Stars eye SA Open laurels

2010-12-12 16:05

The South African Open will celebrate its 100th event this week, and this important milestone will be reached on the course that is seen as the traditional home of the second ­oldest national Open in golf.

Durban Country Club will host the Open for a record 17th time, welcoming a field including Ernie Els, Retief Goosen, Tim Clark, Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel.

And each is seeking his own special place in South Africa’s golfing history.

Clark is hunting a third title at Durban Country Club. “Gary Player is the most successful golfer in our country’s history and I would love to match just one of his records.

“He won the SA Open three times at Durban Country Club, and this year I have a chance to match that,” said Clark, who won at Durban Country Club in 2002 and 2005.

“Nothing beats coming home and winning in front of your home crowd. You feel like you owe it to your fans to win and to yourself.”

As the reigning British Open champion, Oosthuizen is hoping to add an SA Open title to this, placing him alongside Bobby Locke, Player and Els as the ­only South African golfers to have achieved this.

“It’s the one title every South African player wants to win,” said Oosthuizen, who came close with a tie for third at Pearl Valley in 2007.

“I’d like to win our country’s national Open at least once and get my name on the trophy next to theirs.”

Els and Goosen have both tasted SA Open success before, and as Goosen points out, victory here ranks as among the highlights of any South African golfer’s career.

“There is something indescribable about winning your national Open,” said Goosen, who won in 1995 and December 2005. “I was 26 years old when I won my first title and it was one of the proudest moments of my career.”

“Winning two SA Open titles rates right up there with winning two Majors. The SA Open is steeped in history.

Some of the greatest players of this country have won it. It’s a great feeling to see your name on that trophy next to players like ­Bobby Locke and Gary Player.”

Goosen is also looking ­forward to returning to Durban Country Club for this one.

“I have played there since I was a junior and I have many good memories of the course. I think it’s pretty special that we are back there for the 100th playing.”

Another SA Open star who will be in Durban, not playing but commentating, is Tony Johnstone.

In the summer of 1993, ­Johnstone made SA Open history when he won with a then championship record of ­21-under-par 267.

“Nothing matches winning at Durban Country Club. It is home of the SA Open,” he said.

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