Nedbank Golf Challenge Betting Tips & Predictions
The European Tour rolls on with its slightly ill-fated ‘Race to Dubai’ series with a turn in South Africa this week and the Nedbank Challenge.
The likes of Rory McIlroy and Patrick Reed, who could be here, are not, and with guys towards the head of the Race to Dubai Rankings such as Danny Willett really struggling with their game, it’s no real surprise that the European Tour’s version of the FedEx Cup is rather falling flat at the moment.
That has not perturbed Henrik Stenson from making the trip, nor three-time winner this term Alex Noren, Martin Kaymer and a trio of ‘local’ superstars in Charl Schwartzel, Louis Oosthuizen and Branden Grace. Defending champion Marc Leishman is trying his luck across the pond at the OHL Classic.
This is actually the second time that the Nedbank Challenge has been held this season – the first was in December 2015 – so we have a few betting angles in to work with.
The Gary Player Country Club, named after the legendary South African shooter, hosts the event live from Sun City, and if the thought of that doesn’t warm your cockles then the reality that it is some 32˚C there right now just might.
It’s a whopper of a course – a full 7,831 yards for its Par 72 – and so those in attendance need to go big off the tee or go home. Former winners, such as Leishman, Willett, Martin Kaymer and Lee Westwood, are all noted for their length off the peg but also their straight hitting too; a key angle in.
South African courses are unique because many of them are built with Kikuyu grass fairways and rough, which is a test in itself. That helps to explain why some players enjoy lots of repeat success in this tournament, and others don’t.
So we need powerful drivers but with a steady iron/short game too: these greens are smaller than average and well protected by bunkers, so Greens in Regulation is another statistic that is welcome this week. In 2015, Leishman ranked inside the top-15 for both Driving Accuracy and Distance and first for GIR, so that marks our card really nicely for what to look for in a winner.
But here comes the bad news. Stenson, the 4/1 favourite, really is deserving of such a good price – a price so short that we simply cannot tip him at. The Open champion finished second in the recent WGC HSBC Champions event in China on his return from injury, and has connected an incredible six consecutive top-five finishes at the Gary Player Country Club; including a win here in 2008. The Swede is head-and-shoulders above his rivals this week.
So what options does that leave us with? Well, we can certainly try and take him on with some juicily-priced longshots that are backed in an each way fashion.
George Coetzee (each way)
The South African, a multi-time winner in his homeland, was very much in contention at last week’s Turkish Airlines Open, and a fifth there sets him up nicely for a title at the title here.
His excellent week was underlined by some great numbers off the tee (sixth for Driving Distance, thirteenth for Accuracy), and while his green-hitting numbers were down slightly at least he putted his boots off: ranking fourth for Putts Per Round. Who knows how important that could be on Sunday when the pressure is on?
Coetzee has trousered a 16th and a 12th in his two trips to the Gary Player Club and that’s important: the likes of Stenson, Ross Fisher, Thongchai Jaidee and Charl Schwartzel have all recorded multiple good finishes here, which suggests it is one of those ‘horses for courses’ tracks.
With that in mind, there’s no reason why Coetzee can’t go well again.
Kiradech Aphibarnrat (each way)
For Coetzee, read Aphibarnrat. A pair of fantastic showings in the Nedbank (fifth in 2014, sixteenth in 2015), allied with some decent form (12th in the British Masters, 25th in the Turkish Open) makes the Thai ace a decent each way shout this week.
He was excellent off the peg in Turkey as well, ranking 21st for distance and 10th for accuracy, and if he can find more greens – not unlikely given his past form here – then the ‘Barn Rat’ will have a chance of doing some serious business.
Scott Hend (each way)
We’re going against the grain here with the Aussie, who has never played at the Gary Player Club before, but then neither had Leishman in his winning effort last year.
There is no cut this week as the field is just 70-odd strong, and that guides us towards Hend slightly. He can be hugely erratic, but the underlying faults in his game can be forgotten when you see his distance off the tee – a whopping 300 yard average drive is perfect for this stretch.
His short game blows hot and cold but at the moment things are moving in the right direction: an outstanding September (a fourth and a second), a misfiring October before a decent return last week in Turkey with 25th.
The two-time tour winner is someone who will enjoy the extra yards afforded to him this week.
Thomas Aiken (each way)
Lastly, how about a try on a South African native, three-time tour winner, with a top-20 finish to his name here last time out and who is one of the best drivers in the business?
Aiken’s form is wavering (60-37-33), but just look at his numbers in Turkey last week: he ranked sixth for Driving Accuracy, 23rd for Distance and 1st for Greens in Regulation. That track didn’t suit him – this one surely will.