Brooks Koepka never seems to perform with my money behind him and that was certainly the case last week as he played very poorly, particularly the Par 5s where he normally excels. In the end he finished well down the small field but it was still an exciting week with Tiger Woods performing so well. Granted there were a lot of errors too but the fact he made more birdies than anyone in the field after a 15 month lay-off has to be a massive positive and bodes well for his 2017 season especially if he can iron out some of the mistakes. They were undoubtedly with the driver on the whole though as he made very few unforced errors with his irons. We don’t know yet when he will be back but there is a strong chance that it will be around his beloved Torrey Pines course in January.
Just the one Tournament this week as the 2017 European Tour signs off for a Christmas break with the Hong Kong Open.
The overall results for the blog are as follows
Total pts advised = 867.50pts
Total pts returned = 834.50pts
ROI = -3.95%
In the new year I am going to focus on results for the calendar year but I will still be keeping track of the overall results.
Hong Kong Open
The last four titles at the Hong Kong Golf Club at Fanling have been won by Justin Rose, Scott Hend and Miguel Angel JImenez (2) and those three are very different players so there must be more than one way to score at the course. Looking further back we have the likes of McIlroy, Montgomerie and Harrington winning here so usually one of the classier players gets to the front by Sunday.
The 6699 yard course is very short and can be quite fiddly off the tee. The greens aren’t the easiest to hit as they can often be blocked out by trees and are slightly elevated while they usually firm up over the weekend with the hot conditions. The one common factor between Rose, Jimenez and Hend was their ability to find the greens at Fanling; Hend with his power off the tee allowing him lots of wedges, Jimenez with his excellent long iron game and Rose with his relentless tee-to-green ability. This is strengthened by Monty and McIlroy being former winners as their distance control with their approaches is as good as anyone to have played on the European Tour. Perhaps Jimenez’s greatest strength over the years however was his touch around the greens and that is crucial as getting up and down is a very fair test at Fanling.
Last year Patrick Reed was 4th favourite for this and looked to be the best piece of value in the field. While the course was unknown to him he still managed to finish 4th so it is no surprise to see him favourite here. But given how poorly he played last week in the Bahamas and all the promotional work he has done this week after travelling across the world, I think he can be left out at a single figure price. Second favourite Rose would normally appeal in a field like this but given his lack of golf and the back injury that forced him to withdraw after one round last week, he too can be dismissed at just 9/1. Those wanting to get with the Englishman should at least see how he fares in the opening round. If his back is ok he will be as honest as ever after his first round and unless he sits on top of the leaderboard I don’t think his odds will collapse too much.
Fanling has some course links with other tree-lined tracks and while Miguel Angel Jimenez throws up a couple of other courses where he has won like Wentworth and Crans, the course that interests me most is Lake Karrinyup in Perth, Australia. It is another tree-lined course where somehow bombers have prospered like Thorbjorn Olesen in 2014. Visually I would say it comes closest to resembling the Hong Kong Golf Club and they both tend to play hard and fast with hitting greens crucial to scoring. Last year’s runner-up in Hong Kong, Lucas Bjerregard finished 4th at the Perth International in 2015, Ernie Els won there in 2002 and he virtually owned Wentworth during the 90s and has also won around Crans. Good links players have prevailed at both Lake Karrinyup, Fanling, Wentworth and Crans and while I don’t think we can put Jason Scrivener in that bracket as he hasn’t played too much links golf, he interests me this week.
Scrivener finished 3rd at Lake Karrinyup earlier this year when playing well and there have been signs recently that the young Australian could be coming back to some form. Interestingly he also finished 3rd here last year which to me confirms a nice link between the courses. His last start was poor as he could only finish 62nd in the Australian PGA but prior to that he was 4th at the Australian Open at Royal Sydney, another tree-lined course.
He isn’t always the most accurate of drivers but the presence of trees seems to help him either straighten up or, around short courses like Fanling, take driver out of the equation. He ranked 15th for GIR last year and while he only ranks 60th in GIR over the last 3 months he sits 11th in Par 4 scoring. He also ranks 2nd in scrambling which is always crucial here. In a market dominated by the classy favourites he looks a good each way alternative this week.
Gregory Bourdy won around Hong Kong Golf Club in 2009 and is another who has gone well at Lake Karrinyup finishing one place behind Scrivener in February. He missed the cut in South Africa last week but his GIR numbers were good and prior to that he hadn’t missed a European Tour cut since July. He had a brilliant summer in fact as he finished 18th at both the US Open and US PGA Championship and his form had been ok with a 31st in Turkey, a 20th at the Nedbank and a 35th at the DP World Championship. All those courses are too long for the short hitting Frenchman however and he is far more suited to this week’s challenge as he proved in 2009 when he beat a very strong field including McIlroy, Poulter, McDowell and Westwood.
Bourdy is a 4 time winner on Tour and should be respected on courses like this where his accuracy and brilliant short game can help him contend. Currently ranking 17th in the all-round and 19th in GIR over the last 3 months he looks to have a good chance on a course he enjoys.
Siddikur Rahman is one of the shortest hitters on any Tour but he is extremely accurate and is also a brilliant scrambler. He finished 18th here last year and has popped up a few times in co-sanctioned events over the last few years, his best performance being a 2nd in Mauritius in May on the European Tour.
I think he has possibly been dismissed too easily at 250/1 in a field lacking any real depth. He looks worth a small each way play as well as a top 20 bet.
Summary of Bets
Gregory Bourdy – 1pt ew @ 40/1
Jason Scrivener – 1pt ew @ 90/1
Siddikur Rahman – 0.5pt ew @ 250/1 and 1pt Top 20 @ 9/1
Weekly pts advised – 6 pts
Total pts advised – 873.50pts
Merry Christmas to all readers and I’ll be back with a preview of the Tournament of Champions in the New Year.