Bubba Watson tops the bill with an impressive supporting cast for the European Tour’s inaugural Shenzhen International at Genzon Golf Club.

Lowdown:
Bubba Watson tops the bill with an impressive supporting cast for the European Tour’s inaugural Shenzhen International at Genzon Golf Club.

The two-time Masters winner who finished in a tie for 38th place at Augusta last week, returns to China following his victory in the WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai last November.

“This is a great opportunity for me to come back to China and play in a new event, which will make a big contribution to the development of golf in southern China,” he said. “I’m looking forward to coming to Shenzhen and playing my part in making some history.”

2009 USPGA champion Y.E. Yang will tee it up at Genzon, so too will recent Trophee Hassan II winner Richie Ramsay of Scotland. Other star players in the field this week include Matteo Manassero, Alexander Levy and two-time 2015 European Tour winner Andy Sullivan.

The course at Genzon Golf Club, in the Longgang district of Shenzhen was designed by Neil Haworth. He completed a redesign of the original layout and his remodelled creation opened for play in 2009. The course features a number of water hazards and many of the holes are tree-lined. This is a track that will require accuracy and a strategic approach.

The inaugural Shenzhen International is the third of five new tournaments on the European Tour this season, following on from debutants Hero Indian Open and the True Thailand Classic.

The tournament is co-sanctioned by The European Tour and the China Golf Association. The field comprises 100 players from The European Tour, 50 players from China Golf Association and six sponsors’ invitations.

The Shenzhen International at the Genzon Golf Club is the eighth different official European Tour tournament to be played in China. As the club was host of the 2014 Volvo China Open, it will be the first Chinese course to host two different European Tour tournaments.

Zhang Xiao-ning, Vice-President and Secretary General of the China Golf Association, explains: “It will also provide an emerging group of highly talented young Chinese golfers with the opportunity to compete against the best players in the game on a world stage. As we look forward to golf’s inclusion in the next Olympic Games, this tournament will be another milestone in China’s path to becoming a major golf nation.”

The tournament is being staged by IMG and is one of four visits the European Tour will be making to China this season. China’s four European Tour events means it is hosting the same number of tournaments as Scotland and twice as many as England.

The weather forecast for the week is reasonable with a chance of rain on Saturday. There are no thunderstorms predicted at the moment though so, with luck, the tournament won’t be disrupted.

Venue: Genzon GC, Shenzhen, China
Date: Apr 16-19
Course stats: par 72, 7,145 yards
Purse: $2,500,000
Defending Champion: Inaugural event

TV Coverage:
Thursday 16 – Sky Sports 4 from 5.30am
Friday 17 – Sky Sports 4 from 5.30am
Saturday 18 – Sky Sports 4 from 5.30am
Sunday 19 – Sky Sports 4 from 5.30am

Player Watch:
Bubba will start the week as favourite, but who else is worth keeping an eye on this week?

Chris Wood – The Englishman made a slow start to the season, but he moved back into the spotlight with a tied third place finish in the Trophee Hassan II. A last round 67 in that event will give him great confidence this time out.

Pablo Larrazabal – The Spaniard was also tied third in Morocco, just two behind winner Richie Ramsay. He’s played well in China before – he finished in the top-15 in the WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai last November.

Mikael Lundberg – He’s been on solid form in recent weeks. He followed a top-10 in the Tshwane Open with a tie for third in Morocco. He could be a dark horse this week.

Key hole: 17th. This is a fantastic par-5 of 575 yards. Water lurks all down the right side and a tree in the middle of the fairway must be negotiated from the tee. The second shot presents a choice. The very longest hitters may have a pop at the green. Otherwise the lay up is tough as the water bisects the fairway some 100 yards out. The players will have to decide whether to try and carry it or stay short. This one could see some big numbers racked up as the pressure mounts.