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Volvo China Open
The desert swing of the European Tour heads to Saudi Arabia and the Red Sea on its west coast, teeing up at the Royal Greens Golf and Country Club that has had a bit of a stop start history. Designer Dave Sampson started the project back in 2008 when sixteen of the holes where shaped but with the global recession hitting hard that year development was stopped.
Work recommenced in 2014 and the course and clubhouse with its fantastic panoramic view of the Red Sea finally opened for play at the end of 2017. I think we can expect low scoring this week with the course coming in at 6900-yard from the tips, but strategy will play a bit part with the numerous wadi features meander through the course.
The wadi’s are there to help alleviate storm drainage from the golf course and the residential neighbourhoods with each wadi running into one of four salt water lakes and have been aesthetically incorporated into the design of the course.
As you can image with the Red Sea and the juxtaposed position of lush grass against the stark desert the course offers some wonderful holes and stunning beauty none more so than the Par 3, 16th which runs along the shore of the Red Sea.
Other holes to look out for are the 470-yard 6th, which is the longest and toughest par four on the card, which doglegs left to the green and the 427-yard 15th another dogleg left hole that’s situated close to the beach. Both nines finish with a par 5 with water running down the left of the 18th and is a fitting finally to a stunning course.
For another trusted Royal Greens Golf & CC review click here
My tips to Win:
There are two players going for back-to-back wins this week and I am going for Justine Rose 13/2 – PaddyPower – to be the man who pulls it off, the only thing that stacks up against him is that long-haul flight. Justin will be buzzing after blessing his new club sponsor with a win, a day’s rest and I think the world number one is the man to beat this week.
A Top 5 finish in his first tournament of the year should see Sergio Garcia 14/1 – with Ladbrokes – in buoyant mood teeing it up this week. I am not ashamed to admit that I didn’t feel Sergio deserved a Ryder Cup pick last year, but boy did he prove me wrong and I take my hat off to his sheer determination to get back to his best. I also feel the Ryder Cup has given Garcia a new boost of enthusiasm for the game and he will be looking to get a win early this year.
And the man I felt should have been in that Ryder Cup team was Matt Wallace 25/1 – with SportingBet – with his three wins last year. Matt has nothing to prove, Sergio’s experience in the Ryder Cup got him the pick and we could all see that the captain made the right decision. Wallace was still unlucky to miss out, but I feel he is a player that is not far from winning the biggest tournaments in the game and a runner-up finish at the weekend should see him arrive in buoyant mood.
I am going to stick with Thorbjørn Olesen 33/1 – with Ladbrokes – again this week after his Top 10 finish at the Dubai Desert Classic firing all four rounds in the 60s. I have stated many times before that I feel Thorbjørn has what it takes to be one of the best players in the world and just lacks consistency and the mental toughness to grind out a round when things are not going well. I am sure being part of that Ryder Cup team that showed plenty of grit and determination that some of that rubbed off on him.
I did tip Thomas Pieters 40/1 – with SportingBet – a couple of weeks ago in Abu Dhabi where he finished the tournament just outside the Top 15 and a solid performance in Dubai last week see him finish inside the Top 30. Known for his explosive temper it seems Pieters is learning to control that anger and channelling it into grinding rounds out when things are not going well. Thomas is another player who on his day who can destroy a field and adding that bit of control and determination makes me feel we will see Pieters challenging this week.
It’s been a great couple of weeks for Paul Waring 100/1 – with Ladbrokes – finishing sixth and third in the first two events of the desert swing and I must admit I was surprised to see him this far down the betting odds. Paul’s first win last year came on his 200th European Tour start and that certainly showed plenty of guts and belief in himself. It also seems to have given him a new-found confidence and I feel these are great odds for someone in his current form.
Try Alvaro Quiros 150/1 – with SportingBet
As always good luck
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