Monday, 10 February 2014

Old Boys to excel at Eastern Cape

 Following the disappointment last week where Thomas Aiken failed to win his home Open in Joburg, we move 100KM east to East London, Eastern Cape for the Africa Open to be played on a links style course measuring just 6600 yds where emphasis will be on hitting greens and keeping it out of the rough. Expect the scoring to be low this week unless the wind blows. Its not a great field so I've looked at a number of "experienced" players that I think might just upstage the youngsters as well as toyed with the idea of just backing Aiken again on the basis that he's probably the best on show.


So then, is Thomas Aiken worth backing @ 12/1 ? Is he value? I think its a fair price (it matches my odds expectations) and whilst Darren Fichardt may have better course form as defending champion, the former is more consistent and is in truly great form of late.( I do believe that had Justin Walters not eagled the 18th on Saturday, that Aiken may have gone on to win on Sunday despite Coetzee's charge...anyway, on we go). Aiken excels in the GIR department, and was ranked 3rd in Joburg and East London GC requires exactly that. As you, the reader read this paragraph, be assured that this is the third time I've penned it, i.e. deciding whether Thomas is worth backing this week or not. Its about getting the staking plan right this week as I do fancy a punt on the Norther Trust Open on the PGA Tour as well, and having mulled over this event for awhile now, I've concluded this is an opportunity for Aiken to get a WIN and he's a bet for me @ 12/1 with Betpack

My second WIN bet is on Argentine, Emiliano Grillo @ 25/1. The 22 year old is also playing well of late and narrowly missed out on a collect for the blog last week. He's been to East London the past 2 years and has finished TOP 10 on both occasions. Recent 2nd in Dubai, the Argentine has shown a real fondness for links golf with creditable finishes not just here but also at the KLM Open, Morocco and Spain. He ranks 11th on tour for GIR and was ranked 11th last week too. He needs to make more putts to win however, his ranking is poor but with smaller greens this week, my thinking is if he is to utilize his GIR stats he could be close enough to improve his putting stats here and get in the mix. With course form under his belt he has to be in a confident mood following his recent good form.

The experienced guys could have a good week here and I'm liking the chances of Damien McGrane, James Kingston & Patrik Sjoland putting in a decent showing. South African, Kingston may be just a tad bit older than myself but we've seen the old boys still winning on tour in their late 40s in Des Smyth, Thomas Bjorn & Miguel Angel Jiminez, albeit they are/were at a different level of golfer to James, in all due respects. Speaking of respect, Kingston is a twice European Tour winner ( his first came just down the road from here at Pearl Valleys GC), an 11 time winner on the Sunshine Tour and 4 time winner on the Asian Tour. Whilst its been awhile since his last win, Kingston is not without a chance of putting a good performance here this week and he is added to my staking plan to finish in TOP 20 @ 7.50. Damien McGrane is also added in the TOP 20 market @ 6.0, purely on links and short course criteria being met. He did however miss the cut here the past 2 years but recent form shows that the Meathman is not far away from producing a good performance over 4 days. Former Irish Open winner ( Ballybunion of all places), Patrik Sjoland, is making a welcome return to tour golf and finished in the TOP 60 last week in Johannesburg. That outing will have him tuned up for this week and he will relish this style of golf here. Not the biggest of hitters is the Swede, also in his 40s, but he is a real lover of links style golf and has shown his likeness for playing in Eastern Cape in the past whilst competing in the South African Airways Open, and he too @ 8.00 for TOP 20 is worth a dabble.

I'll be back tomorrow for some selections for the Northern Trust Open to be played at Riviera GC in California but this completes my interest for the Africa open this week.

Staking Plan (6 pts/units)

2    pts WIN T. Aiken @ 12/1 Betpack
1    pt   WIN E.Grillo @ 25/1  Betpack

1 pt TOP20 J.Kingston @ 7.50 Betpack
1 pt TOP20 D.McGrane @ 6.00 Skybet
1 pt TOP20 P.Sjoland @ 8.00 Skybet