Dubai: As action gets underway on Thursday for British Open, the final major of the season, Gulf News shortlists four players from the Asian continent with a potential to do well at the tournament’s 148th running.
Kiradech Aphibarnrat: The Thai golfer holds potential to surprise this week. Stifled by a niggling injury he incurred while escaping from trouble at The Masters, his efforts were still good enough to make the cut. Complemented by a couple top-5’s on the PGA Tour this year, Kiradech will have to use his crafty touch around the greens to enjoy a week that always has potential to unveil some dark horse winners.
Although he is coming off two missed cuts, Royal Portrush will be a good change of pace – hopefully links golf can bring about a good result.
Shubankar Sharma: Always a fan-favourite in the Middle East, Sharma is coming off a cold stretch where he has perhaps played better than his score suggests. Sitting just outside the top-200 in the world, Shama is not far from being back at his best, playing like he knows he can. Having seen a ranking as high as 64th in the world last year, Sharma has the game to succeed. He will have to dig deep at The Open, as a good week here will set him up to close the season well.
Haotong Li: A European Tour winner at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic last year, the strong Chinese golfer is a good pick to have a surprisingly good week in Northern Ireland. A solid player when the winds kick up, Li currently works with Sheffield-based Peter Cowen who maintains three academies in Dubai. Coming off a few good weeks, including a top-15 at the Irish Open and a handful of top-5’s scattered throughout the last six months, Li is a sleeper pick for a top finish this week.
Hideki Matsuyama: Don’t be surprised if you see the 27-year-old Japanese close to the top of the leader board come Sunday morning. Matsuyama is currently on a red-hot streak of form and has settled in nicely on the year’s PGA Tour calendar. Back-to-back top-15’s in the last two weeks including solid finishes at all three majors this year, a key for Matsuyama will be managing the tricky conditions that Royal Portrush can throw at players. While some of his PGA Tour contemporaries are playing the Scottish Open in preparation, Matsuyama has opted not to.
Still, a good week is potentially in the works.
- The writer is an intern at Gulf News