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Nic Ladds 15th Dec 2009 - 11:35

Three against the field in South Africa

With just 10 winners from outside of South Africa since the tournament began, you would be forgiven for automatically swerving all runners who aren't from the Sunshine State in the second oldest golf championship in the world.

This tournament dates all the way back to 1903 and was won by only home players right up until 1970 when England's Tommy Horton took the title and recent non South African winners are Vijay Singh in 1997 and Mathias Gronberg in 2000.

Gareth Maybin nearly took it home for Northern Ireland last year but lost out in a play off to Richard Sterne, a feat which has peppered his Tour career as he has hit the crossbar on a number of occasions and 12/1 seems a little short for Maybin although he is clearly in good heart at this time of year as he finished fourth last week in the Alfred Dunhill, while Sterne is 16/1 for glory again this year.

The Hansen's Soren and Anders (no relation) are prominent in the betting with the former's credentials looking more solid as he finished third in the Alfred Dunhill last time and has previously won the Joburg Open so clearly has a liking for the area but at 14/1 is overlooked as is Soren at 16/1.

Ross McGowan could be the one to prize South Africa's grip from the top prize and he lines up at 16/1. Having shot an excellent 66 in the first round of this tournament last year, McGowan ended up finishing in a share of 14 but what a difference a year makes and he is now a much more accomplished golfer having got his maiden Tour win in the Madrid Masters and he should be in the mix come Sunday.

Many a punter may well take one look at the market and tell you it's insane to look past the favourite, Charl Schwartzel and they may have a point. He finished second last week and has career figures in this tournament of 15-3-32-2-12-10-16 so is going to be on the premises but at 10/1 may be short for some and it is a slight concern he didn't manage to win last year although came close on a number of occasions and he is a worthy favourite for this.

Sticking with local talent, Louis Oosthuizen at 25/1 looks a great bet as he has previously finished fifth and third here and was in contention last year before shooting a stinking 81 on the final day. He followed that performance with five top ten finishes in a row including two runners-up berths and looks a solid bet at a good price to challenge for top honours this year.

A speculative bet that could reward at a big price is a wager on 80/1 shot Michael Hoey who finished 11 in this last year which would have been significantly higher but for a poor third round. He followed that up with a 12 in the Joburg Open and a win in Portugal a couple of weeks later so is clearly one to catch at the start of the year and his big price makes him a very backable proposition.

There are a host of possible threats in this including 2007 winner James Kingston (25/1), recent World Cup winner Edoardo Molinari (20/1) and last week's winner Pablo Martin (50/1) could go close not to mention the wealth of South African talent on show in a tournament they dominate.

Wouldn't put anyone off the favourite as Schwartzel comes here with a real chance of getting his first win in over a year but Oosthuizen is an exciting young local prospect who should be up there at over double the favourite's price, McGowan looks the most likely to take this away from South Africa, while Hoey can give you a run for your money at big odds.


Ross McGowan - 16/1

Louis Oosthuizen - 25/1

Michael Hoey - 80/1


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