King’s Cup 2016 – Phoenix Gold Golf & Country Club live on Sky Sports 4
The King’s Cup was first staged in 2009 and becomes a co-sanctioned Asian/European Tour event for the first time this week. Rained off in 2011 and a non-starter in 2015, it is hoped that by adding some weight from the European Tour, the King’s Cup can take off as Thailand’s third annual biggest golf event. The field is predominately made up of 90 Asian Tour players, 25 European Tour players and 25 from the Thai PGA list. Big names on show are thin on the ground given the long trek east for many from Europe, coupled in with the fact the year’s fourth major, the USPGA Championship, is being played simultaneously. 2008 Masters champ Trevor Immelman, Eddie Pepperell and David Lipsky are the star overseas attractions whilst home hopes will be pinned on the likes of and Prom Meesawat, Prayad Marksaeng and previous champion Thaworn Wiratchant.
The Phoenix Gold Golf & Country Club is located just outside ex-pat party town, Pattaya, Thailand and opened for business in 1993 before undergoing extensive renovations after significant investment in 2013. The estate houses three 9 hole courses and the card we have been given on the European Tour website suggests the 18 chosen will play at just 6,898 yards to a par of 70 (just two par 5’s) – meaning the ‘Lakes’ nine holes and the ‘Mountain’ nine holes will host the tournament – the ‘Ocean’ 9 misses out. The 9th and the 16th holes this week will play as par 4’s, but at 507 and 474 yards respectively, the members play as par 5’s. There is some guess work here but I reckon the front nine looks the scoring section of the course, with longer par 4’s and 3’s on the back nine.
Still, being a reasonably short resort course that is open to the public, my gut feeling is this will be a birdie-fest with a winning score around the -20 mark. Being able to putt well on grainy Asian greens will be a pre-requisite.
Information has been sparse on the ground about this event, but European Tour pro Chris Hanson (@Hansonprogolf) tweeted on Monday –
“Hot 9 holes played at Phoenix Gold Golf for the #KingsCup – short course, NO rough and small slow greens! #lowscoring “
Give him a follow if you don’t already, his weekly blogs are superb.
Pattaya will be it’s usual hot and steamy self over the duration of the event and I’d be surprised if there isn’t a thunderstorm or two around which will of course delay proceedings. Not much wind is forecast so if there is some rain, this will only soften the course and add to the feeling that this will be an event full of birdies.
Previous King’s Cup leaderboards
Played out on different courses and being just an Asian Tour event, this might not have much bearing. But here is a look at the top fives of previous King’s Cup stagings –
2014 – Thaworn Wiratchant -20 (THA), Andrew Dodt -18 (AUS), Aniban Lahiri -18 (IND), Kalem Richardson -15 (AUS), Paul Peterson -15 (USA) Danthai Boonma -15 (THA)
2013 – Prayad Marksaeng -12 (THA), Rikard Karlberg -11 (SWE), Chapchai Nirat -8 (THA), Prom Meesawat -8 (THA), Aniban Lahiri -8 (THA)
2012 – Arnond Vongvanij -22 (THA), Thaworn Wiratchant -20 (THA), Marden Mamat -20 (SIN), Thammanoon Srioj -17 (THA), Udorn Dunagdecha -17 (THA)
2010 – Udorn Dunagdecha -12 (THA), Joongkyung Mo -10 (KOR), Pariya Junha -10 (THA), Jbe Kruger -10 (SA), Kwanchai Tannin -9 (THA), Prom Meesawat -9 (THA)
2009 – Chan Yih-Shin -14 (TAIW), Nick Redfearn -14 (ENG), Simon Yates -14 (SCO), Harmeet Kahloon -12 (IND), Prayad Marksaeng -12 (THA)
Jbe’ Kruger 70/1 EW
Whenever I think of grainy greens and low quality events played in Asia, I always get drawn to Jbe’ Kruger. The South African is quietly long off the tee (2nd in DD in his last ET event) but most catching was his 12th and 5th GIR stats at the Lyoness Open and Nordea Masters recently. Earlier this month he finished T10 in the Yeangder Asian Tour event, suggesting his putter is heating up on these non-European greens alongside his fine ball striking. His 2012 Avantha Masters win came with a score of -14 and he has two further wins in Zimbabwe on the Sunshine Tour. Jbe’ also finished T2 in the 2012 King’s Cup, though naturally on a different course.
Miguel Tabuena 80/1 EW (anything over 50/1 fine)
In a field of such low quality, I was amazed to see 22 year-old Filipino Miguel Tabuena at such a big price. I would have pressed the trigger at around 45s, so to get nearly double was very pleasing. The 2015 Philippine Open champion has a season best finish of T2 at the Malaysian Maybank Open in which he finished just two shots away from his maiden ET victory. Earlier in the year, a T4 at the Asian Tour’s Singapore Open saw Tabuena finish just behind Jordan Spieth and ahead of two-time 2016 ET victor Jeunghun Wang. Miguel ranks 6th on the ET putts per round stat and 16th on putts per GIR, which can only be a positive given this could be a putting contest. Also note an appearance at last months US Open can only speed up the development of a fine young talent.
Dean Burmester 90/1 EW
Every now and again a natural born winner appears in the golfing world. Think Patrick Reed. Think Jordan Spieth. Think Branden Grace. Then there is Grace’s fellow South African and six-time Sunshine Tour winner Dean Burmester. Some golfers just have a knack of getting over the line, where so many others fail. Those half a dozen wins all came between 2013 and 2015, and 2016 has seen the monster hitting Burmester (he leads the ET DD stats averaging 319 yards off the tee) have further strong finishes at higher graded events including a T11 at the Alfred Dunhill, a T4 at the Tschwane and a T14 at the Trophee Hassan. Last time out on a Challenge Tour event in Spain, Burmester shot 67, 63 in his first two rounds, before a disappointing weekend saw him fall away to a T25. This could be just the low scoring event he needs to capture another trophy for his swelling cabinet.
Prices correct at time of writing.
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