The World’s second oldest National Open returns to the DP World Tour in this week’s Investec South African Open Championship.
This event serves as one-of-five on the DP World Tour to be co-sanctioned, this week with the Sunshine Tour.
As previously mentioned, the South African Open Championship is the second oldest National Open in golf, to just The Open Championship.
This year will be the 113th playing of the South African Open Championship.
Blair Atholl plays host this week. This monster of a course made headlines last year, becoming the longest course in the history of the DP World Tour
As this event serves as the South African National Open, there will be a heavy dosage of South Africans teeing it up this week.
Dean Burmester leads the way as the odds on favorite to claim his nation’s open.
Joining him is defending champion Thriston Lawrence who will look to put last week’s Sunday blunder behind him in an attempt to win this week.
Zander Lombard is another South African in this week’s week who placed fourth last week at the Joburg Open.
Other notable South Africans playing this week include Christiaan Bezuidenhout (winner in 2020,) Hennie du Plessis, Jayden Schaper and Louis de Jager.
Notable non-South Africans playing this week include Dan Bradbury, Ewen Ferguson, Matti Schmid and Romain Langasque.
It is worth noting that a South African has won the past five installments.
If there’s one word to describe this week’s venue, Blair Atholl, it is long.
As previously mentioned, this track made headlines a year ago after becoming the longest course in DP World Tour history.
It comes in at approximately 8,231 yards.
Blair Atholl was opened 16 years ago. It was constructed on farmland owned by nine-time major champion, Gary Player. Player is also the one who designed the layout.
It is located in Johannesburg's north-west suburb of Lanseria and made its Sunshine Tour debut in October of 2021. The next year, it hosted the South African Open Championship.
Four of the par-fours featured this week measure over 500 yards, to add another insight on the monstrous length this course features.
Blair Atholl is a spacious course that is laid out across the rolling countryside. It features several changes in elevation throughout its plus-8,000 yards in length.
The fairways are generous but water does come into play on ten holes. Some of that water comes in the form of Crocodile River that zig-zags throughout the venue.
It should go without saying that any hopeful winner will need to be long off the tee and come with a strong long-iron game.
As of the time of writing this, the weather looks ideal for this week’s event. There is a zero-percent chance of precipitation across all four days. Highs will range from 79-degrees on Thursday before climbing to 91-degrees on Sunday. Winds will range from eight-to-nine miles-per-hour across the four days as well. In other words, ideal.
Strokes Gained: Off the Tee (SG:OTT) / Average Driving Distance
Strokes Gained: Approach (SG: APP)
Greens in Regulation Percentage (GIR%)
Strokes Gained: Putting (SG: PUTT)
Hennie du Plessis (+2200)
I was on du Plessis last week at the Joburg Open and he went on to finish T21st but I’m back on him this week. He finished last season on the DP World Tour third in SG: OTT, 15th in average driving distance, 21st in GIR% and 36th in SG: APP. Now those stats check out but he does come with some downfalls. He’s 126th in scrambling and 148th in SG: PUTT. There’s no doubt that he’ll have to catch a hot putter this week to compete but he comes with elite distance and iron play. He also placed T6th at the Nedbank Golf Challenge a few weeks back. He’s also South African which is a big boost this week. I’m playing two units on him this week.
Romain Langasque (+2500)
Per my model this week, Langasque is my overall favorite to win. He did miss the cut last week at the Joburg Open but recently went T11th at the DP World Tour Championship, tying him with names such as Tyrell Hatton and putting him above Min Woo Lee, Tom Kim and others. He finished the last season 17th in average driving distance, 24th in scrambling, 25th in SG: OTT, 54th in both GIR% and SG: PUTT and 68th in SG: APP. In other words, he’s well above average in each of the seven statistical categories I took into consideration this week. I’m playing a unit on him.
Ross Fisher (+6000)
This feels like the ideal course for Ross Fisher. Fisher finished last season second on the DP World Tour in GIR%, sixth in SG: APP, 30th in SG: OTT and 37th in average driving distance. He does come with some downfalls however. They come in the form of a 149th placement in scrambling and 160th placement in SG: PUTT. If he can catch a hot flat stick combined with elite iron play and plus distance off the tee, he’ll have a chance. Fisher placed T12th last week at the Joburg Open which is a promising sign. I’m playing a unit on him this week.
Matthew Southgate (+8000)
Unlike Fisher, Southgate did not have a good showing last week at the Joburg Open where he missed the cut. He hasn’t been in the best of form as of late but it wasn’t that long ago where he placed T2nd at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship. He finished last season 20th in SG: APP, 31st in scrambling, 45th in SG: OTT, 53rd in GIR%, 84th in SG: PUTT and 88th in average driving distance. That places him above average in each of the seven statistical categories I took into consideration this week, which in turn offers great value down here at +8000. I’m playing a unit on him this week.