We have a choice of events on both tours for the first time in 2018 but we will focus on the BMW Open in South Africa which is one of the longest-running national golf competitions.
This tournament was first held in 1903 and while the field for the 2018 renewal is predominantly South African, there are challenges and plenty of value in this year’s market.
The sportsbooks for Americans are showing two clear favourites this week with Branden Grace just ahead of Charl Schwartzel at the top of the outright win market. Neither has actually won this event although Schwartzel has come close, losing out in a play off to Andy Sullivan three years ago.
Of the two, Grace enjoyed a more productive year in 2017, winning the NedBank Challenge in November and he seems to have the better claim on the trophy this week.
Behind the top two, there is a significant points gap to our third favourite Dylan Frittelli but the youngster comes here on the back of a breakthrough season and is one of my golfers to watch for 2018.
The 27 year old claimed two European Tour wins in the last 12 months including the Mauritius Open in December so Frittelli should have some momentum to carry over to his first tournament of the New Year.
Home based players occupy the first five places in the BMW South African Open Championship outright betting and following on from the top three we have Dean Burmester and George Coetzee with Coetzee achieving a runners up berth in this event back in 2012.
Coetzee hasn’t won anywhere since February 2016 while Burmester took the Tshwane Open last year to add to a number of victories on the Sunshine Tour so may be the better placed of the two home golfers.
Our defending champion this week is Graeme Storm but the Englishman is some way down the list in the outright betting, as is his compatriot Andy Sullivan who won this event in 2015. Sullivan went on to add two further wins in the same year but has rarely threatened leaderboards since and the same applies to Storm.
At best, those two former winners could be considered in the Top Ten betting but is there any better potential from the outsiders?
Jamie Donaldson is a player who occasionally threatens to find the form that lifted him into Europe’s Ryder Cup team in 2014 and could be a value outsider while veteran Retief Goosen has won this tournament twice and can never be ruled out on ‘home turf’.
However, the best option among the distant prices could be Haydn Porteous who won the Czech Masters as recently as September 2017 and may offer the best value of the whole tournament.
Our BMW South African Open Preview’s Course, Betting Trends, Predictions & Picks
The Glendower Golf Club is our home this week and features a par 72 course at a relatively lengthy 7,594 yards. The Power Hitters don’t really benefit however due to the venue being some 5,000 feet over sea level.
The ball has a tendency to fly in calm conditions but accuracy is vital as there is water in play on 11 holes. With swift Bentgrass greens, putting average has been a key stat in recent years as has Greens in Regulation but scoring isn’t particularly low so it’s very much open to all golfers.
Unlike other tournaments in this part of the world, it is not dominated by home based players and we have only seen one South African winner, Brandon Stone in 2016, over the course of the last five years. That run seems likely to end this year however with so many home based golfers leading the way at the top of the BMW Open betting.
Taking all the factors into account in this preview, it’s tempting to side with Branden Grace who has the quality and some relevant stats but I’m continuing to back Dylan Frittelli as we come into 2018. The bookies have a mixed set of prices for the 27 year old but there is definite value, even if it lies with a win and a show bet.
We will finish our BMW South African Open golf predictions with a couple of picks for the Top Ten and once again we are staying with the South Africans. The high price on Haydn Porteous was a little surprising for a recent winner and while, in contrast, the figure on Retief Goosen may be short, both men could deliver a nice profit in this alternative market.