Free golf betting tips for the Tshwane Open from Ben Coley

George Coetzee
George Coetzee

Golf expert Ben Coley has a strong fancy for the Tshwane Open, plus a first-round leader selection familiar to only the most loyal of readers.

Tshwane Open recommended bets

4pts e.w. George Coetzee at 12/1 (1/5 1,2,3,4,5,6)

1pt e.w. Zander Lombard at 80/1 (1/5 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8)

1pt e.w. Scott Jamieson at 66/1 (1/5 1,2,3,4,5,6)

1pt e.w. Merrick Bremner to lead after R1 at 125/1 (1/4 1,2,3,4,5)

For details of advised bookmakers and each-way terms, visit our transparent tipping record


While focus is on the WGC-Mexico Championship and its all-star cast, from a punting perspective this week's best opportunities surely come at the Tshwane Open, where George Coetzee heads the market at 12/1.

One of the sport's underachievers - although he's had his fair share of injuries - Coetzee made home comforts count to win this title three years ago when a measured final-round saw him hold off Jacques Blaauw, whose Sunday 61 had threatened to pinch the pocket of the local favourite.

Coetzee grew up playing Pretoria CC, which was hosting for the first time in 2015, and his course knowledge certainly played a part. Usually a player prone to shocking mistakes despite being able to putt himself out of trouble, Coetzee made fewer errors than anyone in the field and it was that which secured what was his second European Tour title.

Having put him up at 28/1 last week when he absolutely should have hit the frame in a stronger event, there's some trepidation involved when it comes to going in again but I expected Coetzee to be closer to the 7/1 mark here and will be surprised if he's not in contention come Sunday.

A trimmer George Coetzee is ready for a strong end to the year
Coetzee is the man to beat on home soil

Concerns around his ability to go on and win are valid away from South Africa, but on home turf he's won two of his last 19 co-sanctioned starts dating back to a 2014 breakthrough and form figures of 13-8 show that he's finding form at just the right time.

Last week's performance was down to a typically red-hot putter but come Sunday afternoon, with confidence returning, he was striking the ball well. A birdie at the difficult 14th was followed by missed chances at 15, 16, 17 and 18 and if he shows that sort of accuracy on approach to greens he knows better than anyone, Coetzee will confirm that he's very much the man to beat.

Besides, when you look down the market it's clear that the competition isn't all that strong. Alex Bjork still seeks a first win at this level and has looked a little shaky in contention once or twice, compatriot Marcus Kinhult has the world at his feet but still has to go and win an event while Erik van Rooyen has to recover from a nightmare weekend in Qatar and Shaun Norris is priced on his consistency alone.

The two big dangers therefore appear to be Richard Sterne, no more prolific than Coetzee these days but certainly a threat close to home on a golf course where he's won both as an amateur and professional, and big-hitting American Julian Suri.

The latter was alongside Coetzee in last week's staking plan only to miss the cut by one despite an excellent, bogey-free second round. Certainly among the class acts of this field, he'd perhaps have been given another chance but for having struggled in limited rounds in South Africa and being largely unexposed to kikuyu grass and playing at altitude.

That isn't the case with Zander Lombard, whose home golf course is just a couple of miles down the road from Pretoria CC, and he was just as big an eye-catcher as Suri last week.

This big-hitting 23-year-old carded seven birdies over his closing 10 holes in Qatar, firing a second-round 65 which was the joint-lowest round of the day, only to see his three-under total miss out on a weekend spot by one.

Still, it was a big move in the right direction for this formerly high-class amateur who has gone close on several occasions at this level, including when a play-off loser to Alvaro Quiros in Sicily last year.

It's that experience in the heat of battle which puts him ahead of the likes of J.C. Ritchie, an in-form Sunshine Tour winner who shot 65-65 over the weekend to finish a never-nearer third in the SA Open won by Chris Paisley back in January.

Lombard also contended here in 2016, when he started the final round just one behind leader Charl Schwartzel. He fared well enough, too, until the closing holes when he managed to throw away shots and tumble to seventh.

Last year, he carded a third-round 65 before another poor Sunday saw him finish 22nd but that's more a product of his age and the nature of his game than any perceived inability to close out - there's no doubt in my mind that he has what it takes to win.

"It’s definitely a course I know and love," said Lombard last year. "I think it’s a fantastic course. It’s always in great condition and it will be nice to have a bit of a home ground advantage. And yes, I’m going to go out there and enjoy it."

I'm not surprised the 100/1 has gone but anything upwards of 66s looks well worth taking. He's one of the key dangers to the first five or six in the market if able to build on last Friday's excellent round, his best in quite some time.

Last year's renewal went against the grain with just one South African in the top five, although it was easy winner Dean Burmester. Previously, the home contingent had dominated at Pretoria and it probably takes an extremely classy overseas raider - such as Ross Fisher, who won the 2014 edition at Copperleaf - to secure an away win.

Kinhult and Aaron Rai are options, the latter the sort of accurate type who used to thrive at this course before Coetzee, Schwartzel and Burmester blasted their way to victory, and the fact that he's won at altitude in Nairobi is another plus.

However, I prefer the claims of Scott Jamieson, whose last visit to South Africa saw him chase home Branden Grace in the Nedbank Golf Challenge.

That performance means Jamieson now has a win and five further top-six finishes in this part of the world from just 33 starts, a record most Sunshine Tour players would be very happy with, and it's clear he thrives under these conditions.

Jamieson was 17th in a stronger field two starts ago before bookend rounds of 69 in Qatar demonstrated that his game remains in decent shape for this return to Pretoria, where he led after 36 and 54 holes a year ago before a disastrous final-round 78.

Scott Jamieson: Leads the way
Scott Jamieson goes particularly well in South Africa

His form prior to that effort had been largely the same as it is now - indeed, he'd also placed at Leopard Creek just before Christmas - and having also gone well on his Pretoria debut in 2015, there's every hope another big performance awaits.

As with most players in this field, there's no guarantee he'll step up and hit the shots he needs to on Sunday, but at 66/1 I'm willing to pay to find out. There are players at shorter prices who've never won at this level and Jamieson has always had a touch of class about him.

Back to the home contingent and it's tempting to side with Kyle McClatchie, who was the top-ranked South African amateur before turning professional recently and has already shown up in events such as the BMW SA Open.

Richard Bland, who played with him at Glendower, marked our cards by calling McClatchie "another Branden Grace or Louis Oosthuizen" and it'll be interesting to see how quickly he can adapt to the paid ranks, with the signs so far very encouraging.

Ultimately, even Grace needed a few years before he could win one of these co-sanctioned events and it famously took Oosthuizen an age to get off the mark, which underlines the task at hand. Bookmakers appear not to have taken much of a chance at 50/1 generally so we'll let him go unbacked.

Having just about overcome the temptation to mop up the remaining 40/1 available about Haydn Porteous, who contended for the Dubai Desert Classic and is more than capable of stamping his class on an event like this, my final selection is one for the purists - Merrick Bremner to lead after round one.

Six long years ago, Bremner landed a touch when doing exactly that in the SA Open at Serengeti and he might just be ready to do it again.

An aggressive, big-hitting type with a short fuse, Bremner can't be relied upon to go the distance but he's been fifth after the first round of this event twice in the last three renewals and there are reasons to expect something along those lines again.

Bremner shot 65-66 to lead at halfway in Cape Town last week and said there that a putting tip from pal Chris Swanepoel had made all the difference following months of frustration on the greens.

That represents his best prep for the Tshwane Open yet and history suggests that when he drops a hint as he did there, we should expect something else to follow.

Part of the case for Bremner way back in 2012 was that he'd been third after round one of the same event at the same course previously, so my hope is his opening 65 here in 2015 and the 67 he conjured a year later act as precursors to something even a little lower.

Posted at 1310 GMT on 27/02/18.

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