Abery gets his chance in Europe

Warren Abery is one of three South African players who earned their European Tour cards late last year who get their chance at last at this week’s Open de Andalucía Costa del Sol in Spain.

The other two are Darren Fichardt and Alex Haindl, and they will join Jbe’ Kruger, Hennie Otto, Richard Sterne, Jaco van Zyl, James Kingston and Keith Horne in the field for the event which Louis Oosthuizen won in 2010 ahead of his runaway victory in the Open Championship.

This year will be the sixth staging of the event which has been played across the Andalucian coastline since 2007, most recently last year at the Parador de Malaga Golf where Paul Lawrie picked up his first win on the European Tour since 2002.

This season will see the players return to the Aloha Golf Club where Lee Westwood and Thomas Levet won in 2007 and 2008 respectively.

For Abery, who won the Telkom PGA Championship in 2005, and took the Nashua Masters on the Wild Coast twice in 2006 and 2008, it is a chance to show that his seven Sunshine Tour titles make him a threat any time he tees it up outside South Africa.

His most recent title came in the Nedbank Affinity Cup last November, after which he went to Spain and finished in 16th spot in the Final Qualifying Stage – Fichardt and Haindl were 18th and 25th respectively.

It’s been a quiet start to 2012 on the Sunshine Tour for Abery: His best finish was a share of 24th in the European Tour co-sanctioned Joburg Open, but he has been waiting for his opportunity to get the European adventure underway.

It is the second time he will be trying his hand in Europe: On the back of his third place finish in the 2004 dunhill championship and his good 2004-2005 season, he campaigned in Europe and his best performances were a share of 11th in the Madeira Open and seventh in the TCL Classic on Hainan Island on China.

Most recently, he finished 12th in the Joburg Open in 2010 behind Charl Schwartzel.

Fichardt has two European Tour victories to his name: He won the 2001 Sao Paulo Brazil Open and the 2003 Qatar Masters. Haindl campaigned on the Challenge Tour last year, but he got two starts on the European Tour, and converted the opportunity he had at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship into an 18th-place finish.

Of the other South Africans in the field, only Van Zyl and Horne have yet to win on the European Tour. However, they both have victories in the Telkom PGA Championship to their credit – Horne most recently last month – and they both have the ability to break their duck soon.

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