SA Open betting preview: Lee Slattery primed to impress
By Ben Coley
Last Updated: 06/01/16 11:06am
The European Tour returns from its winter break this week with the SA Open, where Andy Sullivan returns as the defending champion. Ben Coley has sifted through the field to look for those primed to impress.
Glendower GC hosts the SA Open for the third time but those hoping Charl Schwartzel would finally land his national title will have to wait until 2017.
Schwartzel, who ended last year with a typically dominant victory at Leopard Creek, has been struck down by a stomach problem and in his absence it's Branden Grace who heads the home challenge.
There's no doubt Grace could win this well and it's hard to see him throwing away an opportunity like Schwartzel did in 2015, but at 9/2 he's a skinny enough price for the first event of the year.
Similar comments apply to Sullivan, the man who reeled in Schwartzel and beat him thanks to that shot in the play-off. The Nuneaton man goes from strength to strength but there are far better 8/1 chances to be had further down the line.
Instead, take an each-way chance on Lee Slattery, the Englishman who doubled his European Tour tally with victory in Russia last summer before so nearly following up on his very next start.
Slattery is firmly back on track having threatened to slip off the radar altogether and you can in fact trace his improvement back to this event last year, when he finished just one shot outside the play-off thanks to a brilliant week.
To further demonstrate his love for this part of the world, Slattery is staying in South Africa at the moment - just down the road from Grace, in fact - and he's therefore entitled to be sharper than many.
Another with local ties is Jason Scrivener, an Australian who was born in South Africa and raised in Zimbabwe.
Scrivener managed two third-placed finishes from his final four starts of 2015 and contended at Leopard Creek until making a mess of an easy hole in round three.
Once among the top-five amateurs in Australia, Scrivener is improving all the time and looks capable of making his mark at this level.
So too does Ben Evans, who enjoyed a consistent 2015 and has plenty of form to make him a contender, while of the home contingent there are few more solid than Hennie Otto, who has at least won this title in the past.
Finally, make room in the staking plan for Marcus Kinhult, the Swedish rookie destined for the very top.
This is a player who played well in all three starts on the European Tour as an amateur, who progressed through Q School in November and who many believe could be his nation's first men's major winner.
Whether or not Kinhult can live up to the hype remains to be seen but he's certainly worth following in this sort of grade at around the 50/1 mark.
Watch the SA Open throughout the week live on Sky Sports 4 - your home of golf - starting at 8.30am on Thursday