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China Open

Recap – Shenzhen International.

Considering the gloomy conditions, a load of rain delays and a potential first day disaster deciding to fade Bubba and play Tommy, Personally I really enjoyed the event just played at Genzon. Not just thanks to a solid week from most of my picks but because we got to see some quality, exciting golf, packed with everything from Ace’s to Zanotti hitting form ready for a course he really likes

In last weeks drafts, we had my no brainer pick Bernd Weisberger (1st), my favourite to win Tommy Fleetwood (2nd) and my go to U.S pick David Lipsky (T5). There were other solid performances from the likes of Levy and Smith as well, along with the final day frustrations of Burmester and Stone! Of the 22 picks (7 players below $7,000) 17 made the cut,  picked 1st and 2nd, we had 3 inside the top 5, 6 players inside the top 15 and in total 12 players inside the top 35. Again not bad and as always hoping for even better next time out and a big win.

 The search party is still out hunting for Burmesters tee shots last week!!

The search party is still out hunting for Burmesters tee shots last week!!

Next Up – Volvo China Open – Topwin Golf & CC – Beijing, China

Fingers crossed were gonna be in for another exciting week, the venue looks incredible and if viewing something special holds value to you its one you wont want to miss.

The Volvo China Open has been a long standing event on the European Tour with plenty of history, however with it only being the 2nd time it has been played at Topwin and the first time was only last year I will mainly focus on what is really important with this event..

The Course

Topwins Championship layout designed by Ian Woosnam is a true treat on the eye, especially with views of the Great Wall from almost every hole. It has the traditional layout with a par of 72, the course measures 7261 yards with a great mixture of holes. An abundance of opportunity on the Par 5’s plus a handful of reachable Par 4’s. All sounds ‘Lovely Jubbly’ so far, however I forgot to mention that water hazards feature on all but 3 holes,  the fairways and greens are very undulating and if the wind picks up from what is so far forecast it could spell disaster for any player at almost any given point. Each hole here is designed to intimidate you, test you, tempt you and above all make you think. On a good day very low scores are without doubt achievable but if your off then it could be an early flight home

Although I have never played Topwin Golf and Country Club or even visited Beijing, I frequently have the pleasure of playing one of Woosnams designs, now I know his course in East Sussex, England is far different from his design in China, however after studying the Topwin course, replacing the water with waste high rough and the very different scenery you get the feeling of a similar type of game plan for what’s needed to score well and win.. Ironically its all about playing aggressive yet avoiding huge mistakes at all costs. (Players please be sure you only take 14 clubs on to the course!) You also get a good feel for the way he sees the game (especially if you stoop down a little) the types of ball flight needed from the tee and then into the green to get to some of the tougher hole locations..

Green type – Creeping Bentgrass, very undulating, very true with a playing speed around 10 on the stimpmeter

Rough – Kentucky Bluegrass, cut prior to event and not too deep, only 80mm.

Key Stats and Strategy.

Very much like last week this course will really reward the aggressive golfer with plenty of birdies or better, with what is forecast for weather I am expecting this to yet again be a low scoring event for the players. Last year -3 got to see the weekend and the winning total was -22. 

Looking deep into last years stats against event placing there is a nice blend of both styles of play. So I will direct my attention towards a good balance of balls strikers who score well and the aggressive gamble that could score big.

Be careful not to draft too many ‘Steady Eddies’ par golf will not cut it around here and those that make their living simply making cuts may find it more of a struggle against the rest of the field. Also beware any golfer that suffers with big misses from the tee, they could be popping in the pro shop for more balls before the weeks done.

Main focus on stats will be birdie or better performance, greens in regulation, skills with the short stick and of course form. Distance off the tee isn’t essential to score well, nor is fairways hit (providing their longer off the tee and avoid the water)

Weekend strategy, I will be looking for those bombers and birdie machines who have made the cut but need to make big moves to get into contention, for these guys there could be up to 7 eagle opportunities per round and as previously mentioned the aggressive golfer can be highly rewarded.

Weather

So far all is looking very sunny in Beijing, there should be a steady breeze to help the players in the warm climate and looking at what is forecast for wind speed and times, if looking for a very small advantage I might want to favour an early start on Thursday.

My Picks

 Zanotti

Zanotti’s form and stats from last year are hard to ignore.

$11,000 +

Bernd Weisberger – $12,000 – Big performer, and big time favourite to win, Its been a nearly a year since a back to back win for anyone on the European Tour, however with Bernd full of confidence, in sensational form and stats that pop everywhere, I’m really hoping for the double in China for him. Started really well here last year, fell away at the weekend with a few mistakes. In better form this year and hot off the win, should finish and score better than Ross.

$10,000 – $11,000

Jordan L. Smith – $10,200 – Jordan may be a rookie but he can compete with the very best, it wont be long before he will impress on a global scale very much like Tommy and Tyrell have. Jordan picked up his 3rd top 10 of the season last week, is out there playing for fun and I really believe this is a course he is going to enjoy. Full of form, solid all round game, aggressive style player. Again should finish and score better that Joost.

$9,000 – $10,000

Fabrizio Zanotti – $9,900 – No brainer pick. Solid performance last week T5 with a 68/65 weekend, amazing stats last year on same course that obviously suits him tee to green, 92.8% fairway (1st) 88.9% greens (2nd) finished T9 with below average putting stats, hot putter this year and surely a contender.

In this section I will also play a little Alexander Levy $9,400 and Thorbjorn Olesen $9,700, both played well last week and each had decent performances here last year. Their playing styles could very much suit here, especially when each get hot and get on a birdie blitz.

$8,000 – $9,000

David Lipsky – $8,900 – My go to U.S pick features again, came very close last week at Shenzhen with T5. Last year at Topwin finished T9 with a final day 66. Full of form, confidence and good memories. I fully expect Lipsky to have another solid week.

Peter Uilhein – $8,300 – At this price could present real value. Peter plays his best and scores best when he can have a little fun and can be aggressive. Having a solid year with 4 top 10’s already, didn’t have as good a week as expected at Genzon and retired after 18 holes here last year, I will be hoping his ownership is lower

Dylan Frittelli – $8,100 –  In fine form and certainly trending in the right direction with a T5 finish in last weeks Shenzhen International. Plays aggressive when needed but has a sensible head on those shoulders as well. Last 5 events T16, T12, T29, T19, T5 across a good variety of courses, this demonstrates Dylan’s adaptability and solid strategic game.

$7,000 – $8,000

Dean Burmester- $7,800 – Incredible value for such a talented player, Dean may not of had the best of run outs in his last 2 events and certainly caused me frustrations last Sunday. However this shouldn’t distract from his potential to score incredibly well round here. A player with an all round solid game, hits the ball miles and scores birdies or better for fun. Also extremely capable with putter in his hand. 8 events played, 1 win, 3 top 10, 5 top 20 and yet to miss a cut.

Richie Ramsay – $7,700 – Richie has been showing signs of good things, placed well here last year T6. Coming off of a solid week at Genzon (other than a non eventful moving day) finishing T26. Stats comparison from last year and recent are similar, so hoping for another good result here this year.

Mike Lorenzo-Vera – $7,600 – If your looking for reliability, someone to make the cut, potential to compete on his good week then maybe look no further. 6/6 cuts made and 2 top 10’s. Solid stats on all fronts and in my opinion very good value, especially in cash.

James Morrison – $7,300 – Maybe not the most exciting golfer in the field but knows how to get the job done. His placing in events this year has been exceptional and has become a very reliable draft, especially at the price he’s offered at. Hits fairways and greens and works hard to compile good scores on tough courses.

$7,000 or less

I am very surprised with some of the names on offer within this section, superb players, superb value and absolutely no reason why some ofthese couldn’t contend for top spots this week.

Mikko Korhonen – $7,000 – When a course offers up birdies, Mikko makes a bucket load of them. Did miss the cut here last year, but knowing the course better this year I wouldn’t expect him to make the same mistakes he made on the Friday last year.

Jorge Campillo – $6,800 – Got to be worth a gamble at this price, placed T34 here last year, yes he missed the cut last week and can be a little unpredictable but when on makes loads of birdies and has that potential to contend.

Sam Brazel – $6,800 – Already a winner on tour this year in Hong Kong. Sam has the long game attributes to take on some of the opportunities out there if he can get the putter working this week and stay clear of trouble I can see a top 10 finish here.

Matteo Manessero – $6,500 – Not quiet the player he used to be however heading back in the right direction, making birdies just needs to limit the silly mistakes. His best finish of the year was T3 at the Hero Indian Open, would love to see this value pick repeat that performance.

Andrew Dodt – $6,400 – Started the season with a 2nd and 3rd finish on courses that offer up birdies, shot a 67 on Sunday and heading into a course with lots of birdie opportunities, really fancy a return to form this week.

There are others I would play in this section but these are 5 of the best and those that I believe will make the weekend, push on and score the best in your drafts

Well that’s another write up complete and time for me to go hit some balls. I wish all of you the very best of luck in your drafts, I hope this write up offers you something of value but most important of all helps you towards those green screens.

Ashley Morrisson

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