I mentioned last year that the East London GC venue shares similarities with Durban Country Club - host of the Volvo Champions at the beginning of 2014, and that a look at the type of player who performed there may provide a few extra hints for us. In saying that there are a lot of big South African names missing this week and they are the ones who are consigned to the history books as Africa Open champions.
Thomas Aiken took it down last year but he won't be back to defend his crown after a playoff triumph 12 months ago. Instead it's Andy Sullivan - 11.00 - who has notched up two recent European Tour wins in South Africa installed as market favourite with course specialist Jaco Van Zyl - who is just finding confidence and top form - in behind at 15.00 in the betting. Former winner Darren Fichardt - 23.00 - has a bit of an affinity with the East London track and has been working on some swing changes with Jamie Gough so he could prove one to watch this week.
The course - East London GC
A tree-lined but coastal linksy style track beside the Indian Ocean, winding through Indigenous bush and sand dunes is how this week's track is described on the course site and at under 7,000 yards on the card - as previously mentioned - it sounds very much the same style as Durban CC.
Another word used to describe the course is quirky and shot makers will enjoy the test. It comprises only three par 5s although I've heard some rumours that the 1st has been reduced to a par 4, and three par 3s. There will be a premium on accuracy, ball placement and distance control. Greens are small, some are raised and the surfaces are expected to run at less than 10 feet on the stimp. Elevation changes feature throughout and there are a number of short risk - reward par fours on the track.
The wind generally gusts here and that will prove the biggest defence of the course.
Three from the pack
Simon Dyson - 41.00 or 9.00 - is a man that fits the profile for the test this week is what I said in my preview last year and he headlines again despite a missed cut in 2014. The links specialist had a few personal issues after a short term ban for a rules infringement last year but that's all firmly behind him now. Watching Dyson in Joburg last Saturday he was dialed in with his irons and apparently he switched back to his old set so it wasn't a coincidence. Dyson has some strong pedigree on this type of layout such as at Kennemer GC and he should thrive this week after tailing off on the Sunday in Joburg.
David Howell - 34.00 or 7.50 - has one recent appearance at East London GC and notched a top 30 in the process. David looked like he was going to be the man in Joburg last week until one bad swing cost him down the stretch. Howell is used to playing in linksy style blustery conditions and ranked 13th for both greens in regulation and putts per round last week. He looks a fair price to get himself into contention once more at East London.
Michael Hoey - 67.00 or 14.00 - is showing progressive form with two strong rounds in Malaysia followed by an opening 64 to take the first round lead in Thailand. Michael eventually finished just T31 as he couldn't get anything going over the weekend but his game is obviously simmering. Again this is a track that should suit the Irishman and he proved as much in 2009 when recording a runner up finish here. Hoey knows how to win when he gets into contention and looks good value this week.
Matthew Baldwin - 100.0 or 19.00 - is one I've had my eye on for a few weeks now and he's showing both progressive form and lurking on the leaderboards especially in the earlier stages. Matthew was brought up on the links in Liverpool and should be suited to the test awaiting this week. He's played the event three times and recorded a top 10 in 2012. If we put Matthew's opening two rounds in each of the last two tournaments together we have a winning sum of 69-67-70-65 so hopefully he'll be able to put it all together this week.
Former rookie of the year Ricardo Santos - 126.0 or 23.00 - has just started to find some form with a top 35 in Joburg and having tipped him here last year and watched him open with a 62 and establish a dominant position though 36 holes, I'm getting him onside again. If you believe in your biorhythms, this time two years ago he owned a form line of 4-22-7-3-9 with the last two coming in the Joburg - East London swing. The Portuguese also posted a top 10 here in 2013 and has shown form on windy links style tracks before when taking down the Madeira Islands Open.
Bet on the Africa Open now