Johannesburg - Richard Sterne will be seeking his third Joburg Open title when the co-sanctioned European/Sunshine Tour event starts at Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club on Thursday.
Sterne won the 2008 event and again in 2013, while George Coetzee won it last year. The others who have won it since its inception -- Ariel Canete, Anders Hansen, Charl Schwartzel and Branden Grace -- were not scheduled to compete this week.
Sterne, with six-time Sunshine Tour titles and six on the European Tour, said starting well would be key in his search for victory.
"My results haven’t been good the last few weeks," said Sterne.
"I need to find my game again and there is no better place than here to start. If I can get healthy and feel good for Thursday I think I can get off to a good start."
Sterne decided to concentrate his efforts on the US PGA Tour this year in an attempt to secure his playing privileges there, but had a poor start to his campaign.
"I’ve missed six cuts in a row there," said Sterne.
"It’s been a horrendous start for me and I need to keep my card somewhere, so I’m under a bit of pressure with that. I haven’t been playing very well, so that hasn’t made it easier. I’m in a bit of a tricky situation, but I’m looking forward to America."
A return to a venue where he had been successful could prove a catalyst for his game said Sterne.
"I’m looking forward to playing in South Africa, I enjoy it," he said.
"I always try to come back and play here. I enjoy the look of the golf courses and I’ve done well here, but I’ve also missed cuts. It’s strange.
"Hopefully this year I can put myself in contention and if I can then I know that I can shoot low scores around here. I’ve got the game to do it."
Ball striking around the Highveld layout would be key to scoring said Sterne.
"If I’m hitting it well then I feel like I can do just about anything with the golf ball. It’s been a while since I’ve had that feeling. It’s starting to come right and to control distance you need to be able to control the flight. I haven’t had any results yet, so I’m not too amped up yet.
"It would be nice to have a round of golf where I hit the ball well, make some putts, and walk off the golf course with a bit confidence. If I can do that then I think it will be a good few weeks."