Joburg Open: Home comforts for Van Zyl

Joburg Open: Home comforts for Van Zyl

The European Tour makes its third visit of the season to South Africa for this week’s Joburg Open at Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club.

After the difficulties of finding a winner in last week’s strokeplay/matchplay hybrid event in Perth, things don’t promise to be much easier here thanks to a vast field of 210 players split initially between the East and West courses.

Players will face 18 holes at each course on the first two days, with the final two rounds played over the tougher East Course at the weekend – assuming the courses are playable after large amounts of rain this week, with more in the forecast.

Haydn Porteous is the defending champion and South African players have a superb record in the event, with seven home winners in the 10 editions of the tournament held so far.

However, Porteous began the season with six straight missed cuts before finally earning some money with a tie for 26th in Malaysia, so even a price of 80/1 offers little appeal.

Backing Jaco van Zyl in European Tour events can be a frustrating business as the world number 92 continues to get into winning positions without quite getting over the line.

The latest near-miss came last month when he lost out in a three-man play-off in the Qatar Masters by three-putting for par on the par-five 18th but Van Zyl is a prolific winner on the Sunshine Tour and can take advantage of a relatively weak field at 18/1.

Fellow South African Thomas Aiken finished just a shot outside the play-off in Qatar and also warrants interest here at the same price, especially considering his five top-12 finishes in his last seven appearances in the event.

Another local player with good course form is Jacques Blaauw (40/1), who has finished seventh the last two years and was sixth in a Web.Com Tour event recently, which tends to be a highly competitive feeder circuit for the PGA Tour.

Finally, a massive outsider who could be worth a small each-way investment at 300/1 is India’s Jeev Milkha Singh, who showed glimpses of the form which brought him four European Tour titles when he qualified for the match play stages of last week’s event in Perth.

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