The Championship at Laguna National: A preview of this week's European Tour event
By Dave Tindall
Last Updated: 29/04/14 7:37pm
The European Tour stays in Asia this week for an event that doesn't immediately ring any bells of recognition.
The Championship at Laguna National was previously known as the Ballantine’s Championship and initially scheduled to be played in Korea next month.
However, staging issues meant the event was moved to Singapore and to a venue that plenty in the field will know well.
The highly-acclaimed Laguna National hosted the Singapore Masters/Caltex Masters between 2002 and 2007 and was able to step in at short notice to ensure this week's event could take place.
The field battling for the US$1.5million prize fund include Europeans Rafa Cabrera-Bello, Ross Fisher, Tommy Fleetwood and Bernd Wiesberger.
Aussie Brett Rumford is technically the defending champion although his victory came at Blackstone Golf Club in Korea.
Laguna National is a par 72 measuring 7,207 yards. It's been host to to six co-sanctioned European Tour events and was last used in the 2007 Singapore Masters won by China's Liang Wen-Chong. It's very much a modern, American-style course with four huge lakes on the property meaning water is in play on 12 of the 18 holes. The 17th is a peninsula par three, bringing to mind the 17th at Sawgrass. Perhaps that's no surprise as the designer is Andy Dye, nephew of Pete Dye, the man behind the famous island green which we'll see at the Players Championship in a couple of weeks' time. India’s S.S.P. Chowrasia said on Tuesday: "This is a very tricky course especially around the greens and you’ve got to putt well here. That will be the key to doing well this week."
Liang Wen-Chong won with 11-under when Laguna National was last used on the European Tour (2007). He beat Iain Steel in a play-off, with Simon Dyson a shot behind in third and David Lynn two back. Before that the other winning scores at Laguna were -12 (Mardan Mamat, 2006), -18 (Nick Dougherty, 2005), -16 (Colin Montgomerie, 2004), -10 (Lian-wei Zhang, 2003) and -14 Arjun Atwal, 2002).
India's Anirban Lahiri took victory in last week's Indonesian Masters and that could inspire compatriot Jyoti Randhawa to put in a big performance here.
While many are seeing this venue for the first time, Randhawa is a bit of a course specialist having finished 8th, 7th, 33rd and 3rd here in the four events it staged between 2007 and 2004.
Adding to that is some decent current form which includes a 13th in Indonesia last week and an eighth in his home SAIL Open two starts before that.
He putted extremely well last week (4th in Putting Average) so looks a sporting each-way punt with Sky Bet at 66/1.
England's Andy Sullivan is one of the real form players taking part this week having reeled off a run of 8-13-MC-2-46-5 in his last six starts.
The former Walker Cupper looks like he has a win in him soon so take the 33/1.
Richie Ramsay has a touch of extra class about him having landed the US Amateur in 2006 and looked to be coming into form again at the back end of 2013 when he closed with a 64 in the Turkish Airlines Open.
However, an ankle injury sustained while running in Atlanta (his US base) in December set him back and he didn't appear again until the Trophee Hassan II in Morocco last month where he was 11th.
He followed that with a runners-up finish at the NH Collection Open in Spain and was fifth at halfway in the China Open last week before fading on the weekend.
The signs are good though and Ramsay is worth getting with at 33/1.
Finally, Anders Hansen produced a storming finish (63) to take fifth in last week's China Open and, for reasons unclear, has a superb record in Singapore.
He's had four top 25s in five appearances at this course and his finishes in the Singapore Open between 2009 and 2012 were 5-2-11-7.
Again he's 33/1.
1pt Jyoti Randhawa at 66/1 (1/4 1,2,3,4,5)
1.5pts e.w. Andy Sullivan at 33/1 (1/4 1,2,3,4,5)
1.5pts e.w. Richie Ramsay at 33/1 (1/4 1,2,3,4,5)
1.5pts e.w. Anders Hansen at 33/1 (1/4 1,2,3,4,5)