Niall Lyons goes through the field in the Mauritius Open and gives his predictions.
The Island of Mauritius hosts this week's European Tour offering and the scenes awaiting the players are spectacular. It would be easy to unwind and let the good life take over for a few days and for golf to take a back seat and I'm sure for a few this is how it will pan out. However, there are a host of pros this week who need a fast start to the 2018 season and an opportunity such as this doesn't come along too often. The Heritage course here isn't overly long and will suit those who can hole a fair amount of putts. The wind will blow from time to time and it was no surprise to see Thorbjorn Olesen right in the mix here last time out, being beaten in a playoff.
Louis Oosthuizen heads the field and he certainly stands out like a sore thumb. He is the class act in this field. However, there is a trio of South Africans in behind who are more than capable of lifting this prize. I'll have a four pronged attack in Mauritius this week with South Africans making the bulk of my team.
We'll start with GEORGE COETZEE (best price 25-1). I was surprised to see him quoted bigger than 20/1 for this event as he is purring about the course. He has great memories and talks about the course being perfect for his game. It looks that way to me also and I can't rule out a repeat success. After some impressive results in the Summer his form has somewhat tailed off but this is his start of the season and coming to a place he loves should reignite his fire. I can't have him more than three times the price of course debutant Oosthuizen who has only 1 win in the last three years on this tour. I do certainly feel bookies have priced this one a shade big. He was single figures when he won this a few years ago.
I'm adding one more South African this week in the burly figure of ZANDER LOMBARD (best price 80-1). I believe the Verdura course in Sicily is a decent comparison to this week's track. Olesen won there in Sicily before going very close here. Both tracks aren't very lengthy, require good putting and are open to some windy conditions. Lombard did everything but get over the line there earlier in the year and I was impressed at how he handled conditions. He hasn't exactly exceeded expectations since but having finished in the top 5 a few weeks back in the Vodacom Finals in SA he could well have his tail up.
I can't turn down DEAN BURMESTER (best price 25-1) either at the odds. Too much respect has been given to the jolly and Burmester turns up here at bigger odds than he did two years ago despite being a much more accomplished golfer. He hits the ball longer than most on tour these days and although that isn't seen as a massive advantage around this Heritage track it will do him no harm. He strikes me as a ruthless type of golfer who once he gets a sniff again will be hard to beat. The way he won the Tshwane Open earlier in the year with a final round of 65 was hugely impressive and I've been waiting on him turning up at juicy odds once again. This being a wind down event for many I believe he will see it as an opportunity and he may well continue the South African success here once again.
Finally I'll have a speculative play on PEP ANGLES (best price 200-1) playing well here. He is another who played well in Sicily, finishing 4th there. He should come here in good spirits having battled his way through Qualifying school. After a slow start of 73-70 he finished with 69-68-65-67 and pulled out all the stops to gain another 12 month entry onto the European Tour. He has a lot of talent and at only 23 years of age, he'll be out to prove something. I'm sure there will be a handful of qualifiers who will do well early on in the season and given his finish in Sicily on a similar track I'm prepared to have a few quid on the youngster.