Well hello Dolly! Great way to end the PGA Tour calendar year as I correctly hit on Kevin Kisner winning last week's RSM Classic in Georgia. In the final round Sunday, Kisner shot a 64 to claim his first win on the PGA Tour. Other than Graeme McDowell a couple of weeks ago, all the winners on the 2015-16 PGA Tour schedule have been first-timers thus far.
Kisner, who had four runner-up finishes in his previous 19 tournaments -- lost in playoffs at Hilton Head, Sawgrass and the Greenbrier and was a runner-up at a World Golf Championship-HSBC Champions event in Shanghai -- finished at a tournament-record 22-under 260. He also shot a 64 on Saturday to take a three-shot cushion into the final round. The University of Georgia alum won by six shots. Kisner led the field with the most birdies (22), fewest bogeys (only two and none over his final 22 holes) and fewest putts per green in regulation. The win gets Kisner into the 2016 opening Hyundai Tournament of Champions in Hawaii. The Tour is on break until then outside of silly-season events.
The guy who fared second-best last week was not necessarily runner-up Kevin Chappell but Sweden's Freddie Jacobson. He had been playing on a hardship waiver as he took a break from the Tour earlier this year to be with his son who had open-heart surgery this summer. Jacobson needed to earn $198,240.34 to earn his full Tour card. He drained a 25-foot birdie putt on No. 18 to finish solo fifth at 12 under and earned $326,111. Good for him.
Kisner, who now leads the FedEx Cup standings, paid out at +1800 at Bovada for a win and at +125 for a Top 10. I also got Russell Henley at +225 for a Top 10 and McDowell at +135 as the top European. He finished third.
So with the PGA Tour going dark until the first weekend of January, we head overseas to the Alfred Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek Country Club in Malelane, South Africa. It's the first event of the new European Tour season. First staged in January 2000 at the Houghton Golf Club in Johannesburg, the Alfred Dunhill Championship moved to its current venue in 2004.
The 2014-15 Euro Tour season closed last week in Dubai where Rory McIlroy won the DP World Tour Championship and his third Race to Dubai title -- that Tour's money and points race -- in the past four years. A nice consolation prize to an otherwise disappointing year for the former world No. 1. It was McIlroy's 12th European Tour title to go with 11 on the PGA Tour. He won't play again until another event in the United Arab Emirates in January, the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.
Most of the big names on the European Tour other than the South Africans are skipping this event. This is the first of 45 tournaments on the schedule. It's the seventh straight year the Race to Dubai starts in South Africa and the country will host six tournaments overall on the 2015-16 calendar. This event also provides the first chance for those players who made it through European Tour qualifying school to make their mark on the main Tour. You might remember one guy who had to take that route: former Ryder Cup player Edoardo Molinari.
The defending champion is South African Branden Grace. He started the final round with a one-shot lead over Lucas Bjerregaard but would shoot a 4-under 68 to finish at 20-under 268 for a seven-shot victory. He became the first person to lead after all four rounds of the Alfred Dunhill Championship. Fellow South African Louis Oosthuizen shot a 69 to finish second.
Don't confuse this event with the more prestigious Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, which is played in Scotland in October.
Golf Odds: Alfred Dunhill Championship Favorites
Grace is the +400 favorite at Bovada. He played 13 PGA Tour events last season with a best finish of third at the PGA Championship. Grace also was the best player for the International Team at the Presidents Cup with a 5-0-0 record. Grace was T5 at the HSBC Champions in China a few weeks ago and third last week in Dubai.
Countryman Charl Schwartzel is +600. Talk about a "Horse for the Course!" Schwartzel has won this event three times (2004, 13-14) and finished runner-up a whopping four times. He was T26 last year. But he's having a down 2015 campaign.
Oosthuizen (+800), Bjerregaard (+2000) and Jaco van Zyt (+2500) round out the favorites. Oosthuizen's runner-up last year was his second at this tournament. But prior to that, he withdrew here in 2012 and failed to make the weekend in his five efforts before that.
Golf Odds: Alfred Dunhill Championship Picks
Oosthuizen and Schwartzel have won 10 European Tour titles overall in South Africa between them. And a South African has won this tournament four straight years. This event has had plenty of first-time European Tour winners, last Garth Mulroy in 2011. Adam Scott got his first here (2001). So did Justin Rose (2002). Neither are playing in South Africa this week.
On the Top-10 props, go with Grace (-250), Oosthuizen (-150) and Lee Slattery (+400). Head-to-head, I like Slattery (-115) over Andrew Johnston (-115), Joost Luiten (-120) over Ricardo Gouveia (-110), Bjerregaard (-125) over van Zyt (-105), and Gregory Bourdy (-115) over Alexander Levy (-115).
I'm going chalk and backing Grace to repeat, although I'd like to see Bjerregaard get his first Tour win after last year's final-round 89. Just not sure how that implosion may affect him this week.
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