No sooner has the 2010 season ended than the 2011 season has begun! It was less than a fortnight ago that Martin Kaymer got his hands on the Race To Dubai trophy, however followers of this column were celebrating more for the 50/1 winner we landed with Robert Karlsson. We fancy a few more of those in 2011!!
The 2011 season kicks off again with a trip to the fantastically unique safari-cum-golf tournament at the Gary Player designed Leopard Creek golf course in South Africa. The 7,249 yard par-72 layout is being used for the 7th successive year so we have plenty of course history to study, however it lodges in the memory due to the wildlife which shares the area including crocodiles, lions and the odd hippo thrown in for good measure.
The course itself is tough off the tee and anything approaching 70% driving accuracy is likely to be leading that stat come Sunday night, however the real premium is on handling the slick, undulating bent grass greens once safely on board. The tournament itself is pretty low-key (and low value) and is shared with the Sunshine Tour, so expect a number of lesser known players to appear on the leaderboard at various points.
The clear favourite is local man Charl Schwartzel who in 6 attempts has form of 2/14/MC/2/2/1 in this event - currently best priced around 11/2 I'm not convinced he's in the kind of form with just 1 top 10 in his last 6 starts, however he does love playing in South Africa and is top of our predictor model.
For me the value lies a little further down the field and those who have been playing well on the Sunshine Tour in recent times. Don't miss our new feature starting this week called 'Ton Plus Tips' - every week Steve and I will pick a player from the tournaments we each cover where the player is 100/1 or longer...let's see if we can get a winner or 2 during the course of the season! Why not share your ton-plus tip with us on Facebook or Twitter via the links at the top of the page?
Before I go into my tips, we've unearthed another 'no lose bet' proposition for you to get your teeth into...one lucky punter even won $32,000 off of his free bet a few weeks back - for more details click here.
For my spread betting tips for this event click here (we picked eventual winner GMac last week in this feature!)
Rock slid to a disappointing 57th in Dubai to cap a pretty poor end to what had promised to be a strong season, with 5 good top 10s before June then an excellent 7th place finish at St Andrews for his highest Major finish. With poor recent form, why should we pick Rock...?
Well, fact is he loves fast bent greens (ALL of his top 10s last year were on bent) and this course really suits his eye as his form here of 4/2/14/17 demonstrates. His 4h place finish last year came off the back of a similarly poor end to the season and, with a relatively poor field assembled, Rock has a chance of finally breaking his European Tour duck. RESULT: T8
Keith Horne 1.5pts EW 66/1 with Get a £10 free bet via this link: Coral £10 Free Bet
South African Horne spends most of his time on the Sunshine Tour where he's already a winner in 2010, however he's proven he can hold his own on the European Tour in the past - his 8th place finish in Singapore last month is testament to that. Played the 'South African swing' with form of 34/35/18/2 last year and clearly relishes playing in his home country.
Recent form on the Sunshine Tour of 6 top 10s from 10 starts is mightily impressive and with 3 finishes inside the top 20 here in the last 5 years, including 6th place in 2009, I'm expecting a big week from him here as he strives to finally win a place on the European Tour. RESULT: T15
2-time European Tour winner Fitchard is another South African who spends most of his time on the Sunshine Tour and again is a winner in 2010 with his impressive victory at the Dimension Data Pro-Am. Fitchard boasts 7 top 10s on in his last 10 starts on his home Tour including a 4th last time out.
The man from Pretoria finished 6th in the South African Open last year and has a 4th place finish in this tournament back in 2007 to draw upon this week; I wouldn't be surprised to see him in with a chance on Sunday. RESULT: T37
Another South African completes my quartet this week, with Van Den Berg looking to repeat the form which saw him lead after round 1 with a sublime 64 last year; on top of that Ulrich also finished 4th here in 2006. Another player with a win in 2010 under his belt, he came close to capturing the Coca Cola Championship last time out eventually finishing runner up to Branden Grace despite a best-of-the-day 67. RESULT: M/C
With the PGA Tour not starting until January, I've got the perfect opportunity to steal a march in this new feature and I think I've unearthed a cracker! 27 year old Nel spent last season qualifying for every tournament he entered on the Sunshine Tour, eventually playing in 13 events - however his form has improved pretty much week after week and he finished the season off with consecutive top 20s. That took him to Q-School last week where he romped to an 8-shot victory over 5 days of golf. He was still required to qualify for this event - which he duly did with a joint-best score of 67 on Monday - he'll go into this event full of enthusiasm and crucially at the top of his form. RESULT: T43
Of course placing this bet with Extrabet also gives you the option to 'bail out' and close the bet early if he's doing well - read more about the Extrabet close bet feature here: Extrabet Close Bet. Odds and bookmaker offers correct at 17:35GMT 7.12.10 but naturally subject to fluctuation.