Now in its sixth year, the Singapore Open has rapidly established itself as a significant fixture during the final straight of the European Tour money list. A world-class line-up includes the two principal Race to Dubai protagonists, Martin Kaymer and Graeme McDowell, and with a first prize of over €700,000, a few others could move into a strong position ahead of the Dubai finale.
The tournament history bodes well for these big names. Four of the five previous champions were world-class and the other, Jeev Milkha Singh, was very pickable as one of the Asian Tour’s best ever exports. Moreover, 12 of the 16 players to make the places in the last three renewals had at least won a significant title on one of the main tours.
Course and stats
There is a significant change this year, in that two courses are being used at the usual Sentosa venue. Rather than just The Serapong as in previous years, The Tanjong will stage one of the opening rounds to accomodate an increased field.
The former is arguably the toughest course in Asia, and as those previous leaderboards suggest, tends to separate the best from the rest. The fairways are narrow and severe penalties await any inaccuracy. Most importantly, the greens are super fast and exposed to the wind. Scoring was particularly tough in the years when the greens dried out, but improved markedly last year after sustained rainfall. There’s already been 100mm of rain at the venue this week, and frequent thunderstorms are forecast throughout the tournament. At over 600 yards shorter, The Tanjong is unlikely to produce anything like the same test, making the early draw pivotal and adding a large element of luck to proceedings.
With regard to stats, putting average was the key last year, but I think this puzzle is a little more complex than that. The rain will ensure Sentosa, a par 71 containing several long par 4s, plays longer than usual, and tee-to-green accuracy is essential. Any glaring weakness in one discipline is likely to prove costly, so if pressed to name key stats, I’d go for total driving, greens in regulation and putting.
3pts ew ADAM SCOTT @ 16/1 (GENERAL)
Scott’s previous form at Sentosa makes him the man to beat in my view. He’s played here five times, winning twice and only once finishing worse than third. The emphasis on long, straight driving plays to his strengths, and Adam has so often produced his best form when presented with soft, receptive greens. Recent form is solid if unspectacular, with five top 15s from his last eight.
2pts ew CHARL SCHWARTZEL @ 25/1 (GENERAL)
Long term readers may recall I was banging on about Schwartzel last autumn, only to give up after a few failures and subsequently miss out on back-to-back successes. After easily his best season to date, he deserves a bit more loyalty and isn’t completely out of the Race to Dubai yet. He’s already made three top 15s from four at Sentosa, including fifth last year and has markedly improved since.
1pt ew SIMON DYSON @ 45/1 (GENERAL, 50/1 TOTE)
As a former Asian Tour regular, Dyson is always one of the Europeans to closely consider in these co-sanctioned events. He finished 10th on his sole outing at Sentosa two years ago, despite a poor final round in contention. Dyson has no shortage of good recent form in Europe either, including an excellent fifth last month at the Dunhill Links as defending champion.
Given the humid conditions, Asian players might enjoy a slight advantage, amongst whom Jaidee has proven time and again to be capable of world-class golf on this continent. A recent top 10 in Portugal, not his only good effort during an improved European campaign by any means, bodes well for his favourite time of the year. Jaidee knows Sentosa well, registering three top 15s from four visits.
1pt ew WEN-CHONG LIANG @ 66/1 (70/1 SPORTINGBET)
Liang hasn’t done anything special over the past fortnight, but has enjoyed a much improved year so far as his results outside Asia are concerned. Eighth in the USPGA was a career highlight for a player who has won a stack of money on this continent in recent years. His record at Sentosa is excellent, finishing runner-up last year and fourth in 2006.
0.5pt ew CHRIS WOOD @ 100/1 (GENERAL)
A disappointing recent spell has pushed Wood’s price out to 100/1, which could prove to be an over-reaction given that he looked a surefire first-time winner throughout the summer. Most of his best efforts have come on tough courses that emphasise long-game excellence.