By Mo Yoshimoto
on Wednesday, February 13th
The European Tour is staying in South Africa for the sixth edition of the Africa Open (this is a co-sanctioned event with the Sunshine Tour). The first playing (in 2008) was at the Fish River Sun CC in Port Alfred, Eastern Cape, South Africa. In 2009 the tournament moved to its current location, the East London GC, also on the Eastern Cape. Both the 2008 and 2009 versions were played as Sunshine Tour events only. In 2010, the tournament was included on the European Tour schedule. 156 players are in the field this week and will compete in three-ball/split tees for the first two rounds. (Note: Back nine groupings start off Tee No. 9 at this course).
• The highest-ranked player in the field is #97- Sweden’s Fredrik Andersson-Hed.
• Louis Oosthuizen – Winner in 2011 and 2012 is not in the field.
• Charl Schwartzel – Winner in 2010 is not in the field.
• Retief Goosen – Winner in 2009 is not in the field.
• Shaun Norris – Winner of this event in 2008 (when it was at the Fish River Sun CC) is in the field.
• Course measures only 6,691 yards on the card and is played as a par 73 (37-36) so scoring should be low; (last year Oosthuizen with a winning total of -27. The two prior years: -16, -20).
Names to Watch (Odds):
• Thomas Aiken (17/2)
South African is the odds-on favorite. Aiken is coming off a T6 at last week’s Joburg Open (closing in 66-66) and has placed in the Top 15 in each of his last three trips to East London including runner-up in 2010.
• Jaco Van Zyl (14/1)
South African is coming off a T11 at Joburg last week. Great course form here with back-to-back T4’s in 2011 and 2012 so look for Van Zyl to be in the mix come Sunday.
• Ricardo Santos (16/1)
Hailing from Portugal, Santos is lighting it up with three Top 10s in his last four starts: 4, T22, T7, T3. Only one previous visit here (in 2012) resulted in a MC so that is a drawback.
• Magnus Carlsson (22/1)
Last event was back in December (T18 at Alfred Dunhill Links) so rust could be a factor here. However, hard to argue with his results ending 2012 with three straight Top 20s culminating with a T6 at the SA Open Championship. T10 here a year ago.
• Keith Horne (33/1)
South African coming off a T6 at Joburg last week closing with a final round 65. Horne has played in all six events here finishing 21st or better four times.
• Darren Fichardt (33/1)
South African coming off T25 at Joburg last week. Three times a winner on the European Tour including the Saint-Omer Open in 2012. Runner-up here in 2009.
Good luck and if you don’t already play, you can sign-up at fantasyrace.europeantour.com.