European Tour maidens have golden opportunity for breakthrough
South Africans threatening Joburg glory
Sky Sports 4, 9.30am
The story so far
Thunderstorms and flooding brought an early suspension of play in the third round of the Joburg Open and tournament organisers quickly opted for a 54-hole event at Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club.
The Monday finish is a dying breed, with sponsors always keen for trophy presentations in front of Sunday crowds, and 18 holes have been chopped off the schedule to guarantee that can happen. A sunny and largely calm final-day forecast means the event should reach a conclusion.
Some players will obviously be thrilled by the reduction in tournament length. Leading duo Paul Waring and Darren Fichardt, 150-1 and 90-1 at the outset, have had their chance of success enhanced.
Favourite-backers will be disappointed, though, as Brandon Stone has less opportunity to assert his superiority. Stone, 16-1 with Betfred in their opening show, made a slow start on the easy West Course on Thursday but moved into contention with a 65 on the tougher East Course. He is three shots behind with a round to go.
-11 Paul Waring, Darren Fichardt
-10 Dean Burmester, Jacques Kruyswijk
-9 Pep Angles, Paul Peterson, Stuart Manley, Aaron Rai, Haydn Porteous, Anton Karlsson
-8 Dylan Frittelli, Brandon Stone, Keenan Davidse, David Drysdale, Merrick Bremner
5 D Burmester, 8 D Fichardt, P Waring, 9 B Stone, 12 H Porteous, 16 J Kruyswijk, 20 P Peterson, 25 P Angles, 28 D Frittelli, 33 A Karlsson, D Drysdale, 50 bar
Rain has fallen every day this week at Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club, saturating the turf, and the plan to support big-hitters who could handle the conditions has paid off through three days of stop-start action.
Racing Post Sport followers have three ante-post selections in contention going into Sunday's denouement – the power-packed trio of Dean Burmester, Jacques Kruyswijk and Brandon Stone – although the reduction in the number of holes which will be played from 72 to 54 has harmed Stone's hopes.
If another 36 holes were possible in Joburg, Stone would have a golden chance of overcoming his three-shot deficit to claim a third European Tour title. The classy youngster is still in with a shout as things stand, but has precious little margin for error with only 18 holes to move from 11th to first.
Each-way investments in Burmester (30-1), Kruyswijk (150-1) and Stone (14-1) make for a strong punting position going into Sunday, and the drenched course is set up perfectly for Burmester and Kruyswijk to make hay. Both are immensely long off the tee and the South African sluggers have a wonderful opportunity to make a European Tour breakthrough.
If Burmester and Kruyswijk can overcome their inevitable nerves, they appear the most likely champions. Burmester is a prolific Sunshine Tour winner while Kruyswijk got off the mark on that circuit at the end of November and has rapidly improved over the last year.
Kruyswijk's target is “to be the best golfer in the world” and this bullish powerhouse is starting to make an impact.
Darren Fichardt has four European Tour titles under his belt, but there has been a long time between drinks (2001, 2003, 2012, 2013) and the 41-year-old has dropped to 313th in the world rankings. He is a puny driver by modern standards, averaging just 286 yards this season, and less equipped to make easy birdies at a soft RJ&KGC.
Paul Waring, plagued by back problems throughout his career, is a 32-year-old maiden playing on a medical exemption. His 2017 form figures prior to this week were 37-MC-MC-MC, so his Joburg effort has been a surprise to everyone.
Defending champion Haydn Porteous may be the fly in the ointment. Porteous was brilliant at this venue last year and has been inspired by his title defence. From just two off the pace, back-to-back triumphs should not be ruled out.
Threeball punters are pointed towards Stone, who can outmuscle and outclass Keenan Davidse and Dylan Frittelli in the fifth-from-last match on the tee.
2pts 17-20 Coral