South African Open Preview, Picks & Analysis
The European Tour’s South African Swing will be completed by the South African Open Championship, which will be played the same week as the new Golf in Dubai Championship.
The co-sanctioned tournament with the Sunshine Tour – which follows the Joburg Open and the Alfred Dunhill Championship – will be played for the first time at the iconic Gary Player Country Club in Sun City and will be jointly presented by Nedbank and Sun International.
A part of the European Tour International Schedule since 1997, the South African Open is the second oldest national Open in golf.
Like the Alfred Dunhill Championship, this will be the second appearance of the South African Open on the 2020 European Tour schedule, the tournament having been contested in January at Randpark Golf Club in Johannesburg, where home favourite Branden Grace triumphed.
Among those to commit to the tournament is Dylan Frittelli, who finished in a tie for fifth in only his second appearance at The Masters. The 30-year-old is a two-time European Tour winner.
“We’re delighted to have Dylan join the South African Open field shortly after what was such an incredible performance by him at The Masters,” said Sunshine Tour Commissioner, Thomas Abt.
“As the Sunshine Tour we are very proud of what he’s achieved on the international stage. The South African Open has always prided itself on having the support of the country’s leading professionals, and Dylan adds his name to a very exciting field this year.”
Frittelli joins a quality field of the next generation of South African stars, including Christiaan Bezuidenhout, George Coetzee, Brandon Stone, Wilco Nienaber and Garrick Higgo. However, the organisers will be disappointed that 2018 champion Louis Oosthuizen has instead chosen to remain in America - he is a huge draw card in his native South Africa and his decision to miss the South Africa Swing is a trifle puzzling.
Keith Pelley, Chief Executive of the European Tour, said: “I am delighted to see the South African Open back on the schedule and sincere thanks go to everyone at the Sunshine Tour, Golf RSA, the South African Golf Association, Nedbank and Sun International for their commitment and support in making this happen.
“Since our season restarted in July, we have taken a measured approach to our tournaments, informed every step of the way by our medical advisers and Government guidance in the countries we play.”
Grant Hepburn, Chief Executive Officer of GolfRSA, said: “We would like to thank everyone involved in making it possible for the South African Open to go ahead at Sun City under difficult circumstances. The hard work done by the Sunshine Tour and European Tour as well as the support of the sponsors has ensured that the SA Open will continue to be a tournament that we can be proud of.”
Martin Saaiman, acting President of the South African Golf Association (SAGA), said: “We are grateful to the Sunshine Tour, European Tour, Nedbank and Sun International for their support of our national Open and for sharing our desire to see this great championship played despite what has been a very challenging year. The South African Open is not only about the professionals, but also an important stage for our leading amateurs to test their skills as the next generation of stars. We also think it is apt that the Gary Player Country Club will be the host of this year’s championship, considering that Gary Player won a record 13 South African Open titles.”
In the absence of the Nedbank Golf Challenge this year, Nedbank and Sun International – both long-standing sponsors of South African professional golf – agreed to support the country’s national Open and the playing opportunities it provides for South Africa’s leading professionals and top amateurs, while at the same time providing the critical business stimulus required in South African professional golf at this time.
“Nedbank has a long and proud history with the game of golf and we value the role we can play in the restart of South African golf’s international calendar following the COVID-19 lockdown,” said Mike Brown, Chief Executive of Nedbank. “Traditionally, South African golf fans would have been looking forward to ‘Africa’s Major’ at Sun City at this time of the year, and in this way they can still look forward to a great event in the form of the world’s second oldest national Open.”
Anthony Leeming, Chief Executive of Sun International, said: “We are extremely proud to be able to host the South African Open Championship, one of the flagship tournaments of South African golf. The Gary Player Country Club is in pristine condition as a combination of being well-prepared for the Nedbank Golf Challenge before we had to cancel this year’s event, and the lack of significant traffic as a result of the national lockdown. So we are confident this year’s field will encounter a golf course in excellent condition and very much worthy of this great championship.” It was won in 2015 by Brandon Stone, in 2016 by Graeme Storm, in 2017 by Chris Paisley, in 2018 by Louis Oosthuizen and in 2019 by Branden Grace.
Wilco Nienebar. A sensation
Dylan Frittelli. Brilliant at The Masters
George Coetzee. A natural
Wilco Nienebar. He really is something special
Dylan Frittelli. On the crest of a wave
George Coetzee. Brilliant putter
Christiaan Bezuidenhout. Underrated
Brandon Stone. Fabulous golf swing
Garrick Higgo. Another gifted young prospect
Pablo Larrazabal. Struggling to find his best form
Shubhankar Sharma. Coming back to his best
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