SA golfers meet European ‘masters’ in Volvo Champs

2012-11-03 15:29

It doesn’t get this exciting. ‘Shrek’, Goosen, Grace versus Olazábal, Monty, Molinari.

Not only will the total prize money of €2 million (R22.5 million) be up for grabs during the Volvo Golf Championship, but national pride will be tested.

The championship tees off at the Durban Country Club from January 10 to 13.

The event will pit a top South African field marshalled by defending champion Brendan Grace and 2010 Open champion Louis “Shrek” Oosthuizen against the recent Ryder Cup triumphant European team comprising Paul Lawrie of Scotland, Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts, and Peter Hanson and Francisco Molinari, who hail from Sweden and Italy, respectively.

Throw into that a fat first prize of €350 000, plus two veterans in Scotsman Colin Montgomerie and José María Olazábal of Spain, and you are bound to have a cracker of a tournament.

Another South African in the mix will be two-time US Open champ Retief Goosen.

The Europeans are expected to give the South Africans tough competition on the unforgiving coastal fairways.

The quartet – Lawrie, Molinari, Colsaerts and Hanson – who have enjoyed a stunning golf season, will get another chance to sharpen their clubs in the Nedbank Golf Challenge at Sun City in Rustenburg from November 29 to December 3.

What is remarkable is the fact that they will be in the best of forms as they will be slicing the local roughs for the second time in a matter of weeks competing in the Volvo showdown.

The two “masters” – Olazábal and Montgomerie – have proved their worth on the course with their great captaincy for the European side.

Olazábal was in charge of the team in September while Montgomerie did the same with the 2010 squad.

Both players have qualified for the Volvo event by winning 10 or more career tournaments on the European Tour.

But for the South African trio, it will be a matter of earning the respect of their followers by sinking those crucial putts to claim the first prize.

Grace, the four-time winner on the European Tour this year alone, is the nation’s brightest spark. Goosen, on the other hand, will head the list of home favourites.

This will be the second year that the Volvo Golf Championship is held in South Africa.

And no one can blame the organisers for brimming with optimism that the event will play a huge role in creating jobs in KwaZulu-Natal for the duration of the tournament.

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