Winner’s Share – €166,058
Course – East London GC (6,679 par 72)
Our 2014 Picks – David Horsey (T3), Jaco Van Zyl (T5), Morten Madsen (T49), Alastair Forsyth (MC), Roope Kakko (T34)
Andy Sullivan edges ever closer to the top 50 in world golf after his 2-shot win in Joburg last week. Now is that a sentence you thought you’d ever hear? But fair play to the Englishman who now takes up the mantle of clear favourite as the Tour stays in South Africa for the inventively named Africa Open.
Obviously the WGC will be taking most of the attention across the pond, especially with it still counting as a European Tour event. The hierarchy have clearly decided that they are going to follow suit with the PGA (who will also be running the Puerto Rico Open alongside the big one) and still attract some of the top guys who didn’t quite make it to the Blue Monster.
So our minds are very much focused on finding value in this eclectic field who’ll be battling it out on the Eastern Cape at the East London Golf Club.
The track is one of the shortest that anyone will face this season. At 6,679 yards, the par 72 has a wonderful mix of links and parkland, naturally mapping itself through the landscape overlooking the Indian Ocean.
The European Tour description puts it beautifully:
features a unique natural course layout which meanders through coastal dunes and indigenous bush
There is plenty of tree-lined fairways that means accuracy will be an important factor from the tee, but 4 short par 4’s could be completely overhauled by the big hitters if their game is right on the money.
Interestingly every winner since it’s inception to the European circuit has been won by a native lad – Thomas Aiken last year, Darren Fichardt in 2014, then Louis Oosthuizen picked up two in a row before Charl Schwartzel won the inaugural event in 10′.
However, when you look at it here, you’re not hugely enamoured by the big boys from South Africa. George Coetzee hasn’t been in great form and simply doesn’t warrant 18s, Fichardt has been inconsistent and we’re not sure Richard Sterne understands what a fairway is at the moment. Obviously Jaco Van Zyl has plenty of appeal and we’re sure many will be going there but we simply don’t feel 14s is worth it.
So enough of the chit chat, here’s our cheeky bets this week…
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!
Byeong Hun An (20/1 various)
Regular readers of DownThe18th will know that it is very rare when we plump for players around the late teens/early 20s. We just often feel that barring the top, top, top guys (to mainly just McIlroy to be honest) it’s worth going that low when events these days are filled (usually) with so much talent.
Now, we can honestly say that this particular field isn’t the strongest we’ll see all year and all the players who’ve done well here over the past couple of years have actually come in with a bit of form. Step forward the talented 23-year Byeong-Hun An. This lad is really showing everyone, on a consistent basis, that he has genuine class.
Graduating from the Challenge Tour last year with several top 5s and a solid win, he did seem a decent prospect but to go on and play 5 events, not to finish any worse that T22 and find 2 top 10s is ridiculous.
His tee to green performances have been beyond outstanding most weeks and when you look at what’s needed for this track, he fits the bill perfectly.
He is pretty long off the tee – 29th for driving distance and whilst he has struggled at times with his accuracy, he didn’t drop outside the top 19 any day last week in his T7 finish.
He’s also 7th for GIR across the year and 19th for putts per GIR. This is a proper player and what a chance he has to officially make his mark in the big leagues.
20/1?! Yep, that’s why.
Adrian Otaegui (50/1 various)
We’ve been so close going with Adrian Otaegui for a while now, but we kept backing out, thinking that the course may not be quite right for him.
We looked at it here and instantly thought the time is right for the young Spaniard, especially after a confidence boosting finish in Joburg.
Starting the week with a 71 meant he was staring down the barrel of a missed cut, but he out together 3 impressive rounds, including a 66 on Sunday to climb and finish T10. Over the weekend he didn’t drop outside the top 22 in any stat tee to green, whilst across the season he is 4th for driving accuracy and 16th for GIR.
This is the perfect short track for a player of Otaegui’s iron prowess and when you see that he grabbed a T13 last year, including a 65, you got to think he’s worth a punt at those sort of odds.
His overall score of -15 in 2014 was just 5 shots behind the winner, which shows he wasn’t a million miles away. Great chance.
Richard Bland (66/1 BetVictor)
Another intriguing mid-ranger in the form of Richard Bland. The Englishman has by no means setting the Tour alight this year, but just a couple of signs in recent weeks to go alongside his great performance here in 2014 makes him worth it.
He didn’t drop outside the top 10 in driving accuracy or putting all week in Joburg and that is an interesting combination. His GIR was undoubtedly inconsistent, but when he got going, he really showed his class.
If he can revitalise his form from last year where he was magical on this course, then there is no reason he can’t challenge even further in 2015.
Brett Rumford (125/1 Ladbrokes)
Now, Brett Rumford has been nothing short of awful in recent weeks. His best finish in 2015 is a T38 and clearly that is not the sort of form you want from your outsider and we understand that.
BUT, we just have a feeling about the Aussie. We had similar thoughts with Ian Poulter last week (yes, we now how that bloody ended!) but before his poor Asian stretch, he played really well back in his homeland at the end of 2014. T3 at the Australian Open shows he has the potential – that was a tournament won by Jordan Spieth – whilst a T18 at the Australian PGA Championship a few weeks later is just as impressive.
Tee to green he has proved to us all what he can do, whilst around the greens, in form or not, he is outrageous. With it being a shorter track, we’re hoping he will just love using his wedges and getting on a roll with the putter and he has finished T12 here before, so he will know he can perform.
Worth a punt.
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 –
£2.50 e/w on Byeong Hun An at 18/1
£1.20 e/w on Adrian Otaegui at 40/1
£1.00 e/w on Richard Bland at 50/1
£0.30 e/w on Brett Rumford at 100/1
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 7 weeks
DownThe18th Golf Monthly
European Tour: £4.30 European Tour: £-16
PGA Tour: £-7.28 PGA Tour: £27
Total: £-2.98 Total: £11
Golf Monthly leads by: £13.98