TOP20 J. Carlsson @ 3.25
2.00 pts TOP20 M. Ilonen @ 2.75

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