The European Tour wakes from its month long slumber this week with the BMW SA Open. Truth be told this is an event which has lost some of its spark over the years but tournament host Ernie Els has worked his magic to convince golf stars of past and present to peg it up this week.
There is no doubt who is top of the billing at Glendower Golf Club. Rory McIlroy stands out more than usual amongst this calibre of field and it’s great to see the world number two keeping his word after promising Els that he would make an appearance. The galleries will also get to enjoy Ryder Cup player and 2015 champion, Andy Sullivan, defending champion Brandon Stone and an incredibly rare European Tour appearance by six time major champion, Nick Faldo.
Great Glendower Can Provide Another Classic
Despite some top class players making an appearance, the real star of the SA Open will be Glendower Golf Club. The first thing that catches your eye about Glendower is that is measures 7,564 yards. It’s true to say that the longer hitters have enjoyed an advantage in recent years but this is far from a course where you can simply grip it and rip it. The fairways are tree lined, there are 64 bunkers dotted around and water hazards on 11 holes. Simply put, all aspects of a player’s long game have to be in sync to have any chance of winning.
McIlroy a Class Above
You should be in no doubt. Rory McIlroy is far and away the best player in this field. If he plays anywhere near his best he will win even if there are a couple of worries. He’s not got a great record in South Africa and is using new clubs but a player of his calibre can overcome those concerns. You’re not going to get rich backing Rory at 5/2 with Sky Bet but can you afford not to have him on board?
Wandering Aiken Can Capitalise on Home Comforts
Thomas Aiken has carved out a nice career for himself on both the European and Sunshine Tours but he decided to try his hand at the PGA Tour last year. Unfortunately for the 33-year-old he’s as yet been unable to grab a Tour card. He’ll continue to compete on the Web.com Tour but golf in South Africa is Aiken’s bread and butter.
Aiken has played some very good golf at Glendower in the past (he placed fifth in the SA Open in 2015) and has got both the required distance and ball striking to go well against at odds of 25/1 with Ladbrokes.
Bjerregaard a Tempting Outsider
Lucas Bjerregaard’s last appearance at Glendower didn’t end too well. He finish in a tie for 66th after failing to really get to grips with the course but it could well be different this time around. The young Dane had a very strong finish to 2016, he’s one of the longest hitters in the field and big things are expected in the near future. If he can harness his power, Bjerregaard can contend at 80/1with Betfred so back him each way.