Prize Fund – €1,300,000
Winner’s Share – €206,050
Course – Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club (7, 590 yards par 71)
Our 2014 Picks – George Coetzee (WON), Magnus A Carlsson (MC), Thomas Aiken (T5), Roope Kakko (T10), Graham Van Der Merwe (MC)
How would you even begin to describe the madness of last week? There were bottles flying absolutely everywhere but in India it was great to see Anirban Lahiri produce another remarkable display winning his 2nd trophy of the month. Some going sir.
But now we enter the South African tri-series of events where the European Tour moves across the country for the next 3 weeks – all be it with the WGC coming in between.
We head to J’burg, Joburg, Johannesburg, whatever you want to call it, first off and one of the more prestigious courses and events in this part of the world.
The Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club (try and say that quickly) plays host and there’ll be two tracks in use alternately over the opening couple of rounds. Brilliantly named the East and West courses, both have major similarities and pose the same requirements. Accurate iron player and lengthy drives will certainly help but there is plenty of marsh land with lakes and rivers running right through the complex and god knows how many varying types of trees and plants.
They are both beautiful tracks, but the East course is the more famous of the 2 and will take over the full running at the weekend. Measuring a whopping 7,590 yards, on paper, the par 71 seems like it will require monster ball striking. Whilst this is true in many ways, if you look at those who’ve done well here, some don’t hit it far at all.
We feel that if you’ve played here regularly, know the course and understand when and where to plod, attack, lay up etc, there’s no reason why a lack of length should halt you. An interesting few days though lie ahead and we have found it tough to find value or many that really catch our eye.
The field and therefore the odds is not the prettiest, mainly due to the WGC on the horizon and players who are wanting to acclimatise and prepare for that.
However, we’re very happy with the names we’ve got…
DON’T FORGET – Our weekly competition with renowned magazine Golf Monthly continues, take a peak at the end of our selections to see how our stakes have been distributed this time.
You can follow us throughout the week on Twitter @downthe18th for the latest news, betting + banter. Please get in touch and let us know what you think of our picks and who you fancy as well!
Justin Walters (50/1 various)
When we came together and discussed our picks, the first name that came up was Justin Walters. We saw him at 100/1 with StanJames and scrambled our way to their site only to find he’d already dropped to 66s. He was still at 80s with Coral and we did manage to get him at that price, so we are absolutely buzzing about him here!
Now, it didn’t even need much discussion because we fancied the South African hugely and having chatted to others, it seems he’ll be a popular bet this week.
It was interesting to see that he went over to the Sunshine Tour last week in preparation for this string of events coming up. He finished T9 in the Dimension Data Pro-Am and apparently putted very well across the 4 days. He was T8 for putts per round and we are certain that he’ll be feeling confident coming to his homeland after managing to put together a few decent rounds.
He had struggled in his last few outings before then, but when you think he averages the ball over 300 yards and 50th for GIR, he could really do well here. He’s played the tournament every year and that finally payed dividends when he came T2 last year, although he went into the Sunday joint leader.
Big opportunity in a relatively weak field.
Thomas Pieters (33/1 various)
In just one year, Thomas Pieters has climbed over 1,000 places in the world rankings. He’s truly entered the fray on Tour and is fast becoming a true player to watch. Now, that clearly translates in his price within a field like this, but we are fine with that because these are the sort of events top young guys make their breakthrough.
He mainly played on the European Tour last year, not finding a great deal of consistency, but his playoff defeat in Spain sparked some real signs of ability. Yes he let slip a 2-shot lead going into the final round but he’d only made the cut twice before that all year (one of which was T8 in Malaysia) and the lad was only 22.
Now, after some real bedding in, this year the Belgian has come to the fore. In that T4 in Abu Dhabi at the beginning of the year, he hit the ball an absolute country mile and showed real class in and around the greens. He looked a highly capable player with the short stick as well as with the longest and he could be a real force this week.
He did play here last year, missing the cut in the process, but we are looking at it as a learning curve. Bare in the mind that if you fancy him any week for the next few months, he probably missed the cut last year…
Johan Carlsson (70/1 Coral)
Johan Carlsson is a young player in a smiler mould to Pieters. He is flamboyant, aggressive and hits the ball too far for us mere mortals to even comprehend.
During his breakthrough year on the European Tour, he also struggled with consistency, but like the Belgian above, he shone in particular events when his driving capabilities came to the fore.
His first top 10 with the big boys came in South Africa at the beginning of last season at the SA Open Championship and tee to green there were few better than him across the week. Inside the top 25 for both driving distance and accuracy as well as GIR, showed us what he can potentially do.
He’s then started this year with a couple of top 22 finishes before his last outing in Thailand where he finished T7. In a way you can draw similarities with the courses because of the marshy rough and his irons were in cracking shape there, which gives us the hope he can bring that over here.
Ben Evans (250/1 various)
Ben Evans didn’t have a particularly flamboyant year on the Challenge Tour last season, but when he did make the cut, he usually went on to finish very high up the leaderboard. To us that means he’s just ‘one of those’ – a hit or miss. But for starters, he’s a 250/1 hit or miss and that is a risk worth taking.
We were firstly intrigued by the fact the young Englishman has played here 3 times. He missed the cut twice in a row before finishing T13 in 2011. He went into the final round in T5, just 2 shots behind eventual winner Charl Schwartzel. He shot a 66 and 2 67’s before that Sunday and that shows he will know a bit about this track and how to score here.
Fast forward a few years and he’s back on the European Tour coming into this South African stretch off the back of an interesting performance in India last week. He finished T12 in Delhi and his tee to green stats were beyond ridiculous.
Driving accuracy, distance and GIR were inside the top 15 every day and that proves he is in a good place with his game and tells us that he hits it a country mile as well.
Every week we’re running a weekly betting competition on both Tours with esteemed magazine Golf Monthly. It is a bit of fun between us and them to see who has the better tipsters! We have £10 to put on each tournament and will write up a weekly post for their site detailing the horrors we are sure to endure throughout the year – so keep an eye out.
It will also (for the first time from us at DownThe18th) show some sort of staking plan we have for out bets. Obviously, this isn’t the exact stakes we will put on our players, some weeks we won’t even enter a couple of our picks, but at least it can be shown roughly where our thoughts are money wise.
Our £10 against Golf Monthly will be as follows –
£1.75 e/w on Justin Walters at 50/1
£1.75 e/w on Thomas Pieters at 28/1
£1.00 e/w on Johan Carlsson at 66/1
£0.50 e/w on Ben Evans at 250/1
Each way bets ¼ odds for top 5 finish. Prices sourced from Paddy Power
Find the Golf Monthly Preview here (http://www.golf-monthly.co.uk/news/tour-news)
Current Standings after 6 weeks
DownThe18th Golf Monthly
European Tour: £14.30 European Tour: £-50
PGA Tour: £-22.63 PGA Tour: £37
Total: £-8.33 Total: £-13
DownThe18th leads by: £4.67