Golf: Big-hitting Smith can continue impressive ascent at Hero Indian Open

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EUROPEAN TOUR specialist Vince Blissett (@Vince_RFC) returns with three more fancies for this week’s Hero Indian Open.

Hero Indian Open | 9th-12th March 2017 | Sky Sports

We came as close as you can get to returns without pocketing a penny last week with 80/1 shot Jacques Blaauw finishing sixth after being shunted down from tied-fifth with the last shot of the tournament.

Some bookies, normally Coral and Paddy Power, go six or seven places most weeks at 1/5 the odds rather than the standard five places at 1/4. Personally I always take the highest odds available and ignore the terms.

Blaauw was 66/1 with Coral so it’s possible some returns were had. A sixth-place is a rare thing so I’m carrying on with taking best odds available over extra places; it’s a personal preference.

Of the other picks, pre-tournament favourite George Coetzee imploded on Friday and Dylan Frittelli was never in contention. He needed birdies on the last two on Friday to make the cut and then went on to finish tied-12th so pulled it back well.

I’m leaving Frittelli out this week and I’m really hoping that doesn’t come back to bite me as he could go well…

Course switch for 2017

This week the European Tour moves on to India for the Hero India Open, a co-sanctioned event with the Asian Tour.

I backed the 40/1 winner in this one last year with SSP Chawrasia, who has the best course form of anyone anywhere I’ve seen.

It turned out to be one of my favourite tournaments of 2016 to watch and I’ve been waiting patiently for a year to see what price SSP would open at.

However it turns out the venue has been changed and it’s a completely different type of course and I’m devastated to be honest.

No course form

We’ve gone from Delhi Golf Course and a very short, tree-lined narrow course to DLF Golf and Country Club in Gurgaon and its brand new, extremely long and open parkland course. The Asian Tour is back to Delhi GC in November so I’ve got that noted down.

I was a bit sceptical to start with about this new course but after a bit of digging it could be a good one. The course was only opened 18 months ago and I doubt any of the field have seen it before so there’s pretty much nothing to go on.

The club website says that strategy is the key to success; looking at each hole and the little blurb that accompanies it, that looks a fair assumption to make. There’s plenty of water, loads of bunkers and tricky greens, so finding the right spots could well be essential.

The course is also very long so it could be assumed big hitters should prevail. Indian number one and this week’s favourite, Anirban Lahiri (9/1 Ladbrokes), thinks it’s got more of a European feel about it and the large Indian contingent may struggle.

All in all and taking everything into consideration, it’s very hard to go about this from a betting point of view but we’ll give it a go.

Jordan Smith (33/1 Ladbrokes)

Jordan Smith broke onto the scene at the first tournament of the year, the South African Open, when finishing third and backed that up two weeks later with a sixth in Qatar.

Since then he’s been very consistent and prominent near the head of the betting and leaderboards with three top-30s from four.

Normally I don’t like jumping on the bandwagon with youngsters at short prices after a few good results – see Phachara Khongwatmai as short as 25/1 this week as an example.

Smith hasn’t dropped off yet though and looks to be a class act and I’m getting on board with him for the first time this week.

From the small amount of statistical data available on him it’s clear that he can hit the ball a long way and is also pretty good in accuracy, greens in regulation and scrambling, so ticks the boxes there.

Putting has been the issue so far but in this field and at 33/1 (Ladbrokes) I’m giving him a chance.

Nicholas Colsaerts (60/1 Bet365)

Nicholas Colsaerts is a name I stop and look at far too often for my own good. He’s only won twice on tour – back in 2011 at the China Open and a matchplay event in 2012 – but has the ability to have won a fair few more than that.

The 2012 Ryder Cup winner had a very good 2013 without winning but then endured a bit of a slump. Last year he seemed to get things back together again and had four top-five finishes, all at courses you could possibly loosely link to s being similar to this week’s course.

Colsaerts is known for his big hitting, ranking top-five in driving distance every year but it’s his GIR stats that always surprise me. His end of season ranking on tour reads 8-14-5-27-10-9-4 averaging 74.56% of greens hit.

Obviously his short game is pretty good but it’s his putting that’s his real downfall. When he does putt half decently, invariably the name Colsaerts is nearer the top of the leaderboard.

I’ll give him another go this week at 60/1 (Bet365).

Lasse Jensen (150/1 Paddy Power)

I wasn’t really sure where to go with the third pick but Lasse Jensen has acquired the final vote. He’s a bit of a wildcard pick, if honest.

He misses more cuts than makes but when he does make the weekend he can quite often get a head of steam going. He’s done this recently in Dubai a month ago finishing third so there’s a little bit of form around.

Stats-wise not much stands out – he’s middle of the pack for most categories but he’s getting a chance that this week is one of his good ones at 150/1 with the seven places offered at Paddy Power.

Best Bets

Hero Indian Open – Jordan Smith (33/1 each-way Ladbrokes)

Hero Indian Open – Nicholas Colsaerts (60/1 each-way Bet365)

Hero Indian Open – Lasse Jensen (150/1 each-way Paddy Power)

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