The European Tour stages the Alfred Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek, Malelane – the second leg of a three-week stint in South Africa – and the course always provides a spectacular setting.
With elephants, hippos and rhinos in the background, it can be difficult for the Dunhill competitors to concentrate, but for the local players, in particular, this event provides a fantastic opportunity to secure a future on the European Tour with the winner’s cheque.
Six of the last eight editions of this tournament have been won by South Africans, who are obviously most comfortable in the conditions and know Leopard Creek better than the overseas raiders, and this week’s renewal may further bolster that statistic.
Alfred Dunhill Championship golf betting tips
Odds correct at time of publishing and subject to change.
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Stone looks set to sparkle
Brandon Stone finished in a tie for fourth in the Joburg Open last week and the 27-year-old can be fancied to go even better in the Alfred Dunhill Championship. He adores Leopard Creek, where he won the Dunhill by six shots in December 2016.
Given how well Stone struck the ball in the Joburg Open – he topped the tee-to-green statistics at Randpark Golf Club – all he probably needs is a warming of his putter to be a serious contender.
His maiden European Tour triumph came in the South African Open and he relishes competing in his homeland. Now based in London, he jetted to the country of his birth before the second lockdown, giving himself time to prepare for the Joburg Open, the Dunhill and next week’s South African Open.
Stone has finished in the top 20 in four of his last five tournaments and has enjoyed added impetus through the return of caddie Alan Burns. The bagman retired two years ago but has been tempted to rejoin forces with the sweet-swinging golfer from Rustenburg.
Nienaber can threaten again
The main obstacle for Stone backers in this 156-man field is arguably Wilco Nienaber, who came mightily close to making his European Tour breakthrough in the Joburg Open on Sunday.
The giant 20-year-old South African led in Johannesburg for the vast majority of the tournament, before carding bogeys at the 71st and 72nd holes.
Nienaber took his runner-up finish in good heart, though, appreciating that he is making rapid career progress, and the Dunhill appears to offer another fantastic chance for this powerhouse to show off his remarkable talents.
Bryson DeChambeau has been the talk of the golfing world because of his long driving, but the Californian is being trumped by Nienaber, who employs his giant levers to propel his ball huge distances. He effortlessly hit a drive 439 yards in the Joburg Open and has frightening potential. The Bloemfontein bomber tied for 24th on his Dunhill debut 12 months ago.
Defeating Stone and Nienaber may prove too difficult a task for Wil Besseling, but the big-hitting Dutchman has been in solid form post-lockdown and can be the top Continental European player.
Besseling, who has finished third in the Austrian Open and the Andalucia Masters since the European Tour returned in July, claimed the same placing on his Leopard Creek debut last year.
The Match 3: Champions for change
In the absence of a PGA Tour event this week an amusing sideshow comes in the third instalment of The Match, a charity matchplay event gilded by some of the biggest names in US sport.
This edition may be without Tiger Woods, but there are four sporting legends taking to the Stone Canyon course in Arizona and a punting opportunity has been spied.
American football great Peyton Manning teams up with current NBA star Steph Curry, as they take on five-time major winner Phil Mickelson and former basketball superstar Charles Barkley.
The Match 3 golf betting tips
Odds correct at time of publishing and subject to change
Lefty can lead his team home
Barkley’s high handicap and agricultural swing makes the Manning/Curry combo favourites to win this modified alternate-shot event.
Considering Mickelson is used to playing miraculous shots from all parts of the course and showed some good signs when making the cut at Augusta, the 11/8 on offer for him and Barkley is certainly worth considering.
All odds within this article correct at the time of publishing and are subject to change.