EW Terms: 1/5 Odds | 7 Places
I'll play the inspiration theory a little this week and back Renato Paratore. After watching (presumably) Francesco Molinari win at Bay Hill, Paratore was greenside to greet and drench Kenya Open winner Guido Migliozzi on Sunday. It's a great time for Italian golf and now he'll fancy a piece of the pie himself. Paratore played pretty well in Kenya himself, shooting 68-69 on the weekend for tied 35th and that came just three starts on from tied 18th in the Saudi International where he fired a pair of 65s. In addition, he also owns a top 20 at this week's venue, Saujana G&CC, so the 125/1 could look a very nice each-way price.
Very much one of golf's later developers, Mikko Korhonen made significant progress during 2018, winning his maiden European Tour title among a quartet of top-four finishes. I'm expecting more to come in 2019 and this Malaysian course might be just the ticket. Korhonen's strength has always been a consistent, accurate long game and that is precisely what is required here. Last year's stats firmly point towards greens in regulation as a useful indicator and Mikko topped those numbers on his last outing at the Qatar Masters. He also ranks sixth among these for strokes gained approach and finished a respectable 20th on his sole visit to this course in 2017, following a slow start.
Gaganjeet Bhullar has been playing some lovely golf over the last three weeks. I backed him in Oman and Qatar at big prices but reluctantly left him out at a much shorter price in Kenya, on a track that I felt might be a bit on the tight side last week. It was a nervous weekend and the prolific Indian hit a low of 2.767/4 after a fast start on Sunday but he found trouble once too often in the end and was beaten by just two strokes. He's won nine times in total so far and his last success came at the Fiji International in August on grainy greens to secure his European Tour card. He's been assigned a hugely beneficial early tee time on Thursday and in his last three starts he's ranked sixth, fourth and third for one of the key stats here, Scrambling. Nobody putted better than him in Kenya last week and he looks a very fair price to get involved again.
Aaron Rai hasn't exactly set the world alight since he easily won the Hong Kong Open back in November but that's nothing unusual for a first time European Tour winner. It sometimes takes a little bit of time to adjust to the new level of status and he's been globetrotting, taking in the Middle East, Australia and Mexico. He missed his last cut in Qatar but Steve Rawlings highlights Fanling, the home of the Hong Kong Open, as a course that correlates nicely with this one and he looks worth chancing at a juicy price this week. He's back on a course that's far more likely to suit him and he's also been given a beneficial early tee time on day one.
Chris Paisley was in excellent form at the start of 2018 and hopes are high that he can recapture that form in Malaysia this week. The Englishman won his maiden European Tour event in the SA Open just over 12 months ago before top five finishes in quality tournaments in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, so perhaps he has a liking for this time of the year. Paisley has gone slightly under the radar in recent months but his results haven't been too bad at all, and could have been much better for a poor round here and there. A top 10 in the high class Nedbank Challenge at the end of 2018, a top 20 in the Alfred Dunhil Championship a few months back, and a top 10 finish in the Oman Open read very well in this company, and he also has scatterings of course form having made the cut in both appearances at this venue, finishing 41st and 27th in his two visits.