Ariel Cañete won the inaugural Joburg Open ten years ago and this is just the 11th staging.
The tournament is co-sanctioned between the European and Sunshine Tours and with two courses in operation over the first two days, the field is huge with 210 players in the line-up.
Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club, Johannesburg, South Africa
West Course Par 71, 7,228 yards
Stroke index in 2016 - 70.28
East Course Par 72, 7,677 yards
Stroke index in 2016 - 72.18
The unusually big field will play both the East and West Courses over the first two days with the weekend being played out entirely on the tougher East Course. The West Course is the shorter of the two and it usually plays around a couple of shots easier. There was differential of 1.9 strokes between the two courses last year, 2.07 strokes in 2015 and 1.72 in 2014.
The Royal Johannesburg and Kensington is at altitude so although they look fairly long courses on paper, the ball travels around 10% further than it does at sea level.
Live on Sky Sports all four days, starting at 8:30 on Thursday
Last Five Winners
2016 - Haydn Porteous -18
2015 - Andy Sullivan -17
2014 - George Coetzee -19
2013 - Richard Sterne -27
2012 - Branden Grace -17
What Will it Take to Win the Joburg Open?
Although we've had ten previous renewals, complete stats have only been produced for the last five renewals and I'm not entirely convinced they can be trusted implicitly. The last two winners, Haydn Porteous and Andy Sullivan have managed to win despite apparently ranking 69th and 132nd for Scrambling.
If they can be trusted, Greens In Regulation looks like the best stat to guide us. Porteous only ranked 31st for GIR but the second and third, Zander Lombard and Bjorn Akesson, both ranked tied seventh for GIR and the four previous winners ranked fourth, 13th, first and second.
There are stats for how the players have fared on the par threes, fours and fives going back over the last eight years and they're of some use. Anders Hansen ranked second on the par fours when he won here in 2009, the next five winners all ranked first, the 2015 runner-up, Wallie Coetzee, also ranked first and Porteous ranked second last year so how you play the par fours is clearly key.
Is There an Angle In?
Last year's tournament was played in January for some reason, one week after the South Africa Open, so the majority of the field were either playing for the first time in weeks or for just the second time in weeks. Porteous had missed the cut at the South Africa Open but he has a propensity for playing well all of a sudden so I wouldn't read too much into that and it might be worth siding with someone in form if history is anything to go by.
In the six years previous, when the event was played in February, all the winners had been in fair form. Andy Sullivan had won the South African Open and finished fourth in Abu Dhabi in 2015. George Coetzee finished fourth in Abu Dhabi and fifth in Qatar before finally breaking his duck here three years ago. Richard Sterne had finished runner-up to Stephen Gallacher in Dubai the week before he won in 2013. Branden Grace, who, like Coetzee, was winning on the European Tour for the first time here, had finished an eye-catching 14th at the Africa Open the week before he won and Charl Schwartzel had been red-hot when he won this title in both 2010 and 2011. He won back-to-back in 2010, having won the Africa Open the previous week and he finished fourth in the Africa Open in 2011 before doubling up here.
This is a bit of a birdie-fest so it makes sense that in-form players have won in six of the last seven years.
Is There an Identikit Winner?
Ariel Cañete, who hasn't won since, was any price you like ten years ago and few fancied Porteous, who was matched before the off at 250.0249/1, last year but the nine winners in-between were all quite well-fancied.
Seven of the ten winners (and six of the last seven) have been South African and whilst the jury is out on quite how good last year's winner may be in the long run, a couple of very good South African youngsters have broken their European Tour duck here. Along with Porteous, George Coetzee and Branden Grace both won for the first time on the ET here.
Although last year's winner was never outside the top-two all week long, this is an event where coming from off the pace is possible and we've seen two win from miles back...
Having gone off at around 18.017/1 two years ago, Andy Sullivan was matched in-running at 140.0139/1 after he opened up with a 72 around the trickier West Course. He was languishing in a tie for 114th and was nine off the lead after round one. That was one shot further adrift than the 2009 winner, Anders Hansen, but the Dane's win was perhaps even more remarkable given he was still eight back at halfway!
After a 65 in round two, Sullivan trailed by five at the halfway stage and he was still three adrift with a round to go. In 2014, after a lacklustre third round, Coetzee trailed by four through 54 holes and so did the 2008 champ, Richard Sterne.
It's a tough one to gauge though as it's worth pointing out that seven of the ten winners have all been leading or within a stroke of the lead with a round to go.
Be prepared for a stop-start week - rain is forecast every day!
Although his event form figures of 46-16-MC-28 aren't especially inspiring, Brandon Stone is a worthy favourite of a weak renewal. He's already won two European Tour events in his homeland having impressively taken both his national title in January and the Alfred Dunhill Championship (by six strokes!) in December last year.
He didn't defend the South Africa Open well, finishing 31st, and two outings on the PGA Tour resulted in two weekends off but you couldn't fault his eye-catching seventh last time out at the Dubai Desert Classic and he's the one they all have to beat.
There's not much to choose between former winner George Coetzee and Jaco Van Zyl but neither make any appeal. The likable George gets in his way more often than not when in-contention and I'm beginning to think Van Zyl with never get that European Tour title his brilliance so richly deserves. Both are easy to swerve.
Richard Sterne hacked up here in 2013 by seven strokes but that was the injury-prone Pretorian's last victory. We haven't seen him since December last year when he finished a distant second to Stone so it's hard to know what to expect but again, there's no value in his price either.
I quite like a few here and if I add any more I'll update the preview and Twitter but for now I'm going to kick off the event by getting the favourite onside.
Brandon Stone looks certain to go on to bigger and better things in years to come and I'm a bit surprised he isn't a couple of ticks shorter. The 14/1 on offer by the Sportsbook is the industry-wide best on offer and it's not to be sniffed at.
Brandon Stone @ 14/1 (Sportsbook)
*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter
Check out all the current course and form guide ahead of the Joburg