European TourGolf

Golf betting: Van Rooyen, Harding, and Paisley in with a shout at the Nedbank Challenge

November 12, 2019January 6th, 2022

FROM night sky to Sun City – the final weeks of the European Tour’s 2019 season are rattling along in unusual style.

On Sunday Tyrrell Hatton claimed victory after a record-equalling six-man play-off which ended in unprecedented fashion beneath floodlights. This week’s Nedbank Challenge takes place in the home of South African gambling which begs the question – who’s worth a punt?

Each way – Erik Van Rooyen 20/1

There was much to like about the South African’s performance last Sunday, even if he was one of the five men to succumb to Hatton in extra holes. Before then, he had shown that he has learned much in his first two seasons on the European Tour and positively thrived on the test of chasing the lead. Moreover, the way he found a 72nd hole eagle-3 when nothing else would suffice was worthy of the fist punch he celebrated with. “I'm obviously bleak about the tee shot I just hit,” he said afterwards “But what a week it's been. I gave myself a chance and I’m really happy because that's what you want.”

Of this week’s examination he added: “I'm really looking forward to it. I have a bunch of family coming and it’s a course that I love. It doesn't really get better than this.” A five-time top ten finisher as a rookie last year, he has blossomed this season, so far boosting that figure by three and crucially one of them was a first win. His tournament debut was admittedly ropey (T60th), but he’s been tied ninth here on the Sunshine Tour and with confidence high he’s worth taking to ride the wave.

Outsider – Justin Harding 66/1

This tournament is sometimes referred to as Africa’s major championship and coming together of “Africa” and “major” draws the eye towards Harding, a 33-year-old whose life has been transformed in the last 18 months, from a one-time struggling Sunshine Tour journeyman into a Masters contender. He achieved that transformation in less than a year, by discussing lifestyle with George Coetzee and adopting a long putter. Within weeks of the changes he’d won twice in South Africa, then twice again in Asia, he refused to yield to altitude sickness, claimed the European Tour’s Qatar Masters and spent all week in the top 15 during his Augusta National debut. An astonishing tale.

Last week he opened 69-65 in Turkey and said: “I’m swinging it better, I really am. I’m keeping it on the golf course and managing my game well.” His problems were on the greens, struggling to find the pace and he went backwards at the weekend, but now he makes a tournament debut on a course he likes. In fact his last two visits have reaped tied eighth and tied sixth. His success has come late, but he’s coped because of his maturity and this week might witness another big step in his journey.

Outsider – Chris Paisley 90/1

Let’s be bold this week, take inspiration from the location and roll the dice on two big prices. So second pick is Englishman Paisley whose form might have been somewhat obscured by last week’s T62nd finish in Turkey. Before then he collected top tens in both the Open de France and the Portugal Masters. Nor was last week an entire washout in form because he shot a 68 on Saturday that required just 21 putts and witnessed seven birdies in a back nine of 31. “Possibly the weirdest round of my life,” he tweeted. “Some awful shots, some great ones.”

Now he returns to a track where last year he closed with a 67 for tied ninth and that result was far from out of sync with his record in South Africa. Earlier that year he made his European Tour breakthrough with victory in the South African Open, held at Glendower GC which, like this week’s course, is at altitude on the high veldt. He opened this season with T24th on defence of that title and added T18th in the Alfred Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek. A lively outsider.