An impressive ball-striking performance in the Joburg Open last week has seen early-bird punters latch on to favourite Brandon Stone for the Alfred Dunhill Championship.
Stone, who won the Alfred Dunhill by seven shots in 2016, finished fourth in the Joburg Open on Sunday, despite suffering with a cold putter for much of the tournament. The betting community clearly believes he will be a contender at Leopard Creek over the next four days if he enjoys a little more fortune on the greens and Stone has become
11/1 market leader.
Stone has finished in the top 20 in four of his last five events – the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth his only serious flop – and this week’s Leopard Creek venue has always been one of his favourites.
South Africans have won six of the last eight Dunhills and two of Stone’s three European Tour titles have come in his homeland.
MacIntyre Eyes Further Glory
The early favourite for the Alfred Dunhill Championship was Robert MacIntyre, who enjoyed a superb fortnight in Cyprus last time out, but the Scot has become easy to back at
MacIntyre finished third in the Cyprus Open before winning the Cyprus Showdown on the same course the following week. The quirky Showdown format, which had a cut after rounds two and three, with the scores reset both times, meant MacIntyre needed Sunday fireworks to triumph, and that is what he delivered.
The Scottish left-hander, though, is yet to win a 72-hole strokeplay event. And prior to his Cyprus heroics, he withdrew during round one of the Scottish Championship suffering with back and hip problems, so punters are far from certain that his injury problems are behind him.
MacIntyre finished 15th in his only previous Leopard Creek visit, so that is a solid debut effort, and his relatively new partnership with caddie Mike Thomson appears to be getting stronger.
Nienaber Could Go One Better
Last week’s Joburg Open appeared at the mercy of Wilco Nienaber until the final two holes – bogeys at the 17th and 18th on Sunday allowed him to be pipped by JB Hansen – but the South African powerhouse could bounce back with Alfred Dunhill Championship glory.
Nienaber has quickly established himself as one of the most promising youngsters on the planet. His enormous arms mean he can generate phenomenal clubhead speed and propel his ball huge distances. The 20-year-old giant hit one drive 439 yards during last week’s Joburg Open and he never seems to lose his balance through the shots.
20/1 chalked up against Nienaber’s name this week will be a tempting option for those who witnessed his generally brilliant display in Joburg.
Until the back nine on Sunday, Nienaber was rampant, and he was all smiles after his narrow defeat, content with his first runner-up finish on the European Tour.
The youngster took the positives from the Joburg Open and seems to have a sound temperament to go with his awesome game.
*All odds correct at time of writing