Paul Williams

Paul Williams' MyGolfLife Open Tips 2022

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I’ll spare you the full post-mortem from last week’s team, suffice it to say that players in 2nd, 1st and 2nd place after 18, 36 and 54 holes respectively all failing to so much as make the each-way places in Kenya was rather frustrating. On we go though and this week we venture south for the start of a 2-week stint in the Rainbow Nation.

MyGolfLife, a digital rewards platform for keen golfers, have stepped forward to sponsor what was pencilled in as the Pecanwood Classic, a new event to the schedule which is co-sanctioned with the Sunshine Tour. 144 players tee it up this week, split between the two Tours, and for those who ply their trade on the South African circuit the $1.5m prize fund makes it one of the more important events of the season.

Dean Burmester heads the betting this week at 16/1 from Adri Arnaus and Bernd Wiesberger who are both a few points longer in the market; Jordan Smith, Adrian Meronk, Justin Harding, Marcus Armitage, Thomas Detry and Johannes Veerman also tee it up this week in what’s actually quite a competitive event, despite its stature.

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Before we go into the detail surrounding the MyGolfLife Open, we always have new visitors to Golf Betting System as The Masters approaches. Welcome and let me point you in the direction of our weekly Golf Betting System podcast (published every Tuesday of the golfing calendar), the Steve Bamford Golf Channel on YouTube and our hugely popular, +6,000 strong, private Group on Facebook – you can Join Here.

Course Overview. Pecanwood Golf and Country Club, thus named due to the numerous pecan nut trees found on the property, is one of five Jack Nicklaus-designed signature courses in South Africa.

Situated on the banks of the Hartbeespoort Dam and at around 4,000 feet of elevation, the 7,697 yard, par 72 was the longest course in the country when it opened in 1996. Parkland in style, the course was custom-build for the tourist trade with the whole estate loosely based on the PGA West property in Palm Springs, California, which hosts the PGA Tour’s American Express annually.

Wide fairways, typically extensive Nicklaus bunkering and slick Bentgrass greens are the order of the day, with the signature hole being the 13th which plays alongside the dam itself.

A small number of events have been held here over the years, all of which point to low scoring –   the 2018 men’s SA Strokeplay Championship was won at 27-under over 4 rounds, and even the 54-hole events held here on the Big Easy Tour last year were won at 15-under, suggesting that a winning total in the 20-under region or deeper is to be expected.

mygolflife open tips

Tournament Stats. We’ve published some key player statistics for this week’s MyGolfLife Open; the combined stats include a handful of players who have experience of Pecanwood GC from the Big Easy or Sunshine Tour in the past: Current Form | First Round Leader Stats | Combined Stats.

Predictor Model. Our published Predictor Model is available here. As always you can build your own model using the variables available.

Course Winners. 2021 (Big Easy Tour), Kyle McClatchie, -15 (54 holes); Slade Pickering, -15 (54 holes); 2007 (Sunshine Tour), Chris Swanepoel, -17 (54 holes).

Weather Forecast. The latest weather forecast for Hartbeespoort is here.

The tournament should enjoy warm (mid-80s Fahrenheit) and generally dry conditions throughout the 4 days. A little rain could soften the course on Wednesday before 4 largely windless days, suggesting that low-scoring is going to be the order of the day.

Tournament Trends & Key Factors. With no stats available from the low-level events held here at Pecanwood over the years, we’re going to have to rely on specification only this week.

Firstly, the 54-hole winning totals from the 2007 Sunshine Tour event held here, as well as the two Big Easy Tour events from last year, suggests that this will be a straightforward and scoreable affair for the professionals. 17-under and 15-under (twice) were the 3 round winning totals, so with Wednesday rain to soften the course and no real wind to speak of, I’m anticipating a winning total in the 20s under par.

Jack Nicklaus designs litter the professional golfing circuit and we’ve seen plenty over the years on this Tour. The London Club (2021 Cazoo Classic) and Mount Juliet (2021 Irish Open) are recent events on the DP World Tour to peruse, however in the past we’ve had the likes of Mission Hills, Gut Larchenhof, Gleneagles and Lake Malaren amongst others that were penned by Nicklaus. Wide fairways and extensive bunkering are a common theme to his designs.

The altitude here will reduce the length of the course, as it does in relatively nearby tracks used for the Joburg Open and of course at Sun City, so reading metres for yards won’t put you far from the ‘true’ length of the course; with warm weather also expected, the ball will fly a country mile.

Kikuyu fairways and rough are a common feature of South African golf so those players with positive results in the country should feel comfortable here, and the Bentgrass greens should run true and relatively fast as any moisture from Wednesday’s showers evaporates.

Justin Harding 2pts EW 33/1 (7EW, 1/5) with Paddy Power

There are some talented sorts at the top of the betting market this week given that this is a low-tier, co-sanctioned affair; however, the top two aside, talented doesn’t necessarily translate to titles.

Dean Burmester with 10 career wins – 2 of which at this level – is the worthy favourite, despite letting a handy position slip last week with a Saturday round of 76. Bernd Wiesberger has 8 career wins, including 2 at Rolex Series level, and could easily win a title like this if he can bounce back from a weekend off at Ras Al Khaimah on his last start, however I’ll take the pair on with Justin Harding who’s around double the price of the favourite.

Between Harding and the leading pair in the market we have the likes of Adri Arnaus, Adrian Meronk and Thomas Detry who are all yet to get off the mark at the top tier, yet Harding has no such issues with Qatar Masters and Kenya Open titles to add to his 2 Asian Tour and 7 Sunshine Tour successes. The point I’m trying to make here is that he can and does win golf tournaments.

Last week’s tie for 42nd needs to be taken into context as he was defending his Kenya Open title from the year before; prior to that 25th in Abu Dhabi and 4th at the Dubai Desert Classic – where he led into the final round – were both at Rolex Series level, 24th in Saudi was against some of the world’s best, and 9th in Ras al Khaimah saw the 36 year-old in 2nd place heading into the weekend. He’s talked about a new level of serenity on the course and anything approaching his best here this week could be far too good for the majority of this field.

With 7 Sunshine Tour wins, Justin’s ability to perform in his homeland isn’t up for debate, however that’s yet to really translate into a contending performance in anything co-sanctioned, aside from a 7th place finish at Leopard Creek before lockdown. 6th in December at the SA Open after it became just a Sunshine Tour event is positive though, despite relinquishing a strong position heading into Sunday, and he’s proven with his Kenya win last year that he can handle altitude and Bentgrass greens just fine. The putter will be the key this week and it needs to warm up versus last week if he’s going to get to the winning total here; despite that, only 3 players made more birdies than him last week, and only 4 players made more red numbers at Ras al Khaimah on his start before that, to suggest that he’s very close. RESULT: T23

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Scott Jamieson 1pt EW 60/1 (6EW, 1/5) with Unibet

The inaugural Nelson Mandela Championship in 2012 will likely be remembered by golf punters as one of those farcical events that was lucky to be completed in the end due to incessant bad weather. 36 holes were just about completed in the end, with the par reduced on many holes and Scott Jamieson eventually proving triumphant by shooting 57 on the final day and winning in a play-off.

A win’s a win when it comes to the record books as plenty of 36-hole victors will attest to, however if the Glaswegian is ever going to add to that his tally – and over 72 holes for that matter – then South Africa would seem the most likely candidate in terms of a venue.

3rd at the Alfred Dunhill Championship the week after his win and 2nd at the winners-only Volvo Champions to kick off the following year backed up the earlier spark that Scott had shown when finishing 6th at the 2011 Joburg Open. 6th, 4th and 3rd since at Leopard Creek, 7th at the 2018 Tshwane Open and perhaps most tangibly 2nd at the 2017 Nedbank at the altitude of Sun City suggest that the 38 year-old is more than comfortable in this part of the world.

Jamieson can undoubtedly go low – he shot 60 at Vilamoura back in 2013, which is another scoreable venue, and more recently produced a 61 in Tenerife last year. 10th at Rolex Series level to start the year in Abu Dhabi masks the fact the Scot led for the first 3 rounds before succumbing to the pressure of winning such a huge title, however 65 to open the Ras al Khaimah Championship as well as middle rounds of 66/65 the following week suggests that he’s still in decent enough nick. A 3rd round 64 last week in Kenya preceded another Sunday implosion so perhaps I’m setting myself for more heartache with this bet, however let’s hope that isn’t the case. RESULT: T18

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Shaun Norris 1pt EW 60/1 (6EW, 1/5) with Betfred

At 80th in the OWGR, Shaun Norris rates as the 5th highest-ranked player in this field, yet he resides around 15th in the betting market despite having won twice on the Japan Tour last year and having racked up a DP World Tour top-10 finish in 2022 already.

Born and raised in nearby Johannesburg and now living in Pretoria, the 39 year-old has extensive experience of the conditions in the local area, plus he’s one of the handful of players here with competitive experience of Pecanwood GC, finishing in a tie for 21st way back in 2007.

Although he’s tended to ply his trade outside of his homeland in recent years, Shaun is twice a winner on home soil on the Sunshine Tour and when he’s ventured back home in these co-sanctioned affairs he’s tended to perform well. 3rd at the Joburg Open in 2017, 2020 and 2021 is good, relevant form for this at a similar level to this week’s affair and 2nd at the 2016 Sun City Challenge also sticks out as good altitude-based form.

9th at the Ras al Khaimah Championship a month ago saw him shoot 12-under on the par-5s, beaten only by eventual winner Nicolai Hojgaard, and that scoring power should set him in good stead here this week on the longer holes. 3 of his 6 career Japan Tour wins have come between 19- and 24-under par and his putter has been in generally strong form over the past few months. RESULT: T47

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Thriston Lawrence 1pt EW 100/1 (6EW, 1/5) with Unibet

Until his rather fortuitous win at the Joburg Open in November, the name Thriston Lawrence wasn’t one that would have resonated with many golf punters. Fortuitous is fair in that the Omicron-ravaged event was reduced to 36 holes as players desperately looked for escape routes back home as the then unknown variant caused widespread panic, however there was nothing fortuitous about producing back-to-back rounds of 65 under those circumstances and perhaps there’s much more to come from the Nelspruit native.

Previous 54-hole victories on the MENA Tour, Big Easy Tour and Sunshine Tour at between 12- and 15-under suggest that this week’s target score isn’t out of reach over 72 holes, and 14-under for the Par 5s last week tied the best in the field and offers good encouragement ahead of this week’s test.

Aside from the obvious fact that he finished 2nd last week and played very nicely from tee to green, his aforementioned win at the Joburg Open also followed a strong performance on his previous start, in that case 6th on the Sunshine Tour where he closed with a 64, and a cursory look at his career results would suggest that he may be the kind of player who strings short patches of form together rather than the odd random bolt from the blue. RESULT: T9

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Jazz Janewattananond 1pt EW 80/1 (7EW, 1/5) with Ladbrokes

Finally I’ll take a punt on the talented Thai Jazz Janewattananond who’s more than capable of breaking through at DP World Tour level, having already racked up 6 Asian Tour wins in the past 5 years.

The 26 year-old’s 2 most recent successes, the BNI Indonesian Masters and Thailand Masters, came in consecutive weeks at the end of 2019 and were both won with a 23-under total, suggesting that this week’s anticipated birdie-fest won’t be an issue for Jazz. No wins since that point can be partially explained by the fact that he’s been plying his trade at a higher level since, chancing his arm at PGA Tour level for a while before having a more concerted effort on the DP World Tour last year. A play-off defeat at the Kenya Savannah Classic was as close as he came last year, eventually losing out to Danie van Tonder on the 3rd extra hole, however 9th at the Dutch Open and 4th at the Dubai Championship suggests there’s more chances for him to come.

38th at the high-class Saudi International saw the Bangkok man close with a round of 65, beaten by just Bubba Watson and Marc Leishman, and he followed that up with a solid 20th place finish at Ras al Khaimah the week after. 6th and 11th over the past fortnight on the Asian Tour have kept him sharp, with last year’s aforementioned effort in Kenya at altitude and on Bentgrass greens offering us some evidence that he could take to this course nicely. RESULT: T47

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Odds and bookmaker offers correct at 17:25GMT 7.3.22 but are naturally subject to fluctuation.