Golf’s elite in Durban

2014-01-08 00:00

THIRTY-FIVE of golf’s biggest names have descended on Durban Country Club where they are putting in their final preparations for the European Tour’s opening event in 2014 — the Volvo Golf Champions, which gets under way tomorrow.

The tournament, which offers a whopping $4 million (R42,5 million) in prize money ($700 000 to the winner), is exclusive in that it is only open to those who won European Tour events in 2012 and those who have won more than 10 European Tour events over their careers. South Africa’s Branden Grace is the only exception and he lines up this week by virtue of being a past champion (2012) — the only other way a player can be a part of the competition.

There are no fewer than seven South Africans in the field this year following the late withdrawal of Ernie Els, with Grace, Darren Fichardt, Louis Oosthuizen, Thomas Aiken, Charl Schwartzel, Richard Sterne and Dawie van der Walt left flying the local flag.

The quality of the field is unquestionable, with names such as Thomas Bjorn (Denmark), Paul Casey, Jamie Donaldson (Wales), Colin Montgomerie (Scotland), Darren Clarke (England), Padraig Harrington (Ireland) and José Maria Olazabal (Spain) standing out.

Bjorn — winner of the Nedbank Golf Challenge at Sun City last month — was in high spirits at DCC yesterday, and has tipped the South African pairing of Schwartzel and Oosthuizen to be this week’s major threat.

“Charl is the best player in the field this week and he is world class, and Louis probably has the best swing in world golf right now,” Bjorn told reporters. “They have always been difficult to play against and the SA boys always know what they are capable of.”

Schwartzel is ranked 18th in the world at the moment — higher than anyone else in the field. But Bjorn, playing some of the best golf of his life towards the end of last year at the age of 42, has not written off his own chances, saying that he believes the DCC course will suit his game. “It is a good golf course and a nice place to come. It is not the longest course in the world, which suits me,” he said.

“You look to stay out of the bushes and try to get around in decent numbers, and then hopefully come Sunday you are in a position where you can do something. I go into this tournament with a lot of belief that I can compete with the best in the world again.”

Grace was equally optimistic about the chances of a South African winning this week.

“All the South African guys were steady last year,” he said. “We all know what it takes to win and it can go anybody’s way.”

Grace added that the Durban heat would likely have a part to play over the next four days.

“It can get tough out there and it is important to stay hydrated,” he said. “But on a course like this, if you get it right you can really shoot some low numbers.”

Gates at DCC open at 8 am tomorrow and the first pairing is expected to tee off at around 9.40 am.

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


6 myths about male cancer

It is important to be aware of the most prevalent cancer diseases amongst men in our country.


You won't want to miss...

Who are the highest paid models of 2017?
10 gorgeous plus-sized models who aren't Ashley Graham
WATCH: Pornhub is giving users free access to premium content these holidays
5 top leg exercises for men
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.