The new European Tour season gets underway this week with two events. While the Australian PGA Championship gets going on the Gold Coast there is an equally well regarded tournament taking part in South Africa. The Alfred Dunhill Championship sees some of the best players on both the European and Sunshine Tours compete around one of the most stunning course in the world, Leopard Creek Country Club.
Leopard Creek is set on the outskirts of the Kruger National Park in Malelane. That guarantees some brilliant pictures on the TV as impalas, giraffes and even the odd hippo pop up to grab a view of the golf. The course also tends to produce exciting tournaments around its 7,287 yard layout. There are water hazards, tough bunkers and some very tricky greens to navigate before the winner takes a nice early step forward on the rankings for the 2017 Race to Dubai.
There are some very talented players taking part this week but no matter how good they are there is a set format they’ll have to stick with to have any chance of winning. It is vital to hit accurate drives off the tee, to hit the vast majority of greens in regulation and to putt with confidence. Anything else will not do.
Schwartzel the Undoubted King of Leopard Creek
There are few players with a more impressive record ay any golf course than the record that Charl Schwartzel has at Leopard Creek. There is always a sense of expectancy on defending champions but Schwartzel has been in this position four times before. He’s also finished runner up in the Alfred Dunhill on a further four occasions so he’s very much a man who knows the route to success here.
Schwartzel also turns up to Malelane in decent form. His run of tournaments without missing a cut stretches all the way back to the Masters and he finished on his own in third place at the DP World Tour Championship. At odds of 7/2 with Coral, Schwartzel is the man all the others have to stop.
Can Stone Bag Another Big Win at Home?
Brandon Stone had a solid first season on the European Tour. The young South African made it to the DP World Tour Championship but he couldn’t quite get to grips with the Earth Course. He’s a resolute character though and was able to quickly shake off that disappointment by finishing tied for second at last week’s Cape Town Open. Stone finished inside the top 20 at this tournament last season and can go even better this time around so he looks great each way value at 28/1 with Betfred.
Pepperell to End a Dodgy 2016 in Style
Eddie Pepperell has had a very challenging year. The 25-year-old has been tipped for big things for a long while but he got into some terrible habits with his swing this season and was forced to win back his tour card at Q-School last week. Pepperell is now looking forwards and at an event that he loves and where he’s played well before, he is worthy of support at odds of 80/1 with Bet365.