It's destination China for the next fortnight on the European Tour and the inaugural Shenzhen International is first up on the schedule. We're not completely blind here as around this time last year, next week's event - the Volvo China Open, was played at Genzon GC, the venue in question. It's a theme of birdie making at Genzon as the course lends itself to being attacked.
Alexander Levy - 26.00 - took the title last year at the Volvo China Open so straight away that brings to mind a course that's potentially there to play aggressive golf and go flag hunting on. Tommy Fleetwood and Alvaro Quiros were the two giving chase so that only serves to back up the theory. Fleetwood also features near the top of the market at 26.00 and I really like Tommy at a decent price here.
Former Masters' champ Bubba Watson - 8.00 - is the focus of media attention as he continues his global travels and he is a heavy favourite with the punters. It's Alex Noren though that catches my eye most at 26.00 amongst the market leaders.
The course - Genzon GC
Built around a lake, the partly tree-lined, partly exposed par 72 track measures 7,145 yards. Water and sand hazards feature throughout but fairways are generous, rough is described as "consistent but not too penal", and rain has softened up the course leading into the event. Greens are paspalum grass and running only around 10.6' on the stimp; as I always say, this is a great equaliser for the poorer putters. Genzon comprises four reachable par fives there to be attacked, 1 drive-able par four, and bigger hitters may also have the advantage on lengthy par 3s. The premium will be on aggressive golf and birdie making, while scoring should be low.
Three from the pack
Alexander Noren - 26.00 or 6.00 - and Tommy Fleetwood are my two most likely contenders to Bubba this week. Alex picked up where he left off after a lengthy spell on the sidelines, with a runner up to Rory McIlroy in the desert and he is in a very similar mould to his namesake Levy. If he brings his A game here I fancy him to really put it to Bubba and the other market leaders around the Genzon GC track. The Swede is a birdie machine renowned for going low and starting fast. He rips it off the tee and flights it high, always attacking pins. Noren is not afraid to go low.
Byeong Hun An - 41.00 or 9.00 - has arguably been the most outstanding addition to the main tour this year. He's been one of the most consistent players on and an aggregate score of -63 to par has him well ahead of any other player. A succession of top 10 and 20 finishes dominate An's stats and he excels in every department of the game, averaging almost 305 yards from the tips with a GIR clip of 76%. When the putter is hot, "Benny" will contend and this course is right up the former US Amateur Champion's street.
Chris Wood - 51.00 or 11.00 - looks decent value this week after a top 3 in Morocco last time out. Nursing himself back to full fitness after an injury lay off, Wood excels from tee to green and should find himself with numerous chances in China, especially on the gettable par fives. It will all depend on the flat stick as to whether he can take them or not but in this field he is a relatively large price to take the chance on.
With birdies very much the brief this week, I've been trawling though some European Tour stats and they throw up a few guys at big odds. Max Kieffer - 81.00 - has a recent form line of 32-8-30-24 and he was 32nd last year in the Volvo. He's currently 4th behind An in the score-to-par stat and 2nd in total birdies on 141. Kristoffer Broberg 126.0 is 6th in total birdies made in 2015 without really doing anything yet so this may be his track despite a MC last year.
Jorge Campillo - 151.0 - stands out at a big price. He had an outing here last year (64th) to get to know the nuances of the track and has made 156 birdies this year - leader by a long way. The Spaniard was recently 3rd in South Africa.
Bet now on the Shenzhen International