Open Championship

9 SA contenders at the Open Championship

2017-07-19 18:35
Ernie Els (File)

Cape Town - The Open Championship gets under way at Royal Birkdale this week and there are NINE South Africans in the field.

Ernie Els (2002, 2012) and Louis Oosthuizen (2010) are the only South Africans in the field that have laid their hands on the coveted Claret Jug.

How they are all shaping up heading into the tournament:

ERNIE ELS

Age - 47

Ranking - 406

Best Open - Winner (2002, 2012)

In his 99th major tournament, Els is still a name to be reckoned with.

Els reminded spectators and critics alike that he can still get into the mix at major championships when he showcased an impressive performance at the US Open last month.

'The Big Easy' carded a two-under 70 and par 72 in the first two rounds at Erin Hills, before eventually ending up tied for 55th.

Els tees off in Round 1 on Thursday alongside Ross Fisher and Bernd Wiesberger at 13:42 SA time.

LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN

Age - 34

Ranking - 23

Best Open - Winner (2010)

Oosthuizen knows what it takes win the Claret Jug, so it's no surprise that he could be considered South Africa's best bet heading into this week's tournament.

Oosthuizen is looking to capitalise on his good form after tying for second at The Players Championship in May.

Oosthuizen will tee off in Round 1 on Thursday alongside Rio Olympic gold medallist Justin Rose and American Justin Thomas at 10:58 SA time.

CHARL SCHWARTZEL

Age - 32

Ranking - 19

Best Open - T7

Schwartzel comes in to the Open Championship in top form.

Despite not securing a win, the South African has had three top-10 finishes this season, which included his third-place finish at Augusta National.

The 2011 Masters champion was one-shot short of American Daniel Berger and settled to share second at the St. Jude Classic last month.

Schwartzel tees off in a star-studded pairing on Thursday with Rory McIlroy and world No 1 Dustin Johnson at 15:48 SA time.

BRANDEN GRACE

Age - 29

Ranking - 35

Best Open - T20

Grace has had a good season thus far playing in 15 but only failing to make the cut on one occasion - the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

Grace's form heading in to Royal Birkdale looks promising, as he has made four top-20 finishes in his last six events.

Grace tees off in Round 1 on Thursday alongside America's Jason Dufner and Bryson DeChambeau at 8:52 SA time.

BRANDON STONE

Age - 24

Ranking - 94

Best Open - Missed Cut (1 appearance)

Stone had the perfect start to his season after claiming the Alfred Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek, but since then he has only made two top 10 finishes in 15 events.

In his Open Championship debut at Royal Troon last year, Stone failed to make the cut, but will be looking this time around to improve on his performance of late.

Stone will tee off in Round 1 on Thursday with Jhonattan Vegas and Sean O'Hair at 15:15 SA time.


DYLAN FRITTELLI

Age - 27

Ranking - 75

Best Open - Debut

Frittelli has had a stellar season leading up to his maiden Open event, as it's seen him finish tied for second at the Eye of Africa PGA Championship and a playoff defeat performance at the China Open.

This saw him elevate into the world top-100 for the first time and his dividends finally paid off when he won his first European Tour title at the Lyoness Open last month.

Frittelli tees off in Round 1 on Thursday with Song Young-Han and David Horsey at 09:25 SA time.


JBE KRUGER

Age - 31

Ranking - 207

Best Open - Missed Cut (2 appearances)

Kruger was among one of the four golfers to qualify for the Open Championship at the Singapore Open, which is co-sanctioned by the Asian Tour and Japan Tour.

Kruger finished tied for second at the Sentosa Golf Club's Serapong Course finishing with 18-under-par to seal his third Open Championship qualification.

Kruger tees off in Round 1 on Thursday with Nick McCarthy and Ashley Hall at 17:05 SA time.


DARREN FICHARDT

Age - 42

Ranking - 234

Best Open - Missed Cut (12 appearances)

Fichardt sealed his Open Championship qualification after winning the Joburg Open at the Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club.

Fichardt finished with a scorecard of 15-under and won his fifth European Tour title by a single shot.

The stalwart has never made a cut in his 12 Open Championship appearances - and this year he is hoping to make the weekend.

Fichardt tees off in Round 1 on Thursday alongside Tom Lehman and An Byeong-Hun at 08:19 SA time.


SHAUN NORRIS

Age - 35

Ranking - 277

Best Open - Debut

Norris qualified for this year's Open Champion by winning the Asian Tour's JGT Championship Mori Building Cup in Ibaraki in Japan last month.

The Johannesburg native shot a final round of 64 at the Shishido Hills Country Club to seal a four-shot lead victory.

Norris has notched up two wins each on the Sunshine Tour, Asian Tour and Japan Golf tour.

Norris will tee off in Round 1 on Thursday with Richard Bland and a-Luca Cianchetti at 11:31 SA time.

Images: Gallo/Getty

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