A good many of the European Tour's big name golfers won't be heading east to China for this week's Shenzhen International at Genzon Golf Club, some because, like Ireland's Padraig Harrington, they are likely to be attending the hush-hush wedding of World No 2 Rory McIlroy and his fiance, Erica Stoll, at the plush, 5-star Ashford Castle in County Mayo, Ireland, on Saturday.
McIlroy, who will not, as he had hoped, be married in a Masters Green Jacket at what has been dubbed 'the wedding of the decade', has made no official statements about it, but the Belfast Telegraph has assured its readers that the wedding will take place on Saturday at Ashford Castle.
This, of course, does not mean that this year's field for the third Shenzhen International, headlined for the third time running by America's two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson, is a weak one.
To the contrary, it is packed with a good many of the Tour's multiple winners and fastest-rising stars, not the least of these being England's Tommy Fleetwood, and Andy Sullivan, Austria's Bernd Wiesberger, Frenchmen Victor Dubuisson and Alexander Levy, Dutchman Joost Luiten, Thailand's Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Thongchai Jaidee and Irish young gun Paul Dunne, who only missed out on winning his first Tour title in Morocco on Sunday when he lost the play-off to blast-from-the-past Edoardo Molinari.
The British bookmakers have set-up Fleetwood as their favourite at 12/1 followed by Watson and Wiesberger at 14/1, Luiten and American Peter Uihlein at 18/1 and the French pair, Dubuisson and Alexander Levy, at 28/1.
Personally, I think they may have got it wrong. History tells us that the first two Shenzhen Internationals were won by Asian golfers and the first of those winners was Aphibarnrat, who they have a good way down their list at 35/1.
Soomin Lee, last year's surprise winner and this year's defending champion, has virtually been written off, in many cases as a 100/1 outsider.
That the bookie's top man is Fleetwood, who finished among the top three in the Hong Kong Open in his last visit to the East and who has, since then, won in Abu Dhabi and then grabbed the runner-up spot at the WGC-Mexico Championship, can't be criticised.
But unless he has done something radical about it, Watson's 2017 form has been so poor, it's hard to see him winning anything right now. He missed the Masters cut two weeks ago and has yet to make the Top 20, in any event, this year. Besides that, his best finishes in his two appearances in the Shenzhen were disappointing ties for 29th and 8th.
A dark horse you might like to keep an eye on is Levy who can boast the most impressive all-around stats during the tournament's first three years.
On Genzon's par 72, 7,145-yard layout with its wide fairways and large undulating greens he has consistently been one of the longest and straightest drivers (7th and 11th respectively) one of the best in finding the greens in regulation (5th) and one of the most effective putters (3rd).
Certainly, he has the game to make hay on the course's four reachable par 5s which until now have been key.
Measuring 547, 536, 543, and 575 yards, Lee collected an eagle and nine birdies on them last year and Aphibarnrat played them in 8-under when winning the inaugural event.
And the weather? Wet weather and Target golf specialists may have an advantage. Our Golfweather.com boffins are forecasting mostly light rain at different times on all four days with thunderstorms likely during the first half of Friday.
(As on Tuesday am, April 18, 2017)
Tommy Fleetwood 12/1
Bubba Watson 14/1
Bernd Wiesberger 14/1
Joost Luiten 18/1
Peter Uihlein 18/1
Victor Dubuisson 28/1
Alexander Levy 28/1
Jordan Smith 30/1
Thongchai Jaidee 30/1
George Coetzee 30/1
Dean Burmester 33/1
Haotong Li 35/1
Kiradech Aphibarnrat 35/1
Paul Dunne 35/1
Brandon Stone 35/1
Pablo Larrazabal 45/1
Fabrizio Zanotti 45/1
Jorge Campillo 50/1
Thorbjorn Olesen 50/1.
NOTE: For all the latest odds, go to www.oddschecker.com/golf/shenzhen-international/shenzen-international/winner.
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