South African Open - Winner

The DP World Tour stays in Johannesburg but this time at new venue of the Blair Atholl Golf and Equestrian Estate. Remarkably this par 72 is measured at 8233 yards. The course is well above sea level though and typically you can probably take around 10% off that total, however it does look like certain holes will play very long regardless.

This course played host to a Sunshine Tour event last year won at 12 under par with Thriston Lawrence shooting the lowest round of the week (to come through the field and finish 6th). 

Dean Burmester and Branden Grace head the betting this week as two fellow countrymen who had completely different years. Grace took the leap and joined the LIV tour and whilst there aren't many of the best in the world who can say they have improved for that trip, Grace has certainly found something. He won the Portland event having finished 3rd in London.

Some average performances have come since but last time out at the Nedbank his irons were sparkling and only a really poor putting display stopped him from finishing much higher than 8th there.

Dean Burmester has also improved this time for stepping up in field quality and a handful of his performances over the past 10 months would quite easily win this event if repeated. Together with Thriston Lawrence this home trio at the top of the betting hold every chance. 

Charl Schwartzel at 25/1 (Seven places)

Top billing goes the way of Charl Schwartzel who despite having plenty of wins in his home country has yet to take the national Open Championship. With Oosthuizen, Grace and Bezuidenhout winning the last three, Charl's name would be next on your lips of South African greats who have yet to win it.

Following a horror start to the year Schwartzel burst into life, as many formers often do at Augusta National in April. He was sitting pretty after two days at Augusta before shooting three over during the weekend to eventually finish 10th. Another top 10 followed at the Byron Nelson before he won the first LIV event in London.

Two more top 10 have followed in Chicago and Jeddah and he comes here slightly under the radar despite bouncing back to some of the best form we have seen him in for many years.

He will be a danger these next two weeks and you have to assume he goes off shorter next week at a venue he loves no matter what happens this week. With a much shorter price on the horizon next week I'm prepared to take the chance at this venue that he puts his best foot forward and lands this title at very pretty odds.

3pts each-way C.Schwartzel  25/1  (1/5 7)

Charl Schwarzel - 3pts e/w @ 25/1

Branden Grace at 14/1

Branden Grace is worthy of serious respect in this field at 14/1 and I can't help but feel he should be a fair bit shorter than his opponents. Grace has no doubt improved for his jump to the Saudi backed tour having landed his victory in Portland.

He could have added another victory this year last time out at the Nedbank if only for a really bad week on the greens. Grace ranked last in the field for putting at the Nedbank which was in stark contrast to his approach play where he topped the stats by a fair distance.

Just what way this track will play out is a mystery right now but were this a tighter course with a little less yardage I suspect we'd see Grace a little shorter. The diminutive South African has been mixing in much classier circles all year and on his day a class above just about everyone in this field.

In my pricing he should be a few points shorter than Bezuidenhout so I'm happy to add him to the staking plan.

2.5pts WIN B.Grace  14/1

Branden Grace - 2.5pts @ 14/1

Matthias Schmid at 90/1 (Six places)

Matthias Schmid hasn't enjoyed a particularly successful start to his pga tour career with three missed cuts from five and his best finish being 59th in the Fortinet.

8th in the Barbasol in July is a sign of what he can produce though and this silver medal winner from the 149th Open Championship can be a danger further down the field now he is dropped in class.

The German followed up that Open performance with a runner up at the Dutch Open in September of 2021 and landed another top three finish in South Africa in March of this year. Late on in 2022 he managed to gain his pga tour card via the Korn Ferry Tour finals and although it has been a slow start to the year, he is capable of much better.

He hits the ball a long way which should really help around this layout and if his short game holds up then he could be a much bigger danger to the market leaders than many priced in between them.

German golf is on a high at this time and they have a very talented crop of youngsters. Schmid can be the latest of those to pop up with a win on the DP World Tour whenever he makes the journey. 

1pt each-way M.Schmid  90/1  (1/5 6)

Matthias Schmid - 1pt e/w @ 90/1

Nathan Kimsey at 100/1 (Six places)

Nathan Kimsey hit the first shot of the 2022-2023 DPWT season last week and the highs didn't end there for him. Only a 3rd round score of 74 put him out contention and an otherwise good round of golf on the Saturday would have given him a squeak on Sunday.

Instead it was Dan Bradbury who got over the line and Nathan will surely take huge inspiration from that story. Bradbury missed out on his tour card at the Q School but after a good finish in Spain got into the field last week and his dreams came true.

Kimsey had no such worries about his card having won twice on the Challenge tour last season including the season ending Grand Final. I mentioned last week that Englishmen have a good record here in South Africa when tipping Matthew Southgate and I wouldn't be surprised should another one or two contend this week. Kimsey remains the same price as last week despite a top 15 finish and I'm happy to have a go at anything above 66/1. 

1pt each-way N.Kimsey  100/1  (1/5 6)

Nathan Kimsey - 1pt e/w @ 100/1

Sean Crocker at 125/1 (Seven places)

An upturn in fortune with the putter last time out is enough to get me interested in Sean Crocker at triple figure odds. Ther American managed a win at the Hero Open in late July with his best putting week of the season. He almost matched those stats last time out at the Nedbank but his long game wasn't quite in the same nick it was back when he won in the Summer.

A trip to a course measuring over 8000 yards must make him sit up and listen and his distance here could narrow the gap he has been losing to the field with his long game of late. You wouldn't often see a a winner on tour only five months ago turn up to a field of this quality at triple figures so I'm prepared to take the chance that the course may be dominated by the longest in the game.

0.75pt each-way S.Crocker  125/1  (1/5 7)

Sean Crocker - 0.75pts e/w @ 125/1