Golf

Els and Goosen ready to duel

2012-01-18 14:33
Retief Goosen (Gallo)
George - Retief Goosen, nearing his 43rd birthday next month, will hope to break his winless streak in the Volvo Golf Champions starting at the Links at Fancourt, in George, on Thursday.

Goosen, who last won on the European Tour in 2007, beat fellow South African Ernie Els down the stretch in the 2006 SA Open at Fancourt, and he will aim to rekindle those fond memories around the course.

"I love The Links and I know the golf course very well," Goosen said.

The tournament, featuring an elite field of 35 players, features no cut.

Players who won an event last season and individuals who have won more than 10 times on the European Tour in their career were invited.

"It's a small field, but it's such a strong field because every player here obviously knows how to win," Goosen said.

"So every golfer here is tough to beat."

Els will also enjoy playing on the course where he famously went head-to-head with Tiger Woods in the 2003 Presidents Cup, when the match had to be shared after the pair could not be separated in fading light.

"I have great memories of playing at the Links at Fancourt, both in professional events, including the Presidents Cup, and also while on family holidays here," Els said on his website.

"It's justifiably ranked as the best golf course in the country and I am really looking forward to the week."

Els, who will make his first tournament start of 2012, will be eager for a positive start after a disappointing season last year.

"This is my first proper tournament since the Dubai World Championship at the beginning of December, so obviously it's hard to assess my current form," he said.

"I think momentum will be the key to how my year starts to take shape.

"I feel like I need to get some decent results early.

"A win is obviously my goal, but even a couple of solid top-10 finishes -- basically four steady rounds of golf - makes a difference to your mindset going in to the following week.

"You feel more comfortable and quickly you're targeting wins, not just top-10s."

The veteran South Africans will join six other local players - Louis Oosthuizen, Charl Schwartzel, Branden Grace, Thomas Aiken, Garth Mulroy and Hennie Otto - in the elite field.

Grace, 23, was the last man to qualify, courtesy of his win at the Joburg Open last week.

The international field includes the likes of Darren Clarke, Thomas Bjrn, Simon Dyson, Tom Lewis, Pdraig Harrington, Miguel ngel Jimnez, Jos Mara Olazbal and Colin Montgomerie.

Veteran Spaniard Jimenez will be one of the crowd favourites, with his hair in a ponytail and a cigar in his mouth.

The 48-year-old also sports an unusual warm-up routine, including rigorous full body-stretches, twirling of clubs, all the time smoking his cigar, and providing spectators with some entertainment.

The top four players in the official world rankings - world number one Luke Donald, young Irish sensation Rory McIlroy, Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer - were all invited, but will not be attending.

Read more on:    ernie els  |  retief goosen
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