Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Volvo Champions- 2013


The European Tour returns to South Africa this week and to Durban GC for the Volvo Champions. 34 players will tee it up and hopefully the champions of Europe will have a better week with the weather than their American counterparts in Hawaii have had. Indeed, at the recent Nelson Mandela Championship held in Durban similar weather conditions reduced the tournament to 36 holes at the Royal Durban GC where Scott Jamieson prevailed in a 3 man playoff to take his first European Title. He will return this week with fond memories of Durban and again this week with rain and thunderstorms forecasted for all 4 days, the Scot may not be as fazed as much as the rest, as it (the weather) served him well in December. With South Africans normally prevailing on this course it’s no surprise to see the betting being headed by Louis Oosthuizen and Ernie Els but I do fancy the chances of Jamieson to go well again this week. At 40/1 with Betpack and Stanjames, in a 34 man field, the price does represent some value for a player who was in great form the end of 2012. He followed up his win at the Nelson Mandela with a T3 at the Alfred Dunhill. He was top 15 at the Dubai Championship and 5th at the Perth International. (He missed cut in both Hong Kong and Singapore though).
Also in the field coming in with sound form and a recent win on South African soil, is Swede Henrik Stenson. Winner of the South African Open and 3 other top 10s in his last 6 starts indicates a real return to form but odds of 15/1 are just a tad short for me here this week especially for one so temperamental. At these odds I need to be confident he can challenge for the title come Sunday.
Looking for some value in the field, Thorbjorn Olesen fits the bill nicely. He has the game to win any given week and if he reproduces the consistency he showed last year he will be contending more often this year. 22/1 is about right and I feel comfortable having a nibble here at that price. He has shown he likes to play at the bigger events and was recent runner up in Scotland at the Alfred Dunhill Links, and top 15 at the HSBC not to mention a great showing at the Open last July. He is ready to step up again this year.
I won’t be backing Padraig Harrington for awhile. He really does need to win again soon to get back to where he should be and competing in all events, but it is refreshing that he is playing here as I feel Padraig does not play enough events despite him saying this week he may be playing too much ! I think he is trying too hard but these smaller fields will suit him and he will enjoy the week with fellow Irishmen, Lowry, Clarke and Hoey. Indeed he will like to company of Paul Casey, Paul Lawrie and Ernie Els, the old stalwarts looking to put a marker down on the younger upstarts. It, however, will be an observing exercize for me this week on the 4 Irish lads. Retief Goosen though could be a surprise package as he tries to regain some form and at 25/1, I would not put anyone off backing him this week.
I will put up a third pick this week in the shape of the aforementioned, Paul Lawrie who simply loves windy conditions. On this basis and with the threat of rain and thunderstorms for the week, the Scot completes the staking plan to keep his recent return to form going. 25/1 in general just about gets my interest as some of the bigger prices on offer don’t instil much confidence for backing. As maybe hinted at above, the camaraderie between the players this week maybe key to good performances and 1999 Open Champion maybe at ease here.
 
TIP 1: 0.75 pt e/w S. Jamieson @ 40/1
 
TIP 2: 1.5 pt e/w T. Olesen @ 22/1
 
TIP 3: 1 pt e/w P. Lawrie @ 25/1