The CJ Cup: Poulter a play at Nine Bridges

English golfer Ian Poulter
England's Ian Poulter can shine again in Asia

The PGA Tour heads to Asia for a run of three tournaments and Dave Tindall has three picks for the action in South Korea...

"A big reason for liking him this week is the Englishman's outstanding record in Asia. Three of his last five European Tour wins came on the continent (Singapore Open, Hong Kong Open, WGC-HSBC Champions) while he's also a past winner of the Japan Tour's Dunlop Phoenix Tournament."

Main Bet: Ian Poulter each-way @ 55/1

While 2017 CJ Cup winner Justin Thomas could blow the field away - a likelihood increased by the fairly decent weather forecast - this each-way column isn't about putting up 13/2 shots.

I certainly prefer Thomas to last year's winner Brooks Koepka, who continues to work his way back from a knee injury, his first start of the new season resulting in a missed cut in Las Vegas.

Put together, the fact that two big-hitting Americans have won the first two editions of this event could be a clue although it's worth checking out the top fives from both those events. Driving Distance stats from the last campaign are in brackets.

2018: 1. Brooks Koepka (10), 2. Gary Woodland (13), 3. Rafa Cabrera Bello (132), Ryan Palmer (60), 5. Jason Day (38), Scott Piercy (106).

2017: 1. Justin Thomas (37), 2. Marc Leishman (78), 3. Cameron Smith (92), 4. Whee Kim (169), 5. Scott Brown (145), Brian Harman (147), Anirban Lahiri (125), Jamie Lovemark (n/a), Pat Perez (164).

Well, there's enough evidence there to show that shorter hitters can also perform well at Nine Bridges Golf Club, a par 72 measuring 7,196 yards.

Therefore, step forward Ian Poulter at 55/1.

Poulter has already shown he can perform on this track by finishing T15 on debut and T10 last year.

A big reason for liking him this week is the Englishman's outstanding record in Asia. Three of his last five European Tour wins came on the continent (Singapore Open, Hong Kong Open, WGC-HSBC Champions) while he's also a past winner of the Japan Tour's Dunlop Phoenix Tournament.

There are numerous other examples of big finishes so why is he 55/1 in a field limited in both number (78 players) and class?

That would be current form as, after having a month off, he's finished a modest T60 at Wentworth and then missed the cut in Italy.

However, it's not long ago that he was finishing T8 in the WGC-St. Jude Invitational followed by T10 at the Northern Trust.

In Italy, he tweeted: "Disappointing to even comprehend missing the cut this week
@ItalianOpen. This just shouldn't happen. I will be stronger next week and bounce back."

Defiant words as usual but time and time again we've seen him walk the walk too and it would come as no surprise if he bounces back on his return to Asia.

Next Best: Tyrrell Hatton each-way @ 50/1

When reading comments about Nine Bridges and the big, sloping greens which run quite slow, it's hard not to think of links tracks.

That puts a tick next to Poulter but also by his fellow Englishman Tyrrell Hatton.

Hatton was sixth at this summer's Open Championship but a better example to pull out is his record in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship which shows two wins and a second (also T15 a few weeks ago).

That event is a birdie-fest, as this will probably be if, as expected, the wind stays down (Koepka won with 21-under last year).

Hatton made a slow start in this event last year but shot 68-66 (10-under) on the weekend to crack the top 15.

As for current form, he could just be running into some after following his T15 at the Alfred Dunhill with T18 at last week's Italian Open.

In Rome, a clip of him made social media headlines after his girlfriend, Emily, slammed a nearby port-a-loo toilet on his backswing and he gave her some good-natured grief.

That showed him to be in good heart but, of more direct interest, was his later tweet: "T18 in Italy! Lots of positives to take from this week!! Next stop, South Korea!"

Hatton can get in amongst it in quality fields and, bottom line, 50/1 looks too big for a player of his quality with just 78 going to post.

Final Bet: Tommy Fleetwood each-way @ 20/1

With no pre-conceived intention to make it this way, I'll add a third Englishman in Tommy Fleetwood.

I have an overriding feeling that the cards have to go his way soon and this course could be a good one for him.

Fleetwood was last seen shooting a closing 64 at St. Andrews to finish in the top five at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, a performance which helped him win the team event.

That made it four top eights in his last eight starts, a run started with his second place to Shane Lowry at Royal Portrush followed by tied fourth in the WGC-St. Jude Invitational in Tennessee.

In terms of form in Asia (admittedly a big region), Fleetwood's last six starts in China show: 14-7-6-20-2-3. Those have come at the Hong Kong Open, WGC-HSBC Champions and Shenzhen International.

Widening it out to all Asian Tour events, he's made the top 15 in nine of his last 13 starts, five of those double as top 10s.

But it's wins Fleetwood is looking for now and he spoke about it at Wentworth when assessing his 2019.

"That's obviously the only thing that's been missing for the past 18 months is a victory," he said.

"I think I've done a lot of good stuff, in what's been a really consistent period. It almost feels like I've been a little more consistent in certain areas, it's a strange one.

"Hopefully everything is going in the right direction, and of course, you don't want to leave it too long before another win, so I might as well get on with it.

"But yeah, everything's been moving in the right direction. Everything feels pretty good. Everything feels close and I always feel like we prepare well."

Fleetwood hasn't missed a cut anywhere since July 2018 and that will continue this week with everyone guaranteed four rounds.

He's always got low rounds in him so if the Southport swinger can keep away the medicore one that often crops up when in contention, he should have a big crack at this title.

Dave's 2019/20 PGA Tour P/L (based on £5 ew per selection outrights, £10 win top 5s/10s)

Staked: £150
Returned: £42.60
P/L: -£107.40

2018/2019 P/L: -£338.25
2017/2018 P/L: +£362.84
2016/2017 P/L: +£1179.89

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