This week the European Tour moves to Fanling in Hong Kong. A course that has been used for a number of years to host the Hong Kong Open. The course is quite short at just 6,710 yards, where accuracy and good ball striking is rewarded. The roll of honour includes a number of classy players such as defending champion Justin Rose, four time winner Miguel Angel Jimenez and Rory McIlroy.
The winner will usually need to score around -15, so the course is not a birdie fest in comparison to many European Tour offerings.
Many have noted that there are similarities in results between Fanling and two other European Tour courses. Wentworth and Crans-Sur-Sierre. I shall be looking into these links further with my choice of players.
In terms of pricing this week, there looks to be a gulf in pricing with Reed top at $12,100, $1,500 more than any other player. I’ll subsequently looking at a more balance strategy this week. While Reed is clearly the classiest performer in the field, he doesn’t win enough to justify this price.
Justin Rose ($10,100) – After last week’s WD at the Hero, this may seem counterintuitive; however, his price is at such a discount, that he might just be worth a play this week. Additionally, after last week I expect him to be very low owned as people will be wary. He has a great record here with a win last year, and he also has a strong record at Wentworth. One of the best ball strikers in the world, there’s no reason why he shouldn’t challenge here again if his back holds up. A GPP play.
Tommy Fleetwood ($9,900) – Over the past three months, Fleetwood has been playing world class golf. He’s made 11 consecutive cuts including eight top 16 finishes. A T9 last time out in Dubai was a great effort in far more illustrious company than this week. He has never played at the course, but with his strength in ball striking – he’s finished inside the top four in GIR in his last three tournaments – the course should suit his strengths. He has a great record at Crans, and has also finished top 10 at Wentworth in top 10. I expect big things from Fleetwood this week.
Scott Hend ($9,100) – A short, tight track doesn’t immediately seem like it should suit Scott Hend, but his record at this type of track is fantastic. In fact, while he missed the cut here last year, he actually won at this course two years ago. To show that it wasn’t a fluke he has challenged at the two correlation courses noted this year, having finished 2nd in Switzerland, and led after 18, 36 and 54 holes at Wentworth. He hit some form last week in his native Australia finishing 10th in the Australian PGA and having racked up eight wins in Asia in the past four years, I see no reason why he can’t challenge again.
Miguel Angel Jimenez ($7,900) – The epitome of a course specialist, he’s won the tournament four times, including recently in 2012 and 2013. To show his suitability, he has also won at Wentworth and Crans. His skills set suits the course perfectly. Despite his advancing years, he still has the ability to play with the youngsters as shown by his top 20 at The Open. This course doesn’t demand length, but ball striking and touch around the greens, which is perfect for Jimenez. I feel his price is slightly depressed due to his age. I’m happy to trust the wily old fox this week.
Julien Quesne ($7,500) – This year, Quesne has two top five finishes – at Crans and Wentworth. This bodes well for this week’s challenge. He’s only played here once – in 2012 – but a finish of T22 with three rounds in the 60s shows he can play the course. His recent form is promising with three consecutive made cuts. A promising top 25 in Dubai with thre rounds in the 60s is encouraging leading into this week. A two-time European Tour winner, we know that Quesne has more upside than many of his mid-priced contemporaries this week.
Angelo Que ($7,200) – Que hasn’t had the best year by any stretch; however, he finished T11 last time out at the Dunlop Phoenix Open a similar field. He’s coming to a course he’s performed well at recently. A runner up in 2014 was followed up with a T13 last year. With 7 of 8 rounds in the 60s, I’d hope he can kick on from where he left off last time out. A reasonable price and I’d expect him to be low owned.
Carlos Pigem ($6,700) – During last week’s tournament, Pigem’s caddy died. Inspired, he finished 4th – his second top five in his last four tournaments. Last year he came here off the back of three missed cuts to finish T29. With far better form coming in, and potentially inspired, I’d hope he could improve on his performance last year.
Peter Uihlein ($6,400) – His recent form is terrible. There’s no doubt about that. He’s struggled since his return from injury, and therefore this is a punt. He is, however, surrounded by players of far lower calibre. If he finds anything near his form, he has the ability to notch up a strong result in this field. He finished in the top 15 on his debut here last year showing he can play the course. A GPP play, but worth the risk.
Danny Willett ($10,600) – Since winning The Masters, Willett’s form has been patchy at best. In 16 tournaments he has just two top 10s. Putting this in perspective, in the 16 tournaments before The Masters he had seven top 10s including a win. While two of his best performances recently were at Crans and Wentworth it’s not enough to make me play him this week. I’m happy to swerve him until I see a bit more sign of life.