Stenson heads Volvo China Open
BY Bruce Young | European PGA Tour | 2014 Volvo China Open | Preview | 22 Apr 2014
After a successful week in Malaysia last week, where one of its finest products (Lee Westwood) won his first event in two years, the European Tour moves north to Shenzhen in Southern China this week for the Volvo China Open although this week it will be the One Asia Tour who is the sanctioning partner and not the Asian Tour.
The tournament carries an increased purse equating to around US$3.25 million and this year will be played at a new venue, the Genzon Golf Club originally designed by American Neil Harworth but upgraded in 2008.
Further work has been done on the golf course in recent times, with a lot of vegetation cleared to ensure it has both the look and playability suitable to an event of this stature.
Only twenty places in the 156 player field are specifically set aside for OneAsia Tour players, the balance coming from European Tour players and from China both though the China Golf Association and from those who have gone through the qualifying process.
Australian Brett Rumford will attempt to defend the title he won in Tianjin last year during his best ever European Tour season.
Rumford was a bit out of his depth at the WGC Cadillac event but there has been enough this year to suggest a successful defence is not totally out of the question. This is though a new venue.
Henrik Stenson is clearly the leading world ranked player, the net highest ranked being Jason Dufner who is currently the 17th ranked player.
Stenson has not been at the same level in 2014 that he was last year but his 5th place finish at the Arnold Palmer Championship and a solid 14th at the Masters(his best ever in nine starts at Augusta National) suggests he is not too far from where he needs to be to do well this week.
Dufner surprisingly missed the cut at the Masters but his form prior was very good and he has played well on previous visits to China including when runner-up at the HSBC Champions event 18 months ago. Considering he is not playing in New Orleans this week, where he is a former winner, he is no doubt getting a lot of money to play in China but that should not stop him from giving 100%.
Nicolas Colsaerts, the winner of this event in 2011, emerged from the wilderness last week with a runner-up finish in Malaysia. He has struggled against the stronger fields in the USA this year where he is now playing but with the confidence he gained in Kuala Lumpur he could well continue that improvement.
Ian Poulter is a lot better than most in this field and although he is not at his peak of late he might not need to be to contend here. He finished 20th at the Masters at his last start so might be a factor.
Francesco Molinari has not missed a cut in his last fifteen starts but has not contended all that often. He has though been typically playing against much stronger fields than he will face this week so might be able to get back to winning form.
The Australian contingent is large due mainly to the OneAsia Tour factor and other than Rumford, Wade Ormsby is the highest ranked of them.
Ormsby, a winner in Asia last season is now back as a European Tour player and is playing solidly. He has not missed a cut all season and has a very good chance to lead the Australians.
Amongst other Australians in the field are former winner, Scott Strange, Nick Cullen, Aaron Townsend, Rhein Gibson and Richard Green.