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Wednesday, 12 December 2018
Charl Schwartzel  (Getty Images)
Charl Schwartzel (Getty Images)

The Alfred Dunhill Championship returns to the European Tour this week with a new look but that same magical feeling at Leopard Creek Country Club.

One of the highlights of the European Tour season, the trip to Malelane on the edge of the Kruger National Park gives players the unique experience of playing within sight of leopards, antelopes and even hippos.

The course has also provided some joy, with three of the last six winners getting beyond 20 under par but after a year off the schedule while big changes were made, it is expected to provide a tougher challenge this time around.

The changes are mainly in the grass, with the entire property now sporting Bermuda where there also used to be a combination of Creeping Bent and Kikuyu.

The course is actually 38 yards shorter than it was in the 2017 season at 7,249 yards, but a host of new tee positions and firm, fast greens are set to test the players.

Ahead of the final event of the calendar year, our stats guru has had a look at the numbers and picked three players to include in your Fantasy team this week.

Favourite: Charl Schwartzel

Rarely on the European Tour will a player arrive at an event with as formidable a record as the 2011 Masters Champion has at the Alfred Dunhill Championship. The home favourite missed the cut in his first two appearances in 2003 and 2004, but in his next 12 he has four wins and four second-places with just a single missed cut. Since that missed weekend in 2007, Schwartzel has recorded just three rounds of over 70 out of a total of 32, with 21 in the 60s. The 34 year old has claimed eight of his 12 European Tour wins on home soil, including his last four, and will be full of confidence after sealing his place at The Open Championship with a top ten at last week's South African Open hosted by the City of Johannesburg.

Form Horse: Louis Oosthuizen

Oosthuizen arrives at Leopard Creek off the back of a brilliantly consistent display that brought him a first victory in almost three years in Johannesburg. The win may have ended a drought but it's hard to argue that it had not been coming, with the 2010 Open Champion last missing a cut at the Dubai Desert Classic back in January. In his last start before victory at Randpark Golf Club, he finished third at the Nedbank Golf Challenge hosted by Gary Player, where Lee Westwood carded a brilliant 64 on Sunday to pull away from the field. The 36 year old has claimed five of his nine European Tour wins in South Africa and finished second here twice, although he also has seven missed cuts in his 12 starts. A notoriously fast starter to the season, six of Oosthuizen's victories have come within the first six events of a new campaign.

Wildcard: Romain Langasque

Could this be the season that Romain Langasque fulfils his huge potential and establishes himself on the European Tour? After winning The Amateur Championship in 2015, he graduated from the Challenge Tour the following year but could not keep his card and after narrowly missing out again on the Challenge Tour in 2018, he had to come through the Qualifying School in November. He claimed his first professional win in September at the Hopps Open de Provence and after finishing in the top five of the season-ending Ras Al Khaimah Challenge Tour Grand Final, another top five followed at Q School. The new season started with a top 25 in Mauritius and a closing 66 last week brought his best European Tour finish to date. After speaking of his confidence with the putter this week, he could be ready to enter the winner's circle.

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1LIPSKY, DavidUSA18-14
2DRYSDALE, DavidSCO18-12
T3LOMBARD, ZanderRSA18-11
T3JAMIESON, ScottSCO18-11
T5WILSON, OliverENG18-8
T5EVANS, BenENG18-8

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