This is always a tough time of year for the European Tour. The best players in the world are all starting to ramp up their preparations for the Masters which, largely, means playing in America. Although we may be missing a little bit of star quality we’ve still got some highly regarded tournaments and interesting betting heats to get our teeth stuck into.
This week it’s the turn of the Joburg Open and the Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club to play host. With both the club’s East and West Courses being used over the first two days of play, the European and Sunshine Tours, who are co-sanctioning the tournament, have allowed a huge field of 210 players to compete.
The West Course, used for just one round per player, is the more forgiving of the two. It’s considerably shorter at 7,228 yards compared to the East’s 7,677 yards and last year played almost two shots easier. Players will have to make the most of their 18 holes at the West Course or risk losing shots to the field. There will then be a fair amount of digging in required on the East Course where it is tough to hit greens in regulation and scoring on the par fours will separate the wheat from the chaff.
Stone the One to Beat
It’s no easy feat to win on the European Tour so Brandon Stone’s two wins at the age of just 23 is certainly highly impressive. Both of those wins came in Stone’s native South Africa and he looks well poised to add a third title in his homeland.
Like every ambitious young player, Stone wants to make his name at the highest level and he’s been trying to crack the PGA Tour wherever possible. It’s not exactly gone to plan as yet with four missed cuts from four starts but this is much more like it for Stone. He’s a long hitter, a quality ball striker and when he gets going with the putter he can pour them in from all over the greens. Stone may be the favourite but at 14/1 with Betfred he still looks like decent value.
Detry Ready for Another Big Week
Thomas Detry wasted no time after making the step up from the Challenge Tour to the main European Tour. The young Belgian grabbed a third place finish at the Alfred Dunhill Championship in his first event as a full tour card member, which is his best finish so far. That may change this week. He’s got what it takes to go low on the West Course before grinding it out on the East. At odds of 40/1 with Betfred, Detry should be added to your betting slips as an each way selection.
Swanepoel’s Form to Carry On
Chris Swanepoel is far from a household name on the European Tour but the South African really caught the eye on the Sunshine Tour last week. The 32-year-old finished tied for second at last week’s Dimension Data Pro-Am which will give him a big confidence boost for the Joburg Open. At odds of 200/1 with Coral, Swanepoel is worth a small stakes, speculative bet.