Golf Preview: OHL Classic & Nedbank Golf Challenge

Neither the PGA Tour or European Tour are on home soil this week, with Mexico and South Africa playing host to the OHL Classic and the Nedbank Golf Challenge.

The PGA’s OHL Classic – only in its fifth as such an event – takes place at the El Camaleon Golf Club is simply known as “The Chameleon”.

Pat Perez is the defending champion in Mexico and is being tipped to put up a stern defence, following the best 12-months of his career.

Off the back of winning the OHL Classic last year, Perez has enjoyed by the far the best year of hos career which has seen him break into the world’s top-20.

“I can’t believe what’s transpired in 12 months,” said Perez.

“I was just hoping, you know, not to get hurt and hopefully get my card back and that kind of stuff – and here I am, I won twice and now I got to 18 in the world. I just can’t believe it.”

The one man stopping Perez from being out-right favourite in Playa del Carmen is the season debut of Rickie Fowler – who begins his 2018 campaign this week.

One name to keep an eye on is 22-year-old Cameron Champ – the big hitting American amateur, who is turning pro this week.

“I played well throughout the summer and that helped boost my confidence in turning pro,” he said. “I really think the timing is right.”

On the European Tour, they are in South Africa for the Nedbank Golf Challenge at the Gary Player Country Club in Sun City.

Played since 1981, it only became a fully fledged European Tour event last year when Swedish star Alex Noren took the win.

The Swede is back in town and hoping to put up a good defence of the title.

“It’s such a good feeling being here and thinking about the last time here,” said Noren. “All those memories come back, it seems not so long ago.

“I couldn’t actually believe that I won because I was a lot of shots back before that last round. Everything happened so quickly and before I knew it I was off to the next tournament. Coming back here now it’s almost like it’s sinking in a bit more.”

In-form Englishman Ty Hatton is the Bookmakers favourite, but predictably there is a very strong splattering of home favourites with the likes of Branden Grace and Louis Oosthuizen looking to be the first South African winner inn a decade, when Trevor Immelman took the title.

The pro’s point of view…

Our resident golf expert is Cliff Jackson. Cliff is a leading youth coach and PGA professional at the famed Seaton Carew Links – one of the oldest courses in the world.

Two very different tournaments coming up this week, in two very different locations.

Over in Mexico, and Pat Perez has not looked back since winning the OHL last year and I believe he will make a real impact again and hard to see him not finishing in the top-ten. Also be great seeing Rickie Fowler back in action, he could go close on his seasonal return.

And in Sun City – am going to go with a home runner, and a bit of value in Charl Schwartzerl.

The Bookie says…

We caught up with Betfair’s Joe Dyer to get their views on this week’s action

There are two very contrasting tests on the major tours this week with nearly 1,000 yards in length separating the European and PGA Tour tracks.

The Gary Player CC stretches to 7,831 yards – the third longest course in European Tour history – and while the ball flies further in hot conditions, a player with a bit of power off the tee will have an advantage.

With a strong field chasing a big prize, the betting in South Africa is highly competitive.

Tyrell Hatton heads the field at 14/1 followed by the quartet of Braden Grace, Francesco Molinari, Louis Oosthuizen and Tommy Fleetwood at 16/1. Matthew Fitzpatrick and Ross Fisher, both 18/1 this week, are the only other golfers who can be backed at under 20/1 while defending champion Alex Noren is 22/1 alongside Rafa Cabrera-Bello and Shane Lowry.

Though he’s not in top form, this test should really suit Tommy Fleetwood and he has genuine motivation to go well after Justin Rose won successive tournament victories closed the gap in the Race to Dubai standings.

Home players always deserve a close look in South Africa and there have been more than a few shouts for 50/1 shot Dylan Frittelli this week.

The PGA Tour is in Mexico on the 6,987 yard Greg Norman design at El Camaleón. Rickie Fowler heads the betting at 9/1, followed by last year’s champion Pat Perez at 14/1. Everyone else is 20/1 or bigger.

This has turned into a birdie fest in recent years and looks something of an early season lottery. Course form, however, is plentiful and players such as 30/1 Charles Howell, 50/1 Kevin Streelman and 60/1 Russell Knox can all point to multiple top 10 finishes.

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