An SA golfer could win Augusta

2014-04-06 14:00

Will the absence of four-time US Masters champion Tiger Woods from this year’s tournament spur on a contingent of South African golfers to make their mark in the event?

The showpiece tees off at Augusta National Golf Club, Georgia, in the US from Thursday.

The world’s number 1 golfer will not play after undergoing surgery on a pinched nerve. South Africa will be strongly represented once more at this year’s first major. Five of the country’s cream of the crop – Ernie Els, Trevor Immelman, Charl Schwartzel, Branden Grace and Tim Clark – have been invited to swing their clubs.

Louis Oosthuizen, who inscribed his name in the tournament’s hall of fame in 2012 by hitting an albatross (double eagle) in the second hole of the final round, is a notable omission. His rare achievement was the first since American Gene Sarazen’s albatross feat at the same venue way back in 1935.

But poor form of late as a result of a recurring back injury has put paid to Oosthuizen’s chances of earning a call-up. Another South African, George Coetzee, failed to make the cut because he falls outside the Top 50 in the world.

But the inclusion of the five players has not come by default – they earned the stripes which saw them invited to ­Augusta.

Els qualified by virtue of having won the British Open two years ago, while Schwartzel and Immelman wore green jackets in 2008 and 2011 respectively.

Clark lifted the PGA Players Championship trophy in 2010, which is ranked as the “unofficial major”.

Grace, who finished tied at 18 in last year’s Masters, is a marvel to watch and his drives will undoubtedly pave the way for him next week. The absence of Woods is likely to be marked by dwindling number in the gallery.

With the winner not easy to predict in an event of this magnitude due to the star-studded field, it’s anybody’s guess who will be victorious.

Last year, Australian Adam Scott defied all odds with a birdie on the 72nd hole and forced a play-off with 2009 winner Angel Cabrera to become the first Aussie to win the Masters.

But despite this year’s event being so tough to predict, I fancy a South African.

US Masters Facts

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