The Joburg Open | Thursday 26 February - Sunday 01 March | The Royal Johannesburg & Kensington Golf Club
The European Tour’s stint in Asia is officially over and it’s time for the South African leg of the journey, one which golf fans around the country look forward to. Not only do we get the opportunity to see some of the best in the game in our own backyard but tournaments at this time of the year are often dominated by locals, giving punters an opportunity to win some money and be patriotic all at once. This time around things look to be no different and a host of talented locals will be teeing up at the Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club, both of which are superb courses. As usual accurate iron play will be the order of the day on both as water comes into play on almost every hole, whether it be in the form of a lake or river. Whilst both course are tough, it’s the East course that looks like it will provide the stiffest challenge. Apart from the demanding fairways the course plays long so distance off the tee will be vital. Obviously the locals will arrive with a lot more course experience than the rest of the field so you would be remiss to ignore them, even those who don’t look to be in top form at the moment.
To Win Outright
George Coetzee 12/1
Alex Noren 12/1
Andy Sullivan 16/1
Gregory Bourdy 16/1
Richard Sterne 22/1
Thomas Aiken (22/1 a win, 48/10 a place)
Thomas Aiken is the first of the locals to catch my eye because although he may not be playing as well as favourite George Coetzee, 22/1 is a huge price on a local lad who has more European Tour experience than most in this field. He loves the course and rarely finishes outside of the Top 10 here and that combined with his current form make him a worthy prospect. Here’s hoping he can go one better than the Top 5 he managed in the SA Open a few months ago. Each way is my bet here.
Jaco van Zyl (28/1 a win, 62/10 a place)
Jaco van Zyl is another player who loves this course and despite opening at around 45/1 he’s found some support and been backed into 28/1. This is a clear sign that he’s one of the punters’ favourites this week and that comes as little surprise as he rarely finishes outside the Top 15 in this event. That may not seem like much but when you consider his current form he looks a decent prospect and should be near the top come Sunday. Each way looks a solid bet on van Zyl.
Thomas Pieters (30/1 a win, 66/10 a place)
You could be forgiven for never having heard of Thomas Pieters but he’s off to a flying start this season and looks like he could fare well on a course that will suit his game to a tee. The talented young Belgian has been making waves this season and looks to have a game similar to that of Belgium’s favourite golfing son, Nicolas Colsaerts. Big drives and accurate iron play are his strengths and both will stand him in good stead on a course that demands it. This is a player that will only be going from strength to strength this season and I look forward to seeing what he can do.
I’ve backed George Coetzee enough over the past few years to know that when he’s in form he’s incredible to watch and when he goes off the boil he’s one to avoid. That places me in a bit of a conundrum this week because as well as he plays on this course, he hasn’t shot the lights out thus far this season and it’s going to take something special to get him out of the slump he’s faced on the European Tour. That being said, he arrives here with the best course record of anyone and a win last year was the culmination of some impressive finishes over the past four years or so. If anything is going to kick-start his game it’s playing on a course he knows better than most so for that reason I’m making Coetzee my best bet this week.