The European Tour heads to Topwin Golf and Country Club for a second straight year in preparation for the Volvo China Open.
The course is an Ian Woosnam design of moderate length (7,261 yards) and plays to a par of 72. There is water in play on 15 holes and the greens are bentgrass.
We can’t really garner a true course profile from just one year of data but last year saw a lot of above-average GIR machines rise to the top with scrambling proving to be not so relevant. That would make sense given the amount of water hazards, steady ball-striking should be the name of the game. Standout short game is an added bonus.
As for the course layout, there are three par 5s over 580 yards, three par 4s over 470 yards, and two par 3s over 210 yards. That should open the door for a lot of long-iron play. The big hitters should have an advantage on those long par 5s, but if they get hit with wind in their faces, then they easily become three-shot holes, eliminating the distance advantage.
For potentially correlated leaderboards I am looking at the 2015 Volvo, 2015 Turkish Airlines, 2015 BMW Masters, 2016 Perth International, and 2016 Volvo.
Players to Watch
Peter Uihlein … Arrives with top 35s in nine of last 11 starts worldwide, six of those doubling as top 20s. He withdrew from this event last year, his last start before making the decisions to have wrist surgery. Safe to say his wrist is much better now. Looking at the five correlated events I highlighted above, Uihlein has top 8 finishes in three of those. He really likes to play in this part of the world, and I think he’s long overdue for a second Euro Tour win.
Alexander Levy … Since the start of 2015, his performance in Asia is 1.14 strokes higher than his baseline performance. He plays some of his best golf in this region including a T28 here last year.
Lucas Bjerregaard … While Levy is 1.14 strokes better in Asia, the 25-year-old Dane is a remarkable 1.37 strokes better, per round, in Asia. Had a third-place finish here last year and also finished third at the 2015 BMW Masters, another event hosted in China. Add in a runner-up finish at the 2015 Hong Kong Open and all three of his best OWGR performances have come in China.
Performance in Asia … Sicking with the Asian Specialists, here is the top 10 performers in Asia since 2015:
Hao Tong Li
Kiradech Aphibarnrat … He is always a popular name because of his large personality and love of material objects. While his upside is through the roof, he’s also pretty reliant on the flat stick. With so much water in play at Topwin, I would be surprised if he leaves without at least one big number on his card. Just missed out on my top 25 but a very boom-or-bust option, good for GPPs for betting tickets.
Dylan Frittelli … With top 20s in five of his last six starts, the form is at a rolling boil.
Jordan Smith … He’s been a quick learner at all stages of development (2 WINS in first 8 EuroPro Tour starts and 2 WINS on the Challenge Tour last year). With three straight top 20s heading into the week, he’s quickly trending toward his first Euro Tour victory.
Rikard Karlberg … After a slow start to the season, the Swede has finished T27 and T57 in his last two starts entering the week. That’s not anything to write home about, but it puts him back on the radar for DraftKings GPPs. He’s won on the Euro Tour as recently as 2015, made 70% of cuts since 2014, and sits way down at $6,200 on DK. A decent GPP flyer.
My Top 25 for the 2017 Volvo China Open
1. Peter Uihlein
2. Alexander Levy
3. Bernd Wiesberger
4. Thongchai Jaidee
5. Ross Fisher
6. Lucas Bjerregaard
7. Jordan Smith
8. Joost Luiten
9. Gregory Bourdy
10. Richard Bland
11. Richie Ramsay
12. Hao Tong Li
13. Dylan Frittelli
14. Chris Wood
15. Dean Burmester
16. Fabrizio Zanotti
17. Alexander Bjork
18. David Lipsky
19. Mikko Korhonen
20. Julien Quesne
21. Peter Hanson
22. Jorge Campillo
23. Benjamin Hebert
24. Maximilian Kieffer
25. Romain Wattel