Sadly, time pressures mean a vastly reduced preview this week for the Jonsson Workwear Open at Steyn City.
The course has seen just one previous outing on the main tour, with the 2022 Steyn City Championship being won by multiple Asian Tour winner Shaun Norris, three in front of fellow home players Dean Burmester and Oliver Bekker.
The stats reveal an all-round game suits just fine here, although the likes of Burmy, Bekker, fourth-placed Matti Schmid, and top-10ers JB Hansen and Tapio Pulkkanen are at the top of the driving distance charts. Equally, with last year’s winning score being 25-under, it’s no wonder to see par-5 scoring taking up the majority of the final result, with only one of the top dozen or so failing to hit double-figures under par for the longer holes (that, surpsringly being Hansen).
Ewen Ferguson - Each-Way
Whilst the betting market reacts to the two below and their improving form, I’m surprised that two-time DPWT winner Ewen Ferguson has been let off and can still be backed at bigger prices than Nienaber, Langasque, Lombard and De Jager, of whom at least two struggle to put their head in front.
Lest we forget this is the player that was clear at Karen just a year ago and learned enough from that final round collapse to win at a tough Qatar Masters, went trap to line at the ISPS World Invitational at Galgorm Castle and was the best player on the park at Himmerland, done only by a ludicrous puting display by Oliver Wilson.
The Scot ended 2022 with a pair of top-10 finishes in Mallorca and the Nedbank at the Gary Player course, and whilst 2023 has not started well, last week’s top three finish at the St. Francis Links has now given him the confidence to kick on once again.
The 26-year-old world ranked 139 hasn’t been playing badly despite recent results, improving his approach play over the past couple of events, and just needing to find a touch with his short game to complete the skill set.
An average of around 30 for off-the-tee at both Kenya and SDC, that factor took in high-quality distance and accuracy, whilst he was top-10 for both approaches and greens found at both. Form in South Africa is decent reading, making all of his last four cuts and his worst recent finish of 61st at last season’s MyGolf Life Open doesn’t take into account he was 11th going into the final round.
If he’s back, then anything over 33 is very big.
Thriston Lawrence - Win
There were a number of players that caught the eye last week, and one of those – Thriston Lawrence – has been rightly heavily backed from an opening 40+.
It’s no surprise that the two-time DPWT winner is the best supported player of the week given his eye-catching 14th last week at the SD Championships, particularly having recovered from recent injury.
Eighth here last year, he was in the top-five going into last Sunday before four dropped shots on holes 7 and 8 caused him to drop away. Conjecture it may be, but give him pars on those two, and he finishes in joint-second.
Based on his best form of last season, including top-10 finishes at Kenya, Pecanwood, here, Irish open, Czech Masters and Valderrama, Lawrence certainly deserves to be in the top three or four in the market. That’s where he now resides, and he has to go in the plan despite the reaction.
Tom McKibbin - Each-Way
Stick with current form and stick with a man backed more times than anyone else this year in Tom McKibbin.
Not only is he in the Players To Follow list (for which Pauline Roussin-Bouchard won for us last week) but I make this the fifth time he’s been put up in the column – no shame as he still represents value if, like me and Pod, you believe he wins sooner than later.
Very little to add to previews at Joburg, Mauritius, Dubai or the SDC Championship other than last week, he added an 18th place finish to 18th at Joburg in November last year, 15th at the South African Open, 13th at the Alfred Dunhill and 40th in Mauritius, an event that saw him inside the top-20 at halfway.
The youngster left two missed-cuts behind to post a 12th place in Singapore (opening rounds 64 and 69 helped him to a place in the top five going into Sunday) and a 25th in Kenya, before last week’s effort that looked to be going somewhere until again stumbling around the turn during his third round.
Still, that made it eight successful cuts in as many South African events since 2022, and his power had led to some impressive recent tee-to-green stats, finding over 7.5 shots at both Muthaiga and St Francis.
He wins. It’s not if, it’s when.
David Ravetto - Each-Way
After a promising start to his golfing career starting on the Alps Tour, the 25-year-old rookie looks as if he is finding his feet at the higher level.
2022 started with a promising 13th at the Di-Data in South Africa in a good-class mixed tour field, before tying in 7th with Tom McKibbin in Durban, but then it all went a bit skewed.
Ravetto saw his game fall away between March and July of that year, with nine missed cuts seeing him fall outside the world’s top 750 players, before, almost predictably, getting it back when returning home for the Le Vaudreuil Challenge and finishing just off the top 20.
A poor follow-up round spoiled a good opener in Germany, but since the Irish Challenge in July (seventh into payday, finished 17th), the Frenchman made nine out of his last 10 cuts on the Challenge Tour with the top-30 in the finale just not enough to secure his card automatically.
Shrugging off that disappointment, Ravetto went on to the gruelling six-round Q-school, impressing in the final round, when a bogey-free 7-under was plenty enough to finish a two-shot second place.
Ravetto’s progress over the first 10 events of his top-level career have been progressive without catching too many eyes – perfect for a coup – with form trending from a missed-cut in Joburg, to 30th at the South African Open and a bit of a quiet but noticeable 9th at the tough Leopard Creek.
Since then, the Frenchman has ranked midfield for Mauritius and Ras and improving to finish top-25 at Singapore.
During that spell, Ravetto has been top-10 throughout at the Alfred Dunhill and in the top-10 after round one of the Singapore Classic, both showing a steadily high ranking for tee-to-green.
A huge hitter that has ranked top-10 for distance in half his recorded DPWT starts, he bounced back to form last week after three successive missed cuts at tighter tracks than he might like.
With the chance to open up, Ravetto led the field overall and in putting average after a 5-under first round, and headed the greens-in-regulation during his third round. It’s not quite coming together at the same time, but these are early days.
With little in the way of hype behind him, he can exploit his seemingly advantageous driving distance, land his third successive South African top-20 and give us a run at landing a decent price.