With Covid-19 still impacting the majority of sports events out in Asia, the DP World Tour have put together a couple of tournaments in South Africa to fill the void. The first of those takes place this week when the MyGolfLife Open is played.
Much of the attention of the golf world this week is on Florida but a number of DP World Tour regulars have signed up for what should be a decent enough event when you factor in the challenges the tour is experiencing right now.
This tournament will take place at the Pecanwood Golf and Country Club in the Hartbeespoort region of South Africa. The course is a par 72 which looks like a bit of a beast at 7,697 yards, but as with so many courses in this part of the world this one is at altitude so it doesn’t play quite as long as that. You only have to look at the successful South Africans coming through to the main tours to know that length is definitely no bad thing around here though.
This is a course designed by Jack Nicklaus which means that primarily it is a second shot golf course but given the altitude and the difficulty with club selection and things like that scrambling is likely to be an important factor here as well. The general feeling is that this is going to be a low scoring event so players who can get on the birdie train should be taken over those whose putter can often be questionable. There is always an ounce of strategy needed on a Nicklaus layout so the thinker will be advantaged.
Those at the top of the world rankings are out in Florida playing in The Players Championship this week so the field for this tournament isn’t the greatest even though the DP World Tour remains in South Africa next week. There is one standout name though in Bernd Wiesberger, the Ryder Cup ace who has won plenty of big tournaments on the DP World Tour. Dean Burmester is probably the leading light with regards to the home challenge.
Other notables in the field include European stars Adri Arnaus, Adrian Meronk, Andy Sullivan, Jordan Smith and Thomas Detry while Johannes Veerman tends to go well in this part of the world. As well as Burmester, the South African charge will be made up by Justin Harding, Oliver Bekker, George Coetzee, Daniel van Tonder and Wilco Nienaber, who will all be motivated to land a decent title in their homeland this week.
Dean Burmester is the 16/1 favourite to take down this tournament. He is a big hitter whose all-round game tends to be of a high level. He would have been a much stronger challenger at the Kenya Open last week but for a disappointing third round. His last four outings in South Africa have yielded finishes of 1-43-4-2 though so he is someone who gets inspired in front of home crowds. He is probably the man to beat and isn’t a terrible price.
Bernd Wiesberger is a surprise second favourite at 20/1. Surprising only because his pedigree is better than anything else in this field. None of his eight wins on the DP World Tour have come in South Africa though so maybe that is a reason why. Recent form could be an issue too with just one top 10 in his last eight starts dating back to September but class acts tend to separate themselves on good golf courses so I wouldn’t be surprised if he comes to form here.
Adri Arnaus comes next in the betting at 25/1. The immediate issue when considering him is the fact he remains a European Tour maiden. The consensus is that it is only a matter of time until he wins a tournament at this level and six top 10 finishes in his last 10 starts would suggest he is banging the door down but until it opens you can never really tell. I think he is better on easier tracks. His last three missed cuts have been at Wentworth, Valderrama and Dubai Desert Classic which might be significant.
Jordan Smith chased home Nicolai Hojgaard at the Ras al Khaimah Championship a few weeks ago and he is 25/1 to go one better in this tournament. He registered a disappointing second week at the Ras al Khaimah fortnight which highlights that consistency can be an issue, although the previous week would have been disappointing. The concern would come in his South African form where he has no top 20 finish in four starts. He is probably worth wanting for the European leg of the campaign to begin.
Marcus Armitage should go well this week. His record in South Africa is decent enough with three top six finishes in six starts and although he hasn’t set the pulses racing with his form this season, he has been sneaking under the radar a little bit. This season he has gone MC-12-35-9-17 with the first four in the desert and the latest effort last week where he ranked 20 on the all-round ranking in the Kenya Open. Generally good all-round players come to the fore on Nicklaus layouts so that is a positive. In the Ras al Khaimah Classic recently Armitage hit more greens in regulation than anyone and that is a requirement this week. There is just an average round in the four for Armitage at the minute but on a course which suits him well if he can put all four together he shouldn’t be too far away.
JC Ritchie is absolutely flying on the Sunshine Tour at the minute and you would imagine the confidence he will be feeling right now should propel him to go well at DP World Tour level. The concern is the amount of golf he has played recently. This will be his sixth week of golf in a row so you would imagine he’ll be nearing the stage where he has to have a break but with the exception of the Saudi International all his events have been in South Africa so it isn’t like he’s been spending hours on end on planes and things. In this recent run he has gone 45-4-1-1-14 so he’s playing some great golf, excelling from tee to green but certainly not disappointing with the putter. He is clearly of the thinking of striking while the iron is hot and I’ll do likewise. I like the South African here.
I’ll take a couple of home outsiders as well. The first of those is Thriston Lawrence, the man who won the Joburg Open just before Christmas but probably doesn’t get much credit for that because it was the event when the Omicron strain of Covid came to light and got reduced to 36 holes so that everyone could attempt to get home. He was -12 for the 36 holes and held a four shot lead at what was going to be the halfway stage so there is every chance he could have won that tournament had it gone to its full conclusion. The 25-year-old was touted as the next star out of South Africa before he won that tournament and the fact he was second at the Kenya Open last week suggests he is ready to show that is the case. He was second in greens hit in Kenya last week and while he has a little work to do around the greens he is probably going to be more at home chipping on grasses that he knows. I think he could be a big price here.
Jbe Kruger is sneakily coming into some form as well. He has gone 21-12-6 in his last three starts on the Sunshine Tour with his lowest round being on the Sunday in the last two. That might pose an issue if he’s in contention early but it isn’t enough to put me off taking him at a three figure price. In those three weeks Kruger has had a GIR ranking of 5-2-1 which basically tells us that he is flushing his irons at the minute and on a second shot golf course that is exactly the requirement. The rest of his game has been in decent order as well so he could be a massive price this week.
Back M.Armitage to win MyGolfLife Open (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 34.00 with BetVictor (1/5 1-6)
Back J-C.Ritchie to win MyGolfLife Open (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 41.00 with BetVictor (1/5 1-6)
Back T.Lawrence to win MyGolfLife Open (e/w) for a 0.5/10 stake at 81.00 with BetVictor (1/5 1-6)
Back them here:
Back J.Kruger to win MyGolfLife Open (e/w) for a 0.5/10 stake at 126.00 with Betfair (1/5 1-7)
Back him here: