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BlogVolvo Golf Champions Preview and Picks

Volvo Golf Champions

January 9 – 12, 2014

Durban C.C.

Durban,, South Africa

Par: 72 / Yardage:

Purse: $4 Million

with $700,000 to the winner

Defending Champion:
Louis Oosthuizen

by Sal Johnson

Founder, Chief Data Officer, GOLFstats

E-mail me at:
sal@golfstats.com

This week’s field includes:

The field includes 10 of the top 50 in the latest Official World Rankings, with two top-25 in the field: #18 Charl Schwartzel & #24 Thomas Bjorn.  Those between 26 and 50 in the field are #26 Jamie Donaldson, #32 Victor Dubuisson, #34 Louis Oosthuizen, #37 Miguel Angel Jimenez, #43 Matteo Manassero, #49 Joost Luiten and #50 Branden Grace.

The field includes all three past champions: Louis Oosthuizen (2013), Branden Grace (2012) and Paul Casey (2011).

A perfect way for fantasy golfers to check on the past performance of all the players in the Volvo Champions field is our performance chart listed by average finish. Another way to check who is the best is through a special formula worked out in Golfstats that gives us the best average performances at the Volvo Champions  in the last three years or check out our sortable 8-year glance at the Volvo Champions.

A good cheat sheet is this list of odds from the top bookmakers in England.

Also check out our video preview and picks with Bernie McGuire of Golfmytourmiss.com

 

Time to look at our who’s hot and who isn’t:

Who’s Hot in the field for the Volvo Golf Champions

Player Nelson Mandela Nedbank Golf Challenge Hong Kong Open Alfred Dunhill South African Open DP World Dubai Mayakoba Turkish Open McGladrey Classic HSBC Champions BMW Masters CIMB Classic
Charl Schwartzel
(161.67 pts)
DNP 6
(40)
DNP Win
(88)
T4
(26.67)
DNP DNP T29
(7)
DNP DNP DNP DNP
Jamie Donaldson
(147 pts)
DNP T2
(66.67)
DNP DNP DNP T8
(25)
DNP 2
(33.33)
DNP T8
(16.67)
T34
(5.33)
DNP
Thomas Bjorn
(140.17 pts)
DNP Win
(88)
DNP DNP DNP T21
(14.5)
DNP T18
(10.67)
DNP T39
(3.67)
T5
(23.33)
DNP
Miguel A. Jimenez
(113 pts)
DNP DNP Win
(88)
DNP DNP T8
(25)
DNP T70
(0)
DNP 72
(0)
60
(0)
DNP
Victor Dubuisson
(111 pts)
DNP T20
(20)
DNP DNP DNP 3
(45)
DNP Win
(44)
DNP DNP T44
(2)
DNP
Dawie Van der walt
(95.33 pts)
Win
(88)
24
(17.33)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Morten Orum Madsen
(83.33 pts)
DNP T25
(16.67)
DNP T16
(22.67)
Win
(44)
DNP DNP T63
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP
Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano
(80.17 pts)
DNP 11
(26)
DNP DNP DNP T37
(6.5)
DNP DNP DNP T39
(3.67)
Win
(44)
DNP
Joost Luiten
(71.67 pts)
DNP T16
(22.67)
DNP DNP DNP 4
(40)
DNP T18
(10.67)
DNP DNP WD
(-1.67)
DNP
Branden Grace
(70.67 pts)
T6
(40)
T20
(20)
DNP DNP DNP T52
(0)
DNP T29
(7)
DNP T39
(3.67)
T61
(0)
DNP
Darren Fichardt
(58.5 pts)
T50
(0.67)
T12
(25.33)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
T37
(4.33)
T21
(14.5)
DNP T15
(11.67)
DNP T61
(0)
T24
(8.67)
DNP
Peter Uihlein
(50 pts)
DNP 10
(26.67)
DNP DNP DNP 51
(0)
DNP T57
(0)
DNP T55
(0)
T5
(23.33)
DNP
Richard Sterne
(50 pts)
DNP T14
(24)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T14
(18)
DNP T36
(4.67)
DNP T39
(3.67)
T31
(6.33)
DNP
Matteo Manassero
(44.83 pts)
DNP T22
(18.67)
DNP DNP DNP T21
(14.5)
DNP T44
(2)
DNP T21
(9.67)
DNP DNP
Louis Oosthuizen
(44.67 pts)
DNP T14
(24)
DNP DNP DNP T32
(9)
DNP T67
(0)
DNP T15
(11.67)
59
(0)
DNP
Kiradech Aphibarnrat
(40.5 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T29
(10.5)
DNP T54
(0)
DNP T55
(0)
DNP T3
(30)
Paul Casey
(39.33 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP 54
(0)
DNP T12
(12.67)
DNP 20
(10)
T8
(16.67)
DNP
Robert Karlsson
(33.33 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T6
(20)
DNP T10
(13.33)
DNP DNP DNP
David Lynn
(29 pts)
DNP T25
(16.67)
DNP DNP DNP T42
(4)
DNP T36
(4.67)
DNP T39
(3.67)
DNP T64
(0)
Tommy Fleetwood
(27.17 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T37
(6.5)
DNP T36
(4.67)
DNP T18
(10.67)
T34
(5.33)
DNP
Raphael Jacquelin
(27 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T44
(3)
DNP T5
(23.33)
DNP 73
(0)
T48
(0.67)
DNP
Thomas Aiken
(26 pts)
T35
(10)
DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
T17
(11)
55
(0)
DNP T15
(11.67)
DNP DNP T61
(0)
DNP
Mikko Ilonen
(25.83 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T19
(15.5)
DNP DNP DNP T21
(9.67)
T48
(0.67)
DNP
Chris Wood
(25.83 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T29
(10.5)
DNP T15
(11.67)
DNP T39
(3.67)
75
(0)
DNP
Julien Quesne
(19.5 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T47
(1.5)
DNP T12
(12.67)
DNP DNP T34
(5.33)
DNP

How Player Rankings are Computed

Who’s Not Hot in the field for the Volvo Golf Champions

Player Nelson Mandela Nedbank Golf Challenge Hong Kong Open Alfred Dunhill South African Open DP World Dubai Mayakoba Turkish Open McGladrey Classic HSBC Champions BMW Masters CIMB Classic
Simon Thornton
(-13.33 pts)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
T59
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Michael Hoey
(-6 pts)
T50
(0.67)
DNP DNP WD
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Colin Montgomerie
(0 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T63
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP
Darren Clarke
(0 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP 77
(0)
DNP T65
(0)
DNP DNP DNP
Padraig Harrington
(8 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T50
(0.33)
DNP DNP T27
(7.67)
DNP
David Howell
(10 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T34
(8)
DNP T44
(2)
DNP 70
(0)
T61
(0)
DNP
Jin Jeong
(10.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T18
(10.67)
DNP DNP
Brett Rumford
(13.17 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T47
(1.5)
DNP 72
(0)
DNP 76
(0)
T15
(11.67)
DNP
Marcel Siem
(13.83 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T39
(5.5)
DNP T41
(3)
DNP DNP T34
(5.33)
DNP
Stephen Gallacher
(16.33 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T34
(8)
DNP T25
(8.33)
DNP T63
(0)
T53
(0)
DNP

How Player Rankings are Computed

The Buzz:

Many thought that Ernie Els would tee it up this week, he has played the last two years and has a great record at Durban.  Els was originaly in the find but over the weekend decided to spend more time with his family in Florida. He will miss not only this week but next week in Abu Dhabi.  When Els does tee it up for the first time at the Qatar Masters he will do it with his new equipment deal with Adams golf.  Els isn’t the only player to make a change of clubs, Matteo Manassero starts this week with a new set of Callaway clubs when he tees off on Thursday.

This year’s event had a 50% boost in prize fund to $4 million and with it has a field of 36 players who have won on the European Tour in 2013, past Volvo Champions and those with 10 or more European Tour wins.

One of the players in the field is Miguel Angel Jimenez, who won in Hong Kong last month and just turned 50 on Sunday.  He is not only the oldest winner in the history of the European Tour but will be looking to extend his record even further as starts his 30th year of playing on the European Tour.  Jiminez has won 20 times on the European Tour in 14 different countries, however he has never won in South Africa. Naturally, a number of South Africans in this week’s field has: Louis Oosthuizen, Richard Sterne, Darren Fichardt, Dawie van der Walt, Thomas Aiken, Charl Schwartzel, and Branden Grace.

The European Tour kicks off its 3-week desert swing next week with the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship, where Jamie Donaldson rallied to beat Justin Rose and Thorbjorn Olesen by a single stroke last year.  After those three weeks the European Tour is back to play to South Africa to play the Joburg and Africa Opens.

Coming off the DL list: Making a surprise start will be South African Richard Sterne.  Has been prone to injury, missed most of 2011 due to a back injury which he had fixed but a year later had hip problems which sidelined him most of 2013. He took care of it after the Nedbank Challenge with surgery to repair a torn labrum to the hip and it was thought that he would have to take three months off.  But just short of a month after going under the knife, Sterne is back.  Guess we will see if this will go down as a medical miracle, or if he should of taken doctors orders of a month off.

Another coming back from a crappy year of injury is Louis Oosthuizen.  Since the U.S. Open he has had pain in his back, which he took time off over the summer but that didn’t work.  The pain was back and Oosthuizen checked into a hospital in November for a facet joint procedure, which is injections of local anesthetic into he joints of his vertebra.  He did return at Nedbank but finished T14th so this month will be important to see if he is back to normal.  If his back is still painful it could be a very long 2014 for him.

 

Course Information – Durban Country Club

There are a lot of famous courses around the world, but one that sometimes doesn’t get it’s due is Durban Country Club.  Located in sand dunes along the Indian Ocean and just a couple of tee shots away from the town of Durban, it’s considered one of the finest layouts in South Africa.  It regularly ranks in the top-100 courses in the world.

The course is playing host to the Volvo for the second straight year as it’s held 17 South African Opens since the course opened in 1922.  The first five holes plays along the sea and are considered one of the best starts in golf.  From the other 13 holes you have not only a view of the Indian Ocean but hear the roll of the surf.

Bunkering is from that era of the 20s in which any of the 47 bunkers are a challenge.  Greens have subtle undulation and in wind are very tough to putt.  You better be a great wind player, if not don’t expect to win.

The course was designed by Laurie Waters, who just happened to apprentice for Old Tom Marris before he immigrated to South Africa in the early 1900s.  The course has gone through some small changes since opening but the routing is pretty much what Waters set up.  The holes fall into one of two categories: those that play in and out and over the dunes (holes 1-5, 8, 9, 12, 13, 17, 18) and those that are farther removed from the dunes and ocean. The remaining seven holes (6, 7, 10, 11, 14, 15, 16) play across flat land where the high to low point is less than seven feet.

Here are some of the secrets of what it takes to play well at the Volvo Champions:

Key stat for the winner:

You need to have the combination of being a great shotmaker and  able to putt oceanside greens to win here.  In a way you could see why Louis Oosthuizen won last year, he was a winner of the British Open at St. Andrews.  Matter of fact having the title “Open Champion” helps as three past Open winners, Oosthuizen, Padraig Harrington and Paul Lawrie finished in the top-seven last year.

Here are some more key stats to look to for this week:

  • Five of the top-8 in last year’s event finished in the top-ten in greens hit, so another reason that the champion this year will be a shot maker.
  • Need we say that being able to play in the wind is an important element to winning here.
  • Look at the list of recent winners of the South African Open at Durban shows that Ernie Els, Tim Clark and Wayne Westner were not only winners, but won multiple times with Els and Westner winning three South African Opens at Durban.  Adding some more fuel to this is the fact that Gary Player won at Durban multiple times in 1956 and 1969.  So you have to like the odds of Oosthuizen repeating.
  • Most of the players in the field haven’t played since Hong Kong and Nedbank almost a month ago.  May be in your best interest to look at who played the best in the Nelson Mandeela Championship and noticed that those in the field this week Dawie Van Der Wait won and Branden Grace was T6th.
  • Look for the winner to have a portfolio of doing well on links courses.  Those experiences is something that a player has to have in order to claim victory this week.  It’s doubtful of a player that hasn’t done well on links courses to win this week.

 

Who to watch for at the Volvo Golf Champions

Best Bets:

Charl Schwartzel

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
5

This is always his time to shine, has won in each of the last five years in South Africa and would love to claim this title. May not have the links record that some others have but has won big events, including the Masters. Look for his to shine this week.

Branden Grace

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
T7 Win

Another of those that seem to shine in these South African events, past winner but on another links course Fancourt. Did finish T7th last year.

Padraig Harrington

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
4 T10 58

One of the best links players in the world, he is long overdue to return to the winners circle.

Best of the rest:

Thomas Bjorn

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
T9 T16 T44

Another experience player and knows the ins and outs of links play. Won last time he played at Nedbank.

Louis Oosthuizen

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
Win T7

Winner last year and the type of player that could win back to back. Has a great links portfolio and on this course, just have to wonder if his back is up to it.

Matteo Manassero

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
T9 23 T13

Normally I would like him but he is playing with new clubs which could present a problem.

Miguel A. Jimenez

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
T24 T2

Just don’t like his odds this week, not because he is 50 but because he doesn’t play very well in South Africa because he hasn’t played much here.

Solid contenders

Dawie Van Der wait

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
First time playing in this event

Did win in last start at Mandela, but can he win on a links course?

Paul Lawrie

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
T7 T10 T30

Winner of the Open at Carnoustie, can’t count him out.

Peter Ulhlein

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
First time playing in this event

He may surprise some this week.

Joost Luiten

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
T26

Another of those youngsters who could do very well.

Long shots that could come through:

Julien Quesne

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
T5

A good sleeper pick, was T5th last year

Darren Clarke

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
T22 T20 T8

Hasn’t really played well since winning the Open in 2011. He is working hard and wants to regain his form in 2014, this will be a great test for him. I think he will surprise some.

Richard Sterne

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
T30

Has been fighting injuries most of 2013, we will see if his game is back together. I have my doubts on him since he was not suppose to come back until the first of March, so you be the judge.