Thailand Golf Championship & Golf Preview
A star studded field has assembled this week at the Amata Spring Country Club in Chonburi for the third renewal of this prestigious Asian Tour event. The 7,488yd Par 72 course again plays host to some of the worlds best golfers, such as major winners Charl Schwartzel, Justin Rose and Bubba Watson, and the undoubted player of the year Henrik Stenson.
The main course features are generous fairways, very quick undulating greens and numerous water hazards. The stand out signature hole is the short Par 317th hole, which features a unique island green which is only accessible by boat. Despite its length, this course lends itself to extremely low scoring and wide winning margins, with the two previous winners Lee Westwood (won by 7) and Charl Schwartzel (won by 11) shooting 22 under and 25 under par. The key element required this week will definitely be power hitting. Hot and humid conditions are forecast for the four days, with the chance of a possible thunderstorm on the final day.
With only a handful of genuine contenders to concentrate on, I will try to pinpoint some value bets, to hopefully follow up our 40-1 each way return from Robert-Jan Derksen last week.
The market is headed by Henrik Stenson who continues in tremendous form. The only negative about backing the Swede is lack of stroke play form at this track (he has played here in a couple of Royal Trophy events for Europe against Asia). Despite this, I have to include him in my staking plan, as his ball striking was fantastic again in Sun City (2nd in both Greens in Regulation and Driving Accuracy and 1st in Driving Distance!). He could very well outclass this field if his putter gets hot.
Another fancy is local favourite Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who backed up a tied 3rd place finish in the CIMB Classic in Malaysia, with a tied 6th place in the recent World Cup individual event. He finished a highly credible tied 6th here last year and this big hitter should be ideally suited to this type of test.
I also think that monster hitter Bernd Wiesberger represents decent each way value, despite the Austrian making his course debut this week. He won the Indonesian Masters earlier this year on a similar golf course in very similar conditions, and he has a good record in Asia having landed his maiden European Tour win in the 2012 Ballantines Championship. He should certainly relish this sloggers track.
Of the others, Charl Schwartzel has an obvious chance, particularly with his tremendous record around here, but I will reluctantly leave him out of my staking plan.