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Mikko Ilonen last contested the Alfred Dunhill Championship in 2009 but, after an eight-year gap, he returns to the Gary Player-designed Leopard Creek in South Africa this week.

The Finn played solidly enough for T35 on his one appearance there in 2009 while he's only teed it up in four more events in South African since, playing all four rounds three times. Ilonen finished 99th on the 2018 Race to Dubai despite choosing to play a lighter schedule and had his best weeks in April when T3 at the Trophee Hassan II in Morocco followed by T14 at the China Open. Since a top 20 at the Irish Open in July, he's missed five of seven cuts, but he did post T32 in October's Alfred Dunhill (same sponsor as this week) Links Championship thanks mainly to a second-round 63 while he was T32 at the Australian Open on his last start so there are a few encouraging signs.
Dec 11 - 12:30 PM

Raphael Jacquelin has had some decent success in South Africa but this week he'll be seeing Leopard Creek for the first time when he contests the Alfred Dunhill Championship.

The Frenchman, a regular for many seasons on the European Tour, did play this event at Houghton back in 2004, its final year there, and finished runner-up. He's also had top fives at the South African Open and Volvo Golf Champions and took T11 at the Nedbank Golf Challenge a couple of years ago so he's performed well on various layouts in South Africa. A sweet swinger, it never surprises us when he performs strongly as he did when T10 at the Irish Open, T7 at the Portugal Masters and T17 in Mauritius last time. But during that run of results since the summer he's also missed eight cuts so 'mercurial' may be the best way to describe him. He's a risk but there is some obvious upside.
Dec 11 - 12:14 PM

Jaco Ahlers has played in the last nine editions of the Alfred Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek and pegs it up again this week.

The South African missed his first five cuts at the picturesque venue located on the edge of Kruger National Park but has cashed in his latest four. And to prove it's a puzzle he's now started to solve, the local man closed with 66 for T11 there last time, a clear improvement on his previous best of T43. Ahlers is a seven-time winner on the Sunshine Tour, his latest win coming earlier this year at one of its better-known events, the Dimension Data Pro-Am (Nick Price, Lee Westwood, Darren Clarke, Retief Goosen, Trevor Immelman, Branden Grace and Paul Lawrie are former winners). He missed the cut after a pair of 71s in the South African Open last week but was T47 in Mauritius before that and had back-to-back top fives on the Sunshine Tour in September.
Dec 11 - 11:55 AM

Chase Koepka lost his European Tour card last season but gets an invite for this week's Alfred Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek.

The American played his way onto the main Tour after an excellent 2017 season on the Challenge Tour but could only muster one top ten from 28 starts and finished way down the Race to Dubai in 182nd. However, it's worth noting that his one bright moment came on South African soil when he took T7 at the SA Open. Brooks' brother missed the cut in this year's edition last week (76-70) while this will be his first look at Leopard Creek. Koepka's best finish in his last six starts is T28 at the European Open where he closed with a 65.
Dec 11 - 11:46 AM

Oliver Bekker posted T7 in the Mauritius Open on his last start and now he faces a home game in this week's Alfred Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek.

The 34-year-old South African from Pretoria is a seven-time winner on the local Sunshine Tour, banking three of those wins last year. He hasn't quite lived up to those heights in 2018 but has cracked the top ten in four of his last five starts on home soil. He's presenting a decent case so far but there's an obvious downside, a rather poor record at Leopard Creek. This is his ninth appearance and he's just 4-for-8 with a best of T29 in 2011 and nothing better than T47 since then. His short game looked sharp in Mauritius last time (4th Scrambling, 3rd Putting Average) so, with conditions expected to be dry and bouncy this week, perhaps those skills will take him higher up the Leopard Creek leaderboard this time.
Dec 11 - 11:32 AM

Chris Cannon will make a second start in the Alfred Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek CC in Malelane, South Africa this week.

Just a sixth start in a European Tour sanctioned or co-sanctioned event for the Englishman and there’s been little evidence so far of him making a mark. His one cut made led to T49 in the 2017 Joburg Open, but he has missed cuts in the Dubai Desert Classic, on debut here in 2016, then last season’s Tshwane Open and last week’s South African Open. He’s been through various minor circuits, trying the Asian Development and Mena Tours, before settling for the Sunshine Tour and has started to find some consistency albeit in the minor events. He was T2 in the Vodacom Origins – Parys in October. Trivia fact: he is the son of the Getty photographer David Cannon.
Dec 10 - 7:47 AM

Steven Brown will make his tournament and course debut in this week’s Alfred Dunhill Championship at Malelane, South Africa.

Four top 20s in his first full season on the European Tour saw the Englishman retain his card in 2018, although it needed one of them to be a very fine T2 (play-off defeat) in the Made in Denmark. He opened this season with a missed cut in the Hong Kong Open and T54 last week in the South African Open, when opening rounds of 71-68-68 were marred by a final lap 76. The Wentworth based player is making his Leopard Creek debut, but has started four times in South Africa. He was T19 in the 2017 Joburg Open (T7 after 54 holes) and then last week was his only other made cut.
Dec 10 - 7:46 AM

Morten Ørum Madsen is in desperate need of form as he heads to this week’s Alfred Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek CC in Malelane, South Africa.

The Dane will always retain fond memories of golf in South Africa, having won the national Open there in late 2013, the second year of three in which he finished top 85 in the Race to Dubai. However since losing his card in 2016, he has floundered on the Challenge Tour. He plays this week off the back of his South African achievements and needs to make the most of the opportunity. His form makes for bleak reading: 1-for-18 since the end of April. His past at Leopard Creek offers hopes though, but not recently: He was T16 in both 2013 and 2014, however he shot 80-74 to miss the cut in 2015, then 76-75 at the weekend when he made the cut in 2016.
Dec 10 - 7:40 AM

2011 winner Garth Mulroy returns to the Alfred Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek CC in Malelane, South Africa this week.

Time have changed for the South African. He had four results of T21 or better in ten starts at Leopard Creek including T3 in 2012 and victory the year before, but he’s not been inside the top 35 in his last four visits. That 2011 success came at the height of his powers. He completed a second Web.com Tour success the same year and had three Sunshine Tour wins at that stage, but it all went wrong. This year the results have improved on the home circuit and he claimed victory, a first in seven years, at the Vodacom Origins – Parys, but it is lowly stuff compared to what he has achieved in the past. He shot 70-80 in the Mauritius Open and 71-73 in the South African Open, both times to miss the cut; arguably they are more accurate assessments of his current form.
Dec 10 - 7:38 AM

Alejandro Canizares heads to this week’s Alfred Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek CC in Malelane, South Africa knowing he’s close to a decent formula.

Injury has wrecked the Spaniard’s recent seasons on the main tour and led to a return to Qualifying School this year. Emboldened by T16 in his previous start at the Valderrama Andalucia Masters he blazed a trail of glory, winning the six round tournament. His immediate response was T36 in the Hong Kong Open (T20 after 54 holes) and then T54 in last week’s South African Open (opened with a 73 for T149, responded with 66 to make the cut). It suggests good golf remains close, but he needs some consistency. His course record isn’t great but it is improving: MC in 2009, T50 in 2012, T23 in 2013.
Dec 10 - 7:37 AM

Gregory Bourdy will be pleased to return to a favored venue this week in the Alfred Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek CC in Malelane, South Africa.

Might this be the location for the start of the Frenchman’s career rebuild? He needs it. He plays this week on an invitation having lost his card in 2018, finishing 170th on the Race to Dubai after 14 straight years on the European Tour. He was T11 at Valderrama in October, a last desperate hurrah at card-saving, but that was his only top 30 of the season and he hasn’t had a top ten since October 2017 and only two since June 2016. He’s opened 2019 with T70-MC-T43 which is not much to write home about but here’s where the hope lies: He has five top 30s from seven starts at Leopard Creek, four of them were T15 or better and what’s more he was T3 in 2012 and T2 in 2015.
Dec 10 - 3:58 AM

Gavin Moynihan will tee it up in this week’s Alfred Dunhill Championship in Malelane, South Africa.

The Irishman has not shown his absolute best on the European Tour but he has displayed a lot of heart and guts. T14 in the Irish Open in 2017, that one result earned him more than double what 13 starts on the ET in 2018 did. He was just 2-for-13 and it was only when heading back to the Challenge Tour that he managed to collect any morale-boosts. But get them he did and he then grasped the 23rd card at Q School so now makes a Leopard Creek debut as part of his second quest at success. A worry might be his record in South Africa: 1-for-7, with his only cut-made in his first start and that in a Sunshine Tour event. He shot 75-69 last week in the South African Open.
Dec 10 - 3:57 AM

Max Orrin needs to step up to the ET mark in this week’s Alfred Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek CC.

The 24-year-old Englishman turned pro with quite some fanfare after playing for GB&I in the 2013 Walker Cup, got off a to a decent start on the second tier and yet it has never quite happened for him. He won on the Challenge Tour in 2014 and 2015 yet couldn’t be consistent enough to graduate. Now he is staring a sixth straight year at that level in the face. Four of fives times he has finished 22nd or better, but this year’s 18th in the rankings was his best – and three short of a full card. 29 European Tour starts are yet to reap a top ten. His best was T15 in the 2017 Nordea Masters, he’s missed his last six cuts at this level including last week.
Dec 10 - 3:56 AM

Ben Evans needs a boost ahead of the winter break and will look for it in the Alfred Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek CC in Malelane, South Africa.

The Englishman will celebrate his 32nd birthday in round one, can it bring him good luck? He kind of needs it because he has been lingering around the fringes of the European Tour for a good while now and he didn’t excel too much in 2017 and 2018 on the Challenge Tour, only getting the 27th card at Qualifying School. Starts will be at a premium. On first glance his record on the course is not great. He missed the cut in 2014 (72-72) and was T41 in 2016, but he shot 71-69 to be T9 at halfway before a weekend run of 73-75 ruined his hopes. He opened the season with T30 in the Hong Kong Open and then a pair of missed cuts in Mauritius and South Africa.
Dec 10 - 3:55 AM

Can Niklas Lemke begin to fulfil his potential this season, starting with the Alfred Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek CC?

When he was at Arizona State, the Swede was not just highly thought of, there were suggestions that he had something very, very special. Bear in mind the likes of Phil Mickelson and Paul Casey had played there. He’s also been well respected at home in Sweden, so much so that he first played on the ET as an amateur way back in 2001 via invite. But when he grabbed the seventh card at Q School it was the first time he had owned one having plugged away on the minor tours since 2010. He has one top ten in 28 ET starts which take in all of the 21st century – a stretched out log book which must be a record of sorts in itself. Closed the 2018 CT season well, with three top sixes in four starts, but missed the cut last week in the South African Open.
Dec 10 - 3:54 AM



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