Bubba Watson headlines Shenzhen International

The World Number four headlines a strong field in China this week

Bubba Watson headlines Shenzhen International
Bubba Watson headlines Shenzhen International
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Bubba Watson headlines a strong field for the second Shenzhen International at Genzon Golf Club in China. Kiradech Aphibarnrat is defending champ.

World Number four Bubba Watson returns to China this week to play in the Shenzhen International for a second consecutive season. Last year the left-hander finished tied for 29th at Genzon GC and he has good memories of playing in China, having captured the WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai back in 2014.

“I’ve always loved playing in China,” he said. “My best memory is of the fantastic reception I received from the local fans and the venue. I was made to feel very welcome.”

Watson will be up against a strong field in this event. European Tour golfer of the month in March, S.S.P Chawrasia will tee it up and European Tour star players like Victor Dubuisson, Thorbjorn Olesen, Alex Levy, Joost Luiten and Tommy Fleetwood are on the start sheet.

Fans favourite Miguel Angel Jimenez will also make an appearance. The 52-year-old is a past winner in Hong Kong – very close to Shenzhen – and he’s relishing a return to the area. “I have always enjoyed playing in this part of the world and have had great success here,” he said.

Miguel Angel Jimenez warm-up routine:

The course at Genzon Golf Club, in the Longgang district of Shenzhen was designed by Neil Haworth. He completed a redesign of the original layout and his re-modelled creation opened for play in 2009. The course features a number of water hazards and many of the holes are tree-lined. This is a track that will require accuracy and a strategic approach.

Last year Kiradech Aphibarnrat produced a late rally to force a playoff with, and then beat home favourite Li Hao-Tong. The 19-year-old Chinese player closed with a 67 to the delight of the galleries. Li is hoping to produce another good performance in front of the home fans.

“I came close to winning last year, so will be hoping to go one better this time around,” Li said. “I am excited to return to a course where I played so well, particularly with this being an Olympic year. A win here would certainly help my chances of representing China in Rio.”

This is the first of three European Tour events that will be contested in China this year. The Volvo China Open follows next week in Beijing and the WGC HSBC Champions will be held, at a venue yet to be confirmed, in October.

The weather forecast for the week looks unsettled. Thunderstorms will almost certainly hit at some point over the four days so don’t be surprised if there are delays to the play this week.

Venue: Genzon GC, Shenzhen, China Date: Apr 21-24 Course stats: par 72, 7,145 yards Purse: $2,800,000 Defending Champion: Kiradech Aphibarnrat (-12)

TV Coverage: Thursday 21 – Sky Sports 4 from 7.30am Friday 22 – Sky Sports 4 from 7.30am Saturday 23 – Sky Sports 4 from 6am Sunday 24 – Sky Sports 4 from 5.30am

Player watch: Tommy Fleetwood – He’s played solidly if unspectacularly so far this year and it’s about time he returned to winning ways. This could be a good place for him to do it. He was third in this event last year.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat – The defending champ will feed off good memories of the course from last year. He’s enjoyed a couple of good recent performances in the USA, including a tie for 15th at the US Masters.

Ross Fisher – The Englishman was tied 15th in this event last year and showed good form at Valderrama last week – ending that tournament in a tie for sixth.

Click here for the betsafe guide to strategic golf betting written by Fergus Bisset

Key hole: 17th. This is a fantastic par-5 of 575 yards. Water lurks all down the right side and a tree in the middle of the fairway must be negotiated from the tee. The second shot presents a choice. The very longest hitters may have a pop at the green. Otherwise the lay up is tough as the water bisects the fairway some 100 yards out. The players will have to decide whether to try and carry it or stay short. This one could see some big numbers racked up as the pressure mounts.

Fergus Bisset
Contributing Editor

Fergus is a golf obsessive and 1-handicapper. Growing up in the North East of Scotland, golf runs through his veins and his passion for the sport was bolstered during his time at St Andrews university studying history. He went on to earn a post graduate diploma from the London School of Journalism. Fergus has worked for Golf Monthly since 2004 and has written two books on the game; "Great Golf Debates" together with Jezz Ellwood of Golf Monthly and "The Ultimate Golf Book" together with Neil Tappin (also of Golf Monthly)... Fergus once shanked a ball from just over Granny Clark's Wynd on the 18th of the Old Course that struck the St Andrews Golf Club and rebounded into the Valley of Sin, from where he saved par. Who says there's no golfing god?