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Monday, 17 December, 2018

Ice-cool Sordet looks like a tasty option

Frenchman peaking at right time

Clement Sordet could have a good week
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Live on Sky Sports from 6.30am Thursday

Palmer's top tip
Clement Sordet 40-1
The Heritage Golf Club in Mauritius is a mysterious venue in a remote location to most of the field for this week's televised European Tour event, but rising French star Clement Sordet is entirely comfortable there.

Sordet is the touring professional for the Heritage, an attachment which means he has plenty of rounds under his belt at the course, and he can hit the ground running. Mauritius is a former French and British colony where almost all the population can speak French, so it is no wonder Sordet has been attracted to this paradise island.

In terms of peaking for this 'home game', Sordet could not have done much better. His final five Challenge Tour events yielded form figures of 18-15-17-3-1, a two-shot victory in the Grand Final confirming his promotion to the European Tour.

The 25-year-old's first outing in the higher grade was a Hong Kong Open debut last week, and after an understandably slow start on an unfamiliar, tricky course, he outscored everyone over the weekend, putting superbly. Closing rounds of 64 and 67 hauled him up to tenth spot.

Sordet looks like a class act and he went into the notebook of many punters with an impressive second-place finish in elite company in the 2015 Thailand Golf Championship. He has won four times on the Challenge Tour, three of them after successfully defending a 54-hole lead, so has clearly got bundles of bottle.

Next best
Scott Vincent 100-1
Zimbabwe is desperate to produce another Nick Price – somebody who can compete for the highest honours – and Scott Vincent is their best hope. The youngster won rave reviews at Virginia Tech when honing his game as a Stateside amateur and he appears to have finally settled as a professional, having made the switch in 2015.

Vincent has served his apprenticeship globally on the Sunshine Tour, the Asian Development Tour, the Canadian Tour and the Asian Tour and the 25-year-old appears ready to make an impression in better events when chances arise. Mauritius is a relatively short flight from Zimbabwe and the tournament where he finished 18th on his European Tour debut last year seems a great opportunity for a player who looks like has more gears to go through.

Vincent finished ninth in the Fiji International, a European Tour event on a windy island, at the end of August and he faces a similar test this week. He was third in the Donghae Open on the Asian Tour in September and second in the Taiwan Masters last month. There was certainly no disgrace in missing the cut by a shot on his Hong Kong debut last week.

Other selections
Shubhankar Sharma 125-1
Phachara Khongwatmai 125-1
Complete your portfolio with two other youngsters who are full of potential. Shubhankar Sharma, a protege of compatriot Anirban Lahiri, showcased his talent with 18 birdies and an eagle in Hong Kong last week, finishing tenth despite a double-bogey at the 18th. The 21-year-old Indian has found some form, particularly with the putter, reviving hopes that he could follow Lahiri's career path.

Also worth chancing at the price is Phachara Khongwatmai, the Thai prodigy who won a professional event when he was 14. The 18-year-old triumphed twice on the Asian Development Tour in 2015 and has been threatening bigger prizes since.

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Only local hero Brett Rumford was able to beat him in the Perth Super 6 European Tour event in February, and two recent ET outings, the Fiji International and Portugal Masters, yielded 12th spot.

Khongwatmai was third in the Manila Masters on the Asian Tour before missing the cut by two shots on his Hong Kong Open debut last week. His previous Mauritius Open spin was encouraging. He missed two cuts immediately before the event last year, then three straight after, but still managed 34th place at Four Seasons. Heritage should suit him even better.

Others to note
Jazz Janewattananond
The Q-School graduate, 13th at this track in 2015 and in tidy form, was in the staking plan at 80-1 until he tweeted in distress from Dubai airport on Monday, complaining about the airline he used being “unsafe”. His journey from Hong Kong to Mauritius was clearly not going well, with his clubs perhaps going missing or being damaged.

Louis Oosthuizen
The favourite must be respected. The Heritage course designer also crafted Pinnacle Point, home to Oosthuizen's Junior Golf Academy. He once carded a round of 57 on the neighbouring Mossel Bay track. He should take a shine to Heritage on his debut, but may be rusty, having played just one strokeplay tournament in the previous ten weeks.

Dylan Frittelli
Another South African dangerman. He developed his game on windswept tracks at the University of Texas and is extremely comfortable in a breeze. He has been in great form, but is competing for a fifth consecutive week, so may be jaded. He missed the cut by five shots at Heritage in 2015.

Darren Fichardt
The five-time European Tour champion was sixth in the Nedbank Challenge last time out and should enjoy his Heritage debut.

SSP Chawrasia
The Indian is another Heritage debutant who seems likely to relish the challenge. A mid-round triple-bogey blew his Hong Kong title hopes on Sunday, but he is in excellent nick.

Alexander Bjork
The Swede came extremely close to making his European Tour breakthrough on Sunday, but buckled at the final hole. This is another good chance if he can get over the mental blow.

Staking plan
C Sordet
2pts each-way 40-1 Betfred, Ladbrokes
S Vincent
1pt each-way 100-1 BoyleSports
S Sharma
0.5pt each-way 125-1 Betfair, Paddy Power
P Khongwatmai
0.5pt each-way 125-1 BoyleSports, Hills

The lowdown 

Course Heritage Golf Club, Domaine de Bel Ombre, Mauritius
Prize money €1m (€166,660 to the winner)
Length 6,987 yards Par 71 Field 156

Course winner taking part George Coetzee

Course records – 72 holes 271 George Coetzee, Thorbjorn Olesen (2015) 18 holes 65 Thorbjorn Olesen, Carlos Pigem, Jeunghun Wang, George Coetzee (2015)

When to bet By 2.40am on Thursday
Where to watch Live on Sky Sports from 6.30am on Thursday

Time difference Mauritius is four hours ahead of the UK and Ireland

Last week – Hong Kong Open 1 W Ormsby (80-1), T2 A Bjork (80-1), R Cabrera Bello (20-1), P Peterson (80-1), J Suri (35-1)

Course overview This tri-sanctioned event features 40 players from each of the tours involved – European, Asian and Sunshine – and 12 sponsors invitations.

The inaugural Mauritius Open took place at Heritage Golf Club in 2015, with George Coetzee taking the title, then the tournament moved to Four Seasons GC at Anahita, a much longer 7,401-yard track on a former sugar plantation, last year.

The Heritage is stunning, with mountains on one side and a lagoon on the other, and it is hilly. It was designed by South African Peter Matkovich. Lakes and streams run through the layout, so errant shots are severely punished, but the trees (most of which are small, tropical ones) are less of a factor.

The track is close to the beach, so exposed to sea breezes, and many of the greens are enormous. The second hole has become a 521-yard par five this year (from a 461-yard par four) and the fifth a 209-yard par three (from a 334-yard par four).

There is one other par five on the front nine (the 565-yard seventh) and two on the back (the 561-yard 14th and the 572-yard 18th). There are five par threes – the 168-yard 15th the easiest and the 231-yard eighth the toughest.

Matkovich is a failed golf professional who has designed a handful of courses in South Africa. Pinnacle Point is his most famous creation. This event has moved from a May slot to November 

The story of last year Korean youngster Jeunghun Wang edged Siddikur Rahman by a shot in a thrilling title duel

Weather forecast Clear for the most part, but occasional showers, with light to moderate breezes, peaking with 28mph gusts on Sunday

Type of player suited to challenge The track is fairly open, with only seriously wayward drives punished, but typically it has a breeze whipping across it. Support players who are comfortable in the wind.

Three aggressive big-hitters – George Coetzee, Thorbjorn Olesen and Scott Hend – finished first, second and fifth the last time Heritage was used.

Power is a useful ability on many holes there, but it was superb putting on large greens which made the most impact for Coetzee and Olesen in 2015

Key attribute Touch/putting

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Power is a useful ability to have on many holes, but it was superb putting on large greens which made the most impact for Coetzee and Olesen in 2015
E.W. Terms
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