The 2018 Honma Hong Kong Open kicks off a new European Tour season, and as ever on this composite course you’re looking for accuracy over distance. Long hitters such as Scott Hend and McIlroy have won here in the past but it’s getting the ball in play that’s key at Fanling.
The weather looks set fair, with a bit of wind on Thursday, but otherwise sunny spells for the first three days. A chance of the odd shower on Sunday with winds picking up.
This event is co-sanctioned with the Asian Tour, plus with Challenge Tour graduates from 2018 taking the step up, there’s lots of form from different tours to pull together.
Download Excel Odds Sheet: GolfOdds.Info – Honma Hong Kong Open presented by Amundi 2018
I’ve already highlighted Rafa Cabrera Bello. His recent form is solid and with two runners-up finishes the last two years here and he’ll be a very popular choice this week. I do make him about an 11/1 chance, the same as the layers, but I can’t ignore good recent performances and excellent course form.
John Catlin has been a good value pick recently, and this week is no different. He missed out on getting a European Tour card last week at the Final Qualifying School in Spain, but the American is back in familiar surroundings. Just to summarise for those who don’t know, he’s had three wins on the Asian Tour since May, including his first win on mainland China at the Asia-Pacific Classic. A player clearly at home in what Asia has to offer so worthy of a small interest again.
Another American offers value as well, Sean Crocker. It’s been a superb few months for 22 year old, who secured one of the top-15 places via the Challenge Tour to earn full playing rights on the main tour. Even more remarkable is he needed just 11 starts to finish 11th in the year end standings, helped by a superb run of golf starting in Austria at the end of July.
A T3 finish at the Euram Bank Open has been followed by 3 other 3rd place finishes, including back to back top-3s in China last month – first in southern China at the Hainan (Island) Open, and the second in Foshan, just north of Macau and Hong Kong.
Having had no status on any tour at the start of 2018, Crocker must be relishing the prospect of teeing it up with playing privileges on a main tour. He’s definitely not out of his depth in this company and is one to watch carefully over the next few months.
Another Challenge Tour graduate I’m keen on this week is Frenchman Victor Perez. You may recall we selected him to win Ras Al Khaimah Challenge Tour Grand Final earlier this month, but he came up just short by one shot to winner Adri Arnaus. Perez did though win the Foshan Open mentioned above last month, so a player in great form who is comfortable in the surroundings. Arnaus himself does offer some value, but with a missed cut when he teed it up at the Mayakoba Golf Classic, I’ll leave him out in favour of the two Challenge Tour alumni above.
Liang Wenchong is in the veteran category these days, having turned 40 back in August. That’s not to say he’s got no chance, having chalked up a victory in Japan last year at the Token Homemate Cup. I’ve got 16 previous appearances for Liang on this layout from 2001 onwards: 4 missed cuts but 7 top-20 finishes, most recently 2 years ago when placing 14th. I’m not expecting a Chinese victory from him, but Liang has two top-16 finishes in his last 4 starts over the past 5 weeks and offers good top-20 potential.
Masahiro Kawamura looked like another Japanese star in the making when he won his first professional event in 2013, the co-sanctioned Asia-Pacific Panasonic Open. There’s been no wins since, but at still only 25, time is one his side. This year he’s started to put together some better results including 3 second place finishes. The reason for him being highlighted is two of those runners-up spots have come on his last two starts.
It’s often the case with Japanese players that they find it difficult to compete when travelling. Very few can do it successfully, but Kawamura showed earlier this year he’s got a game to mix with the best when finishing T39 at The Open at Carnoustie. This week he’s not travelling too far, and he’s got an 11th place finish on this course back in 2015. He may be a touch rusty after three weeks off but worth a small interest at huge prices on the exchanges, plus something to place top-10.
Rafa Cabrera Bello – 2pts win at 12 (various, ALREADY ADVISED)
Sean Crocker – 1pt ew @ 51 (various, 1/5 1st 6)
Victor Perez – 0.25pt win @ 190 (Betfair)
Masahiro Kawamura – 0.25pt win @ 340 (Betfair)
John Catlin – 0.25pt win @ 210 (Betfair)
Masahiro Kawamura – 0.25pt @ 11.00 (Betfair, PaddyPower)
John Catlin – 0.25pt @ 9.00 (SkyBet)
Victor Perez – 0.25pt @ 9.50 (PaddyPower)
Liang Wenchong – 0.25pt @ 8.00 (Betway)