What a seesaw year for SA’s golfers

2013-12-15 14:00

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South African golfers do well on home soil but fail overseas.

This has been a year to forget for SA golfers.

Apart from 2009, a South African golfer has won a major title for the past five years.

With the year coming to an end, it’s important to reflect on some of the lows and highs of the South African golfing scene.

What became glaringly obvious was the failure of local players to win any of this year’s four PGA majors – the Masters, US Open, British Open and PGA Championship.

Despite a strong contingent of players from these shores qualifying for any of the events staged by the influential US-based sanctioning golf body, the PGA, no one really took the honours this year.

The top honours for 2013 went to Australian Adam Scott for wearing the Masters green jacket while Englishman Justin Rose won the US Open trophy.

American left-hander Phil Mickelson lifted the British Open’s famous Claret Jug.

In the prior three years it was the norm for South Africa to boast at least one victor of the PGA majors.

However, the tide seems to have turned this year.

The country’s favourite golfer Ernie Els won the British Open last year at Royal Lytham & St Annes Golf Club to capture four Major Championships titles in his glorious playing career.

In 2011 Charl Schwartzel captured the Masters by three strokes at Augusta National while Louis Oosthuizen lifted the British Open trophy in 2010.

However, like in 2009, this year has also seen a barren spell for local players to make a mark on the big fairways.

Although they have struggled on the premier stage, South African players played fairly well in the?Sunshine/European tour-sanctioned events, at least at the beginning of 2013.

Richard Sterne, one of the country’s big attractions proved just how good he is this year.

In February, he won the Joburg Open by seven strokes to end a four-year dry spell when he was plagued with back injuries.

Darren Fichardt captured the Africa Open in East London in February to ensure that the silverware remains here.

Since its inception in 2008, the contest has been the dominated by Mzanzi players.

In winning, Fichardt claimed his fourth European Tour title.

Whether these players will maintain their dominance when the Africa Open tees off in two months time, remains to be seen.

But no-one?can ever forget the great showing Schwartzel put up by snatching the Alfred Dunhill title in great fashion at the Leopard Creek Golf Club, Malelane, two weeks ago.

Besides Schwartzel’s feat, the latter part of the year saw locals struggle against more accomplished foreigners in big showdowns here.

The country’s flagship tournament, the SA Open, was once more won by a Scandinavian when Denmark’s Morten Ørum Madsen won this year’s competition. The previous trophy was lifted by Swede Henrik Stenson.

The Nedbank Golf Challenge, played at Sun City in North West last week, also evaded local winners for the sixth year running when Denmark’s Thomas Bjørn was crowned the new champion.

This year has certainly been an interesting one for South African golfers.

World top 10 ranking

1 Tiger Woods (USA)

2 Adam Scott (Australia)

3 Henrik Stenson (Sweden)

4 Justin Rose (England)

5 Phil Mickelson (USA)

6 Rory McIlroy (Northern Ireland)

7 Matt Kuchar (USA)

8 Steve Stricker (USA)

9 Zach Johnson (USA)

10 Brandt Snedeker (USA)

SA top 10 ranking

1 Charl Schwartzel (17)

2 Ernie Els (27)

3 Louis Oosthuizen (34)

4 Branden Grace (49)

5 Richard Sterne (50)

6 Brendon de Jonge?(58) (Zimbabwe)

7 Tim Clark (69)

8 George Coetzee (91)

9 Darren Fichardt (124)

10 Rory Sabbatini (125)

»?Numbers in brackets denote world ranking

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