27th August 2019 | Asian Tour
Tour Insider: Bank BRI Indonesia Open
By Olle Nordberg, Former Asian Tour and European Tour professional
The US$500,000 Bank BRI Indonesia Open has been around since 1974 and has seen its share of household name winners; Major champions Payne Stewart and Padraig Harrington, and Asian standouts Thongchai Jaidee, Thaworn Wiratchant and Frankie Minoza (twice).
Last year’s edition saw the introduction of South Africa’s Justin Harding to Asian audiences, and Harding who had already been on a tear at home on the Sunshine Tour with two wins, did not disappoint.
In a close battle with Scott Vincent of Zimbabwe on Sunday’s back nine, it was Harding who drew the longer straw in the end. Starting the final round with a two-stroke advantage over Vincent, the two were tied at 16-under-par with three holes to go.
A crucial birdie on the 16th hole gave Harding a one stroke advantage playing the last two holes, and he would close out the tournament with a two-putt birdie on the par-five 72nd hole to win by one shot over Vincent on a score of 18-under-par 270.
He would also go on to win the following Asian Tour event in Thailand to cap a remarkable stretch of six events from May to July, winning a combined four titles on the Asian and Sunshine Tours on his way to a breakthrough season.
The Robert Trent Jones Jr. designed Pondok Indah Golf Course in downtown Jakarta has hosted the Indonesia Open since 2016, and it was also the site of the World Cup of Golf in 1983.
Playing as a par-72 course measuring 7,243 yards from the championship tees it will offer up a good examination for some of the best players in the region, but it’s also quite scorable for in-form touring pros.
The last three Bank BRI Indonesia Opens have seen the winner’s score range from 16-under-par (2016) to 23-under-par (2017), so we can perhaps expect something similar this year depending on weather and conditions.
The Top Contenders
It is impossible to overlook Thailand’s Jazz Janewattanond as one of the favorites to win tournaments ever since his victory at the first event of the season, the SMBC Singapore Open.
The Order of Merit leader by just over US$217,000 with almost US$746,000 in earnings was in position to challenge for another title after three rounds at the Sarawak Championship two weeks ago, but in the end had to settle for a tied-sixth finish after a final round of three-under-par 69.
He will have another chance to further extend his Order of Merit lead this week in Jakarta as second-placed Scott Hend will be playing the Omega European Masters on the European Tour.
Jazz’s stats this year have shown no real weakness across all categories, and with a complete game it would be no surprise to find him near the top of the leaderboard again on Sunday. He has also played well at Pondok Indah Golf Course in the past, with a tied-third place in 2017 and tied-17th in 2016.
He is however likely to find a stiff challenge from our most recent winner, the very much in-form Andrew Dodt of Australia. Dodt took home the Sarawak Championship trophy, his third Asian Tour win, with some superb putting stats where he ranked second with 1.53 Putts per Green in Regulation (GIR).
Dodt’s GIR percentage for the year is also very impressive, with 76.3% he would be ranked third in this category if we filter for players with 10 tournament rounds played or more. Using the same criteria, he would also be ranked second in Scoring Average to Jazz with 69.0 per round.
Having missed some tournaments this season due to an injury he sustained in Morocco in late April, the win in Kuching two weeks ago should have given him a huge confidence boost for the remaining Asian Tour events this season.
With an invitee from the Sunshine Tour crowned champion last year, it’s possible that history might repeat itself at Pondok Indah this week.
South African JC Ritchie who is currently leading that Order of Merit, and with two Sunshine Tour wins in 2019, will be a real threat when he makes his first appearance on Asian soil in Jakarta.
Currently ranked 120th on the OWGR, Ritchie will be hoping to follow in Harding’s footsteps and use the Asian Tour as a springboard into the top-100 in the world rankings.
If current form is any guide to performance this week, a player to watch out for this week will be Canada’s Richard T. Lee.
Needing an eagle on the last hole of regulation play in Sarawak to force a play-off, Lee pulled off an extraordinary shot on the par-five 18th hole by hitting a big draw with his three-wood from 265 yards to five feet and making the putt when he had to. This was probably the shot of the tournament, even if he did not come out on top in the play-off against Dodt.
He also finished tied-10th in the previous Asian Tour event, the Kolon Korea Open, and also has a win this season at the DB Insurance Promy Open on the KPGA Tour.
Lee will be looking to go one better than in Kuching and post a third career Asian Tour win this week.
Following the lines of current form, Micah Lauren Shin of the U.S. has certainly gotten his career back on the right track. A winner in his rookie Asian Tour season at the Resorts World Manila Masters in 2017, Shin had a quieter season last year with a tied-10th at the Hong Kong Open as his best result.
Two recent near-misses at the Sarawak Championship and the Asia-Pacific Diamond Cup, where he finished third and tied-second respectively, shows that Shin is ready to win again at any time.
Currently seventh on the Order of Merit with over US$183,000, the long hitting Shin who is averaging 305 yards off the tee will be looking to use that power to his advantage and secure his second Asian Tour victory this week.
This week’s local charge could be led by Danny Masrin, who is having his best Asian Tour season to date with over US$27,000 in earnings and currently in 59th place on the Order of Merit.
Masrin has been very solid in his approach game this year with a GIR percentage of 77.1%, and is currently ranked second in this category using the same filtering mentioned earlier. This will come in very handy this week on a course where last year GIR performance was a big factor among top-10 finishers.
The winner of eight tournaments on the PGA Tour of Indonesia as well as Order of Merit Champion twice in 2016 and 2018, it may be time for Masrin as an Indonesian to win their National Open for the first time since Kasiadi did so in 1989.