Unheralded trio worth second glance
David John has a trio of three-figure priced selections for this week's Tshwane Open in South Africa.
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It is the sixth and final leg of the stretch of tournaments on the European Tour in South Africa this season with the inaugural staging of the Tshwane Open, 20 miles south west of Pretoria at the Copperleaf Estate.
Meaningful course form is thin on the ground but the venue has staged a couple of Big Easy Tour Championships - a feeder circuit for the Sunshine Tour.
The track itself is set out in a figure of eight over almost 7,800 yards but some of that length is negated by the altitude. The fairways are described as generous but this looks to provide a decent test.
- 1pt e.w. Dean Burmester at 125/1 (1/4 1,2,3,4,5, general) - Second at the course in a minor event and promising performer.
- 1pt e.w. Bryce Easton at 250/1 (1/4 1,2,3,4,5 Ladbrokes, bet365) - Sunshine Tour winner very much going the right way.
- 1pt e.w. Justin Walters at 100/1 (1/4 1,2,3,4,5 totesport, Betfred) - Good start to 2013 and has the game to challenge here.
Both the 2011 and 2012 Big Easy Tour Championships over three rounds were won by scores of seven- and five-under par with just eight and five players from the 30 man-fields finishing in the red.
It is easy to argue that there is little strength in depth in those events but they are contested by young players open to progress and a couple who took part and could make an impact this week at three-figure prices are Dean Burmester and Bryce Easton.
Burmester is the younger and will not be 24 until June but has improved steadily in the paid ranks since turning pro in 2010 following a decent amateur career.
If you place some faith in his course form then he does tick some boxes as he tied for second place here in 2011 behind Louis Calitz - it could have been better but for a destructive triple bogey at the 12th hole on the final day.
He went on to post five top-10 finishes on the Sunshine Tour in 2012 and his start to this year has been very fair indeed, with an eye-catching T3 behind Jaco Van Zyl last week in the Dimension Data Pro-Am.
That should give him some confidence going forward and he looks worth following at 125/1.
Easton is already a proven winner in South Africa and will focus his attention on his homeland once again after he failed to win a card to play on the Asian Tour despite reaching the final qualifying stages.
He returned to play in the Joburg Open and was just one shot off the lead after the opening round and although he did not threaten he posted a very creditable T14 after 72 holes.
Easton is a player of promise and like so many of the next generation of golfers these days, he has the confidence in his own ability to aim his sights high.
"In general, I'm looking forward to this year very much and hopefully I'll play consistently and compete consistently in the bigger events," he said recently and this looks like an opportunity to make good on that statement.
Van Zyl heads the betting on 14/1 and his run of consistent form so far in 2013 was rewarded with that success last week.
He will probably feel that this is not a great step up from that level considering the paucity of rivals he faces but you are still asking him to lift back-to-back titles at a pretty skinny price, which may just be enough to put him off.
None of the market leaders appeal to be brutally honest and you would not be surprised to see any of them wilt under the kosh on Sunday afternoon.
They all look pretty much exposed although the one with some scope is England's Andy Sullivan, who has fired in a batch of high finishes already in 2013 and sits inside the top 30 in the Race To Dubai.
He has some good form in South Africa this season too and could be ready to take the next step but you are still only getting 35/1 about his chances - a little too short on balance.
So it is to Justin Walters we turn for a final pick and he can be supported at 100/1.
He is a bit older and a bit more experienced compared to Burmester and Easton as he battled hard last year on the Challenge Tour to gain his playing rights for the main Tour this season.
He has kicked things off quite nicely too with four top-30 finishes from six starts and particularly caught the eye in Dubai despite a closing 73.
He plays out of nearby Country Club Johannesburg so I have a feeling he will enjoy a return to this area after so-so efforts in East London and at Fancourt.
He admitted at the back end of 2012 that he is excited about playing some of the big events in Europe but Walters has already shown enough in my view to make him a contender in this company.