The final European Tour event of 2017 is the biggest of the entire year in terms of the field as more than 200 players from the European Tour, Sunshine Tour and Asian Tour head to Johannesburg for the Joburg Open.
A new venue, the first ever tri-sanctioned event on South African soil, a fair prize fund and all the benefits that winning carries should ensure an extremely competitive end to the calendar year.
2017 (season) – Darren Fichardt
2016 – Haydn Porteous
2015 – Andy Sullivan
2014 – George Coetzee
2013 – Richard Sterne
2012 – Branden Grace
2011 – Charl Schwartzel
2010 – Charl Schwartzel
2009 – Anders Hansen
2008 – Richard Sterne
As ever for this event we have two courses in play but it is a new venue completely. Serious renovation work is taking place at the usual host so we move to Randpark Golf Club in Johannesburg for the week.
The Firethorn Course is the one which the players will play 54 holes on. It is a par 72 which measures 7,595 yards although at altitude it won’t play quite to that full yardage. The Bushwillow Course stages the other 18 holes. It is a par 71 which stretches to 7,114 yards but is said to be much the tighter off the tee.
There has been a lot of rain in the area in the lead up to the tournament which will soften things up and make scoring easier so those who drive it solidly should be the ones to focus on this week.
The field this week is absolutely huge but with many of the star names in the world of golf having shut things down for the year you would have to say that the quality in it is somewhat short in depth.
The obvious exception to that is Louis Oosthuizen who plays a second week in a row. Last week’s winner Dylan Frittelli is also in the field while George Coetzee adds something to the event but this is largely a field of second string South African and Asian Tour players.
As you would expect Louis Oosthuizen is the favourite to win the golf tournament. He is 11/2 which looks a little skinny despite him being the standout man in the field. These two course events can turn into a bit of a lottery but he certainly has the power and the class to power through the weekend. Those who like short prices he’s the likely winner but in a 200 runner field it isn’t for me.
Dylan Frittelli has won twice in the calendar year and he is 9/1 to make it a third win in 2017. I always think it is difficult to win in successive weeks especially when you are not used to winning which puts me off him even though he is driving the ball well enough to be extremely competitive.
George Coetzee won this event on a different course but he is showing enough of a return to form to make his odds of 16/1 fair enough. We’ve seen him mess up a couple of winning positions in recent times though and if I’m getting involved at that price I need to know he can win. I’m not sure he’s ready yet.
Haydn Porteous comes next in the betting at 22/1. He is a big hitter with a lot to like about his game so I can understand the price but he is another who does not win as often as I would like. His price is better value than Coetzee’s but I would rather look elsewhere. It is 25/1 bar that quartet.
I’m going with two main bets this week. The first is on Dean Burmester who should have a really good game for these courses and having won the Tshwane Open earlier in the year we know he can get over the winning line which is a big thing. He is the longest hitter in South Africa but he is pretty straight with it too and if the putter catches fire early on then he is a standout contender at 25/1.
Paul Peterson has been in good form in recent times. He pushed for a tie for second behind Wade Ormsby in the Hong Kong Open to begin the season and put up a creditable showing on a track which probably didn’t suit him last week in Mauritius. He was seventh in this tournament last year so the different grasses in South Africa don’t seem to be a problem and with his tee to green game I don’t think he’ll be far away.
I’ll take a couple of excellent drivers of the golf ball as my outsiders this week. Joel Stalter has been hitting the ball well in recent weeks. He is a tall guy who can hit it a long way and the softer conditions might just benefit him this week. I say that because it will widen the fairways so with his length he should be hitting short irons into the greens. He needs a big week early in the season to open up playing opportunities and I’ll take a punt he gets it.
Jbe Kruger is often by go to man when it comes to quality from tee to green and given record in the South African events in 2017 I see no reason why he won’t be competitive here. He might lack a little for length but I don’t think that will hamper him too much though. His accuracy with the long clubs will certainly make up for that and if he putts well he should be right there.
Back D.Burmester to win Joburg Open (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 26.00 with Coral (1/5 1-7)
Back P.Peterson to win Joburg Open (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 34.00 with 888sport (1/5 1-6)
Back J.Stalter to win Joburg Open (e/w) for a 0.5/10 stake at 71.00 with Paddy Power (1/5 1-7)
Back J.Kruger to win Joburg Open (e/w) for a 0.5/10 stake at 81.00 with Paddy Power (1/5 1-7)
Back them here: