2018 South African Open Preview
It’s been a long and exciting year, and finally the curtain call is near for the European Tour in 2018.
Next week’s Alfred Dunhill Championship is the official year-ending event, with this week’s South African Open a manic appetizer with more than 240 players in the field!
Last time out the Tour hosted something of a double-header, with Cameron Smith going back-to-back in the Australian PGA Championship and Kurt Kitayama taking the spoils at the Mauritius Open.
The former will surely be looking to claim a maiden victory over on the PGA TOUR in 2019, and in wind-affected events where a strong short game is key certainly don’t be too quick to write him off. Kitayama, meanwhile, showed how importance confidence is in a golfer of any repute: his win came just two starts after he gained his Tour Card with a fine showing at Q School.
There is a strong, largely South African, field in tow this week; unsurprising really given that this is their national open. The likes of Louis Oosthuizen, Branden Grace and Charl Schwartzel have been the gold standard for South African golf in the past decade or so, although they can expect plenty of talented youngsters to be nipping at their heels this week.
It will take some winning this week. This event, an amalgamation of the ‘old’ South African Open and the Jo’burg Open, will feature 240 players across two courses at the Randpark Golf Club in Johannesburg. It’s a chaotic affair with the cut line at 75 places, so there will be plenty of high-profile names that miss out on the weekend.
The Firethorn track will host one of the opening two rounds and then the final 36 holes exclusively. It’s a lengthy Par 72 at 7,595 yards, with the traditional four Par 5s for the players to attack. It’s the more difficult of the two layouts but is still eminently beatable; Christofer Blomstrad firing a round of 62 here in the Jo’burg Open 12 months ago.
The other course is Bushwillow, which is a shorter (7,114 yards, Par 71) track that features tree-lined fairways that can block out even sound tee shots from a clear approach at the green. It’s a thinker’s layout, but even so it’s again one that can be tamed with relative ease: Jo’burg Open champion Shubhankar Sharma compiling a 61 here in his winning effort.
Played at an altitude of greater than 5,000 ft above sea level, the South African Open will be easy enough out on the course, but with a predicted cut line of around -4 there really won’t be much margin of error for the players.
So who makes our draft this week?
This Week’s South African Open Fantasy Picks & Predictions
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Cover photo via Instagram