*Each-way 1/4 odds, 5 places
These days, perhaps more than ever, the long ball is en vogue in golf. One of, if not the, biggest hitter(s) in professional golf - Dustin Johnson, is the world number one and leaderboards are dominated by huge hitters more often than not. One of the European Tour's longest hitters, Sebastien Gros, is yet to break through. Although the Frenchman has shown glimpses of his excellent Challenge Tour form (two 2015 wins), he has understandably taken time to adapt to his new surroundings. However, he look set for a good week on what appears to be a course for the bombers. Gros was 19th on his debut in Shenzen last year and there was plenty of promise in Morocco last week where his final round 70 contained six birdies to register his best finish of the season thus far. Gambling on a big week for the Frenchman at 200/1 looks worthwhile this week.
Previous results at Genzon already suggested an advantage for big-hitters and, with plenty of rain forecast throughout the week, it is likely to be accentuated. Lucas Bjerregaard has no worries on that score, showed up in contention for a while last week and has an outstanding record in China. His last seven outings in this country have yielded a quartet of top-fives, only once finishing below 15th. This excellent prospect will break through sooner or later and Asia seems a likely destination. He's also very proficient on par-fives - ranking ninth amongst this field over the past year - and the four long holes could well be the key scoring factor.
There's just enough juice in the price to make the burly Thai a selection this week given there are plenty of pointers to a good showing in China. A winner of the event back in 2015, Aphibarnrat has mixed up the sublime with the ridiculous in his six tournaments so far this year - three cuts made, including a pair of top 10s; three missed cuts - but that's just the way of the man and the sequence shows his ability to contend when the opportunity arises. A three-time European Tour winner (twice in Asia) the 27-year-old is a big hitter with a sweet touch on the greens and can hopefully go close as he gets his season back on track after nearly a month off.
In addition to winning the World Cup alongside Soren Kjeldsen in November, Denmark's Thorbjorn Olesen has won three European Tour titles in the last three years and he's simply too big this week at 50/1 given he finished eighth last year in his only previous visit to the Genzon Golf Club. He hasn't been in great form so far in 2017 and he's missed his last two cuts (on the PGA Tour) but that wouldn't put me off. He hasn't played anywhere since March so he's well rested and he has a habit of performing well and finding form from seemingly nowhere.
With just three years of course form to go on, and not exactly a field full of top class players in great form, we're presented with another tricky European Tour event this week. But it's also a wide open betting heat, and a player that appears to be trending towards a win is England's James Morrison. The 32-year-old two-time European Tour winner has made five consecutive top-25 finishes now, but his last three events saw him finish sixth, fourth, and 13th. That 'unlucky' 13th came in Morocco last week and really should have been much better. Morrison was bang in contention after 11 holes of his third round, but then the wheels completely fell off, playing his last seven holes in eight over par! To his immense credit he came back on Sunday and shot one of the rounds of the day (-5), and I'm hoping he'll take a lot of confidence from that performance, and his recent form, and improve massively on last year's 38th place finish at this venue.