The Hong Kong Open returns to the European Tour schedule this week. It is the both the third event of the new season and the final event of 2016! That, coupled with the international field assembled at the Hong Kong Golf Club, gives this event a unique feel.
On the one hand, you’ve got European and PGA Tour stars like Justin Rose, Patrick Reed and Danny Willett looking for a strong performance before taking a month’s break from the game. On the other, you’ve got up and coming players like Thomas Detry and Nathan Kimsey who are full of energy and vigour as they look to establish themselves in the big leagues. With a smattering of local talent and the best players on the Asian Tour also competing, it’s going to take a well-rounded performance to walk off with the winner’s share of the $2 million prize purse.
A well-rounded display is certainly what’s demanded by the championship course at the Hong Kong Golf Club. The par 70 layout is made up of a selection of holes from two of the club’s three courses. Combined, it measures 6,699 yards and provides a much sterner test of accuracy and strategy than of distance.
Accuracy off the tee is absolutely vital here. Not only are the fairways tight and tree-lined but the players will have to leave themselves the right lines into the greens as they are firm, so getting the ball to stop quickly is no easy task. Anyone who hits a high percentage of greens will have an advantage but scrambling well can allow players who miss greens to stay in contention.
Fleetwood to Outshine the Stars
As you would expect, the tournament organisers are making a big play of the star names that have made the trip to Hong Kong. The problem is, most of those at the top of the betting markets are struggling with form and/or fitness at the moment. That could open the door for Tommy Fleetwood.
It’s been over three years since Fleetwood won his maiden European Tour title but he is looking as close to striking again now than at almost any time since. Fleetwood has form on tricky, short courses and can utilise his skilful short game and quality iron play to full effect this week. At 22/1 with Coral, Fleetwood is ready to grab the spotlight for himself.
Two Big Outsiders Who Can Challenge
The nature of the course at the Hong Kong Golf Club means that anybody who arrives with full control of their golf ball and a well formulated plan can conceivably go on to win this week. Two players who fit that bill are Thomas Detry (80/1 with BetVictor) and David Howell (150/1 with Betfred).
Detry finished in a tie for third at Leopard Creek last week in his first start as a European Tour player. He’s got big things ahead of him and once again looks like each way value. Howell is at the opposite end of his career but he is back after yet another injury set-back and can remind everybody how good he is at a venue that suits his style of golf down to a tee.