Schwartzel and Clark to play at South African Open Championship

2012-10-26 00:00

JOHANNESBURG — Double SA Open champion Tim Clark and 2011 Masters champion Charl Schwartzel have confirmed their participation in this year’s 102nd South African Open Championship from November 15 to November 18.

The country’s flagship tournament will be contested at the Serengeti Golf and Wildlife Estate for a second consecutive year, and Schwartzel, in particular, is excited to tee it up in the City of Ekurhuleni Aerotropolis, after missing last year’s event.

“I missed last year’s event to represent South Africa at the World Cup with Louis Oosthuizen, so I’m really excited to tee it up this year,” Schwartzel said.

Unlike Clark, who played in the South African Open at Randpark in 2000, the 28-year-old Schwartzel has only ever played in the national Open at the coast since he joined the professional ranks in 2002.

“I’m really excited about this one, because it’s the first time I will play the South African Open up in the Johannesburg area,” said Schwartzel.

In addition to his breakthrough victory in the 2004 Alfred Dunhill Championship, Schwartzel has also won the Open de Espana, Madrid Masters, the Africa Open, two Joburg Opens and the 2011 Masters. But the South African Open still ranks high on his list.

“Everyone wants to win their national Open and it’s no different for me,” he said.

With a third-place finish in 2003 and a runner-up finish in 2005, Schwartzel’s record in the SA Open suggests a victory is not that far off.

Clark, meanwhile, returns in pursuit of his third SA Open title.

“I don’t think Gary Player’s record of 13 SA Open titles will ever be broken, but it would still be very special to have my name on the trophy three times,” he said.

In 2002, Clark had to pre-qualify for the SA Open at Durban Country Club. After winning the qualifier, the Umkomaas professional went on to beat Englishman Steve Webster by two shots to lift the title in front of his home crowd.

Three years later at Durban Country Club, Clark beat Schwartzel and Gregory Havret of France by six shots for his second title.

“I’ll never forget what it was like to win the first time, with all my family and friends there to celebrate with me.

“It was a pretty special occasion, but the second time around was just as exceptional.

“It’s the national Open; every professional I know dreams of winning their national Open.”

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