TOURNAMENT: Joburg Open
HOST COURSE: Royal Johannesburg and Kensington GC
PRIZE FUND: ?1,100,000
COURSE DETAILS: West Course ? par 72, 7,085 yards; East Course ? par 71, 7,590 yards. The large field will compete on both the East and West courses. Royal Johannesburg and Kensington is one of South Africa?s oldest and most prestigious clubs, and both layouts enjoy picturesque surroundings. The East, which will stage the final two rounds, is regarded as the tougher of the two.
KEY HOLES: West Course ? the 386-yard 4th is a beautiful par 4 set against the backdrop of Linksfield Ridge and featuring tributaries of the Jukskei River. East Course – the 11th is a long, 500-yard par 4 featuring the poplar trees that are so common on this layout. A long and challenging approach over water will mean plenty of shots will be lost there this week.
Jointly sanctioned by the Sunshine and European tours, the Joburg Open sees European-based pros return to South Africa following December?s Alfred Dunhill Championship and South African Airways Open. Several of Europe?s top players have been selected for this week?s Royal Trophy match against Asia in Bangkok, and their absence means that local boy Charl Schwartzel (pictured) will start as the hot favourite to lift the title. He has performed consistently well since turning pro in 2003 and Ernie Els rates him as one of the finest young players to emerge from South Africa in recent years.
He will not have it completely his own way, however, due to the presence of 15 former European Tour winners in the field, including Sweden?s Patrick Sjöland and Scotland?s Alistair Forsyth. Two other South Africans are also worth a mention: the veteran David Frost, winner of multiple titles around the world and a previous winner around Royal Johannesburg and Kensington, and exciting 24-year-old Louis Oosthuizen, who can boast a 59 on his CV and is a former amateur team-mate of Schwartzel.
CONTENDERS: Charl Schwartzel, Louis Oosthuizen, Patrick Sjöland
BETTING GUIDE: For a betting tips from our expert, Paul Krishnamurty click here