Roebuck’s Tshwane Open preview: Local boy George a worthy fave

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George Coetzee is the bubbling 6/1 favourite for the Tshwane Open, the eighth and final tournament of this season’s European Tour be held on South African fairways.

Despite the acute price, the winner of the Joburg Open earlier in February just has to be backed to go in again.

It may have taken 107 starts for Coetzee to claim a victory on the European Tour, but punters surely won’t have to wait anything like as long for another win for the talented Pretorian, who ticks more boxes than most when assessing the field for the action at the Ernie Els designed and monstrously long Copperleaf Golf and Country Estate.

The venue stretches out for over 7,900 yards, with the four par fives all measuring over 600 yards.

It’s handy, then, that Coetzee can hit it out there; he has ranked in the top 10 for driving distance in both his last two European Tour appearances.

Coetzee is the highest ranked (53) player to be teeing it up in South Africa and he’ll also be playing in front of home galleries, while he won the first tournament he ever played in as a 10-year-old at nearby Pretoria Country Club.

Crucially, though, it’s his current form that stands out with finishes of 4-5-1-9. The ninth place was actually a third-round defeat in last week’s WGC Match Play, in which he lost out to eventual champion Jason Day.

South Africans have won five of the seven European Tour events held in the Rainbow Nation and home players make up half of the top dozen in the outright list.

However, there are better bets amongst the Europeans that have travelled south of the equator.

Romain Wattel, a 16/1-shot with Ladbrokes, will surely be inspired by the brilliant showing of countryman Victor Dubuisson in Arizona last week, and although he seems to have lost a little distance off the tee this season, the Montpellier-born professional did well enough at Copperleaf 12 months ago to claim a top-10 finish.

Also boding well for Wattel followers, the fact he has rewarded each-way backers in three of his last five starts

Lastly, given 2013 winner, Dawie Van Der Walt, led the field in the ‘par fives in two’ stats category, the big hitting Dane Lucas Bjerregaard should also be on your staking plan at 33s, especially after finishing second in the Dimension Data Pro-Am on the Sunshine Tour last week.

My three off the tee – Coetzee (6/1), Wattel (16/1) and Bjerregaard (33/1).

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