Europe and Asia play The Championship
BY Bruce Young | Asian Tour | 2014 The Championship at Laguna National | Preview | 29 Apr 2014
The European Tour moves from China to Singapore and realigns itself with the Asian Tour for this week’s event, The Championship, at the Perry Dye designed Laguna National Golf and Country Club.
After a week where it joined forces with the OneAsia Tour the European Tour combines with its more regular partner in this part of the world for what is essentially the event’s inaugural staging.
The event was formerly the Ballantines Championship and played in Korea so while it is being promoted as the same event there is such a difference in title and location that it is essentially a brand new event.
Brett Rumford won the last staging of the Ballantines Championship in 2013 but while being promoted as the defending champion, the nature of the new event means that whoever wins this week will be the inaugural champion.
The field is headed in terms of world ranking by Bernd Weisberger whose 10th place finish in Jakarta last week and his runner-up finish in Malaysia gives him rights to favouritism and not just because of his standing in the game. Wiesberger won this event two years ago in Korea when under its previous guise.
Anirban Lahiri just keeps getting better. His win last week in Jakarta came on top of a series of top ten finishes and as the second highest ranked player in this field he deserves respect. His 10th place finish in Malaysia was against an even stronger field than he faces this week so another victory is not beyond him.
Kiradech Aphibarnrat dominated the Asian Tour last year and he showed last week when 4th in Jakarta that back on more familiar soil after an unsuccessful US campaign he is much better placed.
Ross Fisher played well earlier in the year and then had a break before missing the cut in China last week. At his best he is perhaps the most credentialed player in the field and now that he is back focusing his attention on the European Tour after time in the US last year he should move back up the rankings. He has not had success in this part of the world but he is a class player.
Tommy Fleetwood finished runner-up last week in China and although this is a very different environment he is not without a chance of going one better this week.
Frenchman Gregory Bourdy deserves to be rewarded for his great consistency over the last eighteen months or so. He has made his last twenty five cuts worldwide, six of the last eight top twenty finishes and on most occasions against significantly stronger fields than that he faces this week.
The field consists of numerous Australians headed by Rumford who was discussed earlier. Wade Ormsby is the other Australian gaining a start via the European Tour while Scott Hend, Matthew Griffin, Kieran Pratt, Scott Barr, Terry Pilkadaris, Unho Park, Matthew Stieger and Andrew Dodt are in the field courtesy of their Asian Tour status.