Nedbank Golf Challenge: Van Rooyen to start fast

South Africa's Erik Van Rooyen
South African Erik Van Rooyen can start fast

Dave Tindall looks at the opening round of the Nedbank Golf Challenge where he has three picks to make a fast start...

"The South African has finished the opening lap inside the top eight on six occasions since April and gave another reminder of his fast starts when opening with 67 in Turkey last week."

Erik Van Rooyen each-way @ 40/1

Each-way terms: 1/5 odds, 6 places

Weather forecast for Sun City, South Africa: Lots of sunshine. Well, we are in Sun City. The later starters get a few more hours of weather in the 80s while winds are light throughout the day.

Tee-times: Once more, the European Tour squeezes the 72-man field into three-balls from a two-tee start. The first groups go out at 08.50 local and the last at 10.51. There's no obvious advantage.

Van Rooyen can give home fans early cheer

Erik Van Rooyen has been a leaderboard regular in round one this year.

The South African has finished the opening lap inside the top eight on six occasions since April and gave another reminder of his fast starts when opening with 67 in Turkey last week.

He finished that event with another 67 and that should set him up nicely for this home game at Gary Player CC.

Van Rooyen hasn't played this event before but did take it on in a Sunshine Tour event in 2016, finishing T9 after sitting in the top five after 18 holes.

He's had strong first rounds in co-sanctioned events too. Last December, he opened with a 64 to lie second after day one of the Joburg Open and a Thursday 67 put him T4 after R1 of the South African Open in January.

Van Rooyen can continue this breakthough season by making an early impact so I'll back him at 40/1 for FRL.

Hungry Harrington can go low

Padraig Harrington's upturn in form since the summer has been a welcome storyline for the European Tour and the three-time major winner has been fuelling his good results with quick starts.

The trend for going low early actually started on the PGA Tour when he was T9 after day one of the Travelers in June and he followed that with an opening 68 to end day one in tied second at his home Irish Open.

Since then? A R1 66 at the Czech Masters, a 67 at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship which was worth T3 at close of Thursday and a 65 in Turkey last week which put him T2 after the first round.

He's very familiar with Gary Player CC and a Thursday 66 there in 2010 gave him the first-round lead, albeit in a field of just 12.

Harrington hasn't done much at the course in the last two years but his game wasn't where it is now.

He's ranked sixth and second for GIR in his last two starts while boasting superb scrambling figures (1st) of 90.9% at Valderrama.

Getting up and down is a key feature on this long course so if he can use that to keep the bogeys away while making his share of birdies, Harrington can make his mark and hopefully an early one.

Kaymer class can show again

Martin Kaymer looked all set to miss next week's DP World Tour Championship for the first time after a run of poor results.

But class is permanent and all that and just when a big result was needed he found one in Turkey with a top five to punch his ticket.

Kaymer started out with a 66 which put him in the top five from round one and now he has the chance to ride that refreshed optimism on a course where he's performed well before.

The German won the trophy in a limited 12-man field in 2012 and was tied fifth last year.

Speaking about his strong performance in Turkey, Kaymer said: "The game was really spot on. I was striking the ball very, very well."

And this week? "I'm really looking forward to it because I'm very close. I've won on that golf course before, so a repeat is certainly the goal."

We'll settle for a first-round lead, Martin.

Dave's 2018 R1 leader P/L (based on £5 ew per selection)

Staked: £930
Returned: £666.03
P/L: -£263.97

(After the Turkish Airlines Open)

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