Steve takes a good look at this week's European Tour action from Singapore. What will it take to win at The Championship at Laguna National?
“Brett Rumford won this last year and the week after he moved on to China and won the Volvo China Open. Levy is attempting to do the same feat but the other way round and I thought he was a perfectly fair price at 50.049/1 to do so.”
Originally known as the Ballantine's Championship, The Championship at Laguna National was first staged in 2008. Co-hosted with the Asian Tour, it was the first European Tour event to be staged in Korea but having visited three separate venues there over the first six years, due to 'staging issues' at the 11th hour, this year's renewal has been switched to Singapore.
The Masters Course, Laguna National Golf and Country Club, Tampines, Singapore
Par 72, 7,207 yards
The Masters Course at Laguna National was used for the now defunct Singapore Masters between 2002 and 2007 and it was also the host venue for the Singapore Open in 1996 so we do have at least some form to look at.
The Masters Course was designed by Andy Dye and it opened in 1983. With water in-play on 12 holes, this flat, tight, tree-lined Bermuda course will provide a fairly stern test. The fairways average just 20 metres in width and the greens, which will be set to run at just 10.6 on the stimpmeter, are quite grainy and tricky to read.
Live on Sky Sports all four days - 06:30 on Thursday and Friday and 04:00 over the weekend.
First six tournament winners
2013 - Brett Rumford (playoff)
2012 - Bernd Wiesberger
2011 - Lee Westwood
2010 - Marcus Fraser
2009 - Thongchai Jaidee (playoff)
2008 - Graeme McDowell (playoff)
What will it take to win the Championship at Laguna National?
There aren't complete stats for the Singapore Masters staged at Laguna National but what we do have shows that the key to success is most certainly accuracy. Nick Dougherty ranked 1st for greens hit when he finished runner-up to Marden Mamat (who there are no stats for) in 2006 and he ranked 3rd for the same stat when he won in 2005. Colin Montgomerie finished second to Dougherty and he topped the greens in regulation stats, as he'd done twelve months earlier when winning the title, so look to the accurate iron players to do well.
Is there an angle in?
The grainy greens and stifling heat tend to give the locals an edge but the days of getting good prices about them have long gone. If anything it's gone the other way and you're often better off sticking to the Europeans in these co-sanctioned events now.
The last time the Laguna National was used, when Liang Wen-Chong won with an 11-under-par total, scoring on the par 5s was very important. Liang only played the long holes in -8 but that was the worst score amongst the top-13 on the leaderboard, with 15 men playing them in at least 10-under-par, so a strong par 5 performer may be worth looking at closely.
In all likelihood, a fast start will be imperative this week. The last two winners at the venue were in front after round one and when Dougherty won in 2005 he sat second after the opening days play. And all three events went to four rounds, something that's far from guaranteed to happen this week with a dodgy looking forecast.
The 17th is a really tough par 3 so if you're pick's in front with two to play come Sunday, it might be prudent to take a little profit rather than rely on a par-par finish to win.
I was with Bernd Wiesberger last week in Indonesia where he was attempting to defend the title but I'm not interested in the Austrian this week. His recent greens in regulation stats are very good but he missed more than a few approach shots quite badly in Indonesia and his driving accuracy was a wee bit off too. I can see why he's at the head of the market but I'm happy to leave him out after last week's disappointing effort in what was a decidedly weaker field.
Currently ranked 6th for par 5 performance (a possible angle-in) and 6th for greens in regulation on the European Tour, Rafa Cabrera-Bello is the man stats-wise. He missed the cut here in 2007 when he followed an opening 67 with an incredibly bad 82 in round two and coming off a top-ten finish in China last week, thanks to a final round 67, he ticks all the boxes other than price. He simply doesn't win anywhere near enough for my liking and whilst I can easily see him contending he's just too short for me.
Following the death of his coach last year, Kiradech Aphibarnrat finally showed a bit of form last week in China when he finished 4th in Indonesia but one swallow doth not a summer make and it might be a bit risky to assume all in the garden is rosy again and if I was going to back a short priced Asian Tour player I'd prefer to be with last week's winner, Anirban Lahiri, but again, he doesn't look generously priced.
Ross Fisher putted better than anyone when he finished third here on debut in 2006 but he finished down the field twelve months later and last week's missed cut in China doesn't give an awful lot of encouragement either.
This looks a particularly tricky event and I'm more than happy to take things easy, especially given what time of day it's being played out in the UK, but I have taken a small chance on last week's winner, Alexander Levy.
Brett Rumford won this last year and the week after he moved on to China and won the Volvo China Open. Levy is attempting to do the same feat but the other way round and I thought he was a perfectly fair price at 50.049/1 to do so. Winning back-to-back is notoriously difficult but far from impossible - as Rumford showed last year.
Alexander Levy @ 50.049/1
I do have one or two others I have my eye on but I need them drift to a decent price before I back them. If I do add to Levy I'll tweet any bets struck before the off and I'll be back on either Thursday or Friday with the In-Play Blog.
*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter