Joburg Open – Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club
The “European Tour” remains in South Africa this week for the tenth renewal of the Joburg Open and like last week’s event, it is hosted by the European and Sunshine Tours. Last year’s winner was Englishman, Andy Sullivan and he won’t be defending his title this year because he’s opted not to take part.
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With the absence of Sullivan, there are no players ranked inside the official world golf rankings top 50 participating this week, but despite this, the Joburg Open should still be an excellent event from a betting perspective. The best ranked player in the field, Jaco Van Zyl heads the betting and is followed by the likes of Tyrrell Hatton and last week’s winner Brandon Stone. Those who played in last week’s South African Open are at an advantage this week as their game should be sharper than those that didn’t.
Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club hosts the Joburg Open for a tenth consecutive year and like previous years, the event is played over two different courses, the East and the West Course. The field will alternative between both courses on the opening two days and once the cut has been made, the East Course will host the weekend’s action. Low scoring is on the agenda with no score worse than -17 getting the job done since 2009. This event is played at altitude, therefore the ball flies further and I’d argue that course experience is slightly more important than normal. Looking at past leaderboards of this tournament, strong players from tee to green appear to feature towards the top and there doesn’t appear to be a huge advantage for the big hitters, nor the accurate drivers. Finally, as I mentioned in last week’s preview, there tends to be a few big priced South African’s in contention come Sunday, and that certainly proved to be the case in last week’s South African Open.
Lee Slattery – I’m backing Lee Slattery once again this week as I feel he’s being underrated by the bookmakers. The Englishman comes into this season off the back of a superb 2015 that saw him pick up his first European Tour victory since 2011. As @BenColeyGolf pointed out last week, Slattery has spent the last few months out in South Africa and this undoubtedly an advantage. He has a pretty good record in South Africa, he’s finished inside the top 25 in 19 of the 54 events he’s played and tied for a respectable 27th place finish last week. Lee has played in the Joburg Open on six occasions and he recorded three consecutive top 20 finishes from 2011 to 2013, which indicates that this week’s venue is one he can go well around.
Win/Each way @ 40/1
Hennie Otto – Three time European Tour winner Hennie Otto is more than capable of winning in his native country and I was very surprised to see 66/1 available in a weaker field than last week. He tied for 45th in last week’s South African Open, but we can expect better from Otto in this event. The South African has a very good record in European and Sunshine Tour co-sanctioned events. He’s played in 50 of them and has finished inside the top 10 on twelve occasions and this includes a victory back in 2011. Two of those top 10’s also came in this event, so like Slattery, it suggests that Otto has what it takes to win around the courses in use this week.
Win/Each way @ 66/1
Chris Swanepoel – Chris Swanepoel has been overlooked by the bookmakers due to his 45th place finish in last week’s South African Open, however this doesn’t tell the full story. Swanepoel was 3rd going into the final round last week, but a final round of 80 resulted in him plummeting down the leaderboard. The fact he was 3rd after 54 holes indicates his games in pretty good shape and at 150/1 he’s well worth a small bet. It should also be noted that Swanepoel won on the Sunshine Tour as recently as October and he finished 7th around this venue last year, therefore the South African is well worth siding with in this event.
Win/Each way @ 150/1
Prices correct at time of writing.