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Wednesday, 12 December, 2018

More Joburg Open joy beckons for purring Porteous

Rookie van Rooyen will be keen to fire close to home

Haydn Porteous has already won once on the Challenge Tour and twice on the European Tour
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Play starts 4am Thursday
Live on Sky Sports from 8.30am

Palmer's top tip
Haydn Porteous 22-1

Louis Oosthuizen was a flopping favourite in the Mauritius Open last week and the former Open champion will go off at a similar price in a similar grade this week.

Oosthuizen played nicely for the most part in Mauritius, putting better than normal, but a pair of sevens, at the 14th in round three and at the 16th on Sunday, left him sharing seventh place.

King Louis should come on for the run – he has not competed much lately and had some rust in his system – but he looks short enough in the betting for a second consecutive week.

Oosthuizen is 11-2 to beat 239 opponents in this giant Joburg field. The injury-plagued 35-year-old has probably already peaked, but that is almost certainly not the case with Haydn Porteous, who is nominated as the potential champion in this two-course event.

Porteous could easily become as successful as Oosthuizen over the next few years. The 23-year-old has already won once on the Challenge Tour and twice on the European Tour. The first of those European triumphs was in the Joburg Open in 2016, where he showed incredible composure from the front for a fairly cosy two-shot success.

Porteous is from Johannesburg and obviously feels extremely comfortable at this tournament. His confidence should be sky high again after his victory in the Czech Masters in September. Again, when it came to the crunch, he delivered in style. And his Challenge Tour win came courtesy of an eagle two at the first extra hole of a playoff. Hotshot Haydn is clearly blessed with bundles of bottle.

Solid form since his Prague victory, allied to rain-softened tracks which play into the hands of powerhouses, make progressive Porteous the pick of the Joburg runners. He won the 2013 Northern Amateur title at Randpark by a remarkable 14-shot margin, so has fond memories of this venue.

Next best
Erik van Rooyen 60-1

South Africans, who are used to the grass types and weather, typically boss the European Tour events in their homeland. Erik van Rooyen, attached to the Country Club in Johannesburg, will be relishing the chance to fire up his rookie campaign with a victory in front of family and friends.

Van Rooyen graduated from the Challenge Tour last season, playing well all year before winning the Hainan Open by two shots in October. His maiden Sunshine Tour victory came in February in Johannesburg in the Eye of Africa Championship and the 27-year-old has added mental toughness to his undoubted technical ability. There was no disgrace in missing the cut by a shot on his Hong Kong debut in his ET opener the week before last. This assignment is much more suitable.

When in contention for co-sanctioned Sunshine/European Tour events previously, Van Rooyen has tightened up, the prospect of claiming a Tour card through a trophy putting him under too much pressure. But with his playing rights safely in his locker, he can relax and perform for 72 holes.

Other selections
Romain Langasque 50-1
Scott Vincent 100-1
Tyrone Ferreira 150-1

The real Romain Langasque stood up in Mauritius last week, the sweet-swinging Frenchman clearly revived by taking a month off. He had been playing as much as possible, desperate for a big cheque to salvage his European Tour card, and got stuck in a rut of missed cuts.

After a bright start to his rookie campaign, injury niggles handicapped the youngster, he had some ugly spats with his caddie, and his season fell apart. After time to rest, recuperate and reflect, this great talent showed what he is capable of after a sponsors' invitation to Mauritius.

Langasque was second for driving distance and second for greens in regulation in Mauritius, finishing in third place, booking a ticket for Joburg in the process.

Three of his four top-25 finishes last season came in South Africa, including 11th spot in the Joburg Open, and he was runner-up in the Kenya Open on the Challenge Tour last year.

Complete a confident staking plan for the final European Tour event of the year with smaller investments on Scott Vincent and Tyrone Ferreira. Vincent is a rising star who impressed as an amateur in the States and the Zimbabwean carded four solid rounds for 22nd spot in Mauritius.

Vincent has already shown he can contend for Sunshine Tour titles, while Ferreira has won twice on the Sunshine Tour after an excellent amateur career.

The second of Ferreira's victories came in the 2010 SAA Pro-Am Invitational, which was played at Firethorn, Randpark. The 30-year-old is worth a small interest having finished seventh and 15th in his two latest Sunshine Tour events.

Others to note

Dylan Frittelli
The Mauritius Open champion is going to the well one more time, competing for a sixth consecutive week. The improving Joburg man must be respected, but he might run out of gas.

Zander Lombard
The 22-year-old Pretorian should enjoy the course set-up, but he has already blown several winning chances on the European Tour, finishing runner-up in the 2016 Joburg Open.

Herman Loubser
The 18-year-old won the Sunshine Tour Q-School at Firethorn in March, carding a 20-under-par five-round total. He clearly has bags of potential, but his form has seriously dipped.

Dean Burmester
The ultra-aggressive slugger will have been licking his lips as the pre-tournament rain fell. The 2017 Tshwane Open champ has a chance, but is unconvincing with putter in hand.

Jacques Kruyswijk
Another big-hitting brute who could make hay at a soft Randpark. He won his maiden Sunshine Tour title a year ago and has been in decent form since.

George Coetzee
The three-time European Tour champ won his maiden title in the 2014 Joburg Open. He clearly has the technical ability to triumph this week, but lacks course-management skills when in contention.

Staking plan
H Porteous
3pts each-way 22-1 Sky Bet
E van Rooyen
2pts each-way 60-1 bet365
R Langasque
2pts each-way 50-1 bet365
S Vincent
0.5pt each-way 100-1 Betfred
T Ferreira
0.5pt each-way 150-1 Betfred

Burmester is on the ball

The going has turned soft, heavy in places, at the Joburg Open, making Randpark Club a long slog for short-hitters, and Darren Fichardt may struggle to keep pace with his compatriot Dean Burmester over 72 holes, writes Steve Palmer.

Fichardt is a neat and tidy player who has made a fine career from winning low-grade events, but it is difficult for the 42-year-old to compete on layouts which put a premium on power. Burmester, in contrast, is one of the longest drivers in the world.

Betfred make Burmester versus Fichardt a 10-11 your-choice affair, but the powerhouse should be clear favourite given the pre-tournament storms.

D Burmester to beat D Fichardt
3pts 10-11 Betfred

The lowdown

Courses Firethorn Course and Bushwillow Course, Randpark Golf Club, Johannesburg, South Africa

Prize money €1m (€158,500 to the winner)

Length Firethorn 7,595 yards, Bushwillow 7,114 yards

Par Firethorn 72, Bushwillow 71

Field 240

Course records (Firethorn) – 72 holes 274 Mathias Gronberg (2000 South African Open) 18 holes 63 John Mellor (2000 South African Open), Stuart Smith (2017 Sunshine Tour Q School)

Course winners taking part (Firethorn) Ryan Tipping (2009 SAA Pro-Am Invitational), Tyrone Ferreira (2010 SAA Pro-Am Invitational), Herman Loubser (2017 Sunshine Tour Q School)

When to bet By 4am Thursday

Where to watch Live on Sky Sports from 8.30am Thursday

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

Last week – Australian PGA Championship 1 C Smith (9-1), 2 J Zunic (200-1), 3 A Bland (150-1), T4 D Bransdon (200-1), M Leishman (15-2); Mauritius Open 1 D Frittelli (16-1), 2 A Atwal (400-1), 3 R Langasque (150-1), 4 L De Jager (200-1), T5 M Pavon (40-1), M Tabuena (150-1)

Course overview 

The Joburg Open becomes the first tri-sanctioned event on South African soil this week (Sunshine Tour, European Tour, Asian Tour), and an enormous field is going to post.

The East course at Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club, the traditional Joburg Open venue, is undergoing renovations.

Randpark Golf Club stands in, with the Firethorn and Bushwillow tracks being employed over the first two days.

Firethorn, which staged the 1995 and 2000 South African Open, takes over for the weekend action.

The parkland course was designed by Sid Brews in 1971, modified by Mark Muller in 1990, then again by Sean Quinn in 2015.

Quinn created seven new holes and 18 new greens, so old course form is of limited value.

Firethorn is a long layout, with two par-fives on each nine, while the 18 holes on the shorter, easier Bushwillow are where the Joburg competitors will expect to make more birdies.

Three of the four par-threes at Firethorn are more than 200 yards apiece, while the course closes with a formidable 507-yard par-four.

Retief Goosen won the 1995 SA Open with a 13 under par total and Mathias Gronberg went one shot lower in 2000.

Some minor Sunshine Tour events have also been staged at Firethorn, including the 1997 Gauteng Classic and the SAA Pro-Am Invitationals of 2009 and 2010, and the track hosted the Sunshine Tour Q School in March.

The fairways are kikuyu and the greens are bentgrass.

The story of last season An 18th-hole birdie allowed Darren Fichardt to sneak a one-shot victory in the weather-reduced 54-hole event at Royal Johannesburg and Kensington GC

Weather forecast Occasional drizzle throughout, with the threat of a short thunderstorm on Sunday. Light breezes, peaking on Sunday

Type of player suited to challenge Putting is more important than usual this week, as the greens are enormous, but many of the holes at Firethorn have been described as “US Open-like”, so strong ball-striking is essential. Heavy pre-tournament rain has made power the greatest asset of all

Key attribute Power

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Hotshot Haydn is clearly blessed with bundles of bottle
E.W. Terms
Sky bet