The event, the first of three European Tour events in China in 2017, is being played for the third occasion with Soomin Lee and Kiradech Aphibarnrat having won the first two editions.
This week’s tournament is followed by next week’s Volvo China Open in Beijing, an event jointly sanctioned with the OneAsia Tour, while the WGC HSBC Champions Tournament to be played in Shanghai late in October completes the trio of European Tour events in China this season.
Seven Australians get to play for the US$2.8 million headed in terms of world ranking by Scott Hend, with Sam Brazel, Brett Rumford, Jason Scrivener, Andrew Dodt, Wade Ormsby and Nathan Holman also in the field.
American Bubba Watson heads the overall field in terms of ranking although in his most recent starts Watson’s game has been well below the level that has seen him two majors and another eight PGA Tour titles.
Watson has played this event on two occasions for a best of 8th last year but it is his recent form that is the concern regarding his chances this week. He will face a significantly weaker field than he has faced in recent times but nonetheless he needs to improve if he is to be a factor this week.
Joost Luiten finished runner-up last year and although he too has been struggling for his best form in 2017 he has not been playing badly and this may well be the opportunity to get himself into contention. His 13th place in Morocco last week gave an indication that something better is close at hand.
Tommy Fleetwood missed the cut at the Masters at his last start but his form earlier in the year was very impressive having won in Abu Dhabi and finished runner-up behind Dustin Johnson at the WGC event in Mexico.
Fleetwood finished third on debut at this tournament two years ago so there is a lot to like about his chances.
Ross Fisher was very impressive at the WGC events a month or so ago and did well enough at the Masters. He has two solid finishes in this event in the two visits he has made.
Of the Australians Hend has certainly played well at the Genzon Golf Club in the past having finished 4th last year and 15th in 2015. In comparison to his stellar year in 2016, Hend has begun 2017 slowly, 42nd his best finish in six starts, but he is better than that and this might be the chance to get things moving forward in 2017.
Brett Rumford appears to be returning to the game he is capable of but his form is still inconsistent. His recent win in Perth was surrounded, in the main, by missed cuts but at his best he is capable of a very good week and potentially to lead the Australians.
Sam Brazel was one of Australian golf’s big movers in 2016 and although he has not started the 2017 year quite as well he has been playing against some very strong fields and this might be the opportunity to get things moving in the right direction. He is playing this event for the first occasion.
Scrivener, Dodt, Holman and Ormsby who is playing on a medical exemption have their chances but none are really playing all that well although Ormsby has been a little better in recent starts.
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