The Race to Dubai has nearly reached its climax and after this week’s BMW Masters there will be just one more event of the European Tour season. Following on from the HSBC Champions the European Tour remains in Shanghai and the Lake Malaren Golf Club. There is sure to be another huge following from the local fans who will be keen to see some of the biggest names in golf and particularly the Shanghai-raised Li Haotong who knows this place as well as anyone.
The 7,594 yard, par 72 Masters Course was designed by Jack Nicklaus and it plays as long as that yardage suggests. The fairways are relatively easy to hit and it is flat until you get to the greens which are incredibly slopey and difficult to read. Given the length of the track it is no surprise that the bookies fancy the chances of the likes of Henrik Stenson and Branden Grace but right at the top of the betting is Englishman Justin Rose.
Rose is thoroughly enjoying his golf at the moment and he is in pole position to make it back to back wins in China following his triumph at the UBS Hong Kong Open three weeks ago. Having tinkered with his equipment, Rose has picked up an extra bit of distance which will help him at a course where he has performed well in the past. The 35-year-old has also tinkered with his putter and if he can read the greens accurately and get the ball to the hole he should win this at odds of 6/1 with Ladbrokes.
The strength of the field reflects the importance of this event. If Rose were to win he would be in an incredibly strong position for the final event next week given the absence of Rory McIlroy but another player who can give himself a great chance of being crowned the best golfer on the European Tour is Branden Grace. The South African has had a brilliant season with perhaps the highlight coming in the Presidents Cup where he was a constant thorn in the side of the American team. Grace averages over 300 yards off the tee and hits well above half of all fairways. He’s a good putter and his short game will allow him to be close enough to the hole to take his chances. Grace is 18/1 with Bet365 which represents good value.
For an outside shot at glory at the BMW Masters, have a small stakes punt on Alex Noren. The 33-year-old Swede has really struggled after suffering tendonitis in his wrists but he did get a win at the Nordea Masters back in June and he’s shown some good glimpses at other times. In 2012 Noren placed sixth at the Masters Course when he showed how capable he is to control his ball flight in the wind. His chances are probably helped if the wind gets up but even if it stays calm, Noren has a better shot than the odds of 200/1 with BetVictor suggest so take the bookies on with an each-way bet.