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Africa Open betting preview
By David John Last updated: 5th January 2011
Darren Clarke looks ready to make a fast start to 2011 and is fancied to go well in the Africa Open, says Dave John.
The start of a new year brings with it renewed hope and expectation for the next 12 months on the global golfing calendar and one player who starts 2011 in the right frame of mind is Darren Clarke, who can can get back on the winning trail at the Africa Open in East London.
There are plenty of positives to support the case for Clarke at 35/1.
Firstly, he has some excellent course form from which to draw upon having chased home Retief Goosen two years ago before the event became a co-sanctioned tournament with the European Tour.
"I am hoping the Africa Open will give me the same kind of kick-start as it did in 2009," he said in a recent interview and with conditions forecast to be windy, Clarke's fine links game should be right at home coping with the breeze that blows in from the Indian Ocean.
Secondly, Clarke is keen to get himself back inside the world's top 50 and therefore qualified for the major championships.
He needs to achieve that by the end of March ahead of the Masters so has some work to do considering he is currently at 100.
Therefore, his early season schedule is pretty busy as he plays both here and next week in Johannesburg before heading off to the lucrative Gulf Swing.
Also, if things go as planned he hs not ruled out making the top 64 in the world and qualification for the WGC-Accenture Match Play next month.
On a personal note, Clarke got engaged over the Christmas period as well so looks all set to begin the campaign firing on all cylinders and end a period without a title that stretches back to the KLM Open of 2008.
Three heavyweights from the home contingent head the betting - Retief Goosen, Charl Schwartzel and Louis Oosthuizen, with the latter worth a win-only wager at 9/1.
The Open champion had the option of playing In Hawaii in the PGA Tour's big opener this week but has decided to stay at home.
He felt this was perhaps his best starting point before all the travelling around the world and another event at home means he should be nicely rested up following the break over Christmas.
Oosthuizen has been gradually coming to the boil following his comeback from injury and looked pretty sharp when finishing in a tie for third behind Ernie Els at the SA Open in Durban.
This will be his debut in the Africa Open but has played East London as an amateur ("I don't remember much about the course"!) but will have conditions very much in his favour just like Clarke.
I reckon the 9/1 about Oosthuizen is more favourable on balance than the 11/2 available on Goosen or Schwartzel, although they are the last two winners of this event.
Gareth Maybin has the potential to be a winner in 2011 and this event could be right up his street.
He has some very good form to his name in South Africa in recent seasons and although this will be his first look at East London competitively, he has a game that thrives when the wind blows.
That was confirmed with his excellent effort at Valderrama in October when runner-up to Graeme McDowell, while he also claimed a second behind Marcus Fraser in the Ballantine's when the wind blew most challengers right off the course.
A repeat of that sort of form puts him right in the mix here against a lot of run-of-the-mill players from the Sunshine Tour.
If there is going to be a threat from the rank and file then it could come from Tjaart van der Waalt.
He continues to be a bit nomadic with most of the year spent on the Nationwide Tour in the USA but he has played four times lately back in South Africa.
He made all four cuts and posted a very creditable T13 at the Alfred Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek which could have been better bar for a third round of 75.
That good run in South Africa has him in a positive frame of mind to start the new year and he could make an impact at 100/1.
1pt e.w. Darren Clarke at 35/1 (sportingbet 1/4 1,2,3,4,5). Looks to have plenty in his favour and keen to make a fast start to 2011.
1pt e.w. Gareth Maybin at 35/1 (Stan James 1/4 1,2,3,4,5). Well suited when the wind blows and good chance to break Euro duck.
3pts win Louis Oosthuizen at 9/1 (General). Pick of the big guns and decision to stay at home could pay off.
1pt e.w. Tjaart van der Walt at 100/1 (general 1/4 1,2,3,4,5). Shown some form recently in South Africa and could get in the shake-up.
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