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South Africa has been a staple of the DP World Tour and the end of this year’s schedule and the start of next involves no less than four co-sanctioned events in the country.
The first is the lucrative Nedbank Golf Challenge and offers the final chance for players to qualify for next week’s season-ending DP World Tour Championship in Dubai.
Just 66 players peg it up this week but they’re battling for a hefty prize fund of $6m.
Due to the pandemic, this will be the first staging of the tournament since 2019.
The course, Gary Player Country Club, is an iconic one and, on first glance, its length looks somewhat alarming at over 7,800 yards.
However, with Sun City over 1,000 feet above sea level, the ball flies further than normal.
That said, hitting it long is still an asset on a parkland-style course that features Kikuyu grass fairways and Bentgrass greens.
Add in narrow fairways along with a raft of long par fours and it seems scoring would be high.
Christiaan Bezuidenhout defied that by winning the South African Open staged there in 2020 with a score of 18-under but that was five clear of anyone else while only Lee Westwood managed better than 12-under in the last three editions of this event (2017-2019)
With Tommy Fleetwood taking the title in 2019 and Branden Grace scoring a home win in 2017, it means the last four winners at the Gary Player CC were either English or local South Africans.
On the basis of his five-shot win alone, Christiaan Bezuidenhout deserves to be on any shortlist for an event held at Gary Player Country Club.
That’s clearly his standout performance here but he’d preceded it with a pair of top 25s and also posted sixth place when defending that South African Open title a year later.
He’s become a familiar figure on the PGA Tour in the last couple of seasons and earlier this year finished runner-up at the John Deere Classic.
That helped the Springbok golfer reach the second leg of the FedEx Cup playoffs and since then he’s enjoyed a solid start to the new PGA Tour season and also represented the Internationals in the Presidents Cup.
Bezuidenhout is 4-for-4 on the PGA Tour in 2022/23, posting 20th at the Shriners Childrens Open in Las Vegas and 29th at the Zozo Championship.
But it’s his form when returning home to South Africa that really leaps off the page.
Starting from February 2020, he’s played five times on home soil and claimed three wins, a top six and a 15th.
That’s a fantastic record, nodding to both his ability to perform on home grasses and the extra confidence he carries.
Of the former, scrambling is key on this course and Bezuidenhout’s recent Strokes Gained: Around The Greens numbers are exceptional.
This is hardly the best field in the world with many of the big names keeping their powder dry for next week’s finale in Dubai so back Bezuidenhout for the win at +2000 with Caesars Sportsbook.
This week’s match bet comes at bet365 and features two in-form players: Thomas Detry and Ryan Fox.
And preference is for the Belgian to beat the New Zealander.
Fox is certainly in a great place after winning the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in Scotland and backing that up with a top four in the Mallorca Golf Open last time.
But he did miss the cut at Valderrama between those two events and his form at the Gary Player Country Club is distinctly average: 52nd, 50th, 57th.
Detry finished fifth at the prestigious BMW PGA Championship in September while he’s made a great start to his new life on the PGA Tour with 12th at the Fortinet, ninth at the Sanderson Farms, second at the Bermuda Championship and 15th in Mexico last week.
The big difference between the two is course form.
Detry seems to love this track and two appearances in Sun City have resulted in finishes of seventh and third.
Maverick McNealy landed the Top 10 bet in Mexico last week at +333 when, with no DP World Tour event, attention turned to the PGA Tour.
This week I’m backing a player who has already done us a favor in 2022.
Ewen Ferguson was the selection to win first prize at the ISPS Handa World Invitational in Northern Ireland in August and he got the job done, winning at +2000.
Two starts later he was runner-up at the Made in Himmerland in Denmark while last time out the Scot took ninth at the Mallorca Golf Open.
True, he’d missed four cuts before that return to form in Spain but let’s remember that Ferguson is a two-time winner in 2022 having also landed the Qatar Masters in March.
It’s his first look at this course but a third place in last year’s Cape Town Open shows he can perform in South Africa while he also took eighth spot in the Kenya Open - like this, an event played at altitude - earlier that month.
Let’s go for it and back Ferguson for a Top 10 at +500.
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Dave Tindall is former golf editor at SkySports.com and Golf365.com and has been writing betting previews for the PGA Tour and European Tour since 1997. He has also written for a range of betting companies, including William Hill and Betfair, as well as being a regular columnist for Rotoworld, The Guardian, Sporting Life and Planet Sport. His other area of speciality is football while he's also covered cricket and tennis.
Email: [email protected]More info on Dave Tindall
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