The South Africa Open Championship runs concurrently to the UBS Hong Kong Open this week as the European Tour nears its 2012 climax.
A host of big names, including Charl Schwartzel, Branden Grace and Martin Kaymer, have made the trip to the Serengeti Golf and Wildlife Estate in Ekurhuleni, South Africa.
Other players, such as Jaco van Zyl, will he hoping to move into the top 60 in the Race to Dubai standings and earn a place in the 60-man DP World Tour Championship next week.
It is also the last chance for those languishing outside the top 115 in the standings to secure a full-time European Tour card for 2013.
At 7,761 yards, the course is one of the longest on tour, with driving distance and all-round length an indisputable advantage.
Henrik Stenson, at 14/1 with Ladbrokes, is someone I expect to do well this week. He is one of the longest hitters on the European Tour and in good form, finishing inside the top 20 last week at the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Classic despite a closing 73. He also finished in a tie for sixth last month at the Portugal Masters, and it won’t be long before he returns to the winner’s circle.
Jaco Van Zyl, at 25/1 with Labrokes, is worth considering this week. He needs to move up three places to book a place at next week’s season finale, and will be confident of doing so in his home nation. He often excels in South Africa, as he showed with a fourth-place finish at the season-opening Africa Open and a tie for third the following week at the Joburg Open. Van Zyl also finished in a tie for 10th last week at the Barclays Singapore Open.
Jbe Kruger, despite his erratic nature, is a decent price at 40/1 this week. The South African missed the cut last week in Singapore, but played some fine golf at the PGA Tour’s recent CIMB Classic en route to a seventh-place finish. He also performs adeptly on home soil, finishing eighth at the Africa Open and 10th at the Alfred Dunhill in 2011 and ninth in Johannesburg earlier this year.
Espen Kofstad, at 50/1 with Ladbrokes, will tempt the more ambitious gambler this week. He has only played three European Tour events, but he won the Challenge Tour Grand Final at the end of October to finish the season on top of the Challenge Tour money list. He will be confident and carefree after securing a European Tour card, and that could translate to a good showing in South Africa.
Merrick Bremner, at 125/1 with Ladbrokes, looks a good each way bet this week. The 25-year-old was just one shot off the lead at the halfway stage last year, and comes into the tournament off the back of two top-three finishes in his last three Sunshine Tour starts. Bremner is currently 18th in the Sunshine Tour Order of Merit and first in Putts per Round.
South Africa Open advised bets:
3pts on Henrik Stenson at 14/1 with Labdrokes
2pts on Jaco Van Zyl at 25/1 with Ladbrokes
2pts each way on Jbe Kruger at 40/1 with Ladbrokes
2pts each way on Espen Kofstad at 50/1 with Ladbrokes
1pts each way on Merrick Bremner at 125/1 with Ladbrokes