Race to Dubai: Ballantine’s Championship
April 23, 2012 Leave a comment
Race to Dubai: Ballantine’s Championship
There is nothing more Scottish than a whisky distiller and the real beautiful game, so no surprises exist when for the 5th successive year, Ballantine’s teams up with the European (and the Asian) Tour to being us their version of a pro golf event…but for the fact that its hosted in South Korea: an imperialist hermit Kingdom with the most fortified border on the planet keeping those pesky canine munching weapon of mass destruction concealers at bay in the North.
Date: 26th – 29th April 2012
Venue: Blackstone GC, Icheon, Seoul, South Korea
They tell me that the course was created based on golf strategies and philosophy so that members of all levels are challenged and it has been designed to highlight different decisions a player can make in different kinds of situations that occur during a round including the numerous hazards which will easily challenge the skilled, accurate tee shots of power-hitters. This rewards the choices and strokes made by ‘Thinking Golfers’. What hope then for the yanks?
Yards: 7,275 yards
Par: Par 72
Looking inside the ropes this week you will see Major Champions Darren Clarke (123/1) and YE Yang (28/1), PGA Tour darlings Dustin Johnson and K.T. Kim (28/1 – all BetFair) all helping underline the growing reputation of this tournament. Typically there is a half a field worth of Lee’s and Kim’s except the one Lee the golfing fraternity the would like to see–last year’s winner, all the way from Worksop…it’s Mr Lee Westwood. But alas no, not this year.
Blackstone GC is a young course that only opened a couple of years ago, and each year it will mature and get even better but there are a couple of excellent par threes which are long and over water – the seventh and the 12th holes. There are new tees on the 17th – making the hole 40 yards longer – and then there is the fourth. Arguably the most spectacular of the entire course with its panoramic views and dramatic drop from the tee down to the fairway so we can garner that it’s also physically demanding, and the greens are undulating and will testing pin positions.
Ones to watch:
Fresh from withdrawing at the RBC Heritage, PGA Tour rookie, Sang-moon Bae (24/1 with BetFair) is my one to watch this week and will enjoy swapping Tours to play in his Native open. With two top fives in 2012 in the PGA including 5th in the Accenture Matchplay and 2nd to Luke Donald in the Transitions and a stunning 64 at the Humana Foundation event in January, Bae is clearly a talented golfer enjoying a good year and one to watch generally.
Closing out a season best 3rd place in last weeks’ Volvo China Open, Richard Finch completes my long shot selection this week. Known for providing one of golf’s more memorable moments when he slipped on the riverbank at the 72nd hole of the Irish Open and inadvertently plunged into the water, before being fished out by his caddie and going on to close out a two-stroke victory. His tomfoolery clearly impresses and so take the 100/1 odds with Bet365!
Ones to win:
Three top ten’ in 8 events and with a putter that can’t stop puting the small ball in the bottom of the cup its George Coetzee who excites my betting heart this week! A 4th in the Volvo China Open, a 5th in the Desert Classic and a 6th in Abu Dhabi mean a seat in 21st place in the Race to Dubai and he is fast becoming a weekly contender seeking the first win of his pro career. Is a podium place likely this weekend? At 29/1 odds, BetFair seem to think so.
8 times a winner on the European Tour, Adam Scott (17/2 with BetFred) is my one to watch this week. The affable Australian, who plays the majority of his golf in the US, lives in Switzerland and this week is dating Serbian Ana Ivanovic, is an on form player with 3rd in the Tavistock Cup, an 8th in the Masters and always looks a contender in the Middle and Far East swings on the Tour. Scored and putted better than everyone in 2011 Scott is fighting for improvement in 2012!
Take 13/1 with SkyBet for a double chance victory involving Coetzee and Jimenez.