THE European Tour moves to the Topwin Golf and Country Club north of Beijing for the 23rd edition of the Volvo China Open.
In the previous 22 events the China Open has had 22 different winners from 14 countries. The 7261-yard par 72 was designed in 2009 by former Masters champion Ian Woosnam and will prove a tough test with undulating greens and water hazards coming into play on quite a few holes. Good iron play and putting will be the main stats here.
Although Frenchman Alexander Levy finished T8 last week at Shenzen there was nothing in his game I could fault apart from maybe his first-round 74.
What I said about Levy last week still stands and he won this tournament in 2014, albeit on the Genzon Course which hosted the Shenzen International last week.
It was another top-10 finish to add to his tally and he really didn’t do much wrong. In the first round he only had one birdie and that didn’t come until the 17th so it took him a while to get going. Hopefully he’ll be quicker out the blocks here. His GIR stat is 51.57% and Putts per GIR 1.75 and I have no qualms on tipping him again this week.
Dean Burmester was going strongly last week until the fourth round. He got off to a bad start, bogeying the first, and never really managed to get going after that, finishing off a bad day bogey, triple bogey.
The 27-year-old South African won his first European title in March at the Tshwane Open and has been quite impressive this season. He hits a long ball (well over 300 yards), has GIR stats of 69.4% and PPGIR of 1.698. He missed the cut here last year but hit a 68 in the first round and I’m confident ofhim getting into the top five this week.
Another who is having a good year on the European Tour is American David Lipsky. He won his first European Tour event at the Omega European Masters at Crans-sur-Sierre, Switzerland, after a play-off with Graeme Storm. Unfortunately although he’s been close a few times that second win has been elusive. This year he was runner-up to Paraguayan Fabrizio Zanotti in the Maybank Championship in Kuala Lumpur and a T5 at the Shenzen last week. His stats are 71.8% for GIR and PPGIR of 1.702.
Finally my fourth pick is none other than the aforementioned Fabrizio Zanotti. The 33-year-old has been a regular on the European Tour since 2008 and has two wins under his belt.
In 2014 he won the BMW International and this year the Maybank Championship. Since his win at the Maybank he finished T12 at the WGC-Mexico Championship and a T5 last week. At Shenzen in the fourth round he had eight birdies in the first 13 holes but unfortunately bogeyed the 14th. His -7 last round was only beaten by Tommy Fleetwood’s amazing -9. His GIR stat is 73% and PPGIR 1.79.
I’m not putting much up on the Zurich Classic of New Orleans as it’s a minefield to pick a winner. What with teams of two and the first and third rounds played as foursomes and second and fourth rounds as better ball.
How they can call it a strokeplay event is beyond me. Having said I am going to have a small wager on Hideki Matsuyama and Hideto Tanihara. The first and third-ranked Japanese players look well suited to this format with Matsuyama’s tee to green play and Tanihara isn’t too shabby with the putter.
1.5pts ew Alexander Levy (Stan James, 25-1)
1.5pts ew Dean Burmester (Stan James, 45-1)
1.5pts ew David Lipsky (Bet365, 33-1)
1.5pts ew Fabrizio Zanotti (Bet365, 28-1)
1.5pts ew Matsuyama/Tanihara (Bet365, 28-1)
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