Sullivan To Become New African King
The European Tour moves to Africa this week under the Sunshine Tour event calender with a decent roster taking to the field.
The Africa Open is the youngest of the four Sunshine Tour events to be co-sanctioned by the European Tour. At a million Euros, the prize fund is the smallest of the four tournaments on the Tour’s South African swing so it struggles to attract the top European players, and that effect is more dramatic this year as the tournament has been pushed back in the calendar to coincide with the WGC Cadillac Championships.
At a little under 6700 yards, the course at East London Golf Club is short and tree-lined, but the fairways are of average width and the rough isn’t particularly penal at this time of year, due to the dry weather. Steady accurate iron players who can find the small greens with consistency do well there, although as the venue looks out over the Indian Ocean, strong coastal winds can occasionally make the course a lot tougher.
In The Bunker
After missing most of 2014 through injury, Jaco van Zyl has made a quiet comeback but showed positive signs when finishing third in a Pro-Am event last time. His good record in this tournament, consisting of four consecutive top-five finishes, has pushed him to the top of the antepost betting, but the other way to look at that record is that he’s been in contention four times yet failed to win. I think he may still be a little rusty after his long lay-off and I can’t back him at 14/1 this week.
South Africans have won all six editions of this event, but this year’s favourite is an Englishman and it’s hard to pick holes in the credentials of Andy Sullivan.
One of Europe’s rising stars, he’s already won two South African events this season, his first two titles on the European Tour, including at the Joburg Open last week, and is playing accurate, consistent golf.
In his current form he could take some stopping at 10/1.
After tipping Gregory Bourdy at the Joburg Open, it was disappointing to see him crash out at the halfway stage, but I think he’s worth persevering with this week. He has made a solid start to 2015, including top five finishes in Qatar and Malaysia, and given that he’s one of the shorter drivers on the European Tour, this course should suit him better than last week’s venue. He finished second in this event in 2013 and offers some value at 25/1
The final name to add to your shortlist is Oliver Fisher. The young Englishman has yet to add to his debut European Tour victory in 2011, but time is still on his side. He struggled in Malaysia three weeks ago, but had two top-fifteen finishes on the Desert Swing, and will be confident of returning to form at a venue where he finished runner-up last year. He’s worth a look at healthy odds of 40/1.