Its a tough gig trying to find winners on the golf as I am finding to my horror – some weeks we go mighty close and others they all play like me and thus have a snowball’s chance in hell of bringing home the bacon (or even being left with a golf ball by the end of the round).
This week we head off to the DP World Tour for something a little bit different and frankly new to us all – though the golf is the same, and we start off in the warmth of South Africa with the Joburg Open, in the knowledge that the winner here will grab a little piece of golf history as the first ever winner on the new tour.
Randpark Golf Club is our venue this weekend, playing on the Firethorn Course, a par 72 weighing in at 7, 506 yards, but it is the altitude that will see some glares and verbals heading the way of any unprepared caddies. In simple terms (so I can understand them), the ball flies that little bit further, so an eight iron may become a nine here and so on, and apart from the standard water hazards and (deep) bunkers, that may be their biggest challenge.
Selections with reasoning:
***NOTE*** Different bookmakers are offering different each way terms so do shop around – and make sure you only partake non-runner no bet – covid has seen last minute withdrawals all season and we don’t want to be throwing money away. DO shop around for best odds and best place terms and any special offers with the bookmakers to steal the most value, and DO check the exchanges for bigger prices – I can’t put them on here as they differ by the minute. Betfair prices quoted are as indicators only and were correct at the time of writing.
1pt each way Wilco Nienaber 25/1 William Hill top 8 places (27.0 Betfair)
I have a good feeling about the “local” players this weekend who will be sued to the weather, the ball carry, the course – and they will be fired up to do well as the patriotic South Africans that they all are. Wilco is not a name many will have heard of, but he tied for eighth in the Rolex Challenge tour final in his latest event, and can add a 6th in the Open de Espana in October as well – how many others here can offer that on th4r recent CV? He only turned professional after winning the South African Amateur Championship in 2019 so it is fair to say he has room for further improvement, and this course should suit him well. Known as a big hitter, add the altitude giving him a few more yards, and he seems sure to be presented with numerous birdie opportunities here, and it is down to him and his putter to take them to give us a chance. His record in this event is simple enough – played once and came home second, with an average round of 66.75 and with the likelihood of more to come, I am talking myself in to a bigger bet.
1pt Each Way George Coetzee 30/1 William Hill top 8 places (40.0 Betfair)
A lot older and a considerably wiser than his compatriot, George won is first European tour victory here in 2014 and comes to life on home soil with other victories in the 2015 and 2018 renewals of the Tshwane open. Admittedly not at his best this year, he also won the Portugal Masters in 2020 making it five European tour titles in total, one of the best records in this lesser field. He proved his mental health with a playoff victory in the Mauritius Open in 2015 when seeing off Thorbjorn Olsen in a play-off, and his ability to win from a tight corner will serve him well if and when the pressure mounts here. He has made it quite clear in recent interviews how much he is looking forward to playing here, and with four top seven finishes from ten starts at the course, I am more hopeful than confident of a bold showing here.
1pt each way Romain Zangasque 22/1 William Hill top 8 places (26.0 Betfair) Yet another player to be given the title of next big thing only to pretty much disappear in a puff of smoke after finishing runner-up in the 2019 South African Open, subtle changes to his swing have seen him begin to show flashes of the potential that saw him so talked about two years ago. He finally looked to have settled down to play golf again as opposed to all the sponsorship and financial constraints that seem to regularly choke up and coming players, with four rock solid rounds in Dubai and a solid performance at Valderrama in the Andalucia masters. The only non-local on my shortlist (he is French by the way), he ought to find this level of opposition that little bit easier to deal with, and if he brings his A game there is no reason why he can’t hit the places for us at the very least.