This year’s renewal of the Africa Open is the fourth as part of the European Tour and in each of the previous years the winner has come from South Africa. The home born players are clearly more at ease in the playing conditions and the golfers with the best chances this week are from South Africa.
In the tournament’s history as part of the European Tour since 2010 11 of the 15 players who have finished 4th or tied 4th have been South African. This is a tournament in which local players have an outstanding record and again they feature amongst the leading contenders.
East London Golf Club has hosted this tournament for the past three years so there is plenty of course form to assess. At 6770 yards in length the course is short by modern standards. The layout is hilly and undulating and being on the Indian Ocean coast it has links features which means the wind is its main defence.
The winning scores have been well under par with the average over the last three years being 21 under. Louis Oosthuizen (pictured) won last year’s tournament with a score of 27 under par. An ability to shoot low scores is required and there is a premium on accuracy over distance.
Finding the greens in the correct number of shots is important at East Lake. Players must then hole an above average number of putts in order to contend. The par for the course is unusually 73 which means there are plenty of eagle and birdie opportunities especially on the four par 5s, two of which are in the first three holes.
The field looks weak, especially with the withdrawal of last week’s winner, Richard Sterne, and Oosthuizen’s decision not to defend the title. The relatively easy course will play tougher than usual due to the poor weather that is forecast over each of the four days of the event.