Joburg to host Open qualifying

2012-01-17 15:12

Cape Town - International Final Qualifying (IFQ) Africa gets underway on Wednesday with 51 players from 12 countries battling for three places at this year’s Open Championship.

The two-day, 36-hole event is being played over the same Royal Johannesburg & Kensington course that hosted last week’s Joburg Open.

IFQ Africa sees 17 players who made the cut at the Sunshine Tour/European Tour co-sanctioned event return in a bid to secure a spot at the 141st Open Championship at Royal Lytham & St Annes this July.

Heading the field is South Africa’s Jaco Van Zyl, who finished tied-third just three shots behind winner Branden Grace last Sunday.

However, he will have to overcome former Open competitors including Brazil’s Adilson Da Silva, 2007 Sunshine Tour Order of Merit winner James Kingston as well as fellow South Africans Jean Hugo and Martin Maritz, who qualified at last year’s IFQ Africa.

Van Zyl, currently world No 80, is fully aware of the challenge that lies ahead. “You have to go out from the first hole and fire on all cylinders. You have to shoot as low as possible, because making a lot of pars will not get you far. I’m definitely going to go out there and fire at it from day one, hole one," said Van Zyl.

“It would be fantastic to qualify for the Open. Any golfer wants to play in all four Majors. That has always been a goal of mine and this will be a stepping stone to my goals.”

One man who knows what it takes to succeed at IFQ is South Africa’s Jean Hugo, who qualified for his third Open, the 2010 Open Championship at St Andrews, through the event.

He is another player who is well acquainted with Royal Johannesburg’s par 72 East Course having finished tied 32nd at last week’s Joburg Open.

“The course is in good condition and it’s a tough course. If the weather stays away it will be good. For three spots I think you have to shoot low - eight-under should do it. It’s all attacking golf, you can’t leave anything out there, which will make for some good fun," said Hugo.

“To play in the Open is a privilege and I think everybody will come out guns blazing. It’s an amazing event and everyone wants to be a part of it, which is why we will all try so hard to make it. I’ve played it three times and it was amazing each time, so I’ll try my best.”