Our golf scribe gives his best bets for this week's European Tour event, the Shenzen International.The European Tour moves from the oppressive heat of Morocco to the mildly oppressive communist regime of China for what is sure to be an entertaining week at this relatively new event. The Genzon Golf Course in Longgang once again plays host to the Shenzhen International. It also played host to the Volvo China Open in 2014, leaving the avid watcher with a little bit more to chew on in making his/her deductions. The Neil Haworth design is a classical botanical course, with punitive water hazards and luscious green fairways, punctuated by plentiful overhanging foliage.
Shenzhen International | Thursday 20 April - Sunday 23 April | Genzon Golf Course
Defending champions Lee Soo-Min blitzed the field on route to his maiden victory last season, despite faltering slightly towards the end and encouraging late surges by Joost Luiten and Brandon Stone. Tommy Fleetwood leads a field bereft of much of the heavyweight European personnel, rendering this a dream for the speculative punter. Fleetwood has enjoyed a dream start to the year and alongside Englishman Ross Fisher provides some solid Anglo-Saxon flavour. Bubba rolls into town once again in a bid to repeat the form that saw him win the WGC HSBC Champions in China in 2014.
This course is going to reward those who hit it relatively far and can avoid water drama. Hitting greens in regulation will be important with pins likely to be placed in proximity to the water. With the last two winners coming out of virtually nowhere, it will be interesting to see what the Genzon Course serves up this week.
2016: Lee Soo-Min (-16) | 2015: Kiradech Aphibarnrat (-12)*playoff
To Win Outright
Tommy Fleetwood 12/1 | Bubba Watson 14/1 | Ross Fisher 14/1 | Bernd Wiesberger 14/1 | Peter Uihlein 18/1
Peter Uihlein - To Win 18/1 & To Place 36/10
One of those rare beasts: an American player who spends the majority of his time toiling on the European Tour. He has probably not quite achieved the type of success that he would have desired, with only one victory thus far at the 2013 Madiera Islands Open. However, the big-hitting American should be well suited to the course this week and already has three top 10’s this season, including a 5th place finish at the Dubai Desert Classic. He was also 4th here two years back and should be in contention this week. 18/1 seems a steal given his form and the relative porosity of the field.
Kiradech Aphibarnat - To Win 35/1 & To Place 7/1
The champion from 2015 has hardly set the world alight of late, but has to be respected at this course. He has taken a bit of a break since finishing in a tie for 22nd at the Hero Indian Open. He had a few missed cuts prior to that, but perhaps he’s just the type of player who needs to recharge his batteries from time to time. Let’s not forget, this is the same guy who had two top 10 finishes in hugely competitive fields in Qatar and Abu Dhabi. I think that we can expect big things from a guy whose driving could render this course helpless.
Mikko Ilonen - To Win 125/1 & To Place 25/1
Ilonen is my pick in the stargazing category this week. His performance in Morocco hinted at something good to come this week. He also possesses good form at this course. He was four shots off the lead in the final round of the Volvo China Open in 2014 before a disappointing 74 saw him finish in a tie for 8th. He then showed his appreciation for this course with a T13 finish in last year’s Shenzhen International. Mikko got to the DP World Championship last season through a string of consistent performances and a think he looks a decent bet for the place markets at 25/1.
The Man to Beat
Tommy Fleetwood - To Win 12/1 & To Place 24/10
He may be the bookies favourite, but everything seems to be pointing towards Fleetwood going close this week. Additionally, many of the European heavyweights aren’t present, opening up the draw and making 12/1 for him look quite appealing. He made the cut at Augusta, and began the season with a bang by winning in Abu Dhabi. He followed that up with a solo 2nd at the Mexico Championship and he seems to be in the form of his life at present, following years of being something of the forgotten man of English golf. He also has form here, finishing 2nd in 2014 and 3rd in 2015.