Johannesburg - South African golfers will have little time to rest over the festive season break as they will need to get ready to continue to dominate the SA Open Championship.
The Sunshine and European Tour co-sanctioned event, the country’s flagship tournament, tees off at Glendower Golf Club in Edenvale, Johannesburg, on January 11.
The Open trophy is renowned for being the sole preserve of the country as it has been won 13 times by local players since the tournament began in 1997.
Only seven foreigners have laid their hands on it.
The event is regarded as South Africa’s own version of the British Open, which is one of the world’s major golf contests.
Scruff of the neck
Like the British Open, competing in the South African tournament gives golfers a sense of pride.
It’s rare that contests of this magnitude are commanded by players who come from the host country because of the toughness of the contest.
This is coupled with the stiff test from other European countries.
But Mzansi’s players have proved their mettle by taking the Open by the proverbial scruff of the neck.
Brandon Stone won last year’s edition after carding a flawless score of under-par 14 for a total of 274 to emerge the winner by two strokes.
Former world number one Ernie Els leads the pack, having snatched the most number of titles – three.
He is followed by Tim Clark and Trevor Immelman, who have each won twice.
This year’s Open, which was also played in January, was a tough match that saw Englishman Graeme Storm beat the talented Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland by under-par 18 for 270 in a play-off to take home the title.
But golfers from here will again work hard to take on the challenging Glendower fairways, hoping the trophy will stay at home once more.