The African Open, taking place in East London, South Africa, is another event which is co-sanctioned by both the European Tour and the Sunshine Tour. Following on from Andy Sullivan’s victory at the Joburg Open, the South African golfers in the field will be looking to bite back and continue with a run that has seen home golfers win the last five of these tournaments.
The 156 competitors (half coming from each tour) will be competing at the East London Golf Club, a 6,616 yard par 70 course that offers some spectacular views of the surrounding Eastern Cape. The course underwent significant renovation in 2007 when many new bunkers and greens were put in. Along with these new tests, the coastal wind and occasional marauding monkey will pose their own unique challenges.
Sullivan won his second consecutive tournament in Johannesburg last week at the Joburg Open, following January success in the South African Open Championship. He is therefore very much the in-form golfer and is as short as 8/1 with some bookies. He’s only played in two tournaments at the East London Golf Course. He missed the cut in his first but placed fifth in the second. No doubt he has improved as a golfer in the last year and will go into the event with no fear. The best price available is 10/1 with BetVictor for a man who should be in contention at the weekend but will have plenty of stiff local competition.
One of those local players who looks set for a good week is Jaco van Zyl. He has placed in the top five of the last four African Open tournaments and finished tied second at last week’s Joburg Open. Van Zyl is extremely comfortable at this course thanks to his experiences here and the fact that his game is seemingly tailor-made to cope with the challenges presented. He has been outclassed in strong fields before but as a 16/1 each-way shot with BetVictor, he is a certainty to add to the betting slips this week.
Another South African golfer aiming for the championship this week is Tjaart van der Walt. The 40-year-old will be out to avenge his poor showing here last year when he could only muster a 60th place finish. He placed inside the top five in the two tournaments previous to that which is a better reflection of his abilities around this course. He has three top ten finishes to his name on the Sunshine Tour so far this season so his game is clearly in decent enough shape. You can get 33/1 on him to win generally but the bookies seem undecided about his chances so that may well get bigger as the tournament gets closer.
David Howell had a good week at the Joburg Open and came up agonisingly close as he had to put up with playing second fiddle to Sullivan. The normally laid-back Howell has only played twice in East London but his last event here saw him card three rounds under par. If he can use the positives of last week in the African Open, he could well return a profit on an each-way bet at odds of 50/1 with Bet365, but Van Zyl remains our top tip.