Hollywoodbets Sports Blog: European Tour 2020: The SA Open Preview

European Tour 2020: The SA Open Preview

Louis Oosthuizen chips on to the green

The second oldest national open in golf behind the Open Championship, this grand old bastion of golf was mercilessly merged with the Joburg Open in 2018. It is now a tri-sanctioned event between the European, Asian and Sunshine Tours.

Image Copyright - Steve Haag Sports

The European Tour 2020 | The SA Open
Randpark Golf Club, Johannesburg
Thursday 9 January 2020 - Sunday 12 January 2020

It’s always slightly sad when you witness formerly great sporting occasions reduced to shadows of their former selves. The FA Cup is currently undergoing such a transition. Test match cricket is also a fabled entity in danger of extinction. And so it is with the SA Open, previously a highly prestigious national open that attracted illustrious fields. The second oldest national open in golf behind the Open Championship, this grand old bastion of golf was mercilessly merged with the Joburg Open in 2018. It is now a tri-sanctioned event between the European, Asian and Sunshine Tours. The monumental financial clout of the US PGA Tour has made it harder for these global national opens to remain relevant. This will actually be the first SA Open since 2018 when two SA Opens were held.

Randpark Golf Club played host to the final edition of the Joburg Open in 2017. It also hosted the last renewal of this restructured event in 2018, won by Louis Oosthuizen. Two courses will be used in rotation over the first two days. Bushwillow and Firethorn will be played over the first two days, though Firethorn will host the weekend action post-cut. Bushwillow is certainly the easier of the two courses, though the tree-lined test has some narrow fairways to navigate. Firethorn is appreciatively longer and will provide a sterner test for the golfers. To put it into perspective, Oosthuizen shot an opening round 62 at Bushwillow last timeout. He followed that up with a second round 70 at Firethorn. Statistical analysis from the last SA Open here and final Joburg Open seem to indicate that scrambling could prove vital this week.

Louis Oosthuizen is back to defend his title won in 2018 at this venue. He is clearly the class act in the field and enters this event with form stats of 3-6-20-2. I’m slightly hesitant to back King Louis considering his lack of killer instinct. Erik Van Rooyen finished runner-up last time out here - at the Joburg Open - and enjoyed a real breakthrough year on the European Tour. Elsewhere the likes of Justin Harding and Charl Schwartzel lead a strong South African contingent. While it’s easy to feel melancholic about the demise of this event, there is a massive plus to consider. No fewer than eleven amateurs will be in attendance, perhaps offering a glimpse into the future of South African golf.

Past Winners
2018: Louis Oosthuizen (-18)
2018: Chris Paisley (-21)
2017: Graeme Storm (-18)*playoff
2016: Brandon Stone (-14)
2015: Andy Sullivan (-11)*playoff

Outright Betting (To Win)
Louis Oosthuizen (5/1)
Erik Van Rooyen (10/1)
Charl Schwartzel (11/1)
Branden Grace (14/1)
Thomas Detry (16/1)

Value Bets

Brandon Stone
To Win (30/1), To Place (13/2)

Brandon Stone really started to turn things around towards the end of last season, making him better potential value than the likes of Van Rooyen and Oosthuizen. He was in contention at the French Open and Portugal Masters. He tended to throw things away on weekends with doubles and triples.  He also managed a solid 13th at the Mauritius Open. Two of Stone’s three victories have come in South Africa, including an SA Open title in 2016. Additionally, Stone finished in a highly creditable tie for 7th last time at Randpark.

Wil Besseling
To Win (90/1), To Place (19/1)

An event such as this will always present a wonderful opportunity to Challenge Tour graduates looking to stake a claim on the tour proper. 34-year-old Dutchman Wil Besseling was one of the outstanding performers on the Challenge Tour last year. Besseling has already shown his ability on the tour, securing a top 3 finish at the Alfred Dunhill last time out. Besseling currently sits 2nd in GIR, which should prove pivotal on courses that reward accuracy from the fairways.

The Man to Beat

Christiaan Bezuidenhout
To Win (30/1), To Place (13/2)

These odds really astonish me. Bezuidenhout had a stellar season last year, compiling seven of his best eight finishes ever. That included a victory at the Andalucia Masters. Valderrama is a tight tree-lined course that has some similarities to the courses this week. He also finished 3rd at the BMW PGA Championship. As I said earlier, seven of his best eight performances came last year. The other was a runner-up finish at the 2016 SA Open. Bezuidenhout is also a scrambling expert, which should make him ideally suited to this test.  

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