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By David John Last updated: 12th January 2010


Denmark's Anders Hansen can put up another bold showing in this week's South African Open Championship, says Dave John.

Hansen - worth following once again.

Hansen - worth following once again.

2009 comes to a conclusion with the South South African Open Championship at the magnificent Pearl Valley Golf estates.

This is the 99th renewal of one of the world's great championships and historically this has been very much an event for the home contingent.

There have been just nine winners from outside of South Africa and their leading hopes this time around are Charl Schwartzel and defending champion Richard Sterne.

Schwartzel arrives after his battling second at the Alfred Dunhill Championship where he did his best to worry front-running Pablo Martin out of the title.

His birdie on the last hole - where a number of players were racking up huge numbers - was not quite enough to catch the Spaniard and bookmakers see him as the most likely winner this week.

This is not the strongest line-up and I expected Schwartzel to be on offer at a single-figure price but the layers dangle a half-tempting 11/1.

Sterne was on a golden run this time 12 months ago as he went on to land this event after the Alfred Dunhill.

His current form is a little bit inconsistent - mixing some decent rounds with some fairly average performances - and that is enough to put me off quotes of 16/1.

Of those at the front of the market, it looks worth sticking with Anders Hansen at 14/1, who was a selection of our Matt Cooper last week.

He did not let us down either with his third-place finish as he continues his love affair with South Africa.

He already has two wins in 2009 in the country and and I would not be put off by the fact that this is his debut at Pearl Valley - he was in the same situation at Leopard Creek.

He also has the chance to wrap up the Sunshine Tour Order Of Merit having built up a healthy lead over Schwartzel and one more big display would put it out of his rival's reach.

Considering his last four outings in South Africa have been 1-1-6-3, there seems to be no obvious reason why he can't make his presence felt once again with plenty still at stake.

From the home defence, I quite like the look of a couple of players at big prices - Hennie Otto and Jacues Blaauw, who can both be supported at decent odds.

The hot-tempered Otto has let his emotions get the better of him on more than one occasion but he has managed wins now in the last two seasons, with the most recent coming in Namibia in the middle of last month.

That title may not be the most notable around but it highlighted what a good player Otto is when the wind blows.

He came from off the pace in blustery conditions to post a closing 66 before getting the better of Titch Moore in a play-off.

With the Western Cape having been battered by some strong winds recently and some blustery conditions forecast, Otto should have conditions in his favour and he is worth chancing at 90/1 with sportingbet.

Blaauw impressed for three rounds at Leopard Creek where he went into the final round inside the top five.

But a closing 78 saw him drop out of contention and that is perhaps a round for the 23-year-old to chalk down to experience.

He appeals to make amends at 125/1 and his prospects of a decent display must increase considering this is his home course and a scoop of local knowledge should aid his cause no end.

Final pick this week is Thomas Aiken, who looks quite backable at 35/1 with Paddy Power.

He is a player I popped in the notebook for this section of the European Tour following a solid display in Dubai - although he looked rather skinny at 25/1 for the Alfred Dunhill.

His odds have drifted a little after a missed cut but I would not be shocked to see him bounce back in what is a weaker line-up on a course where he shot a 64 in the second round 12 months ago.

That is a measure of what he is capable of and he is very much a name to bear in mind for here and the upcoming two events at the start of 2010.


2pts e.w. Anders Hansen at 14/1 (1/4 1,2,3,4,5 bet365, Ladbrokes).

Love of South Africa continues and has the Order Of Merit at stake.

1pt e.w. Hennie Otto at 90/1 (1/4 1,2,3,4,5 sportingbet).

Has got the winning knack and does well when the wind blows.

1pt e.w. Jacues Blaauw at 125/1 (1/4 1,2,3,4,5 general).

Played well for three-quarters of last week's event and is on his home course.

1pt e.w. Thomas Aiken at 35/1 (1/4 1,2,3,4,5 boylesports, Paddy Power).

Capable of bouncing back from a missed cut and appeals at the price.


Hansen 3rd at 14/1

LOSS -1pt

David John

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