The European Tour remains in Asia this week, as Nicolas Colsaerts aims to defend his 2011 China Open crown at the seventh course this round of the Tour has been played at in as many years.
Colsaerts’ charge to victory last year was highly impressive, as he recorded a terrific 24-under score to finish four strokes clear of his nearest rival.
However, that success was Colsaerts’ sole triumph in European Tour events, and with an arguably stronger field of competitors to square off against this year, the Belgian looks likely to struggle to obtain consecutive wins in this event.
Amongst his opposition at Shanghai Binhai Golf Club are Englishmen Paul Casey and Ian Poulter, with the latter in particular showing signs that he is returning to his best form in the recent renewal of the US Masters.
Poulter achieved a seventh place finish at Augusta, and should he be able to get off to a decent start here, his determination will stand him in good stead to pose a threat at claiming the title.
Casey also should not be discounted, as the Cheltenham-born player aims to fully recover from the shoulder injury which has plagued his game in recent months, after showing vast signs of improvement when firing a decent 68 in last week’s Bahrain Invitational.
Elsewhere, Swede Peter Hanson looks a big danger, after an admirable performance at Augusta that reaped a tied-3rd finish when finishing eight under par.
Hanson’s golf looked as good as it ever has done in that Major display, and he will hope to follow the example of Louis Oozthuizen, who triumphed in the Malaysian Open almost immediately off the back of his impressive Masters showing, where he finished runner-up.
Focus will also be attributed to tournament debutant Guan Tian-Iang, who will become the youngest player to compete in a European Tour event, aged just 13 years and 173 days.
The youngster is expected to have little impact on the tournament as a whole, but his achievement to qualify at such a tender age is a testament to his massive potential in the sport.