SA in spotlight at US Open: The 9 golfers flying the flag high

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South African golfer Garrick Higgo (Getty Images)
South African golfer Garrick Higgo (Getty Images)
Andrew Redington/Getty Images
  • The 121st US Open gets under way in San Diego from Thursday with Bryson DeChambeau looking to defend his title.
  • There will be nine South Africans in the 156-player field at Torrey Pines South Course.
  • The SA contingent is in fine form leading up to the year's third major, with Garrick Higgo winning on the PGA Tour last week.

The 121st US Open gets under way at Torrey Pines Golf Course (South Course) in San Diego on Thursday.

The tournament will feature 156 of the world's best golfers with NINE South Africans in the field.

The last time a South African won a US Open came in 2004 when Retief Goosen secured his second major title at Shinnecock Hills.

Sport24 takes a look at the golfers who will fly the SA flag:

Louis Oosthuizen

Louis Oosthuizen
South African golfer Louis Oosthuizen (AFP/Getty)

Age: 38

World ranking: 18

Best US Open: T2 (2015)

Oosthuizen heads into this week's US Open as South Africa's top-ranked golfer. 

So far, he has had a decent run this year, making a T8 at the Valspar Championship and a co runner-up at last month's PGA Championship at Kiawah Island. Oosthuizen secured his fifth second-place finish at the Major since his sole Open Championship title in 2010.

At last year's US Open at Winged Foot, Oosthuizen finished third as American Bryson DeChambeau picked up his maiden title.

Oosthuizen will get under way on Thursday at 22:47 SA time with American Patrick Cantlay and South Korea's Sungjae Im.

Garrick Higgo

Garrick Higgo
South African golfer Garrick Higgo (AFP/Getty)

Age: 22

World ranking: 39

Best US Open: Debut

Higgo will be making his US Open debut after being inside the Top 60 in the world rankings on the May cut-off date.

Higgo's achievements over the past few months have been unreal, claiming two European Tour titles and clinching his maiden PGA Tour title.

Last week, Higgo turned heads as he came from behind to win the Palmetto Championship title at Congaree in only his second PGA Tour start.

His first PGA Tour event was last month's PGA Championship, where Higgo finished T64 at Kiawah Island before scoring eight birdies in his final round of 69.

He will tee off alongside Joaquin Niemann of Chile and American amateur Cole Hammer at 22:03 SA time.

Christiaan Bezuidenhout

Christiaan Bezuidenhout
South African golfer Christiaan Bezuidenhout (Getty)

Age: 27

World ranking: 46

Best US Open: 55th

Bezuidenhout will make his second US Open appearance as he continues to tick off Major appearances this year.

While he hasn't had the title-winning success of last year, Bezuidenhout has shifted and played most of his golf on the PGA Tour this season.

He finished seventh at the March's Arnold Palmer Invitational and T30 at last month's PGA Championship in San Fransisco.

Bezuidenhout is paired alongside fellow countrymen Erik van Rooyen and Charl Schwartzel with their opening round starting at 21:52 SA time.

Branden Grace

Branden Grace
South African golfer Branden Grace (Getty Images)

Age: 33

World ranking: 71

Best US Open: T4 (2015)

Grace will be making his ninth US Open appearance and earned his spot at a US Open qualifying event at the Bears Club in Jupiter.

In February, Grace picked up his second PGA Tour title at the Puerto Rico Open. Since that victory, he has played in seven PGA Tour events - only missing one cut thus far.

After withdrawing from May's Charles Schwab, Grace stepped up and produced a fourth-place finish at this month's Memorial.

Grace hasn't had the best US Open performance - failing to make the cut in his last two tournaments.

Maybe Torrey Pines will turn Grace's Major fortunes around ...

Grace will get his opening round under way on Thursday at 22:58 SA time alongside American duo Kevin Streelman and Charley Hoffman.

Erik van Rooyen

Erik van Rooyen
Erik van Rooyen. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

Age: 31

World ranking: 86

Best US Open: T23 (2020)

Van Rooyen will make his third US Open appearance after sitting on top of the leaderboard at the qualifier at the Brookside Golf and Country Club and the Lakes Golf and Country Club in Ohio.

Van Rooyen has been busy on the PGA Tour since earning a special temporary membership card for this season.

In his last five PGA Tour events, Van Rooyen only made the cut once but finished T10 at last week's Palmetto Championship at Congaree.

At last year's US Open, he finished tied for 23rd at Winged Foot.

He will tee off 21:52 SA time at alongside fellow countrymen Charl Schwartzel and Christiaan Bezuidenhout.

Dylan Frittelli

Dylan Frittelli
South African golfer Dylan Frittelli (PA/Supplied)

Age - 31

World ranking - 89

Best US Open - Missed cut

Frittelli will be playing in his second US Open and first since 2018 after missing the cut.

The Texas-resident golfer qualified for this week at a qualifier event in Ohio and has some fond memories at Torrey Pines.

In 2007, a 17-year-old Frittelli won the Junior World Golf Championship's 15-17-year boys division in San Diego.

Frittelli is no stranger to winning in the US after his PGA Tour victory at the 2019 John Deere Classic.

So far, his best result in the US saw him tied for 20th at the WGC-St Jude Invitational.

Despite his T9 at March's WGC-Match Play, the 31-year-old has missed five of his last eight cuts.

Frittelli will get his opening round under way alongside Scot Martin Laird and South Korea's K.H. Lee at 17:24 SA time.

Charl Schwartzel

Charl Schwartzel
South African golfer Charl Schwartzel (AFP)

Age - 36

World ranking - 110

Best US Open - 7 (2015)

Schwartzel will be competing in his first US Open since 2018 and earned his spot for this week through the qualifiers.

After bouncing back from injury, Schwartzel has rediscovered his form. He and Oosthuizen lost in a playoff battle in the Zurich Classic and he finished T3 at last month's Byron Nelson. 

The 2011 Masters champion has played in 14 tournaments this year, only missing four cuts and making three Top 20s.

He is paired alongside fellow countryman Christiaan Bezuidenhout and Erik van Rooyen in his opening two rounds. 

Wilco Nienaber

Wilco Nienaber
South African golfer Wilco Nienaber (Gallo/Sunshine Tour)

Age: 21

World ranking: 141

Best US Open: Debut

Nienaber will be making his US Open debut this week after leading the Sunshine Tour's Order of Merit.

Nienaber clinched his maiden Sunshine Tour title at the Dimension Data Pro-Am in Fancourt in May.

The 21-year-old big-hitter caught the golfing world's attention at last week's Palmetto Championship where he finished T14.

Playing in his debut PGA Tour event, Nienaber turned heads as he averaged 357.2 yards off the tee. 

He will certainly be one to watch out for this weekend!

Nienaber is paired alongside American Cameron Young and Guido Migliozzi of Italy and will tee off on Thursday at 16:07 SA time.

Thomas Aiken

Thomas Aiken
South African golfer Thomas Aiken (Gallo/Sunshine Tour)

Age: 37

World ranking: 1672

Best US Open: Missed Cut

Aiken will be making his first Major appearance since 2017, when he tees off in his third US Open.

The 37-year-old will make a welcome return after stepping back from the game to look after his family.

Aiken competed in the US Open qualifying site at the Bear's Club - where he is a member and now resides in Jupiter, Florida.

He has only played in one tournament in January's Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, where he missed the cut.

Aiken will be the first South African to tee off on Thursday at 15:07 SA time alongside American Andy Pope and Australian Brad Kennedy.

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