THE first tournament of 2018 is the BMW South African Open at the prestigious Glendower Golf Club in Ekurhuleni.
It surprises me being the second oldest national Open in the world, dating back to 1893, and highly regarded by the playersw hy it is the first tournament after a four-week break.
Some players haven’t played for over six weeks so if they are to win here they will need to be on the top of their game from the word go.
The course: Glendower Golf Club. Par: 72, 7564 yards.
Glendower is a tree-lined parkland course, with total of 64 bunkers, and water in play on 11 holes. Although it looks long, the altitude probably makes it seem like 7000 yards. The speed of the greens will be around 12 on the stimpmeter.
The rough looks to be tougher this year and I will be looking at Driving Accuracy, GIR and Putts per Round as my stats.
Jordan Smith’s first year on Tour can only be described as “stunning”. Missing the cut at his first tournament, the Australian PGA Championship, must have been quite depressing, but he followed that up with a T36 at the UBS Hong Kong Open then a superb third place at this event with four sub-70 rounds, one shot off a play-off place.
He went on to win the Porsche European Open in Germany in July. After that win he went off the ball a little but that is understandable after your first win, although he did finish T9 at the USPGA at Quail Hollow, which in your first Major is some accomplishment.
He also finished 24th in the Race to Dubai which has to be a pointer of how good he is. He hits a long ball but is accurate with it, with good GIR stats and although his putting is maybe his weak spot I think he can do us proud here. Driving Accuracy: 67.2% (9th). GIR: 70.0% (43rd). Putts per round: 29.7 (116th).
With South Africans dominating this event for 12 of the last 16 years you obviously have to look at some of the Springboks to add to that.
With that in mind Dean Burmester looks a good bet. His best results have been on the African continent, including winning the Tshwane Open last year by three strokes last year.
He also finished fourth here last year so has some form here. Has had a steady start to this season with a T27 at the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open and T19 at the Joburg Open in December. The South African is a long hitter but his accuracy lets him down a bit although he makes us for it with his putting. Driving Accuracy: 54.6% (110th), GIR: 64.6% (116th), Putts per Round: 27.9 (7th).
Twenty-three-old South African Haydn Porteous is also one to look out for here. He won his first tournament in his own town at the Joburg Open (2016) which is roughly at the same altitude as here.
He also won the D+D REAL Czech Masters last year on a course which is also long and at altitude. He has also played in the Mauritius and Joburg Opens this season and although his results weren’t as good as Burmester.
Although he did have four good rounds (two 66s and two 69s) but was let down in both events by his play on the Sundays. Driving Accuracy: 47.2% (12y6th) GIR: 65.3% (100th) Putts per Round: 29.0 (39th).
Not going to go into detail but it might be worth keeping an eye on Canadian Austin Connelly, one of my players to look out for this season. It might be too soon for him but at 125-1 might be worth a small wager.