European Tour: The Nedbank Golf Challenge Preview

Golfer admires shot with wood in hand

Our golf writer takes a look at the Nedbank Golf Challenge set to get underway at the Gary Player Country Club from 9 November - 12 November. 

The European Tour’s penultimate stop of the season is ‘Africa’s Major’: The Nedbank Golf Challenge. The event was first played in 1981, won by Johnny Miller in a 12 man invitational system that was to be utilized until 2013. The event has expanded dramatically over the course of the last few years and now forms part of the newly configured Rolex Series.

That being said, the event has still failed attract some of the bigger names in the hunt for the Race to Dubai title, with Spaniards Jon Rahm and Sergio Garcia opting to skip this week while red-hot Justin Rose is clearly pinning his hopes on the year ending event.

The Nedbank Golf Challenge | 9 November - 12 November | Gary Play Country Club

The Gary Player Country Club is a massive par 72 course at 7,831 yards, but altitude renders that enormous size somewhat more palatable. That being said, size off the tee has still been critical to success here, while accuracy proves even more so. It’s no wonder that Lee Westwood has performed so well here: his combination of length and accuracy is the perfect formula for success around these fairways. The parkland style course has thick Kikuyu rough that can prove extremely penal. Players will be aiming to get those balls in play, which could make a low winning score possible- wind permitting.

Tommy Fleetwood still leads the Race to Dubai standings and will be hoping to extend that lead as much as possible with Justin Rose’s recent assault on that crown. Tyrell Hatton will also be looking to fly the English flag high this week while the partisan crowd will have no shortage of men to cheer. Establishment figures like Grace, Oosthuizen and Schwartzel will clearly have the support of the galleries- but it’s perhaps the young guns in Porteous and Frittelli who may hold South Africa’s best chance of having a winner of this event since Trevor Immelman did it in 2007.

Past Winners
2016: Alex Noren (-14)
2015: Mark Leishman (-19)
2014: Danny Willett (-18)
2013: Thomas Bjorn (-20)
2012: Martin Kaymer (-18)

To Win Outright
Louis Oosthuizen 14/1, Brandon Grace 14/1, Tyrell Hatton 16/1, Tommy Fleetwood 18/1, Charl Schwartzel 20/1

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Value Bets

Chris Wood- To Win 40/1, To Place 17/2
Wood finished alongside Fleetwood in 23rd place last week, an encouraging return for a man who has been blighted by injury concerns. He finished 25th here despite neck issues, while he finished third in 2015 despite spending some time on a drip due to dehydration. His victories at Wentworth and Qatar bode well in correlation to the course here, while he knows that he will need to work on a plummeting world ranking should he stand a chance of catching an invite to the Masters next year. His third place here in 2015 secured that very invite. Furthermore, the incentive of next season’s Ryder Cup will also be playing on the Englishman’s mind.

Victor Dubuisson- To Win 45/1, To Place 19/2
While it has not exactly been a great year of the ever-mercurial Frenchman, his form at this course and some encouraging recent signs make it appealing at this price. He finished in the top five at the Trophee Hassan II in April, but then his season spiraled quite badly. But then he managed to finish third at the Alfred Dunhill Links, indicating how dangerous it is to write this guy off. He had a T4 finish here last season- more than enough reason to take a stab at one of the least predictable players on tour.

Dylan Frittelli- To Win 50/1, To Place 11/1
My word, Frittelli seems horribly overpriced considering his form this season. He has the length to conquer this course and has already picked up a win this season. He managed to overcome the disappointment of finishing runner-up in China by winning the Lyoness Open. Additionally, he is coming off a huge pay day and magnificent performance in Turkey, where he finished runner-up to Justin Rose in a performance that has catapulted him inside the top 20 in the Race to Dubai. 50/1 seems a monster price to me.

The Man to Beat- Ross Fisher 22/1, To Place 48/10
Of all the men in the upper echelons of the betting stakes, Fisher is the one that jumps out at me. Long and straight off the tee, Fisher looks just the kind of player who should thrive here. And his form here has been impressive. In five starts he has managed finishes of second, third, fifth, 15th and 25th. He has been desperately unlucky not to win this season. He finished third-place finish in the WGC Mexico, T-3 in the Shenzhen Invitational, second in the Alfred Dunhill Links and T-2 in the Italian Open. Surely he is due his sixth European Tour title.

Written by Damien Kayat for @Hollywoodbets

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