AFTER the thrilling finale to the 2017 Race to Dubai last week a number of European Tour players join forces with those from the Asian Tour for the UBS Hong Kong Open.
Last year this tournament was won by little-known Australian Sam Brazel who was 480th in the Official World Rankings at the time.
This is the first tournament for season 2018 and the beginning of the Race To Dubai for the Europeans. The course is short only 6710 yards, par 70, and is a composite of holes from the Eden and New courses with tree-lined fairways and six doglegs. Water is also in play on a few holes. Accuracy looks to be the stat to look for so driving accuracy and GIR are significant.
One man who stands out for me here is Kiradech Aphibarnrat who finished T2 last week in Dubai. I have seen a return to some kind of form over the past two months from the Thai and looks a solid bet here.
Since the beginning of October he has finished T2 twice and sixth in five outings which isn’t bad form. The 28-year-old is one of those guys who when he hits form he is tough to beat. He finished 11th in the European Tour Race to Dubai and is definitely worth a bet. Driving Accuracy: 60.7% (75th). GIR: 71.4% (29th).
Although Rafa Cabrera Bello has won three times on the European Tour since 2009, with his talent I would have expected him to have triumphed a lot more. He has been playing on the PGA Tour with some really good results, a T4 at the Players Championship for one. He finished second here last year behind Brazel who birdied the last hole to win. It’s been a long season for the Spaniard and a lot of air miles but I think he will rise to the challenge and get the new season off to a bang with a high finish or win. Driving Accuracy: 61.2% (71st). GIR: 70.9% (35th).
American David Lipsky has been on the Asian and European Tours for a few years now and enjoys playing in Asia. In fact this course is one of his favourites and was only a couple of shots of the winning score here last year. He finished 24th last week on minus 10 when he just couldn’t get the ball to drop but it still included a third-round 64. Earlier in the year in two events in China he finished fifth and 24th so looks quite comfortable out here. Driving Accuracy: 58.2% (122nd). GIR: 57.2% (109th).