The focus of attention in the golfing world this week may be on Mexico but there is another event on the European Tour which sees South Africa playing host to another tournament as the Tshwane Open gets set for its latest renewal.
Obviously most of the stars of the game have descended on Mexico for the opening WGC event of the year but those who were not fortunate enough to have qualified for that event have another competitive event to go at here.
2017 – Dean Burmester
2016 – Charl Schwartzel
2015 – George Coetzee
2014 – Ross Fisher
2013 – Dawie van der Walt
Once again the Pretoria Country Club is the venue this week. This will be the fourth year the tournament has been held on this course. It is a par 71 which only measures 7,081 yards so you do not need to be a massive hitter to tame this course.
In fact judging by this tweet below from one of the players in the field this week, Clement Sordet, accuracy is going to be of paramount importance. While we don’t know exactly where on the golf course he dropped this ball the fact it completely disappears suggests the rough is going to be quite penal.
— Clement Sordet (@ClementSordet) February 27, 2018
With that in mind I think the best way to play this treelined track is to pick players who are accurate off the tee and into the greens rather than the bigger hitters who might find this rough more often than desired. Accuracy is a key feature this week in my eyes.
Given that the majority of the better players on the European Tour are in the WGC event this has to be classed as a relatively weak field although there are a number of competitive home players teeing it up.
George Coetzee is probably the biggest name teeing it up this week and he has home advantage as this is his home course but there are others from South Africa who will be looking for big weeks including the likes of Thomas Aiken, Hennie Otto, Keith Horne and Trevor Fisher Jr. From further afield Julian Suri will be eyeing up a successful week as will a smattering of European players such as Benjamin Hebert and Gregory Bourdy.
George Coetzee is the 10/1 favourite to win the tournament for a second time which is completely understandable given that this is his home course. He has shown signs of potentially being ready to return to the winners’ circle without actually getting there. If he is to win you would think this is a place where it may be more likely to happen but even so he’s plenty skinny enough.
Alexander Bjork has put a decent run of form together in recent times and he goes into this tournament as the second favourite which without being too disrespectful highlights how weak this field is given that he is still searching for his maiden European Tour success. He is 18/1 to win here which might represent better value than Coetzee but it is still plenty short enough.
Big hitting American player Julian Suri comes next in the betting at 20/1. He has been improving all the time recently but whether he has the credentials for this course I’m not convinced. He might not need to pound drivers all the time but at some point he will need to be accurate and that is a concern.
Marcus Kinhult remains a talented Swedish player for whom big things are expected from but although he arrives here in good nick this could be a step too far so relatively soon. Those that believe he is ready to win can get him at 25/1 with South African player Erik van Rooyen slightly bigger at 28/1. He will need to put a miserable weekend in Qatar last week behind him in order to be successful here. It is 30/1 bar.
I’ll go with one main bet this week and it is a man I have already backed for an event in South Africa this season in Jacques Blaauw. He hit the ball realy well in the South African Open when I backed him and in a much better field than this one is he came fourth. Since then he has finished sixth in another tournament and has two top six finishes in this tournament. His accuracy from tee to green has been a big feature of his play and at 40/1 he seems a logical bet to me this week.
I’ll throw darts at a few players at bigger prices all of whom fit the profile of being extremely proficient between the tee and the green with the first of those being Justin Harding. Harding is hitting the ball really well right now. He led the tournament statistically in the Africa PGA Championship recently where he finished third and just last week he was fourth overall in statistics in the Cape Town Open where he finished sixth. He is in good form and his long game is in fantastic order. I expect him to go well at 66/1.
Keith Horne is another who is in good form having finished fourth in his last two tournaments. Horne is a regular for fairways and greens and has a wonderful record in his homeland with a win and three top 10s from his last six starts in South Africa. Confidence could be a big thing this week and he has it in droves so he is another who is worth a chance.
Toby Tree is another player with top 10 finishes in two of his last three starts with a sensational all-around game being the reason for that and if he can continue to find the fairways and the greens this week then this is a tournament he should be able to go well in. He has a top 15 here a couple of years ago which would have been better but for an indifferent final day but with more experience now and better form I fancy he can make a much stronger fist of things here.
Finally David Drysdale is another who rarely deviates far from the fairways and at a three figure price I will pay to see how well he goes here. He performed well in some seriously talented events last season and if his tee to green game is in good order this week then he will give himself the chances to get in the mix here. This is a big week for the likes of Drysdale who is a regular on the European Tour and a big result will serve a real purpose.
Back J.Blaauw to win Tshwane Open (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 41.00 with Betfred (1/5 1-6)
Back T.Tree to win Tshwane Open (e/w) for a 0.5/10 stake at 81.00 with Betfred (1/5 1-6)
Back them here:
Back K.Horne to win Tshwane Open (e/w) for a 0.5/10 stake at 67.00 with Boylesports (1/5 1-6)
Back him here:
Back J.Harding to win Tshwane Open (e/w) for a 0.5/10 stake at 67.00 with William Hill (1/5 1-6)
Back D.Drysdale to win Tshwane Open (e/w) for a 0.5/10 stake at 126.00 with Coral (1/5 1-7)