It is some time until the European Tour actually returns to Europe. Keith Pelley, the new chief executive of the Tour, is working very hard behind the scenes to increase its value and success and that process includes closer links with other Tours around the wold. That includes the Asian Tour which is co-hosting this week’s True Thailand Classic at Black Mountain Golf Club, Hua Hin.
The True Thailand Classic was a new event on the European Tour last season and returns for a second time after what was largely considered a positive debut. Australian Andrew Dodt won the first tournament last year and the defending champion is back in the field this time around. However, he has had far from a good spell since that win and he is as big as 160/1 with Bet365 to double up.
Black Mountain really is a stunning golf track. The relatively young course – it opened in 2007 – has won multiple accolades and is considered one of the very best in Asia. The par 72 layout can stretch to as much as 7,346 yards off the back tees. That is not the longest test that the field will encounter this year but is certainly challenging enough and the wind is going to make some of the holes play much longer than their official yardage. Therefore, hitting it a long way off the tee is going to be important but taking your chances with the putter remains the most important element of the game here.
There would be fewer more popular wins amongst the home fans that Thongchai Jaidee. The 46-year-old is the most successful Thai golfer in history and nobody has won more prize money than him on the Asian Tour. Jaidee has built a hugely impressive career despite being far from the longest hitter in the game. Last season, surprisingly, he ranked 13th in terms of driving distance. That shows that he was confident enough with his driver to hit it when others opted for fairway woods. If he can improve on his putting stats which were 1.675 putts per green last year, he can win this at odds of 14/1 with Coral.
Thomas Pieters is at the other end of the spectrum to Jaidee when it comes to driving distance but he too is a solid ball striker who is capable of taking the majority of the birdie chances that he creates for himself. The Belgian is fast becoming an accomplished European Tour player having picked up his first two wins last year. Making his debut at this event, he may be able to overpower the course at odds of 25/1 with BetVictor.
Jaidee is not the only veteran of the game who performed well here last season. Miguel Angel Jimenez managed to finish tied for seventh in the event’s debut on the European Tour and he returns to give it another crack this week. The popular Spaniard is clearly towards the end of his career on the main tours but at odds of 175/1 with Bet365 he is worth a couple of pounds for an each way bet and can still shine in an event such as this.