BMW Masters Betting Preview

Henrik Stenson

Henrik Stenson (Photo credit: Keith Allison)

The first leg of the European Tour’s Final Series starts this week, as a loaded field descends on the mammoth Lake Malaren Golf Club in Shanghai for the 2013 BMW Masters.

2013 BMW Masters Fact Sheet

  • Course: Lake Malaren Golf Club
  • Location: Shanghai, China
  • Yardage: 7,607 yards, par 72
  • Defending Champion: Peter Hanson
  • Five Consensus Favourites: Henrik Stenson, Rory McIlroy, Martin Kaymer, Luke Donald and Lee Westwood

TV Schedule

  • Thursday – 6:00 AM to 10:00 AM ET (Golf Channel)
  • Friday – 6:00 AM to 10:00 AM ET (Golf Channel)
  • Saturday – 6:00 AM to 10:00 AM ET (Golf Channel)
  • Sunday – 6:00 AM to 10:00 AM ET (Golf Channel)

Key Storyline This Week

As mentioned above, this week is the start of the European Tour’s Final Series, similar to the FedEx Cup played on the North American PGA Tour, and it’s brought out some of the best players in the world, even if they haven’t been full time European Tour players in several years. It promises to be a quality event on a course that most of the players agree as being one of the finest that the European Tour visits each year.

Outside of that, all eyes will be on Rory McIlroy. His runner-up finish in Korea last week, albeit against a field of players that even the most ardent of golf fans couldn’t pick out, does provide some thought that maybe things are starting to turn around for the former world number one. Of course, many thought that to be the case after he finished behind only Martin Laird in Texas earlier this year and that didn’t work out, but I can honestly say that his swing looks solid and I think he’s ready to get back into the winner’s circle. I’m not saying it’s going to happen this week, but it’s definitely a real possibility.

Lake Malaren Golf Club

Designed by Jack Nicklaus and opened for play in 2011, Lake Malaren is an absolute beast of a course at just over 7600 yards, and if last year was any indication, the greens are difficult even for the best players in the world. It’s no shock that Peter Hanson, one of the world’s best with the putter and also a guy who can go long off the tee, came away with the win last year. The greens will run between 12 and 13 on the stimp, and there are tons of pin placement possibilities, so the players will get a lot of different looks this week. There are pretty much no trees on the course, but large bunkers are present throughout. The weather is looking decent for the week, with a slight chance of rain for the opening round, but it should clear out ahead of the weekend.

The toughest hole on the course last year was the par-3 17th. At 201 yards, it played to an average of 3.2 strokes last season, and has a tiny green surrounded by water and usually a very strong wind. Hanson offers his thoughts on the course below, courtesy of the European Tour:

“The greens are quite big but they have these portions that are favourable. They are very undulating, but I like that; that is going to be one of the main challenges of the course and it does well in that it separates good play from bad play. If you hit the ball well then you are going to get a lot of chances but if your game is slightly off and you miss the portions then you will leave yourself challenging long putts or up and downs.”

“I think you can attack the course in certain conditions. Today we had quite a strong northerly wind and if that’s the case then the scoring won’t be as low. We were a little bit lucky last year in having a southerly wind the first two days and that saw some really low scoring – some 62s and 63s – but we are expecting northerly this week and that is going to make the course a lot tougher.”

Thoughts On The Favourites

  • Henrik Stenson: Played here last year ending up tied for 26th, and he is coming off of the win at the Tour Championship where he was able to secure an additional $10 million for winning the FedEx Cup. He should be rested, but there was a report earlier in the week that he was considering withdrawing with a wrist injury. He says he’s playing, but that’s a red flag, so I’ll be passing on him this week.
  • Rory McIlroy: Was the runner up to Hanson last year, and like I said above, he had a good week in Korea last week, minus a third round 75 that cost him the win. He’s getting there.
  • Martin Kaymer: Four rounds in the 60’s here last year gave Kaymer a T11 finish, and he hasn’t had a round above 72 since August. He’s been a bit of a disappointment since becoming world number one, but as someone who’s going to be on the fringe of the Ryder Cup selection process, he’s going to be motivated every week until those picks are announced.
  • Luke Donald: So, Donald fired Pat Goss as his coach earlier this year and since then, he’s been playing some solid golf. Much like Kaymer, he hasn’t had a round above 72 since the PGA Championship, and he did finish tied for 3rd here last year with rounds of 70-67-68-66.
  • Lee Westwood: Always seems to play well in China, but he hasn’t done much of anything since his contending at the Open. His best finish after that? A tie for 25th at the Barclays. On a long course, he usually has the upper hand, but his form right now is all over the place.

Suggested Plays

Luke Donald (Best Odds 18-1 at Betfred)

To be honest, I was more surprised at Donald’s poor year than Rory’s, but there are signs that it’s coming around. We know he’s not the longest hitter out there, but his prior form at the course and his putting ability make him an intriguing play. Much like Rory, he’s too good to go a full year without a win.

Ian Poulter (Best Odds 25-1 at bet365)

Donald and Poulter are very similar in their relatively small length and great putting ability, and Poulter also enjoyed a quality result here last year, ending up tied for fourth. He hasn’t played since the BMW, so he’ll be well rested and he has always played well in China, picking up two wins in his last six starts in the area.

Peter Uihlein (Best Odds 35-1 at Sky Bet)

Uihlein is a big hitter, so he should feel like he can bomb the ball here, especially with how open the course setup is. Coming off of three top-7’s in his last four events, including two runner-ups, Uihlein is in good form.

Victor Dubuisson (Best Odds 66-1 at Betfair)

Top-20 finishes for Dubuinsson in four of his last five events, and even though he hasn’t played the course before, he has a third and a fourth place finish in three previous events in China. Much like Uihlein, Dubuisson can crush the ball off the tee and is one of the better putters on the European Tour.

Chris Wood (Best Odds 81-1 at BETDAQ)

Another bomber, Wood has a greater ability to go low than many in the field this week, but that will largely depend on his putter. At around 80-1 though, you’re not going to find better value in the field, and it won’t shock anyone if he comes away with a win.

Wen-Chong Liang (Best Odds 203-1 at BETDAQ)

Liang plays mostly on the Asian Tour, where he has racked up four consecutive finishes inside the top-11. His T-20 last year at this event where he played all four rounds in par or better, along with numerous wins in China, lead me to believe that he can stick around this week and at the very least, challenge for a finish inside the top-5.

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