Our stats guru's picks for the week at Randpark GC...
This week marks the first of three stops the European Tour will make in South Africa this season. The South African Open Championship hosted by the City of Johannesburg will be held at Randpark Golf Club for the first time since 2000. Last season, Chris Paisley won this event for his maiden tour title, holding off Branden Grace to win by three strokes.
Some of South Africa’s finest will be in action in northwestern Johannesburg this week, including Major Championship winners Louis Oosthuizen and Ernie Els. Big hitters should enjoy themselves around the Firethorn course, one of two tracks in use this week. Firethorn measures 7,506 yards and possesses a challenging final three holes, including the closing 507-yard par-four. The other course is Bushwillow, which 7,115 yards long.
Ahead of the action getting under way, our stats guru has selected three players who could give your Fantasy team a boost.
It’s hard not to see Louis Oosthuizen being in the mix this week. Less than a month after he finished third at the Nedbank Golf Challenge hosted by Gary Player, The 2010 Open Champion will tee it up once more in his native South Africa aiming to go a couple of places better. Although Oosthuizen hasn’t won on tour since the 2016 ISPS HANDA Perth International, he hasn’t finished outside the top ten on home soil in his last four events.
The 36 year old has a stroke average of 69.8 for his last 12 tour rounds and will be keen to win for the third time in South Africa. The average length of courses Oosthuizen has won at on tour is 6,868 yards, so it will be interesting to see how he fares around a long track like Firethorn. One thing is for sure: never write off Louis.
Matt Wallace has had the kind of year you dream about. As well as winning three times on the European Tour, the Englishman finished tenth in the Race to Dubai Rankings. A fine conclusion to the season saw him record top five finishes at both the Nedbank Golf Challenge and the DP World Tour Championship, Dubai. There’s no doubting Wallace will arrive in Johannesburg full of confidence.
The four-time tour winner is fresh off moving into the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking for the first time and will be eager to improve his current standing of 44th this week. He’s on an impressive run of first rounds, having posted a sub-70 score on each of his last nine competitive Thursdays. A tenth at Randpark could be the spark for his fourth victory in the last eight months.
Few Challenge Tour graduates enjoy a year like Erik Van Rooyen’s. While a victory remained elusive for the tall South African, he made it all the way to the season-ending DP World Tour Championship, recording some superb results along the way. Perhaps most impressive was his share of fourth at the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open, which went a long way to securing his tour card in his rookie year.
Van Rooyen averaged 306 yards off the tee last season, so could profit from the length on offer at Firethorn. He was also in the top 20 for Greens in Regulation (11th – 72.8%), Greens under Regulation (14th – 0.83) and Strokes Gained Tee-to-Green (18th – 1.127). He played in South Africa four times last season and finished outside the top 20 just once. The omens are promising for Van Rooyen.