Venue: Hong Kong Golf Club, Fanling, Hong Kong
Date: November 22-25, 2018
Course stats: Par 70, 6,700 yards
Purse: $2 million (£1.5m)
Defending champion: Wade Ormsby (-11)
Thursday: Sky Sports Golf – from 6am
Friday: Sky Sports Golf – from 6am
Saturday: Sky Sports Golf – from 6am
Sunday: Sky Sports Golf – from 6am
Honma Hong Kong Open preview
Just one week after the 2018 season came to a close, the 2019 European Tour season gets underway in Hong Kong this week.
And there are some big names in the field looking to get their seasons off to the best possible start.
Tommy Fleetwood, Patrick Reed and Sergio Garcia are all vying for favouritism with the bookies, with Rafa Cabrera Bello close behind.
Wade Ormsby secured his first title on the European Tour here twelve months ago, joining a prestigious list of names to have won this trophy.
You have to go back to 1959 for the inception of the tournament, and along the way it has seen winners of the likes of Peter Thomson, Greg Norman, Bernhard Langer and Tom Watson.
More recently, Rory McIlroy won here seven years ago, while Justin Rose added to his vast trophy collection in 2015.
Honma Hong Kong Open betting tips
You can’t reach for the driver on every tee and smash it in the general vicinity of the fairway like the players did in Dubai last week; instead, there’s a lot more strategy in play here.
And that is perhaps why Miguel Angel Jimenez has won four times around this layout. It doesn’t mean that bombers can’t contend, after all, Rory McIlroy and Scott Hend have won this event, while Lucas Bjerregaard and Tommy Fleetwood have solid records here, but there’s definitely an advantage for precision over distance.
As for the top of the market, I’m steering clear of Fleetwood after a seemingly draining week in Dubai, but Patrick Reed and Sergio Garcia hold more appeal. However, the last two winners, Wade Ormsby and Sam Brazel, were both longshots and I can’t help but feel that another outsider can claim a win in this season opener, especially when motivation may be a little low among the leading contenders.
So I’ll kick things off with Sang-Hyun Park (80/1, 7 places), a player who plays the majority of his golf on the Japanese tour and has enjoyed the best season of his career to date with three wins in his home country of Korea.
He’s played on the world stage a few times this year, with appearances at the Open, and more recently the CJ Cup and WGC-HSBC Champions. This is certainly a weaker field than those events and he showed last week in Japan that he can compete with the best, when getting the better of the likes of Brooks Koepka, Hideki Matsuyama and Emiliano Grillo when finishing T4 at the Dunlop Phoenix.
The Korean is an accurate sort who I expect will enjoy this strategic test on debut.
Aaron Rai (80/1, 6 places) missed the cut on his first attempt here last year, but his accurate tee-to-green game should be absolutely ideal for this track and he looks a big price at 80s.
The young Englishman has had plenty of ups and downs in his rookie year on the European Tour, but there have been plenty of glimpses that show that he’s ready to make the step up and become a winner on the tour to add to his trio of Challenge Tour trophies.
He was recently 8th in South Africa at the Nedbank, which proved to be his second best finish on the tour in terms of ranking points, behind his T9 at the Scottish Open earlier this summer.
His two rounds of 73 last year here in tough conditions wasn’t exactly an awful attempt, and I think we should expect a significant improvement this time around.
There are two more players our tipster believes could ruffle a few feathers in Hong Kong. Find out where you can make some real profit on the next page…