The Alfred Dunhill Championship in Malelane South Africa marks the start of the new European Tour season. The first points of the new Race to Dubai will be awarded just a week after the last race was won by Rory McIlroy showing just how hectic the schedule of world golf is. Not that you’ll find golf fans complaining. The Alfred Dunhill Championship may lack some of the glamour of the sponsor’s other event around the best links courses in Scotland but it is still a very popular tournament.
Hosting duties for the championship have been taken up by Leopard Creek Country Club since 2004 and the incredibly picturesque Gary Player-designed track is once again going to be brightening up your living rooms this week. The par 72 course plays around 7,300 yards and is a polarising test of golf. While winning scores here have been as low as 24 under, the course had a stroke index of almost 73 last year. The players have to keep their ball out of trouble here while a solid short game is very important as it is difficult to hit a massively high number of greens in regulation.
As you would expect, this is an event which is very popular with some of the best South African golfers. The last four winners of the Alfred Dunhill Championship have all done so on home soil and the defending champion is also the bookies’ favourite to win this time around, Branden Grace.
When Grace won here last year people in the know where already aware of his talent but it is fair to characterise this season as a real breakthrough for the 27-year-old. He finished third in the Race to Dubai and won many fans all over the world. Grace is a short price to defend his title at Leopard Creek at 4/1 with Ladbrokes and there are concerns about whether his short game will hold up to the challenge but he is a class player and you have to ask yourself how gutted you’d be to see him hack up once again (he won by seven strokes in 2014).
The biggest challenger to Grace may just be the man who is one place below him in the outright betting, Charl Schwartzel. The 31-year-old has an incredible record at this tournament with three wins and four runners-up finishes. Like Grace, it is difficult to ignore Schwartzel’s claims this week. He has played very well over the past six weeks or so culminating in a tie for fourth in Dubai last week and again, is it really worth leaving him out at 13/2 with Coral?
As we’ve chosen two short priced players so far it’s time to have an each way bet at bigger odds and the man for the job is Brandon Stone. The young South African is tipped to have a solid career on the European Tour and having made the step up from the Challenge Tour. Stone claimed his first professional win last week on the Sunshine Tour so he is in great form ahead of another tournament in his homeland. Back him each way at 80/1 with Betfred for what could be a very nice profit.