Jonsson Workwear Open Each-Way Tips: Stick with Lawrence's head for heights

Golfer Thriston Lawrence
Thriston Lawrence has been superb at altitude over the last 18 months.

The DP World Tour stays in South Africa this week. Adri Arnaus and Joost Luiten heads the betting for the Jonsson Workwear Open but Matt Cooper looks elsewhere in his three selections with the Betfair Sportsbook paying seven places...

  • Thriston 'Thin Air' Lawrence is in his sweet spot

  • The form of Finn Sami Valimaki's is bubbling

  • Swede Sebastian Soderberg played well last year


  • Last week's column addressed the DP World Tour's first visit to St Francis Links and was quietly confident that this new linksland venue bore quite a resemblance to a certain kind of UK seaside golf and Hillside in particular.

    Jens Dantorp (eighth at Hillside, third last week) had cropped up in research but, alas, did not make the picks.

    The eventual winner, Matthew Baldwin, did not register during preparation but there was a wry grin on this writer's lips all weekend knowing that he actually hailed from just round the corner from Hillside.

    I would never have picked him but sometimes I think there is an exquisite bittersweet pleasure in the times we almost get this punting game right.

    On we go and this week there is a return to the Club at Steyn City which is another Jack Nicklaus creation.

    On the limited evidence we saw last week, St Francis Links might be my favourite Golden Bear design because the greens were moulded as linksland greens should be.

    This week we're back to more typical Nicklaus golf: earth movers have shaped the land, the greens are raised, the fairways are protected by lakes and modern bunkering.

    The field has also moved from the Eastern Cape seaside to "the mega-project and life resort" of Steyn City, halfway between Pretoria and Johannesburg, on the high veldt so thin air and extra distance will be factors.

    Main Bet: Thriston Lawrence 1pt each-way @ 25/1

    The column has had some success backing Thriston Lawrence when he's at altitude (most obviously when he won the European Masters) and there seems little reason not to ride that wave this week.

    The 26-year-old got a little lucky 18 months ago when winning a Joburg Open reduced to 36 holes even if he had pegged a pair of 65s that bested the field by four.

    But it was a first indication that he likes thin air.

    The next time he experienced it he was second in the Kenya Open and then added ninth and eighth on the high veldt when the circuit returned to his home country (the last of those efforts was here at Steyn City).

    He added 36th at Eichenried in Munich and eighth at Albatross in Czechia - neither as high as Johannesburg or Nairobi but elevated all the same.

    That win in the European Masters followed at Crans which was definitely at altitude.

    He did miss the cut in Madrid but was 33rd at Houghton and won the South African Open at Blair Atholl.

    It's quite a record and he also finished 14th last week at St Francis Links so is in good form.

    He also seems at home on a Nicklaus test. There's not only those two top 10s this time last year (the other was at Pecanwood) - he was also third at Serengeti in the 2020 Southern Africa Tour Championship.

    Back Thriston Lawrence 1pt each-way @

    25/1

    Next Best: Sami Valimaki 1pt each-way @ 33/1

    I'm going to forgive Sami Valimaki signing off last week with an 80.

    On the one hand, he's the type who seems to brush off big scores rather than be mortified by them.

    On the other, he's spent a lot of time on the front page of leaderboards recently and this week might suit him well.

    He was, for example, second in the Singapore Classic when top 10 all week.

    He followed that with 22nd in the Thailand Classic when the first round leader and still T11th with 18 holes to play.

    sami valimaki joburg 2022 (1).jpg

    And he was top 10 through 36 holes last week.

    He also opened the season with second at Houghton in the Joburg Open, got off to a fast start when 11th in the Mauritius Open (he was the column's headline tip) and 10th in Abu Dhabi in January.

    He was 16th here at Steyn City last year, at a point when his form was nowhere near as promising as currently.

    He was also fourth at Eichenried in the thinnish air of Munich.

    He's carded a 65 at the London Club so can go low on Nicklaus designs and has plenty of good finishes at the likes of Celtic Manor, Jumeirah and Aphrodite Hills so modern visuals fit his eye.

    Back Sami Valimaki 1pt each-way @

    33/1

    Final Bet: Sebastian Soderberg 1pt each-way @ 66/1

    Even before he won his first DP World Tour title at Crans in the 2019 European Masters Sebastian Soderberg had dropped hints that he liked playing at altitude.

    Just earlier that summer he has been 14th at Eichenried and the previous year he'd nearly won in Czechia on the Challenge Tour.

    More relevantly his first DP World Tour top five had come at Santo da Serra, high up in the mountains of Madeira.

    His first Challenge Tour win was in Nairobi (he was sixth there two years later) and he got his rookie year on the main circuit rolling with 11th in the Joburg Open.

    He blows a bit hot and cold but he ended the first three rounds here last year in the top five before finishing 10th and he is a fellow who repeats good course form when a spot takes his fancy.

    Back Sebastian Soderberg 1pt each-way @

    66/1

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