Hong Kong Open Fantasy Preview

The 2017 European Tour season is in the books and they are wasting no time in starting the 2018 campaign.

The gang heads to Asia to kick things off. There is a surprising pool of talent teeing it up this week as Masters champ Sergio Garcia and Justin Rose co-headline a field that already includes Tommy Fleetwood, Rafa Cabrera Bello, and Matthew Fitzpatrick.

Similar to the fall events on the PGA TOUR, we also get to see the latest crop of Challenge Tour grads. Chase Koepka will draw the attention of Americans gamers but there is loads of talent attempting to make the leap. Keep an eye on the homepage of Rotoworld as Matt Cooper has a graduate feature in the works that should help us get acquainted. There is even a guy named Tapio(ca) Pulkkanen who I’m dying to learn more about.

The course this week is just 6,700-ish yards so it is one of the shortest venues we’ll see all year. The list of past champions here is exactly who you’d expect to see on a plodder’s track with the likes of Ian Poulter, Gregory Bourdy, Paddy Harrington, Miguel Angel Jimenez (x4), and Freddie Jacobson hoisting the hardware. We shouldn’t completely rule out the bombers, though, since Rory, Rose, and Hend have all lifted the trophy in Hong Kong, as well.

What do the pros say about the course?

DAVID LIPSKY: Firm and fast. You have to really control your ball around here. It’s not a bomber’s course by any means, so that sort of suits me. But I love it.

PAUL PETERSON: You know, it’s relatively tight which suits me, because I’m not the longest guy in the world. It benefits good putters, so I’ve just always felt like I underachieved a little bit out here a little bit.

JUVIC PAGUNSAN: I think this course, you know, if you hit it hit straight, good putting, maybe can score very good on this course.

TOMMY FLEETWOOD: I love courses like this. This is honestly one of the best courses I’ve played on Tour. Just shows, you don’t have to have length.

IAN POULTER: Yeah, definitely. I like the golf course. Fanling suits my game. It’s not all about length; it’s about position in play off the tee. I positioned it pretty well around the golf course today. Didn’t miss many fairways and gave myself some opportunities.

When you’ve shot low rounds on this golf course in the past, you know your lines, you know where you want to be putting from. So yeah, it was nice to get back out there on the course.

ANIRBAN LAHIRI: Absolutely. I love playing narrow, tight courses and Fanling is about as tight as you’ll get. It’s great when you have to think and navigate, and I really enjoy that.

MATTHEW FITZPATRICK: It’s quite tight. You don’t want to go in the rough. Just got to think about what you do off the tee and stuff. It’s a good course, and like I say, it was on my schedule at the start of the year because people say you’ll enjoy it, and so far I have.

PATRICK REED: It’s something completely different than I’m used to. It’s real short, but at the same time, if you try to play aggressive, which is very easy to do because any time you’re always hitting 3-woods or irons off the tee, you’re antsy to hit that driver. It would get you in trouble. So kind of one of these places where it teaches you to be patient and try to play your own game.

I guess we could say this week is all about the three Ps: POSITION, PATIENCE, and PUTTING.

Looking at course style, time of year, and what not, the following courses/events graded out as potential pointers: Omega Euro Masters, Made in Denmark, True Thailand Classic (Black Mountains), Bad Greisbach (2015 & 2016 Euro Open), and the Alfred Dunhill Links.

It may not be the first name you think of when it comes to short tracks but Scott Hend has the most podium finishes on those courses since 2015 (4) including a win at the True Thailand Classic. I will list some others who pop on correlated courses but first, let’s look at the top-10 lists for a few key angles this week…

Top Performers on Bermuda Greens (since 2015)

Justin Rose
Rafa Cabrera Bello
Sergio Garcia
Thongchai Jaidee
Jeunghun Wang
Tommy Fleetwood
Matthew Fitzpatrick
Harold Varner III
Alejandro Canizares
Jorge Campillo

Top Performers in Asia (since 2015)

Thongchai Jaidee
Hao Tong Li
Justin Rose
Marcus Fraser
Scott Hend
Tommy Fleetwood
Rafa Cabrera Bello
Jorge Campillo
Gregory Bourdy
David Lipsky

Top Performers on Short Courses (since 2015)

Sergio Garcia
Paul Dunne
Rafa Cabrera Bello
Robert Rock
Julian Suri
Alejandro Canizares
Wade Ormsby
Matthew Fitzpatrick
David Lipsky
Jorge Campillo

Top Performers in the Fall (since 2015)

Justin Rose
Matthew Fitzpatrick
Kiradech Aphibarnrat
Sergio Garcia
Tommy Fleetwood
Thongchai Jaidee
Dylan Frittelli
Paul Dunne
Harold Varner III
Julian Suri

Top Performers on Par 70s (since 2015)

Matthew Fitzpatrick
Thongchai Jaidee
David Howell
Rafa Cabrera Bello
Scott Hend
Alejandro Canizares
Robert Rock
David Lipsky
Justin Rose
Jamie Donaldson

Top Performers on Correlated Courses (since 2015)

Scott Hend
Thongchai Jaidee
Matthew Fitzpatrick
James Morrison
David Lipsky
Gregory Havret
Paul Dunne
Joakim Lagergren
Julian Suri
Tommy Fleetwood

Golfers that show up on all SIX lists: NONE

Golfers that show up on 5-of-6 lists: Matthew Fitzpatrick, Thongchai Jaidee

Golfers that show up on 4-of-6 lists: Justin Rose, Tommy Fleetwood, Rafa Cabrera Bello, David Lipsky

Golfers that show up on 3-of-6 lists: Sergio Garcia, Julian Suri, Paul Dunne, Alejandro Canizares, Scott Hend, Jorge Campillo

My Top 25 for the 2017 Hong Kong Open

1. Justin Rose
2. Matthew Fitzpatrick
3. Sergio Garcia
4. Julian Suri
5. Rafa Cabrera Bello
6. Tommy Fleetwood
7. Kiradech Aphibarnrat
8. Paul Dunne
9. Hao Tong Li
10. David Lipsky
11. Dylan Frittelli
12. Thongchai Jaidee
13. Jorge Campillo
14. Alexander Bjork
15. Aaron Rai
16. Jeunghun Wang
17. Alejandro Canizares
18. Gregory Bourdy
19. Scott Hend
20. Harold Varner III
21. Thomas Aiken
22. Robert Rock
23. Marcus Fraser
24. Jamie Donaldson
25. Wade Ormsby

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