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South African Open preview: Charl Schwartzel can come good at home

The new DP World Tour season continues this week with the South African Open, following hot on the heels of the Joburg Open, which was won by 225/1 outsider Dan Bradbury.

What: South African Open Championship

Where: Blair Atholl Estate, Johannesburg, South Africa

When: From 04:00, Thursday, 1st December, 2022

How to watch: Sky Sports Golf

Odds: Dean Burmester 12/1, Branden Grace 12/1, Charl Schwartzel 18/1, George Coetzee 25/1, Erik van Rooyen 33/1

The market leaders were upstaged by a relative unknown in the Joburg Open last week, with Dan Bradbury repelling the likes of Christiaan Bezuidenhout and Daniel van Tonder at Houghton Golf Club, Johannesburg.

Bradbury, who turned professional only in July, is back in action in the same city this week for the South African Open. The Yorkshireman has been handed a 70/1 quote for back-to-back glory.

This week's venue - the Blair Atholl Golf and Equestrian Estate - is a 45-minute drive north of the course where Bradbury excelled last week. Bezuidenhout has decided to take a rest, saving himself for next week's Alfred Dunhill Championship, so Branden Grace has been given a prominent position in the betting.

Grace won the South African Open in January, 2020, closing with a 62 to finish three shots ahead of Louis Oosthuizen. That event was staged at Randpark GC, though, and Grace is making his Blair Atholl debut this week.

Grace has won five DP World Tour titles in South Africa and the 34-year-old has been chalked up at 12/1 to add a sixth on Sunday. He has been competing on the LIV Golf circuit this year and he won the LIV Golf Portland event in July.

Thriston Lawrence could be a popular 20/1 chance this week. Lawrence won the Joburg Open last year, then followed up with victory in the European Masters at Crans-sur-Sierre this year. He can boast the official course record at Blair Atholl, having carded a 64 on his way to sixth place in the Blair Atholl Championship on the Sunshine Tour last year.

Romain Langasque is the most prominent non-South African in the betting. The last four South African Opens have been won by a South African, but Langasque has a good record in Africa and has been hitting his ball well. The Frenchman gets a 25/1 quote for his Blair Atholl mission.

Standard each-way terms of a quarter the odds, the first five places are available for the South African Open, with alternative options found in the Each Way Extra section, including the increasingly popular fifth the odds, the first eight places.

South African Open Championship course details

Blair Atholl Golf & Equestrian Estate, Lanseria, Johannesburg, South Africa, is the third-longest golf course in the world, measuring a jaw-dropping 8,233 yards. 

The par-72 layout has five par-fives, eight par-fours and five par-threes. It was designed by Gary Player, who lived on this estate for more than 20 years. 

The venue is at altitude, which means balls fly further, but short drivers will find this an intimidating prospect. The 14th, 15th and 16th are the longest collective trio of par-fours in the world (524, 566 and 560 yards). 

Four of the five par-fives are at least 606 yards apiece. Wide fairways help the competitors, but water is in play on 11 holes, and there are several elevation changes to add to the challenge. 

The 2021 Blair Atholl Championship on the Sunshine Tour was the first pro event staged there - it was won by Luke Brown with a 12-under-par total. A sunny, relatively calm week is expected.

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Three to follow

Charl Schwartzel

The 18/1 about Charl Schwartzel finally winning a first South African Open title this week has been proving popular. Schwartzel is one of the best players in the history of South African golf - he became Masters champion in 2011 - but he has never claimed his national title.

This week's venue provides a golden opportunity for the 38-year-old to get the job done. He used to live at Blair Atholl Estate and is still a member at the club. He once carded a round of 60 there in a social fourball. Schwartzel has been in bright form on the LIV Golf circuit and should be a leading contender this week.

Dean Burmester

The 12/1 about another power-packed South African has also been catching the eye - Dean Burmester is up to 60th in the world rankings after an excellent few months and he can approach this task with a huge amount of confidence.

Burmester has won eight times on the Sunshine Tour and he has probably never tackled a course which sets up as well for him as Blair Atholl.

Tom McKibbin

Teenage Northern Irishman Tom McKibbin has been excelling on the Challenge Tour and he looks set to become a superstar. The 80/1 quotes against his name will interest many as this lad has been rapidly improving and seems a fearless character.

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