SA golfers sink in world rankings

2013-05-31 00:00

THE latest Professional Golf Association world rankings show that there are five South African golfers in the top 50. The rankings were updated earlier this week and the SA golfers in the top 50 are: Louis Oosthuizen (eighth), Charl Schwartzel (15th), Ernie Els (21st), Branden Grace (30th) and Tim Clark (46th). Richard Sterne is 52nd and George Coetzee is 54th.

Five years ago, Retief Goosen was ranked 19th and he is now ranked 153rd, although he has only recently returned to golf after a back operation. Ernie Els was 20th, Tim Clark was 36th and Rory Sabbatini was 41st, but is now a disappointing 220th. Trevor Immelman has also dropped well down the rankings. He is now 260th.

The rankings are important for entry into the bigger tournaments and the top 60 ranked golfers in the world will be invited to the U.S. Open, due to be played at Merion in two weeks’ time. There are special exemptions from Europe and Japan, and they are selected by the United States Golf Association.

It seems that Jaco van Zyl will be invited and Retief Goosen will be playing because he has won the U.S. Open within the past 10 years, in 2001 and 2004. Merion has hosted only four previous U.S. Opens: in 1934 when Olin Dutra won, 1950 (Ben Hogan), 1971 (Lee Trevino) and 1981 (David Graham).

The course has hosted a number of high-profile tournaments, such as the U.S. Amateur, the U.S. Women’s Amateur, the Curtis Cup, the Walker Cup and the Eisenhower Trophy. The Merion East course is 18 km from Philadelphia. It is consistently rated by Golf Digest as one the best courses in the U.S. It is a par-70, with only two par fives, which are in the first four holes (the second and the fourth).

The course was in the past considered short, but it has been lengthened in recent years to 6 400 metres, which still isn’t long. The fairways will be narrow and the greens slick. One interesting feature is that all of the flag sticks have red-painted wicker baskets on top, instead of the usual flags. The effect is that the baskets are visible no matter which way the wind is blowing, but they don’t indicate the direction of the wind. The wicker baskets have been used at Merion since 1916, and are featured in the club’s logo.

From the 19th hole:

THREE old golfers, Sam, Harry and Fred, were sitting together after their weekly game of golf. This is what they were overheard saying to each other.

Sam said: “At my age, the fairways are getting longer and the holes are getting smaller.”

Harry said: “The only time I ever took out a one-iron was to kill a tarantula. And I took a seven to do that.”

Fred said: “Golf is a cruel game. When you finally get old enough to afford to lose new golf balls, you can’t hit them far enough to lose them.”

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