Who to back at the Joburg OpenDecember 5, 2017 Golf News
Our betting expert looks to round off a successful end to 2017 with another winner as he casts his eye over the action in South Africa
Joburg Open betting: Steve’s top tips
South Africans tend to dominate on home soil.
Of the four European Tour events held there during the 2017 season only one, the BMW SA Open which Graeme Storm took in a playoff, wasn’t claimed by a player who could call the country his place of birth.
This is not a particular surprise. These are usually start or end of year events and a lot of the bigger fish on the Tour don’t play them.
The fields are mainly made up of lesser lights and Sunshine Tour players hungry to make an impact on a main start.
So what I’m saying is this: you really want to be concentrating on your attention on the South Africans in the field.
Darren Fichardt (28/1) won this last year at Royal Joburg. The advantage he has, on most of the field, is that he’s played the Randpark venue that hosts this week before.
The SAA Pro-Am Invitational may not trip off your tongue but it’s interesting to note Fichardt finished sixth in this lesser known tournament in 2010.
Add in some nice recent form, particularly a sixth placed showing in the Nedbank, and there’s no reason to suggest he can’t make a really good fist of defending his title.
I’m a big fan of Haydn Porteous (28/1). Though it hardly seems fair to call a two-time European Tour winner a young gun, it’s worth remembering the South African is only 23.
Having scooped this title in 2016, he slipped a little bit – understandably so – after winning the Czech Masters in September.
Twelfth at the Nedbank and, most recently, a 40th placed finish in Mauritius doesn’t necessarily inspire confidence.
But he can get off to a fast start. He shot opening rounds of 66 and 64 at the HSBC-Champions and Turkish Airlines Opens.
And in a third round 66 last week and there’s not too much wrong with his game.
He’ll have very fond memories of Randpark, too. Competing in the Northern Amateur there in 2013, he hammered the field by 14 shots. That included rounds of 63, 68, and 64.
So, ultimately, I think he’s got a better chance than the price suggests.
Away from the home favourites, one that might catch your eye at the bigger prices is James Morrison (66/1).
A nice week in Hong Kong aside, his form is nothing to write home about having posted only one other top 10 since March.
But where was that, I hear you ask? It was at the Tshwane Open – when he finished tied fourth – and the end of the South African series of tournaments.
In fact, the Englishman enjoyed himself in the country, having finished tied fourth the week before at this event (when it was held at the end of February).
Add a 13th at the BMW SA Open in January and that may be enough to convince you that Morrison is worth another look in familiar conditions.