JOHANNESBURG – Jacques van der Westhuyzen makes his picks for the Nedbank Golf Challenge, which starts on Thursday.
My three favourites
Henrik Stenson: The 2008 champion hasn’t had the best year, but he seems to be hitting form heading into the tournament, and he knows the Gary Player Country Club well. Excellent off the tee with his three wood, he will be tough to beat if he gets his putter working.
Alex Noren: The defending champion hasn’t hit top form yet either this year, but a man who found the magic touch a year ago. If he gets going and starts making birdies, he’ll be hard to beat, too. Driving well will be crucial for him to post some good scores.
Tyrrell Hatton: The Englishman has the ability to rip any golf course apart and he’s one of those players who can go low if he gets on a roll. Hatton’s got the game, but it’s what happens in his head that will determine whether he challenges or doesn’t.
My three dark horses
Tommy Fleetwood: The Race to Dubai leader has won twice on tour this year and finished fourth at the US Open so he’ll be confident going into the week. He’s a player who’s climbing the rankings and is to be taken very seriously.
Louis Oosthuizen: The South African has had an up-and-down year, but those who’ve watched him know he has played some exceptional golf at times in 2017. If his game clicks he has the ability to go low on a course he knows well. Putting together four good rounds will be key.
Ross Fisher: A regular visitor to the tournament over the years, the Englishman has come close on a few occasions and should again be in the mix this time. A consistently good striker of the ball, he knows the course well and is in good form, and will be desperate to bag this one.
The other South Africans who could be in the mix
Besides Oosthuizen, Charl Schwartzel will be hunting his first Nedbank Golf Challenge title, but he’s had little form to be confident going into the tournament, but in front of his home fans he might just find the magic that saw him win the Masters a few years ago.
Branden Grace, too, has had a quiet year, but he has the game to go low and will want to end the year on a high.
Dylan Frittelli and Haydn Porteous have both won in Europe this season and will be confident going into the tournament, and could be surprise packages, while George Coetzee, Brandon Stone, Richard Sterne and Dean Burmester have shown enough in the last year to be in the mix if they start well.