The European Tour reaches its penultimate event of the Race To Dubai season with a trip to South Africa for the Nedbank Challenge, while the PGA Tour makes its second visit of the year to Mexico for the Mayakoba Classic.
The Nedbank Challenge became one of the Final Series events of the Race To Dubai in 2016 and is held on the Gary Player CC at Sun City.
A par 72, measuring 7,831yds you would be forgiven for thinking length off the tee here is a huge advantage, however with the course ‘at altitude’, meaning the ball flies further than average, the length of the course is negated to some extent.
While taking advantage of the par fives here is naturally important, the key to success will be strong iron play to find the right spots on the firm, fast greens.
Looking at the field on display and with the top three in the Race To Dubai standings, Wiesberger, Rahm and Lowry, choosing to sit this one out, we find home favourite Louis Oosthuizen heading up the market at single figures, followed by Tommy Fleetwood, Henrik Stenson and Matt Fitzpatrick.
The first thing that hits me about this quartet is that they have zero wins between them this year.
Even at that, none could hardly be called prolific of late and even with Louis’ great course record – I don’t have to think twice about swerving them. Instead I shall look for the each-way value and start our team with a player who strikes me as a cracking bet at the odds, Justin Harding @ 60/1 where Paddy is paying the first 7 places before tee off.
A winner earlier this year in Qatar, the 33 year-old-South African also boasts a 12th place finish at Augusta this season and has been ticking along nicely again of late. He arrives here on the back of a solid 25th place finish in Turkey last week.
Back on home soil, on a course he’s finished sixth and eighth on previously at a different event, I expect Harding to step it up a level again this week.
He is my idea of the best value on offer.
Alongside Harding I will include two more, starting with a player who did us a huge favour at massive e/w odds in Italy a few weeks back, Shubhankar Sharma @ 45/1.
Seventh again last week in Turkey the 23-year-old Indian who landed his maiden European Tour title on South African soil last year is clearly building up a head of steam again and having played solidly on his debut in this event last year to finish 27th, I can see a big showing coming from him this time around.
Finally, to complete things in South Africa I shall take a chance on another home player, Branden Grace @ 40/1. It is fair to say that Grace has been in horrible form of late and this is reflected in his odds, as with a win and three further top 11 finishes here over the past four years, he would be challenging Louis at the head of the market if he were any kind of decent nick coming in.
Now that Branden no longer has to think about grabbing Ernie’s attention for a Presidents Cup wildcard pick though, it could just be that a return to home soil may lift him out of his malaise, particularly as he is here this week on a sponsor’s exemption.
On this basis I am happy to roll the dice.
Turning our attention to the PGA Tour and we’re back at the Greg Norman designed, 6,987 yard Par 71, El Cameleon GC in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico, for the Mayakoba Classic where Paddy is paying 8 places before tee-off.
Knox performed solidly to finish 11th in Bermuda two weeks ago and has not finished out of the top 10 here in his last three starts. English, meanwhile, was victorious here in 2013, has been on fire of late with three top six finishes in his past four starts.
A return to the winners enclosure may not be far away.
*Prices correct at time of publishing