After a somewhat non event in South Africa last week due to adverse weather conditions, we move onto a much more scenic venue in the shape of Leopard Creek for the Alfred Dunhill Championship, where driving ability will be key. A moderate length course circa 7,300 yards winding through forest and bushland, fairways are relatively tight and Kikuyu rough is a no go area.
Experience will play a big part this week at the Alfred Dunhill Championships - both in terms of on the course and on courses with Kikuyu grass in play, and there will be a South African theme to my staking plan. Leopard Creek consists of some lengthy par fours coupled with reachable par fives and big hitters will have an advantage provided they can keep their ball in play
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Pick #1: 1.25pts ew Thomas Aiken @ 25/1 (general) Thomas takes Jaco Van Zyl's position as my headline pick this week. I was expecting Aiken to be too short to back and a bigger price on Van Zyl but both are in around the same odds. Aiken excels on home soil and has posted two top fives in this event in his last four starts. I'm writing off the tournament last week as the results tell us nothing. Thomas tied for third at the SA Open a few weeks back and has increased his driving accuracy by 10% this year while still averaging over 290 yards off the tee.
Pick #2: 1.25pts ew Robert Rock @ 33/1(general) I'm a bit late with my preview to put up the early 45/1 about Rock but he is a standout pick this week, even at 33s. With plenty of form in South Africa including a 2nd and a 4th place here at the Alfred Dunhill Championship in recent years, Rock posted a weekend 69-66 at the DP World Championship for a top 25 finish. His putting has also improved significantly, ranking 6th in putts per GIR in 2012.
Pick #3: 1pt ew Richard Sterne @ 40/1 (general) The best value of the pack for me this week. One of South Africa's finest and former Alfred Dunhill Championship winner, Sterne has been struggling with injury problems but has a decent run of tournaments under his belt in 2012. Top 20 at the SA Open Championship and Sterne holds this event in high regard. Sterne is competent in all departments of the game but he excels off the tee, averaging 300 yards from the markers and hitting 60% of fairways this year.
Pick #4: 0.75pts ew Hennie Otto @ 50/1 (SJ) A 33/1 winner for Nicspicks at the back end of last season, Otto is appearing on the radar once again. Showing progressive form at the Alfred Dunhill Championship with finishes of 15-7 the last two years respectively, big hitting Otto comes into the event off the back of two top 10s in his last two South African starts if we write off the shambles that was the Nelson Mandela last week.
Pick #5: 0.75pts ew Darren Fichardt @ 50/1 ew (general) Another in the golfing doldrums for a while the talented Fichardt also boasts decent course form at Leopard Creek with three top 25 finishes in his last seven starts. Fichardt has also posted a couple of top 10s on the Sunshine tour in recent weeks and has the all round game to make 50s look appealing this week.
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