This week it’s a welcome return to Hong Kong and the penultimate of the season where the there is much to play for at the top, and certainly at the bottom of the current R2D rankings before next weeks’ Dubai World Championship.
Date: 1st to 4th December 2011
Competition: UBS Hong Kong Open
The UBS Hong Kong Open is Hong Kong’s oldest professional sporting event. Beginning in 1959, it has a rich history of winners including nine different Major Champions who have amassed 25 Major titles between them.
This week its home to 150 of the European Tours shining stars and a select few who could still possibly prize the year end Race to Dubai trophy from the current likely clutch of PGA Tour Winner and now six month World number 1, Luke Donald.
Venue: Hong Kong GC, Fanling, China
Simply its one of the best and most difficult courses you’ll ever play. Don’t let the fairly straightforward start fool you! It has beautiful views, undulating lightning fast greens and magnificent fairways and trees galore – this one’s not for the fainthearted – short (ish) as it may be.
Yards: 6,700 yards maximum!
Par: Par 70
This weeks’ field includes the colourful Richard Green (50/1), Justin Rose (61/5), Mark Brown (267/1) but also a Richard Bland (218/1). It also introduces these colonials that roll off the tongue (get ready for it) Timothy Tang (974/1), YE Yang (25/1), Anthony Kang (228/1), Wang-ter Chang (735/1), Wen-Chong Liang (98/1) and Lian-wei Zhang (677/1 – all at Betdaq). Man!
Everything is to play for with only the top 60 making next week’s Dubai World Championships and so a good performance matters for so many regardless of their position in the Race to Dubai.
This will be where Tour cards are retained, big money can be won and ultimately where hearts will be broken. Anyone could steal the show this week.
Englishman Ian Poulter (14/1 at Ladbrokes) scorched his way to a 60 in the second round last year en route to the title by one shot from Dyson and a young Italian teenager. Poults heads to Hong Kong on a high after storming to a joint second place finish in last week’s Omega Mission Hills World Cup with a stunning 63 alongside Mr Pink in the final day’s foursomes.
A win, or maybe a second, could put Woburn’s finest into the lucrative top 15 and should not to be overlooked.
Someone with a slightly bigger mountain to climb is Stephen Gallacher (93/1 at Betdaq) who sits ever so slightly on the wrong side of the Dubai World Championship threshold in number 61.
The Scot, fresh from a solid performance with Countryman Laird in last week’s World Cup will be on a high but will be focused on the task of soaking up some Arabian sun next week. If his putter is switched on, watch out for a meteoric charge come Sunday!
Has been quiet, but consistent, for much of the tail end of the season – perhaps school work has got in the way, but it’s the Crayon and Creamola Foam sponsored 2010 runner up Matteo Mannesaro (35/1 with William Hill) who means business this weekend before Nanny will ask him to sit down and write his letter to Santa.
Has performed consistently across the season and currently lies 26th in the Race to Dubai requiring a win to propel him skyward to the real big boys and another delayed week before he puts a big sticky pen to dog eared paper.
I can count with both hands and a foot, the times I have rallied for the world number 2 to take the Race to Dubai to the wire. And here we are once again, where my winning focus is for Rory McIlroy (5/1 at Victor Chandler) to make a fight of the season and sock it to the quiet consistent leader (without a Major).
McIlroy has had 4 top fours in his last 4 (Tour) outings and a win in Shanghai propelling him closer and a respectable showing for Team Paddy last week. With Kaymer and Donald out of action this week, a win means the action hots up in the desert next week.