Well, I think its safe to assume that the Masters turned out to be a bonanza for the bookies, and I don’t say that simply because my selections were so wide of the mark. I can’t ever recall the first four in a major starting at 100/1+, and even if there were arguments to be made in favour of Perry, Campbell and Cabrera, there were just as strong cases to oppose them.
Anyway, its back to the normal two tournaments on each of the PGA and European Tours, with the latest staging post of the latter’s Race to Dubai a return to China. Beijing International GC also hosted this event last year, and turned out to be one of the hardest courses of the season, though high scoring was exacerbated by heavy storms on the final day. As everyone else floundered, Damian MacGrane held his game together to win his maiden title by nine shots.
MacGrane is here for the defence, and must rate one of the stronger candidates in a weak line-up. This unfortunate date, the week following the Masters, is never going to make life easy for the sponsors, and it’s no surprise that nobody has chosen to make the long journey from the States. At No.73, THONGCHAI JAIDEE is the highest ranked player on show, and one of only three in the world’s top-100.
Given the lack of quality on show, 12/1 looks a perfectly reasonable offer about Jaidee. The Thai star really is a class apart from the rest of the Asians in this field, and there are only a small number of Europeans anywhere near his standard. He’s won three of the last seven tournaments he’s played in Asia, and only once finished worse than 15th. As Jaidee didn’t play last year, there is a minor concern about the course, but it would appear to suit his talents, with a strong emphasis on driving accuracy and quality iron approaches to undulating greens. The key stats from last year’s result were driving accuracy, scrambling, putting and par-3 performance. Nobody scores better across the four than Jaidee.
Jaidee’s two nearest rivals are two Europeans, Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano and Simon Dyson. As regular readers will know, there’s no bigger fan of Castano than me. He so nearly won for us last time in Portugal, and once again moved forward when the pressure was on and all around him were falling away. He’s won in China before, and will doubtless do so again at some stage, but for now others are preferred because I feel this week’s odds are a little too short and perhaps an over-reaction to that near-miss in Portugal.