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South Africans set to dominate Canary Islands Championship

Damien Kayat takes a look at the European Tour’s Canary Island Championship.

Canary Island Championship Preview

The Canary Islands Championship is the culmination of this hastily arranged Canary Islands Swing.

Two women looking excitedly at cellphone

I have been rather negative in my assessment of the tour of late but you can’t help but admire the ingenuity of the organizers in this difficult period. They have mastered this art of back-to-back events on the same course. The initiative started in Wales last year and replaced in Cyprus and Kenya. Now it will be Golf Costa Adeje’s turn to host doppelganger events. South Africans in the field will be looking to make it a hat-trick of titles in this Canary Islands escapade. Garrick Higgo and Dean Burmester both obliterated these welcoming resort courses and I wouldn’t bet against another South African victor this week.

As evidenced by Dean Burmester’s winning score of -25 last week, this is an extremely easy course. Five very gettable par 5’s presents a host of opportunities for the bombers this week (Burmester shot a 62 last Sunday to win while Scott Jamieson shot a 61 on Friday). This Jose Gancedo design is generally used to placate seasonal holidaymakers, not professionals (though it did play host to the 2003 Open de Espana). The Paspalum fairways are inviting while the Bermuda greens extremely accessible. I think it would be a tad foolish to not consider the results of those who contested last week.

It is unsurprisingly the South Africans who dominate the upper reaches of the market. Perhaps there’s something to the theory that South Africans would have been expected to play well in this climate. Garrick Higgo picked up yet another top 10 last week following on from his victory at the Gran Canaria Open. Burmester managed to overcome his flat-stick blues while his driver was impeccable last week. In an event such as this, you will have to make some putts if you wish to succeed. Justin Harding has four top 15 finishes in his last five events, including that victory in Kenya. Away from the African continent, the likes of Adri Arnaus and Sami Valimaki certainly jump off the page. I would also put some stock in players such as Pepperell and Ashun Wu, erratic performers with the ability to turn it on for one week. There’s no Matthias Schwab this week, which means he has just about the same chance of winning as any other week. Sorry, I couldn’t resist that.

To Win Outright:

Garrick Higgo 11/1 | Dean Burmester 18/1 | Justin Harding 18/1 | Sami Valimaki 25/1 | Adri Arnaus 25/1

Value Bets

Victor Dubuisson- To Win 28/1 | To Place 6/1

Similar to Eddie Pepperell and Ashun Wu, Dubuisson falls into that talented enigma category. The 31-year-old is a former Ryder Cupper with two European Tour titles to his name. Just recently he has started to demonstrate some of his best qualities again. He finished 16th and 7th at the recent events in Kenya. He also shot a 2nd round 62 at Gran Canaria. He missed the cut last week, seemingly betraying my ‘don’t ignore last week’ mantra. However, he only missed the cut by one shot. A double-bogey five at the opening hole really set the tone for his round. Having said that, he was 3rd for GIR on Friday. He is a mercurial talent who has now had a run at Golf Costa Adeje.

Scott Hend- To Win 55/1  | To Place 12/1

Scott Hend is just insane value at 55/1. The three-time European Tour winner had a rock-solid 8th place last week and he could be primed for a title push. His stats reveal why he is so well suited to this course. He currently ranks 25th on tour for Driving Distance. Hend also ranks 2nd on tour for one-putts all season. The Aussie made mincemeat of the par 5’s last week, only failing to birdie them on 6 out of 20 occasions.

The Man to Beat- Dean Burmester- To Win 18/1 | To Place 39/10

I know that recent history doesn’t exactly support the back-to-back winner gambit. But will the powerful South African ever have a better chance of completing this unique feat? The field is weak and his talents are perfectly tailored to the demands of this ‘test’. Mental fragility is something to consider with Burmester. After he won his maiden event at the 2017 Tshwane Open, he took a month off before a poor 48th at the Trophee Hassan II. He also expressed a feeling of homesickness during his winning press conference. That’s a concern. But I think it’s maybe time that Burmester comes of age on the tour and competes more regularly.

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