Roebuck’s Alfred Dunhill preview: Event is favourite’s to lose

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Punters shouldn’t hold grudges, but those who backed Charl Schwartzel or Hennie Otto in last week’s South African Open at Glendower Golf Club will think twice about backing either when the European Tour moves to Mpumalanga Province for the Alfred Dunhill Championship.

Both players traded at big odds-on for victory on Sunday but suffered extraordinary meltdowns, enabling Morten Orum Madsen to snatch the win. The question now is whether to trust Schwartzel or Otto again, as both have claims on bare form at Leopard Creek.

Schwartzel is the clear favourite at 3/1, at a point shorter than seven days ago, but that’s understandable in one respect – his course form is unmatched. In 10 starts at the Malalane layout, the former Masters champion has won twice and been runner-up on four occasions.

He is the defending champion this week and calls this event his ‘favourite tournament of the year’ – and that’s not a surprise given his 12-shot winning margin of 12 months ago – a European Tour record. So, despite the short price – and Sunday’s disaster on the sixth hole at Glendower where he found water before three-putting to end his challenge – Schwartzel has to be supported.

The last five winners at Leopard Creek all scrambled well the week they won, which persuades me to leave Otto out of the staking plan. On Sunday it was his inability to get up and down when it mattered that derailed his title bid – fluffing a chip when clear at the top of the leaderboard before three-putting – so, for me, he is overlooked.

Merrick Bremner (80/1) returned to winning ways for the first time in five years when claiming the Lombard Insurance Classic in June and has finishes of 10-4-17 coming into this week. He regularly tops the scrambling stats on the Sunshine Tour and has been one of the more consistent performers in South Africa over the last six months with eight top 10s in his last 13 starts.

Lastly, Warren Abery could go well at a massive price of 100/1. Ninth on Sunday at Glendower followed hard on the heels on two top-10 finishes in his last three starts on the Sunshine Tour. The Durban local is accustomed to hot and humid conditions and has been eulogising about the course in the media recently. His scrambling stats have been excellent over the past month and he could easily run a place.

My three off the tee – Schwartzel, Bremner and Abery.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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