Robert can be your Rock in South Africa
The European Tour remains in South Africa this week for the Volvo Golf Champions. The strongest field of the season has assembled at the Links course in Fancourt, South Africa.
Last year the inaugural Volvo Golf Champions was contested in Bahrain and was won by Paul Casey. He has injured himself in a snowboard accident and he will not be fit enough to defend his crown. There have so far been two events on the Tour this season, the Africa Open and the Joburg Open.
The winners Oothuizen (5/1) and Branden Grace (25/1) will take to the field and it would be no surprise to see another South African thrive at Fancourt. Schwartzel (6/1) last week was unable to make the cut at the Joburg Open after a poor opening round.
His driving was wayward and he was poor on the greens. It may have been his home course and he was widely tipped to win at a short price, but he was probably rusty after the Christmas break.
He has played on many continents in the last six months, in a variety of events and he probably needed the Joburg Open to brush away the cobwebs. He is 6/1 to win the event and he won early in the season last year.
Robert Rock (25/1) is playing and he has become one of the most under-rated players on the Tour. He has form in the past few years in South Africa and he was in the top ten at the Joburg Open last week. He hit a sixty-five in the opening round and was leading heading into the third round.
He was thirty-second on the Tour for hitting greens in regulation last season. He looks a big price at 25/1 to get off the mark this season. He has started this year where he left off at the season-ending Dubai Championship in 2011 and he is worth a punt.
Tom Lewis (50/1) had a sensational 2011 which saw him lead the Open Championship as an amateur. He clearly enjoys playing on links style courses and there is no pressure for him to win this event. He can be inconsistent but he is still only twenty-one. He was ill at the latter part of last year and he will have recharged his batteries over the Christmas period.
Very few players have course knowledge but Goosen (12/1) and Els (18/1) have past course form. The South African Open was staged at the Links in 2005. Els finished second in that tournament after a thrilling duel with his long-time rival Goosen.
Els' form has waned in the last year but it is a new season and nobody will know the course better than him. He even gets to stay at home for the duration of the tournament. I would not deter anyone from backing Branden Grace (25/1), he was sensational with the putter in the third round at the Joburg Open and he is clearly not fazed by pressure.
He was near perfect from the tees and he attacked all the par fives. With little course form to work on, it will not be easy picking a winner pre-event. However, Schwartzel has a point to prove and Robert Rock has to be a dark horse.