Uihlein To Rock Thailand Classic
True Thailand Classic
The European Tour returns to Asia this week with a decent field off to Black Mountain Golf for the Thailand Classic.
This is the inaugural edition of the Thailand Classic, co-sanctioned by the European and Asian Tours, the first such event to be staged in Thailand. The prize fund is $2 million and any player who can bag a hole-in-one at the fourteenth will win the keys to a luxury Black Mountain town house. This prospect has not lured the big European names, but the field is fairly strong, and includes most of the top Asian players.
The Black Mountain Golf Club has staged two editions of the Black Mountain Masters and was the venue for the Royal Trophy in 2011. Ranked as the best course in South East Asia in 2014, it’s long by European Tour standards, but not particularly challenging. There are plenty of water hazards, including a waterfall on the eleventh, but the fairways are wide and the sloping greens are true and consistent.
In The Bunker
The three-time Asian number one, Thongchai Jaidee, is the highest ranked of the local players and will have plenty of support. His form so far in 2015 hasn’t been bad, but a couple of top thirty finishes and one good round out of four at the Malaysian Open last week does not suggest he is about to hit top gear. There are equally good options elsewhere in the field at bigger prices and he’s one to oppose at 14/1.
Young American Peter Uihlein is into his third season on the European Tour, and although he disappointed in 2014, having been named Rookie of the Year in 2013, the signs are more promising this time round.
He has a couple of top twenty finishes to his name already, including last week’s sixteenth in Malaysia, where his game appeared to be in good order.
He has a lot of potential and there is plenty of upside to backing him at decent odds of 22/1
Robert Rock has had a slow start to the year, but showed positive signs at the Dubai Desert Classic, when he finished inside the top ten. He was let down by a poor third day in Malaysia, but he bounced back with a final round of 68, one of the best carded on the Sunday, to earn another top twenty finish. The experienced Rock represents plenty of value at 50/1 in an open event.
Last year, Renato Paratore became the youngest ever qualifier for the European Tour and he has made a steady start, catching the eye with a top-fifteen finish in Dubai, where he finished in the top five for Greens In Regulation. Backing a young player in his rookie year is obviously fraught with risk, but Paratore could be better than most and his odds of 50/1 offer plenty of compensation.