Africa Open Betting Preview

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Ricardo Santos – Courtesy: ThePortugalNews.com


If you thought last week’s field for the Joburg Open was lacking in big names, you clearly haven’t looked at the field for this week’s stop on the European Tour, the Africa Open.
 
2013 Africa Open Fact Sheet

  • Course: East London Golf Course
  • Location: East London, South Africa
  • Yardage: 6,691 yards, par 73
  • Defending Champion: Louis Oosthuizen (not in field)
  • Five Consensus Favourites: Thomas Aiken, Jaco Van Zyl, Ricardo Santos, Garth Mulroy and Joost Luiten

TV Schedule:

  • Thursday – 9:00 AM to 12:30 PM ET (Golf Channel)
  • Friday – 9:00 AM to 12:30 PM ET (Golf Channel)
  • Saturday – 9:00 AM to 12:30 PM ET (Golf Channel)
  • Sunday – 9:00 AM to 12:30 PM ET (Golf Channel)

As you can see from the list of favourites above, it’s not pretty for the European Tour this week. You can bet that tournament organizers were hoping for a better turnout, at least from the local South African stars. Defending champion Oosthuizen is taking the week off, and so is Branden Grace, George Coetzee and last week’s winner Richard Sterne, and the other prominent South Africans, including Charl Schwartzel, Ernie Els, Tim Clark and Retief Goosen are all playing this week at the PGA Tour’s Northern Trust Open.
 
Despite the short length of the course, it actually plays to a par-73, a rarity amongst today’s courses. The East London Golf Club was built in 1893, and unfortunately, hasn’t really held up to the standards of difficulty that are present in the modern game. In the three years that this event has been held, we’ve seen winning scores of -20, -16 and -27. The fairways are about standard in terms of width, but because most of the course features a heavy treeline, the naturally windy section of South Africa really doesn’t become much of a factor. The course has smaller greens than most, and they generally play pretty fast, with the expectation that the stimpmeter will run to about 10, which is about USGA standard for the U.S. Open. With the weaker field, I can’t really see the winning total getting to the level of Oosthuzien’s 27-under from last year, but there will be low scores this week.
 
Suggested Plays (All Each Way)
 
Ricardo Santos (Best Odds 16-1 at Bet365)
I’m pretty sure that the only reason Santos isn’t the outright favourite this week is because of his poor form on the course, as he missed the cut here last year in his loan appearance. Don’t be turned off because of that though. He’s one of the hottest players in the world right now, and he really hasn’t had a bad tournament to start 2013, including last week’s T-3 at the Joburg. The 2012 European Tour Rookie of the Year looks poised to win again, and in a less than stellar field on an easy track, he seems like a solid bet.
 
Joost Luiten (Best Odds 22-1 at Betfair)
Much like Santos, Luiten has only played here once in the past and he didn’t really fare that well, ending up in a tie for 28th in 2010. The thing about East London is that it doesn’t really favour any type of particular player. Luiten’s just pretty solid across the board, assuming that he doesn’t put himself in trouble, which he doesn’t do very often, and he did finish inside the top-6 a few weeks ago in Abu Dhabi.
 
Fredrik Andersson Hed (Best Odds 35-1 at Bet365)
Andersson Hed is actually the only player in the field this week that’s ranked inside the top-100 in the world. He’s a pretty streaky player, but the one thing that never seems to leave him is the putter. It just seems like a decent price for one of the better players in the event, and if it wasn’t for an opening round 74 in 2010, he would have finished much higher than tied for 18th.
 
Tjaart Van Der Walt (Best Odds 58-1 at BETDAQ)
Van Der Walt was 25-under par in this event last year, and couldn’t get a win thanks to Oosthuizen’s sterling performance. That runner-up finish for Van Der Walt was also his last top-10 result. It might be wishful thinking to suggest that he could do it again this week, but he looked pretty good at the Joburg at times, so I wouldn’t be shocked to see his name near the top of the leaderboard on Sunday.
 
James Morrison (Best Odds 150-1 at Coral)
I’m basing this selection on one event entirely. Morrison finished tied for fourth in the inaugural Africa Open in 2010, but hasn’t been back since. He’s actually played very little quality golf at all recently, missing his last four cuts and only finishing inside the top-10 once since May of last year, but I’m willing to take a flyer on him at 150-1.

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