SDC Championship Each-way Tips: 66/1 Brown can enjoy these greens

Golfer Daniel Brown
Daniel Brown can add to his win last year.

The DP World Tour begins a fortnight in South Africa with the SDC Championship at St Francis Links. Thriston Lawrence and Zander Lombard head the betting but Matt Cooper looks elsewhere for his three selections with the Betfair Sportsbook paying seven places...

  • 66/167.00 Brown can improve on last year

  • Stick with Richie Ramsay

  • Tom can put in a Valliant effort

  • I've always been very fond of a punting near miss.

    Of course, I'm not a complete fool. Landing a winner is what we all target and hitting the bullseye validates all the hard work and endeavour we put in.

    But the bittersweet experience of getting-it-right-while-getting-it-wrong has an exquisite pleasure all of its own.

    So it was 12 months ago when the SDC Championship, and host venue St Francis Links, debuted on the DP World Tour.

    In this column, after noting that the course designer Jack Nicklaus had rather boldly claimed it was "the best golf course I have ever seen", I added that it really did look rather promising for a new links test.

    Because the problem with so many new layouts that lay claim to resembling the British and Irish seaside is, of course, that the grass neither allows for links-like shots or provides a pallette that is appropriate.

    Bermuda and Paspalum just aren't the right shades of green (too bright, too garish) to ever allow a genuine links feel but it was immediately apparent that St Francis Links was much more like it.

    True, there was a soundtrack of South African wildlife that was distinctly un-links-like but the visual backdrop of gorse and bushes added to the sense that this was a little piece of the British or Irish coastline in the southern hemisphere.

    In last year's preview I added: "What also appeals is that it looks less like the big championship links of England, Scotland and Ireland, and more like the courses on the coastline that are one grade down.

    "That's no criticism. I'm thinking, instead, that it visually resembles Pyle & Kenfig more than Royal Porthcawl, or is a bit more Hillside than Royal Birkdale."

    A handful of days later Englishman Matthew Baldwin lifted the trophy and then said: "I felt right at home this week. I grew up in Southport playing Hesketh and Royal Birkdale."

    Nor was it just the visuals: "It's been blustery all week and because of where I'm from I'm pretty good in the wind."

    I won't pretend that I came close to identifying Baldwin last year but I did put up two players with a strong records in Southport and it was that close-but-no-cigar element which provided the oddly pleasurable sting last year.

    So near and yet so far. Onwards!

    Back Daniel Brown @ 66/167.00

    We'll kick off with the Englishman Daniel Brown who has enjoyed making significant progress during the last two years.

    He started that journey on the Challenge Tour when getting into contention at the Durban Country Club, a much-admired layout with a linksland feel and look similar at times to St Francis Links.

    He graduated to the main tour, was fifth in the South African Open early in the campaign and spent all week in the top 10 at this event 12 months ago, sitting third with 18 holes to go.

    In midsummer he landed a first win at Galgorm Castle and that's of interest for two reasons.

    Firstly one of the four rounds was played on the links at Castlerock.

    And secondly because last year's winner Baldwin loves Galgorm Castle with three top 10 finishes.

    Brown has played four rounds in 17 of his last 18 starts and was third in the Mauritius Open - another modern links layout.

    He's also played a lot of his golf at Lindrick which, whilst inland, is fast-running and not unlike St Francis Links in visuals.

    He also won the English Amateur at Ganton and he succeeded Joe Dean as champion of that event. He also pipped Dean to the Dutch Junior Open years ago so the heartening second place of Dean last week might act as a nice prompt.

    Back Daniel Brown each-way @ 66/167.00

    Bet here

    Back Richie Ramsay @ 50/151.00

    Ramsay was the main selection last year and a second round 67 got him into the top 10 before he drifted to T41st over the weekend.

    I'm willing to stick with both him and the angle of the type of courses St Francis Links plays like.

    Ramsay likes a seaside test with top 10s at Portstewart, Royal Portrush, Royal County Down, Murcar Links, Castle Stuart and Kennemer, plus three in the Dunhill Links Championship.

    He was also T22nd in the Open at Royal Birkdale (spending the first 54 holes in the top 12) and has finished both fifth and top of the pile at Hillside.

    He's even more relentless than Brown for playing all four rounds, doing so in 21 of his last 22 starts.

    A linksy test can help him turn quantity into quality, as can a Nicklaus one: he's won in South Africa on a Nicklaus design (at Pearl Valley) and was fifth last time he encountered one (at Ullna last summer).

    Back Richie Ramsay each-way @ 50/151.00

    Bet here

    Back Tom Valliant @ 125/1126.00

    Final pick is a little different - the young French rookie Tom Vaillant.

    One factor in common with Brown, however, is that he first showed up on the Challenge Tour on yet another links-like track in South Africa.

    In his case, he was the 36 and 54-hole leader of last year's Nelson Mandela Bay Championship at Humewood before finishing third.

    At the opposite end of that season he was again a pace-setter, this time in the Grand Final at a very windy Alcanada before ending the week second (he also said after grabbing the first round lead in Bahrain earlier this month that he feels his game is suited to a blustery test).

    In-between he was also second in the British Challenge at St Mellion (a Nicklaus layout).

    A double winner on the third tier in 2022, he's only gone close since but the locations are possibly neat fit ones for this week so he completes the team.

    Back Tom Valliant each-way @ 125/1126.00

    Bet now

    Now read Steve Rawlings on the SDC Championship.

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