Our new star golf tipster Jamie Worsley had a decent start on the DP World Tour last week, when Rikuya Hoshino picked up a full place at 66/1. Now we leave the Middle East and head to South East Asia for the inaugural Singapore Classic…
Singapore Classic Tips
- 2pts Adri Arnaus – each way (1/5 8 places) – 25/1
- 1.25pts Julien Brun – each way (1/5 7 places) – 45/1
- 1pt Ashun Wu – each way (1/5 8 places) – 55/1
- 1pt Sebastian Soderberg – each way (1/5 8 places) – 60/1
- 1pt David Ravetto – each way (1/5 8 places) – 200/1
The final round of a DP World Tour event rarely disappoints and Sunday’s end to the Ras Al Khaimah Championship proved no exception. Daniel Gavins arrived at the final hole with a two shot advantage thanks to an excellent, birdie-packed final round but would need to hole a 26ft putt for double-bogey to take home the title.
His nearest challenger to that point, Sweden’s Alexander Bjork, had himself made a hash of the final hole; hitting a poor wedge to 33ft and proceeding to three-putt for bogey to slip three behind Gavins. At the same time this was happening, Gavins was reloading off the tee having found the water with his tee shot, though after finding the fairway with his third he was still well in control, before then hitting his fourth into the water.
Another one shot penalty and he would need to get up and down for a double-bogey to take the title outright, or a playoff beckoned. An average chip from the rough left him 26ft for the win and for all the money in the world it looked like we were heading for extra holes. However, Gavins had other ideas as he knocked in said 26 footer to take home the trophy; his second DPWT title after winning the ISPS Handa World Invitational in 2021.
The DPWT stays in Asia this week but we leave the Middle East and head further east to Singapore, for the Singapore Classic at Laguna National’s Classic Course.
This is a new tournament on the schedule and the first time the DPWT has visited Singapore since 2014; also the first time we’ll have witnessed this course.
That event in 2014 – the Championship at Laguna National – did take place at this resort but not at this course, instead that was played on the much easier Masters Course and saw Chile’s Felipe Aguilar win in 22-under-par.
The DPWT does have a long history in Singapore. Originally coming here in 1993 for the Johnnie Walker Classic and again in 1996, the tour then held the Singapore Masters from 2001 to 2007 and the Singapore Open was part of the schedule from 2009 to 2012.
Back in Singapore this year, it kicks off a three week spin around the rest of Asia, with events in Thailand and India to come in the next two weeks.
The Classic Course at Laguna National – nicknamed ‘The Beast’ by locals – was designed in 1993 by Andy Dye (nephew of renowned architect Pete) and has undergone a few renovations since. The first in 2010 and most recently in 2017, in which the intention of the redesign was to make the course more palatable to the average golfer.
The nickname of this course isn’t by coincidence and all reading points to a testing week in Singapore. Indeed, the only evidence we have of this course being used is the World Classic Championship on the Asian Tour in 2015, in which Thailand’s Danthai Boonma was one of only two players under par for the week and won with a score of -2, though that was pre-renovation and on a shorter sub-7000 yard setup.
This week the course will play as a par 72 to 7420 yards, with ten par 4s, four par 5s – of which three come on the back nine, including the closing hole – and four par 3s.
The course itself is big and bold. The undulating fairways are generous, with the large, multi-tiered greens severely sloped and could be the most demanding part of the course.
Both are protected by a huge amount of sand, with large, deep bunkers and lengthy, sandy waste areas on show throughout, whilst there is water in-play on roughly half the holes to provide more danger.
The four par 5s are made up of the 558 yard 3rd and the 534 yard 18th, both of which should be reachable for all, though are countered by two more demanding ones back-to-back on holes 13 and 14, measuring 591 and 616 yards respectively.
The par 4s offer great variety; three at 470 yards+, with five at sub 425 yards. Whilst the par 3s look challenging, including the 184 yard 17th hole played to an island green reminiscent of the 17th at TPC Sawgrass.
It’s hard to say with absolute confidence what will be needed this week but we can draw some conclusions.
The difficulty of these greens leads me to favour strong precision iron players and putters. Hitting them alone won’t be enough and those who hit the correct tiers will have the advantage; whilst the ability to handle these greens is a must, with three-putt avoidance an attractive stat on the large, sloped surfaces.
The driver also looks to be key, with the width of these fairways and length of the course – which could be exacerbated this week due to plenty of rain in the forecast – quality, long driving will be a big advantage and will help in making the most of the par 5s.
Key Stats: SG: Approach, SG: Putting, Three-Putt Avoidance, SG: Off-the-Tee, Driving Distance, Par 5 Scoring
It may be hard to correlate this course blind with the quirks it possesses, though I’m inclined to look at other lengthy resort courses on the DPWT, as well as more open links style tests that are tough on and around the greens.
This leads me to Yas Links, which has hosted the Abu Dhabi Championship the last two years. It’s a wide open course with large, undulating putting surfaces; ranking as one of the toughest courses on the DPWT in terms of the short game.
Over to Europe and the Portugal Masters at Dom Pedro Victoria Course is another watery resort course that often favours strong ball-strikers; the Dutch Open at Bernardus Golf again falls into the category of being wide open and tricky on/around the greens.
Further to this the Porsche European Open at Green Eagles North Course is a brute of a course that provides one of the toughest challenges on the DPWT, comparably so to this week’s venue if the potential difficulty is to be believed.
The Forecast doesn’t look great at this point. There is rain predicted throughout the week from Wednesday. Thunderstorms potentially on the horizon too, which could bring about plenty of stoppages.
World #30 Ryan Fox is the highest ranked player in this week’s field and the only one from inside the top 50. Joined by Adrian Otaegui, Robert MacIntyre, Thriston Lawrence, Adri Arnaus and Jordan Smith from inside the top 100.
Rikuya Hoshino sticks around following his encouraging 6th place finish in Ras Al Khaimah last week, joined by compatriot and former world #1 amateur Taiga Semikawa, who has been playing solidly in the U.S at the start of the year following on from winning a couple of times in Japan last year.
Thailand’s teenage sensation, 15-year-old amateur Ratchanon Chantananuwat adds more intrigue, arriving here following his history making victory in the Trust Golf Asian Mixed Cup on the Asian Tour last year – a victory that made him the youngest ever winner of an official OWGR event.
Robert MacIntyre and Ryan Fox head the market at 16/1, followed by Jordan Smith at 18/1. MacIntyre and Smith have been solid enough so far this year but haven’t really got going. Ryan Fox was the most appealing of these three market leaders but he’s passed over for a player who’s started the year in better form than any of those mentioned above, Spain’s Adri Arnaus.
2pts Adri Arnaus – each way (1/5 8 places)
Arnaus had an excellent start to last year; a run of strong form culminating in a first DP World Tour title at the Catalunya Championship in May. He’d been hitting the ball well at that point and combined with that much improved putting we’ve seen over the last couple of years, the talented Spaniard was able to finally get the breakthrough.
His form tailed off in the second half of the year, with his T2G game looking poor, though he did sign the year off with a top 10 in the season ending DP World Tour Championship.
He was entitled to be a bit rusty on his first start in two months at the Abu Dhabi Championship in the first event of the new year, though he did drive it well in his missed cut there – a positive compared to how he’d been driving it at the end of last year.
He produced a similarly solid driving performance in the Dubai Desert Classic but this time had help from his trusty putter, ranking 2nd in the field on the greens; helping him to a 13th place finish in a strong field.
Arnaus improved further last week, finishing 6th in the Ras Al Khaimah Championship. He once again putt well there but I was massively encouraged by the quality of his ball-striking, where he ranked 7th in approach and 18th off-the-tee; his best ball-striking performance since the PGA Championship in May of last year.
This big hitter has an 8th place finish in Portugal, in addition to top 20s in the European Open and Abu Dhabi Championship. If able to repeat what he did last week with his ball-striking, his attractively trending form can complete with a 1st in Singapore and at 25/1 looks a very fair price in this field.
1.25pts Julien Brun – each way (1/5 7 places)
With two top 5s in his last four starts, France’s Julien Brun is a player going in the right direction and can make another run at a first DPWT title this week.
A solid first year on tour in the bag, Brun took his form to another level in the final event of 2022, finishing 3rd in the Mauritius Open. He started this year with a narrow missed cut in the Abu Dhabi Championship but produced an excellent performance in the Dubai Desert Classic, finishing 5th, though will need to bounce back this week from a poor missed cut at Ras al Khaimah last time out.
Both of those top 5s were engineered by Brun’s quality in approach and with the short-game, something which was well on show during his first season, as he finished 2022 ranked 18th in putting, 28th in approach and 38th around-the-greens, whilst a ranking of 11th in three-putt avoidance is another plus.
The driver is the weakest club in the bag but it was noticeable how he drove it much better in those first two events this year; however, he reverted to type last week in RAK and will need to bounce back here off-the-tee to show that those improvements he appeared to show weren’t a false dawn.
His 34th place finish in the European Open offers encouragement as to his suitability for this test. That finish doesn’t do justice to his performance in Germany that week, as he entered the final round well in contention before a disastrous final round saw him in freefall down the leaderboard.
There are few players in this field with recent form figures as strong as his and the highly rated Frenchman can turn those contending performances into a victory this week.
1pt Ashun Wu – each way (1/5 8 places)
China’s Ashun Wu was playing rock-solid golf at the end of last year and transferring that into the new year, where he’s made the weekend in each event in the Middle East, recording 20th place finishes in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, he can take advantage of his familiarity with this part of the world to go well here.
Wu started last year in terrific form and picked up a fourth DPWT title in the Kenya Open. His form went missing in the middle part of the year but he picked up again over the final handful of events; making each of his final six cuts and recording four top 30s, two of them top 20s.
He carried this form over into this year with those aforementioned 20th place finishes, though was disappointing last week, finishing 56th in Ras al Khaimah.
For what he lacks in length he makes up for with the putter and irons. These where the areas that helped him to the Kenya success last year and what typically counts towards his stronger performances. Rankings of 12th in putting and 44th in approach, as well as 22nd in that important three-putt avoidance stat indicative of where his strengths lie.
Both of those areas have been firing this year, gaining strokes in each start on the greens and was good in approach in his 20th at the Dubai Desert Classic.
A top 7 in Portugal, along with 12th and 20th place finishes in two trips to Yas Links offer further encouragement, as does the fact he’s never missed a cut in the Porsche European Open.
He’ll be as comfortable as any in the climate and conditions on offer this week and if able to repeat his approach performance of two weeks ago, Wu rates a big player in this field.
1pt Sebastian Soderberg – each way (1/5 8 places)
Sebastian Soderberg has some strong recent form and typically at home on these more open courses, he can go well again this week.
The Swede had a good year last year, again showing signs that he’s capable of adding to that European Masters win in 2019. He put up eight top 25 finishes, with three of them top 5s, the best of which was a runner-up finish in the British Masters.
He finished the year in fine form too, with a 15th in Portugal and 5th in the Nedbank Challenge amongst his final three starts of 2022.
Jump forward to this year and Soderberg almost kicked the year off in style, eventually finishing runner-up (his 4th since the win in 2019) to Victor Perez in Abu Dhabi, before an erratic performance in Dubai last time saw him miss the cut.
That finish was largely down to an excellent performance with his short-game, including his best putting performance since 2021. Not necessarily what you’d expect as it was the irons that impressed most in 2022, seeing him rank 32nd in approach on the DPWT.
That 2nd in Abu Dhabi an encouraging bit of form on its own, but combined with a 5th in the Dutch Open at Bernardus and 7th in Portugal, we get a greater indication of the types of courses on which he excels most. If able to hit his irons as well as he did last year and combine with that superb short-game display in Abu Dhabi, he can finally stop this run of 2nds and get his second DPWT title.
1pt David Ravetto – each way (1/5 8 places)
Young Frenchman, David Ravetto continues to look solid at this level and with the strength of his ball-striking, can tame this brute of a course this week.
The former top 25 amateur won his tour card on the DPWT thanks to finishing 2nd at Q-School, shooting an impressive -27 over three rounds; needing to go there despite a solid year on the Challenge Tour last year, where he hit the top 25 numerous times and recorded a best of 2nd in the Open de Portugal.
He’s had an encouraging start to life on the DPWT. After missing his first cut, he’s gone on to make his next four, including a 51st last week at Al Hamra on his first start of the year; though his best effort came in South Africa last year, where he was 9th in the Alfred Dunhill Championship.
Ravetto has showed quality in all areas across those starts. This was on show in that 9th in the Alfred Dunhill, though he ultimately relied on a quality short-game display. Outside of that, he’s looked a player at his best with driver in hand, one of the longer hitters too and last week his irons were the standout club in the bag.
With his amateur pedigree on show from a victory in the prestigious Brabazon Trophy and top 5 in the European Amateur, Ravetto looks a player with a bright future in the game and can continue his positive start to life on the DPWT this week in Singapore.
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