I’m back out on Tour again and this week I’m in…Macau. Yes, it’s the first time I’ve ever been out for this, the Macau Open and I’m really enjoying the experience.
As you may or may not know, I really enjoy playing all over the world – and golf, these days, offers so many different opportunities to do so. I’m especially fond of playing in Asia. Well, I suppose I would be, having been lucky enough to win the BMW Asian Open in 2002 and the Omega Hong Kong Open in 2003!
So, anyway, when the chance arose to play in the Macau Open I jumped at it. It’s a renowned quality event – you only have to look at its winners since it started seven years ago to realise that. Colin Montgomerie won it 12 months ago while Lee Westwood, I understand, has been successful here and so has Zhang Lian-Wei. In fact, Zhang – a European Tour winner – has won it twice and he’ll be in opposition to me this week.
There’s going to be good field here over the next four days with a particularly strong challenge coming from the guys who feature regularly on the Asian circuit. I know I’m ranked in the World Top-10 and as such may be considered among the favourites, but there’s no way I’ll be taking this tournament lightly. It’s just not in my nature to do so.
The Macau Golf & Country Club is a cracking venue for a golf tournament. It overlooks the South China Sea, having been built along the shoreline. It wouldn’t be the longest track the guys will play, the par-71 lay-out measuring 6,557 yards. But it’s clearly a real test of accuracy that places a premium on correct club selection. Indeed, if the conditions do take a turn for the worse, those whose strength is good course management are likely to prosper.
The 2nd hole would present a birdie opportunity as the hole is less than 500 yards and is very reachable in two. It’s a dog-leg, but if you can avoid the fairway bunkers off the tee, you should be in good shape to pick up a shot early on in your round. The 4th – a short par-3 – again, is a chance to notch up a birdie.
The next hole is tough. A par-4 of 474 yards, you’ve got to hit a decent drive to put yourself in prime position to negotiate an awkward approach shot into a well-protected green.
The 7th is a 317-yard par-4. But while it’s not long, the hole isn’t straightforward. The elevation changes ask questions of you and the approach is blind. The green is well bunkered, as well.
On the back nine, the 230-yard par-3 11th is a good hole. You’ve got to fire in a quality long iron and a par here every day would be fine.
Two par-5s follow back-to-back with the 12th the longest hole on the course at 574 yards. As you get towards the finish, the par-3 17th is pretty spectacular. The tee on this 225-yard hole is elevated 140 feet above a green that has cliffs to the right and the sea on the left. A dramatic hole, and a good one.
Similar sentiments apply to the last - a par-5 where the sea, lakes, out of bounds and greenside bunkers are all on your mind. It’s a risk-reward hole as the brave and skilful could glean a birdie late in the day that might prove crucial.
Hope you keep tabs on my progress through the tournament. I’ll be back after the weekend to update you on how it all transpired.