Free betting tips: Ben Coley's Nedbank Golf Challenge preview

Tommy Fleetwood in action at Gary Player Country Club
Tommy Fleetwood in action at Gary Player Country Club

Golf expert Ben Coley is giving Tommy Fleetwood another spin under ideal conditions in this week's Nedbank Golf Challenge.

Birthday boy Gary Player, presumably still in the plank position, welcomes a field of 72 to his Country Club and the latest edition of an expanding Nedbank Golf Challenge.

Once just a bit of fun, limited to a dozen or so players, this is now the penultimate stop on the Race To Dubai and carries extra significance now that Justin Rose has served it up in such spectacular fashion to longtime leader Tommy Fleetwood.

Rose is within 135,000 points of his compatriot and future Ryder Cup team-mate as the battle springs to life just as it had appeared to fizzle out with the Spanish duo of Sergio Garcia and Jon Rahm conjuring no more than a half-hearted effort between them, but this might be where Fleetwood finally seals the deal with his rival absent.

Granted, patience may wear thin among regular followers given that we've been on board Fleetwood a couple of times lately, but I would just remind the remaining few that a key part of his sensational season was second place in the WGC-Mexico Championship, where he so nearly bagged us a 200/1 winner.

A tenth of those odds now, Fleetwood strikes me as the most likely winner of the Nedbank for a couple of reasons.

First and foremost he is for my money the best player in the field currently, even allowing for the red-hot form of Tyrrell Hatton and the brilliance of Matthew Fitzpatrick. Secondly, Gary Player Country Club is a ball-striker's paradise and on that score, Fleetwood is certainly number one.

Just last week, he was the only player in the field for the Turkish Airlines Open to match Rose in greens hit and he leads the European Tour for the season by a distance. In fact, the gap between Fleetwood and second-placed Benjamin Hebert is equivalent, in percentage terms, to the gap between Hebert and compatriot Alex Levy, who sits 34th.

Fleetwood has brought that ball-striking to this course before, ranking third for greens hit in two of his three visits, all of which carry some positives. Last year he improved day-by-day to finish a promising 14th, another one of those performances which helped build the foundations for what he's achieved since, and I've no doubt he has the game to win at a venue adored by green finders like Lee Westwood and Henrik Stenson.

Indeed, three of the last four winners of this event led the field in greens hit en route to victory and Fleetwood must be favourite to top the charts yet again. His ball-striking last week was up there with his best - in fact, it was the fourth time this year he's been first for greens hit and he's won two of the other three. Something similar would give him an outstanding chance.

It's also worth noting that Fleetwood once held onto his playing rights with a top-10 finish in South Africa so there'd be a certain symmetry to effectively wrapping up the season-long prize here at Sun City. This tougher test will suit him down to the ground and he has one last big performance in him before taking some deserved time off with his partner and newborn son.

Hatton fully deserves to be where he is in the market, as do home duo Louis Oosthuizen and Branden Grace. The latter has placed here twice in succession while Oosthuizen can turn it on at the drop of a hat, but the fact there's been no home champion in a decade is concerning. This event is dubbed South Africa's major and with that comes undoubted pressure.

Next on my list then is the supremely talented Chris Wood, another whose game is well-suited to GPCC.

Wood was 25th here last year and third on his debut in 2015, but both should be marked up. On the first occasion he suffered from severe dehydration and spent some of the week on a drip, while last year his troublesome neck flared up to the extent that he labelled an opening 69 as among the best rounds of his career.

Clearly, there's a risk that Wood is again the victim of some form of fitness complaint but he made an encouraging return to action last week, finishing alongside Fleetwood in 23rd, and the hope is his relative freshness is a positive given that some of this week's opposition have been to Italy, Spain, China and Turkey of late.

Wood's suitability to this course is underlined by all three of his European Tour wins, but particularly Wentworth and Qatar. The latter throws up obvious leaderboard links and that makes sense given that both Doha GC and Gary Player are tough-but-scoreable tracks where wind is a massive factor. The same goes for Wentworth, where Wood produced his standout performance to date last summer.

Another factor which could work in his favour is Wood's tumbling world ranking, as it was here that he sealed a top-50 spot in 2015 and with it a Masters invite. With that event plus the Ryder Cup at the forefront of his mind, and plenty of encouragement in his play since the PGA Championship in August, he looks primed to go well.

It's tempting to side with dual-Sun City winner Lee Westwood, whose long game gives him a fighting chance here, but Victor Dubuisson rates a better bet at similar odds.

The Frenchman has endured a largely forgettable year, with more withdrawals on his performance chart than top-10 finishes, but that was very much the case 12 months ago when he rocked up here and placed behind Alex Noren.

Victor Dubuisson converts unbelievable shot from cactus at Accenture

Another top-five finish in 2015 plus 20th on debut confirms that this is precisely Dubuisson's tasse de thé and his ability to turn it on when faced with ideal conditions is underlined by the fact that both European Tour wins have come at the same venue.

Dubuisson struggled to hit greens last week but had previously exuded control in the lucrative Alfred Dunhill Links, and while there are obvious risks attached he's a player who is well worth chancing at this sort of price in a field just shy of elite standard.

Both those Turkey wins came in no-cut, limited fields and he said last year that his incentive was very much to qualify for the DP World Tour Championship. To do so from 73rd in the Race To Dubai he'll have to again produce at Sun City.

My final selections are both available at around the 100/1 mark, namely Richie Ramsay and Matthew Southgate.

Ramsay's first European Tour win came in South Africa, where he also spent his honeymoon in 2012, so it was little surprise when he confirmed that he loved this course on his first visit last year.

Debutants famously struggle in the Nedbank so Ramsay's 25th place was a very solid opener and underlines the fact that he's best suited to a proper test, which this event once again promises to be.

Recent performances in Italy (T40) and Turkey (T27) came where the emphasis was on lights-out scoring but Ramsay, who was the only player to reach 10-under when last winning, is categorically at his most dangerous when pars are hard to come by, let alone birdies.

With two of his victories having come in Africa, this former US Amateur champion can step up massively on recent results to take a hand on Sunday.

As for Southgate, he was fourth in greens hit en route to 11th place last week, which followed on from a highly-encouraging top-25 finish at the WGC-HSBC Champions.

He finished 39th here last year but largely because of a nightmare third-round 82; his other three were par or better which, in an event where seven-under earned a place, suggests conditions are to his liking.

We know this links specialists loves to play in the wind and the icing on the cake is that he spoke in Turkey of how his game clicked, and what that might mean for the final two events of the season.

"I'm such a natural player," he explained. "Managed to do a really nice session yesterday where I just hit some really easy shots and I found that rhythm.

"Once I find it, it can stick around for a couple of weeks, which I'm hoping obviously this could be good timing for that to happen."

Southgate's best form has come in bursts, such as 2-MC-6 this summer and five lucrative top-20 finishes in seven starts at around the same time in 2016, so there's plenty of encouragement to be taken from the last fortnight with his prospects here in mind.

One final mention goes to Alex Bjork, the impressive young Swede who showed he can compete on these terms when third in the Open de France mid-summer.

That effort on a tough, windswept course bodes well for his first visit here, as does the record of his compatriots in the event and his own record in South Africa. Those looking for a potential contender at a huge price could certainly do worse.

Recommended bets: Nedbank Challenge

2pts e.w. Tommy Fleetwood at 22/1 (1/4 1,2,3,4,5) - likes this layout and only needs the putter to warm up

1pt e.w. Chris Wood at 50/1 (1/5 1,2,3,4,5,6) - played well here both starts despite big fitness issues

1pt e.w. Victor Dubuisson at 45/1 (1/4 1,2,3,4,5) - another who comes alive at Sun City; can do so again

1pt e.w. Richie Ramsay at 100/1 (1/5 1,2,3,4,5,6) - tougher test will suit this proven grinder

1pt e.w. Matthew Southgate at 100/1 (1/5 1,2,3,4,5,6) - says something has clicked and can stay hot

Posted at 1935 GMT on 06/11/17.

Related links

Like what you've read?
Help your friends Know It All by sharing this article to your social media.

Most Read

Check the Sporting Life team's best bet selections for Saturday November 17
1

Saturday's Bets of the Day

Get our team's best bets from across a range of sports for Saturday November 17 in one place.

Gerwyn Price (Picture: Lawrence Lustig/PDC)2

Explosive victory for Price

Gerwyn Price won an incredibly heated and dramatic clash with Simon Whitlock to reach the Grand Slam of Darts semi-finals in Wolverhampton.

Rock The Kasbah (left) is one of the Saturday Value Bets3

Value Bet: Benatar to strike Gold

Ben Linfoot seeks out the best Value Bet selections on BetVictor Gold Cup day at Cheltenham and he's taking two against the field in the feature handicap.

Germany have been relegated in the UEFA Nations League4

Germany suffer shock relegation

Germany were relegated from Group A1 of the Nations League after Holland earned a surprise 2-0 win over France.

Peter Ebdon5

Ebdon gets angry with spectators

Peter Ebdon's 'cue drop' reaction to a fan amused Ronnie O'Sullivan during his quarter-final victory over David Gilbert at the Northern Ireland Open.

Most Read

Check the Sporting Life team's best bet selections for Saturday November 17
1

Saturday's Bets of the Day

Get our team's best bets from across a range of sports for Saturday November 17 in one place.

Gerwyn Price (Picture: Lawrence Lustig/PDC)2

Explosive victory for Price

Gerwyn Price won an incredibly heated and dramatic clash with Simon Whitlock to reach the Grand Slam of Darts semi-finals in Wolverhampton.

Rock The Kasbah (left) is one of the Saturday Value Bets3

Value Bet: Benatar to strike Gold

Ben Linfoot seeks out the best Value Bet selections on BetVictor Gold Cup day at Cheltenham and he's taking two against the field in the feature handicap.

Germany have been relegated in the UEFA Nations League4

Germany suffer shock relegation

Germany were relegated from Group A1 of the Nations League after Holland earned a surprise 2-0 win over France.

Peter Ebdon5

Ebdon gets angry with spectators

Peter Ebdon's 'cue drop' reaction to a fan amused Ronnie O'Sullivan during his quarter-final victory over David Gilbert at the Northern Ireland Open.

Racing Tips

Rock The Kasbah (left) is one of the Saturday Value Bets

Value Bet: Benatar to strike Gold

Ben Linfoot seeks out the best Value Bet selections on BetVictor Gold Cup day at Cheltenham and he's taking two against the field in the feature handicap.

Don't miss the Saturday thoughts of Simon Holt

Simon Holt: A touch more Frost

Simon Holt makes the case for Bryony Frost taking the limelight on another massive Saturday with victory in the BetVictor Gold Cup at Cheltenham.

Get all the latest whispers from the major training centres

Catching Pigeons: Be Positive

Our top gossip column is back and expecting Nicky Henderson to taste more big-race glory at Cheltenham on Saturday.

Next Race Off

08:15 Bangalore
7
(1)
Dancing Princess
J: M Prabhakaran
10
(7)
South Bell
J: Naveen M
12
(10)
Regal Realm
J: A Imran Khan

Football Tips

Our best bets for Fleetwood v Walsall

Hunt for goals at Highbury

The early kick-off on Saturday sees Fleetwood take on Walsall in Sky Bet League One. Tom Carnduff is backing goals.

Our best bets for the latest games in the Sky Bet EFL

Sky Bet EFL betting preview

There may be no Sky Bet Championship, but there is still plenty of value on offer in Leagues One and Two on Saturday.

Our latest goalscorer treble

Sporting Life Goalscorer Treble

We have three prolific goalscorers this season for our treble this week, enhanced to 11/1 with EFL title sponsors Sky Bet.