The European Tour travels to South Korea this week for the Ballantine’s Championship at the Blackstone Golf Club in Seoul.
Given recent regional tensions, the likes of Zach Johnson and Dustin Johnson have decided to give the tournament a miss.
That said, a number of high-profile names – including Louis Oosthuizen, Paul Lawrie and Paul Casey – have made the trip to Korea.
Last year, Bernd Wiesberger carded two rounds of 65 en route to a five shot triumph and his first victory on the European Tour.
Blackstone Golf Club in Icheon will host the Ballantine’s Championship for the second consecutive year. It is a relative long and undulating track that’s characterised by tree-lined fairways and numerous water hazards.
Oosthuizen is the 10/1 favourite this week, but, given his start to the season, those odds don’t look overly favourable.
David Howell, at 33/1 with Ladbrokes, has been playing some fine golf this season, and he’s well overdue a return to the winner’s circle. He’s made every cut in 2013, including five top-12 finishes, and only a poor final round at last week’s Spanish Open put paid to his chances of winning. He also finished in a tie for 11th at the Ballantine’s Championship last year.
Peter Uihlein, at 33/1 with Labrokes, has also been impressive this season. The American turned heads by announcing his intentions to play golf in Europe after turning professional, but it’s a decision that’s payed dividends. The former US Amateur champion hasn’t finished outside the top 22 in 2013, including a top four at the Tshwane Open. He also held the 36-hole lead at last week’s Spanish Open en route to a tie for eighth. He’s a quality golfer with good pedigree, and a win won’t be too far away.
Paul Casey, at 40/1 with Ladbrokes, looks a good option this week. The Englisman hasn’t missed a cut on the European Tour since the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in October 2012, and he’s returned a series of solid results this season. He played some good golf last week, finishing tied 16th, and, much like Howell, it won’t be long before he notches his next victory. Casey also finished in a respectable tie for 25th at last year’s Ballantine’s Championship.
Edoardo Molinari, at 50/1 with Ladbrokes, seems to be coming back into form after a lengthy injury lay-off. He finished outright second in the Maybank Malaysian Open at the start of March and compiled an impressive final-round 68 in tough conditions at the Spanish Open last week. Molinari has a good record in Asia and I’m expecting to see his name on the leaderboard come Sunday afternoon.
Espen Kofstad, at 100/1 with Ladbrokes, is worth and each way bet this week. I’ve been keeping a close eye on the Norwegian youngster this season, and his performances of late have offered some encouragement. He showed some signs of form at the Trophe Hassan II and finished in a tie for eighth at last week’s Open de Espana on a tough golf course. He’s also proficient in humid, sub-tropical conditions.
Ballantine’s Championship advised bets:
2pts each way on David Howell at 33/1 with Ladbrokes
2pts each way on Peter Uihlein at 33/1 with Ladbrokes
2pts each way on Paul Casey at 40/1 with Ladbrokes
2pts each way on Edoardo Molinari at 50/1 with Ladbrokes
2pts each way on Espen Kofstad at 100/1 with Ladbrokes