SA’s winning trio to play in British Open

2013-11-10 14:00

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For the first time in South Africa’s golf history, three top players from next year’s Joburg Open will qualify to tee off at The Open Championship.

The Championship, popularly known as the British Open, is the world’s oldest golf major and the sport’s most prestigious event on the international calendar.

It will take place at the Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Hoylake, England, in July.

The Joburg Open is a Sunshine and European Tour co-sanctioned event. It will be played at the Royal Johannesburg & Kensington Golf Club from February 6 to 10.

The winner and two runners-up will automatically qualify to join the star-studded British Open line-up. The tournament is held under the banners of the European and US PGA tours.

The automatic qualification should come as good news for local players who are keen to compete against some of the world’s finest players on the Championship’s big stage.

The move comes after a new international qualifying series organised by Royal and Ancient – the ruling world authority on leading golf tours – was introduced.

The series will comprise 14 events in nine countries on five continents – the PGA Tour, the European Tour, the PGA Tour of Australia, the Japanese Golf Tour and the Sunshine Tour.

Executive director of the Sunshine Tour Selwyn Nathan welcomed the qualification describing it as a great move.

“This is wonderful because local golfers will take the Joburg Open more seriously because it will now qualify them for the big one,” he said.

Nathan believes this will also make the local event more competitive and add to the number of top-class locals who will campaign in Europe and the US in future.

The deputy director of the City of Johannesburg, Nthathisi Modingwane, also welcomed the move. He said that having the top three players from the Joburg Open play in England will “improve the quality of the field of players and elevate the status of the Joburg Open”.

Since its inception in 2007, the Joburg Open has always been played at the same venue.

To date, it has been won by five South Africans and two foreigners. Ariel Cañete of Denmark and Anders Hansen of Argentina won the titles in 2007 and 2009.

Richard Sterne won last year when he beat compatriot Charl Schwartzel by seven strokes.

The Championship was won by Ernie Els at Royal Lytham and St Annes Golf Club in England last year. He first took the title at the Muirfield Golf Club.

The Open Championship – Qualifying Series

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