Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Maybank Championship 2017

The Desert Swing concluded last week with some very disappointed players voicing their frustration with the way the 2nd round was halted but the organizers will have been delighted to see the high profile players in contention as Sergio Garcia saw off Henrik Stenson to take the title. It's long flights for those moving onto this week's event just outside Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia where the Maybank Championship will be held for the 2nd time following a successful event at The Selangor GC twelve months ago. Charl Schwartzel fights favouritism here with Rafa Cabrera Bello, with the latter in excellent form without winning.

The Course

Suajana GC has been used 7 times in the past for the Malaysia Open and also for the 2002 Eisenhower Trophy. Its worth noting that the defending champion this week, Marcus Fraser won the individual event at the Eisenhower here. The Course is not long, but it's tree lined, undulating and features smallish greens. Accuracy seems to be the key this week and it will be interesting to see if course enhancements since 2009 will make the scoring more difficult; birdies were abound in those 7 Malaysia Opens. Greens wont be running as fast as normal either so putting will be paramount this week and therefore those with strong GIR and Proximity to the Hole should feature come Sunday. As a co-sanctioned event in this part of the world, it can pay to side with those most familiar with the monsoon climate as well as course experience and Thongchai Jaidee who is a double winner at the course must be on the shortlist having won the Malaysia Open in 2004 and 2005 at Saujana GC. Another notable winner here at Saujana is Lee Westwood who does tend to perform in Asia, backed up by his win of the Malaysian Open in 2014.

Shortlist & Selections

The shortlist couldn't be reduced any further from the 14 that I listed as I once again thought about the TOP20 market more so than the outright. Bernd Wiesberger is very short in the betting @ 14/1 and wouldn't be a bet for me but I think he is the one to beat this week. Runner Up in Malaysia in 2014 & 2015, the Austrian's consistent play of late should see him do well here this week and it is his strong GIR stats that could be key to tackling Saujana and posting the score to beat. We know he can keep form, and we know that he can play in KL and adapt to weather conditions that it presents so he would be a key player to have on your weekly PlayOn Fantasy Team

But betting wise, I prefer the chances of last week's selection, Anirban Lahiri and Thailand's Kiradech Aphibarnrat. The Indian secured his first Europeantour title in Malaysia here by seeing off both Westwood & Wiesberger. Regarded highly on the Asian Tour, Lahiri has been focusing on the PGA Tour of late where his results have been decent. They include a T3 at the CIMB Classic, played here in KL last October, where only Justin Thomas and Hideki Matsuyama bettered him! A TOP20 last week could have been much better; he finished his first round poorly having got to -5, and carded a snowman on the Friday. He'll be more at ease this week in a weaker field and is well worth playing in the outright market @ 25.00
Aphibarnrat @ 30.00 is value here too. Missed the cut last week having been on the wrong side of the draw but was 9th in Qatar and 4th in Abu Dhabi so is is good form. Like Lahiri, he won his first Europeantour title at the Malaysian Open in 2013 so arrives with good memories although he has missed the cut on his last three appearances in KL. He's taken on those decent efforts in The Middle East.

Matteo Mannasero is one of my 10ToFollowin2017 players despite being a multiple winner on tour already. Recent outings as I've mentioned already this season, suggest that the young Italian is getting close to hitting form and on a course that I think will suit him this week, he could relive the highs of 2011 when he won the Malaysian Open at Kuala Lumpur GC. A four time winner on tour and still only 23, he also won in this part of the world at The Singapore Open in 2012. A proven winner, we can't ignore the 150.00 outright here but its a TOP20 @ 5.50 that I'm keen to take.

Lastly, David Drysdale is one I want to take a punt in on the TOP20 market here @ 7.00. The 42 year old Scot is yet to win on tour but has been showing some decent form of late.A TOP10 in the South African Open was followed up with a 37-57 in Abu Dhabi and Qatar before awarded an official DQ in Dubai. His wife and caddy, Vicky, did tweet though that it was in fact a WD as he didn't complete his 2nd rd when play was halted so there should be no concerns there. He should be rested and ready to go again here where his strong GIR play could see him do well and get a T20 for us.

2.00 pts win A. Lahiri @ 25.00
1.00 pts e/w K. Aphibarnrat @ 29.00
0.25 pts win M. Mannasero @ 150.00
1.75 pts TOP20 M. Mannasero @ 5.50
2.00 pts TOP20 D. Drysdale @ 7.00

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