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After South Africa’s Ockie Strydom edged out Finland’s Sami Valimaki to win the inaugural Singapore Classic last Sunday, the DP World Tour stays in South East Asia for the Thailand Classic.
This is the first DP World Tour event in the country since 2016 although the course - Amata Spring - may ring a distant bell for those who follow the action closely.
Amata Spring has popped up several times, hosting the Thailand Golf Championship from 2011 to 2015 and also putting on the Royal Trophy team event from 2006 to 2010.
It means we do have some past course form - 20 players the exact count - and it’s still worth looking at despite being a little old.
Amata Spring is a lengthy par 72 measuring over 7,500 yards and is best known for its signature hole, the 17th, where players travel to the island green by boat. Eat your heart out Pete Dye and Sawgrass, there’s no access on foot here!
Jamie Donaldson is the only past course winner taking part this week, his victory coming in 2015.
The other four winners of that Thailand Golf Championship were Lee Westwood (twice), Sergio Garcia and Charl Schwartzel so the course certainly identified some of the best players on show.
On that basis, looking at the front of the market for the winner may not be the worst idea.
Despite the length of the course, finding fairways was an important factor in those Thailand Golf Championships and all five winners ranked in the top 20 for Driving Accuracy.
Putting also leaps out when analyzing those 2011-2015 winners as all five ranked in the top five for Putting Average.
Adrian Otaegui racked up his fourth DP World Tour win when landing the Andalucia Masters at famed Valderrama last October.
It was a brilliant front-running performance from the Spaniard as he blitzed the field by six strokes.
One immediate link to make is that Garcia was a master at Valderrama, winning three times, and Otaegui is of similar ilk: a strong driver who ranks 16th in Driving Accuracy on the DP World Tour this season.
Other lines of correlatory form exist between Amata Spring and Valderrama so Otaegui is very much in the crosshairs, especially after a fast-finishing 66 at last week’s Singapore Classic.
The grass here is Paspalum so it’s also worth noting that Otaegui has performed strongly on similar surfaces in recent times.
He was third at the Ras al Khaimah Championship on Sea Isle Paspalum last February and backed that up with fifth at the Qatar Masters on Pure Dynasty Paspalum a month later.
Having four Par 5s to go at should also suit him as Otaegui ranks 9th for Par 5 Scoring this season.
He’s been consistent rather than spectacular in the opening two months of the calendar year but we’re only five starts on from his second place in the Alfred Dunhill Championship in South Africa so the +2800 (each-way terms of ¼ 1-2-3-4-5) at bet365 looks good business.
If hitting it straight proves to be a useful clue then Jordan Smith has to be a good bet to outscore Nicolai Hojgaard in a 72-hole match.
Smith sits 19th in Driving Accuracy this season but you have to scroll down to 141st to find Hojgaard, who hit just 26.8% of the fairways last time out at Ras al Khaimah.
It didn’t really matter there but those errant tee shots are likely to find far greater punishment here.
It comes as no surprise to see that the straight-hitting Smith finished sixth at Valderrama last October compared to Hojgaard’s 37th while, zooming out, Smith has a 15-4 record against the Dane when the two have pegged it up in the same event over the last year.
Shortening the study period and the Englishman has outscored Hojgaard in four of their last five mutual tournaments.
Jeunghun Wang finished third in the Singapore Classic last week so carries some confidence into this week.
He’s also one of the 20 players in the field with course experience and it’s positive too. Wang is 3-for-3 at Amata Spring and his final two visits resulted in 18th and 15th.
The South Korean is 43rd in Driving Accuracy this season and was 7th on that metric in Singapore last week which bodes well.
Finally, as well as a third on Paspalum last week, he also cracked the top three on that surface in an Asian Tour event, International Series Egypt, in November.
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Dave Tindall is former golf editor at SkySports.com and Golf365.com and has been writing betting previews for the PGA Tour and European Tour since 1997. He has also written for a range of betting companies, including William Hill and Betfair, as well as being a regular columnist for Rotoworld, The Guardian, Sporting Life and Planet Sport. His other area of speciality is football while he's also covered cricket and tennis.
Email: [email protected]More info on Dave Tindall
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