The European Tour heads off to Malelane and the stunning Leopard Creek CC for the Alfred Dunhill Championship. It’s the tenth time that the tourn
ament will be held at the Gary Player designed course. The Innovative design and landscaping techniques used have ensured Leopard Creek golf course and living areas are naturally protected from animals. Lakes and small streams have been diverted through the development to not only create some stunning views, but to make this track a very strategic one.
Much of the water is home to the magnificent creatures for which the river is named. Extensive use of water features and sightings of crocodile, hippo, antelope, buffalo and wild boar are commonplace, either on the course itself or next to the river running alongside several holes.
The 552 yard par-five 13th is one of Leopard Creek’s signature holes. The green is right on the edge of the Crocodile River but 32 metres above the level of the water, offering spectacular views up the river and into Kruger Park.
My picks to win:
It’s hard not to see both Louis Oosthuizen 9/ 1– with StanJames and Charl Schwartzel 8/1–with StanJames – going headtoheadinthis week’s tournament and although neither of them set the world alight at last week’s Nedbank Challenge, it would be hard to bet against them both being in the think of it this week, especially as Schwartzel is going for three wins in a row at this event. The Dunhill Championship first moved to the Leopard Creek in 2005 which is when Charl first won this event and he has had three runners-up finishes before his back-to-back wins in 2012 and 2013.
One player I think who will be looking forward to this season is Peter Uihlein 22/ 1– with PaddyPower – The American finished last season in good form with five Top 25 finishes from eight starts and his eleventh place at the Turkish Airlines Open came on the back of his Top 5 on the PGA Tours Sanderson Farms Championship where he shot a final round 65 witch saw him storm up the leaderboard.
My each-way tips:
Another past winner here is Richard Sterne 33/1– with Ladbrokes – in 2008 and he defended his title with a Top 5, Richard also had a Top 10 finish in 2012. Sterne hasn’t had the greatest of years on the European Tour with only two Top 10 finishes and three other Top 20s, but four of the South Africans six European Tour wins have come on home soil and I expect him to be in the thick of it again this week.
There are some great young players coming through on the European Tour at the moment and Kristoffer Broberg 66/1 – with SportingBet – is one of those and the swede had three Top 10 finishes and five other Top 25s in his second season on the European Tour. Kristoffer won four events on his first full season on the Challenge Tour so the lad knows how to win. Broberg missed the cut here last year but I think he will fair better this week.
It was a strange season for Morten Orum Madsen 150/ 1 – with StanJames – who started 2014 season with a win at the South African Open Championship and he followed that up with a Top 16 finish in this event where he opened up with a round of 65. There was a lot of huffing and puffing until the rain played its part to hand the Dane another Top 5 finish at the Portugal Masters. This is Morten’s first start to the 2015 season and I think that opening round here last year will see him tee it up in confident mood this week.
One player in this week’s field will know a lot of the feelings that Charl Schwartzel is going through trying to win three in a row and that is the 2009 and 2010 champion Pablo Martin Benavides 500/ 1– with Bet365 – who missed the cut dramatically firing rounds of 81, 82 and for a man that shot 63 on the same course the first year he won the event it must have been heartbreaking. Pablo understandably didn’t play the following year, he did miss the cut last year but he did open with a 70. I am hoping the Spaniard takes the positives this week
For updated odds during the tournament go to planetgolfreview.com