The Hong Kong Open was established in 1959, but didn’t become a European/Asian Tour co-sanctioned event until 2001. That year’s tournament was won by Jose Maria Olazabal, though it is fellow Spaniard Miguel Angel Jimenez who is most synonymous with the event after recording 4 victories between 2004 and 2013. Meanwhile, Freddie Jacobson, Padraig Harrington, Colin Montgomerie, and Justin Rose are other big names to have lifted the trophy this century.
The Hong Kong Golf Club in Fanling is the host venue and, whilst the par-70 layout measures just under 6,700 yards, its tight and demanding nature provides a good test of golf. The holes used are actually a mixture of holes from the Eden and New Courses, and dog-legs, drainage ditches, tree-lines fairways and Bermuda Greens are the main features.
The market this week is dominated by Patrick Reed and Justin Rose, and the two Ryder Cup Warriors finished tied-third and first last year. They would win easily if at their best, however neither played well in last week’s Hero Challenge, with Rose withdrew due to back problems.
Much more interesting is another player who finished third last year, and Soomin Lee strikes me as a must bet at 100/1. The winner of the Shenzhen International in 2016, he improved with each round here last year, shooting 70, 69, 66, and 64, and this year’s field looks weaker on paper. The young South Korean looks sure to be a star of the future, and should win many events over the next few years.
Another youngster who looks sure to make the breakthrough on the European Tour before too long is Australian Jason Scrivener and, after two top-20 finishes in his last 4 events of the 2015/16 season, he’ll be hoping to at least match his showing in this event last year when he also finished tied-third. Two 65’s and two 68’s suggest he played nice steady golf throughout the week and, again, he looks at big price at 90/1 in what looks a weaker field this year.
Finally, I’ll complete this week’s betting strategy with another Australian Marcus Frazer, who finished tied-fifth here in 2014. The demands of the Fanling layout should be perfect for the wily old campaigner who finds most modern courses too long to be competitive.
Jason Scrivener 1.5 Points Each-Way @ 80/1 (Stan James) ¼ odds 5 places
Marcus Fraser 1.5 Points Each-Way @ 80/1 (Betfred, Coral, Hills) ¼ odds 5 places