In the weird and wonderful world of tournament golf this week’s Hong Kong Open is the first event of the 2018 European Tour. We have a tournament in the wrong continent and year but nothing is as it seems. The event is the first of the new season and counts towards the Race to Dubai and it is co-sanctioned by the Asian Tour. Matthew Fitzpatrick has a great deal in his favour so is tipped this week.
Fitzpatrick is the main tip from the Golf Rater service on WIN. The tipster advised three players for the HSBC-Champions recently and they finished first, second and third. The tips included Justin Rose who delivered at 20/1. Subscribers have enjoyed a run of winners including Jordan Spieth at 16/1 in the Open Championship. You can get all the best golf bets until the end of the season for just £14.99: CLICK HERE!
The Hong Kong Open is being played at the Fanling club for the 17th year in succession and it has been the only venue for the event since it became part of the European Tour in 2002. This is a short course with only two par 5s. Accuracy, rather than power, and hot putting are required on a course that has hosted this tournament every year since 1959. With low rounds possible this is a catch up track on which players can make up ground very quickly.
The average winning score over the last 10 years is almost 16 under which equates to level 66s on a par 70 track. Those scores range from 12 to 22 under and the event can develop into a putting contest but players must be above average for greens hit to contend. Over the last five years there have been two playoffs and the other champions won by one shot. Despite low scoring there have been no runaway winners and the biggest margin since 2002 is just two shots.
In the 2014 season there were two Hong Kong Opens as the back-end of the previous year counted for points and earnings in the Order of Merit. It is the opening event of the new season for the first time since 2004. Four of the winners this century were winning for the first time and the honours board includes experienced, well-established players and some bright young emerging talents.
Miguel Angel Jimenez is as Spanish as they come but Hong Kong will always have a special place in his heart. He is a four-time winner of the Hong Kong Open and only Bernard Langer has won the same regular European Tour event five times (German Open). Clearly Jimenez can play the course but he is now a veteran of the Tour and is unlikely to contend. Jimenez is the only multiple champion but Justin Rose won the tournament in 2015 and plays again.
Rose, Sergio Garcia and Tommy Fleetwood are playing in the week after the conclusion of the 2017 Race to Dubai. You would have thought they would want a rest from tournament play so maybe they are contracted to appear and have received a financial incentive to turn up. Surely all three will suffer from mental letdown after the events in Dubai last week. Fleetwood won the RTD but Rose threw away the tournament and Race on the back nine. Fitzpatrick is a viable alternative.
He is currently 33rd in the World Golf Rankings and has become one of Europe’s best players since winning the 2013 US Amateur. Fitzpatrick has won four times in Europe and played in the Ryder Cup last year. He has a game suited to the course where he finished third in 2015. The English player is in good form so can make the best possible start to the new season by winning the Hong Kong Open.