Roebuck’s Hong Kong Open preview: Olesen is best value
Miguel Angel Jimenez became the oldest winner in European Tour history when the Spaniard captured the Hong Kong Open for the third time at the age of 48 years and 318 days, 12 months ago.
Fast forward to this season’s renewal and Jimenez is the favourite to claim a fourth title in the former British colony.
The Ryder Cup regular will be popular amongst punters and he ticks plenty of the right boxes, with his straight-hitting, accurate game, perfect for the layout which is one of the shortest on the schedule at 6,730 yards.
But successful gambling is all about getting the right price for your selection, and, at current odds of 8/1, Jimenez just does not fit the bill, especially when you consider he was a 40/1 shot to win last year.
The field for this tournament has usually been better than average, with some of the biggest names in the game teeing up in Fanling.
And that’s probably why in the 12 editions of the Hong Kong Open which have been co-sanctioned on the European Tour, all bar one have been won by Europeans.
However, with no Rory McIlroy, Ian Poulter or Padraig Harrington in the line up this year – all former winners – there is certainly less quality on show.
That’s not to say a European golfer can’t win, and this could just be the event that sees Thorbjorn Olesen (20/1) return to the winners’ enclosure.
The Dane is looking for a first victory since April 2012 and hasn’t performed anything like as good this term as he did last season.
But solid efforts in some big events recently, including 17th in the DP World Tour Championship, suggest he has rediscovered some form, while his greens in regulation stats have been much better since the end of October.
The local assault is expected to be improved this year, given the lack of strength in depth of the European challenge, and 40/1 shot Anirban Lahirin looks well primed for a title tilt.
The Indian professional’s putting has been excellent recently – he’s ranked in the top dozen of putting average in four of his last six starts – and with top six finishes in three of those appearances he is worth each-way interest.
As is fellow 40/1 chance Kang Sung-Hoon, who is just impossible to leave out of the staking plan given he has won the last two tournaments he has played in, including the Korean Open where he outlasted McIlroy.
My three off the tee – Olesen (20/1), Lahiri (40/1) and Kang (40/1)