Race to Dubai: Irish Open

Race to Dubai:   The Irish Open

They promise us red hair, leprechauns, more pubs than you could ever imagine and more champ with your potatoes and chips than you can shake your stick at. But it’s not all here yet – its quiet, its calm and it’s too early in the week! However with 100,000 tickets sold for golf’s major (home) coming later this week – what a stick shaking carnival this will be. It’s the greatest game on grass and we are here at Irelands second best course (Royal County Down is best!) for the craic at the Irish Open with Guinness on tap and a best guaranteed party atmosphere anywhere on Tour!

Date:                     28th June – 1st July 2012

Venue:                 Royal Portrush Golf  Club, County Antrim, Norn Iron

Royal Portrush has one of the most dramatic entrances of any course – quite simply, it’s has a geography that could make you cough up your colcannon and say crikey. The fairways nestle in natural valleys between towering sand dunes, the putting areas are protected by grassy hummocks instead of the usual bunkers and the greens themselves are small and understated – completing designer Harry Colt’s masterpiece. Look out for the 14th hole suitably monickered “Calamity” – a 210 yard par three with a deep chasm to the right!! It will deliver a cliff hanger alright!

Yards:                   7,143 yards

Par:                        Par 72

Field:                   

This week’s rich field includes 10 major champions not forgetting Irish golf’s great quartet of Clarke (67/1), McDowell (51/5), McIlroy (34/5) and Harrington (58/5). There’s yet more locals – a plethora of Brendans, Michaels, Eammons and a Mooney (969/1) including proven Tour winners in Shane Lowry (92/1) and Paul McGinley (49/1)! And finally a sprinkling of Uncle Sam’s winners too with Keegan Bradley (38/1), John Daly (176/1) and Rich Beem (552/1 – all BetDaq) making a welcome appearance on the European Tour.

Consider…:

In my mind this week it is the home crowd and the local players in this most anticipated event to hit the European Tour in years. What could be better than the home support cheering their own coming down the final stretch? And to anyone else threatening to knock them off the pedestal, what pressure to dare to hold your nerve? It’s a tough enough course this, especially in a wind, requiring solid driving, accuracy and course management to give any true competitor a fighting chance.

Ones to watch:

With 3 top ten’s in 4 recent outings including a tie for third last week at the BMW in Germany….this Irishman has hit form just at the right time! Scoring low last week with a 65 to start and a 66 to finish (marred somewhat by a 77 on moving (backwards?) day on the Saturday!) McGinley (55/1 with Totesport) is clearly feeling that it is time to play serious – especially with his home crowd around him. Remember his Ryder Cup fight back at the K Club, the winning put in 2002? What inspiration does a player need?

With a welcome return to some semblance of form Chris Wood (47/1 with BetFair) is now stringing some better results together with two podium places in the last two months including at the BMW in Cologne last week. The joint tallest player on Tour is well known for his heroics on the links at the Open Championship as an amateur in 2008 (finishing 5th) and as a pro in 2009 (finishing 3rd) and so entering the links season, expect a few contending weeks in the next 4 weeks.

Ones to win:

In five events, Padraig Harrington (12/1 with BetFred) has delivered three top ten’ and in front of his home crowd, this will be like the years fifth major and so expect some significant fighting and effort by the Dubliner… Playing most of his golf in the US in 2012, he has similar standing there – 7 top 25’s and three top 10’s from 10 cuts made. Another links specialist, is this the start of the form that sees 4 weeks of this genre of golf bring Harrington once again to the fore?

With weather looking to include drizzling rain, freshening temperatures and 14 – 18 mile an hour winds, look no further than links and bad weather specialist Paul Lawrie (28/1 with BetDaq) to continue his rich vein of form over the Dunluce Links this week. Well rested after taking a week off whilst others in the top 50 travelled the long way to California and likely disappointed after a tied 20th finish last week – he will be looking at once again striking while the iron is hot to ensure his inclusion in Olazabal’s Ryder Cup squad in August.

Trick Shot

At 16/1 with SkyBet, Peter Lawries recent return to form may just have you reaching for a fiver to take a punt on him finish as the top Irish man in the field….

Local amateur hero and newly crowned Amateur Champion, Alan Dunbar, could cause a stir this week and for returns of 100/1 everywhere for the first round lead, might just enable you to pay for the Guinness that will undoubtedly ensue!

Finally, in the handicap market, take – 4 from Brandon Grace and see what happens. If he then wins – 9/1 with (obviously!) PaddyPower sees the best possible return in that market.

Jenks Out!

Race to Dubai: BMW International Open

Race to Dubai:   BMW International Open

Guten Tag Herr feinen, schönen Abend – willkommen in Köln. We are in Cologne and it smells – I’m unsure if this is connected with being a town twinned with Liverpool or if it’s linked to the local aftershave we now know and love. We are here for one of Germanys many car manufacturer sponsored tournaments which could include The Seat Open, Land Rover International or Mini Match play but doesnt? German eh? However, as with everything Germanic, this is a precise affair starting at 07:30 exactly on Thursday when Bradley Dredge (125/1 with Bet365) clips one into the light rough.

Date:                     21st – 24th June 2012

Venue:                 Golf Club Gut Lärchenhof, Cologne, Germany

The strangely titled Gut Larchenof Golf Club hosts this event for the first time however the venue has previously hosted the German Masters 11 times between 1998-2009. It’s a Jack Nicklaus designed challenge but fair test and, I’m told, all about rewarding precision and intelligence over brute strength. The final holes of both the front and back nein’s deliver the biggest challenge ensuring an exciting finish! Well, it couldn’t be as bad as the US Open!

Yards:                   7,289 yards

Par:                        Par 72

Field:                   

Despite the US Open just last week and the impending British Open, the field stacks up to be of decent quality including six players who have won the German Masters here. This includes 8 time European number one; Colin Montgomerie (1998) (300/1), Sergio Garcia (1999) (12/1), James Kingston (2009) (150/1) and Bernhard Langer (2001) (80/1) who is out to claim the only German-staged European Tour he has not won. And Paul Casey (80/1 – all SportingBet) will make yet another comeback. Again.

Consider…:

Since the days of General Franco and Adolf Hitler chillaxing around World War II with their stuffed donkeys and their lederhosen, the Spaniards have done well in Germany. In golfing terms, these include last year’s winner Pablo Larrazabal (33/1), Antonio’s son – Ignatio Garrido (125/1), the oiley handed Jimenez (55/1 – all SkyBet) and the legendary Seve.  However the English and the funky Swedes also have a rich history taking the Bratwurst and Blue Nun from the Krauts in their own backyard.

Ones to watch:

Fighting for a big €333,330 is local lad Martin Kaymer (15/2 at PaddyPower) who organisers appear is the spectator’s favourite despite the fierce Cologne – Dusseldorf rivalry. That said the former world number 1 (currently 13) is on the ascendancy again with nothing worse than 20th position in his last 7 non-major starts and after an encouraging performance at last week’s US Open (tied 15th) a high finish is just what is needed for certain Ryder Cup inclusion – home crowds or not.

A newbie on my hall of fame but it’s the more German than Austrian sounding Bernd Weisberger (translated to Burnt White Burger?) (50/1 with Ladbrokes) a 2012 winner at the Ballentines in April is one to potentially set the (sort of) home fires burning over the Rhine and in the far hills of the Vienna. Had 4 top fives in 2011, and with his maiden victory should carry enough momentum and local support to achieve a place this week before driving his Trabant back home.

Ones to win:

Rightly cowering like a prisoner of the Gestapo last week to avoid a clearly tough US Open, Paul Lawrie (20/1 everywhere including BlueSq) will be one of the few fresh faced and mentally strong out on the links this week. Focusing on the Ryder Cup (as he is right to do), the Aberdonian still currently carries the best form of anyone else on Tour and hopes it to continue to picking up another trophy before popping the cork on the local Sekt before a fly by from the local Luftwaffe signifies what would be his second win of the year and his 6th top ten in 13 starts. Form indeed!

With three top fives in 9 starts on the regular tour and a pleasing 10th in the US Open, the European Tours best putter, Retief Goosen (26/1 at BetFair), a previous winner of the tournament, is worthy of watching this week. With top 20 rankings for all relevant precision and intellectually technical stats – a place finish is not only likely, it is mathematically guaranteed. Something that those detail driven Germans quite like – vorsprung durch technic, as they often say.

Trick Shot

Given the mentions above, look no further than picking last year’s victor Pablo Larrazabal as top finishing Spaniard for a 6/1 return from Ladbrokes – with the only two real contenders Alvaro Quiros (precision? Nah!) and Sergio Garcia (intelligence?) – it’s in the bag!

Sticking with Spain (well, the Euro Championships are on!) and the podium sitter from last year, select Pablo Larrazabal to only finish inside the top ten and win yourself a return of 50/3 with BWin.

I know I’ve picked mostly Spain here today but there will be no saur krauts unless Kaymer misses the cut (7/2 with BetFair) but even then, this would then deliver something towards your weekend Liebfraumilch. Enjoy!

Jenks Out!

Selectabet: Dubai World Championship

Date:                     8th – 11th December 2011

Competition:     Dubai World Championship presented by DP World

It’s all about the Benjamin’s…and with a share of US $7.5 million up for grabs in both The Race to Dubai and the Dubai World Championship, the total prize fund on offer this week is one of the most lucrative in all sports.

Entrance at this week’s season finale is strictly for the 60 top performing (by money) Professionals across the full season but it is the bonus pool that most are playing for, given the Championship itself is a two horse race, and in order to achieve a share, you must be in the top 15 leading money winners when the last putt is holed on Sunday.

Venue:                 The Earth Course, Jumeirah Golf Estates, Dubai, UAE

The Earth course is the first course ever to have been built for a specific championship and unveiled as the first shot was hit at that Championship. Some say it’s not one for strategy but it does require you to hit it straight, high and long – although some of the courses 105 bunkers are also strategically placed in the middle off the tee.

For all the agronomists amongst you; with the tournament taking place two weeks later this year it has given Jumeirah Golf Estates the opportunity to overseed the tees, fairways and rough on the Earth Course with ryegrass. It will be the first time the Earth Course has been overseeded for the event and will give even greater contrast and definition to the brilliant white bunkers and bark mulched landscape areas. It will also provide a tougher challenge to the players than was the case in 2009 and 2010, with more of a premium on finding the fairways with tee shots.

Yards:                   7,675 yards

Par:                        Par 72

Field:                   

There should be no also rans this week as the biggest, best and most consistent (lets also not forget Darren Clarke) from the European Tour will fight it out for big bucks this weekend in the Race to Dubai season finale (trying not to sound like I’m plugging the last show of some weak plotted American Cop action series reshown on Channel 5).

The big guns you would expect, are all here – counted, present and ready, although there are some surprise entries close to the squeaky bum cut off line nearing the 60 mark. These include James Morrison (360/1) in 55th  – fresh from a sell-out performance at the Picture House in Edinburgh on the 6th December; the famous Lawrie Brothers; “fly away Peter (256/1)” and “fly away Paul (370/1)” in 57th and 56th place respectively; Henne Otto (237/1) – who thanks to a win last week in South Africa makes the grade in 58th; Scotland’s Scott Jamieson (569/1) in 59th who has achieved more or less nothing since July (demonstrating how good a first half of the season he had) and in the last available place – some lad called Christian Nilsson (265/1 – all BetFair) who made it courtesy of a strong October’s work on the greens.

Consider…:

“The Greatest Show on Earth” comes down to the battle between the two best players in the world for the Race to Dubai crown. Due to Luke Donald’s (12/1 at SkyBet) enormous lead, McIlrory is required to win the Dubai World Championship and Donald has to finish 10th or worse for the Irish one to win – even if Rory wins while Donald finishes in 9th, the winning margin (in favour of the current world number one) would only be five Euros!!

This is a long track and accuracy is not the ultimate factor but with tricky bunkering and strategically placed water, it will be a case of “he who dares…”  Course designer Greg Norman created this track specifically for this event and spent time ensuring a great climax which has become known as the toughest home stretch in the golfing calendar where the last four holes fall just short of a mile in length and are the most challenging and exciting in the sport.

Ones to watch:

A rejuvenated Sergio Garcia (16/1 at 188Bet) hopes to keep his impressive run of form going right to the end of the 2011 campaign as he targets a place in the top 15 in The Race to Dubai. The Spaniard completed back-to-back successes for the first time on The European Tour with victory in last month’s Andalucía Masters, a week after also winning on home soil in the Castelló Masters and moving from 11th place to seventh in The Race. The World number 18 currently leads the Ryder Cup points list and will be keen to put another top finish her in the bag for the team event next year, as a player, not just as backroom staff.

Win or “lose” this weekend, the eyes of the golfing world will be on Rory McIlroy (11/2 with BetDaq). Can he overturn the largest lead in professional golf, stop the world number one, win the Race to Dubai and the Dubai World Championship? I fear not, but if anyone will ensure we remain glued to the box, sitting on the edge of our seats until his ball hits the bottom of the cup on Sunday, it’s the exciting youngster who’s season has been spell binding from the start to present moment. A top four finish would be a great achievement and another feather in the young man’s cap.

Ones to win the Dubai World Championship:

With 8 top ten finishes this year Lee Westwood (6/1 at BetFred) is one tip to take the honours this week. The world No. 3 had the benefit of a seven-shot lead heading into the final round after a sparkling third-round 62 last Saturday in the Nedbank Challenge in South Africa and comes here with form on his side and experience from his win in the same event in 2009. Will be a difficult contender to beat – and with Luke and McIlrory both having firmed up their positions in the World rankings, Lee will be looking to ensure he doesn’t fall too far behind.

Raking in over a cool million Euros in an easy schedule over the last three months, Martin Kaymer (16/1 at UniBet or 9/1 at SkyBet without the Big 2) and his win in the WGC HSBC Champions in early November have catapulted the calculating German right back into form and the fight at the top of the World Rankings. Sure he can’t win the Race to Dubai this year, but he will make sure he doesn’t give up the biggest prize in golf easily will be something that he will take great pleasure from after a rather uninspiring season – especially after last year’s amazing performances.

One to win the Race to Dubai:

Luke or Rory? Rory or Luke? Steady versus aggressive? Youth versus experience? For me only one person truly deserves to be awarded the Race to Dubai this year – despite a late charge that means that it is only one from a possible two – and they exist as World Number 1 and 2 respectively just for completeness.

In twelve outings in Europe, he has missed only one cut, and barring a 45th and an 11th position – the other 9 outings have been within the top ten and within that there has been three wins! Earning a whopping £3,856,394 – that equates to winnings of a whopping £1,210.78 per shot and we are not even on the big money game yet! He has also snatched the money list title of the PGA Tour and is the first person ever to be on the cusp of doing so on both sides of the pond in the same season.

Ladies and Gentlemen, your truly inspirational World Number 1, PGA Tour Money winner and soon to be Race to Dubai winner 2011 is…..Luke Donald. Thank you, good evening and good night.

Till next year…Jenks out!

http://www.selectabet.net/

Selectabet: UBS Hong Kong Open

Date:                     1st to 4th December 2011

Competition:     UBS Hong Kong Open   

This week it’s a welcome return to Hong Kong and the penultimate of the season where the there is much to play for at the top, and certainly at the bottom of the current R2D rankings before next weeks’ Dubai World Championship.

The UBS Hong Kong Open is Hong Kong’s oldest professional sporting event. Beginning in 1959, it has a rich history of winners including nine different Major Champions who have amassed 25 Major titles between them. This week its home to 150 of the European Tours shining stars and a select few who could still possibly prize the year end Race to Dubai trophy from the current likely clutch of PGA Tour winner and now six month World number 1, Luke Donald.

Venue:                 Hong Kong GC, Fanling, China

Simply its one of the best and most difficult courses you’ll ever play. Don’t let the fairly straightforward start fool you! It has beautiful views, undulating lightning fast greens and magnificent fairways and trees galore – this one’s not for the fainthearted – short (ish) as it may be.

Yards:                   6,700 yards

Par:                        Par 70

Field:                   

This weeks’ field includes the colourful Richard Green (50/1), Justin Rose (61/5), Mark Brown (267/1) but also a Richard Bland (218/1).  It also introduces these colonials that roll off the tongue (get ready for it) Timothy Tang (974/1), YE Yang (25/1), Anthony Kang (228/1), Wang-ter Chang (735/1), Wen-Chong Liang (98/1) and Lian-wei Zhang (677/1 – all at BetDaq). Man!

Consider…:

Everything is to play for with only the top 60 making next week’s Dubai World Championships and so a good performance matters for so many regardless of their position in the Race to Dubai. This will be where Tour cards are retained, big money can be won and ultimately where hearts will be broken. Anyone could steal the show this week.

Ones to watch:

Englishman Ian Poulter (14/1 at Ladbrokes) scorched his way to a 60 in the second round last year en route to the title by one shot from Dyson and a young Italian teenager. Poults heads to Hong Kong on a high after storming to a joint second place finish in last week’s Omega Mission Hills World Cup with a stunning 63 alongside Mr Pink in the final day’s foursomes. A win, or maybe a second, could put Woburn’s finest into the lucrative top 15 and should not to be overlooked.

Someone with a slightly bigger mountain to climb is Stephen Gallacher (93/1 at BetDaq) who sits ever so slightly on the wrong side of the Dubai World Championship threshold in number 61. The Scot, fresh from a solid performance with Countryman Laird in last week’s World Cup will be on a high but will be focused on the task of soaking up some Arabian sun next week. If his putter is switched on, watch out for a meteoric charge come Sunday!

Ones to win:

Has been quiet, but consistent, for much of the tail end of the season – perhaps school work has got in the way, but it’s the Crayon and Creamola Foam sponsored 2010 runner up Matteo Mannesaro (35/1 with William Hill) who means business this weekend before Nanny will ask him to sit down and write his letter to Santa. Has performed consistently across the season and currently lies 26th in the Race to Dubai requiring a win to propel him skyward to the real big boys and another delayed week before he puts a big sticky pen to dog eared paper.

I can count with both hands and a foot, the times I have rallied for the world number 2 to take the Race to Dubai to the wire. And here we are once again, where my winning focus is for Rory McIlroy (5/1 at Victor Chandler) to make a fight of the season and sock it to the quiet consistent leader (without a Major). McIlroy has had 4 top fours in his last 4 (Tour) outings and a win in Shanghai propelling him closer and a respectable showing for Team Paddy last week. With Kaymer and Donald out of action this week, a win means the action hots up in the desert next week. 

Your welcome!

Jenks out!

http://www.selectabet.net/

Selectabet: OMEGA Mission Hills World Cup

Date:                     24th – 27th November 2011

Competition:     OMEGA Mission Hills World Cup            

The Omega Mission Hills World Cup returns to the international golfing calendar this year as a biennial event with a record prize fund of US$7,500,000 at a brand new venue in the Mission Hills Resort on Hainan Island in Southern China. It remains the only team event in the men’s professional game where players can proudly represent their own countries and maintain its status as the oldest international team event in professional golf.

The Championship is a 72-hole stroke play team event with each team comprising of two players. The first and third days are four-ball (best ball) play and the second and final days are foursomes play. A total of 28 teams, each one of different nationality, will compete in the 2011 Omega Mission Hills World Cup.

Venue:                 Hainan Island, China

The World Cup will be hosted over the Blackstone course; a spectacular, 350-acre layout that weaves through a striking landscape of mature trees, expansive wetlands, ancient town ruins and ever-present lava rock, the 7,777-yard Blackstone features a myriad of risk / reward opportunities throughout the back nine.

Yards:                   7,777 yards maximum!

Par:                        Par 72

Field:                   

The Official World Golf Rankings as at July 18, 2011 will determine the 18 leading nations that qualify automatically for the Omega Mission Hills World Cup. The leading player may select any player of his choosing from the same country provided such player was ranked within the top 100 on the Official World Golf Ranking as of either July 18, 2011 or August 22, 2011. If there was no other player from that country within the top 100 on the OWGR on either of the dates, the exempt player’s partner shall be the next highest ranked available player.

Consider…:

The United States of America holds the record for the most number of wins with 23. South Africa is next with five, then Australia and Spain with four, followed by Canada’s three titles. Despite this year’s hype, Ireland have yet to register a win!

However, consider that the course is long and that anyone not landing on the short stuff runs the risk of taking another ball from the tee –as the ever present lava presents a more difficult challenge than its stunning aesthetics. This course then is all about the second shots – and long irons, hybrids and chipping and putting.

Ones to watch:

Team Mid-Atlantic (“Go on! Go on! Go on! Go on! Go on!”). Graham McDowell and Rory McIlroy – always an interesting combination of mid-Atlantic drawl – especially when they are together – with Rory clearly the man to watch at the moment and the hype surrounding these best-of-friends is always interesting. With Rory’s classic youthful gung-ho approach and Graeme’s more laid back solid performance – Team Ireland (9/2 at Victor Chandler) will be in the mix come the weekend.

Team Sweden (“Klunk!”) (61/5 at BetDaq). Robert Karllson and Alexander Noren look sweet to me. Norens two wins in 2011 position him high in the Race to Dubai while Karllsons solid Tour performances over the last 22 years and his 11 wins means he is the experienced old timer with a victory (with Henrik Stenson) in this very event in 2008.

Ones to win:

Team South Africa (“Go Boks!”). With two recent major winners both recording a very healthy 2011 season – Schwartzel and Oosthuizen will provide some tough opposition to ensure anyone else lifts the trophy on Sunday. The holders of the two man South African Tour events in 2011 will not only be vying for their position as their Nations number one, but also the number one team position for the Boks. Will there be gold at the end for the Rainbow Nation? 

Team USA (“USA! USA USA!”)(9/1 at UniBet, SportingBet and Stan James). You have to love their cheesy spirit, their chants and the nonsense that our dear allies resort to in team golfing competitions. That said, they have Mister consistent in Matt “Kuchie Koo” Kuchar and length and outright bravado in Gary Woodland. Seems like a deadly combination that might just deliver the 24th win for the Yanks to me!

Your welcome! 

Jenks out!

http://www.selectabet.net/

Selectabet: Alfred Dunhill Championship

Date:                     17th – 20th November 2011

Competition:     Alfred Dunhill Championship

Venue:                 Leopard Creek CC, Malelane, South Africa

Aweh my bru! Welcome to the rainbow nation and a truly awe inspiring Mpumalanga. Designed by Gary Player, the course at Leopard Creek is in a stunning setting on the edge of Kruger National Park. Winding through the bush and grasslands past natural water hazards, the layout is famed for its plentiful and diverse wildlife with hippopotamus, waterbuck, impala, giraffes, crocodiles and leopards all frequently seen on and around the course. This year we will also see the rare (on the big Tour) cheating half of Team Saltman – “little” Elliot (423/1 at BetDaq).

Yards:                   7,326 yards

Par:                        Par 72

Field:                   

Although the field is dominated by home players, a number of the lower ranking Europeans are on the start sheet, many from the Challenge Tour or those who finished outside the top 115 on last year’s Tour. Included in this watered down Tour event is the very American sounding Linus (Gillgren) at 835/1, Dodge (Kemmer) at 265/1, Wade (Ormsby) at 275/1 and both the Tyrone’s (Mordt (275/1) and Ferreira (854/1)) – all at BetFair! The LA Crips clearly has some new members!

Who could cast a beady eye over the start sheet without stopping on the RSPC sponsored Neil Sheitekat (618/1) and my new favourite monickered player on any Tour – the one, the only…Theunis Spangenburg (974/1) – both BetDaq!

Consider…:

With just four events left on the 2011 Race to Dubai, a number of players in the field this week are feeling the pressure. Some are trying desperately to ensure they finish in the top 115 on the money list in order to retain their playing privileges for 2012, others are looking towards the top-60 and the prospect of competing in the Dubai World Championship.  Beyond that, the trick will be finding the greens in regulation. The last seven winners of this event have averaged 72.41% of GIR.

Ones to watch:

With five top five finishes, a putter that’s always on fire and having made the right career choice (his father wanted him to be a tennis player) Pretorian George Coetzee (14/1 with William Hill and PaddyPower) is definitely one to watch this week. Coetzee has firmly secured his Tour card for next season and clearly stated his intentions on the Tour with frequent strong finishes. Ag baas!

With seven top fifteen finishes in the season before making a breakthrough with his maiden victory at the Open de Espana in 2011 just a few days after golfing legend Seve passed away, South African Thomas Aiken (141/10 with BetDaq) has certainly cemented his standing on the European Tour. Has earned a wage every week bar five this season and sits comfortably in the top 20 on tour. Finished fifth here last year and again will be a strong contender ya?

Ones to win:

Moffie look-a-like Robert Rock (18/1 at Coral and BetFred) is widely tipped among those to perform well this weekend having performed consistently in patches throughout the year. Is about to embark on his most consistent performing “swing” on the tour but will he be chomping on the boerewors on Sunday and waking with a babelaas babbelas on Monday?

Pablo Martin (34/1 at UniBet) obviously! A win again here at his special place would mean a hat trick of consecutive gold medals. Enough said!

Your welcome! 

Jenks out!

http://www.selectabet.net/

Selectabet: WGC – HSBC Champions

Date:                     3rd – 6th November 2011

Competition:     WGC – HSBC Champions

Shanghai huan ying ni! Welcome to Shanghai – and by the way, you are welcome to it! A city where every one of its 23,000,000 inhabitants will be at the airport when you arrive! Or at least, it will seem like it after the 12 hour flight!

And so, another European Tour year meanders towards its end and with this week’s Asian event, a star studded and global field that represent over 20 Nationalities for the $7 million prize pot of the World Golf Championships – Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Champions Tournament – unsurprisingly shortened to WGC – HSBC. (Which for all your grammar Nazis and repetitive human rights activists’ avoids repeating the same words in the one short soy sauce infused breath).

Venue:                 Sheshan International GC, Shanghai, China

Sheshan International Golf Club is Shanghai’s first and most exclusive private golf club where in truth both of its members are too busy trying to only have one child (or pay a fine) to find time to play the wonderful game that is golf. That said, I’ve played this on the Wii many a time and it’s a fantastic golf course where my personal best is a 57!

Back in real life, many of the holes play along the existing canal, around manmade lakes or over the spectacular quarry which is the major feature of Sheshan. Beyond the lakes, scenic landscaped streams don’t forget to add a stunning mountain forest backdrop to the picture and you have pretty much got one of the most aesthetically pleasing lush golf courses anywhere on planet golf. Holes 16 and 17 play around and over the quarry, giving golfers both a stern test of golf but also a wonderful vista, if you were not focused on your A-game.

As you can imagine, as a course, it is more American than Chinese. Otherwise it would be short. And yellow.

Yards:                   7,233 yards

Par:                        Par 72

Field:                   

The 7 million Yuan first prize has appealed to every one of the Worlds’ most in-form golfers including Masters Champion Charl Schwartzel (28/1), Open Champion Darren Clarke (370/1) and US PGA Champion Keegan Bradley (48/1) who will all look to add the final World Golf Championship event to their 2011 Major success. They are joined by Cadillac Championship winner Nick Watney (23/1) and WGC – Bridgestone Invitational champion Adam Scott (88/5 – all BetDaq) alongside 23 of both the European and PGA Tours event winners and victors of other piddley-little events in Asia.

All, that is, except one Lucas Donald, who is rubbing salt into hard working Chinese wounds by staying at home while his live-in-baby-maker pops out yet another money-grabbing-sleep-stealer to push the population tally well over the 7 billion mark. Which appears to be a similar figure to that of his combined season’s winnings this year!

Consider…:

Consider only the quality of the field – it’s a really open 78 horse race! Anyone of these finally honed athletes could take the Old Tom Morris Cup come Sunday evening. It will be humid, it will rain and there may be thunderstorms and so obviously the likely performers, able to cope, will be those based in Florida or who are from the region.

Ones to watch:

With two wins in 2011 – including one, bizarrely, for his own tournament (The CJ Invitational hosted (and won!) by KJ Choi) – it is World Number 13 Choi (33/1 with Paddy Power and Bwin) who is my one to watch this week. The Korean son of a rice farmer made history as the first of his Nation to win on both sides of the Atlantic and has kept a consistent form at the top level since. With 8 top tens and a victory in the 5th major in 2011 he shows no signs of throwing the golfing equivalent of a “paddy” and should be contender rice up to the bitter end!

Second in 2010, and enjoying playing on the best conditioned golf course that he has seen all year, the Chinese tinged Lee “Woksop” Westwood (8/1 with Bet365 and SkyBet) hopes to follow in Luke Donald’s pedicured footsteps by vying for his first WGC title. Westwood’s fifth in the Shanghai Master last week included a hole in one and comes at the end of a quality five week spell where he has had 4 top ten finishes in 5 starts. He is certainly one to watch given recent form and sitting in a lowly 5th position in the Race to Dubai, a top finish will see him likely rise towards the top once again.

Ones to win:

Never the first to do anything of note, but will always eventually follow suit, it Rory McIlroy (11/2 with Victor Chandler) who will fire himself into the footsteps of Sergio and Bjorn with back to back win on the European Tour this year. With fire in his belly after the shambles that was the Masters, his form has been nothing short of phenomenal and you can see it in his eyes he believes that he can catch Luke for the European Crown. With the World Number 1 in absentia this week, it’s as good a chance as he will get to significantly close the gap! 

However, this week it’s all about a player with 7 top tens this year including a victory and a six in the other WGC events; it is the six foot good looking Aussie love machine Adam Scott (88/5 with BetDaq) that excites me this week. It’s a rarity that he plays outside the USA and his homeland but after sticking the fingers up at the “Has Been” Tiger Woods by employing his caddie and subsequently winning; Scott has been back to the form of old since returning from a dip in form in 2009 and reentered the World’s top ten. In particular watch for his crisp swing, accurate ball striking and some trophy broad of the quality of Ana Ivanovic, Kate Hudson or Marie Kojzar on his arm.

Your welcome!

Jenks out!

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