History beckons for Hansen
Anders Hansen (Gallo Images)
Paarl – Danish golfer Anders Hansen is still expected to be crowned as the first northern hemisphere winner of the Sunshine Series order of merit after this weekend’s South African Open, even if his lead was cut at Leopard Creek in Malelane last week.
Hansen won the Joburg Open and Vodacom Championship earlier this year.
He was placed third in the Alfred Dunhill tournament on Sunday, but his lead on the order of merit was reduced to just over R1.3m after South African Charl Schwartzel took second place.
Schwartzel won the most prize money in 2004, 2005 and 2006. He and the Dane will be in action at Pearl Valley from Thursday.
The 25-year-old from the Vaal Triangle will have to win the tournament to scoop the money title from under Hansen’s nose.
Moreover, Hansen will have to miss the cut. The last time that happened was a few months ago at the European Masters.
Schwartzel is positive in spite of the odds being stacked against him.
He was impressive at Leopard Creek on Saturday and Sunday, and gave eventual winner Pablo Martin a good run for his money with his attacking approach. It certainly allowed the young South African, who is viewed by many as a bright talent, to travel to the Cape with heaps of confidence.
“The year is not yet over,” he told the Sunshine Series. “I am playing very well and am looking forward to the SA Open.”
Schwartzel was particularly happy with the quality of his putting at the weekend.
“It was one aspect of my game that has let me down (over the last four or five months) in the closing rounds, but I struck the ball well throughout,” said Schwartzel.
Schwartzel, together with other South Africans such as Richard Sterne, James Kingston, Thomas Aiken, Louis Oosthuizen, James Kamte and Branden Grace, will be out to keep up South Africa’s impressive record in the tournament.
The SA Open has been contested 98 times and over that period produced only nine winners from outside South Africa. The last was Mattias Gronberg in 2000.