European Tour: Volvo China Open Preview

Golfer admires his shot

We take a look at this week's China Open set to take place between 26 April and 29 April at the Topwin Golf and Country Club.

The China Open is an event that has been in existence since 1995, though it only became a European Tour co-sanctioned event in 2003. This will be the third time this month that the European Tour has switched continents. They travel to the Far East for a one off event in Asia. Situated just north of the Chinese capital of Beijing, Topwin will be staging this event for the third consecutive time.

Volvo China Open | 26 April - 29 April | Topwin Golf and Country Club, Beijeng

The Ian Woosnam designed parkland style course is actually situated quite close to the Great Wall of China, in the hills of Huairou. The course was opened in 2011 and features tricky, undulating greens, with water hazards on all but three holes. This is a low scoring course, with too extremely short par 4’s that can be attacked in the right conditions. The fairways are generous and the rough is not exacting, with the tricky greens by far the most testing aspect of the course. So errant drivers will be forgiven if they are able to get fine-tune their iron play.

It’s no surprise that Alex Levy leads the markets. The defending champion has two China Open titles to his name and also is aiming to make it back-to-back victories following that win in Morocco last week. Of Asian interest is the pair of Kiradech Aphibarnrat and HaoTong Li. Li has triumphed at this course before while Thai Aphibarnrat missed the cut last season. Consistent performers such as Joost Luiten and Bernd Wiesberger spring from the pack at once in what looks set to be a highly competitive week in Topwin.

Past Winners
2017: Alex Levy (-17)* playoff 
2016: Li Haotong (-22)
2015: Wu Ashun (-9)
2014: Alex Levy (-19)
2013: Brett Rumford (-16)

To Win Outright
Alex Levy 9/1 | Kiradech Aphibarnrat 14/1 | Haotong Li 14/1 | Bernd Wiesberger 16/1 | Joost Luiten 16/1

Value Bets

Thorbjorn Olesen- To Win 40/1, To Place 17/2
The talented Dane is certainly one in the hit and miss category, but makes a far more alluring prospect at over double the price of compatriot Wiesberger. The four-time European Tour Champion should thrive on this course, though course statistics of 15th and 31st don’t really bear testament to that. But the appeasing rough and big fairways should mitigate Olesen’s occasionally errant driving. He is a huge hitting birdie machine that should be able to tame this receptive course, should his putter play along. And at 40/1 it’s probably worth a gamble on that.

Alexander Bjork- To Win 40/1, To Place 17/2
Finishing on the podium at the Trophee Hassan II was just another sign that this talented Swede must be close to picking up his maiden European Tour title. He also had top 20 finishes in both Oman and Qatar, whilst he managed a tie for sixth in a competitive Dubai finish. He was cut last year, but the 27 year-old now sits in 25th on the European Tour money-list and will no doubt be more prepared for the vagaries of the course this year. He also memorably capitulated on the final hole in November’s Hong Kong Open, showing his ability to play well in this part of the world.

Nicolas Colsaerts- To Win 100/1, To Place 22/1
The veteran Belgian only just managed a top 50 here last season- he finished in a tie for 42nd- but his huge driving has the capacity to dominate a course such as this. Well he hasn’t been in the greatest form ever, Colsaerts has hardly been in the worst. He has played five events this season, with the only cut coming at last week’s tricky Trophee Hassan II. He managed a credible T28 in Spain the week before and will welcome a return to China, the home of his biggest success: he won the 2011 Volvo China Open by four shots.

The Man to Beat- Alex Levy- To Win 9/1, To Place 39/20
All things considered- the field, etc- Levy’s price this week doesn’t actually look that bad. China is one of those places that seems to reward familiarity. He is the defending champion here and also won the event in 2014, when it was held at the Genzon Golf Club. Furthermore, Levy finished runner-up in the 2014 BMW Masters- also in China. He clearly has a penchant for these conditions. Always seen as a slightly mercurial talent, the win at the Trophee Hassan II was his fifth European Tour victory, and perhaps it’s time to concede that he has become a fairly steady European Tour heavyweight- or super-middleweight at least.

Written by Damien Kayat for @Hollywoodbets.net

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