The diminuitive Pretorian raced to 27-under-par during his Joburg Open victory in January, and ranks second in stroke average on the European Tour this year. He’s fifth in the Race to Dubai, simply because he makes birdies… and lots of them.
And birdies are exactly what the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational is all about. Despite Firestone Country Club playing to a par of 70, the lowest winning total for a WGC there is six-under-par.
Last year Keegan Bradley produced a Sunday 64 on his way to a 13-under-par winning total, while in 2011 Adam Scott played his way to a 17-under-par victory.
Sterne is the type of player who likes to tackle the course, as his results show. At the 142nd Open Championship he pulled a Saturday 68 out of his hat and finished tied for 21st, 10 places better than his Scottish Open result a week before.
At the Alstom Open de France in early July he finished second to an indomitable Graeme McDowell, but the golf the South African played at Le Golf National proved his mettle yet again. Not that six European Tour titles haven’t proved enough already.
This week's host state of Ohio is a far cry from Europe, yet Sterne knows the drill when it comes to WGC events. This season he took home 17th at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship, and followed that up with a tie for 12th at the WGC-Cadillac Championship.
While his results at the WGC-Bridgestone leave something to be desired, Sterne is a different player to what he was in 2008, which was the last time he teed up at Firestone Country Club.
Five years on Sterne is 34th in the world and looking to climb. He’s in good shape and playing well, the only adjustment he still needs to make is to the style of golf that wins on the PGA Tour. But, then again, Sterne is no longer a fresh face on the scene; he’s a dark horse preparing to rear.