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PREVIEW: 2022 DP World Tour – South African Open

Damien Kayat previews the 2022 edition of the DP World Tour’s South African Open taking place at the Blair Atholl GOlf and Equestrian Estate.

Charl Schwartzel - DP World Tour

Damien Kayat previews the 2022 edition of the DP World Tour’s South African Open taking place at the Blair Atholl GOlf and Equestrian Estate.

Two women looking excitedly at cellphone

2022/2023 DP World Tour/Sunshine Tour
South African Open
Blair Atholl Golf and Equestrian Estate
1st-4th December

What a week it was for Englishman Dan Bradbury. Playing in just his third DP World Tour event, the rookie held out for a fantastic wire-to-wire victory at the Joburg Open.

The tour will once again be split between South African and Australian events this week. Let’s look at this side of the pond. The tour remains in Joburg for the 112th staging of the South African Open.

Dating all the way back to 1893, the SA Open is the second oldest national open in the world (behind the legendary Open Championship). The SA Open has been a co-sanctioned event between the Sunshine Tour and DP World Tour since 1997.

Last year’s edition was meant to follow in that tradition until COVID-19 travel restrictions saw most DP World Tour players withdraw. The decision was wisely made to relegate the event to a standard Sunshine Tour outing. But some of SA’s big guns are back as the event is once again elevated to co-sanctioned status.

Blair Atholl Golf and Equestrian Estate

This year’s host course will be the Blair Atholl Golf and Equestrian Estate. And what a curious course it appears to be. This relatively new course will be hosting its maiden SA Open. It is comprised of Bentgrass greens and water is in play on 11 holes.

Designed by Gary Player on the farmland upon which he was raised, this exclusive club seems to embrace the ‘bigger is better’ approach. At over 8,200 yards in length, members love to boast that this is the third longest course in the world (neglecting to take the altitude into account).

Still, those who have played this course have remarked as to how many more mid-irons they are forced to use out there. This course has five par 4’s that measure over 500 yards. Altitude or not, driving distance is surely going to be an advantage this week.

The Contenders

There are obviously a litany of local standouts heading the markets this week. Big-hitting Dean Burmester enjoyed an excellent Open Championship earlier this year and he will be looking to carry on some solid SA Open form.

The exceptionally long Wilco Nienaber remains something of an enigma. He was in contention last week before a dismal weekend. Maybe this huge test will suit the booming driver.

Two current LIV Golf champions will likely draw most of the support. Former Masters champ Charl Schwartzel won the inaugural LIV Golf event in London. Grace- a former SA Open champ and perennial Major contender- won the Portland event with some panache.

One wonders how motivated these two will be this week. Elsewhere, the likes of Marcus Armitage and Adrian Otaegui appear as attractive non-South African alternatives.

Past Winners

2021: Daniel Van Tonder (-16)
2020: Christiaan Bezuidenhout (-18)
2020: Branden Grace (-21)
2018 Louis Oosthuizen (-12)
2017: Graeme Storm (-18) *playoff
2016: Branden Stone (-14)

Betting Favourites (To Win):

Dean Burmester 12/1 |0 Branden Grace 14/1 | Thriston Lawrence 18/1 | Charl Schwartzel 20/1 | George Coetzee 22/1

Value Bets

Oliver Bekker- To Win 30/1 | To Place 13/2

This could be a year for revenge for Oliver Bekker. He came within a whisker of winning this title last year, finishing just one shot behind eventual champ Daniel Van Tonder. Bekker has consistently climbed the world rankings this year, losing in a playoff at the Cataluyna Championship. He also looked decent last week, ultimately settling for a tie for 17th. I think he could be in amongst it on this huge layout.

Dan Bradbury- To Win 80/1 | To Place 17/1

I know it’s foolhardy to back a rookie to make it back-to-back wins. But just look at that price! Especially when you look at the broader field. That result wasn’t entirely out of the blue. He sat third at the halfway point of the Open de Espana. Perhaps inexperience was behind that weekend demise. I just can’t see how he can be valued at 80/1 this week. 17/1 in the place markets looks appealing.

The Man to Beat- Charl Schwartzel- To Win 20/1 | To Place 44/10

Schwartzel represents outstanding value at 20/1. He has come close to winning this title on numerous occasions and should be hugely motivated. The eight-time DP World Tour winner and former Masters champ has been in brilliant form on the controversial LIV Golf tour. He won the event in London and picked up top 10 finishes in Chicago and Jeddah. He also has one massive advantage: he knows this course. He used to live on the estate and he apparently shot a 60 here in a fourball social. Is that some apocryphal anecdote? I don’t know. But he is clearly the most accomplished player in the field and my main bet this week.

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