After five years at the Glendower club in Edenvale, the South African Open this week returns to the Randpark Golf Club for the first time since 2000. The 7,600-yard Firethorn course at Randpark has been completely revamped since it last staged this tournament, although it returned to the European Tour schedule last season when it hosted the Joburg Open for the first time.
The newly redesigned course presents an improved playing experience over the 2000 edition. With water in play on many of the holes and several big greens, this is more than just a test of length and a devilish closing three-hole stretch has the potential to cause all sorts of problems. Chris Paisley won this title at Glendower last year, with other recent champions including Graeme Storm, Brandon Stone and Andy Sullivan. Shubhankar Sharma won the Joburg Open here last season in what was a weaker field, but he has opted not to return to the scene of that success.
Louis Oosthuizen finished third on his last outing at Sun City and he leads the betting for this tournament at best odds of 7/1* with Bet365, Ladbrokes, BetVictor and Paddy Power. Branden Grace, who risks finishing the year without a victory for the first time since 2013, is at 12/1* with most bookmakers while Matt Wallace, winner of three titles this year, is also at 12/1* with most firms.
South Africa’s Dylan Frittelli has placed seventh and fifth on his last two starts and he is the last of the trio of players to be widely available at 12/1*. Charl Schwartzel has captured plenty of titles in his homeland, but he has never won this one. He has been runner-up twice and can be backed at best odds of 20/1* with BetVictor and Betfred this week.
Justin Harding has taken some time to blossom as a professional but at the age of 32 his ranking has soared this year on the back of four wins – two on the Sunshine Tour and two on the Asian Tour. Although he hasn’t won since the end of July, he continues to play well with four top 10s in his last seven starts. That includes finishing fourth in Mauritius last week. The world number 81 is available at best odds of 40/1* with Ladbrokes.
Erik Van Rooyen graduated from the Challenge Tour just over a year ago and quickly established himself as one to watch by finishing second in the Joburg Open here at Randpark. He achieved a handful of notable results in 2018, particularly when he tied for fourth place at the Irish Open, and he qualified for his first World Tour Championship in Dubai, where he shared 26th place. He’s refreshed after a three-week break since then and looks a good bet at 33/1*, again with Ladbrokes.
Shaun Norris has emerged as one of the leading players on the Japanese Tour in 2018 and he will have high hopes of making an impact on his return to Randpark, where he shared third place in last year’s Joburg Open. The world number 75 from Johannesburg rarely takes a week off and his 32 starts this year have brought a win at the Heiwa event last month, four other top fives and seven further top 10s. Back him at 40/1* with either Bet365 or Ladbrokes.
|*All odds quoted are subject to change|