Volvo China Open betting preview and tips from Ben Coley

Last Updated April 23 2018, 20:48Golf
Thorbjorn Olesen is a solid fancy
Thorbjorn Olesen is a solid fancy

On the back of a 200/1 winner, Ben Coley provides five selections at prices ranging from 40/1 to 150/1 for the Volvo China Open.

Recommended bets

1.5pts e.w. Thorbjorn Olesen at 40/1 (1/5 1,2,3,4,5,6,7) - proven winner caught the eye in Spain; solid at this course

1pt e.w. Callum Shinkwin at 80/1 (1/4 1,2,3,4,5) - top prospect has the game for Topwin; arrives in really good form

1pt e.w. Erik van Rooyen at 50/1 (1/5 1,2,3,4,5,6) - won in China last year and edging close to European Tour breakthrough

1pt e.w. Brandon Stone at 100/1 (1/5 1,2,3,4,5,6,7) - much more like it over the last fortnight; strong form in China already

1pt e.w. Gavin Green at 150/1 (1/5 1,2,3,4,5,6) - best player on Asian Tour last year; surely improve for return to the Far East

For details of advised bookmakers and each-way terms, visit our transparent tipping record

Alex Levy goes for back-to-back victories in the Volvo China Open, just days after securing his fifth European Tour title with an impressive display in difficult conditions at the Trophee Hassan II, where he proved that he's no one-trick pony.

Levy's focused approach has been key to his success in 2018, so while he'll have enjoyed winning in Morocco there's no reason he can't go again. Encouragingly, he was a solid 24th a week on from his first professional win, which also came in China, while in 2014 he followed a win in Portugal with 13th in the Volvo Match Play before finishing second, again in China, at the BMW Masters.

Without doubt, there are players who thrive in this part of the world and others who struggle. Levy's two wins, a second, a third and a fourth from just 13 starts here place him firmly in the former category and, with the Ryder Cup to focus his mind, he's a 12/1 favourite with outstanding credentials.

That being said, the opposition is tougher than it was when he won at 25/1 last week and while at this level he is fairly prolific, that's not enough to go steaming in when the likes of Kiradech Aphibarnrat, 2016 winner Hao-tong Li and Asia specialist Bernd Wiesberger are among those lining up to take him on.

By far the most tempting of that trio is Wiesberger, whose form in Asia has long been outstanding. He's won in Korea, Indonesia and China, ought to have won in Malaysia, and more recently has rediscovered his form since dropping out of the world's top 50 in the Honda Classic.

Wiesberger is a best of 20/1 in a place and I thought long and hard about putting him up, but the bottom line is he doesn't quite win often enough to encourage confidence.

Instead, the less reliable but more ruthless Thorbjorn Olesen gets the headline vote at twice the price.

Olesen and Wiesberger have four European Tour wins apiece, but the former has also won a World Cup alongside Soren Kjeldsen and a GolfSixes with Lucas Bjerregaard, and has unquestionably taken more of his chances.

Here at Topwin, a low-scoring par 72 which offers up opportunities for big-hitters courtesy not only of four par-fives, but two short par-fours which can be reached from the tee under the right conditions, Olesen has finished 15th and 31st, ranking 14th and 17th respectively for greens and driving the ball well, and it's just a matter of getting the putter going to get him right in the mix.

It was the putter which cost him a higher finish in Spain, but 46th place on his first start for nearly two months was no disaster and it was particularly encouraging to see the Dane rank second for greens, showcasing the fact that he can be a deadly iron player when he's not under too much pressure from the tee box.

Trawl through interview transcripts at Topwin and you'll see that Chris Wood emphasised how much width is on offer from the tee, with the rough none too penal, and when just about every player in the field says the greens are the hardest challenge, it's clear that this is an altogether easier assignment than a week ago.

That's perfect for Olesen, who often comes alive when there is space to spray the driver a little bit, and his record in the Dubai Desert Classic in particular catches the eye given that Topwin champions Li and Levy were first and fourth there earlier this year.

The Turkish Airlines Open at Carya also looks a decent guide in terms of scoring conditions and opportunities to attack, and it may be significant that when Olesen won there in 2016, Li finished second while Levy played the best golf in the entire field over the weekend.

All of that is fairly speculative and the fact of the matter is that Olesen's own form at Topwin is enough to confirm that the layout suits, which makes him a big player at the price.

I like the fact that while some of the key contenders at the top of the market have had to fly out from Morocco, some via London, others via Paris, Olesen was in Japan at a promotional event over the weekend and he could be ready to roll on the European Tour's arrival in the Far East.

That was the case last year when he finished eighth in Shenzhen, and he may just be better prepared than some. Given the strength of his long-game in Spain, the fact that low-scoring conditions on a golf course like this will suit and his reliability when in the mix, he's therefore a knocking bet at 40/1.

Pablo Larrazabal perhaps ought to have won this event when put up last year and, given that I was with him last week, the Spaniard is tempting. However, he was very disappointing in missing the cut in Morocco yet stayed there until Sunday night, so we don't even have the potential for him to have been advantaged by an earlier flight and more time to acclimatise.

More interesting are the French brigade who could well be inspired to up their games by the performance of Levy, but Topwin specialist Benjamin Hebert is still scrambling for a flight to China at the time of writing while Romain Wattel hasn't done enough to suggest that he's about to strike.

Instead, it could pay to ignore Callum Shinkwin's poor effort here last year and focus on how well he's playing.

This big-hitter from England seems sure to be suited by a course like this one, and he simply wasn't in a place to show it on first visit. His form figures coming into the event were made up of letters rather than numbers as he struggled for fitness; the event, like all he played in during the spring, was a complete write-off.

One year on and he arrives on the back of three top-30 finishes in succession, powered not only by his long driving but also a warm putter, and that brings him firmly onto the radar given that I expect him to go very close before the year is out and probably on a low-scoring par 72 like this one.

Shinkwin showed in last summer's Scottish Open just how big a talent he is and while it presumably took him quite a while to get over his play-off defeat to Rafa Cabrera-Bello, he's showing signs right now that he's ready to get back into contention.

Prior to struggling in both China starts last year, Shinkwin had demonstrated that he has what it takes to contend in this part of the world with finishes of 14th, eighth and 24th in his only visits, which included a third-round 62 in the Shenzhen International, and he's worth chancing.

Ryan Fox is interesting at a similar price having struck the ball really well in Morocco, but I find it harder to excuse his poor form at the course and of the other monster hitters in this field, it's past China Open champion Nicolas Colsaerts and talented Spaniard Nacho Elvira who stand out.

The latter scored his first professional win in China on the Challenge Tour and is definitely respected, but at similar prices I prefer the claims of Erik van Rooyen.

This young South African also made his breakthrough in China, winning the Hainan Open late last year to earn his European Tour card, and he's bound to call on those memories as he seeks another piece of silverware in his rookie season.

Already, van Rooyen has bagged three top-10 finishes at this higher level, including second place in the Joburg Open, and despite a final-round 73 I didn't think he did a great deal wrong playing alongside Levy last Sunday.

Being there to watch on as Levy produced the goods under pressure will benefit van Rooyen in the long run and after a breakthrough 2017, winning on both the Sunshine and Challenge Tour, it seems a matter of time before he's adding to his success.

Van Rooyen said last week that he feels like a European Tour player now and seeing him contend outside of his native South Africa was hugely encouraging. He looks ready to follow in the footsteps of Dylan Frittelli, who lost a play-off to Levy here 12 months ago.

Staying in South Africa and while van Rooyen looks like he has a bright future, it may not be as bright as Brandon Stone's should the youngster find a level of consistency which has so far been missing.

Sweet-swinging Stone has long been considered the best of a very good bunch who are looking to emulate Louis Oosthuizen, Charl Schwartzel and Branden Grace, and it's therefore been a little disappointing that he's failed to add to two European Tour titles won on home soil in 2016.

However, we probably shouldn't be too hasty given that he only turned 24 last week, something he celebrated with his best finish in over six months at the Trophee Hassan II to suggest that things are looking up.

Stone still finished outside the top 20, but given that it came one week on from his best round in over six months, we've been handed two pretty big clues that this awesome talent might be close to a return to his very best form.

What's really encouraging is that these performances weren't courtesy of anything strange or hard to replicate - Stone has simply worked hard to get his long-game back in shape and, having failed to gain reward for it during the early part of the year, he's seen the fruits of his labour pay off with 39th in Spain and 22nd in Morocco.

Given that he was 18th here a year ago and has also been second in the Shenzhen International, another step forward is anticipated and with the talent at his disposal, that makes any three-figure prices hard to resist.

Of those even further down the market, Marcel Siem is a past winner in China who has shown glimpses of his best lately, but I'd be more inclined to look towards younger talents such as Lucas Herbert, who played so well in his native Australia earlier in the season and has a card secured for the PGA Tour China this year.

Austin Connelly could also be a factor if building on his performance last week, but my final selection is Gavin Green.

The Malaysian secured his first professional win last October en route to topping the Asian Tour Order of Merit, and like fellow winners of that prestigious title Anirban Lahiri, Aphibarnrat and Seung-yul Noh, he's expected to make his mark in this grade soon.

Green has the power to tame Topwin on his debut, whereas last week's test in Morocco probably isn't for him just yet, and on his last visit to China opened up with a round of 65 in world-class company.

Granted, he's hardly set the world alight this year but a couple of top-20 finishes in Asia, including eighth behind Sergio Garcia in Singapore, should serve as a reminder of the potential he boasts and I wouldn't be at all shocked to see a big step forward under what are considered suitable conditions.

Posted at 1930 BST on 23/04/18

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