Nedbank best bets

Dave Tindall assesses the 12-man field at the Nedbank Golf Challenge and picks his top wagers

Last Updated: 04/12/12 2:04pm

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Louis Oosthuizen: can cap recent stellar play with a win

Louis Oosthuizen: can cap recent stellar play with a win

Sky Bet

Seven of Europe's Ryder Cup winning team along with two South African major winners are included in the stellar 12-man cast assembled for the annual Nedbank Golf Challenge at Sun City.

Lee Westwood has won the last two renewals with 15-under in 2011 and 17-under in 2010 and, with no Ernie Els or Retief Goosen this year, the Englishman is the only previous winner taking part.

The course at the Gary Player Country Club is over 7,700 yards long although tees can be moved up and the ball really flies due to the altitude. The clover-shaped bent grass greens are super slick and are surrounded by strategically placed bunkers, swales and mounds.

Scoring has varied from year to year depending on the conditions. Henrik Stenson won with -21 in 2008 while Jim Furyk triumphed with just -6 in 2005.

With the rough much more penal this year than last, conditions will certainly be tougher than in 2011 so expect the form players to shine.

The field (and Sky Bet odds):

Lee Westwood (4/1): A winner by eight shots in 2010 and by two last year, it's easy to see why course-specialist Westwood heads the betting. However, his current form is a concern and he looked pretty flat in last week's DP World Tour Championship, another event he's won by a big margin in the past. No player has ever won this event three times on the spin so there are some good grounds for taking Westwood on this week.
Course form: 5-DNP-1-1
Current form: 48-6-14-30
World ranking: 6

Louis Oosthuizen (9/2): This year's Masters runner-up had yet another excellent week in Dubai and now hasn't finished outside the top six in each of his last five starts. Go back a bit further and he now has eight top sixes in his last 12 starts. All that's missing is a victory but he has won two of his last three starts in South Africa and, despite finishing 12th and last in this event on his only start in 2010, he did win the Dimension Data Pro-Am on this course in 2007
Course form: 12-1-4-34
Current form: 5-2-6-6
World ranking: 7

Justin Rose (9/2): The South African-born Englishman finished like a train at the DP World Tour Championship, his closing 10-under 62 almost enough to snatch the title. That second place has now seen him rise to a career-high fourth in the world rankings and he's deservedly vying for favouritism here. He's also a former runner-up in this event, having finished second on debut in 2007 when leading going into the final round.
Course form: 9-9-2-21
Current form: 2-24-6-2
World ranking: 4

Charl Schwartzel (7/1): It's hugely surprising that the South African hasn't won anywhere since his memorable Masters win in April 2011. However, there are some very encouraging signs of late and he was an excellent third in Dubai last week which made it back-to-back top fives. His putting stats are much better in recent weeks although his record in this event is only okay - a best of fifth out of 12 - despite having played the course numerous times.
Course form: 6-10-13-5
Current form: 3-5-16-MC
World ranking: 28

Martin Kaymer (9/1): A bit like Schwartzel, Kaymer has shown better signs of late after an iffy spell, and that includes a recent third place in the South African Open. Kaymer made his debut in this event 12 months ago and was second at halfway before slipping to eighth after a poor final round. Despite holing THAT putt in the Ryder Cup, his recent performances on the greens aren't great so he'll have to heat up the flatstick to beat some hot rivals here.
Course form: 8
Current form: 26-3-9-11
World ranking: 32

Nicolas Colsaerts (12/1): The Belgian has been globe-trotting since his impressive and memorable Ryder Cup debut with starts in America, China (twice), Japan and the UAE. However, he hasn't quite lived up to his pre-tournament billings and his best result in that stretch of five events in six weeks was tied 14th. In theory this course should suit his big-hitting but is he sharp enough to cash in?
Course form: n/a
Current form: 34-22-54-14
World ranking: 36

Peter Hanson (14/1): Hanson bubbled under for much of last week but whereas Justin Rose sprouted wings in round four, the Swede couldn't get off the ground and finished in a tie for 16th. However, with two wins in his last six starts, he's a real force these days and it's easy to argue that he should be shorter in the betting than some of those ahead of him. This is his first start in a South African tournament since his 19th in the 2008 SA Open.
Course form: n/a
Current form: 16-24-1-8
World ranking: 17

Francesco Molinari (16/1): The Italian finished 11th of 12 on debut here last year and was also a modest 29th way back in the 2005 Dimension Data Pro-Am. But he comes here in good spirits after a closing 65 in Dubai even if it was too little, too late after he failed to get out of third gear for the first three rounds. His current putting stats would be an obvious negative as they've been average/poor in every event he's played since the Ryder Cup.
Course form: 11-29
Current form: 34-5-39-35
World ranking: 29

Carl Pettersson (25/1): Pettersson's name doesn't leap off the page on a long par 72 (he's better on short par 70s) but he's done okay in his two latest events - a seventh in the CIMB Classic in Malaysia and a 16th in the HSBC in China. This is his tournament debut.
Course form: n/a
Current form: 16-7-20-69
World ranking: 31

Paul Lawrie (25/1): Lawrie was a disappointing 48th in Dubai last week but put the blame totally on his putter. "Tee to green this week was as good as I can remember but probably one of the worst weeks ever with the putter," he said on his website. If he can improve his performance on the greens he could be an interesting runner although he has no strong memories of Sun City having finished 11th of 12 here on his last visit in 1999.
Course form: 11-MC
Current form: 16-7-20-69
World ranking: 27

Bill Haas (25/1): Haas is a rather strange choice as the only American in the field although many of the other possibles are playing in Tiger's event in California which is also taking part this week. Haas was 10th in the recent HSBC Champions tournament in China so is in decent nick and you could argue his price is on the large side.
Course form: n/a
Current form: 10-16-45-35
World ranking: 37

Garth Mulroy (66/1): The third member of the home contingent this week isn't ranked inside the top 200 in the world so will be pencilled in by many for last place - especially as he has no current form to speak of either. On the plus side, this time last year he won the co-sanctioned Alfred Dunhill Championship on home South African soil and he was also a runner-up in September's Italian Open.
Course form: 8
Current form: 50-56-56-43
World ranking: 201

Conclusion:

There may be a twist but I can see this pretty much going to form.

I think Westwood is worth taking on given his mixed play, perhaps contributed to by his coach and caddie changes.

Therefore, that leaves Rose and Oosthuizen as the two most likely and I think both have outstanding chances.

I slightly lean towards Oosthuizen. He has a fine record on home soil, has won at the course and Rose did look wobbly on the greens at times last week before everything clicked in round four.

Schwartzel is another for the shortlist but he's had plenty of goes around this track without much success so maybe it's not his ideal course.

Hanson is making his debut but he was third at Augusta (the ultimate "you need experience there" track) this year having played just two competitive rounds on its hallowed turf previously while he also won the recent BMW Masters in Shanghai having never seen the course previously.

The Swede is a quick learner and is fair each-way value at 14s in such a small field.

Best bets:

Louis Oosthuizen win at 9/2
Peter Hanson each-way at 14/1

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