Africa Open defending champion Louis Oosthuizen was the lord of East London Golf Club last year and broke par during every round before claiming victory in a playoff with Manuel Quiros and Chris Wood.
The former Open Champion will once again prove a tough foe for the 156 contenders who will take on the Â1-million tournament come Thursday.
ÂI feel good, and itÂs great to be back. I have been working hard on my accuracy and I think that is key around this course. For me this is a really great way to start off the year and to perform well at this event sets up the season,Â he said.
Oosthuizen closed out 2011 in style Â sixth-place at the Dubai Championship marked five consecutive top-10 finishes for the 29-year-old. A break over the festive period gave the Mossel Bay local a chance to relax, but on Wednesday he felt he had not lost the momentum he had built over the closing stages of 2011.
ÂI think the momentum stays. I played really well over the last three months of 2011, but I played nine events in 11 weeks and the break was needed. Now IÂm back and IÂm feeling strong,Â he said.
At just 6120 metres, the East London course uses the coastal breeze to present a true challenge for golfers. With little wind forecast for the week, scores can be expected to go low, and Oosthuizen added: ÂI hope the wind picks up a bit through week, or there will be plenty of birdies out there and it will make the tournament very interesting.Â
Fellow major champion Retief Goosen showed his affinity for the event in 2009 when he shot 66, 70, 66, 65 and earned a 21-under-par tally, snatching victory from Branden Grace.
The Goose was optimistic ahead of event and said: ÂIÂve always enjoyed starting my season at the Africa Open and I hope that this yearÂs tournament will spark another return to form for me.Â
2011 Sunshine Tour Order of Merit winner Garth Mulroy expected a real battle over this weekÂs 72 holes. ÂIÂm expecting a very tightly contested tournament,Â he said. ÂThe guys may have taken time off over the festive season, but you can bet your bottom dollar that come the first week of January, they will all be back in tournament mode.Â
Oosthuizen was definitely in tournament mode on Wednesday and said: ÂIt was good to have a break from golf, but now itÂs back to playing. I feel good and there are a lot of birdies out there.Â