Matt Fitzpatrick is one of three selections for this week's Nedbank Challenge.
The Nedbank as we know and love it will be all change next year as part of the Finals Series in Europe so we get to enjoy the limited field for one last time. Of course this used to be a battle between twelve golfers, but 30 take to the crease nowadays to try to bat their way to victory. Danny Willett won impressively here last year and that was the building block for a tremendous year which saw him compete for the Race to Dubai right until the very death. I backed Kaymer here a number of years ago when he won, but admittedly haven't had much of a hold over this event in other years. Accuracy of your long irons around this stretched track is important no doubt. A solid wedge game is also a useful bow to your arrow if you're to contend here.
Stenson arrives here as favourite at 7/1 and although I think the price is somewhat tempting I'll probably leave him alone. He has a superb record around here with 5 top 5 finishes in five starts with a win recorded in 2008. He cut a sorry figure in Dubai propping up the field in one of his favourite events. Knee surgery is on the horizon for the Swede and this seems to be weighing heavily on his mind. If no injury this price of 7/1 would be a 5pt each-way bet. I have to say I'm tempted regardless of the injury, but we'll leave him out of our staking plan reluctantly.
The market is not overly inviting but we'll start our charge this week with Matt Fitzpatrick. I consider Matt to be next to Stenson as the best golfer in the field so with 16/1 available with such solid form we'll have a solid bet on the lad. This is his first jaunt to the Nedbank so we are taking somewhat of a risk, but Willett proved last year that experience isn't totally necessary around here. The tree lined nature of the course should suit Matt and with a very impressive wedge game I expect him to score well once again. There is no weakness to speak of in his game and with the field not being overly strong the deeper you go he holds a serious chance.
Our second selection Kiradech Aphibarnrat arrives here for the second time after an impressive top 5 finish on his tournament debut here last year. After a slow start he finished with two 68s last year which just may show he was getting the hang of the course and can maybe perform a shade better over four days this time around. It has been a super year for the Bangkok lad who has landed two victories at the Shenzhen and the Paul Lawrie Matchplay. Three top five finishes on the trot at the Dunhill Links, British Masters and then in Turkey were followed by consistent performances in the final three events of the season. He is without doubt matured into quite a talented golfer and 30/1 is more than fair to invest in an event which he is capable of winning.
Our final stab in this event will be on Jaco Van Zyl. Jaco has enjoyed a top season with four top 3 finishes on the European Tour and with an excellent record in South Africa has every chance of contending this week. He has won 13 times on the Sunshine Tour and this may represent one of his best chances to date. After a stuttering start to the Alfred Dunhill last week he fired a final round 64 so comes here with some good vibes. He has spoken of his excitement to get a chance to play in the event and given some of the confidence he will take from previous performances this year I feel the 50/1 on offer is more than acceptable.