Danie Van Tonder
While the PGA tour has its weekend with Santa tournament at the Hero World Challenge, the European Tour stars line up to up for a crack at their Christmas pot of $6.5m at the Nedbank Golf Challenge.
The Gary Player Country Club hosts the event, the course is one of the major attractions at the once infamous Sun City resort in the north west region of South Africa. Sun City has two golf courses, the Lost City course which features crocodiles in one of its ponds, and the Gary Player Country club which has consistently been rated as the number one or two course in South Africa.
The fairways consist of a lush kikuyu and are complemented by immaculate bent-grass greens. Designed by Gary Player and Ron Kirkby and named after Player in celebration of his status as South Africa's greatest golfer, this par 72 track measures 7,655 yards from the championship tees. It is one of the longest golf courses in the world.
The Kikuyu-grassed fairways and bent grass greens contrast magnificently with the more barren thorn-scrub and aloe-covered hillsides through which the parkland course meanders. The fairways are wide but are bordered by tough kikuyu rough and untended African bushveld which, together with the tricky greens are the course's main defences.
Water comes into play on five holes, most famously on the par-five 9th with its island green, which is surrounded by waterfalls and artificial rocks. There are natural amphitheatres at the 9th and 18th holes, as well as several other vantage points around the course, giving thousands of spectators great views of the course as well as the players.
The top five players are all very short odds but I think Jamie Donaldson 11/1 with BetVictor who was runner-up here last year and finished the Race to Dubai in forth spot is about the best of the players on the low odds, but I am going for picks just outside that group.
My picks to win:
Brooks Koepka 18/1 with StanJames had his first win on the European Tour at the Turkish Airlines Open and although I did tip him to go on to back-to-back wins not many players pull that off. Brooks was on a great run of form leading up to his win and had only been outside the Top 15 once in his previous five events, hes also had two Top 10 finishes on the PGA Tour and will come into this week in confident mood.
Another player who will be in confident mood is Shane Lowry 20/1 with BetVictor who I must admit I didnt give him the credit he deserved after the way he came back from his Volvo Match-Play meltdown. Shane has only been outside the Top 25 once in the following four events and finished off the season in style with a Top 5 at the World Tour Championship firing a final round 65.
I am not really sure how Joost Luiten 20/1 with Sporting Bet – will look back on the season, he did miss out on making the Ryder Cup team but the Dutchman did have a win and had eight other Top 10 finishes including a ninth place finish at the World Tour Championship. I think with his aggressive style of play the twenty-eight year old is just starting to come to the peak of his career and I think we will see him winning a lot more this season and I think this week could be the start.
My outside tip:
There are three players all at long odds from the Sunshine Tour one of those is Danie Van Tonder 175/1 with 888Sport who currently sits in second place on the money list after 22 starts and had two Top 10 finishes on the African leg of the European Tour this year, which included a runners-up finish at the Tshwane Open. Danie also had a Top 5 on the Challenge Tours Kenya Open, which shows he is happy playing in front of a home crowed and could just be a thorn in the side of the European Tours superstars.
As always good luck