This week the golfing world’s focus will be on the Players Championship which features the Top 50 golfers in the world but golf punters should keep an eye on The AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open as there is a lot of value to be found in this field. Sure, none of these players were good enough to crack the nod and get into the Players but in these weaker fields anyone can win and that’s where the excitement lies.
The last installment of this tournament was played in 2008 and the reintroduction returns to the Peter Matkovitch designed Heritage Golf Club, which is flanked by mountains and the sea and which offers a unique challenge for those participating. A number of bunkers are in play on almost every hole so accuracy is key and plenty of water hazards can be found, waiting to punish wayward drives and approaches. This is one of those interesting resort style courses that were designed with holiday-makers in mind but which can be set up to play tough, which will no doubt be the case this week. Whilst it is relatively short, it cannot be defeated by long drives and strategic play will be the order of the day.
George Coetzee 8/1
Kiradech Aphibarnrat 12/1
Thomas Bjorn 16/1
Thomas Aiken 16/1
Scott Hend 25/1
Dean Burmester (28/1 a win, 62/10 a place)
Up until this year I had never heard of Dean Burmester but he’s been making a name for himself on the Sunshine Tour of late and it’s only a matter of time before he takes the next step and wins a bigger event. With the form he arrives in Mauritius with it looks like that step could come sooner rather than later because on paper he looks the in-form golfer in this field. A third in the Tshwane Open was followed by a number of Top 10s on the Sunshine Tour and a win in the Zimbabwe Open last week and if he can hold his head he’ll do well again this time around. At this price each way looks a great bet.
Thomas Bjorn (16/1 a win, 7/2 a place)
Thomas Bjorn has become far too erratic for my liking but for some reason I’m feeling confident that he’ll perform in Mauritius this week. He missed the cut in the Masters after playing dismally but since then he’s managed two Top 25s against stiffer competition than he faces here. If he plays his natural game and shapes shots like he has in the past he should be able to avoid the hazards and make his share of birdies. Each way is the bet for me.
Richard T Lee (55/1 a win, 12/1 a place)
Richard T Lee got his season off to a great start when he finished fourth Thailand and fifth in Malaysia but he slowed down a bit after that and hasn’t really featured in the ‘bigger’ tournaments over the past two months. Having said that, he still ranks highly in a number of important stats and on a course like this, that rewards accuracy and good putting, he should go close. Sure, he’s available at a huge price but events like this often throw out a few surprises and the reward far outweighs the risk. I’m backing Lee each way, hopefully it pays off.
Kiradech Aphibarnrat (12/1 a win, 26/10 a place)
The Barn Rat is always one to keep an eye on and he hasn’t disappointed in the past few weeks. Although he started his season off poorly, he’s come into his own of late and looks the form player in this field with three Top 5s in as many events in recent weeks. The risk of backing players of this calibre is that you never know when they’ll fall apart but for now Aphibarnrat looks a solid bet and I can’t see Coetzee beating him. With that in mind I’m of the opinion that he should be favourite and that this price is too big and needs to be taken advantage of. For that reason he’s my top bet this week.