Betting tips: Who wins the Hong Kong Open?
The one to be on: Tommy Fleetwood
The sprinkling of stardust in this field – the likes of Ian Poulter, Patrick Reed and Rafa Cabrera-Bello for example – might come to our aid here.
We can get the Englishman at 22/1 with some shopping around.
You can pick holes in many of the leading contenders’ recent form but that’s not the case with Fleetwood.
He looks in good touch – tied 9th at the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai and tied 4th at the British Masters the two obvious highlights.
There’s no problem with the climate. Fleetwood has posted podium spots at both the Shenzhen International and China Open in the past.
It remains to be seen how he will take to this track on debut but shrewder pundits than I have noticed similarities between the tight nature of the Hong Kong track and Crans-sur-Sierre.
Fleetwood has solid form in Switzerland – just another tick in the box.
The each-way back: Thongchai Jaidee
I’m going to be disappointed if the Thai doesn’t give us a sniff of each-way Hong Kong Open cash at 28/1.
Solid efforts at the Turkish Open and Nedbank Challenge are enough to get me interested but it is his love of this event that has me pressing the bet button.
Jaidee’s last top 10 here may have been six years ago but he doesn’t seem capable of leaving the top 20, having finished in that position in nine successive tournaments.
He’s had a runners-up showing in the past and, crucially, knows a good week could see him crack the world top 50 (he’s currently 52) at the year’s end. Why does that matter? It gets you into the Masters.
The dark horse: Stephen Gallacher
I’ve convinced myself that the Scot isn’t too far away from getting back in the big time and, at 40/1 in Hong Kong, I’m going to keep throwing darts.
You can dismiss a chunk of last season as he overcame a hand injury but, in the last couple of months, he’s been showing clear signs that he may be getting back to the form that saw him make the Ryder Cup team in 2014.
Tied 12th at both the British and Portuguese Masters, he also found a top 10 last week in Australia.
Add in some Fanling fireworks, he was tied 4th in 2012, and he’s a tasty enough price to tempt a bite.
Age may be taking its toll but Miguel Angel Jimenez has a phenomenal record in this tournament.
He’s won it four times and, at 66/1, there’s an obligatory pound each way heading in his direction as well.
The one to swerve: Justin Rose
Justin Rose took the title last year, and is second favourite this time around, but there are big question marks about him.
The Olympic champion lasted just one round of the Hero World Challenge, withdrawing because of the back injury that’s hampered him for several months.
It was thought he’d miss out this week to have treatment but he’s in the field at present, set to partner Scott Hend and Jaidee.
If he does tee it up, I can have no part of the 8/1 widely offered by the oddsmakers.
There’s too many questions. Will he play? Will he get past the first round? How will his back cope? Can he swing freely?
When there are so many variables, it’s better to keep your money firmly in your pocket – even if he does pull out a miracle.