Starts - 3 December 2020
Course - Gary Player Country Club, Sun City, South Africa
Par - 72 (36-36)
Length – 7,834 yards
Overall Profit/Loss: 0pts
Pre-Event Bets: -8pts
2pts Dylan Frittelli Win Only - 9/1 @ William Hill
0.75pts Each Way Justin Walters (1/4 1,2,3,4,5) - 100/1 @ Bet365
0.75pts Each Way Dale Whitnell (1/5 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8) - 100/1 @ Boylesports
0.5pts Each Way Darius Van Driel (1/5 1,2,3,4,5,6) - 100/1 @ 888sport
1ptScott Vincent Top 5 Finish 4/1 @ Bet365
1ptScott Vincent Top 20 Finish 15/1 @ Boylesports
In-Play Bets: +8pts
4 December 2020 ( +8 Points)
2pts JC Ritchie Top 10 Finish 4/1 @ Bet365
Course Designer - Gary Player
Fairways - Reasonably narrow, premium on accuracy.
Rough - Kikuya rough.
Greens - Bentgrass, 11 on the Stimpmeter.
Water Hazards - In play on 6 holes
Par 5's - 1st, 5th, 11th, 18th
Hosted Since - First time hosting SA Open
Premium on - Iron Play
Warm temperatures with a maximum of 32 degrees.
Thurs - Sunny. Wind 9mph.
Fri - Sunny. Wind 7mph.
Sat - Potential thunderstorms and showers. Wind 9mph.
Sun - Sunny. Wind 7mph.
Significant Info To Be Aware Of
This is the first time the course has held the South African Open. However, the course is normally used for the Nedbank Golf Challenge on the European Tour. The course also plays annual host to the Sun City Challenge on the Sunshine Tour and this year, due to Covid-19, hosted the Royal Swazi Challenge in October.
The nines have been swapped this year so the back nine last year will now be the front nine and vice versa.
The course is at altitude so the ball travels 10-15% further.
Continue to exercise caution in relation to Covid-19 related withdrawals.
Other than 2015 (winning score was -19), scoring has ranged between -11 and -15 at the Nedbank events.
Each of the past three Nedbank champions had at least a top 10 finish before winning at Sun City.
Every previous winner of the Nedbank had at least a top 25 finish in their two previous starts.
No country has dominated the Nedbank, the last five winners have been from different countries.
Strokes Gained stats are available for the 2019, 2018 and 2017 Nedbank Golf Challenge and these are used here to analyse stats.
SG: Off The Tee
The last three winners have ranked 3rd, 21st and 12th in this category.
The last three winners ranked inside the top 5 for SG: Approach. Iron play is very important.
SG: Around The Greens
None of the past three champions have ranked better than 20th.
The last three winners have ranked 20th, 2nd and 25th.
The three closing holes (16, 17 and 18) ranked 3rd, 4th and 1st in terms of difficulty in 2019. These will now play as the 7th, 8th and 9th. The 3rd hole ranked the second hardest last year, with this now playing as the 12th.
The four par 5s play under par and were the easiest on the course in 2019. These will now play as the 1st, 5th, 11th and 18th.
Fast or Slow Start
At last year's Nedbank the top seven were all under par for their opening round, with six of the top seven shooting a score in the 60s.
In 2018, the top six all broke par in their opening round and in 2017, eight of the top nine shot one under or better.
2pts Win Only Dylan Frittelli 9/1 @ William Hill
Dylan was 5th at the Masters two starts ago and has made the trip back to South Africa especially for this tournament. He finished 21st here when he last played the Nedbank in 2018 and we know he’s a far better player now, particularly with the increased length he’s gained off the tee in recent months. Crucially, we also know he’s hungry to win, given he was quoted today as saying,
“The South African Open is the one I want to win.......When I knew it was coming here to Sun City, I thought that was good for me because I’ve done well here in a few Nedbank Golf Challenges. This is also a ball striker’s course which seems to favour me......My game is feeling good. I got rid of the jet lag last week. I’m healthy and feeling fresh, so I’m really looking forward to this week.”
0.75pt Each Way Justin Walters 100/1 @ Bet365 1/4 1-5
Justin comes into this week on the back of a couple of top 30 finishes. He ranked 6th Strokes Gained: Off The Tee last week and was a solid 34th for SG: Approach. He's yet to win on the European Tour but he's gone close in recent times with several runner up spots in the past 18 months. It may well be he breaks through in his native South Africa.
0.75pts Each Way Dale Whitnell 100/1 @ Boylesports 1/5 1-8
Dale is playing the golf of his life this season having recorded three of his best six career finishes in 2020. He has played really nicely in the last two events in South Africa, placing 35th and 17th. His iron play has been good the past two weeks too, ranking inside the top 30 for SG: Approach. He’s a player who can take a winning chance, as he demonstrated with his win on the Challenge Tour last season.
0.5pts Each Way Darius Van Driel 200/1 @ 888Sport 1/5 1-6
Darius is a favourite at Golf Betting Club due to the fact the bookmakers continually underrate him. He’s a two time winner on the Challenge Tour and has posted a couple of top 5 finishes in lower grade European Tour events. He placed 44th last week at the Alfred Dunhill Championship but on closer inspection his long game was in excellent order for the final three rounds. He was 5th for Driving Accuracy each of the final three rounds and no worse than 11th for Greens in Regulation each of those rounds. A hotter putter this week will see him go close.
1pt Scott Vincent 14/1 Top 5 Finish @ Bet365
Scott is a sound Top 5 play given he’s finished 30th and 17th in his last two starts and is trending towards a big finish. He was 5th for SG: Off The Tee last week and although his iron play wasn’t as good, he did rank 5th for Greens In Regulation for his final round. He’s yet to win a European Tour event and doesn’t always convince when in contention so the top 5 bet is a safer play than the winner market.
1pt Anton Karlsson 15/1 Top 20 Finish @ Boylesports
It was tempting to put up Anton at 750/1 in the outright market but we’ve chosen a safer play given his recent results haven’t been the best. If we look past his recent form there’s a lot to like about him. His sole career win earlier this season was in South Africa at the RAM Cape Town Open. Whilst that was a Sunshine Tour/Challenge Tour event, it had a really strong field that included Brandon Stone, Garrick Higgo and Wilco Nienaber. It should be noted that Anton’s second best ever finish is a 2nd place at the Qatar Masters in 2019, an event that correlates with this one. Finally, he ranked 7th SG: Off The Tee last week and just needs to improve his iron play and putting slightly.
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5 December 2020 7pm (South Africa Open)
-9 JC Ritchie
Much to our disappointment, Christiaan Bezuidenhout has one hand on the title now with a five shot lead over our pre-event 9/1 selection Dylan Frittelli and overnight leader Jamie Donaldson. The bookmakers now rate Bez 1/4 to convert in what would be back to back victories in South Africa.
He has now shot three rounds of 67 and although todays round was helped by some monster putts, it is hard to see him losing it from here. He was in the top 10 for driving accuracy, greens in regulation and putting today and he's in complete control of his game.
Our man Dylan Frittelli was only two back for much of the round, however a penalty for his ball moving on address, combined with a bogey on the par 5 18th have hurt his chances massively. He will need to go low to beat Bez, as will Donaldson who has already proved it's possible on Friday with a 63.
Despite that disappointment, we are in a great position going into the final round courtesy of two of the lowest rounds of the day by Scott Vincent and JC Ritchie. We put up Vincent for a top 5 finish in our pre-event picks at 14/1, and he now sits in 6th place only one behind 4th. We also put up JC Ritchie as a top 10 play yesterday at 4/1 and he is now 3 shots ahead of 10th place so has a bit of breathing space.
With great place positions in line for tomorrow, and the gut feeling that Bez won't be caught now, there are no more bets for tomorrow but we will watch on optimistically hoping Frittelli can mount a charge!
4 December 2020 8.30pm (South Africa Open)
-5 Five Players Tied
It appears to be a four horse race in South Africa with a group of proven winners establishing themselves at the top of the leaderboard.
Bookies favourite is Christiaan Bezuidenhout and it's hard to see him not being in the mix come Sunday. He's a proven winner and definitely the man to beat. However, at 7/5 he's a little short for us with two rounds to go given the quality of the other players at -8 or better.
Our pre-event pick, Dylan Frittelli, is 2nd in the betting and very much in the mix. Annoyingly, he missed a 3ft putt for birdie on the 18th but hopefully that isn't a sign of things to come. He's one we like more when coming from off the pace, so it's perhaps no bad thing he finds himself chasing Donaldson and Bezuidenhout. His last two wins have come from behind with a round to go, so as long as he keeps pace going into Sunday we'll be in good position.
We have two other pre-event bets in the top 11 at halfway, with Scott Vincent and Justin Walters both on a score of -3. They'll need to play well over the weekend to reach the top 5 but it's still very much a possibility.
2pts JC Ritchie Top 10 Finish 4/1 @ Bet365
JC was the Sunshine Tour Order of Merit winner last year and is a generous price to secure a top 10 finish. He currently sits in 11th place so he needs to make up a bit of ground but he ranks 2nd for SG: Off The Tee (of the players who have their stats recorded) and is putting nicely too (5th SG: Putting). His approach play hasn't been as good but there's every reason to think he'll improve over the weekend given his Greens In Regulation stats have improved over the two days (he ranked 17th yesterday). Finally, he has an excellent record at this course, his last two appearances at Sunshine Tour events here have yielded top 5 finishes.
3 December 2020 9pm (South African Open)
We have a six way tie at the top after round one of the South African Open. The majority of the pre-event favourites were out early and able to put up a good score with four players now trading under 10/1 (Bezuidenhout, Frittelli, Schwab and Burmester).
The wind kicked up in the middle of the day and it wasn't until much later in the afternoon that scoring improved. As a result, only eight players broke par in the afternoon wave. Nineteen players were under par in the morning and with the wind looking more evenly spread throughout the day tomorrow, they may get an overall advantage.
Of our pre-event bets, Justin Walters and Dylan Frittelli are nicely placed going into round two. Annoyingly, Frittelli reached -7 through 10 holes but frittered away shots on his way home. We're content to let the 2nd round play out before getting involved further.