The European Tour lived up to its name last week by actually holding a golf tournament in Europe. Crazy, we know. The Open de España was a very well regarded event but immediately after Andrew Johnston won on Sunday it was time for the Tour’s players and officials to hop on a plane to China for the second renewal of the Shenzhen International.
Co-hosted with the China Golf Association, the Shenzhen International is once again held at the beautiful Genzon Golf Club. The 7,145 yard par 72 layout is by no means the longest test that the players will have to get to grips with this season but it will certainly favour the biggest hitters. Previous winners at Genzon have been able to send it out there with the driver, taking advantage of the wide fairways and the relatively short rough. It is always important to take chances with the putter but that’s especially tricky at Shenzhen where the greens are very fast.
It was the putting surfaces that did for Bubba Watson last season but the big name American is back in the field for another crack this week. Watson has some good winning memories of playing golf in China, having picked up the 2014 WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai and he clearly feels that Genzon is a venue where he can collect another winner’s cheque. It is always good to see big names from the PGA Tour ply their trade on the European circuit and especially so when Bubba turns up with his unique style of play. He’ll doubtless hit the ball further than anybody this week and if he putts better he can put together a score that will be tough to stop at 6/1 with Coral.
If big hitters with course form are what we are looking for there are few players in the field who offer more appeal than defending champion Kiradech Aphibarnrat. The Thai star narrowly saw off the challenge of local hero Li Hao-Tong last season, showing that he not only knows how to put together a score around Genzon but that he has the bottle when the pressure gets ramped up. Aphibarnrat may not look much like your average modern golfer in terms of physique but he has all the skills necessary to forge a successful career towards the top of the game. By all accounts he is a very popular figure on the European Tour but he can upset some of his friends by remaining the only man to win this event at odds of 14/1 with Betfred.
Alvaro Quiros went ridiculously low on Sunday last season, shooting a final round of 63 to move into a share of 15th. He would have placed significantly higher were it not for a few big mistakes over the four days. He will have some great memories of the course and an in depth understanding of where to attack and where to take a par before moving on. The 33 year old showed he can score at courses where distance is important in Dubai at the start of the season and looks too big at 100/1 with BetVictor.