Hong Kong Open Tips

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Paul Williams' Tips for the 2013 Hong Kong Open. Follow Paul on twitter: @golfbetting

Just to keep us on our toes, the European Tour have thrown a double-header of events at us this week with the Nedbank Golf Challenge being added to the European Tour schedule for the first time - for my preview of that event click here. Steve Bamford has also previewed Tiger's event, the NW Mutual World Challenge (click here to read his selections) - the combined effect of which is that we have a reduced pool of top quality players who are still active at this time of year who might otherwise have ventured out to Hong Kong. On top of that, by moving the Hong Kong Open to the start of the new European Tour season, it has removed it from the spotlight as being one of the final chances for players to secure cards/move into the R2D top 60 - the net effect of all of this is that the field is really very poor. To illustrate this, the evergreen Miguel Angel Jimenez leads the betting at a paltry 9/1 and, if you're reading this on Wednesday, that may even by 8/1 by then. Now that is a short price!

With every low-grade event though there are opportunities. Whether that's from a player's perspective in terms of securing a loftier finish than might otherwise have been possible and, of course, from a betting perspective if we can dig out said players. The beauty of this event is that unlike a number of tournaments where there's a lack of discernable characteristics to help shape your selection process, the Hong Kong Open contains many clues as to who might succeed, primarily due to the individuality of the host course.

The Hong Kong GC at Fanling is very short by today's standards at 6,730 and a par 70, however this is far from a complete pushover - as is often proved when the breeze picks up. 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 - shot-makers who can move the ball both ways are favoured here for sure. With elevated greens that will get harder and faster as the week progresses with warm, dry weather forecast, hitting fairways is absolutely critical in order to hold putting surfaces and present viable birdie chances on the slick Bermuda. The breeze isn't forecast to be as strong as some previous years this week, however when it does appear it can make club selection tricky and plays very much into the hands of those with good experience of the course.

For me, the winner here will be an accurate sort who can handle the Bermuda greens over the course of the week. Course history is pretty important too as the same players tend to pop up year after year on this track - it's a love/hate kind of course which certain players enjoy year in, year out, so studying course form is pretty important - click here for our stats summary for 2001-2012.

My selections are as follows:

Miguel Angel Jimenez 3pts win 9/1 with Bet365 Get £200 in free bets via this link: Bet365

I'll get this one out of the way early - the predictor No.1 selection can't be ignored despite the short, short price. I'm not sure I'd really have contemplated backing the Spaniard at a single-figure price in any event before this week, however given his superiority over the field in virtually all aspects I'm going to have to bite the bullet as he is, for me, the most likely winner here.

The Mechanic's love affair with Fanling continued last year as he rewarded us at 40/1 and recorded his third victory on this track in the space of 9 years - on that basis alone he deserves to be one of the favourites. Combine that with far better form coming into this event this time around - 8th on the lengthy Earth Course was a great effort last month - plus a weaker field to overhaul, I can begin to understand why he's so short this week. On top of all that, he's also defending his OWGR top-50 position this week - at 48th currently he'll desperately want to maintain that position going forward to ensure he's in position to play the most important events of 2014 that will contribute towards his Ryder Cup qualification campaign. Yes, his price is almost prohibitively short, however he's that price for a good reason and I'll stick to my guns this week. RESULT: Winner

Jyoti Randhawa 0.75pts EW 50/1 with £25 Free Bet - Get It Here:

The depth of quality in the field is poor, granted, however somebody has to fill the top 5 spots and one of those places could well go to 41 year-old Indian Jyoti Randhawa. With Thorbjorn Olesen (20/1) and Rafael Cabrera-Bello (22/1) both failing to live up to their promise in 2013 and Marcus Fraser (20/1) missing the cut at last week's Australian Open and having blown a series of promising positions of late, it may well pay to look at the next tier of players when searching for a profitable staking plan this week.

Course experience is critical on a Fanling track where placement off the tee is of paramount importance, so Randhawa's 9 appearance in the last dozen years is attractive - as is the fact he's missed just one cut during that time. 3rd in 2006 and 8th in 2002 underline his credentials on this track and the 8-time Asian Tour winner arrives here in his best nick for some time with a form line of 2/MC/26/13/5 - that last result being at the Indonesian Open where he produced the lowest weekend of all the field to finish 5th behind compatriot Gaganjeet Bhullar. With his spirits high and returning to a course upon which he's produced one of his best European Tour finishes ever, I'd expect him to go well this week. RESULT: T30

Gregory Havret 0.75pts EW 50/1 with £25 Free Bet - Get It Here:

David Drysdale 0.5pts EW 66/1 with Get a £10 free bet via this link:

A couple of longer prices to complete my selections in an event, like the Nedbank Golf Challenge, where I'll reduce my overall staking plan:

Gregory Havret may be best known for his runners-up finish behind G-Mac in his US Open triumph at Pebble Beach, however with French golf on an upward trend with the recent successes of Victor Dubuisson and Gregory Bourdy, the 37 year-old will be keen to raise his game and keep up to speed with his compatriots. Bourdy himself is a previous Fanling winner not in attendance this week, however our man Havret shares a similar short-but-tidy style of gameplay and is equally suited to this track - a point he underlined in 2011 when a certain Rory McIlroy was the only player to finish ahead of him here. His form until very recently has been decent enough - 5th in Russia, 7th at the fiddly Crans track and 3rd in Holland is all positive and well ahead of most of the field here; last week's missed cut at Leopard Creek was his first outing since Turkey and can be largely ignored - he finished off with 2 consecutive birdies and arrives here on a track that suits him far better in my opinion. RESULT: T18

To finish off I've saved a small punt for 38 year-old European Tour maiden David Drysdale who I think could feature at this level after a promising 11th place finish last week at Leopard Creek. As you'd expect judging by my previous comments, Drysdale's game is more about precision than power although his tidy tee-to-green game is often let down on the greens  - until, that is, he finds his way onto Bermudagrass putting surfaces. Now I'm not saying that he's the most adept putter on Bermuda by any stretch, however relative to the field he is far higher than average and that, combined with a decent all-round performance last week, puts him on my radar. A perennial yo-yo player early in his career, Drysdale secured his card for the fifth consecutive season in 2013 and clearly understands how important these low-key events are to a player in his position "I’d love to win a decent tournament and take some time off, but, when that's not the case, you've got to get your card sewn up as quickly as possible" he said recently - clearly he means to take as much out of these year-ending tournaments as possible. 31st and 21st from his 2 attempts here - and putting way better than his average both times on the grainy greens - this year's renewal, with its reduced quality field, presents a decent opportunity for another healthy cheque to be banked. RESULT: T39

To read our stats pages for this event click here: Tournament History Stats | Current Form Stats | Predictor Model

Odds and bookmaker offers correct at 17:40GMT 3.12.13 but naturally subject to fluctuation. Author Paul Williams, Find us on Google+

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