The first European Tour event of 2013, the Volvo Golf Champions, gets underway this week at Durban Country Club in South Africa.
The event – with a 33-strong field in 2013 – is only open to those who won a tournament in 2012 and golfers with more than 10 career European Tour victories.
As such, there are some big names in the field, including Ernie Els, Padraig Harrington, Louis Oosthuizen, Nicolas Colsaerts and Branden Grace, who defeated Els and Retief Goosen in a play-off last year.
This year, it will take place at Durban Country Club, the only African course to be ranked in Golf Magazine’s top 100 global courses ranking.
The course, at 6,732 yards, is short by tour standards, but players will need to be extremely accurate to cope with the narrow fairways and huge undulations.
Louis Oosthuizen is the 5/1 favourite with Ladbrokes this week, and whilst he has a great chance of victory, there are a whole host of other players to consider.
Branden Grace, at 14/1 with Ladbrokes, is one of those. The South African will have great memories from the event and is prolific on home soil, winning the Joburg Open and the Golf Champions back-to-back last year in his rookie European Tour season. Grace has an extremely solid all-round game and can be lethal on the greens when he finds some momentum.
Paul Casey, at 20/1 with Ladbrokes, is poised to return to the upper echelons of the world rankings this year. He suffered with injury and endured a dreadful run of form last season, but recorded four top-10 finishes at the end last year. He’ll be determined to make up for lost time and I’m expecting him to make a fast start to the 2013 season. What’s more, Casey is a past winner of the Volvo Golf Champions (2011) and his record in South Africa is very good.
Richie Ramsay, at 40/1 with Ladbrokes, looks well priced this week. The Scot won his second European Tour title at the Omega European Masters last year en route to a 26th-place finish in the Race to Dubai Standings. He too has shown good form in South Africa – where he won his first European Tour title (2010 South African Open) – and his accuracy-centred game is ideally suited to Durban Country Club.
Volvo Golf Champions advised bets:
4pts each way on Branden Grace at 14/1 with Ladbrokes
3pts each way on Paul Casey at 20/1 with Ladbrokes
3pts each way on Richie Ramsay at 40/1 with Ladbrokes