2018 Honma Hong Kong Open Preview
The 2018 European Tour campaign came to an end on Sunday with former Masters champion Danny Willett taking the spoils at the DP World Tour Championship – ending his two-and-a-half year trophy drought. Class is permanent, and all that.
Meanwhile, Francesco Molinari won the Race to Dubai Series by virtue of bettering Tommy Fleetwood’s effort in the desert; how fitting it was for those two great friends to battle it out for the prize.
Fans of the Tour won’t have to wait long for the 2019 season to start; it’s this week, in fact!
Okay, so the Hong Kong Open isn’t what we would call a top-class event by any means, but a top-heavy field has been bolstered by the likes of Fleetwood, Sergio Garcia and Patrick Reed, whose flirtation with the European Tour continues.
We might be inclined to put our clubs away until the New Year, because the Hong Kong Golf Club in Fanling, which is this week’s host, is not some kind of new season jolly by any means.
It is perilously short at just 6,700 yards for its Par of 70, and these are some of the tightest tree-lined fairways you are likely to see anywhere on a pro tour. This is a plotter’s course and a bit of a grind, so Reed and co will need to bring their A Game this week.
The track is actually a composite of three different courses, namely the Old, New and Eden, and a handful of holes from each form this championship track. Six of these are doglegs, so accuracy off the tee is paramount.
There are only two Par 5s but they are beatable; defending champion Wade Ormsby played them in -6 last year, and with average winning scores creeping into the low teens under par clearly the bulk of the damage needs to be done here.
Otherwise, making par and moving on for many of the Par 4s, including the water-heavy 18th, is key.
What other factors should gamers be considering ahead of their Hong Kong Open draft? Well, we’re certainly interested in course form – this is a unique track, by European Tour standards, and so previous experience is welcome.
And what about motivation? A large number in the field will have missed out on the last few Race to Dubai events….does that serve as a kick up the backside ahead of the new campaign?
And what about those who have had a busy itinerary this year? Tommy Fleetwood, when interviewed after the DP World Tour Championship, looked absolutely shattered. Given that he enjoys playing at Fanling he is of course a potential champion, but has he simply run out of gas?
These are all ifs, buts and maybes of course, so we’ll leave you with two other tidbits of information to consider: firstly, three of the last four winners of the Hong Kong Open have been from Australia.
Secondly, there is one of those bizarre, not-sure-why style links between Hong Kong GC and Crans-sur-Sierre, home of the European Masters. Miguel Angel-Jimenez, Scott Hend and Colin Montgomerie have won at both, while the likes of Matteo Manassero, Matt Fitzpatrick and many others have compiled top fives at both.
So, who makes our draft this week?
This Week’s Honma Hong Kong Open Fantasy Picks & Predictions
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Cover photo via Instagram