Adri Arnaus has form at altitude and on Nicklaus tracks
Thriston Lawrence is always a threat on the highveldt
Shaun Norris has been quietly playing well in Japan
Laurie Canter can go well down under
On reflection, and pretty much contrary to the prevailing mood, I rather like the fact that DP World Tour seasons tumble into one another with no gap whatsoever.
I wonder if we don't like major sporting occasions (the Olympics, World Cups) and events themselves (a tennis draw, four rounds, five days of a Test match) because they provide a neatness that life itself doesn't permit, like a domino run with a start and an end.
In gloriously chaotic contrast, the DP World Tour season just tumbles on and on and on and on and on.
Again like life, a DP World Tour season has a whole host of different dynamics for the participants.
The upper classes get to pick and choose, to sit out the awkward bits.
The rest have conflicting demands: the need for money, the security of points in the bank, the opportunity to play on home soil, the desire to give something back to circuits that nurtured them.
And so to the 2023/24 season's double-headed opening in Australia and South Africa, now officially known as The Opening Swing.
The Australian PGA Championship has drawn a really rather good field with 10 players rated 20/121.00 or lower.
Finding a winner from outside those top ranks might be a tricky quest but the column has one pick.
First up, however, is the Joburg Open, the first event of what is the long-standing pre-Christmas four-week venture to Southern Africa - kind of like an advent calendar for the lower ranks.
Last season was not one the Spaniard will have enjoyed for the most part. In fact, through the rump of it, he went 13 starts without one top 60 finish.
But he closed out the campaign with two top 20s in his last four starts, a run that included a share of first round lead in the Dunhill Links Championship and heading into final round of Andalucia Masters inside the top 10.
Nonetheless, he'd have been a bit sore about missing out on last week's finale in Dubai on a course he's finished top 10 on three times.
A good time to hit the reset button then. This week offers a good chance to set the tone for a much better season ahead.
His best finish last year was when second at St Francis Links, which is not only a Jack Nicklaus design, like Houghton GC this week, but also in South Africa - and a year before he was second at Pecanwood, yet another Nicklaus design in the country.
Then there's his fondness for altitude.
He ended his time on the Challenge Tour with ninth in Almaty at the Kazakhstan Open and on the main tour has backed that up.
He's been second at Karen and eighth at Muthaiga in the Kenya Open, second at Albatross in Prague, sixth and ninth in Crans, and second and fourth at Club de Campo Villa Madrid.
If missing out last week can draw those signs of form into something more solid he has the quality to make this price look big.
A simple one this, but the column likes Lawrence at altitude and, with wins at 33/134.00 in Crans and 80/181.00 in Munich in the bank, the inclination is to keep something on him.
True, the price is not so tasty, but thin air in Africa might be even more his thing than in Europe and his top 10s at this level are very persuasive.
His first was in this event at Randpark. It was fortunate (reduced to 36 holes) but he swiftly added second at Muthaiga, then ninth at Pecanwood and eighth at Steyn City.
All of them at altitude, the latter two on Nicklaus layouts. As was his next top 10 when third at Mount Juliet in the Irish Open.
He was then eighth at Albatross before landing that win in the Swiss Alps.
His sixth at Valderrama is no obvious pointer for this week but this time last year he won the South African Open at Blair Atholl back on the highveldt and then won in Munich.
His third at The K Club was nice enough, but his fifth place last week in Dubai showed he'd really found form.
He just missed out on a PGA Tour card which could irk him but there is plenty else to motivate him.
He was only T33rd here last year but did open and close with rounds of 66.
The South African has mostly been away from the DP World Tour since winning 2022 Steyn City Championship (Nicklaus test) and then flirting with LIV.
This year he has settled back on the Japan Tour, which is where he found his feet as a tour professional and he's found his mojo in the last two months with four top 20s in his last five starts.
That run began with third in the ACN Championship on a course designed by Jack Nicklaus II rather than the man himself but he's in the Nicklaus Design group and their guiding principles run through the portfolio.
Norris was then eighth in the Japan Open, second in the ABC Championship, T37th in the Taiheyo Masters and T17th last week in the Dunlop Phoenix when he opened with a 65 and was second at halfway.
Last year he carded rounds of 70-68-67-70 for T18th on this course and he's twice finished third at Randpark in this event (in 2017 and 2020).
As mentioned, the top end of the market could be hard to beat.
Cam Smith, Min Woo Lee, Adam Scott, Cam Davis, Lucas Herbert and Marc Leisihman lead the Aussie charge; Adrian Meronk, Joaquin Niemann, Robert MacIntyre and Ryo Hisatsune head the cosmopolitan challenge.
Canter was only T53rd on his only previous tournament start at Royal Pines but that came early in his first year on the main tour (2015), he's a much more accomplished player now and the venue is now Royal Queensland.
He was T14th last time out in the Dunhill Links Championship and he was T17th in the Open in July. He also had five top 20s on LIV in the summer.
This time last year was third in the Dunhill Championship and he can contend again.
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