The Volvo Golf Champions in South Africa gets the 2013 calendar year on the European Tour underway and a select field of 33 are in attendance. The tournament welcomes a host of winners from last year's tour and the Durban Country Club is host venue for the third renewal of this event. The previous two events had taken place at the Montgomerie Course in Bahrain and the Fancourt Links in South Africa respectively, with Branden Grace landing the title last year.
Grace beat Ernie Els and Retief Goosen in a play-off at the start of a stellar 2012 campaign for him. The South African landed four European titles, as well as the Origins of Golf Final in South Africa, and the home-grown star looks a tempting bet to retain his title at 14/1 with Ladbrokes this week. Grace had only secured his place in last year's tournament by winning the Joburg Open the week before and he could thrive again at this early stage of the year.
Els was left to rue missed chances in the 2012 tournament but he is well fancied to go one better as he is a 7/1 chance this week. Els has happy memories of playing at the Durban Country Club after winning the South African Open here in 2006 and 2010, while he arrives in form after a stellar 2012 saw him win the British Open and secure five other top-fives.
Els' fellow countryman and defeated play-off loser here last year, Retief Goosen, is available at 25/1 and he has also won the South African Open in Durban following his success in 2005. Goosen heads into this year's tournament in the midst of a recovery from a back operation though and better value might lie elsewhere.
It is no surprise to see that the head of the betting is dominated by South African players and Louis Oosthuizen is a best price 5/1 favourite in the latest betting with Ladbrokes. Oosthuizen, who finished seventh in this event last year, is sure to attract interest, even at such a short price, as he was one of the form players of 2012. He won the Malaysian Open and Africa Open, while rounding off the year with six top-six finishes in his final seven events.
Paul Casey also finished off his year in some style with a third place in Korea, a fifth in the Perth International, a sixth at the BMW Masters and two other top-20s in Asia. It was a welcome return to form for the Englishman, whose first half of the year had been blighted by his attempts to recover from a dislocated shoulder suffered snowboarding prior to the 2012 season. The 2011 Volvo Golf Champions winner can make a much better start to the 2013 European Tour season now he is fully recovered and he looks decent value at 20/1.
Darren Fichardt also looks nicely priced at 50/1 and he is another South African that could thrive on home soil. He won the Saint-Omer Open last year to qualify for this week's event and his form at the back end of 2012 ensures he demands respect as he racked up three top-fives in his final seven outings.
Volvo Golf Champions Tips
Tip #1: Branden Grace each-way @ 14/1 with Ladbrokes.
Tip #2: Paul Casey each-way @ 20/1 with Ladbrokes.
Tip #3: Darren Fichardt each-way @ 50/1 with Ladbrokes.
5/1 Louis Oosthuizen
7/1 Ernie Els
12/1 Henrik Stenson
14/1 Branden Grace
14/1 Francesco Molinari
16/1 Nicolas Colsaerts
20/1 Matteo Manassero
20/1 Padraig Harrington
20/1 Paul Casey
25/1 Thorbjorn Olesen
25/1 Paul Lawrie
25/1 Retief Goosen
25/1 Thomas Bjorn
25/1 Gonzalez Fernandez-Castano
25/1 Jamie Donaldson
Odds supplied by Ladbrokes.com, who offer live betting in-running throughout the four days of the Volvo Golf Champions, which starts on Thursday.
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