Tshwane Open guide
A preview and best bets for this week's European Tour event - The Tshwane Open in South Africa.
By Dave Tindall Twitter: @DaveTindallgolf
Last Updated: 25/02/14 5:27pm
After the glitz of last week's WGC-Accenture Match Play in Arizona, the European Tour pitches up again in South Africa where a modest field contest the second running of the Tshwane Open.
It's the eighth and final event of the 2014 season to be held in South Africa and, so far, five of the seven have been won by home players, including each of the last four.
This event made its debut last year when Dawie Van Der Valt led a South African 1-2-3 by shooting 21-under.
Once again, the tournament in Centurion is being staged at the Ernie Els-designed Copperleaf course.
Opened six years ago, this track - situated around 25 miles north of Johannesburg - is built on land where Els's grandfather used to live.
Jaco Ahlers (local resident who is playing this week): "It's a long course but very open off the tee. It definitely won't play as long as the yardage (7,964) suggests due to the altitude. All four of the par fives are over 600 yards and some you can reach in two big ones. Big hitters do have an advantage because it's wide off the tee and you can just smash it." The European Tour website adds: "The course is one of the finest examples of the 'Highveld grassland' genre, and players experience a sense of openness and freedom with the Magaliesberg backdrop adding to the country atmosphere."
Route to success
Last year Dawie Van Der Valt topped the greens in regulation stats, hitting a massive 91.7% (66/72) in the right number. On the six occasions he missed the green, he got up and down so also ranked 1st in the Scrambling stats. As for the big hitters, three of the top five in Driving Distance stats - Bjorn Akesson (318.1 yards), Danny Willett (307.3) and Morten Orum Madsen (307.1) - finished in the top eight.
The odds seem so stacked in the home players' favour in these events that, once more, that should be the first port of call.
George Coetzee could well follow up his breakthrough victory in the recent Joburg Open with another one here and he played some good golf when reaching the last 16 of the WGC-Accenture Match Play.
The 13/2 is more a price of a proven winner though.
Hennie Otto has a reputation for wobbling in a finish but at 30/1 he has plenty of each-way value this week.
In his last 10 starts on South African soil the 37-year-old has racked up three second places, two thirds and three other top 10s.
He was also 10th in this event last year so it would come as a surprise if he's not prominent on the leaderboard at some point and hopefully he can get involved in the finish.
Jaco van Zyl has finished sixth and fifth in his last two starts in South Africa - last week's Dimension Data Pro-Am and the Africa Open before that.
Prior to that he'd won three times in eight starts on home turf so it seems a matter of time before he bags one of these co-sanctioned events.
Again, the 20/1 is enough to make him an each-way price.
Finally, if we're looking for a big-hitting South African the one to be on is probably Justin Walters.
The 33-year-old finished 17th in Driving Distance on the 2013 European Tour stats (he's 45th this year, Otto is 44th) so can give it a tonk and he came close to victory in the recent Joburg Open.
He's followed that runners-up finish with a top 20 in the Africa Open and a 29th in the Dimension Data Pro-Am although he was seventh with a round to go last week following a third round 63.
Add in a 16th place in this event last year (66-67 weekend finish) and he makes appeal at 50/1.
2pts e.w. Hennie Otto at 30/1 (1/4 1,2,3,4,5)
2pts e.w. Jaco van Zyl at 20/1 (1/4 1,2,3,4,5)
1pt e.w. Justin Walters at 50/1 (1/4 1,2,3,4,5)