Five players to watch in Indonesian Masters live on Sky Sports

Ben Coley picks out five to follow in the Indonesian Masters
Ben Coley picks out five to follow in the Indonesian Masters

Justin Rose bids to cap a memorable year with a successful title defence in the Indonesian Masters, and he's a prohibitively priced favourite to do so.

The Englishman won this event by eight shots in 2017, opening with a round of 62 for a two-shot lead he'd never relinquish, and with the prospect of returning to the top of the world rankings there to focus the mind he should prove hard to beat.

There is world-class opposition in the shape of Henrik Stenson, but he makes his debut in Indonesia and his only victory in the Far East came in the World Cup some 10 years ago. Stenson ought to hit the frame here given the lack of credible opposition, but at 7/2 he looks short enough having been short of his best - for various reasons - but for an excellent Ryder Cup effort and some encouragement in the Bahamas.

After that, it's Indian duo Anirban Lahiri and Shubhankar Sharma. The former won at this course in 2014, the first hint that he could become a genuine top-50 player capable of competing for elite titles. That said, 2018 has been a largely unsuccessful year and he doesn't appear the most convincing. Sharma, meanwhile, has wrapped up the Asian Tour's order of merit and, while 11th last year, he could well be running on fumes this time.

In a nutshell, then, this is a fine opportunity for Rose while Stenson is firmly expected to fill one of the places, and that makes the event most unappealing from a punters' perspective. With Sky Bet the only firm to offer a 'without' market so far, it means I'm reluctant to put forward a staking plan so instead, here are five golfers who do appeal in that market for various reasons but who will go without recommended bets on this occasion. There's just nothing to be gained by advising bets which only a fraction of my readership can have.

Jarryd Felton

Top of my list of alternatives to the favourites is the young Australian, Jarryd Felton.

Aged 23, he's a player who has looked promising for a little while now and ninth place in the Australian PGA Championship, won by Cameron Smith with Marc Leishman second, is strong form. Indeed that event was slightly deeper than this one, albeit neither Smith nor Leishman would quite be in Rose's class just yet.

Felton now has to take that form overseas but was fifth in the co-sanctioned Fiji International earlier in the year and he's got major incentive this week, as he's very much in need of a performance to make the top 60 in the Habitat for Humanity standings and keep his Asian Tour card.

Currently ranked 73rd having only played in seven events, Felton knows what he has to do and while it's his course debut, he looks capable of going well if building on an excellent effort in Brisbane.

Shugo Imahira

Talking of incentive, few have more to play for than progressive Japanese player Shugo Imahira, who needs to go very close to winning if he's to secure a place inside the world's top 50 and, with it, a starting berth in the Masters.

Imahira has got a taste for major championship golf over the last three years, playing the Open, US Open and US PGA, and the prospect of an Augusta debut should ensure that one of this field's most in-form players is fully focused on the job at hand.

Having finished inside the top 10 in exactly half of his 26 starts this year, including a victory seven weeks ago, Imahira topped the Japan Golf Tour money list by a convincing margin. Unsurprisingly, he swept the board at their Annual Award Ceremony, winning the coveted MVP title and Golf Media Award.

At 26, he looks to be improving all the time and while largely untried away from home, he did make the cut in the Sony Open on the PGA Tour at the start of 2018 and has played well elsewhere in what have been limited opportunities so far. This is a major one and you have to go back to May for the last time he played poorly in Asia - he arrives here seeking an eighth top-15 finish in succession.

Sihwan Kim

Although still looking for his first professional win, Sihwan Kim has regularly hinted that he's capable of climbing the grades and he arrives here on the back of ninth place in Thailand behind the equally promising Miguel Tabuena.

Kim had previously finished 20th in Hong Kong, an event won by Aaron Rai with various top-class players in the mix. As for his form in Indonesia, he was ninth behind Rose last year and returned to take third place in the 2018 Indonesia Open where the one-two, Justin Harding and Scott Vincent, were classy.

The American isn't far behind those two in the Habitat for Humanity standings and really ought to give his running, with five of the best 10 performances of his career having come in 2018. Whatever happens this week, he looks a winner-in-waiting on the Asian Tour having recently turned 30.

Maverick Antcliff

It's always worth keeping an eye on promising young Australian players in events like these - indeed it was in the Indonesian Masters that Cameron Smith first demonstrated his potential when second to Lahiri in 2014.

Maverick Antcliff is probably a little way off producing something similar, but this big-hitter from Down Under was ninth in the Indonesia Open back in July while two starts back he finished 13th in the Australian Open, two of the best performance in his burgeoning career.

The Queenslander attended university in Augusta and has played plenty of golf in China so he's well-travelled and surely improving, and while he arrives on the back of a missed cut there wasn't much wrong with rounds of 72 and 69 in Thailand.

Micah Lauren Shin

After winning the Manila Masters last November before a promising 20th here, Micah Lauren Shin would've entered 2018 with high expectations. Injury, however, affected his early-season form and after an enforced absence, he's been feeling his way back into competition mode.

Perhaps, then, this will come a little too soon, but ninth place in the Hong Kong Open suggests otherwise and, like Antcliff, there shouldn't be any alarm bells after missing the cut in Thailand last time out.

After a week off to further his recovery, Shin returns to a suitable golf course and he's played plenty of golf in Indonesia, having decided to base himself in Asia after turning professional. Given how late he was to the sport, first picking up a golf club in his teens, the 22-year-old has made remarkable progress and looks like one to follow.

  • Best bet: Felton each-way (without Rose and Stenson) at 70/1
  • Banker: Imahira to finish in the top 10 at 2/1

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