Before getting to this week’s golf tips, I must apologise to all those who loyally follow this column’s selections for the terrible recent run of results. This has been by far my worst year since turning professional six years ago. Naturally, I’ve been thinking hard about the reasons and you may be interested in reading my in-depth analysis of the situation on my blog:
Hope springs eternal though, and in all honesty, there’s much to feel confident about in this week’s three events. None more so than the Singapore Open; a tournament that rises in stature every year and now takes a pivotal place on the Race to Dubai. It’s five years since the top stars began to appear in this event at the genuinely world-class layout of Sentosa Golf Club, but whereas initially it was no more than a handful, this year’s renewal can boast one of the best line-ups of the season.
Sentosa is a seriously tough test, the closest Asia has to a Major venue, and it wouldn’t look out of place hosting one. The fairways are narrow and the penalties tough, with thick rough and water awaiting errant shots. Perhaps most importantly, the greens here are very fast, and once you add in the extreme humidity, there are vague similarities with a US Open played at the height of the American summer. Sentosa doesn’t take any prisoners, and examination of previous leaderboards suggests that scoring will be high, and class should rise to the top.
The four previous winners are Adam Scott (twice), Angel Cabrera and Jeev-Milkha Singh. Scott’s two victories came when there were only a few top-class opponents, and on both occasions the runner-up was of equally high calibre, ERNIE ELS and Lee Westwood. On the first occasion, a massive 15 shots separated the top ten. That margin was reduced in the next two years, but remained substantial at eight and ten shots respectively. Last year’s renewal, with a considerably stronger field, was much closer with just five shots separating the top ten. In the last couple, only two of the ten players to make the top five were below the leading handful in the betting.
That must bode well for the market leaders this time, but I doubt it will be that straightforward because of the sheer number of potential winners. There are plenty of plausible candidates in the 100/1+ price range, including several 2009 champions. Nevertheless, the Major winning-class of the top four, Phil Mickelson, PADRAIG HARRINGTON, Els and GEOFF OGILVY set a very high standard.