Double SA Open champion Tim Clark and 2011 Masters champion Charl Schwartzel have confirmed their participation in this yearÂs 102nd South African Open Championship from 15-18 November.
The countryÂs flagship tournament will be contested at the Serengeti Golf and Wildlife Estate for a second consecutive year and Schwartzel, in particular, is excited to tee it up in the City of Ekurhuleni Aerotropolis after missing last yearÂs event.
ÂI missed last yearÂs event to represent South Africa at the World Cup with Louis Oosthuizen, so IÂm really excited to tee it up this year,Â Schwartzel said.
Unlike Clark, who played in the South African Open at Randpark in 2000, the 28-year-old Schwartzel has only ever played in the national Open at the coast since he joined the professional ranks in 2002. ÂIÂm really excited about this one, because itÂs the first time I will play the South African Open up in the Johannesburg area,Â said Schwartzel.
In addition to his breakthrough victory in the 2004 Alfred Dunhill Championship, Schwartzel has also won the Open de Espana, Madrid Masters, the Africa Open, two Joburg Opens and the 2011 Masters. But the South African Open still ranks high on his list.
ÂEveryone wants to win their national Open and itÂs no different for me,Â he said. ÂThe South African Open Championship is the one that I would really like to win if I can.Â
With a third-place finish in 2003 and a runner-up finish in 2005, SchwartzelÂs record in the SA Open suggests a victory is not that far off.
Clark, meanwhile, returns in pursuit of his third SA Open title. ÂI donÂt think Gary PlayerÂs record of 13 SA Open titles will ever be broken, but it would still be very special to have my name on the trophy three times,Â he said.
In 2002 Clark had to pre-qualify for the SA Open at Durban Country Club. After winning the qualifier, the Umkomaas professional went on to beat Englishman Steve Webster by two shots to lift the title in front of his home crowd.
Three years later at Durban Country Club, Clark beat Schwartzel and Gregory Havret of France by six shots for his second title.
ÂIÂll never forget what it was like to win the first time, with all my family and friends there to celebrate with me. It was a pretty special occasion but the second time around was just as exceptional. ItÂs the national Open; every professional I know dreams of winning their national Open.Â