Betting tips: Who wins the South African Open?

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Rory McIlroy is the star turn at Glendower. But is he a sure thing for the South African Open? Our pundit looks at the pros and cons...

Is Rory McIlroy unstoppable?

The Northern Irishman opens his 2017 campaign by fulfilling a promise to Ernie Els to play in the South African Open.

You’ll pay a premium if you want him on your side at Glendower with prices as short as 7/4 on offer for the FedEx Cup winner.

That’s not a shock. The four-time Major champion is the class act in an otherwise a middling field.

He’ll probably only need to be at 80% to sweep this but that does not mean he is necessarily value.

There are a couple of important variables to consider. McIlroy is set to game new clubs (Callaway woods and irons) – how will they perform?

His opening season show, in a higher grade admittedly as he usually kicks off in a strong field at Abu Dhabi, is strong without yielding a win.

With Andy Sullivan and Brandon Stone appearing his chief threats, McIlroy should pick up a win in South Africa for the first time.

Is 7/4 just too short? I won’t put anyone off, but I’d prefer to find a bigger price among the place finishers.

The each-way back: Brandon Stone

South African Open

The South African Open defending champion reportedly swept round in 61 during practice. His record in his homeland (three wins in 11 starts) is very impressive.

The latest of those came last month when he demolished a field including Charl Schwartzel at the Alfred Dunhill Championship.

It’s different this time, of course, as he’ll have to face down a titan of the game to defend.

And keeping hold of the national title has been a struggle in the past with only Trevor Immelman and Gary Player managing to hold on to their crown.

But at a best-priced 15/1, I’ll be backing him to get into the frame.

The dark horse: Daniel Brooks

South African Open

Scanning the list, there’s a lot of players carrying very average form – making a dark horse selection something of a lottery.

That said, Daniel Brooks makes some appeal at 175/1 on the basis of his third placed showing at the South African Open 12 months ago.

It was his best finish by some distance on the European Tour last year. His recent displays, topped by a T61st last time out in the Hong Kong Open, don’t massively inspire confidence.

But he’s shown inklings of early season South African form through the years. He finished tied-11th in the Nelson Mandela Championship in 2013 and T14th in the Alfred Dunhill Championship the following year.

A second round 65 at Hong Kong and a good two days at the Portugal Masters offer hope that he can produce in the right circumstances.

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