With only two weeks to go until the second Major of the 2019 golfing year, there’s a big week of action ahead on both the PGA Tour and the European Tour.
Firstly, focusing on the PGA Tour and the host course is Quail Hollow. A par 71, measuring 7554 yards, Quail Hollow sits inside the top ten toughest courses the players tee it up on each year.
The signature stretch of the course, the final three holes, is known as the Green Mile and is recognised as one of the hardest finishes the players face on tour year in year out.
Unfortunately for sponsors and fresh from his Masters victory, Tiger Woods has chosen to skip this week and instead will next be seen at the PGA Championship in two weeks’ time.
We do still have a strong field on display though, with Rory McIlroy heading things up alongside Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler and Jason Day.
Of these leading names, two-time former champion Rory, naturally has the strongest credentials at 6/1, however, I wonder if the course changes made prior to the 2017 PGA Championship here suit him. That’s because his two visits since those changes were made have seen him turn in his most lacklustre efforts here for many a year.
In addition, my hunch is the change to the schedule this year could have some seeing the event more as a warm-up for the impending PGA Championship and this is enough to put me off the Northern Irishman along with the other big names.
Instead in an event that has historically given break out wins to young, aggressive, big hitting, future stars of the game such as Rory, Fowler and Anthony Kim (remember him!). I see this clearly as a week to chance some bigger priced each-way selections who fit that mould.
The first of these is Aaron Wise at 45/1. Wise actually already has a PGA title to his name and he will be defending it next week at the Byron Nelson. That victory was proceeded by a second-place finish here, so clearly the big-hitting Wise is suited by the test.
His 17th place on Masters debut last time out was an excellent effort, so he is sure to come here in great spirits and I can see him going very close to landing his second PGA Tour title this week.
Two similar long hitters with big future’s ahead of them are Sam Burns (100/1) and Wyndham Clark (150/1), they both appeal at big e/w prices. Clark has already come close to winning on the tour in this, his debut season, when finishing seventh at the Honda. Ranked fourth in Driving Distance and 12th in putting, he is perfect for Quail Hollow.
Burns meanwhile also hits the ball a country mile and arrives here on the back of a very solid run of form, which has seen him post four consecutive top 30 finishes.
Not wanting to put all my eggs in the basket of a certain type of player I will complete my Quail Hollow team with two steadier hands in the form of Joel Dahmen at 90/1 and seasoned veteran Rory Sabbatini (80/1).
Dahmen has been in great touch of late with four top 20s in his last six starts while Sabbatini arrives here on the back of two top ten finishes and has found Quail Hollow to his liking on several occasions over the years.
Over at the Volvo China Open it is important to note that the host course has changed this year and we find ourselves at the Genzon Golf Club in Shenzhen, which was previously the host to the Shenzhen International in 2015, 16 & 17. The course is a par 72 measuring 7145 yards.
Strong Iron players have historically performed well here over the years with Fleetwood and Ross Fisher two good examples of this.
With this in mind the two I like are the aforementioned Ross Fisher at 28/1 who has three top 16 finishes here in his last three visits and the up and coming Thai star Jazz Janewattananond (28/1) who, although making his course debut, is the highest-ranked player in the field in GIR stats on the European Tour and has been in fantastic form this year.
To win: Aaron Wise 45/1.
Each-way chances: Rory Sabbatini 80/1, Joel Dahmen 90/1, Sam Burns (100/1) & Wyndham Clark (150/1)
To win: Ross Fisher 28/1.
Each-way chances: Jazz Janewattananond 28/1
* All odds correct at time of posting.