Tony Johnstone mentioned during commentary on last week's Africa Open that the following event at Pretoria Country Club was a similar test in terms of being short and narrow from the tips. He wasn't lying. I've never seen the track in question - a new venue for this year's renewal of the Tshwane Open but from the video flyovers and satellite imagery, there's a certain type of player I'll be my focusing attention on as we head back to inland South Africa.
Ross Fisher - 17.00 - heads across from Doral to defend the title he won in 2014 but it literally could not be a more contrasting venue to the wide open beast of a course at the Ernie Els designed Copperleaf last year. Instead, this course sets up perfectly for the likes of Jaco Van Zyl - 26.00 - an each way cash machine, and he's my man to beat at the head of the market. Big George Coetzee - 15.00 - will grab the attention and Julien Quesne - 41.00 - is worth noting off the back of a top five at East London where he ranked 8th in driving accuracy.
The course - Pretoria CC
Playing to a par 70 on the card circa 7,000 yards in length (though incorporating two par fours in excess of 500 yards), Harbour Town on the PGA Tour comes to mind. Every hole is lined by trees and fairways are dog-legged both ways. Very similarly to the Hilton Head venue, it seems from my research that even missing the fairway on the wrong side will leave you blocked out by overhanging tree branches on some holes. There looks to be little in the way of rough but straying from the short stuff is not an option. Pot bunkers guard smallish greens and they are positioned to catch players coming in from the wrong areas. Premium looks to be very much on accuracy and positioning from the tee this week.
Three from the pack
I can't leave out Jorge Campillo at 51.00 or 11.00 on the strength of last week's showing on a not too dissimilar set up at East London. The Spaniard may not be the most accurate but he did rank 21st for fairways hit last week so he's striking it well. He is showing the all important progressive form with T52 - T32 and T3 finishes. The Spaniard also shot progressive 68-67-66 rounds over the weekend at the Africa Open where he ranked 5th in putting. Campillo has strong amateur pedigree and he may be starting to show his best form.
Tjaart Van Der Walt - 51.00 or 11.00 - may have missed the cut last week but he featured prominently in Joburg a fortnight ago and has three top 10s in his last four events otherwise. He was third in the Dimension Data and opened with a 63 in Joburg where the home native was right in contention until a Sunday 74. Now back towards the Joburg area rather than along the coast, Tjaart might feel more comfortable and he has indeed got some course form and knowledge behind him here on the Sunshine Tour at Pretoria CC. No coincidence as Tjaart has a driving accuracy average of circa 72% on the European Tour over the last five years. He currently sits 8th in that statistic and combines it with a 73% greens hit rate.
David Horsey - 81.00 or 17.00 - is another who always gets the attention on short tight tracks where the putter will be vital. Horsey was another who just missed the cut last week but like Van Der Walt, he featured in Joburg, bookending the event with a pair of 68s. David is a proven winner when he gets into contention and his latest victory came in a similar grade event to this last year in Russia. Excuse the pun but It's horses for courses for the Englishman who is one of the most consistently accurate from the tee and efficient on the greens.
Craig Lee -151.0 or 26.00 - came onto my radar last week as he saw some very early money for the Africa Open. I kept an eye on the Scot and after a slow opening round he caught fire with 8 birdies and a an eagle on the Friday. For his last 54 holes he carded 20 birdies and and that solitary eagle (he had another on day one) but was hampered by a double and a quad down the stretch on the Friday. Lee has proven before that he can excel on this type of tight tree lined track when just missing out at the 2013 Omega European Masters in a playoff to Thomas Bjorn. He shot a third round 61 up in Cran.
Keep an eye out for Qschool qualifier Paul Maddy who finished T13 last week and sneaked a top five at Glendower earlier in the year. Both were on tracks requiring accuracy off the tee and Maddy was 2nd in that stat at the Africa Open. He shot two rounds in the mid sixties and may start fast again at 251.0 or 41.00.