Charl leads SA to St Andrews

Charl Schwartzel will spearhead the 24-man contingent of South Africans headed to the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, which plays out across three courses – The Old Course, Kingsbarns, and Carnoustie – from Thursday.


There are 168 players from 25 countries competing this week, with world number one Rory McIlroy heading into the week as a favourite. Ernie Els is one of four former world number ones who’ll take a crack at the trophy as well.


Branden Grace’s incredible 2012 season included a victory at the Alfed Dunhill Links Championship and in the same tournament George Coetzee equalled the course record at St. Andrews.


South African dominance in world golf and the rich history of the game that comes through at this week’s tournament make it extra special for the local boys.


Players such as Danie van Tonder, who is the leading South African on the Sunshine Tour order of merit, will tee up looking to make their name. The latest Sunshine Tour winner Louis de Jager has a berth, along with 2012 Rookie of the Year Ruan de Smidt.


The promising trio of Merrick Bremner, Trevor Fisher Jnr and Oliver Bekker will be there, all looking to rise from above their success on the Sunshine Tour and become European Tour regulars.


There are plenty of comeback hopefuls as well. George Coetzee will have fond memories of his 2012 roar around The Old Course, while Thomas Aiken savours links golf and will look to return to the world’s top 100.


For the 2014 season youngsters like Thriston Lawrence, Brandon Stone and Haydn Porteous have trialled their skill on the European Challenge Tour and this week they’ll get a chance to compete on the same fairways as McIlroy. If they were ever going to find out what it’s like at the top, this is the week.


For Schwartzel it’s a week of quite determination. He’ll be the South African that all others are looking to for inspiration. The quiet Vereeniging local is constantly on the hunt for four great rounds and this week he’ll need to muster every ounce of focus to achieve that across three tough links courses.


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