Thomas Detry ready to make his European Tour breakthrough
Alexander Levy pushing for Ryder Cup place
Sky Sports Golf, 7.30am Thursday
A Ryder Cup place is within Alexander Levy's grasp after he bravely repelled an army of pursuers to win the Hassan Trophy on Sunday, and this week the Frenchman seeks to move closer to a dream debut for Europe in Paris by successfully defending his China Open crown.
Levy is 11-1 favourite, with Asian duo Haotong Li and Kiradech Aphibarnrat close behind him in the betting.
Palmer's top tip
Thomas Detry 66-1
Alexander Levy was the Hassan hero in Morocco and his good friend Thomas Detry was on hand to join in the celebrations. This week it could be the turn of Detry to lead the party – the talented Belgian youngster can threaten a maiden European Tour title in China.
Detry closed with a 68 in the Hassan – the third-best Sunday score in the field – to finish in 19th place and secure another healthy cheque in what is turning into a solid second season on the main circuit. Half of his ten appearances have yielded a top-25, the first coming in China, with tenth spot in the Hong Kong Open.
Detry also impressed in China in his Challenge Tour days with sixth place in the Foshan Open and 48th spot was a respectable effort in his China Open debut as a rookie last year. Expect much better 12 months later from a 25-year-old who has settled on the Tour and finished second in the BMW International Open last summer.
Topwin is a track which suits solid all-rounders – a balance of power, accuracy and touch is required – and Detry fits that profile. His putting has improved this year and he is no lower than 34th in any of the main statistical categories. The Brussels boy won a Challenge Tour event by 12 shots in 2016 and has always looked good enough to become a star. China could accelerate the process.
Alexander Levy 11-1
Favouritism is fully deserved for Levy and he should be a single-figure price. With the Ryder Cup carrot there will be no resting on laurels and back-to-back victories look entirely possible.
His maiden European Tour title came in the 2014 China Open and he won the same event at Topwin last year, opening with a course-record 63. His form figures for this tournament are 1-3-28-1.
Levy lost a playoff for the 2014 BMW Masters in Shanghai, he was fourth in the 2016 Shenzhen International and eighth in the same event last year. His love for China is obvious and his chances of success after reaching a career-high 47th in the world rankings on Sunday are glaring.
Thorbjorn Olesen 33-1
Brandon Stone 80-1
Romain Wattel 80-1
Thorbjorn Olesen was parading a cheque for ¥3m last week, a prize for winning day two of the ISPS Handa Cup, a promotional event in Japan featuring Rafa Cabrera-Bello, Lee Westwood, Padraig Harrington and Ernie Els.
Having settled in the Far East early, Olesen could kickstart a quiet 2018 campaign at a course where he finished 15th in 2016. He has been swinging well and the layout suits.
Complete a team of 20-somethings with Brandon Stone and Romain Wattel, a pair of European Tour champions hinting at a return to their best. Stone tied for 22nd in Morocco on Sunday and looks the most promising youngster in South Africa again.
He carded four under-par rounds for 18th place at Topwin last year and showed a liking for China with second spot in the 2016 Shenzhen International.
Wattel, 11th in the Maybank Championship and 19th in Qatar, does not look far from the form which won him the KLM Open in September. He has solid Topwin form figures of 15-24 and is likely to be inspired by the Sunday heroics of his GolfSixes partner Levy. Wattel and Levy pair up next week in St Albans. Wattel was sixth in the 2014 BMW Masters and eighth in the 2015 China Open.
Others to note
The Chinaman is in solid form and a tempting 100-1 chance. He won the 2015 edition in Shanghai.
The Finn was third in Morocco on Sunday and has twice made the top-four in the China Open.
The rising star has a strong record in Taiwan and could make waves on mainland China at 125-1.
The in-form Spaniard won his maiden Challenge Tour title in China and is a dangerous 50-1 chance.
The Korean is showing signs of the form which quickly made him a three-time Tour champion.
China's number one won in Dubai in January, but has been testing new equipment since, playing poorly.
3pts each-way 66-1 Betfred
3pts 11-1 general
2pts each-way 33-1 general
1pt each-way 80-1 bet365, BetBright
1pt each-way 80-1 Coral
Course Topwin Golf and Country Club, Beijing, China
Prize money €2.6m (€448,183 to the winner)
Length 7,261 yards Par 72 Field 156
Course records – 72 holes 266 Haotong Li (2016) 18 holes 63 Hennie Otto (2016), Alexander Levy (2017), Dylan Frittelli (2017)
Course winners taking part Haotong Li, Alexander Levy
When to bet By 12.30am Wednesday night
Where to watch Live on Sky Sports from 7.30am Thursday morning
Time difference China is seven hours ahead of the UK and Ireland
Last week – Hassan Trophy 1 A Levy (25-1), 2 A Quiros (200-1), T3 A Bjork (80-1), M Ilonen (125-1), J Lagergren (200-1), A Pavan (150-1)
Course overview There have been nine different venues for the China Open since it became a European Tour event in 2005, with Topwin becoming the tenth in 2016. This is its third successive appearance.
It was designed by Ian Woosnam and opened in 2011. The layout, cut from the hills of Huairou, boasts views of the Great Wall of China and has two par-fives which are almost as long as that Wonder of the World.
The 616-yard par-five fourth and the 608-yard par-five 12th make up almost 17 per cent of the overall course yardage. There are four par-fours of 365 yards or shorter, with the 317-yard 11th and the 327-yard 15th representing eagle opportunities.
The parkland track rolls through rural countryside, among fruit trees and chestnut orchards. As well as dense sets of trees, several lakes are waiting to punish the errant. There are water hazards on every hole apart from 13, 14 and 15.
Story of last year Alexander Levy and Dylan Frittelli moved in opposite directions on the final day, the fast-finishing Frenchman winning a playoff against the South African, who slumped to a Sunday 74 before taking five at the first extra hole.
Weather forecast Sunny and hot, with light breezes peaking over the weekend.
Type of player suited to challenge Power is useful, with a 249-yard par-three, and four short par-fours which can be destroyed with a lusty drive, but liberties should not be taken amid much timber. Run-off areas around the greens, many of which are large and undulating, demand a short-game, so punters should be looking for solid all-rounders.
Key attribute Touch
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