The Tshwane Open is a new tournament co-sanctioned by the Sunshine Tour in South Africa and the European Tour. The field is weak by usual standards. The favourite is Garth Mulroy and he is at number 93 in the world rankings. The leading contenders are players from South Africa which is not surprising as players from that country have won each of the co-sanctioned tournaments played this year to date.
The tournament has a low prize fund and that is reflected in the quality of the entry. Mulroy is just one of five players inside the top 100 in the latest standings. No player arrives in South Africa on the back of competing in the Accenture Match Play last week.
This will be the 6th and final European Tour event to be played in South Africa in the 2013 Race to Dubai, the first two of which were staged towards the end of last year. Four of the previous five have been won by South Africans and other winner was Scott Jamieson, the champion at the Nelson Mandela Open last December.
The Copper Leaf course is an Ernie Els (pictured) designed layout in the Centurion district of South Africa. Although the altitude will make it play less than its full distance the course is still above average in length even by modern standards at 7791 yards. It has wide fairways leading to undulating greens. Bunkers and water features mean accuracy is required and the course is said to be a sound test of all round golf skills.
As this is a new event there is no European course form to assess. The wide fairways will put a premium on distance over accuracy but once the fairways are found hitting the greens in regulation becomes the key skill. Putting will also be important in an event lacking the ‘star’ South Africans who are playing in America and any strength in depth amongst the Europe based contingent.