Winner’s Share – €1,500,000
Course – Pretoria CC (7,063 yards par 70) NEW VENUE
Our 2014 Picks – Darren Fichardt (T6), Morten Madsen (13), Lucas Bjeregaard (T21), JB Kruger (MC), Justin Walters (MC)
Trevor Fisher Jnr absolutely stormed away with the African Open in a week that spelled more disappointment for DownThe18th, not since Andrew Dodt held the Thai Classic trophy aloft have we felt the slightest bit of success. So it’s well timed that we come to the Tshwane Open as it begins life on a new course – The Pretoria Country Club.
So, how good are you at darts? When an event like this comes to a new course you might as well get the arrows out and throw them at your Bet365 account. This is how we sometimes feel anyway. But we have to look at what we’ve been given – for starters, Pretoria played host to the Vodacom Championship for some time until 2011, Jean Hugo being the last winner around there. Trawling through the leaderboards you see all the top exports doing well – Coetzee, Schwartzel, Aiken, Sterne. People who have teed it up here previously will be at an advantage and as Fisher Jnr, Grace, Coetzee and Aiken have proved over the last year, being a local really helps.
On the face of it, you want to call it a bombers track with the ease of some of the holes and it just playing over 7,000 yards. And certainly if some of the longer guys dial in this week, they could see a few more Euros in their bank by the end of it. At least a couple of the par 4’s are reachable. That said, the likes of Adilson Da Silva and Anders Hansen have enjoyed success around here. The course’s defence is the tightness of some of the tree-lined fairways, the odd water hazard and a few cleverly placed pot bunkers. Otherwise, Hennie Otto’s winning score of -28 in 2010 tells its own story.
For us, unless they’re really on it with the irons, distance and a red-hot putter could prove key to winning the Tshwane Open title 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!
Romain Wattel (28/1 various)
Looking at the field at it’s obvious lack in real depth, you cannot deny that someone like Romain Wattel is one of the top players here. On his day he’s a fine tee to green stalwart and we are going in with the genuine hope that he can show that sort of class.
His form has weirdly been going in one direction since his first event and that is up. From the 3 MC’s he has steadily got better, culminating in a T7 finish at the Hero Indian Open. He only finished a couple of shots back from reaching the playoff and we were impressed with his tee to green stats and distance. Inside the top 33 for all 3 categories across the weekend shows his potential and if he can replicate anything near that here, he’ll be in with a great chance.
His 2 outings at the Tshwane were complete contrasts- T10 in 2013 where he played really well at the weekend, to a MC last year. Yet to win on the European Tour, but at 24-years old he is still so young and with all the ability to assert the French legion we are starting to see.
Richard Bland (66/1 various)
After last weeks poor final couple of rounds it would be easy to completely disregard Richard Bland. But we sat down to honestly evaluate his chances because on paper he suits this track again. We couldn’t let our annoyance overshadow his prospects because of a couple of poor rounds and how often do you see your bet from the week before right up there come the following Sunday?
He was T24 just a few shots off a place going into the weekend and on the opening two days he was tanking it miles and finding greens with ease, so his prospects looked great. Obviously he didn’t continue that, but we just felt that if he was able to show even half of that form here, he could absolutely destroy the course.
One outing at the Tshwane last year where he missed the cut, but we’re ignoring that feeling that his game is in a better place and if he can get it all working, he will be right up there.
Justin Walters (66/1 various)
Arguably last chance saloon for us with Justin Walters. We’ve gone there a few times this season and he’s failed to deliver so far, but we’re hoping that he can finally show what he’s capable of in his home country.
His putting let him down last week in his T24 finish, but tee to green he was an animal. Inside the top 23 for driving accuracy, distance and GIR across the 4 days and whilst that is clearly impressive, it must be frustrating for any punters (and obviously himself) when he can’t translate that into a winning formula.
T24 at the Joburg and T9 at a Sunshine Tour event before shows he’s nearly there and we have a real hope that it will burst into life this week.
Scott Jamieson (80/1 various)
Scott Jamieson has had an incredibly poor couple of years and this season has failed to impress yet again. That doesn’t sound like the best opening line to why you want to back a player, but you cannot deny those truths. However he seems to be one of those complete hit or miss guys. If he’s on it he’ll be up there, if he isn’t he will miss the cut horrifically.
Looking at his top finishes last year they were never surrounded by great form, just one or two OK outings before a real push for a title and we have that feeling for him here – plenty of missed cuts followed by a solid T18 last week.
He shot a magnificent 66 to end the event and that should give him plenty of confidence coming here where his iron game will suit the track.
Lucas Bjerregaard (100/1 various)
The young Dane Lucas Bjerregaard showed us all at the back end of the year how incredibly talented he was. A few top 5 finishes propelled him into many peoples thoughts and we have been surprised how poorly he’s started 2015.
Too many missed cuts for someone with his potential, but a promising T18 last week has given us the confidence to back him as a healthy outsider. His putting stats were actually impressive – inside the top 20 each day, whilst his ridiculous length off the tee is there for all to see.
If he can get his rhythm going with the driver he has all the attributes to destroy this course, but the fact he putted so well last week made us think he has a genuine chance here, especially seeing as he finished T21 here last year, shooting a decent 67 to start with.
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 –
£2.00 e/w on Romain Wattel at 25/1
£1.00 e/w on Justin Walters at 66/1
£1.00 e/w on Richard Bland at 66/1
£0.50 e/w on Scott Jamieson at 80/1
£0.50 e/w on Lucas Bjerregaard at 100/1
Current Standings after 8 weeks:
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)