It’s important to be wary when examining the form of many Europeans. Recent events in Europe have all been low-scoring, target golf affairs; an altogether different type of test. It’s great form in those events that have brought Alex Noren down to the ludicrously low quote of 33/1, when eight weeks ago he would have been at least 100/1 in this company. Make no mistake, Noren is playing some great golf right now and wouldn’t exactly be a shock winner, but he has no pedigree as yet on this type of course, against this type of opposition.
Moreover, many Europeans rarely or never produce their best in Asia. Soren Hansen, who has been ultra-consistent this season albeit typically without winning, has never produced anywhere near his best golf on this continent, where the greens and the climate are markedly different. The same could be said of his compatriot Anders Hansen, another player who has enjoyed a prosperous 2009.
Alternatively, GRAEME MCDOWELL has regularly thrived in this part of the world. Nine of McDowell’s last 12 outings in Asia have yielded top-20s, including a win in the 2008 Ballantines Championship and a series of close misses in China around the same period. Though 2009 hasn’t seen any additions to the two top-class titles earned in the previous season, McDowell has played pretty well this year. He made the top-20 in all three US majors; a very competitive level of form compared to most Europeans; and which bodes well for this tough course.
Another pair of Europeans with positive memories of Asian golf are Miguel-Angel Jimenez and Ian Poulter, and both came in for close consideration. Jimenez’s recent form leaves plenty to be desired, but this kind of test will be much more suitable than the recent target golf affairs. As for Poulter, my concern is that he hasn’t played competitively since August and reading his Twitter page, it would appear he only left for Singapore on Monday. That’s not much time to acclimatise and get to know this course, but if he can adapt quickly, Poulter would rate a strong candidate.
Generally speaking, the Asian contingent have struggled in this event, with the obvious exception of Singh last year. The Indian star isn’t here to defend his title, which leaves KJ Choi and Thongchai Jaidee as the two leading Asian candidates. Choi certainly deserves a mention having won in Malaysia last weekend, but has endured a poor year by his own high standards and, perhaps significantly, was beaten a long way on both previous visits to this course. Jaidee’s Sentosa record is better, but still nothing to write home about in comparison to his usual exploits at this level. Nevertheless, the Thai star has been playing pretty well in Europe so rates a danger.
Instead though, I reckon the best bet amongst the Asian players could be CHAPCHAI NIRAT at much bigger odds. Nirat was right in the thick of it here last year, before a poor final-round 78 sent him down to seventh place. It would have been impossible to make a case for him on the basis of his recent form on the European Tour, but notably he bounced back to his best at the weekend with second place behind Choi in Malaysia.
Purely on the basis of his European Tour form, Ross McGowan would have to rate a danger, but Sentosa is a world away from the easy Portugese layout where he recently won with a score of -25. In contrast another recent Euro Tour winner, Peter Hedblom, has enjoyed golf in this part of the world and was striking the ball particularly well in the late summer.
At 100/1, Hedblom nearly made the plan, but was ultimately edged out by PETER LAWRIE at 50  points higher. The Irishman has only played four times since nearly landing a much-needed 80/1 coup for this column in Holland back at the beginning of August, but looked to be close to his best again last time out. Lawrie was in contention for a long way in Portugal after two 68s and a 65, before falling away on Sunday. Two further reasons lie behind his selection. Firstly, Lawrie has performed well in humid Asian conditions before, registering several top 10s in these co-sanctioned events. Secondly, his accurate game should be well suited to Sentosa, enabling him to avoid the many hazards.