Frazzled previews the 2016 Tshwane Open from the Pretoria Country Club, Waterkloof, South Africa. He has bets on Richard Sterne in addition to David Horsey and Matt Ford in the First Round Leader and GB & Ireland Markets.
The Tshwane Open is the last of the 5 South Africa events on the 2016 European Tour schedule, now that the Africa Open at East London, has been discontinued. The South African events this year have been dominated by the local players, with the exception of the Nedbank Challenge won by Marc Leishman and they have also seen the emergence of some of the best young talent in the country, with victories for Brandon Stone in the South Africa Open and Haydn Porteous in the Joburg Open. This event looks particularly weak in terms of overseas talent, so there must be every chance that another local can land the last leg of the co-sanctioned Sunshine and European Tour events, before we move on to Malaysia next week.
After being played at Copperleaf Golf and Country Estate for the first two year's of its inception, the Tshwane Open moved to the Pretoria Country Club last year, which is the home club of 2015 winner George Coetzee. The Bob Grimsdal designed venue got a major overhaul by Gary Player (designed Leopard Creek which hosts the Alfred Dunhill and the Gary Player C.C which hosts the Nedbank) in 2004.
The course has previously hosted the Vodacom Championship on the Sunshine Tour between 2006 & 2010 and was also used for the Vodacom Origins Pro-Am series during this period. Previous winners of those events that are lining up this week, include Charl Schwartzel, Richard Sterne, Hennie Otto (2 wins) and Jean Hugo.
It is a short venue, measuring 7,063 yards and is tree-lined with fairways of average width, but designed so that there are many tight landing areas from off the tee. The fairways and rough are kikuya grass, as are most South African courses played on the Tour and the greens are small and undulating. They are bentgrass and elevated, so there will be a premium on approach play, while scrambling will also be crucial if these targets are missed.
The stats from last year suggest that Driving Accuracy is not absolutely crucial at this venue, with only Gregory Bourdy from the Top 10 finishers, ranking in the Top 10 in terms of fairways hit. The stats on driving distance are incomplete from last year but again power did not seem essential and the big hitters can afford to use irons or 3 woods off the tees here to ensure that they can position the ball better for their approach shots. Finding these greens is important and having a very solid around the green and putting game is likely to separate the top of the leaderboard this week. It may be tenuous to look at some of the other courses as providing a guide, but Leopard Creek form is worth noting, while the short tight East London venue for the now defunct Africa Open is worth looking at, even if coastal breezes are more prevalent at that venue.
With Charl Schwartzel returning from illness and George Coetzee looking a little short at 1/3 of the price he was last year, we will look a little further down the list of home players this week. Richard Sterne is injury free now and has been simmering for a few weeks, without producing 4 excellent rounds. He was 32nd in the South Africa Open,where a Saturday charge was interrupted by the weather and then he finished 10th in the Joburg Open where he four solid rounds, even if a 72 on the Saturday ruled him out of contention. He missed the cut in Dubai, but 73-71 was not a disaster from him and he looks to be on the verge of taking a step up in form. He is a previous winner at this venue and has excellent form in the Alfred Dunhill at Leopard Creek, winning there in 2008 and with numerous other solid finishes.
This is a weak field outside of the Top 2 in the market and 28/1 about Sterne looks a big price with this in mind. He is our first selection.
1.5 points each way Richard Sterne at 28/1 with Betfred, Stan James and William Hill
David Horsey is a four time winner on the European Tour and has picked up a title in each of the last two years, with victories in the 2015 Made In Denmark and the 2014 Russian Open. He also has a solid record in Africa with a victory in the 2011 Trophee Hassan, runner up in 2013 and he has also placed 3rd in the Africa Open in 2014. He was also 10th here last year, when he started with a brilliant 63 but closed with a disappointing 73 to drop down the leaderboard.
This relatively short venue, which places a premium on around the green and putting skills is ideal for Horsey, given these are the real strengths in his game. He is in pretty decent form at the moment, with two made cuts and 35th and 36th finishes in Dubai, following a solid display in the Joburg Open and this represents a big drop in class from the Desert Swing events on a course which is much more suitable.
Taking on the South Africans in this event is not easy, so we will include a bet on Top GB & Ireland at very appealing odds of 7/1 with Betfair Sports, but given last year's round, he looks worth backing to make a fast start this year again.
2 points each way David Horsey - Top GB & Ireland Player at 7/1 with Betfair Sports (1/4 odds 4 places)
1 point each way David Horsey - First Round Leader at 45/1 with Stan James
Matt Ford is our last pick this week. He is currently ranked 437 in the world and it is a huge ask to expect him to win this event. However despite missing more cuts than he makes, there are some real positives to take from his game that could mean he can produce a decent display this week.
His best finishes over the past twelve months have all been at venues that can provide some sort of guide to this week. They are the following;
- 2nd in 2015 Africa Open - where he ranked 11th in GIR, 3rd in Putts Per GIR and 3rd in Putts Per Round
- 7th in Hong Kong Open - where he ranked 22nd in GIR, 5th in Putts Per GIR and 9th in Putts Per Round
- 5th in 2016 Alfred Dunhill Championship - where he ranked 37th in GIR, 2nd in Putts Per GIR and 5th in Putts Per Round
As mentioned earlier, the Alfred Dunhill is played on a Gary Player design and the Hong Kong Open is played on a Fanling venue, which is tight and demands accuracy and around the green skills. Ford is a short hitter but is very solid around the greens and with the flat stick and although he missed the cut here last year, rounds of 71 & 70 were far from terrible. He has an early 7:20 start tomorrow and given that he has shot low scores in the first round in each of these events outlined above, he looks worth following in some of the same markets as Horsey.
0.5 points each way Matt Ford - First Round Leader at 150/1 with BetVictor and Skybet
1 point win Matt Ford - Top 10 Finish at 20/1 with William Hill
0.75 points each way Matt Ford - Top GB & Ireland at 40/1 with Skybet