Race to Dubai: Volvo China Open
April 16, 2012 Leave a comment
Race to Dubai: Volvo China Open
Well well well, here we are in China for the first time since December (it’s just as well the world is round!) and I have to say the Airmiles tally is looking pretty good but for the fact that the last thing Ill want to do on my holidays is go overseas! Anyway, those sensible Swedes have been jumping on the bandwagon again and with the subtlety of a raging teenage boner, welcome to the European Tours for the tacky 2012 yellow jacket and the Volvo China Open.
Date: 19th – 22nd April 2012
Venue: Binhai Lake GC, Tianjin, China
A new course this – opening in September last year but it proves that designers can take less-than-ideal sites and transform them into exceptional golf courses! To make Binhai Lake possible, the site — which was within the confines of a man-made lake — was drained and its bottom excavated. The resulting fill was used to create the peninsula where the course is now situated. All holes feature strong angles of play both off the tee and into greens. Risk-reward opportunities abound, including two short par 4s and several tee shots where bold drives over sandy waste areas will yield short-iron approaches. Given the often windy conditions, the design team created wide fairways. Proper positioning is essential, however, to attack the relatively small and sometimes wicked putting surfaces.
Yards: 7,667 yards
Par: Par 72
On form Peter Hanson leads a field which also includes the arrogant Ian Poulter (14/1), delightful Francesco Molinari (16/1) and the North East’s finest, Paul Lawrie (33/1 – all StanJames). Technically, it should also be an easy week for commentary teams as this year’s event contains more than a fair share of look-a-likies in the form of Kims, Huangs, Wu’s and Zhangs – so pick one and don’t specify the first name and you should be quids in!! (Tip from the top!)
With the course being no short arse, consider those who strike a long straight ball including last year’s big hitting winner Nicolas Colsaerts (18/1 with Bet365). This also would point towards England’s Steve Webster (96/1 with BetDaq) or Victor Dubuisson (66/1 with BetFair) neither of whom are demonstrating form worthy of a trophy. And never overlook the putting either – especially on small tricky greens and so keep watch for the top ranking putters George Coetzee (37/1) or Marcus Fraser (56/1 – both BetFair).
Ones to watch:
Leading the way this week is the Netherlands Joost Luiten (40/1 with Bet365). He has shown the sort of solid consistency worthy of making him a regular feature in this section each week having made every cut thus far. Has gained ten yards in length this season alone and so as the rest of the game adapts to the new found closer positioning expect his scores to drop and the work rate and success at the business end of each week to increase.
My tip for this week has had two top fives in four starts in 2012 and currently lies safely within the top 50 in the Race to Dubai. It is the gritty, determined and boringly consistent competitor Soren Kjeldson (35/1 with BetDaq) with his red hot putter who will definitely be one to keep your mince pies on this week. Had his best finish in 2011 at this very tournament (over the Luxehills track) but having missed a week in Malaysia will be one of the most match ready on the course.
Ones to win:
In an alien move for me, I’m going to stick my neck out and tip the formally injured and now returning to competitive golf Paul Casey (30/1 with Bet365) who looks lean, mean and the trophy winning oriental Volvo driving fighting machine for me this week. Has had a gentle introduction back in to the Tour in the US but is holding his own with the putter and the driver and looks set to kick start a return to his form from 2009 when he was top 5 in the world.
Had a top fifty achieving rookie season in 2011 thanks to a number of runner up places in South Africa, Italy and France and has already gone one better in 2012 with a win at the under viewed tournament in a big field on a rock called Sicily. It’s Denmark’s finest since Mads Vibe-Hastrup, Thorbjorn Olesen (33/1 at StanJames) who receives my vote this week with his largely arrow straight, healthy distanced drives and the quick improvement to his putting. A safer bet than meatballs and loganberry sauce over sweet and sour char sui pork noodles.
Putting a bet on a playoff will reward you 5/2 at StanJames. There has only been one playoff in the 16 year history of the event when Paul Casey pipped Oliver Wilson for the crown in 2005.