After all of the disruption to the scheduling brought on by the pandemic, we have now two European Tour occasions to take pleasure in this week. The Golf in Dubai Championship (previewed right here) begins very early tomorrow and this one – the second version of the South African Open in 2020, which begins on Thursday.
Branden Grace gained the primary version of the 12 months at Randpark in January, which two weeks in the past additionally hosted the Joburg Open and simply so as to add to the confusion, this week’s renewal is on the Gary Player Country Club, which is the venue for the Nedbank Golf Challenge. An occasion that was dropped off the 2020 schedule after the reshuffle.
Dating all the best way again to 1893, the South African Open is the second oldest National Open on this planet, with solely the Open Championship, which was first staged again to 1860, courting again additional.
It was once a really prestigious occasion, with a lot of star names in attendance at each renewal however these days are lengthy gone now and it is a weaker renewal than the one staged in January.
The Gary Player Country Club, Sun City, South Africa.
Par 72, 7,833 yards
Stroke index on the 2019 Nedbank – 72.44
Gary Player’s prolonged creation is a parkland course set in an extinct volcanic crater. It has pretty slim Kikuyu fairways and Kikuyu tough and the small well-bunkered, bent grass greens normally run at round 11 on the stimpmeter.
In addition to internet hosting the Nedbank Challenge yearly, the Gary Player Country Club additionally hosts numerous occasions on South Africa’s Sunshine Tour. Please see Andy Swales’ kind information and scroll all the best way to the underside for the Sunshine Tour kind.
This hole-by hole guide on the Nedbank’s web site is nicely price a glance however please remember that the 2 nines have been switched this week so the match will kick off with the pretty easy par 5 that was the tenth on the Nedbank and it would finish on the dramatic par 5 that was the ninth for the Nedbank.
Live on Sky Sports all 4 days, beginning at 9:00 on Thursday.
Last Five Winners with Pre-event Exchange Prices
2020 – Branden Grace -21 25.024/1
2018 – Louis Oosthuizen – 12 9.08/1
2018 – Chris Paisley -21 400.0399/1
2017 – Graeme Storm -18 (playoff) 180.0179/1
2016 – Branden Stone -14 60.059/1
What Will it Take to Win the South African Open?
I’m probably not certain how the defending South African Open champ, Branden Grace, managed to win the Nedbank right here three years in the past. He shot a six-over-par 42 on the entrance 9 on Friday, he ranked 63rd for Driving Distance, 54th for Driving Accuracy, thirty first for Greens In Regulation and twelfth for Scrambling however he did putt nicely and he made extra birdies than anybody else within the discipline. Even so, after that ‘hiccup’ in spherical two and with stats that poor, it was a exceptional achievement and final 12 months’s Nedbank winner, Tommy Fleetwood, had much more typical Sun City stats.
As it is at altitude and the ball travels round 10% additional than it does at sea degree, Sun City would not play so long as the yardage suggests, but it surely’s nonetheless a protracted course and getting it on the market off the tee is essential. And so is discovering the fairways. The Kikuyu tough is notoriously laborious to play from and lacking fairways with regularity makes it inconceivable to search out the variety of greens essential to compete. Lee Westwood has lengthy been considered probably the greatest drivers on this planet so it is no coincidence that he is prospered right here, profitable the Nedbank 3 times in whole.
Fleetwood drove the ball brilliantly when profitable the Nedbank, rating seventh for Driving Distance and eighth for Driving Accuracy. The 2015 winner, Marc Leishman, ranked sixth for DD and twelfth for DA and the 2016 champ, Alex Noren, ranked 14th for DD and thirty ninth for DA so Total Driving is an efficient stat to think about however Greens In Regulation and Scrambling are normally a very powerful.
Grace seems like an actual anomaly as a result of three of the final seven Nedbank winners have ranked first for GIR and apart from Grace, the opposite three odd males out, Danny Willett (2014), Westwood (2018) and Fleetwood final 12 months, nonetheless ranked third, fourth and eighth. And though Grace solely ranked thirty first, the subsequent 4 on the leaderboard ranked fifth, first, eleventh and second so GIR undoubtedly seems a key stat.
Fleetwood solely ranked fortieth for Scrambling final 12 months however the runner-up, Mathias Schwab, ranked sixth and Jason Scrivener and Bernd Wiesberger, who completed tied for third, ranked first and fourth. The six Nedbank winners earlier than Fleetwood ranked thirteenth, first, first, third, twelfth and 14th for Scrambling.
Making hay on the par fives is essential right here and 5 of the final six Nedbank winners have performed the lengthy holes higher than anybody else within the discipline.
Is There an Identikit Winner?
This is a match that has modified fairly considerably lately. It was once a extremely valued prize for the house contingent and between 2002 and 2011, ten of the 11 winners had been skilled South Africans. Trevor Immelman, Tim Clark and Retief Goosen have all gained the match twice lately and Ernie Els has taken the title 5 instances in whole however 5 of the six winners earlier than Louis Oosthuizen final 12 months and Branden Grace in January had been from abroad and the match would not have anyplace near the gravitas it as soon as did. The final two winners aren’t right here this week for instance.
It’s a much more open affair than it as soon as was and though Oosthuizen went off favorite, discovering the winner had been robust of late so it is not a match to spend money on closely earlier than the off.
Nedbank Winner’s Position and Exchange Price Pre-Round Four
2019 – Tommy Fleetwood T12 – trailing by six 80.079/1
2018 – Lee Westwood T3 – trailing by three 12.011/1
2017 – Branden Grace T3 – trailing by three 5.69/2
2016 – Alex Noren T4 – trailing by six 22.021/1
The Nedbank has modified significantly of late. It was once a restricted discipline occasion for sometimes solely 12 gamers however the variety of rivals elevated as soon as it grew to become a European Tour occasion. The first three editions (2013-2015) had 30 members however since 2016 it has been a 72-player filed with no minimize and the in-running traits have modified considerably in consequence.
As highlighted above, for the reason that Nedbank discipline sizes elevated, the final 4 winners have all been trailing by a minimum of three strokes and two of the 4 trailed by half-a-dozen pictures so there’s an opportunity we’ll witness loads of drama on Sunday.
As highlighted in yesterday’s De-Brief, 4 gamers traded at between 2.01/1 and 2.3811/8 at Leopard Creek final week and I would not be in any respect shocked if we noticed one thing comparable this week. A tricky course and a reasonably low-quality discipline ought to end in loads of market actions and taking over short-priced gamers in-running might nicely pay dividends.
There are fairly often delays right here for thunder and the wind normally picks up a bit within the afternoons in order that’s nicely price taking into account over the primary couple of days a minimum of.
Last week’s winner, Christiaan Bezuidenhout, heads the market at a single-figure value however profitable back-to-back is rarely simple and he has course kind figures studying an underwhelming MC-25-24. His weekend off got here within the Sun City Challenge in 2016 on the Sunshine Tour, as did his twenty fourth final 12 months final 12 months earlier than he completed twenty fifth within the Nedbank. He’s but to shoot a spherical within the 60s right here and seems one to swerve on the value.
Dylan Frittelli missed the minimize within the RSM Classic final day out however that got here per week after his very spectacular fifth within the US Masters. In two appearances within the Nedbank right here he is completed solely forty second and twenty first however as a PGA Tour winner, he is acquired a bit of sophistication about him and an argument might definitely be made that he ought to be buying and selling at a shorter value than Bezuidenhout.
Brandon Stone gained this occasion 4 years in the past – the primary of his three European Tour titles to this point – however he seems one to swerve right here. In three Nedbank Challenges, he is but to shoot any higher than 71 or end any higher than sixtieth and I fancy he is higher suited to a better take a look at than this.
South Africa has produced high quality golfer after high quality golfer for a lot of a 12 months and in Wilco Nienaber, Jayden Schaper and Garrick Higgo, they’ve three extra unimaginable prospects rising.
Nienaber actually ought to have gotten off the mark on the European Tour two weeks in the past within the Joburg Open, Schaper had a fantastic probability to win his first title final week however Higgo already has his. He gained the Open de Portugal again in September.
Higgo’s kind is a bit in-and-out however he is straight out of the highest drawer and I’m slightly shocked he is the biggest-priced of the three given he is performed right here as soon as earlier than and gained – claiming the Southern Africa Tour Championship again in February in his one and solely look at Sun metropolis. Given Nienaber has by no means performed a match right here earlier than and that Shaper’s solely earlier look was a missed minimize within the Royal Swazi Open a month in the past, Higgo might fare better of the three and I believed 34.033/1 was greater than honest.
Fellow South African, Daniel van Tonder, hasn’t carried out in addition to he would have preferred on the European Tour over the past two weeks, ending 76th within the Joburg and thirty ninth within the Alfred Dunhill final week however previous to that he was in unimaginable kind on the Sunshine Tour, profitable 4 tournaments in six begins and the final of the 4 got here right here within the Royal Swazi Open the place he shot rounds of 67-68-67-68 to win by seven! I used to be more than pleased to probability him at 40.039/1.
And lastly, England’s Richard McEvoy has been well-backed however I’m not shocked. The 200/1 that was obtainable on the Sportsbook has lengthy gone however something north of 150.0149/1 seems honest given his unimaginable figures final week.
He caught the attention in Cyprus when he sat third on the midway stage of the Cyprus Open earlier than a disappointing weekend noticed him stoop to forty ninth and that was adopted by a missed minimize within the Cyprus Showdown and a forty second place within the Joburg Open. He solely completed twenty fifth at Leopard Creek final week however given he ranked first for Driving Accuracy, sixth for Greens In Regulation and second for Scrambling, it is honest to say his recreation’s in fine condition. If he can preserve that and get a number of putts to drop he might nicely contend.
*You can observe me on Twitter @SteveThePunter