Paul Williams

Paul Williams' Maybank Championship Tips 2019

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It was a 3rd runner-up finish in the past 5 weeks for this column as 60/1 shot Louis de Jager relinquished a 4-shot halfway lead to finish a single shot short of shock winner Guido Migliozzi in Kenya. Getting over the line isn’t easy at any level of the game, however I was suitably impressed with how Migliozzi converted his chance when it was presented to him, even if that did end in frustration for me once again.

On to this week we go then and we head back to the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur for the 4th edition of the Maybank Championship and the 3rd in succession held here at the Saujana G&CC. A change in scheduling this year puts the event 6 weeks further into the year, however conditions are expected to be much the same with searing temperatures and the omnipresent risk of thunderstorms.

As has been the norm in a number of these low-key European Tour events of late, a skinny-priced Thomas Pieters heads the betting at around 14/1. Perennial bridesmaid Jorge Campillo, who’s finished 2nd in his last 2 starts and was also 2nd here last year, rates as an 18/1 shot, with the likes of Mike Lorenzo-Vera, Ryan Fox, 2017 champion Fabrizio Zanotti and the talented Adri Arnaus following on shortly behind in the betting.

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Before we talk the Maybank Championship, the number of new visitors to Golf Betting System is increasing in the inevitable build-up to The Masters. Welcome to you all and let me point you in the direction of our weekly Golf Betting System podcast (published Tuesday) our Golf Betting Show on YouTube and our hugely popular private group on Facebook – you can Join Here. Masters lovers will also enjoy our Ante-post Masters Podcast.

Course Overview. The Palm course at Saujana G&CC, which hosted the event for the past two seasons, is an undulating 7,135 yard, par 72 lined with palm trees. Dubbed ‘The Cobra’, 7 of the holes feature water and there are a number of dog-leg holes of varying degrees. The Ronald Fream design, which originally opened in 1986, had been updated prior to the 2016 event however the small, undulating Bermuda TifEagle greens still await players and in fine conditions it’s generally a player’s performance on these putting surfaces that will make or break their week. The 4 par-3s are all around the 200 yard mark, the 4 par-5s measure between 523 and 604 yards and there are 5 par-4s below 400 yards whilst the 2nd is nigh on 500 yards in length.

Tournament Stats. The 2016 Maybank Championship was played on a different track (final leaderboard is here) so that result may hold less relevance. This year’s host course, Saujana G&CC, did however play host to the Malaysian Open some years and the results from the 2004, 2005, 2007 and 2009 events held here have been collated for this week’s field as well as the last 2 renewals: Course Form | Current Form | Combined Course/Current Form

Predictor Model. Our published Predictor Model is available here. As always you can build your own model using the variables available.

Winners & Prices. 2018: Shubhankar Sharma, 50/1; 2017: Fabrizio Zanotti, 225/1; 2016: Marcus Fraser, 175/1.

Weather Forecast. The latest weather forecast for Kuala Lumpur is here. As is usually the case in this part of the world, it will be hot and humid throughout with temperatures in the mid 90s Fahrenheit which will quickly sap energy. With thunderstorms in the lead up to the event and more possible for the first couple of days at least, the track is likely to be soft and receptive with light winds encouraging a low winning score.

Tournament Trends & Key Factors.

The winners of the 5 events featured in our stats this week that were played here at Saujana give us some clues about the type of player required for this test:

  • 2018: Shubhankar Sharma (-21). 295 yards (46th), 73.2% fairways (27th), 84.7% greens in regulation (5th), 1.70putts per GIR (21st)
  • 2017: Fabrizio Zanotti (-19). 293 yards (50th), 69.6% fairways (21st), 73.6% greens in regulation (31st), 1.76 putts per GIR (30th)
  • 2007: Peter Hedblom (-8). 297 yards (31st), 66.1% fairways (14th), 70.8% greens in regulation (23rd), 1.79 putts per GIR (23rd)
  • 2005: Thongchai Jaidee (-21). 291 yards (31st), 62.5% fairways (35th), 75% greens in regulation (16th), 1.54 putts per GIR (1st)
  • 2004: Thongchai Jaidee (-14). 295 yards (20th), 57.1% fairways (52nd), 75% greens in regulation (17th), 1.66 putts per GIR (3rd)

No official stats were captured for 2009 winner Anthony Kang so that result hasn’t been listed above.

In 2007, when the conditions meant that scoring was a lot tougher, GIR proved to be the most important factor with Hedblom’s 3 nearest challengers ranking 1st, 3rd and 4th for finding greens over the course of the week. In the years prior to that, putting on these Bermuda greens had been pivotal with Jaidee ranking 1st and 3rd in his 2 wins on that count and Kang’s nearest challengers, who did have their stats recorded, ranked 1st (Horsey), 3rd (Randhawa) and 5th (Tunnicliff) for putts per GIR. 2017 followed a similar pattern with the top-6 finishers all ranking inside the 30 best putters on the week, however eventual winner Fabrizio Zanotti was the least effective of all of those in that respect; similarly everyone inside the top-10 last year ranked inside the top-30 for putting with the difference being that those at the very top also had a strong week with their irons.

Incoming Form: In terms of incoming form of the winners, last year’s victor Shubhankar Sharma had started the season slowly with finishes of 48/61 in the Middle East before winning here, however he’d won just before Christmas at the Joburg Open and was clearly playing well in general. Fabrizio Zanotti hadn’t made the weekend on his three starts in 2017 prior to converting here at Saujana. Anthony Kang had missed the cut on his season opener the week before on the Asian Tour but had finished 4th in Cambodia in his penultimate event of the prior year. Peter Hedblom’s first 2 events of 2007 had produced finishes of 41st and 54th in Abu Dhabi and Dubai after missing the cut in 6 of his final 9 events of the prior year, so there was little to inspire a pick in that respect. Jaidee was in better overall form for both of his wins though having finished in the top-5 in two of his previous 4 events before defending successfully in 2005 and riding the crest of a wave in 2004 with a form line of 1/10/8/4/1 prior to success on this track.

  • 2018: Shubhankar Sharma: MC/MC/MC/21/24/18/10/27/1/11/48/61
  • 2017: Fabrizio Zanotti: 15/24/16/MC/20/31/60/62/16/MC/MC/MC
  • 2009: Anthony Kang: 24/16/49/11/MC/14/MC/70/23/4/49/MC
  • 2007: Peter Hedblom: 21/MC/MC/MC/MC/MC/25/17/51/MC/41/54
  • 2005: Thongchai Jaidee: MC/32/MC/74/MC/41/MC/33/2/39/5/MC
  • 2004: Thongchai Jaidee: 64/MC/MC/14/2/MC/66/1/10/8/4/1

Course Form: In terms of prior course form, that’s throwing us few clues either. Sharma had finished 9th the year before, however Zanotti was making his course debut in 2017 whereas Kang had played here at Saujana five times prior to victory but finishes of MC/42/41/67/MC hardly inspires. Peter Hedblom also won on course debut in 2007 so no pointers there either. Other than Sharma, only Jaidee had any positive course form having finished 7th here in 2001 prior to his two consecutive victories in 2004 and 2005.

  • 2018: Shubhankar Sharma: 9
  • 2017: Fabrizio Zanotti: Debut
  • 2009: Anthony Kang: MC/42/41/67/MC
  • 2007: Peter Hedblom: Debut
  • 2005: Thongchai Jaidee: 7/1
  • 2004: Thongchai Jaidee: 7

For me, a controlled player from tee-to-green who can get hot with the putter, or has shown some good putting form of late, is the kind who can compete here. A decent record on the shorter, more fiddly tracks that dot the circuit is no bad attribute, nor is a general liking for Bermudagrass greens and playing in hotter weather.

My selections are as follows:

David Lipsky 1.5pts EW 50/1 (5EW, 1/4 odds) with Ladbrokes

In Kurt Kitayama we’ve already seen a dual winner in this embryonic European Tour season, and I’m backing David Lipsky to follow his lead and add to the Alfred Dunhill Championship title that he won in December before the Tour adjourned for the seasonal festivities.

That win was Lipsky’s 2nd on the European Tour, his first coming back in 2014 on another fiddly track at Crans-Sur-Sierre, and that form translated well when the American produced an excellent top-10 finish at the WGC Mexico Championship on a course where similarities had already been drawn. Prior to that, finishes of 16th in Abu Dhabi and 24th in Saudi also hinted at some decent form for the 30 year-old and it’s only the fact that he’s missed the cut on debut in Oman and again in Qatar, where he always seems to struggle, that he’s not far shorter in the betting.

A return to Saujana G&CC should provide Lipsky with a far more positive frame of mind having finished 2nd here on debut in 2017, when he got to grips with the putting surfaces nicely to rank 4th for putts per GIR, then 17th last year when he ranked 3rd for Total Driving as the long-game demands of this layout were also mastered. Put that all together this year and he’ll be a strong opponent for the market leaders, provided he can hit has fair share of greens in regulation.

Like last year’s winner Shubhankar Sharma, David also has a decent finish at the comparable Hong Kong Open to his name (5th in 2016), plus his runner-up finish at Laguna National on a similar layout with Bermudagrass greens is also a positive pointer as it was only Felipe Aguilar’s slam-dunk from the fairway on the 72nd hole that prevented him from making a play-off or better that week. RESULT: T13

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Wade Ormsby 1.5pt EW 66/1 (7 EW, 1/5 odds) with Coral

Continuing the Fanling link I detailed for David Lipsky, 2017 Hong Kong Open champion Wade Ormsby is also worthy of an investment here this week. That title ranks as the Australian’s only European Tour success to date, however he’s also a winner on the Asian Tour and he came within 2 holes of adding to his tally at the Vic Open on his penultimate start. Leading heading into the final day and still a shot ahead standing on the 71st tee, disaster struck as the 38 year-old missed the green on the par-3 17th hole, resulting in a double-bogey 5, and despite making birdie on the last he still finished a shot shy of David Law’s total. Aside from the disappointment, his game looked in great shape though, ranking 11th for Driving Accuracy, 5th for GIR, 4th for Scrambling and 6th for Putting on the week.

More short-game excellence saw the Adelaide man make it through to the knockout stages of the World Super 6 the week afterwards as he looked to make amends for the previous week, however as one of the players to have had his putter stolen overnight before the final round, he was always unlike to convert the following day.

Having had time since to take stock since and replace his putter, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see Wade come out firing once again this week. Last year’s missed cut here came at a time when his game was in nothing like the shape of his last two outings and 26th here at Saujana way back in 2004 is a better barometer of his chances, however 15 years on he’s a far better player. He holds his form well as we saw in 2017 when he produced form figures of 5/1/9 over three consecutive events and while he’s striking the ball well, his natural prowess on the dancefloors can come to the fore. RESULT: MC

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Thongchai Jaidee 1pt EW 125/1 (6EW, 1/5 odds) with Betfred

I backed Thongchai Jaidee on his last start in Qatar and although he tailed off when any remote chance had finally gone, I’m happy to stick with him here in another relatively weak field. The veteran Thai started solidly enough at Doha with rounds of 71/70, however he couldn’t push on and produce a strong weekend having recorded the joint-best round of the day to close the week before in Oman. His putting still looked strong in Qatar though, despite finishing down the field, and that backed up the promise we’d seen with the flat stick in Dubai when he’d sat 2nd after day 1 and ranked 4th for putting over the full 4 days.

Although there’s a multitude of results to pore over with Jaidee given he’s well into his third decade as a professional golfer, it’s fair to say that some events have been more productive for him than others. Going back to the Hong Kong Open once again as a positive pointer for this, the 49 year-old has finished inside the top-20 there an incredible 12 times over the course of his career. In terms of high-class tree-lined form, he’s also finished runner-up at Wentworth as recently as 2015 and also recorded his best finish of 2018 there when ending up in 8th place. However it’s his course form here at Saujana which ultimately swings it for me as aside from sitting inside the top-20 heading into the weekend over the past 2 renewals of this event, he’s also won here twice in back-to-back years in 2004 and 2005 when this track hosted the Carlsberg Malaysian Open. RESULT: T25

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Jake McLeod 1pt EW 150/1 (6EW, 1/5 odds) with Unibet

Finally, I’m taking a chance on a bright young prospect in the shape of Jake McLeod. The 24 year-old Australian was as short as 33/1 to win the Vic Open last month and 55/1 to win the World Super 6 after missing the cut in Victoria, however his price has continued to lengthen despite some encouraging displays since. 45th at the WGC Mexico Championship may not sound like much, however he sat 16th after 2 days in elite company and this is undoubtedly a few grades lower than that event. 20th in Qatar on his last start was also positive given that he sat in 6th place heading into Sunday after carding the joint-best round of the day 66 before fading on Sunday.

With no course form or regional form to suggest whether he’s likely to take to the course or the country this week, we’re taking a leap of faith that the Queensland native can hit the ground running, however given recent efforts including 6th at the Fiji International, victory at the NSW Open in November, 3rd at the Australian Open courtesy of a flying final day round of 66 and a fast start at the Saudi International where he was 2nd after the first 18 holes, I’m happy to take a chance that he can hit the ground running here this week. Top-5 putting performances in 5 of his last 8 recorded starts is encouraging given what we’ve seen here at Saujana in recent years and 7th for Driving Accuracy in Qatar shows that he can keep it on the planet from off the tee when he’s playing well. RESULT: MC

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Odds and bookmaker offers correct at 18:05GMT 18.3.19 but naturally subject to fluctuation.