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PREVIEW: 2023 DP World Tour – Joburg Open

The Joburg Open will be the first of three South African events that will lead the DP World Tour into Christmas. Damien Kayat previews.

Zander Lombard - DP World Tour

The Joburg Open will be the first of three South African events that will lead the DP World Tour into Christmas. Damien Kayat previews.

Two women looking excitedly at cellphone

2023/2024 DP World Tour
Joburg Open
Houghton Golf Club, Lower Houghton, Johannesburg, South Africa
23rd-26th November

What a week of mixed blessings it was for the Hojgaard family. Victorious Ryder Cupper Nikolai won the biggest title of his career, shooting a remarkable eight-under-par on Sunday to dominate the lengthy Earth Course.

But twin brother Rasmus couldn’t gain any momentum on Sunday, faltering to an 11th-place finish that saw him miss out on one of the 10 PGA Tour available cards. Being a twin myself, I wonder if Nicolai Hojgaard would sacrifice that win for his brother’s US PGA Tour card.

Interesting food for thought. There is no rest for the wicked this week, with the DP World Tour moving swiftly on to the commencement of yet another European season. This week sees duelling events, with the Australian PGA Championship coinciding with the latest instalment of the Joburg Open.

The two nations should both feel quite chuffed after their respective World Cup triumphs and I expect an entertaining weekend on both sides of the pond.

The Joburg Open

The Joburg Open will be the first of three South African events- co-sanctioned with the Sunshine Tour- that lead into Christmas. Ariel Canete won the first installment of this event back in 2007 and it was an ever-present on the tour till 2017.

It strangely enjoyed two renewals in 2017 before disappearing for a few years. It kicked off the new DP World Tour era in farcical fashion in 2021, with Covid travel restrictions and poor weather ultimately resulting in a 36-hole event (won by Thriston Lawrence).

The tournament moved to Houghton last year, with the virtually unknown Dan Bradbury becoming one of the biggest surprise winners in recent European history. This will be the second consecutive edition hosted by Houghton Golf Club.

Houghton Golf Club

Houghton Golf Club is an undulating tree-lined parkland course (like so many Joburg-based designs). It enjoys a reputation as one of the most iconic courses in South Africa, hosting eight SA Opens before becoming the original home of the Alfred Dunhill Championship.

The tree-lined test has undergone recent renovations under the watchful gaze of Jack Nicklaus. The main thrust of these renovations was to add more bunkering to the fairways. This means that accuracy will likely prove more important than distance this week.

The 7,200+ yardage is also deceptive due to the altitude. There are many holes where large trees will impede line of sight for the approach. This will put an onus on players to find the right portion of the fairways and should favour the shot-shapers in the field.

The Contenders

The Australian PGA Championship is lining up to be the far more illustrious DP World Tour option this week as we prepare for a pretty poor lineup in Houghton.

The biggest attraction this week will be the range of SA talent. Thriston Lawerence has proven to be a real winner during his brief time on tour while the likes of Charl Schwarztel and Branden Grace lend a bit of gravitas to proceedings.

The freakishly long Wilco Nienaber is always a fun sideshow attraction while it will be interesting to see how Dan Bradbury follows up his heroics from last year’s event.

Past Winners

2022: Dan Bradbury (-21)
2021: Thirston Lawrence (-12) #36 holes
2020: Joachim B. Hansen (-19)
2018-2019: no event
2017: Shubhankar Sharma (-23) *December
2017: Darren Fichardt (-15) *February

To Win Outright:

Dean Burmester 11/1 | Christiaan Bezuidenhout 12/1 | Branden Grace 16/1 | Dan Bradbury 18/1 | Thriston Lawrence 20/1

Value Bets

Nick Bachem- To Win 35/1

24-year-old German Nick Bachem is a promising young player on the DP World Tour who is building up an excellent South African pedigree. He won several times on the Pro Golf Tour before finally turning pro in 2021. He showed his South African credentials on the Challenge Tour last year, finishing third at the Limpopo Championship and opening with a 64 in this very event. He cemented his love for South African golf this year, finishing 18th at the SDC Championship prior to a commanding four-stroke victory at the Jonsson Workwear Open. Since then, he has finished fourth at the Czech Masters and seventh at the Irish Open.

Gavin Green- To Win 50/1

I think I’m going to opt for the slightly erratic Gavin Green as my dark horse pick this week. To be fair, the 29-year-old Malaysian has completed eight top-15 finishes this season. Crucially, the best result of his season came on these shores, as he managed to finish in a tie for sixth at the Jonsson Workwear Open. He finished seventh in last year’s Nedbank Golf Challenge and I think he has the ability to really contest in this field.

The Man to Beat- Zander Lombard- To Win 22/1

This has been a really schizophrenic season for 28-year-old South African Zander Lombard. The 2016 Joburg Open runner-up has enjoyed three excellent runner-up finishes during the campaign (including a typically strong home performance at the Jonsson Workwear Open). But he did endure a horrible stretch in the middle of the year where he couldn’t make a cut. He seems to have turned that around, finishing in a highly creditable T22 at the Earth Course to register his 10th consecutive made cut.

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