The European Tour visits Mauritius where the 2010 Open Champion, Louis Oosthuizen, might just take some beating. Read our man's in-depth preview here...
"Having won the Open Championship in 2010, Louis has subsequently finished runner-up in all four majors as well but he really thrives in these sort of low grade affairs when he’s expected to perform."
This is the third renewal of the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open - an event tri-sanctioned between the European, Asian and Sunshine Tours.
The first two editions were staged in May 2015 and May 2016 so the event didn't actually feature on the 2017 European Tour schedule.
Having been staged at the Four Seasons Golf Club at Anahita last year, the tournament returns to its original venue - the Heritage Resorts, Domaine de Bel Ombre.
The Heritage Course, Domaine de Bel Ombre, Mauritius.
Par 71, 6,987 yards
Stroke index in 2015 when played over 7,036 yards- 71.33
At just a shade under 7,000 yards, the Peter Matkovich-designed Heritage Course is a short wind-affected course with water in play on the seventh, ninth, 11th, 13th and 18th holes.
The Indian Ocean is in view on 10 of the 18 holes and the fairways are generous. Here's what Scott Hend had to say about the venue prior to the 2015 renewal: "Some greens are tricky here and the grass is a bit different to what we are normally used to. But the ball is rolling fine. You can score out here. There are two drivable par fours and the par fives are reachable. It's out there to be had. You just have to get the ball under the hole."
I've read that the tournament switched last year to allow for changes to be made to the Heritage but I'm sorry to say that I haven't been able to ascertain any information about any changes to the course.
I've looked at the card for 2015 and the card for this week and although the total par is the same, the tough par four second hole is now a par five and the easiest hole on the course two years ago, the short par four fifth, is now a par three.
And I've just had this reply form Golf journalist, Michael Vlismas, who's out there covering the event, after I'd asked him if he knew anything about the changes.
The 2nd will be played as a par 5. Was a par 4 in 2015. The 5th will be played as a par 3 from a forward tee. And 14 is off a new back tee and with 2 new fairway bunkers on the right.? Michael Vlismas (@MichaelVlismas) November 28, 2017
Live on Sky all four days, starting at 06:30 on Thursday.
First Two Winners
2015 - George Coetzee -13 (playoff)
2016 - Jeunghun Wang -6 (Four Seasons)
What Will it Take to Win the AfrAsia Mauritius Open?
With only one previous renewal at the venue, we shouldn't give the stats too much credence - especially when they don't appear to reveal much anyway.
Hend, who always blasts it miles, was the only player in the top-ten to rank inside the top-20 for Driving Distance and accuracy wasn't essential either. The two playoff protagonists, George Coetzee and Thorbjørn Olesen, ranked 50th and 70th for Driving Accuracy.
Greens In Regulation wasn't even a key stat with the front two ranking 42nd and 39th but they did both putt really well and they also played the par fours better than anyone else. Coetzee ranked first for both Putting Average and Par 4 Scoring and Olesen ranked second for those two stats.
Is There an Angle In?
It was no surprise to see a South African win the inaugural event. Mauritius is a popular destination for South Africans and a number of players have connections with the island. Hend mentioned how tricky the greens were to read so those that grew up putting on grainy unpredictable greens should hold a slight advantage over the others.
This is a really tough tournament to get to grips with but I suspect the African players to have a marginal advantage over the Europeans.
The forecast doesn't suggest very windy conditions - just an ever present breeze - but given its coastal location, that's bound to be a factor.
And finally, I just wonder whether the Rocco Forte Open in Sicily might prove to be a decent guide. Alvaro Quiros won the event in extra time back in May - beating Zander Lombard in a playoff. Staged at the coastal Verdura Golf & Spa Resort, the field experienced windy conditions all week long and with so little to go on, I thought that may be a tournament that correlates nicely given the venues appear fairly similar.
George Coetzee trailed by five in a tied for 32nd after round one and he still trailed by four at halfway before eventually converting a one stroke lead. Olesen led through rounds one and two before dropping a stroke behind Coetzee through 54 holes.
At the 2015 edition, the first four holes ranked as the second, third, sixth and fourth hardest on the course and combined, they averaged more than a stroke over-par for the week. That was a tough start but second is a par five this year after the changes so we'll just have to see how they play this time around.
Averaging 4.46 for the week, the par four 17th was the toughest hole on the course two years and if you're betting in-running it might be one to watch again because it's yardage of 463 hasn't changed according to the European Tour website.
I wouldn't put anyone off backing the favourite, Louis Oosthuizen, although he has shortened up over the last 24 hours.
When interviewed yesterday he sounded nicely chilled. "I'm in a very relaxed mode. This is my first AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open in my 18th season as a professional, and I'm looking forward to it. This is a great place. The course looks good, and the greens look good."
Having won the Open Championship in 2010, Louis has subsequently finished runner-up in all four majors as well, and his celebration after finishing second at the US PGA in August to complete the feat below is well worth a look, but he really thrives in these sort of low grade affairs when he's expected to perform.
Just finished my career grand slam second's .. "I'll rise up" pic.twitter.com/083aRityWn? Louis Oosthuizen (@Louis57TM) August 14, 2017
As detailed in this piece here, Louis is co-designing the second course at the Heritage, and I can see him being switched on and raring to go this week at a venue that should suit him nicely too. He's a very worthy favourite and a fair price.
Dylan Frittelli was a bit disappointing over the weekend last week in Hong Kong and he may just need a break and Alexander Bjork put in an ugly finish there after going odds-on with four holes to play.
George Coetzee is a very obvious candidate, although he rarely wins and Haydn Porteous looks best of the remaining market leaders at just a shade under 30.029/1
I had a small bet on Louis at 8.07/1 yesterday and I looked closely at Clement Sordet, who is affiliated with the venue, and at Scott Hend, who played well here two years ago after a slow start, but so far, my only other bet in the event is my each-way selection, Zander Lombard, who finished sixth in South Africa last time out.
Louis Oosthuizen @ 8.07/1
Zander Lombard @ 80.079/1
I'll be back on Thursday or Friday with the In-Play Blog.
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