Golf preview – Volvo Open & Zurich Classic

The European tour stays in China this week for the Volvo Open, but all eyes are really on New Orleans for the new two-man team event the Zurich Classic.

13 of the world’s top 30 players including seven from the top-ten have decided to try the new format at TPC Louisiana which will begin with 8- teams of two players.

The new 72-hole stroke play format will see each pair start out playing Foursomes (alternate shot) during the first round before Four-Ball (best ball) in the second round.

After the second round the top 35 teams will make the cut. At which point they will again play Foursomes in the third round and finish with Four-ball in the final round.

So Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Hideki Matsuyama, Henrik Stenson, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler and Justin Thomas are all playing.

Spieth’s partner is Ryan Palmer and he admits everyone is excited about the format – which is normally reserved for events like the Ryder Cup

“It’s awesome,” Palmer said of the format.

“I think players will be relaxed, and they’ll enjoy the different format. I know we’re excited about it.”

Over in Asia and the European Tour remains in China for the Volvo Open – which is entering its 27th season.

Staged at the Topwin Golf and Country Club for the second successive season and defending champion is local favourite Hao-Tong Li.

Favourite for the event is Austrian Bernd Wiesberger, who took victory in Shenzhen last week and he is very much favourite for a repeat success.

“I feel like I am playing nicely, it’s just about getting comfortable on the greens and holing the putts when you have to, so just trying to prepare as much as possible to give it a good charge,” he said.

European’s are the leading fancies with England’s in-form Ross Fisher and Alexander Levy also up their in the betting.

The pro’s point of view…

Our resident golf expert is Cliff Jackson. Cliff is a leading youth coach and PGA professional at the famed Seaton Carew Links – one of the oldest courses in the world.

In China again, I think that Ross Fisher is hard to look past and he is due for a win but I would also think David Lipsky and George Coetzee are worth a look.

In New Orleans – I think Stenson and Rose will be very hard to beat and I also like the South African powerhouse pairing of Brandon Grace and Louis Oosthuizen.

The Bookie says…

We caught up with Ladbrokes’ senior golf trader Peter D’Arcy ahead of the weekend’s action to gauge the markets and ask him about our fancies.

In China we are seeing money for Bernd Wiesberger, completing back to back wins, but will last week’s efforts take it out of him?

The recent Chinese wins have come as a surprise with the dearth of talent around, and with the country’s best players struggling of late I can’t see another home win.

For me Nicolas Colsaerts clearly has the class and his price is very inviting.

In New Orleans, we’ve not seen much interest as the smaller field and make up of the teams means that there are some very short prices and not too much value further down the field.

Favouritism seems justified for Rickie Fowler and Jason Day as they’re two of the best players in the field. Day has experience from the Presidents Cup, but he’s yet to win a foursome match there,  which could be in part due to the usual weak strength of the International team. Stenson’s gone off the boil recently and we don’t know how much his Masters defeat will affect Rose.

I like the team of Donald and Lovemark. We could see plenty of ham and egging with their differing strengths.

We say…’s Graeme Bailey brings you his golfing opinion

I really think that Kiradech Aphibarnrat will go close in China for me, but Jordan Smith could also go well.

In America, it is a fascinating contest and I think American Ryder Cup stars Patrick Reed and Jordan Spieth with their partners Patrick Cantlay and Ryan Palmer could go close.

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