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We hop from Singapore to Thailand as the DP World Tour again takes in a course not used for many years.

Amata Spring has a wonderful reputation as a quality golf course, wide enough for the long hitters to flourish on the 7500-odd-yard track and yet with plenty of bunkering and two large lakes to navigate.

Although we need to look back to the Thailand Golf Championship, held between 2011 and 2015 inclusive, there is plenty in the names of contenders to give us some helpful clues.

The inaugural outing at Amata saw Lee Westwood win his first of two titles, initially beat Charl Schwartzel by seven shots, and the South African clearly took offence as 12 months later he thrashed Bubba Watson and Thitiphun Chuayprakong by an incredible 11 shot margin.

Winners and beaten runners-up since include Sergio Garcia, Jamie Donaldson and Martin Kaymer, now enough of a clue to think a leaning toward links play and its associated course comparisons will be key here.



Thorbjorn Olesen
Sami Valimaki
Matt Jordan
Zander Lombard
Jamie Donaldson Top-20

Main Bet - Thorbjorn Olesen

While Daniel Gavins and Ockie Strydom caused mini-shocks over the last couple of weeks, they were relatively recent winners. That belief that a player can do it when with a chance opens this event up to some of the larger prices, but surely one of the previous winners makes a challenge, and why not a six-time winner.

As a fan of all three favourites – MacIntyre, Smith and Nicolai Hojgaard – it’s tough to look away, especially if the linksy angle is somewhere near accurate.
However, the first look put Olesen in front and opinion hasn’t wavered since.

The Dane has put behind a couple of tumultuous years with a 2022 season that suggested he could be worth his place in the Ryder Cup later this season.
Following hints in the Middle East, the 33-year-old recorded eagle-birdie at the final two holes of the British Masters to bring home an emotional victory before, perhaps significantly, finishing eighth at the Irish Open, 11th at Southport, 22nd in Denmark (top-20 at halfway) and top 20 in Italy.

In between, the Dane was 11th going into Sunday at Celtic Manor and played well enough in France and at Valderrama to think that he may be able to step it up a bit this season.

He’s done exactly that without exploding into action with the progressive form of 20th in Abu Dhabi, 16th in Dubai and flying through the weekend at Ras Al Khaimah, coming from 73rd on Thursday and 33rd at halfway, to finish just two shots off winner Gavins.

Over the last few months, Olesen has built up a steady bank of figures mainly based on accuracy and greens-in-regulation, something that may be a decent advantage here given the previous winners, as well as 2012 Asia- Pacific contenders CT Pan and Hideki Matsuyama.

It’s been a long time since his two outings in 2011 (19th) and 2013 (missed cut) but it’s there all the same, and with victories in Sicily, Perth and at the Dunhill Links, he would fit right in with the roll-call of winners.

Dangers - Sami Valimaki - Matt Jordan - Zander Lombard

I was all ready to put up local Kiradech Aphibarnrat for obvious reasons, but having seen his price come in a bit since Monday, he is replaced by last week’s runner-up at a similar price.


The Finn, winner on the paspalum greens of Oman in 2020 (beating hot putter Brandon Stone into submission) has had a good relationship with that type of grass, finishing 11th in Mauritius (62 first round) late last year and then just three weeks ago recorded a final round 62 to leap up from 59th to 10th in Abu Dhabi.


Both events, alongside the ones in France, Portugal and at Joburg, saw him rank in the top echelons of the putting stats, something he continued last week when ranking ninth in Singapore.


Most of the rest of his game is in good shape too, with improvement in his iron play combining with top-20 driving to produce an average of 7.5 shots gained tee-to-green in his last pair of completed starts, and he has those snippets that fit with previous winners.


13th at Wentworth reads well, as does a top-10 at Valderrama. Put alongside decent efforts at the island course in Cyprus and his lack of course experience may not be too much of a factor.


When Matt Jordan wins, it will be on a track with links connotations.


Dunhill Links, Portugal, Qatar and Himmerland all feature in his best performances, and whilst he let a big lead go in Qatar last year, he was beaten by Ewen Ferguson, a player that a week before had also thrown a lead away, this time in Kenya.

2023 has been good to the 27-year-old with progressive form through his four events.


A run of 34th in Abu, 20th in Dubai, 19th in Ras and 17th last week are very acceptable in this class, particularly when three of those (plus last year’s Qatar effort) are on similar greens to that faced this week.


The width of these fairways should allow him a bit more freedom than of late and whilst he needs to get his irons back in shape, he now ranks 11th in ball-striking over the last three months and it won’t take much to get him striking many more greens than he misses. It’s down to an improving flat stick after that.


Zander Lombard is a late entry into the staking plan, simply as current form suggests he cannot be as big as 70/1.


The case for the innocent is simple.


The 28-year-old may not have crossed the line since his only victory at home in a pro-am Sunshine Tour event, but neither had compatriot Ockie Strydom (winner of another Vodacom origins event in 2019) and he’s gone two wins in six weeks.


The very best of Lombard, according to the OWGR, sees him run-up at the Rocco Forte and twice in Joburg, and whilst those are useful hints to this week’s test, recent form surely speaks for itself.


Tied-third at Ras last year, he bettered that effort two weeks ago when finishing second to Gavins, and even though he should probably have won, his stats reveal a player at the top of his game.


Top-10 off-the-tee and for tee-to-green, the South African was also just shy of the top-20 for putting, a figure he repeated in Singapore last week when finishing in sixth.


2022 also saw Lombard finish well at the long Czech Masters, fourth at the Spanish Open and 14th at Valderrama, form he has continued into the new year. There is no reason I can see that he doesn’t continue the run, and there is plenty in the price to accept the inevitable place.

Outsider - Jamie Donaldson

Age and injury may catch up with the affable Welshman but the pick of his form over the last season-and-a-bit is plenty good enough to see him land a top-20, particularly when given a course on which his record is ‘played one, won one.’

The win here in 2015 was the 47-year-olds last victory,victory, so landing gold is probably well out of his reach. However, since the start of 2022, Donaldson has recorded an eighth place in Olesen’s British Masters, 20th at the Irish open, sixth at the Scottish equivalent and finished in the same position at Le Golf National.

Any of those finishes sees him right there on a course that would seem to correlate well and he has started 2023 well enough with three midfield finishes, averaging around 40th for play in Abu, Dubai and last week in Singapore, when his shocking tee-to-green play was offset by the same sort of putting display he put up in France and Valderrama.

If this plays too long then he may be in trouble, but, as discussed, there may be more to this course than meets the eye. A top-20 is certainly on the radar.

Odds are correct at the time of posting

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