Out of the Rough: Joburg Open (2023)
The 2022-23 DP World Tour season has come to an end with Nicolai Hojgaard claiming victory last week in Dubai at the DP World Tour Championship.
Hojgaard out-dueled the likes of Jon Rahm, Rory McIlroy, Viktor Hovland and Tommy Fleetwood to claim the DP World Tour’s end-of-the-season event.
Now, the DP World Tour rolls over into the 2023-24 season with the first of three consecutive events held in South Africa with this week’s Joburg Open.
This event is co-sanctioned between the DP World Tour and the Sunshine Tour and was first held in 2007.
This will be the 16th playing of the Joburg Open as the event was not held in 2018 or 2019.
This event was the host to one of the more improbable triumphs in DP World Tour history when just 12-months-ago, the no-status 23-year-old Englishman, Dan Bradbury won by three strokes in just his third start.
Bradbury will be back this year in an attempt to defend his title.
To no one's surprise, there will be a rather strong South African presence this week with the likes of Thriston Lawrence, Dean Burmester, Branden Grace, Hennie Du Plessis and Christian Bezuidenhout leading the charge.
Of the 15 previously held Joburg Opens, South Africans have won the event nine times. Among those nine South African winners are Lawrence, Grace, Darren Fichardt, Haydn Porteous, George Coetzee and Richard Sterne, all of which will be teeing it up this week.
Notable non-South Africans playing this week include Bradbury, Adrian Otaegui, Romain Langasque, Matthew Southgate, Alejandro Del Rey and Wilco Nienaber.
Houghton Golf Course in Johannesburg, South Africa is this week’s host.
It plays as a par 72 measuring 7,241 yards.
This track has a rich history, hosting the South African Open eight times as well as the South African PGA Championship at the end of the last century.
This course is a traditional tree-lined parkland course with fairly generous fairways.
Although the fairways are generous, they are undulating and the course as a whole has lots of water hazards and bunkers in play.
The greens featured this week are bentgrass and are undulating.
Additionally, the course is listed at 7,241 yards on the scorecard but does not play as long as that number suggests as it sits over 5,000 feet above sea level. Therefore, the ball travels approximately 10-percent further.
In all, the long straight-line hitters off the tee will see a leg up this week.
As of the time of writing this, weather conditions look ideal for this week’s Joburg Open. Thursday calls for a 20-percent chance of precipitation with Friday a zero percent and a ten-percent chance on both Saturday and Sunday. Temperatures will range from 87-to-88 degrees across all four days as well. Winds are set to be the highest on Friday at 15 miles-per-hour. Winds are also projected to be 12 miles-per-hour on Thursday and 11 miles-per-hour on both Saturday and Sunday.
Strokes Gained: Approach (SG: APP)
Strokes Gained: Off the Tee (SG: OTT) / Average Driving Distance
Greens in Regulation Percentage (GIR%)
Strokes Gained: Putting (SG: PUTT)
Sand Saves Percentage
Hennie Du Plessis (+1600)
This isn’t an ideal number for Du Plessis but simply a guy I could not leave off my card. I had to go South African heavy and I love the way he fits this course. He is currently third on the DP World Tour in SG: OTT, 15th in average driving distance, 21st in GIR%, 36th in APP and 78th in bogey avoidance. Now, he isn’t the best scrambler as he is 126th on Tour there but is above average in bogey avoidance so we’ll let that slide. His biggest downfalls come out of the sand as he ranks 144th in sand saves percentage and on the greens as he ranks 148th in SG: PUTT. There’s no doubt about it, he’ll have to catch a hot flat stick to compete this week. In his last outing he placed T6th at the Nedbank Golf Challenge as well. He’s long off the tee with great GIR% and approach numbers, on top of being from South Africa. That’s what I’m hanging my hat on this week. I’m playing two units on him.
Romain Langasque (+3000)
This isn’t an overfully deep field with the Fortinet Australian PGA Championship happening the same week. Either way, a number like +3000 on someone like Langasque is great value. Langasque entered last week’s DP World Tour Championship in some poor form but managed to go T11th, tying him with the likes of Tyrrell Hatton and putting him ahead of names like Tom Kim, Min Woo Lee, Shane Lowry and others. He is also 17th on Tour in average driving distance, 22nd in sand saves percentage, 24th in scrambling, 25th in SG: OTT, 29th in bogey avoidance, 54th in both GIR% and SG: PUTT and 58th in SG: APP. In other words, he’s above average in each of the eight statistical categories I took into consideration this week. He actually is my overall favorite this week per my model. Langasque also played this event a year ago where he placed T9th. I’m playing a unit on him.
Niklas Norgaard (+3500)
Any time I can get Norgaard comfortably on my betting card, I’m a happy man. He’s just so much fun to watch. I’m really going in on golfers who are long off the tee and there are very few who are as long as Norgaard is. He’s currently second on the DP World tour in average driving distance, fifth in SG: OTT, 35th in GIR%, 41st in bogey avoidance, 55th in SG: PUTT, 88th in SG: APP, 90th in scrambling and 101st in sand saves percentage. Not only is he super long off the tee, he’s pretty good elsewhere as the numbers suggest. Now, the form has been bad as he has missed three cuts coming into this week, but this is a new season, even if it doesn’t feel like it. Now’s the time to put the form behind him and jumpstart this 2023-24 season. I’m playing a unit on him.
Jayden Schaper (+4500)
I’m going with another South African here with Schaper. Schaper has made back-to-back cuts at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship and Qatar Masters coming into this week. He also placed T18th here a season ago. Schaper is currently 30th on Tour in bogey avoidance, 32nd in sand saves percentage, 33rd in SG: APP, 39th in GIR%, 44th in scrambling, 76th in SG: OTT, 107th in average driving distance and 110th in SG: PUTT. Not a bad resume. With this field lacking depth, Schaper is as deep as I’m going with my betting card. I’m playing one unit on him.