It's always fun to be reacquainted with Green Eagle GC, a layout that always makes me wonder if the owner is a German version of Harry Enfield's Brummie character.
"The golf course is considerably longer than yours," this version would say.
It's a 7,603-yard track and that's even though it has five par-3s!
It also has five par-5s, the shortest of which is 594-yards and the longest is 705.
That leaves only eight par-4s (the last of them is the 13th) and five of them are over 460-yards.
Imagine the carnage for handicap golfers on this layout - it's got no less than 10 holes at par-5 length. Preposterous really.
For DP World Tour players, on the other hand, there have never really been any outstanding consequences of this slightly absurd set-up. In fact, it remains blissfully wonderful that it was the scene of mild-mannered Richard McEvoy taking down big-hitting Bryson DeChambeau (albeit before the latter got really beefed up - who knows, maybe that dizzy weekend was the prompt).
Unsurprisingly the course has a nickname to suit (Green Monster) and it has also hosted a third-tier event called Master of the Monster.
I noted last year that winners on this course have often had a decent record on modern Chinese courses, a link that is somewhat tenuous on first glance, but maybe there is something to it: they're all modern designs, not necessarily with high brow aspirations, instead having a focus on the sort of length that will gain a tour event.
And last year's winner? Marcus Armitage, who is a winner in China at Foshan on the Challenge Tour.
First pick Pablo Larrazabal is not a winner in China, but he does have a decent record there owning top 10s at Suzhou Jinji Lakes, Luzehills International, Binhai Lake, Lake Malaren and Topwin, with top 15s at Genzon and Sheshan International.
He's also got a fine record in Germany with top 10s at Elfrather Muhle, Mulheim an der Ruhr and Gut Larchenhof. His record at Munchen Eichenried is particularly fine with five top 20s including two wins.
He missed the cut in his event last year when stuck in a pretty ordinary run of form but in 2019 he was tied seventh.
The key with the Spaniard is his form.
He missed the cut at the PGA Championship but that was far from unexpected (he's made just four cuts in 16 major championship starts).
Before his venture Stateside he landed five top-six finishes and a T13th in seven starts including victories in the MyGolfLife Open and ISPS Handa Championship in Spain.
More of that form on a course he's played well before and he can contend again.
Next up is Sweden's Alexander Bjork who has hit a nice stretch of form.
He ended the 2021 season with a very fine second at the DP World Tour Championship and flatter to deceive early this campaign.
He was T10th at halfway in the British Masters at the Belfry but missed the cut.
Then he was top six through 36 holes of the Soudal Open before falling back to T23rd by the end of the weekend.
Last week he spent all weekend in the top 10 and eventually finished tied seventh.
He didn't over-extend his energies on the final day by making a slow start which adds to my belief that he'll be itching to have another crack at a win, to add to his first at this level.
That came in China at Topwin and he also has a couple of top 25s at Genzon, one at Foshan and a top 30 at Sheshan International.
He's played Green Eagle three times and made the cut on every occasion, finishing T53rd in 2017, T22nd in 2019 and T29th last year.
He's registered good Strokes Gained Approach stats at the course, especially in 2019, and if he an ally that with topping the Putting last week in the Netherlands it would be a potent combination.
The China link goes deeper if you allow it.
Players who have finished top two at Green Eagle and ever played Foshan have a fine record at the latter.
Armitage won there, Thomas Detry has been tied sixth, Darius Van Driel tied fifth, Robert MacIntyre lost a play-off, Matthias Schwab was T14th, McEvoy T11th, Christofer Blomstrand tied ninth and T20th, and Bernd Ritthammer has three top 30s there.
In fact, Ritthammer has endured agony at both. He was tied second after 54 holes at Foshan in 2014 before he finished T19th; he also had a golden opportunity to win the 2019 European Open - he's back on the Challenge Tour now.
Among those of interest off the back of that notion are Foshan winners Victor Perez (can he go back to back?) and Oliver Farr (can he join McEvoy as a steady hitter winner on a huge layout?).
The Portuguese pair of Ricardo Gouveia and Ricardo Santos?
No, it's Scotsman Ewen Ferguson who finished T10th at Foshan in 2018, when sharing the 36-hole lead, and T17th in 2019.
He graduated from the second tier last year with three second places and one third place finish so he's well used to the top end of leaderboards.
More importantly, he also landed a first DP World Tour event this season in the Qatar Masters and is yet to add another top effort.
This could be the week off his best effort since then, then T37th last week in the Dutch Open (a second week in succession that he's been top 10 after 18 holes).
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