Cape Town - South Africa's nine-time Major winner Gary Player had been backing world No 1 Rory McIlroy to win this week's Open Championship at St Andrews before a freak ankle ligament injury ruled the Northern Irishman out of the tournament.
Player, who won The Open three times between 1959 and 1974, told Sport24 exclusively that there were now a number of players who could threaten.
"My pick had been Rory McIlroy before his injury. That was very unfortunate," said Player.
"Wouldn’t it be something if Jordan Spieth could win the first three Majors this year? My, that would be incredible for golf. I also expect Jason Day, Rickie Fowler, Kevin Kisner and Matt Kucher to be in the running all weekend."
Turning his attention to the South Africans, Player was optimistic.
"The top South African players have been playing extremely well as of late. Believe me I will be rooting for one of them to win," said the 79-year-old.
"Branden Grace, Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel all play links courses well and certainly have the talent to win at St Andrews."
All three of those players had good finishes at last month's US Open (Oosthuizen T2, Grace T4 and Schwartzel 7th) and Player believes that they will benefit from those showings.
"Their performances should have a significant impact. Anytime you play well at a Major championship, you should have faith that you can win the next one," said Player.
"It’s like a shot of confidence in the arm. Louis has won at St Andrews before so he should be confident in his ability to play this course well."
Player enjoyed a round on the course last week and he says it is in immaculate condition.
"I played on the course last week and it was in terrific shape. Greener than I expected. I expect the scores to be lower than usual because of the rain Scotland has had lately," said Player.
"Let’s hope it doesn’t get too hot and scorch the surface. It should be a very exciting tournament."