By William Hill
Last Updated: 13th November 2019
Fresh off a thrilling finale to the Turkish Airlines Open where headline selection Tyrrell Hatton managed to outlast five others to win his fourth European Tour title, we head to South Africa and to the stunning Gary Player Country Club.
With a first prize of $2.5 million as well as vital Race To Dubai points up for grabs, it’s a tournament every member of this 63-man field will be hungry to win. Here is our preview of this week’s Nedbank Golf Challenge in Sun City, which gets underway on Thursday.
Everything looks right for Oosthuizen
When looking for a potential winner of a golf tournament, most often look for value further down the betting, particularly with attractive place odds on offer. However, this week the most likely winner is surely the 8/1 market leader Louis Oosthuizen.
Go back 12 months and for 68 holes of last year’s tournament, the South African looked set for a maiden Nedbank title. He fired eight Sunday birdies in an impressive closing round, but was stunned by a final five-hole flourish from Lee Westwood which saw the Englishman claim a third Nedbank crown.
That was the latest in an impressive series of results from Oosthuizen at Sun City which has seen him finish inside the top-15 for seven consecutive years, with three top-nine finishes in the last three suggesting, if anything, he’s getting even better at the Gary Player Country Club.
Fast forward 12 months and his preparation couldn’t have been much better. He was third at the WGC HSBC Champions in China, carding four rounds in the 60s, and while the majority of this week’s field played in Turkey – a 15-hour journey to South Africa – Oosty comes here fresh. In fact, it’s just his third event since August. He’ll obviously have one eye on next month’s Presidents Cup, but what better way to build up for that with a win at ‘Africa’s Major’?
Given the last two champions ranked inside the top five for strokes gained on approach, it bodes really well that Oosthuizen ranked third for greens hit in China. In short, if you top the GIR charts, you’re almost guaranteed to do well.
Many argue that, given the quality of his game, the 37-year-old doesn’t win as much as he should – and while that’s true in other countries, his stats on home soil are outstanding. Since becoming Open champion in 2010, Oosthuizen has played 20 tournaments in South Africa and has won 25 per cent of them.
He’s the 8/1 favourite for a reason and looks a sure-fire contender as he seeks a 15th career victory.
Fleetwood and Stenson with questions to answer
The betting suggests that, at 12/1, both Tommy Fleetwood and Henrik Stenson are Oosthuizen’s most likely challengers. Fleetwood, the 2017 Race To Dubai winner, certainly has the tools to go well here. However, he hasn’t quite been at his best in recent months, with a tie for 20th in the CJ Cup last month his best finish. He hasn’t missed a cut since last summer, which is obviously an impressive achievement, but with over 100 rounds played this year, it’s hard to think he’ll be firing on all cylinders at this point in the season.
Stenson, meanwhile, looks opposable given his damming self-assessment on the state of his game in Houston. He had to retire his trusty three-wood last month, which has served him so well for so long, and that awful performance in Houston as well as four 70s in China don’t offer much hope of a revived performance here.