Monday, 9 January 2017

BMW South African Open 2017

Europeantour action returns this week and its off to Glendower Golf Club for the BMW South African Open where Rory McIlroy heads the field. The Northern Irishman will start his 2017 campaign here by returning a favour to Ernie Els who hosts the event, having had the South African in attendance at Royal County Down two years ago for the Irish Open. He will be joined by the three previous winners here at Glendower in Brandon Stone, Andy Sullivan and Morten Madsen. Rory will also be competing for the first time with new clubs. Callaway woods and irons, Titleist Prov1x balls and an Odyssey putter have been reported as clubs of choice for the week. How he fares with them will be intriguing as will his competitiveness @ 3/1 to prevail here.

The event has been saddened by the news of twice winner, Wayne Westner's passing last week. Westner who spent a considerate amount of time living and coaching in Celbridge, Co. Kildare Ireland, was 55.

The Course

Glendower GC lies in Johannesburg, was opened in 1937 and underwent course re-design in the 1980s. It is a very old traditional course where accuracy will be key. Local boy, Thomas Aiken normally excels in the accuracy department from tee to green and should be in with a chance this week again, especially given that he has three TOP5s in his last four South African Opens as well as four TOP10s at the Joburg Open from his last five visits. I've pursued Thomas long enough over the years and although another TOP5 last month at The Alfred Dunhill augurs well, he is omitted from the staking plan this week where 25/1 is best price. South Africans in general tend to do well on these co-sanctioned events so expect to see them on the leaderboard throughout as many will have course experience over the years.

My Shortlist and Selections

Trevor Fisher Jnr heads my staking plan this week @ 80/1 on the back of solid Glendower form. (8-15-7). His one and only European Tour win came at The Africa Open in 2015 to back up his eight Sunshine Tour wins. A player that seems to perform better on home soil! Another Joburger, Fisher hadn't the best of seasons in 2016 but he does tend to perform when back in his homeland so perhaps the 80/1 on offer reflects the recent European Tour form as opposed to his local form and I'm happy to take a chance on him here at a course where he has solid form.

Dylan Fritelli earned his Europeantour tour for the season through the Challenge Tour last year and the 26 year old features on my "10 To Follow in 2017" list. Another native of Johannesburg, the former team mate of Jordan Spieth and Cody Gribble at the University of Texas has shown plenty of promise by rising to number 150 in the world. With Gribble landing his first PGA Title last October, the South African is sure to be motivated for a good season ahead and he can use home advantage this week to get a solid start in much the same way as Brandon Stone did last year. 80/1 is generous this week and he is a must play for me here.

Eddie Pepperell is another on my "10 To Follow in 2017" list and he finds himself chalked up at best price 100/1. Eddie kicked off the season with another impressive post on his blog citing his willingness in 2017 to shut himself off from the social media ramblings and stay focused on what matters most to him.In shutting himself off from the distractions, it's hoped that his attention will switch to a good campaign on tour. Whatever it is that makes Eddie tick, we can't ignore his Q-School escapades to secure his card for the year when it looked like it wasn't going to be. New Years bring new challenges and new hopes and if he can get a decent start on Thursday he may just find some confidence to put in a good week. He's been close before and he can go close again...soon.

0.25 pts win T.Fisher Jnr @ 81.00
0.25 pts win D. Fritelli @ 101.00
0.25 pts win E. Pepperell @ 101.00

2.0 pts TOP10 D.Fritelli @ 7.00
2.0 pts TOP10 T.Fisher Jnr @ 6.50
1.75 pts TOP10 E.Pepperell @ 9.00

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