Tshwane Open: Impressive Fisher Jr can double-up, says The Punter

Trevor Fisher Jr – The Punter’s only pick in South Africa
Trevor Fisher Jr – The Punter’s only pick in South Africa

There isn't an awful lot to go on for the third edition of the Tshwane Open at a brand new venue but Steve's done his research so read his comprehensive preview here...

“Richard Sterne, Charl Schwartzel and Branden Grace have all won back-to-back co-sanctioned events in South Africa recently so if Trevor was to go in again, he wouldn’t be setting a precedent.”


Tournament History

This is just the third staging of the Tshwane Open - the sixth and final tournament of the season co-sanctioned between the Sunshine and European Tour.


Venue

Pretoria Country Club, Waterkloof, South Africa


Course Details
Par 70, 7,063 yards

After two years at the Ernie Els designed Copperleaf course in Centurion the tournament moves just a few miles north to the Bob Grimsdel designed Pretoria Country Club. The course opened way back in 1910 and underwent a major redesign by the Gary Player Group in 2004/05.

Described as a tight and tree lined, the course has several ponds on the front nine and a river that runs through holes 13 - 17 on the back nine. The Kikuyu fairways are of average width but tight in places and the rough has been cut to a height of 10cm. The small, undulating and elevated Bentgrass greens will run at around 10 on the stimpmeter.

This may be the first time we've seen the course on the European Tour but it's seen plenty of action on the Sunshine Tour. Pretoria hosted the Vodacom Championship between 2006 and 2010 and it was also used six times between 2005 and 2011 as part of the Vodacom Origins pro-am series.

Here's a full list of course winners

2005 - Desvonde Botes (Vodacom origins - 54 holes)
2006 - Charl Schwartzel (Vodacom Championship)
2006 - Vaughn Groenewald (Vodacom origins - 54 holes)
2007 - Richard Sterne (Vodacom Championship)
2007 - Hennie Otto (Vodacom origins - 54 holes)
2008 - James Kingston (Vodacom Championship)
2008 - Tyrone Van Aswegen (Vodacom origins - 54 holes)
2009 - Anders Hansen (Vodacom Championship)
2009 - Brandon Pieters (Vodacom origins - 54 holes)
2010 - Hennie Otto (Vodacom Championship)
2011 - Jean Hugo (Vodacom origins - 54 holes)


Useful Sites
Event Site
Course Site
Course Details and Flyover
Twitter Link
Tee Times
Weather Forecast


TV Coverage

Live on Sky Sports all for days, starting Thursday


First Two Winners

2014 - Ross Fisher -20
2013 - Dawie van der Walt -21


What Will it Take to Win The Tshwane Open?

It's never easy when an event moves to a new venue and even though there are plenty of results to pore over, I haven't seen too many stats to analyse from those results. Stats were produced for the very last result here when big hitter Jean Hugo won thanks to playing the par 5s in 10-under-par (just three rounds) and when Hennie Otto won the final staging of the Vodacom Championship, a year earlier, he played the long holes in 15-under, so that might be an angle in but I have to be honest, I'm clutching at straws a bit.


Is There An Angle In?

South Africans have a great record in these co-sanctioned events and if you're toying between backing a local over an overseas player, plump for the local.


Is There an Identikit Winner?

The five winners at this venue in the Vodacom Championship, played over four rounds, have all been fairly classy. Charl Schwartzel, Richard Sterne, James Kingston, Anders Hansen and Hennie Otto have all established themselves outside of South Africa on the European Tour and the only man to lose in a playoff here, Louis Oosthuizen, isn't too shabby either.

This looks like it might be somewhere that the cream rises to the top so concentrating on those towards the head of the market may be the way to go.


In-Play Tactics

I've disregarded the results of the Vodacom Origins Series as they were all played over just three rounds so I've only looked at the five Vodacom Championship results.

Otto trailed by a stroke after round one in 2010 before making all the running thereafter - eventually hacking up by an incredible nine strokes, but more often than not, the winners come from some way off the pace.

The first four winners, and Oosthuizen, who lost to Sterne in a playoff in 2007, were all at least five back after round one and Schwartzel, who trailed by three at halfway, led by three with a round to go in 2006 but the other three winners, and Oosty, all came from some way back.

The 2007 playoff protagonists, Sterne and Oosthuizen, trailed by seven and four strokes respectively at halfway and were six and four back after three rounds. The 2008 winner, Kingston, was never nearer than four off the lead at any stage before winning by two strokes and Hansen was five adrift after rounds one and two and two back after round three, before he went on to win comfortably by four strokes.

It's only a very small sample so we can't put too much faith in those stats, but they certainly suggest it's possible to come from some way back to win.


Market Leaders

Defending champ, Ross Fisher, is a very deserving favourite here and I can see why he's been well backed already. He has a cracking record in South Africa and has been in reasonable form so far this year but he may be one to get with in-running now the price has gone.

He started last week's WGC Cadillac Championship slowly with a first round of 78 and he hasn't broken 70 in any opening round this year. Travelling over from the States and playing a very different venue, might just see him put in another tardy start but he's certainly capable of outclassing this field. Fisher ended up finishing 23rd at Doral with rounds of 71, 69 and 72 after the slow start so he's most certainly in decent form.

Andy Sullivan has already won twice in South Africa but both wins came from off the pace and I'm not convinced he's the quality player the market suggests he is. I could easily be wrong on that and time will tell but you'd have to be a brave punter to pile in at around 20.019/1 after last week's missed cut.

This might be a week for George Coetzee fans to side with their man. He's from Pretoria, is affiliated to the venue and finished second to Hugo here in 2011. That's the plusses, on the negative side, that was his eighth tournament at Pretoria and he'd only finished inside the top-ten (7th in 2007) once before and he appears out of form. I'm more than happy to look elsewhere.

Jaco Van Zyl was positioned perfectly to win his first co-sanctioned event last week on a course he plays well on but yet again he was awful in-the-mix. He missed a couple of two foot putts on the first two holes on Sunday to give up any chance of victory and he's definitely not for me here. Van Zyl was third here in 2005 but in seven subsequent starts he's never finished inside the top-20.


Selection

If I'd have been on the ball, I may have taken the early 23.022/1 available about Ross Fisher but since that's long gone, I'm going to begin the event backing just one, another Fisher, last week's winner, Trevor Fisher Jr.

He has a very mixed bag of results at Pretoria, with four missed cuts and four top-16 finishes. His best performance came last time he played here when he finished 6th in 2011 but the main reason I've backed him is how well he played last week.

I know East London is far from the toughest course encountered on the European Tour but he shot 17-under-par over the weekend to win easily by five strokes, having trailed by four at halfway, and I can just see him riding the crest of the wave.

Richard Sterne, Charl Schwartzel and Branden Grace have all won back-to-back co-sanctioned events in South Africa recently so if Trevor was to go in again, he wouldn't be setting a precedent.


Selection:
Trevor Fisher Jr 38.037/1


I'll be back on Friday with the In-Play Blog.


*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter


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