It's last chance saloon for many players this week on a number of fronts: It's the final chance for players to retain their cards by finishing inside the top 115 if they're not already exempt; it's also the final chance for players hoping to book themselves a ticket to Dubai next week by finishing inside the top 60. On top of that, there's also the lure to some of getting closer to the OWGR top 50 over the final few events of the calendar year and the Major entries that such a lofty rating brings. Plus there's the Race to Dubai itself: with leader Martin Kaymer taking a rest before Dubai, there's chance for Graeme McDowell to get within €70,000 of the lead with a victory...one thing's for sure, it's going to be an exciting week!
The course at Fanling is very short by today's standards at 6,700 and a par 70 - however this is far from a complete pushover. Landing areas are tight and the fairways tree-lined with a number of holes requiring a controlled draw or fade to navigate the numerous doglegs. Given the nature of the course, players who had a good week at Valderrama often excel here, however the course is by no means as tough and unforgiving - plus it's on Bermuda rather than Bent grass greens, albeit at a similar kind of pace.
At the head of the market are 4 very backable players all at short, short prices. GMac is undoubtedly a man on a mission and is in great form; Rory McIlroy has come runner-up here twice on his last 2 attempts and clearly reacts on this track; Ian Poulter is getting back to form and could easily have won last week on his favoured Bermuda greens; Jimenez is having a stellar season and has won this event twice in the past. Any of these 4 could quite reasonably win, although it's arguable that they may hold a little effort back ahead of next week's finale...
The winner here will be an accurate sort who can handle the Bermuda greens. Hitting greens isn't too much of a problem as they're quite large - it's more likely that the tee shot and putting will be the key to victory. Course history is important too - the same players tend to pop up year after year on this track, plus a top 5 or better on Bermuda in recent times will also be of benefit. My tips:
It's nigh-on impossible to ignore the big 4 this week and you could make strong justifications for all 4 of the players I mentioned in the preamble. If I had to pick one it would be Rory McIlroy - with the weight of his decision to stay in Europe next season off of his shoulders, it's time for the wonderkid to get back to winning ways. Will feel that this event owes him something after 2 near misses in the last 2 years and, if he can keep the ball in play off the tee, he could take this short course apart. If you haven't already got a 888 Sport account then using their 'no lose bet' option is a great way to back McIlroy risk-free up to a stake of £20 as they'll refund you if he doesn't win. RESULT: 6th
Liang has a couple of objectives here - he needs a 2nd place finish or better to get to Dubai, plus there's a coveted top 50 OWGR position up for grabs if he can finish 2010 in style as he currently sits 63rd. He's a classy player who deserves to be in the world's elite - plus he's got solid form of three consecutive top-15 finishes in this event and 10th place finish last week to cement his status of 'Bermuda-positive'. RESULT: M/C
Irishman McGrane arguably should have won at Valderrama but struggled at the business end of the tournament to let GMac sneak through and steal the prize. 20th here 3 years ago but playing much better currently, plus a top 4 finish in Qatar in 2009 on a similar putting surface is positive form. RESULT: T11
Nilsson is best when he can leave his driver safely tucked up in his bag - thankfully this is a course where he can get away with using his fairway metal for the most part and he'll fancy his chances of a good finish here - 2nd place or better would see him secure an unlikely ticket to Dubai. Finished 15th in the other Dubai tournament earlier this season on similar greens; 57th last week can be overlooked as this setup will be much more to his liking. Has two top-3 finishes in his last 6 starts and is in very good form overall if you take his driver away from calculations... RESULT: M/C
The South African has real incentive to perform this week - at 59th on the RTD he knows that one final effort will see him on the plane to Dubai next week, whereas anything less than a top 10 could easily see him miss out if one or two of the players just below him have a good week. His last 7 efforts read 15/42/22/27/23/18/37 - I'm expecting a big week from him when it matters most and convert one of those efforts into a top 5 finish or better. RESULT: M/C
Spread betting tips
1 out of 2 last week in this column with Thongchai Jaidee virtually offsetting Soren Hansen's missed cut. Applying the same reasoning & logic as per my selections above, here's my 2 favourite spread betting options this week:
All odds and bookmaker offers correct at 20:00GMT 16.11.10 but naturally subject to fluctuation.
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