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PREVIEW: DP World Tour – Jonsson Workwear Open

The DP World Tour remains in South Africa this week, moving inland from St Francis Bay to teh Highveld for the third edition of the Jonsson Workwear Open. Damien Kayat previews.

Thriston Lawrence
Image: EPA/VALENTIN FLAURAUD

The DP World Tour remains in South Africa this week, moving inland from St Francis Bay to teh Highveld for the third edition of the Jonsson Workwear Open. Damien Kayat previews.

Two women looking excitedly at cellphone

2024 DP World Tour
Jonsson Workwear Open
Glendower Country Club, Gauteng
7 -10 March

It says something about the current state of the DP World Tour that last week’s SDC Championship went down to a playoff between two men I had never heard of before.

Robin Williams (not that one, obviously) blew a two-shot lead coming down the stretch. This opened the door for American Jordan Gumberg and he duly obliged, beating Williams on the 2nd playoff hole.

Jonsson Workwear Open

This week the tour moves inland, moving from the picturesque St Francis Bay to the Highveld for the third edition of the Jonsson Workwear Open. The inaugural event – hosted at Durban Country Club- was staged in 2022 and was co-sanctioned by the Sunshine and Challenge Tours.

Last year’s event was elevated in status and was co-sanctioned by the Sunshine and DP World Tours. It was hosted at Steyn City but this year’s event will welcome a new host: Glendower Country Club.

Glendower Country Club

Religious devotees of the DP World Tour will recognize Glendower as a multiple recent host of the South African Open (2013, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018). Designed by C.H Alison back in 1937, Glendower Country Club is a classical tree-lined parkland layout.

This course is only tree-lined in name. The kikuyu fairways- typical in this region- are pretty generous and invite the bombers to let rip. The course has approximately 75 bunkers and is visually reminiscent of a contemporary US Open test.

It measures a whopping 7,542 yards (really adding validity to the whole bomber argument). But that is quite deceptive given we are playing at altitude this week. Still, I would probably be more inclined to favour power over accuracy from the tee.

But recent history seems to indicate that GIR will be critical around Glendower. Players can be aggressive attacking these gentle bentgrass greens and they will need to give themselves plenty of looks for birdie this week.

The Contenders

It’s pretty depressing that World No.89 Thriston Lawrence is the hot ticket this week. How do you sell that to potential investors? Excuse me for getting on my soapbox for a moment, but this tour is dying in front of our eyes and Pelley and co need to do something drastic to rectify it.

Anyway, World No.89 Thriston Lawrence was T10 in St Francis Bay last week (his first top 10 since an incredible T2 finish at the Dubai Invitational). Zander Lombard was cut last week but he arguably had better form than Lawrence in the preceding months.

Ewen Ferguson is one of the most in-form players in the field, picking up five top-25 finishes in his last six events. Elsewhere, the likes of Jordan Smith and Rikuya Hoshino will back themselves in this frankly anaemic line-up.

Past Winners

2023: Nick Bachem (-25) *Steyn City
2022: J.C. Ritchie (-26) *Durban Country Club

To Win Outright:

Thriston Lawrence 16/1 | Zander Lombard 18/1 | Tom McKibben 18/1 | Ewen Ferguson 20/1 | Jordan Smith 22/1

Value Bets

Wilco Nienaber- To Win 45/1 | To Place 10/1

I know, I know. I have been bitten more than a few times by backing the huge-hitting South African. Nienaber is a true oddity. He averages 340 yards off the tee this season (making him potentially the ideal man to tame this course). But he only hits the fairway about 50% of the time and often makes over 30 putts per round. He is wildly inconsistent and doesn’t often marry his prodigious strength with good course management. He has made the cut in six of his last eight events and he was in a tie for fourth after last week’s first round. Could this be the week where everything clicks and he can truly tame a course?

Marcus Armitage- To Win 66/1 | To Place 14/1

I’m liking the look of Marcus Armitage this week. Armitage has been let down in the past by putting demons but he has generally putted better on his trips to the Rainbow Nation (probably explains why he has a strong record here). He has contended in SA in six of his last 15 visits, memorably securing an Open spot by finishing 3rd at the SA Open in Randpark. He played composed golf last week to finish in a tie for fourth and he does have a remarkable habit of playing well in back-to-back events. He is a brilliant iron player who should give himself plenty of chances on these inviting greens. It will all come down to how many putts he can make.

The Man to Beat- Tom McKibben- To Win 18/1 | To Place 39/10

It is surely only a matter of time until young Northern Irishman Tom McKibben picks up a 2nd DP World Tour title. Looking to emulate fellow countryman and hero Rory McIlroy, McKibben got off to a fast start on the tour, recording his maiden DP World Tour win as a rookie at last year’s Porsche European Open. He has started this season in sensational form, finishing in the top 25 in all five of his DP World Tour starts (the highlight of which being a solo fourth at the Qatar Masters). The 21-year-old finished in a tie for 12th last week and I think he is trending towards a very strong showing at Glendower.

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