Niall Lyons shares his betting tips and preview for the Joburg Open.
Joburg Open Winner
We have no time to rest on the DPWT as the new season kicks off with the Joburg Open but what is quite obvious now is that what you do in these events and many, many more on this tour is close to irrelevant if you want to be in the race for season ending prize which took place last week.
Majors, Rolex events and WGC's are the avenues to contending for the tour's number one, and it is nigh on impossible anyone in this field will be in the shake up come next November. Houghton GC was last used for the Dunhill Championship here in back in 2004 and whilst Randpark takes a back seat for this event we welcome a return to a venue which may well be a lot more pleasing on the eye.
Plenty of water hazards await the players and it looks as if a solid tee to green game will be needed to contend. It's a relatively short par 72 around 7150 yards so I doubt length will play a huge part in proceedings.
Christiaan Bezuidenhout goes down to post as tournament jolly and 5th last time out at the Nedbank is good preparation for this. At 15/2 though he does look a tad short. Personally I don't see a whole pile between the Joburg Open favourite and the likes of Lawrence, Coetzee, Du Plessis and Bekker.
Richard Sterne at 100/1 (Seven Places)
It isn't difficult for me to narrow down my first choice this week and it goes the way of Richard Sterne. We were on a couple of weeks ago at the Nedbank at a big price when he finished inside the top 20 and anything above 50/1 looks worthy of investment this week in a much weaker contest. His ball striking has returned in recent weeks with the first good sign coming off the tee in Mallorca last month.
The long game has continued to improve in Portugal then again at the Nedbank and he looks a little underestimated in the market. He has won this event twice before on a different layout to what we see this week but vibes will surely be positive heading back to this region following those recent efforts.
The course looks like it demands a fair deal of accuracy with tight fairways and plenty of water hazards so Sterne's game should suit the test. It's a long time ago but 7th here back in 2003 is a positive and a return to Johannesburg looks to have arrived at the perfect time.
1.5pts each-way R.Sterne 100/1 (1/5 7)
Thriston Lawrence at 15/1
Thriston Lawrence defends the title he won last year and I can't help but feel he should be strong second favourite heading to Houghton this week. Lawrence has cemented his place on the tour with a break out year that started this time last year when winning at Randpark. The venue may change but I'd suggest the nature of this course may lend itself to his game even more so than last year.
Lawrence has shown a handful of tremendous ball striking efforts this year which would point towards Houghton being a suitable venue. None more so was his approach play on fire than when winning Crans, one of the tour's most coveted prizes.
At just 25 even bigger things await the South African and any time he turns up in his home country must command a lot of respect. His driver and irons have been performing extremely well lately, most recently in Dubai where he finished 12th on approach during a week in which his short game curtailed any potential progress. A similar ball striking effort this week will give him a huge chance given the drop in class and I believe he should be ahead of Coetzee in the betting.
2pts WIN T.Lawrence 15/1
Matthew Southgate at 60/1 (Six Places)
Anthony Wall and Mark Foster tasted success on this track back in the early 2000s and someone with a similar profile who could follow in their footsteps is Matthew Southgate. The Englishman has yet to win on tour but numerous English journeymen have gone to South Africa down the years around this time and landed the prize.
Southgate hasn't quite got rewarded for some half decent golf in recent months. 4th at Himmerland in September was followed up by 13th at Wentworth where he was 4th in approach in a very strong field compared to this one.
Since then performances have been littered with decent efforts from the tee and on approach but the one constant has been a horror show on the greens. I'm prepared to take the chance that the onus this week will be upon ball striking and in that department Southgate has been going ok and any upturn on the greens could see some success.
There's not many in the field with a better long game than the Englishman and with focus on his namesake in Qatar, this Southgate may just take the headlines this weekend.
1pt each-way M.Southgate 60/1 (1/5 6)
Martin Vorster at 200/1 (Six Places)
Finishing 5th last time out behind George Coetzee in the SA PGA Championship Martin Vorster is worthy of respect at triple figure prices. The former South African amateur number one has been firing lately having finished 5th in the PGA then 6th the week before in the Vodacom.
He has beat plenty in this field in recent weeks and this talented youngster certainly has what it takes to make an impact here at Houghton. A trip to Houghton in his amateur days in 2017 saw him finish 2nd with rounds of 72-68.
Courtesy of his effort at St Francis Links a few weeks ago he earned spots into this week and Mauritius upcoming on the tour. His efforts the past few weeks suggest he is capable of surprising a few in Houghton and previous experience here may prove valuable.
Since turning pro early in the year Vorster has tucked away two victories on minor South African tours. His form on the main SA tour looks solid also and a DPWT event coming to his own country looks like good timing. Very talented and worth a shot at triple figures.
1pt each-way M.Vorster 200/1 (1/5 6)