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Monday, 17 December, 2018

Hotshot Hend looks fabulous for Fiji

Scott Vincent developing nicely

Scott Hend could thrive in a weak Fiji field
1 of 1

Starts 7.15pm Wednesday

The Fiji International is a low-grade European Tour event for players not good enough to qualify for the Bridgestone Invitational or the Barracuda Championship, and fading veterans Ernie Els and Vijay Singh are the biggest names on show.


Palmer's top tip
Scott Hend 12-1
Two European Tour victories, an additional seven Asian Tour successes, a solid result in the event last year, bright recent form and a positive attitude to the challenge ahead – all this equates to a strong performance from Scott Hend in the Fiji International.

Hend said he was playing to win in the European Open on Sunday, and he took a few gambles in Germany, ending up in 19th spot after double-bogeys at the fourth and the 16th. That was his fifth top-20 finish in seven European Tour starts, though, a spell which included four high-class Rolex Series events.

Hend, who tied for tenth in the Bridgestone Invitational last year, deserves to be clear favourite and is a fair price to bully a weak field.

Next best
Scott Vincent 20-1
Ninth place in the Fiji International last year provided further evidence that Scott Vincent, fresh from an impressive Stateside amateur career, was going to be a top-class player. Ten further top-tens have followed, including second place in the Taiwan Masters, third in the Indonesian Masters and fourth in the SA Open.

The Zimbabwean youngster, runner-up in the Indonesia Open in his last outing, can boast Asian Tour form of 6-28-6-7-2.

Others to note
Jazz Janewattananond
The Thai fired a final-round 64 for second spot last year and had Asian Tour form of 6-32-1-2 before tackling unsuitable tracks in Scotland and Germany last time out. Punters wanting more than three strings to their bow should opt for Jazz.

Justin Harding
The South African has found the form of his life, with Sunshine Tour finishes of 3-18-6-MC-3-MC-5-2-1-1-6-18, and Asian Tour form of 1-1, winning the Royal Trophy by six shots last week. This is his Fiji debut, but he is clearly a huge danger.

Staking plan
S Hend
3pts each-way 12-1 general
S Vincent
2pts each-way 20-1 Betfair, Paddy Power

The lowdown

Course Natadola Bay Golf Club, Fiji

Prize money €790,643 (€131,800 to the winner)

Length 7,190 yards Par 72 Field 132

Course records – 72 holes 274 Jason Norris (2017) 18 holes 64 Jazz Janewattananond (2017)

Course winners taking part Matthew Griffin (2009 Fiji Open), Michael Hendry (2010 Fiji Open), Steven Jeffress, Jason Norris

When to bet By 7.15pm Wednesday

Time difference Fiji is 11 hours ahead of the UK and Ireland

Course overview The Fiji International became a co-sanctioned European Tour event for the first time in 2016, having previously been on the PGA Tour of Australasia and OneAsia Tour for 2014 and 2015.

Tough conditions have been a feature of these tournaments, with strong breezes battering the Vijay Singh-designed Natadola Bay layout, which neighbours the Pacific Ocean, and punters should not be fooled into thinking this relatively short par-72 is a doddle.

The course opened in June, 2009, becoming host of the Fijian Open. There are two par-fives on each nine, but keeping the ball in play is the key to success. The par-four 12th hole is driveable to big-hitters in helpful weather.

The story of last year A final-round 67 allowed Jason Norris to overtake fellow Aussie Wade Ormsby and claim a maiden European Tour title.

Weather forecast Sunny and windy for the most part.

Type of player suited to challenge An ability to handle wind is important. Crisp ball-striking and sound course-management are demanded.

Key attribute Accuracy

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Hend deserves to be clear favourite and is a fair price to bully a weak field
E.W. Terms
Sky bet