The European Tour ends the calendar year with another event in Africa.
If you gave the South African Open a try last week you probably felt the struggle. It was a field of 240 golfers so attempting to get 6-of-6 golfers through the cut was always going to be an uphill battle. Hats off to you if you manage to sneak through some perfect teams but otherwise you were probably noticing that teams with 3-of-6 and 4-for-6 were good enough in some contests to land in the money.
We are back to normal this week with "just" 156 golfers in the field. If you are used to PGA TOUR cut sweats, then remember it is Top 65 and ties on the Euro Tour as opposed to Top 70 and ties. That small difference does make an impact when cutting the sweat line.
Let's dive in now and see what golfers might enjoy their time at this week's course, Leopard Creek.
Thursday (R1): Sunny with a high of 90 degrees. Winds hover around 8-to-12 MPH all day.
Friday (R2): Cloudy with a high of 89 degrees. Winds a bit calmer on day two, sitting around 5-to-8 MPH for most of the day.
Temps get real toasty over the weekend with highs approaching triple digits. The good news is that precipitation is not expected to hit Leopard Creek.
If you are looking for potential tee-time stacks then the Friday AM wave might have the tiniest of edges but we are talking tiny fractions. That call all change in a matter of hours, if the forecast decides to shift. It doesn't look like a week where the weather will play a pivotal role.
Similar to last week, there two angles we can look at this week when it comes sample size and historical success of predictive power. They are performanceonBentgrass greens and Performance against Weak Fields. Let's have a look at those.
Looking at performance on Bentgrass (Euro Tour only) since the start of 2015, the top 15 performers on a per-round basis looks like this:
Erik van Rooyen
Jaco Van Zyl
Other than raw performance, we can also look at who shows the biggest improvement on Bentgrass (versus their baseline). Using that as the criteria, the following names pop:
The second angle we will look it as how golfers fare when they are taking on a weaker or thinner crop of talent. This week's field has some big names at the top but it thins out VERY QUICKLY.
Here are the top 15 performers against Weak Fields since 2015:
Now let's see who performs the best versus their baseline when taking on weak fields:
Erik van Rooyen
Other than Wallace, you may see a trend here as five of the six are South Africans. They do some of their best work when they return home to battle in these weaker fields.
Alejandro Canizares: The ASU alum has struggled with injuries the past few seasons but is showing signs that he's close to a return to form. That includes five straight cuts made in the lead up to this event. He also took top honors at Q-School in the middle of that run. His comments after Q-School are very promising, "My future wife is pregnant and I’m going to be a father soon. There’s many good things happening at the moment. I knew my golf was there, it just wasn’t happening the last two years. I had a couple of injuries, some personal things and golf wasn’t happening. Now, all those things are gone, and I can just play and focus on my game and get the confidence back hopefully.” From a long-term glance he's a top 20 golfer in this field but his injury-ridden season has led him to his current price. There are more than 50 golfers priced higher than him this week. That presents value.