Roebuck’s Nedbank Golf Challenge preview: Schwartzel hot to trot
The Nedbank Golf Challenge has been a regular stop for some of the best players in the world for over 30 years, but for the first time ever European Tour members performing at the Gary Player Country Club in Sun City will see earnings count towards the 2014 Race to Dubai.
So with a near €1million first place prize on offer (capped at just over 795,000 for RTD and Ryder Cup qualification purposes) this is a huge opportunity for someone to steal a significant march to be Europe’s number one for next year.
The field has also grown from 12 to 30 for this term’s renewal, but the quality hasn’t diminished, with Henrik Stenson heading the betting at 3/1 ahead of Charl Schwartzel (6/1) and 8/1 shout Justin Rose.
Punters will have to take it on trust that the Swede is 100% fit, as he suggested he needed to rest an injured wrist after claiming the 2013 Race to Dubai crown with victory in the DP World Tour Championship last month.
Stenson was dominant in Dubai, easily keeping a top class field at bay in the desert, but has had a specialist looking at the injury who believes there are still minor issues.
If he trusts his wrist and there are no problems, Stenson is undoubtedly the man to beat, given his recent displays and the fact his form figures at the mammoth layout in North West province that stretches out to over 7,800 yards, read 2-1-4-2 in four starts.
At the prices though, I’m prepared to swerve Stenson in favour of Schwartzel, who owes followers nothing after winning last week as advised.
The former Masters champion’s success in the Alfred Dunhill Championship proved Schwartzel’s mental strength is up there with the best, as the previous week he traded huge odds-on during the last round of the South African Open before finding water early on day four and slipping to fourth.
There were no nerves at Leopard Creek and with massive length off the tee coupled with current form of 1-29-4-1, and tournament numbers that read 5-10-6-2, he is the standout pick.
Those looking for a second investment could do worse than side with Sergio Garcia at more appealing odds of 14/1.
The Spaniard played better than most without winning in late season PGA Tour tournaments, before finishing brilliantly in his latest start – in the HSBC Champions event – when a last day 63 saw his scoop fourth place.
My two to follow – Schwartzel (6/1) and Garcia (14/1).