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Steve Palmer's Alfred Dunhill Championship predictions & free golf betting tips

Christiaan Bezuidenhout and Charl Schwartzel set for thrilling Creek shootout

Christiaan Bezuidenhout relishes competition in his homeland
Christiaan Bezuidenhout relishes competition in his homelandCredit: Atsushi Tomura

Golf tips, best bets and player analysis for the Alfred Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek on the DP World Tour.

Where to watch

Live on Sky Sports Main Event and Golf from 10am on Thursday

Best bets

Christiaan Bezuidenhout
4pts 10-1 Betfred

Charl Schwartzel
3pts 14-1 general

Jayden Schaper
1.5pts each-way 40-1 Betfred

Casey Jarvis
1pt each-way 200-1 Betfred

Albert Venter
0.5pt each-way 400-1 Hills

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Elephants, rhinos and hippos will get plenty of TV coverage this week as the DP World Tour enjoys Leopard Creek, but golf fans will be eager for the cameras to be trained on the players as the cream of the South African game battle for Alfred Dunhill Championship glory.

Every South African inside the top 150 of the world rankings is in the field at this wonderful venue, including Louis Oosthuizen, who has not competed since LIV Golf Miami on October 30. Oosthuizen was labouring with a left arm injury that week - and following through with his driver swing was painful - so the top-ranked South African could be rusty on his return to action.

Branden Grace lasted only 29 holes of the South African Open last week and also has question marks against his fitness, while Dean Burmester has a terrible Leopard Creek record.

Steve Palmer's top tip

Christiaan Bezuidenhout 10-1

Skipping last week's South African Open must have been a difficult decision for Christiaan Bezuidenhout, but it is a move which could pay off handsomely as he bids to defend his Alfred Dunhill Championship title.

Bezuidenhout, an accurate, controlled operator with a top-class short-game, looked at last week's enormous Blair Atholl layout and realised it was made for sluggers, so he sensibly opted for rest between the Joburg Open and the Alfred Dunhill. That breather has freshened this ever-improving 28-year-old nicely for a course which is much more his cup of tea.

Bezuidenhout won the last Alfred Dunhill by four shots, capturing the South African Open by five shots a week later, and he relishes the chance to perform in his homeland. The Mpumalanga man has form figures from his last seven starts in South Africa of 1-15-1-1-6-5-3. He won the Dimension Data Pro-Am on the Sunshine Tour in 2020 to start that streak.

Bezuidenhout was fifth in the Nedbank in the middle of last month, then third in the Joburg Open the week before last. He has become a PGA Tour title contender, enjoyed a strong Presidents Cup debut in September, and the Leopard Creek course changes in 2017 made the track more about precision and control than ever before.

Next best bet

Charl Schwartzel 14-1

The tournament could turn into a shootout between Bezuidenhout and Charl Schwartzel, who boasts a phenomenal Leopard Creek record. He has won four Alfred Dunhills at the course. One of those was by a 12-shot margin, while two were by a four-shot margin.

Schwartzel's full Leopard Creek form figures from 16 starts there (two SA Tour Championships and 14 Alfred Dunhills) are 11-19-1-2-2-MC-14-2-2-1-1-26-1-4-MC-3. That's four runner-up finishes as well as the four victories.

The 38-year-old was not feeling well at the start of the South African Open last week and his sickness was probably the reason for his mid-round slump on the Friday morning. He played the final ten holes of round two in five over par, before an excellent weekend hauled him up to ninth place.

With full fitness back in time for a trip to his favourite course, Schwartzel seems by far the biggest threat to Bezuidenhout. Schwartzel has won eight DP World Tour events in South Africa and his driving was spectacularly good last week.

Other selections

Jayden Schaper 40-1

Casey Jarvis 200-1

Albert Venter 400-1

Fast finishes in the Joburg Open and the South African Open have meant 18th place and ninth place for Jayden Schaper, who has become an almost permanent fixture on Sunshine Tour leaderboards. With a faster start this week, this young talent can challenge the market leaders.

Schaper carded rounds of 69, 67 and 67 to set up a golden winning chance in the 2020 Alfred Dunhill, before a Sunday 75 meant a share of second place. This time the 21-year-old, who was outstanding as an amateur, may be ready to keep his composure if an opportunity to claim a DP World Tour card presents itself.

Two other youngsters who have also shown they can tame Leopard Creek are worth adding to the staking plan as well. Casey Jarvis and Albert Venter have excelled in the African Amateur Championship at Leopard Creek.

Jarvis had a three-shot lead at one stage during round three of the Joburg Open the week before last, eventually finishing ninth, and a missed cut in the South African Open last week was understandable after the emotion and energy invested at Houghton. Expect the classy 19-year-old to bounce back on more familiar turf.

Jarvis won the African Amateur Championship at Leopard Creek in March by four shots, setting a new tournament record with a 15-under-par total. He turned pro in August and is worth chancing to be king of the Creek again at massive prices.

At even juicier odds, Venter can make the frame. He was last seen spraying champagne over his triumphant best mate Thriston Lawrence at Blair Atholl on Sunday. Venter can take great inspiration from the way Lawrence has gone from Sunshine Tour anonymity to three-time DP World Tour champion in the space of a year.

Venter will have hopes of doing likewise. He started making an impact on the Sunshine Tour last year and has won twice on that circuit this year - the Zim Open at the end of May and a six-shot victory in the SunBet Challenge at the end of August. He played well for three rounds in the SA Open last week.

Venter won the inaugural African Amateur Championship at Leopard Creek by five shots in 2016 - at the age of 19 - and the 26-year-old could be ready to star on the same track again this week.

Players to note

Antoine Rozner
Consistent ball-striking has been a feature of the Frenchman's play in recent months and any warming of the putter would give him a chance.

Tom McKibbin
The 19-year-old enjoyed a hole-in-one on his way to 15th place at Blair Atholl last week and continues to develop into a top player.

Clement Sordet
Sunday's Blair Atholl runner-up won a Challenge Tour event in South Africa in March and seems to enjoy this part of the world.

Laurie Canter
The LIV defector defeated Patrick Reed in a LIV Miami matchplay contest in October, which doubtless provided a fresh injection of confidence.

Leopard Creek course guide

Course Leopard Creek Country Club, Malelane, South Africa
Prize money €1.5m (€250,000 to the winner)
Length 7,249 yards
Par 72 - four par-fives, ten par-fours, four par-threes
Field 156 The cut Top 65 and ties qualify for round three
Highest-ranked players in field (world ranking in brackets) Louis Oosthuizen (51), Dean Burmester (58), Thriston Lawrence (64), Christiaan Bezuidenhout (71), Scott Vincent (90)
Course records - 72 holes 264 Charl Schwartzel (2012) 18 holes 61 Thomas Aiken (2008)

Course winners taking part Darren Fichardt (2001 SA Tour Championship), Ernie Els, Richard Sterne, Charl Schwartzel (four times), Branden Grace, Brandon Stone, Christiaan Bezuidenhout

When to bet By 4.20am on Thursday

When to watch Live on Sky Sports Golf and Main Event from 10am on Thursday

Time difference South Africa is two hours ahead of the UK and Ireland

Last week - South African Open 1 T Lawrence (22-1), 2 C Sordet (110-1), 3 J Fahrbring (400-1), 4 M Schmid (80-1), T5 D Brown (150-1), D Burmester (14-1), C Hanna (125-1), M Siem (80-1); Australian Open 1 A Meronk (25-1), 2 A Scott (10-1), 3 M W Lee (10-1), T4 H Barron (500-1), A Canizares (100-1), 6 J Geary (225-1)

Course type Parkland

Course overview This Gary Player designed layout opened in 1996 and hosted the Tour Championship on the South African circuit from 2001 to 2004. The more prestigious Alfred Dunhill Championship moved to Leopard Creek for the 2005 season (December, 2004) and remained at the venue until the '2017' edition in December 2016. There was no Alfred Dunhill in 2017 as the course was undergoing extensive improvements. The par-three 12th hole was completely redesigned, many of the fairway bunkers were repositioned, and the Kikuyu grass fairways were replaced with indigenous cynodon, so there was more run on the ball. Scoring has been tougher since the changes. The course is located on the southern edge of Kruger National Park, with wild animals usually in close attendance. Two long par-fours approaching the turn (the eighth and ninth) provide the greatest challenge. The 311-yard par-four sixth is tempting to big-hitters. The course has hosted the African Amateur from 2016-20 and again this year

Story of 2020 Christiaan Bezuidenhout cruised to a four-shot victory and there was no tournament last year due to Covid-related travel restrictions

Weather forecast Unsettled, with thunderstorms and showers during the event, and light to moderate breezes

Type of player suited to the challenge Powerful sorts traditionally thrived on this track, but the changes have made it firmer and faster, with dry, fast greens, lending itself to more controlled operators. Showers could change course conditions this week

Key attribute Accuracy

Spotlight insight Charl Schwartzel has won three of his last seven Alfred Dunhills



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Steve PalmerRacing Post Sport
Published on 6 December 2022Last updated 15:52, 6 December 2022