US Open

8 golfers to fly the SA flag at US Open

2017-06-13 14:22
Charl Schwartzel (Getty Images)

Cape Town - The 117th US Open gets under way at Erin Hills, Wisconsin this week and there are EIGHT South Africans in the field.

The only South African to win the US Open in the field this week is Ernie Els, who triumphed in 1994 and 1997.

How they are all shaping up heading into the tournament:

ERNIE ELS

Ranking - 401

Best US Open - Winner (1994, 1997)

Els is slowly but surely getting back to his best.

Els' starts over the past few weeks have been encouraging, as he has carded 69 and 68 in the first rounds of the Byron Nelson and St. Jude Classic, respectively.

As a former champion, Els will be looking to prove his worth against a stellar field at Erin Hills.

Els will tee off in Round 1 alongside Americans Webb Simpson and Lucas Glover at 15:35 SA time.

CHARL SCHWARTZEL

Ranking - 16

Best US Open - 7th (2015)

Schwartzel comes into Erin Hills in top form after finishing tied second at the St. Jude Classic in Memphis last week.

The 2011 Masters champion has been struggling with an injury since being struck on the left wrist by a golf ball during the Valspar Championship in March.

Regardless of the injury, Schwartzel came close to securing a second green jacket at Augusta where a four-under par final round of 68 saw him finish third - just three shots behind champion Sergio Garcia and runner-up Justin Rose.

He looks to be SA's best bet at winning golf's second major this week.

Schwartzel will tee off with countryman Louis Oosthuizen and reigning Open Championship winner Henrik Stenson at 20:47 SA time in Round 1.

BRANDEN GRACE

Ranking - 29

Best US Open - T4

Grace's record at the US Open is just as promising as his talent.

In 2015, he ended tied for third, two shots behind winner Jordan Spieth.

Last year, Grace finished tied for fifth, four shots behind eventual champion Dustin Johnson.

Will this be Grace's year?

Grace tees off along with Americans Kevin Kisner and Billy Horschel at 15:24 SA time.

LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN

Ranking - 21

Best US Open - T2

It's been oh-so close for SA's Oosthuizen in the US Open.

The 2010 Open champion shot a three-under-par 67 to take a share of second spot, a single shot adrift of 2015 winner Jordan Spieth.

This season has been a great one for Oosthuizen with six top-25 finishes in just 11 events, including a runner-up finish at The Players Championship in May.

He is definitely someone to keep an eye on...

BRANDON STONE

Ranking - 91

Best US Open - Debut

Stone is one of the four SA golfers who played their way into the US Open field after qualifying at the US Open Sectional Qualifying at Walton Heath last month.

Stone finished off tied ninth to seal one of the 15 spots available.

This year, the 23-year-old became the second-youngest player to win the Sunshine Tour Order of Merit after Charl Schwartzel (20).

This season has seen Stone enjoy three top-10 finishes, including bagging his second European Tour title at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship at Leopard Creek.

GEORGE COETZEE

Ranking - 129

Best US Open - T56

Coetzee is another of the four SA golfers who played their way into the US Open field after qualifying at the US Open Sectional Qualifying at Walton Heath last month.

As with Stone, Coetzee also finished tied for ninth to seal one of the 15 spots available.

Leading up to the major, Coetzee has been in fine form recording five top-10 finishes in his past nine tournaments, including a tied fourth finish at the Nordea Masters earlier this month.

THOMAS AIKEN

Ranking - 183

Best US Open - T25

Aiken is another of the four SA golfers who played their way into the US Open field after qualifying at the US Open Sectional Qualifying at Walton Heath last month.

Aiken was involved in a seven-way tie for 12th place and took part in a playoff for the final four spots. He birdied the second playoff hole to seal his US Open spot.

In 2015, Aiken made his debut US Open major finishing tied 25th. Last year he failed to make the cut.

Going into this week, Aiken will be looking to bounce back to form as he has missed his last four tournament cuts.

OLIVER BEKKER

Ranking - 229

Best US Open - Debut

Bekker was the fourth and final SA golfer who played his way into the US Open field after qualifying at the US Open Sectional Qualifying at Walton Heath last month.

Bekker was the best South African in the field finishing tied for fifth to seal one of the 15 spots available.

It has been a great season on the Sunshine Tour for Bekker having won both the Zambia Sugar Open and the Lombard Insurance Classic.

Images: Gallo/Getty

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