Westwood On Course For Sun City Success
Third in the outright betting, Lee Westwood, goes into the Nedbank Golf Challenge in high spirits after his Top 10 finish in the Turkish Airlines Open three weeks ago; but can he win it for a third time?
The Nedbank Golf Challenge is the most prestigious on the Sunshine Tour, an invitational tournament formerly restricted to twelve players, but increased to thirty entrants and co-sanctioned by the European Tour since 2013.
The four Major champions and the top players in the world rankings are invited, and although not everyone takes up the invitation, those who line up on Thursday will include some of the world’s best.
The Gary Player Country Club in Sun City, South Africa, is one of the world’s top courses, and features lightning fast greens and lush vegetation, although the rough is not too challenging. The clover-shaped putting complexes and strategic use of bunkers and mounds produce some tricky challenges around the pin, but above all this is a long course, and those players who give it a thump are the ones to concentrate on.
In The Bunker
Jamie Donaldson finished second in this tournament last year and given his superb autumn form it is no surprise to find him towards the top of the antepost betting. But I think he may be feeling the effects of a long season. Following the Ryder Cup he cracked the top five at the Wales Open and the BMW Masters, but in three tournaments since then has put in at least one bad round to spoil his chances. He may be in need of a well-earned rest and at 10/1 I’ll be opposing him.
Donaldson’s Ryder Cup team-mate Lee Westwood hasn’t had much to cheer about since Gleneagles and finished down the field in Dubai last time, but he showed signs of his best form at the Turkish Airlines Open three weeks ago, where he made the top ten, and he will be determined to finish the year strongly.
He’s won this event twice in recent years and at 11/1 I think he offers value this week.
Like Westwood, Charl Schwartzel has been struggling for consistency this autumn and his last two outings, at the HSCB Champions and the Dubai Tour Championship were particularly disappointing. However, it is worth noting that he wasn’t in great form last year either, but the return to South African soil brought a significant improvement in his form, including a sixth in this event. He’s worth a look at 12/1.
The final name to add to your shortlist is young Englishman Tommy Fleetwood. His inconsistency has been a problem at times, but despite that he has been in strong form this autumn, recording four top fifteen finishes, the latest of which came in Dubai, where only a second round 74 spoiled his chances of troubling the leaders. He only has one European Tour title to his name so far, but at the age of 23 there are surely many more to come and he’s a decent each way bet at 28/1 this week.