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Course Overview. A new course to the DP World Tour, St Francis Links is a Jack Nicklaus Signature course set just off the coast of St Francis Bay in one of the southernmost points of South Africa.
Stretching to 7,192 yards for its par of 72, a regular setup of 10 par 4s and 4 each of the par 3s and par 5s will greet the players this week, with a variety of hole lengths to keep things interesting. 3 sub-400 yard par 4s will present scoring opportunities to the players, as will the 533 yard par-5 13th, however this course has proven to be no pushover in the past when it’s hosted Sunshine Tour events which form this week’s course stats.
Consistently ranked inside the top-10 for South African golf courses, St Francis Links was forged from the natural surroundings with the layout weaving around the dunes that adorned the area long before the golf course was conceived. Heavy bunkering, penal rough, bushes, and water hazards towards the end of the round present the biggest challenges to players who’ll need to use a variety of clubs and shot types to navigate successfully around this track. The 18 holes are described in more detail here.
Tournament Stats. We’ve published some key player statistics for this week’s SDC Championship that will help to shape a view on players who may go well this week. Course form is from the various Sunshine Tour events held here at St Francis Links since 2007, including 2 events in 2022: Current Form | Course Form | First Round Leader Stats | Combined Stats.
Predictor Model. Our published Predictor Model is available here. As always you can build your own model using the variables available.
Course Winners (Sunshine Tour). 2022: George Coetzee, -15; 2022: Ruan Korb, -13 (54 holes); 2021: Dean Burmester, -17; 2018: Alex Haindl, -12 (54 holes); 2017: Doug McGuigan, -13 (54 holes); 2016: Mark Williams, -11 (54 holes); 2015: Christiaan Basson, -11 (54 holes); 2014: Keith Horne, -9 (54 holes); 2013: JJ Senekal, -4 (54 holes); 2008: Jaco van Zyl, -2 (54 holes); 2007: Titch Moore, -7 (54 holes).
Weather Forecast. The latest weather forecast for the area is here.
The tournament should enjoy warm (mid- to high 70s Fahrenheit) and dry conditions throughout the 4 days. The wind will be the main feature this week, with 30-40mph expected on Thursday as well as breezy periods for the other three days, with 20-30mph possible in the afternoons.
Tournament Trends & Key Factors. In terms of raw player statistics at St Francis Links, we do have some patchy stats available from the Sunshine Tour events held here:
- 2022: George Coetzee (-15). 75.6% fairways (19th), 64.8% greens in regulation (31st), 63.2% scrambling (3rd), 1.63 putts per GIR (5th).
- 2022: Ruan Korb (-13). 71.4% fairways (28th), 77.8% greens in regulation (5th), 50% scrambling (12th), 1.62 putts per GIR (6th).
- 2021: Dean Burmester (-17). 70.9% fairways (37th), 79.2% greens in regulation (4th), 46.7% scrambling (18th), 1.70 putts per GIR (20th).
- 2018: Alex Haindl (-12). 69.0% fairways (25th), 87.0% greens in regulation (1st), 57.1% scrambling (6th).
- 2017: Doug McGuigan (-15). 66.7% fairways (39th), 75.9% greens in regulation (12th), 69.2% scrambling (2nd).
- 2016: Mark Williams (-11). 66.7% fairways (38th), 74.1% greens in regulation (7th), 50% scrambling (9th).
- 2015: Christiaan Basson (-11). 83.3% fairways (8th), 74.1% greens in regulation (14th), 71.4% scrambling (1st)
- 2014: Keith Horne (-9). 82.1% fairways (15th), 83.3% greens in regulation (2nd), 66.7% scrambling (1st).
- 2013: JJ Senekal (-4). 71.4% fairways (28th), 72.2% greens in regulation (7th), 26.7% scrambling (34th).
Fairways are wide here and even the most flagrant players from off the tee were finding the short grass two-thirds of the time, making this a second shot golf course. From there it’s either a case of maximise greens in regulation or perform well on and around the greens, with the most consistent stat across the renewals being scrambling.
Incoming Form. The incoming form of the last 11 winners here at St Francis Links is as follows:
- 2022: George Coetzee: MC/36/MC/WD/WD/1/16/22/32/MC/3/17
- 2022: Ruan Korb: MC/MC/MC/MC/MC/8/41/2/MC/35/MC
- 2021: Dean Burmester: 6/59/70/MC/35/40/6/40/34/30/MC/7
- 2018: Alex Haindl: 12/16/3/4/33/25/MC/2/12/5/5/MC
- 2017: Doug McGuigan: 26/MC/6/33/1/MC/30/20/21/19/19/39
- 2016: Mark Williams:MC/17/4/MC/26/29/6/7/MC/28/24/35
- 2015: Christiaan Basson: 8/18/MC/MC/44/7/10/9/27/MC/MC/8
- 2014: Keith Horne: 54/9/2/15/3/MC/24/9/MC/MC/4/8
- 2013: JJ Senekal: MC/37/MC/MC/7/MC/31/MC/MC/6/31/39
- 2008: Jaco van Zyl: MC/MC/14/MC/MC/4/7/2/5/15/11/2
- 2007: Titch Moore: WD/MC/MC/9/MC/16/38/38/17/10/5/9
Last year’s Sunshine Tour PGA Championship winner George Coetzee had been playing well enough on the DP World Tour prior to his win, finishing 3rd at Le Golf National and 17th at St Andrews before winning here by 3 shots in November.
Ruan Korb’s form was all on the Sunshine Tour prior to his win earlier in the year, however Burmester’s success in 2021 – again at the PGA Championship – came after a 7th place finish at the Dunhill Links, so form at the higher level seems of relevance.
In general, some recent contending form looks positive and every winner here had at least 1 top-10 finish in their last 8 starts and 2 top-10 finishes in their last 10 starts.
A modern links with wind in play helps narrow the field a little this week, with an emphasis on quality ball-striking to scythe through the wind as well as scrambling when greens are inevitably missed looking like key attributes in likely contenders.
My selections are as follows: