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: