#VenetianMacaoOpen - The Contenders

Mon 10 Oct 2016

#VenetianMacaoOpen - The Contenders

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Branden Grace (Rsa)
The world number 14, the highest ranked player in the field, makes his debut this week and will be expected to feature prominently on the leaderboard. He has won twice this season on the PGA Tour and European Tour and finished top-five in the US Open and US PGA Championship this season to outline his Major credentials.
World Ranking: 14th
Ian Poulter of England Ian Poulter of England
Scott Hend (Aus)
The defending champion is bidding to become the first man to win three Venetian Macao Open titles. In the past three seasons where he was also runner-up once, Hend is now 52-under-par at the Macao Golf and Country Club. A course which he used to dislike is now firmly a happy hunting ground. With two wins already this season, a third could well come this week and cement his position atop the Asian Tour Order of Merit.
World Ranking: 65th
Asian Tour Ranking: 1st
Ian Poulter (Eng)
The dashing Englishman is making his first start since an injury layoff in June due to a foot problem. Being a first-timer at the Venetian Macao Open, he could need time to master the tricky test but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him launching a title charge as he will be all ready to fire at the flags.
World Ranking: 124th
Anirban Lahiri (Ind)
The reigning Asian Tour number one enjoys competing in Macao where he won the title in 2014 and finished runner-up in 2013 and last season. He jointly holds the course record of nine-under-par 62 and shot a 61 as well under preferred lies condition. He is 47-under-par in the past three tournaments in Macao. He has safely kept his card in the U.S and returning to Macao will be a huge boost in his hopes to end the year strongly.
World Ranking: 92nd
Asian Tour Ranking: 19th
Darren Clarke (NIR)
Europe’s Ryder Cup captain goes back into individual golf mode this week after his Hazeltine disappointment in which the United States regained the Cup with a 17-11 victory. The former British Open champion featured in Macao back in 1999. With his focus entire on the Ryder Cup over the past two years, he may not be at his sharpest best in Macao but do not discount him from launching a worthy challenge.
World Ranking: 614th
Jeunghun Wang of Korea Jeunghun Wang of Korea
Jeunghun Wang (Kor)
The slender 20-year-old has won twice this season in Morocco and Mauritius, so perhaps Macao could be next target judging by the first letter of places he has won this season. He finished top-15 twice in his past two visits to Macao and will be expected to hover around the leaderboard this week. Only problem is he recently recovered from a stomach ailment which laid him off for several weeks and he pulled out of two tournaments prior to the Venetian Macao Open.
World Ranking: 90th
Asian Tour Ranking: 3rd
Gaganjeet Bhullar (Ind)
The former Macao Open champion is back in form after suffering a wrist injury two years ago. He bagged his seventh Asian Tour victory in Korea two weeks ago and followed it up with a top-five finish in Indonesia on Sunday. The Indian will be expected to shine at a venue which he has won previously.
Asian Tour Ranking: 9th
Phachara Khongwatmai (Tha)
The Thai teenager has finished top-five in his last three starts – fourth, third and second. Could he land a maiden title in Macao this week? Since making his maiden Major debut at the British Open in July, he has grown in strength and has been knocking on the door. Missed the halfway cut in his debut at the Venetian Macao Open last season.
Asian Tour Ranking: 13th
Marcus Fraser (Aus)
The Australian has enjoyed a steady season which includes one win in Malaysia in February. He also represented Australia in the Olympics and finished fifth, after leading for the opening three rounds. Has played in the Venetian Macao Open only once previously, finishing tied 12th in 2012. With his steady all-round game, he could well contend. A win could also see him overtake compatriot Scott Hend atop the Order of Merit.
Asian Tour Ranking: 2nd