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Monday, 21 January, 2019

Tight track set to provide Bjork breakthrough

Swede relishing dimensions of Fanling

Rafa Cabrera Bello has assumed favouritism
1 of 1

Story so far

SSP Chawrasia has led the Hong Kong Open after every round and the Indian grinder is 4-1 to successfully complete a wire-to-wire victory in Fanling.

Chawrasia, made for short, tight courses like the Hong Kong Club, would have had some support at the ante-post 125-1. The 39-year-old Indian, famed for his scrambling skills, successfully defended his national Open in March.

Chawrasia romped to Indian Open glory by seven shots and all four of his European Tour titles have come in his homeland. A first away win will result if he can convert his one-shot advantage in Hong Kong.

Rafa Cabrera Bello is tied for second place and the Ryder Cup star is 100-30 favourite with 18 holes to play. Cabrera Bello finished Hong Kong runner-up 12 months ago. Ante-post 9-2 favourite Justin Rose is five shots behind, while Race to Dubai champion Tommy Fleetwood is tied for fourth place, two off the pace.


-10 SSP Chawrasia
-9 Wade Ormsby, Rafa Cabrera Bello
-8 Alexander Bjork, Thomas Detry, Tommy Fleetwood
-7 Paul Peterson
-6 Micah Lauren Shin, Julian Suri, Dylan Frittelli, Marcus Kinhult, Chris Hanson
-5 Joakim Lagergren, Poom Saksansin, James Morrison, Justin Rose, Sean Crocker, Thongchai Jaidee

Best prices

100-30 R Cabrera Bello, 4 SSP Chawrasia, 5 T Fleetwood, 7 W Ormsby, 10 A Bjork, 14 T Detry, 20 J Rose, 25 J Suri, 33 D Frittelli, P Peterson, 55 C Hanson, 80 bar

Final-day advice

SSP Chawrasia is a plucky sort, who squeezes the absolute maximum from his golfing talent, and Hong Kong Golf Club is just the type of track he enjoys.

Chawrasia's lack of length is not a serious handicap on this layout, where the key to success is finding fairways and greens, and churning out pars. He has dug in over the first three days, doing just enough to keep his nose in front.

It is obviously feasible that Chawrasia will use his short-game prowess and battling qualities to fall over the line in front and claim his first European Tour title outside of India. But it is much more likely that the significant deficiencies in his swing result in enough bogeys to allow the chasing pack to swamp him.

Much better players are tucked in just behind Chawrasia, waiting to pounce on any frailty shown from the frontrunner.

Racing Post Sport followers who backed the five big-price ante-post recommendations are in a strong position. 'Next-best' selection Alexander Bjork is sharing fourth place, while No. 3 selection Wade Ormsby is tied for second spot. Hopes can be high for at least an each-way return from the pair of pre-tournament 80-1 shots.

Aside from making a mess of the short, par-four fourth hole, and finding the trees off the tee at the difficult 18th, Bjork played beautifully in round three, a greatly encouraging 67 which left him two behind Chawrasia. Bjork has the perfect game for this course and the 27-year-old Swede looks ready to become a European Tour champion.

Ormsby carded a bogey-free 65 and the accurate Aussie also seems entirely comfortable at HKCG. He snubbed the Australian Open, which is taking place in Sydney this week, such was his affection for the Hong Kong assignment. He is sporting a formidable moustache and looking dangerous in more ways than one.

Rafa Cabrera Bello and Tommy Fleetwood are the biggest names on the leaderboard, but Cabrera Bello spurned a golden chance of winning this title last year, dropping three shots in a horror spell through the seventh and eighth, and the Spaniard is always difficult to trust in a tight tussle.

Fleetwood has done superbly to contend given how much physical and mental energy he invested in the final month of the 2017 Race to Dubai, but he could hit a wall at any moment. Thomas Detry is a promising youngster, but he has looked vulnerable with putter in hand. That club might let him down in a close finish.

Cabrera Bello and Fleetwood are probably the players to concentrate on for punters who have built a strong position on Bjork and Ormsby, and are looking for cover shots. Those yet to get involved are pointed towards Bjork at 10-1, a price which does not reflect how well he was swinging in round three and how at ease he appears with the challenge. He has a clear gameplan for every hole.

Final-round twoball punters are advised to take a chance on defending champion Sam Brazel in the 2.55am match. Brazel loves this course, scene of his finest hour, and the humble Australian will put 100 percent effort to the finish line in a bid to bank as many euros as possible.

Brazel's opponent, Sergio Garcia, seems likely to quickly lose interest once his extremely remote winning chance disappears. The moody Spaniard has been testing new clubs and looks a potentially flaky favourite.

The final twoball of Chawrasia and Cabrera Bello is scheduled to tee off at 4.30am UK and Ireland time, Sunday morning.

Twoballs recommendation
S Brazel
1pt 100-30 Power

Bjork played beautifully in round three
E.W. Terms
Sky bet