European Tour: UBS Hong Kong Open Preview

Golfer admires shot with wood in hand

We preview the the UBS Hong King Open which is set to take place at at the Fanling Golf Course. 

It’s rather strange to think that last week’s epic showdown between Justin Rose and Tommy Fleetwood is now already part of antiquity, with the Hong Kong Open the official start of the 2017/2018 European Tour campaign. Sponsors UBS must be paying rich appearance fees, with the likes of Sergio Garcia, Justin Rose and Race to Dubai champion Tommy Fleetwood opting to play this week.

It does lend a certain gloss to an event that stretches back to 1959. The European-Asian co-sanctioned event looks set to fascinate on the ever idiosyncratic Fanling Course.

UBS Hong King Open | 24 November - 27 November | Fanling Golf Course, Hong Kong

While this event represents the quintessence of golfing modernity- it’s a multi-tour, anti-calendar event clearly driven by sponsorship- the golf course is certainly something of a throwback. The tree-lined Fanling course measures just a tick over 6,700 yards, inviting those players more reliant on delicacy to dream. It shares similarities to the Crans-Sur-Sierre course- home of the European Masters. That can be seen in the success of the likes of Miguel Angel-Jimenez and Scott Hend enjoying huge success at both course: the Charismatic Spanish veteran has won the event here four times.

Looking at the likely candidates, it’s clear that the presence of so many highly vaunted names will have a huge impact on the betting markets. Race to Dubai winner Tommy Fleetwood will look to continue what has become a fascinating duel with fellow countryman Justin Rose. But perhaps one can expect the likes of Fleetwood and Rose to be fairly burnt out after a weekend in Dubai that took so much out of the two. Similarly, Sergio Garcia has had his Major triumph and is currently tinkering with his equipment. So perhaps it would be unwise to put too much stock in the favourites going into such a unique period of the year.

Past Winners
2016: Sam Brazel (-13)
2015: Justin Rose (-17)
2014: Scott Hend (-13)*playoff
2013: Miguel Angel-Jimenez (-12)*playoff
2012: Miguel Angel-Jimenez (-15)

To Win Outright:
Justin Rose 9/2, Sergio Garcia 13/2, Matthew Fitzpatrick 10/1, Tommy Fleetwood 14/1, Rafa Cabrera-Bello 20/1

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Value Bets

Haotong Li- To Win 35/1, To Place 15/2
The Chinese World Number 57 had a huge breakthrough at the Open Championship, with only Americans Jordan Spieth and Matt Kuchar besting him over the week. He has had some indifferent form since then, but the last few weeks have shown how much potential he possesses. He finished in a tie for 13th at the DP World Tour Finals last week, following up an excellent solo fourth at the Nedbank Golf Challenge. Li has shown the ability to prosper on difficult courses, with that third place at the Open and a T7 finish at the French Open.

David Lipsky- To Win 66/1, To Place 14/1
A veteran of both the European and Asian Tour, the American Lipsky prefers tighter, claustrophobic courses such as Fanling. He has corollary course credentials, having won his only European Tour title at Crans-Sur-Sierre. He finished in fifth place here last season, with a frustrating Sunday that saw him finish a few shots behind Brazel. He shot a 64 in the third round last week in Dubai, which bodes well considering the fact that the Earth Course is hardly suitable to his talents.

Marcus Fraser- To Win 80/1, To Place 17/1
Fraser looks a fantastic bet at this price considering his excellent course form. He finished third here in 2012, finishing fifth two years later. He also finished tenth here last season. As a matter of fact, the Aussie has five top fives in nine visits, with an average score of just a shade over 68. In 36 rounds at Fanling, 28 of those have ended in the 60’s. He had a fifth place finish in the Italian Open as recently as October and he should represent excellent value this week.

The Man to Beat- Kiradech Aphibarnrat- To Win 30/1, To Place 13/2
The ever popular Thai golfer was perhaps one of the most consistent players on the European Tour last season- alongside the indefatigable Tommy Fleetwood. However, he just didn’t quite crack the major victory that would have put him right in contention for the Race to Dubai title alongside the likes of Fleetwood and Rose. The runner-up finish at the DP World Tour was his fifth top 20 finish in seven starts, and was his sixth top 10 finish of last season. Aphibarnrat is in an excellent vein of form and could benefit from the top players treating this as a post-season sojourn.

Written by Damien Kayat for @Hollywoodbets

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