Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Joburg Open 2016



The Royal Johannesburg and Kensington GC will host the Joburg Open for the tenth time this week where for the second week running, England's Andy Sullivan is the defending champion. However the Englishman won't be in attendance this time round, but nonetheless, we do have a similar field as to that which teed it up at last week's tourney. This blog's each way selection at Glendower last week had a slow start but exploded into life on Saturday, as when faced with an imminent cut, he found three birdies to qualify for the weekend right on the mark. He then returned in the afternoon to go -7 for his round before weather suspended proceedings for the day. Mr Sterne had moved into the TOP15 at that point and I had high hopes of a Sunday charge but it just didn't happen. It turned out to be a day of mixed emotions though for the blog as the TOP20 selection held on to to win the title @ 50/1 odds pre-tournament. It's one that got away perhaps but Brendon Stone ensured we started the year in profit with a solid performance.

Whilst Stone rewarded recent solid performances with victory it was worth noting the effort of Christiaan Bezhuidenhout! The 21 year old is another youngster we will see a lot more of and I wouldn't be surprised if he produced the goods this week on the back of a top result last Sunday. He makes my shortlist off the back of that result and given his obvious talent he is sure to make his mark on home soil in these co-sanctioned events at some point. Whilst Bezhuidenhout was making an impression at Glendower the same cannot be said for Sweden's next big thing, Markus Kinhult, who surprisingly missed the cut. The cross-over from amateur status to professional status is never an easy transition to make but his game suggests that he is one to make an immediate impression on tour and it could come this week having had the weekend off last week - he could be chomping at the bit to get going here! The missed cut may have helped his odds too as he has drifted out to 80/1 and its a price with 6 places on offer that could look generous in time. But for the time being, I'd rather take a watching brief to see how he fares before getting involved.

In an event that celebrates just its tenth anniversary we will see the 206 players compete over two different courses for the opening two rounds; the easier West Course and the East course, which will be in use for the weekend. Past results here point to players with excellent GIR Stats for the week, as being those most likely to contend but it's also worth noting that players with form coming into it fare better than those who haven't the form coming in. With that in mind I'd have to give a lot of thought to backing the two Englishmen in Tyrell Hatton and David Horsey who open their 2016 campaigns here. Both could perform well and be inspired by their compatriot, Andy Sullivan, who broke through in South Africa before also taking out this title soon after his maiden win. The Joburg Open despite producing class winners has had a tendency to produce first time winners in it's short history.

As with last week though, these co-sanctioned events in SA usually go the way of one of the home based players and whilst Jaco Van Zyl may seem to be the likeliest of those to win here given his course form here over the years, he can't be backed at such short odds. Especially has he has had chances to clinch his first Europeantour Title in recent weeks which he didn't grab. Instead I am drawn back to last week's selection , Richard Sterne, who did show form on the aforementioned Saturday birdie spree. He should take the positives from that result as well as the two outings towards the end of last year and approach this week in confidence where he has prevailed twice in the past at the Joburg Open. At the price, Sterne is a quality player that cannot be ignored easily and he is my each way selection to contend for the title. 

Of the others, there could be an opportunity for TOP20 results from the likes of Justin Walters, Keith Horne, Dean Burmester, Trevor Fisher Jnr. and Darren Fichardt of the home players and another who I fancy to have a good week is Chris Swanepoel. The 31 year old has mixed form at the Joburg Open but has posted a TOP10 (last year) as well as TOP20 in 2012. He played nicely last week for T45th following some fine Sunshine Tour Form where he has won and posted a further two TOP10s and a TOP20 in his last six starts. Justin Walters and Keith Horne likewise have been in solid form on South African soil of late and if continuing the trend of bringing form into the Joburg Open to produce a decent result, then both must be of consideration here. I do like the chances of both but with the 50/1 on offer for 6 places, Horne would be the preferred selection of the two. With Sterne the main each way pick though, I'll add Horne into the staking plan for a TOP20 @ 3.75

Horne has played in each of the previous nine Joburg Opens and has only missed the cut once whilst bagging himself two TOP10s and a further two TOP20s. Has he form coming in ? Well he was tied 4th last week following a strong weekend and he can pick off where he left off there and go low enough to produce another solid result here.  Finally, Tom Lewis is a player that could relish conditions this week if wind and rain descend on the Johannesburg course which is possible according to weather forecasts, and he could surprise at a decent price in a field that he should be quite competitive in. He'd be my back-to-lay pick here. He's been gradually improving over the past few months and with a new season in front of him he could just be ready to go and play, but with the big open field in play this week, I'm happy to stick with just two selections.

Selections:

0.5 pts e/w R.Sterne @ 33/1
5 pts TOP20 K.Horne @ 3.75