SA charge at the Open Championship

Ernie Els (AFP)
Ernie Els (AFP)

Cape Town - The 144th Open Championship gets under way at St Andrews this week and there are EIGHT South Africans in the field. 

Branden Grace and Louis Oosthuizen came close last month at the US Open, sparking a renewed belief in the South African charge. Then there is Ernie Els, who was the surprise winner of the tournament in 2012 after Louis Oosthuizen won at St Andrews just two years earlier. 

Will one of our boys be able to get themselves in the mix on Sunday?

Here's how they are all shaping up heading into the tournament. 


Age - 32

Ranking - 17

Best Open - Winner (2010)

Oosthuizen is the form South African at The Open. His final three rounds at the US Open on a difficult Chambers Bay course were ruthless and he played some of the best golf seen that week. He was fearless, attacked the pins and he managed to sink putts from distance. Oosthuizen's Open triumph in 2010 came at St Andrews. That combined with his current form means that he is one to watch out for.  


Age - 27

Ranking - 29

Best Open - T36 (2014)

The spotlight has been firmly on Grace since he came so close at the US Open - that shanked drive on the 16th proving costly. He responded by missing the cut at the Travelers Championship before finishing T17 at the Scottish Open last week. Still, Grace has climbed the world rankings into the top 30 for the first time since July 2013 and he will be backing himself to keep improving at The Open.


Age - 30

Ranking - 40

Best Open - T7 (2014)

Schwartzel also found some form at the US Open, finishing in seventh. It looks like he is finding some rhythm once again after having battled for the past couple of years. Schwartzel, once SA's highest ranked player, has slumped to 40th and will be desperate for a good showing at The Open. 


Age - 28

Ranking - 65

Best Open - 15 (2011)

Since winning the Mauritius Open back in May Coetzee has struggled on the European Tour. In fact, a T69 at the Irish Open is his best result in four tournament starts since then. It doesn't make for the best reading and Coetzee will go into this week with nothing to lose at all. His record at The Open is good, with two top-20s in the last four years. If he could repeat that at St Andrews he would be a very happy man. 


Age - 45

Ranking - 110

Best Open - Winner (2002, 2012)

Els has actually shown some glimpses of form in recent months, but he has struggled to string four good rounds together. He has been cut from his last two tournaments since the US Open. Els shocked the golfing world when he won his second Open title in 2012 - 10 years after his last Major victory, which also came at The Open. It would be a fairy-tale, but expecting Els to go the distance at St Andrews is probably asking for too much. 


Age - 36

Ranking - 116

Best Open - Debut

Van Zyl qualified for The Open by finishing third at this month's France Open. He went into that final round two shots clear and butchered what would have been the biggest win of his career, but it was enough to get him to St Andrews this week and he will be soaking up every moment. 


Age - 31

Ranking - 125

Best Open - T7 (2012)

Aiken actually doesn't have a bad Open record, with two top-10s since 2009. He's bashed away on the European Tour this year without much success - four top-10s in 14 starts his record. It is hard to see Aiken threatening anybody this week, but stranger things have happened. 


Age - 46

Ranking - 209

Best Open - T5 (2005, 2009)

Goosen booked his spot at The Open the hard way through a qualification tournament. He continues to seek the form that made him one of the greatest golfers that South Africa has ever seen, and hopefully he finds some of it at St Andrews.

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