Each-Way Betting

European Open Each-Way Tips: Chinese connection leads to 50/1 Li

Golfer Haotong Li
Haotong Li is already a winner in Germany - can he win there again?

The DP World Tour moves to Germany for this week's European Open. Defending champion Tom McKibbin heads the betting but Matt Cooper looks elsewhere for his three selections with the Betfair Sportsbook paying six places...

  • Haotong Li is showing signs of form

  • Ewen Ferguson can push on from last year's showing

  • Joel Girrbach is an interesting outsider


Has there ever been a more eclectically international tournament roll of honour than the European Open?

Initiated in 1978, and originally played on a variety of traditional tracks around the UK, it moved to Ireland in the mid-90s, later to Germany, and it has been settled in Hamburg since 2017.

In all that time, the trophy has been lifted by 11 Englishmen, four Australians, three Scotsmen, a trio of Welshmen, two Americans, two Swedes, two Northern Irishmen, a pair of Frenchmen, a Spaniard, a Japanese, a German, a Kiwi, a South African, a Thai and a Finn.

It's a remarkably cosmopolitan cast list and perhaps only surprising that no Chinese golfer is yet to add his name to the plates on the plinth.

That seems a rather random observation and yet, since the tournament moved to Green Eagle GC, the winners and contenders have often had excellent records on modern layouts in the land of the dragon.

As noted last year, that link appears a little flimsy at first glance and yet Green Eagle, owned by a rich man with aspirations to host the Ryder Cup, is designed along very similar lines to those recent Chinese developments with a fondness for water hazards, plus a very contemporary contouring and shaping of fairways and greens.

The column first discussed the idea a few years back when noting that Paul Casey has won in China at Yalong Bay and Shenzhen, Jordan Smith had logged two top fives in China, Richard McEvoy had a T11th and Andreas Harto had been seventh - the first three were the first DP World Tour winners on the course, the latter a winner there on the Challenge Tour.

Since then Marcus Armitage won in 2021 (he also landed the 2016 Foshan Open in China) and Kalle Samooja triumphed in 2022 (he claimed the 2018 Hainan Open in ... you guessed it - China).

Last year's champion Tom McKibbin had never played in China but he did finish T23rd earlier this month on his first start there and Marcel Siem (a winner at Lake Malaren) was fifth.

Moreover, Alexander Bjork (winner at Topwin in China) was one of the 54-hole leaders and other pre-final round pace setters at Green Eagle have included Victor Perez (winner at Foshan), Robert MacInytre (second at Foshan) and Bernd Ritthammer (third at Chongqing Poly) while 2021 halfway leader Maverick Antcliff is a three-time winner on the China Tour.

A wide international cast, a Hamburg setting, a rich man hoping to influence global events, and a shadowy far eastern connection - it sounds a lot like a John Le Carre plot but I'm sticking with it.


Main Bet: Haotong Li 1pt each-way @ 50/1

If we're looking to China why not keep it simple and go for Haotong Li?

He's a five-time winner in his home country and the most recent was the 2016 China Open, a co-sanctioned event on the DP World Tour.

Rather more straightforwardly, he finished T18th at Green Eagle in 2022 when he set the pace with a Thursday 67 and was still only two back of the lead with 18 holes to play.

In his very next start he won, also in Germany, at the BMW International Open in Munich.

Two of his four most recent starts on home soil have been second places and he was also one shot back of the lead in the China Open at the start of the month after a first round 64.

He finished the week T35th but it was far from the first time that he has been threatening to have a good week in recent times.

He was the first round co-leader in January's Dubai Desert Classic and the solo 18-hole leader in March's International Series Macau.

He was also second at halfway in April's Saudi Open and third after 54 holes in the same month's ISPS Handa Championship.

He's simmering and Green Eagle might be where he comes to the boil.


Next Best: Ewen Ferguson 1pt each-way @ 33/1

ewen Ferguson at the British.jpg

Scotsman Ewen Ferguson has been solid in China, being 4-for-4 at making the cut with three top 20s including a halfway lead in the 2018 Foshan Open.

In theory, this week's test can be stretched beyond 7,800 yards with three of its six par-5s beyond 600 yards and another 700 yards plus.

Officials have rarely presented such a wilfully oddball test but the course has always been a tough examination of the long game and it maybe no surprise that the defending champion Tom McKibbin has a good record at Doha - he was ninth there last year and fourth earlier this year, both results coming since he won at Green Eagle.

That Qatar test has also suited Ferguson - he won there on debut in 2022, was third at halfway last year before finishing T16th and he was ninth this year (one shot back with 18 holes to play).

His other win came at Galgorm Castle where the scoring was tough on that course (while very much easier on the other layout used for one round pre-cut).

The clincher is that he finished T14th 12 months ago when he spent the first 54 holes inside the top 10.


Final Bet: Joel Girrbach 1pt each-way @ 70/1

Switzerland's Joel Girrbach played this course and event in 2019, missing the cut, but he was a little out of his depth that year.

Having stepped backwards onto the Challenge Tour the 30-year-old has matured and this year he has five top 20 finishes including three in his last four starts.

It's a seasonal performance based on a fine long game that sees him ranked 37th for Strokes Gained Off the Tee, 7th for Approach and 18th for Tee to Green.

Finishing second in the Hainan Open at the end of last year went a big way to confirming his graduation to the main tour and at the start of the month he was third in the China Open.


Now read Steve Rawlings on the European Open


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