Dave Tindall

Across the Pond

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Volvo China Open Preview

Monday, April 24, 2017

The cream rose to the top at last week’s Shenzhen International with the top two in the betting –Tommy Fleetwood and Bernd Wiesberger – eventually contesting a play-off.


Wiesberger held his nerve to take the title with a winning birdie and the Austrian now makes the short hop to this week’s Volvo China Open at Topwin Golf & CC in Beijing.


As you’d expect, a large number of those who flew out to the Shenzhen have stayed on in China to contest this week’s event so it’s a very similar field to the one at Genzon GC.


Despite the strong worldwide cast, home Chinese players have won the last two editions of this tournament.


Hao Tong Li took the title by three shots at Topwin last year while Ashun Wu edged out David Howell by a single stroke at Tomson in 2015.


Prior to that, the trophy had been spread around the globe with seven different nationalities winning the previous eight.



Last 10 Volvo China Opens


2016 -22 Hao Tong Li (Topwin Golf & CC) 

2015 -9 Ashun Wu (Tomson Shanghai Pudong GC)

2014 -19 Alexander Levy (Genzon GC)

2013 -16 Brett Rumford (Binhai Lake Golf Club)

2012 -21 Branden Grace (Binhai Lake Golf Club)

2011 -24 Nicolas Colsaerts (Luxehills International CC)

2010 -15 YE Yang (Suzhou Jinji Lake GC)

2009 -8 Scott Strange (Beijing CBD International GC)

2008 -10 Damien McGrane (Beijing CBD International GC)

2007 -10 Markus Brier (Shanghai Silport GC)



Topwin Golf & CC


The 7,261-yard par 72 opened in 2009 and was designed by 1991 Masters champ and former World No. 1 Ian Woosnam. The course, which hosted this event for the first time in 2016, has two par 5s over 600 yards but played easy last year with Li taking the title on 22-under and 38 players shooting double digits under par. The greens are Creeping Bentgrass, very well maintained and undulating. Water hazards are in play everywhere except 13, 14 and 15 and, how about this for a bonus feature, the Great Wall of China can be seen from almost every hole!





Li’s stats weren’t recorded (sigh) but Felipe Aguilar and Lucas Bjerregaard, his nearest challengers, were both in the top eight for Greens In Regulation. Richard Bland, who took T3, topped both putting categories. Looking at Li’s scorecard, the most remarkable aspect was that he played the par 4s in a combined 16-under. Runner-up Aguilar was next with 12-under on the par 4s and that starts to make sense when you look at the yardages with four of them playing between 317 and 365 yards. A couple should be drivable.



The Weather


Good news, the forecast predicts lots of sunshine, temperatures up to 90 degrees on Saturday and no hints of the t-storms which badly affected the Shenzhen International. It could be windy though and gusts up to 20mph are possible over the first two days and again in Sunday’s closer.



The Leading Contenders


Bernd Wiesberger

After eight top 10s in his previous 15 starts, including a pair of second places, Wiesberger finally got reward for all that top-class consistency with victory in last week’s Shenzhen International. It was his first look at Genzon and, last year, it appeared as if he might win on debut at this venue. The Austrian opened with a 65 at Topwin and backed it up with a second-round 69 to sit second at halfway before slipping back to T28 at the finish. You’d expect him to thrive from a similar 36-hole position this time. Now up to 6th on the Race to Dubai.


Ross Fisher

Continues to thrive but will be kicking himself for not reaching a playoff at least at Shenzhen on Sunday. Fisher teed off at the 72nd hole in a tie for the lead but three-putted for bogey to finish one back. Still, T3 added to T5 and T3 in the two recent WGC events so he’s been a money machine over the last month and a half and is 5th on the Race to Dubai. Fisher was only T44 at this course last year although he did post middle rounds of 67-68. With three top sixes and a further couple of top 20s from his last six starts in China, expect him to play another big part.


Alexander Levy

The attacking Frenchman made another title run at Genzon GC last week, a course where he’d previously posted a win and a second. Despite a Saturday 64, he eventually settled for T8 and that represented a second top 10 in three starts after his T4 in Malaysia. Also third in the 2015 China Open at Tomson after leading through 54 holes, Levy was T28 here at Topwin last year after carding 70-67-68-72. He’d been T12 with 18 to play.


Joost Luiten

After T13 in Morocco the previous Sunday, he shot all four rounds under par at Genzon GC last week but never got in a blow at the leaders, settling for T29. The Dutchman had previously been a runner-up at Shenzhen while, in the Volvo China Open, he was T44 at this venue last year and had made the top 20 in each of his other four appearances. The best of those was T8 at Binhai Lake in 2013.


Jordan Smith

It’s now seven top 25s for the rookie after he added T14 at the Shenzhen International after three 69s and a 70. That superb consistency gives him plenty of appeal and his run includes top 10s in South Africa, Qatar and Morocco. Smith was ranked 1st for Putting Average at Genzon GC and a similar show on these greens should secure yet another high finish. 29th on the Race to Dubai.


Peter Uihlein

Uihlein withdrew after an opening 72 at Topwin last year when battling injury and had to settle for T33 at last week’s Shenzhen. But he does have some decent form in the region with T8 in the 2015 Volvo China Open at Tomson and another couple of top fives. His stats show some good iron play in recent starts and impressive putting in Puerto Rico so if he can put it together, something big looks around the corner. Before T33 last week he’d connected four top 25s.


Thongchai Jaidee

The Thai is a fine performer on Chinese soil and last week’s T8 (R1 67, R4 66) at the Shenzhen International gave him a fifth top 15 from his last six starts in the country. This will be his first look at Topwin but there’s no great length to the course and the veteran Thai should like what he sees. Eighth in Putting Average last week.


Thorbjorn Olesen

Three good rounds out of four for Olesen last week (68-68-72-67) resulted in T8 and a first top 10 since he won November’s Turkish Airlines Open. He’d been T2 at the midpoint so the Saturday 72 was frustrating. It continued some fine form in China and his run of five top 20s in six starts includes T15 at this course last year. A fine closer when he gets in contention on a Sunday.


George Coetzee

The South African’s T11 at the Shenzhen looks pretty solid but far from tells the whole story. Coetzee moved into a share for the lead after birdies at 16 and 17 on Sunday but took a triple-bogey at the final hole after twice finding water. Still, there was much to like about his play (5th for GIR) and it followed T8 at the Indian Open. The three-time European Tour winner now has three top 12 finishes in his last four starts in China although this is his first time at Topwin.


Pablo Larrazabal

He’s one of the form horses over the last fortnight with T13 at the Trophee Hassan II and T11 at the Shenzhen International. The Spaniard shot 67-66 over the weeknd at Genzon and a hotter putter earlier in the week would have had him right there. The obvious negative is his missed cut (72-71) at Topwin last year but he has plenty of good form in China including three top 10s in this event (2010, 2011 and 2013) at three different venues.


Fabrizio Zanotti

The Paraguayan has some enticing converging trends for gamers/bettors this week. On his debut at Topwin last year, Zanotti posted T9 and he’ll return there on the back of T5 at the Shenzhen International where he jumped up to T5 on Sunday via a closing birdie-filled 65. Add in his recent victory in the Maybank Championship and T12 at the WGC-Mexico Championship and Zanotti is very much one for the shortlist.

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Dave Tindall is former golf editor at Sky Sports.com in the UK and has been writing betting previews for the European Tour since 1997. He can be reached via e-mail on tindall_david@hotmail.com and on Twitter @davetindallgolf.
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