Ben Coley fancies Haydn Porteous to go well at the Joburg Open, the final European Tour event of 2017.
The European Tour combines once more with the Asian and Sunshine tours to stage a tri-sanctioned Christmas party to which everyone is invited, with a field of 240 players set to line up in the Joburg Open.
All golf-fan familiarity has been removed by a calendar switch from February to December and ongoing renovations at Royal Johannesburg, which means that for the first time since the turn of the century we return to Randpark Golf Club on the west of the city.
Given the field size, two courses are again in operation over the first two days with the Firethorn, on which Mathias Gronberg won the SA Open in 2000, expected to play longer and marginally tougher than Bushwillow.
While the rough appears thicker and fairways perhaps narrower than Royal Johannesburg, there's been some rain around to soften things up and scoring is expected to be fairly low - perhaps something in the mid-teens under-par will prove competitive.
For the second week in succession, Louis Oosthuizen heads the betting but he's been cut despite putting in a flawed display in Mauritius, where he was ahead early on but conspired to take two steps backwards for every step forward thereafter, finishing just outside the frame in that annoyingly effortless way of his.
Contrary to his tempo, the 2010 Open champion did appear to be trying, but some bizarre decisions and wayward execution at just the wrong time meant he never truly looked like winning. By comparison, Dylan Frittelli looked the champion from the moment his birdie putt at the final hole of round three found the hole, even if he managed to give his backers a scare, too.
Frittelli will do for many given his high-class, consistent form of late, but he's yet to back up a win and, as Sunday showed, doesn't look a ruthless killer in the Branden Grace mould. He's just not the sort of player I want to back at single-figure prices even if, as usual, this bumper field offers very little in the way of depth.
Instead, the best bet here might be Haydn Porteous, winner of this event in 2015 and more than capable of doubling up.
In what's still an embryonic professional career, Porteous has proven himself extremely comfortable in the mix and that counts for plenty at this level, with those Sunshine Tour regulars who play well for three rounds so often unable to keep things going.
And while his recent form figures don't leap off the page, Porteous has shown in bursts that he's not far away, particularly when 12th in the Nedbank. He was in the same spot with a round to go last week before fading, while back in November the youngster followed an opening 66 in China with 64 in Turkey, both in borderline world-class fields.
Randpark certainly appears set to play more to his strengths than Mauritius and Porteous has fond memories of the venue, having won a notable amateur title here by 14 shots just four years ago, his 22-under-par total far too good for a solid field which included the likes of Zander Lombard and Thriston Lawrence.
Lombard also won the same event a year earlier when our man was eighth in the medal, but Porteous exacted revenge in the following match play stage with a convincing win en route to the semi-finals. A year earlier, only the eventual champion proved good enough to stop him.
Porteous also has good form in this event, most notably when beating Lombard to the title in 2016 but also when 24th and 23rd either side, while as you'd expect he's always capable of a serious upturn in form in his homeland. This will be just his 13th start in a European/Sunshine Tour collaboration and he's got that win across the city in the bag, while at Sunshine Tour level he's won the season-ending Investec Cup.
I'm not surprised the opening 35/1 has gone but 25/1 is more than fair. He's a strong fancy.
While South Africans tend to dominate these events on home soil, and the golfing conveyor belts from England and Scandinavia take over when they do not, many a Frenchman has also gone close here and it's worth sticking with Romain Langasque after his fine third last week.
This formerly high-class amateur does not have a European Tour card after a nightmare 2017, so it was all the more impressive to see him battle to third place in Mauritius on Sunday, two fine blows to the par-five 18th underlining the fact that his confidence has returned.
The 22-year-old old, who was 39th in the Masters as an amateur just 18 months ago, led the field for greens hit last week and there was no fluke about his performance. He was and remains a high-class prospect, who eventual winner Dylan Frittelli earmarked as a surefire Ryder Cup player of the future during a brief commentary stint.
Langasque was 11th in this event last year, a renewal which was reduced to 54 holes, and also fared well on both other starts in South Africa - he was 21st in the SA Open and 18th in the Tshwane. They were three of his best four finishes in an otherwise forgettable rookie campaign.
With such comfort playing in this part of the world, and the course less familiar to the locals than Royal Johannesburg, Langasque is backed to contend again at around the 66/1 mark.
Scotland's David Law won both stroke play and match play elements of the Northern Amateur here a few years ago and therefore stands out at as big as 750/1 after a top-20 finish on the Challenge Tour, while Daniel Brooks likes playing in South Africa where he was third in the SA Open and also comes under consideration.
Brooks was a brilliant third under immense pressure two starts back and while shooting 80 after a break in Hong Kong, he did card a second-round 66 to claw back a degree of respectability. We've seen players of his nature contend in events like this one and 150/1 appeals as a very fair price.
However, I'm sticking with the locals for my final two selections, starting with Jaco Prinsloo.
He wouldn't have been in the same class as Porteous as an amateur, but after turning pro in 2012 has steadily climbed the ladder, picking up wins on minor circuits before breaking through at Sunshine Tour level last month, clinging on bravely after a brace of 64s to open.
But it's Prinsloo's win in January on the IGT Tour which stands out, because it came here at Randpark and places him at an advantage over most of this field, whose experience of the venue is either dated, from amateur golf or non-existent.
Prinsloo evidently likes playing in Joburg regardless, as he won just a short drive away at Country Club Johannesburg on the Big Easy Tour this summer, while his first victory at that level came on the east side of the city back in 2013 and he was an excellent 11th in this very event a year ago.
Last week saw him venture to Mauritius for his first co-sanctioned start outside of South Africa and he played well to halfway before dropping down the field over the weekend, but the return home can spark an upturn in fortunes at a course he knows extremely well.
If you can find a first-round leader market - one for each course - 2009 course winner Ryan Tipping, who represents Randpark, is worth considering at a likely huge price. He came through the Monday qualifier to gain a late spot in the field and was second after day one here in both 2009 and 2010.
However, we'll end on a more sensible note with Erik van Rooyen, who is preferred to the likes of Justin Walters, Dean Burmester and Thomas Aiken.
Missing the cut on the number in Hong Kong on what was his full debut as a European Tour cardholder is absolutely no concern to me, and van Rooyen can make an early impression under more favourable conditions.
The promising 27-year-old ended his first Challenge Tour season ranked third in the standings, ahead of the awesome talents that are Marcus Kinhult and Aaron Rai, thanks to a fine late run which included a win and two further top-fives over the closing six tournaments.
He's contended in a co-sanctioned event like this before and might be among those to welcome the switch across the city, as while he performed creditably in all four previous starts in the Joburg Open he's never looked like winning it.
A year ago, Frittelli told readers of his Challenge Tour blog to watch out for his close friend van Rooyen and the timing looks good for those words to come to fruition, now we have a new track and a player who will feel ready to make his mark in this grade.
Posted at 2100 GMT on 04/12/17.