The European Tour heads to South Korea this week for the fourth edition of the Ballantine’s Championship. Marcus Fraser defends the title and Lee Westwood will start as favourite.
After reclaiming the World Number 1 ranking following his victory in last week’s Indonesian Masters, Lee Westwood is hopeful of continuing his winning run at the Blackstone Golf Club in Seoul. It will be the first time the World’s Number 1 player has competed in South Korea.
“I hadn’t realised that, so it’s quite an honour,” he said. “I played well last week to win in Indonesia so my confidence is high. Hopefully on Sunday afternoon I’ll have a chance to win it.”
Blackstone Golf Club provides a new venue for the Ballantine’s Championship. The first three events were contested at Pinx Golf Club on Jeju Island. Last year, Australia’s Marcus Fraser took the title in a tournament that was reduced to 54-holes because of rain and strong winds. Graeme McDowell won the inaugural event and Thongchai Jaidee was victorious in 2009.
A strong field has assembled for this year’s event with Dustin Johnson, Ernie Els and Ian Poulter all making the journey to South Korea.
Poulter was in confident mood ahead of the event.
“I’m here to win the golf tournament, simple as that,” he said. “I am not saying that I will definitely win but you have to believe that you are going to win every week.”
Venue: Blackstone Golf Club, Icheon, South Korea
Date: April 28 – May 1
Course stats: par 72, 7,275 yards
Purse: €2,205,000, Winner: €367,500
Defending Champion: Marcus Fraser (-12)
Thursday 28 – Live on Sky Sports 1 from 6am
Friday 29 – Live on Sky Sports 1 from 6am
Saturday 30 – Live on Sky Sports 1 from 4am
Sunday 1 – Live on Sky Sports 1 from 6am
Thongchai Jaidee – The winner of this event in 2009, Jaidee posted a solid second place finish in last week’s Indonesian Masters. The man from Thailand is always a force when the European Tour visits Asia and he could well feature again this week.
Lee Westwood – It’s hard to look past the World Number 1 for this event. Fresh off the back of a win in Indonesia, he’ll be tough to beat this time out. He found 17 of 18 greens in regulation during the final round last week. If he continues that form, he might be unstoppable.
Seung-yul Noh – The young Korean has awesome talent and he has one victory on the European Tour to his name. In front of the home crowd, this could be the week he steps up and grabs a second title.
Key Hole: 15th. It’s a sprawling par 5 of 619 yards with water down the right side and more lurking in front of the green. From the very back pegs few will attempt to reach in two, but if the tees are moved up, the longest hitters might have a crack. Look for Dustin Johnson to have a go at it.
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