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Joburg betting preview
By David John Last updated: 18th January 2010
England's Robert Rock can secure his first European Tour title in this week's Joburg Open in South Africa, says Dave John.
Charl Schwartzel's class ultimately shone through in last week's Africa Open despite a couple of wild shots in his final round and he is once again the man to beat according to the layers at the Joburg Open.
His past experience of winning on the European Tour counted for a lot as he fended off the challengers although a swift boot to his golf bag and then nearly snapping a fairway wood on the last tee shows he still has one or two wrinkles to iron out in terms of temperament to go with the undoubted golfing talent.
Schwartzel's chances of going back-to-back look pretty sound as he has decent form figures at the Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club of T19-T14-T4 with the latter performance including a tremendous 63 in the third round that threatened to break 60 at one stage.
But there are two things to bear in mind before tackling his single-figure odds.
Firstly, there is more depth to this field than last week and thus a handful of more established European Tour names who could apply more pressure in the closing stages.
And secondly, the sheer numbers Schwartzel has to beat.
This event is played over two courses (East and West, the former being much the tougher) so 206 players can tee it up this week compared to the usual 156.
Among the players expected to give Schwartzel most to think about is James Kingston, who has been coming to the boil nicely during the South African section of the European Tour.
The man from Rustenburg - which is not too far from Johannesburg - has secured top-20 finishes in all three events so far, with top 10s in the last two.
His best effort at this venue came back in 2007 when he T8 behind Ariel Canete and admitted at the time that he "enjoys the courses here".
His claims on this occasion are no weaker than those of Richard Sterne and Soren Hansen yet his odds are twice as big with some firms so he appeals as a someone likely to put in a prominent performance.
We have talked in the past about how much Anders Hansen loves South Africa and he is a best price of 14/1 for a successful defence.
Like Schwartzel, there is a note of caution attached to the Dane, who said recently: "I have had difficulty preparing as there is three feet of snow at home (in Zurich) and I have a couple of things to work on to keep improving."
It may just pay to take a watching brief about Hansen on his first outing of 2010.
Our second pick this week has hardly kept his light hidden under a bushel in this event with two runner's-up finishes but Andrew McLardy merits some interest at 33/1.
He chased home Canete in 2007 and Hansen 12 months ago and is certainly the 'horses for courses' pick.
"I like the courses and read the greens well," he said.
"I have had success here since amateur golf in 1992 and won a few tournaments with low scores."
McLardy, like Hansen, is making his first venture out in 2010 but his schedule in the past has followed a similar pattern when he has admitted looking forward to a comeback at the Joburg Open during his time off around Christmas.
He clearly goes well fresh.
Trevor Fisher Jr did us proud last week but I am tempted to side with another selection put up at East London - James Kamte.
With the scoring so low, Kamte had little chance to recover from a rotten opening 77 but to his credit didn't give up and fought back with a 67 in round two before heading home for the weekend.
I still get the feeling his game is in pretty good shape and I reckon he will be doubly determined to make amends for his latest display.
His form at the course is on an upward curve - MC-T21-T12 - and he deserves another chance at a tempting 125/1 with Betfred.
I think England's Robert Rock will win at some stage this season and he has a fair shout at making it happen here at 66/1.
Having spent a few seasons battling in and around the 120s on the Order Of Merit, 2009 was a real breakthrough as he finished 29th in the Race To Dubai, which included three second places.
South Africa has been a happy hunting ground already and he boasts six top 10s in the country from 10 events stretching back to 2005 so notching a first European Tour title looks well within his compass.
Two good efforts prior to Christmas bode well while he has some form to speak of at this venue back in 2008 on the way to a T32.
He rounds off our team of hopefuls before the Tour heads off to the lucrative Middle East.
1pt e.w. James Kingston at 28/1 (General 1/4 1,2,3,4,5). Running into form and looks ready to challenge for the title.
1pt e.w. Andrew McLardy at 33/1 (General 1/4 1,2,3,4,5). Loves the place and can boost tremendous record in the event.
1pt e.w. James Kamte at 125/1 (General 1/4 1,2,3,4,5). Missed cut last week but will be very keen to make amends.
1pt e.w. Robert Rock at 66/1 (General 1/4 1,2,3,4,5). Looks like a winner for 2010 and could well make it in South Africa.
Kamte T4th at 125/1
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