Volvo Golf Champions Betting Preview
In addition to the Sony Open this week, the European Tour plays their first event of the 2013 calendar in South Africa. The Durban Country Club hosts the Volvo Golf Champions, a semi-exclusive 33 player field comprised of last year’s winners in Europe and those who have at least ten European Tour victories in their career. It’s a little lacking in terms of star power for the casual golf fan, but there are plenty of interesting players to talk about this week.
2013 Volvo Golf Champions Fact Sheet
- Course: Durban Country Club
- Location: Durban, South Africa
- Yardage: 6,734 yards, par 72
- Defending Champion: Branden Grace
- Thursday – 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM ET (Golf Channel)
- Friday – 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM ET (Golf Channel)
- Saturday – 7:00 AM to 11:00 AM ET (Golf Channel)
- Sunday – 7:00 AM to 11:00 AM ET (Golf Channel)
The Durban Country Club is one of the best courses in South Africa. It’s been around since the 1920’s, and as you can see from the above yardage, it’s very short. You don’t find many professional courses that play under 7,000 yards anymore, but Durban is one of the most unique courses in the world. It was built on sand dunes, causing some of the wildest undulations that you’ll ever see.
Many players won’t take driver out of the bag until late in their rounds because of how narrow the fairways are, and when you combine that with the massive undulations all over the course, what you get is a place that puts a premium on accuracy and genuine shot making. Ernie Els once said that “Durban is one of those special courses which test every club.” It’s one of my favourite courses to watch on TV too, as you don’t get to see this type of course often enough worldwide.
In most books, native South Africans Louis Oosthuizen and Ernie Els are the top favourites. At roughly 5-1 for Oosthuizen and 7-1 for Els, I’d like to see a little more value there. I think one of them wins the event, especially with their prior form at Durban. The two have combined for two wins, a third, and three other top-15’s, but there isn’t enough there for me at those odds. Let’s look at some suggested each-way plays for this week.
Francesco Molinari (Best Odds 16-1 at Sporting Bet)
Molinari is one of the most accurate ball strikers in the world, and he should be able to do well at Durban. His only prior experience at the course led to him finishing 43rd in 2005, but he’s a way better player now than he was then. The only thing that’s giving me a little hesitation is his putter, but if he can get hot on the greens, he could be in the winner’s circle on Sunday. I think he ends up finishing inside the top-5.
Matteo Manassero (Best Odds 20-1 at SkyBet)
Manassero might be the best young player in the game, depending on your definition of young. The 19-year old Italian picked up his third European Tour victory a couple of months ago in Singapore, one of his seven top-10’s last season. Despite being a short hitter at just over 274 yards on average, Manassero hits a ton of fairways. My bet is that Manassero adds at least one more title to his collection in 2013.
Robert Rock (Best Odds 50-1 at bwin)
Rock finished fifth in the 2010 South African Open, but that’s not my logic here. 50-1 is simply too high for a player of Rock’s calibre, and if you look at the players around him on the board, something’s off. No offense to Danny Willett, Thongchai Jaidee and Richie Ramsey, but none of them are as good as Rock. It could be a long shot, as the oddsmakers are usually on top of this stuff, but it seems too high.
Other things to watch:
- Branden Grace’s 2012 season wasn’t a fluke by any means, but his four wins kinda came out of nowhere. It’ll be interesting to see if he makes the real jump to star status in 2013.
- Thorbjorn Olesen is one of the best young players in the world, and he recently moved to Nike. Kyle Stanley was dreadful in Hawaii this week, and Nick Watney also struggled at times with the new Nike gear. Olesen should be fine going forward, but I won’t be surprised if he struggled in the early going.
- This will be Retief Goosen’s first tournament after having back surgery. He hasn’t won worldwide since the 2009 Transitions, and only has three victories since 2006. At 43 years old, he could be nearing the end of the line if he can’t stay healthy. The game is better with a healthy Goosen.
- What kind of season will Paul Casey have? He was awful last season until about October where he reeled off four consecutive top-20’s. Much like Goosen, a healthy Casey makes the game much more interesting in 2013.
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