The final tournament of 4 in South Africa takes us to the Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club where Charl Schwartzel defends his trophy. Schwartzel is hot favourite this week as compatriots Retief Goosen and last week's winner (and our top tip) Louis Oosthuizen aren't attending - at the time of writing, the best price available on Charl to retain his trophy was a miserly 4/1....in a field of 210 players that is poor value!
This is the fifth outing for this tournament at this course so we have some good course history and analysis this week to help us with our selections. We're returning to bentgrass greens this week so there's a 'bentgrass positive' stat available in this week's predictor, plus the normal variables around form & player strengths etc.
This week's tournament is played over the East and West courses, each of which present a very different challenge to the players: the first 2 days alternate between the 2 courses; following the cut, the East course alone hosts the weekend's finale.
The West course is the easier of the 2 at 7,146 yards (par 71) featuring generous greens to those who can find the fairways; the East course is much tighter where high Greens In Regulation is a prerequisite, plus at 7,590 (par 71) is amongst the longest on the European Tour.
If you're looking for first round leader bets then be sure to pay attention to the draw and, in particular, players on the West Course on Thursday.
Before I go into my tips, just a quick note to say that we're re-launching our 'punters league' on facebook this week with our sponsors Paddy Power. If you've ever fancied pitting your skills against likeminded punters then you must join the league - it's free and easy, plus there's a £25 free bet up for grabs to the winner each week and now a £275 prize for the overall winner at the end of the season. For more details visit our facebook group here: Golf Betting System
After a 3rd consecutive winning week, why not also check out my spread betting tips for the Joburg Open?
My Tips for the week:
Opposing such a hot favourite as Schwartzel is brave in such a weak field, however if truth be told the South African simply isn't playing very well at present. The fact he's still finishing well is testament to his overall quality - an in-form Schwartzel could have won all 3 tournaments this season. For me that's reason enough to oppose him here.
If there's a player worth picking when it comes to playing on bentgrass greens then Willett is your man. All of his top 10s last year came on this type of surface, including a 4th place finish here, repeating the same feat as the year before in this event.
Willett put himself on the map with an opening 65 at Wentworth last year, going on to eventually finish in 5th place behind Simon Khan. Arguably should have won the Austrian Open in September but couldn't make the necessary progress on Sunday - to his credit he bounced back on his next start to finish runner-up to Martin Kaymer at St Andrews. This should be far, far easier in my opinion.
The 23 year old from Sheffield is still a maiden on tour, however this event presents a great opportunity for him to break his duck given the lack of really top-class opposition. Schwartzel aside, there's nothing much for Willett to be scared of here. RESULT: T33
It was a disappointing end to 2010 for McGowan having suffered a shoulder injury mid-season which scuppered his chances of a Ryder Cup place - before the injury he'd been in pole position for some time. Naturally his form dipped following the injury and he took some time out, however with a proper rest and some quality recuperation in the gym over the winter break, now's the time for McGowan to get motoring once more.
Last week's top 20 finish showed real promise - particularly in the first 2 rounds - and certainly gives the Englishman something to build upon. Another player who prefers bentgrass greens, I won't be surprised to see McGowan's form take another positive move forward this week. RESULT: T55
Maybin eased himself back into things last week with a top 40 finish, however it's his form from the lack end of last season that excites the most. Should have won in Valderrama, however eventually succumbed to the pressure and let GMac steal the prize; 3 weeks later he shot a fabulous 61 in Hong Kong to finish top 10 and set himself up for a final payday in Dubai. Another player with positive bentgrass form, although he does appear to react on most surfaces when his game is on song - certainly worth a small punt to see if this is his week. RESULT: T27
South African Kamte sneaks into the predictor top 5 this week and it would be churlish to look elsewhere for our ton-plus tip. 4th here last year, 12th in 2009 and 21st in 2008 shows good progressive form for the diminutive bomber. 65th last week was his first cut made of the 2011 season following a disastrous 8 at the 36th hole the week before to miss the cut by a shot, however don't let that put you off - this course is much more to his liking given his length. RESULT: M/C
Odds and bookmaker offers correct at 21:10GMT 11.1.11 but naturally subject to fluctuation.
Why not treat yourself to a no lose bet this week? We have 4 to choose from totalling £100: No Lose Bet