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Thailand Golf C’ship preview: Garcia the pick over Schwartzel

| 11.12.2013

Two of the top four players on the planet tee up in Bangkok this week for the Thailand Golf Championship at Amata Spring Country Club, with Henrik Stenson (4/1) and Justin Rose (7/1) moving from South Africa to steamy South East Asia.

They take with them from Sun City Charl Schwartzel (5/1) and Sergio Garcia (7/1), with the quartet as a whole taking more than 50% out of the book.

Of course, none of them won the preceding Nedbank Challenge, but as those odds imply there is more than every chance that one of them will walk away with the title.

Schwartzel has the course form in the bank; he is the defending champion and was runner-up in 2011. However, as Garcia ensured followers of a profitable week in North West Province, I’d rather stick with the Spaniard.

Garcia ranked second in driving distance last week and his strong play off the tee should stand him in good stead.

Only a second round 73 at the Gary Player Country Club scuppered the Spaniard’s chances of winning last week – along with Thomas Bjorn’s stunning back-nine play – and he surely won’t run into another ‘career best day’ as the Dane put it when just beating Garcia in Sun City.

Garcia has a good record at this time of year and won the Johor Open 12 months ago in Malaysia. He was fourth to Schwartzel in 2012 and of the leading four in the betting he is the value call.

There’ll be plenty of attention on Kiradech Aphibarnrat (20/1) this week, as the Thai is poised to win the Asian Tour Order of Merit – thanks to a victory in the Malaysian Open and five other top-five finishes.

He’s been dealing with the attention well for much of the year and with sixth place in this event last year – not to mention winning the British Open International Final Qualifying in March at this week’s venue – shooting a final round 63 in the process, he is a confident call.

Aphibarnrat says he ‘knows the course quite well’, while form figures of 5-9 coming into this week also bode well for the big hitter, whose length off the tee will be key.

Gaganjeet Bhullar, an 80/1 shot with Ladbrokes, can also hit it out there and while he missed the cut last week in Hong Kong (on a course that didn’t suit) his win in Indonesia on the previous start cannot be ignored.

My three to follow – Garcia (7/1), Aphibarnrat (20/1) and Bhullar (80/1).



Dan Roebuck