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It’s going to be a very emotional Nelson Mandela Championship this week as South Africa and the world say their goodbyes to Madiba and how fitting it would be if a South African player won here this week.
I am sure all the players will want to pay their respects and I must say yet again I am disappointed that such a great man’s tournament is being bypassed by some of the worlds top players. I am sure the tournament organisers would have bent over backwards if Tiger Woods had asked to play so he could honor Mandela and what he stood for. But it seems professional golfers are only interested in money and the pursuit of it.
This weeks guide is obviously dominated by South African players mainly because I am sure all of them would want to be the one holding the trophy so they can honor the man and his legacy. This could go two ways this week, it will either inspire the home players to do well or the weight of the nation will be too much for them - I am hoping it inspires them.
My tips to win:
First up is Branden Grace 14/1 who comes into this week “striking the ball really well”, according to one of his pre tournament interviews. He also stated he “just couldn’t get it in the right positions to score” at last week’s Nedbank Golf Challenge. Grace hasn’t won on the European Tour this year after winning four events in 2012 and with only five Top 10 finishes in 2013 I am sure he will be looking to do well here this week.
Although this years event is being staged at Mount Edgecombe Jaco Van Zyl 22/1 did fire a final round 57 in this event last year at Royal Durban, it maybe a different track but I am sure those good memories will come flooding back when he tees it up this week. Jaco has started the 2014 season well with a Top 15 finish at the SA Open Championship, which followed on from his Top 25 at the WGC HSBC Champions tournament and he currently sits third on the Sunshine Tours Order of merit. We have done well with Jaco in the past and hopefully that will continue here this week.
Someone we have backed a few times recently who currently lies one place better off than Van Zly on the Sunshine tour’s Order of Merit, is Darren Fichardt 22/1. Darren slid back down the leaderboard at last week’s Nedbank Golf Challenge with his final round of 74, but I think his early work at that event shows he is not far from getting back to that early season form that bagged him a win at the African Open, which he followed up a week later with a runners-up finish at the Tshwane Open.
My each-way tips:
Richard Finch 33/1 is one of the two none South Africans on this week’s betting guide. Finch over the last couple of weeks has been in great form with a runners-up finish at the Alfred Dunhill Championship and then followed that up with a Top 10 finish at last week’s Hong Kong Open where he played some solid golf for his last three rounds which were all in the 60s. The 2012 season wasn’t that great for the lad from Cheshire, but he looks like he has the bit between his teeth this season.
Another tip from last week’s guide and the other none South African this week is Oliver Fisher 40/1. As I stated last week I have been watching the lad from Essex over the last couple of weeks and he looks like his game is coming together nicely, his Top 15 finish at last week’s Hong Kong Open shows he’s found a new swing key after his eleventh place finish at the KLM Open. His steady progress I think will start to see him challenge here this week.
My outside tip:
This week’s outside bet is going to be Oliver Bekker 150/1. Bekker finished the 2012 season on the Sunshine Tour in the Top 10 and I was surprised that he didn’t kick on this year. The lad from Pretoria – who has three wins on the Sunshine Tour, one of those at this year’s Telkom PGA Pro-Am – will want to get this season off to a good start.