Sunshine Tour

SA golfers’ world rankings plunge

Charl Schwartzel. (Gallo Images)
Charl Schwartzel. (Gallo Images)

Johannesburg - While South African professional golfers continue to take a plunge in world ratings due to poor showing, Sunshine Tour executive director Selwyn Nathan believes it is not all doom and gloom.

A quick glance at the current standings shows there are no local players in the top 10 on the official world golf ranking list – a system for rating the performance level of male professional golfers competing at the highest level globally.

Local golfers

According to this week’s listings, Charl Schwartzel is the country’s highest-ranked player in a disappointing 20th position.

This is in sharp contrast to the period during which he played the best golf of his career, finishing sixth in 2012.

In the same year, he finished tied for fourth at the WGC-Cadillac Championship at Doral Golf Resort & Spa in Doral, Florida.

Schwartzel’s respectable placing was also boosted by his 2011 Masters victory by two shots at Augusta National.

But his form seems to have deserted him this year as he has not laid his hands on any silverware.

By this time last year, he had already won the Tshwane Open at the Pretoria Country Club in February and the Valspar Championship on the PGA Tour at Innisbrook, Florida, in March.

But Nathan is confident that local golfers will bounce back in the near future.

“With some world golf championship matches and majors – the British Open and PGA Championship – still to be played, we are hopeful that South Africans will do well and improve their world rankings,” said Nathan.

Winning formula

The British Open will be played at Royal Birkdale Golf Course in Southport, England, from July 20 to 23. The PGA Championship will tee off at Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, North Carolina, on August 10.

Louis Oosthuizen, who was fourth in 2013 after winning the Volvo Golf Champions, is the second-highest ranked South African at 24.

The 2010 British Open king has had an inconsistent season as he has not captured a single trophy from the 11 events he has played in Europe and the US.

Branden Grace, the country’s top-ranked player globally last year at number 17, is now 34th.

He claimed victory at two contests last year – the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters at Doha Golf Club in January and the RBC Heritage at Harbour Town Golf Links in South Carolina in April.

Having played in 14 matches so far this season, Grace is yet to lift a trophy.

South African players have not been consistent enough to find a winning formula that will enable them to compete against some of the world’s finest players, such as Americans Jordan Spieth and Dustin Johnson, who is comfortably ranked in first place.

Once ranked number one, Ernie Els held on to that spot for a long time when compared with his current compatriots’ stay at the top (see graphic).

Local players should be consistent on overseas courses if they are to win and command good ratings status and respect.

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