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Goosen inducted in World Golf Hall of FameGoosen inducted in World Golf Hall of FameThe World Golf Hall of Fame’s membership grew to 160 on Monday as Dennis Walters, Jan Stephenson, Peggy Kirk Bell, Retief Goosen and Billy Payne received Golf’s Highest Honor during the 2019 Induction Ceremony at the Sunset Center in Carmel-By-The-Sea, Calif. Just three days before the 119th U.S. Open Championship kicks off in nearby Pebble Beach, past champions and 28 fellow Hall of Fame Members returned to celebrate the Class of 2019 Inductees including the Co-Chairs of the Selection Commission, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Nancy Lopez and Annika Sorenstam. “We send our sincere congratulations to the esteemed members of the World Golf Hall of Fame Class of 2019,” said Greg McLaughlin, CEO of World Golf Foundation. “It is a special evening with so many returning Hall of Fame Members as we kick off the 119th U.S. Open Championship.” In addition to the Hall of Fame Members and World Golf Foundation Board of Directors, other notable guests include Augusta National Chairman Fred Ridley, former PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem, and former Secretary of State and Augusta National Golf Club Member – one of the first female members under Payne’s tenure as Chairman – Condoleezza Rice. Emceed by well-known TV reporter Terry Gannon, the ceremony was broadcasted live on Golf Channel with additional streaming on SiriusXM’s PGA TOUR Radio. First to receive the Induction Crystal was Dennis Walters, presented by his longtime friends Jack and Barbara Nicklaus. Walters, who was paralyzed at age 24 after a golf cart accident, gave an emotional speech about his journey to become the inspiration he is today, which was further accentuated with an awe-inspiring moment when Walters rose out of his wheelchair and walked to the podium to give his Induction speech. “On the day competitive golf was taken away from [Dennis], that’s the day his legacy began,” said Jack Nicklaus, World Golf Hall of Fame Class of 1974. “Dennis took what most of us would view as a weakness and made it a strength. After tonight, Dennis will be remembered by one more honor to add by those he’s already received – World Golf Hall of Fame Member.” Next up was Australian icon and golf legend, Jan Stephenson. The “Glamour Girl” of the LPGA in the ‘70s and ‘80s, Stephenson was presented with a video tribute from friend and actress, Jane Seymour. Stephenson reminisced about the moment her career took off when then-Commissioner Ray Volpe asked her to become the face of the LPGA. From 1974 - 1987, Stephenson was a force on the Tour, winning 16 times including three Major Championships. Shortly after, Peggy Kirk Bell’s family paid tribute to her legacy in a video played for the audience. Bell, who was a Charter Member of the LPGA Tour, amateur champion and winner of the 1949 Titleholders Championship, is being celebrated for her lifetime of achievements as a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame. Bell’s two daughters and son accepted the Induction Crystal on her behalf. Gary Player took to the stage next to introduce fellow South African and two-time U.S. Open Champion, Retief Goosen. Goosen joins Ernie Els and Player – who were both present at the Induction Ceremony – as well as Bobby Locke as the fourth South African to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. Goosen remarked on his golf career, sharing his love for the game from early on in his life. He recalled the time when he was struck by lightning on the golf course at the age of 15. He beat the odds after quickly recovering and returning to the golf course just a few weeks later, going on to win two U.S. Opens among his 33 worldwide wins. Last to the podium was Chairman Emeritus of Augusta National Golf Club, Billy Payne, who received the Induction Crystal from his close friend and current Augusta National Chairman Fred Ridley. Chairman Ridley acknowledged Payne’s “enthusiasm for life, his total commitment to excellence and his passion for our sport [which] has been a great inspiration.” After receiving his Crystal, Payne congratulated his fellow Inductees and Hall of Fame Members. “Every single one of you is a personal hero of mine, and I’m honored to share the stage with you tonight,” said Payne.  
South Africans in this week's US OpenSouth Africans in this week's US OpenWhen Erik van Rooyen tees off on the first at Pebble Beach on Thursday morning, he will lead a group of eight South African professionals into action in the first round of the third major championship of the year, the US Open. He will be joined at the same time off the 10th tee by Dean Burmester, another of four South Africans who played their way into the field in Sectional Qualifying last week. Like Burmester, Justin Walters and Merrick Bremner hit the jackpot in England, while Van Rooyen got into the field via one of the Sectional Qualifying events in the United States. The highest-ranked South African in the field is Louis Oosthuizen, who is 22nd on the Official World Golf Ranking, while Justin Harding is 47th this week. Branden Grace as slipped to 54th in the world, but he has had some close shaves in the US Open – notably in 2015 when just a single wayward tee shot probably cost him victory. Ernie Els, the 1994 and 1997 US Open champion, scored an invitation to Pebble Beach this year and he is joined in the field by his nephew, South African amateur star Jovan Rebula. It’s not certain whether it’s accurate to call Slovakian (by way of Durban) Rory Sabbatini South African any more, but he is also in the field at Pebble Beach. And there is certainly reason to keep an eye on 2018 Cape Town Open winner Rhys Enoch, the Welshman who has been playing on the Sunshine Tour for a number of years. He also qualified for the US Open at Walton Heath in England.    
Fantastic Higgo clinches Sun City titleFantastic Higgo clinches Sun City titleFantastic Higgo clinches Sun City title Garric Higgo showed some serious big match temperament in the final round of the Sun City Challenge, carding a three-under-par 69 to claim his first Sunshine Tour win in just three months after earning his playing card at Qualifying School. Higgo entered the final round trailing Jaco van Zyl by two shots at four-under-par for the week. A birdie on his first hole kicked off his round but those gains were soon lost as he went on to make back-to-back bogeys after the par he made on the second. He made a birdie on the fifth hole and two pars later, he picked two birdies on the trot, on the eighth and the ninth, to turn in 34. His back nine was just as eventful, making two bogeys and three birdies to sing for a tournament total of seven-under-par 209 and win by one shot. “I’m still stressed but I’m sure it will sink in a bit later,” said Higgo. “I’m very happy, happy that my family was here to witness it. But it was a difficult three days but I got it done. I played really well throughout.” He came in in a share of third at the Zanaco Masters earlier in the season and has a Big Easy Tour win under his belt already, and at a very challenging Gary Player Country Club layout, Higgo proved he can compete at the highest level. “I was in contention in Zambia and I remember on the one hole I kind of threw it away because I thought I was out of it,” revealed Higgo, “but for the whole day today I knew that whether I win or not, I will be up there. This win takes a lot of pressure off me for the rest of the year. My goal was to play some co-sanctioned events, and obviously, you need to make a certain amount of one but with the win now, it puts me ahead of schedule.” Higgo showed maturity out there, shrugging off pressure from such players as Ockie Strydom who finished runner-up and Jaco van Zyl whose game looks like it’s taking shape again. Kyle Barker also had a great tournament in Sun City, sharing the fourth spot with the in-form JC Ritchie. Veteran Keith Horne, Jaco Ahlers, Ryan Cairns, Rhys West and last year’s champion, Neil Schietekat shared the sixth spot at two-under-par.
Van Zyl in slender lead at Sun City 1Van Zyl in slender lead at Sun CityVan Zyl in slender lead at Sun City Jaco van Zyl backed up his opening-round 70 of the Sun City Challenge with an eventful four-under-par 68 to total six-under for the tournament, taking a single-stroke lead into the final round at the Gary Player Country Club. Starting from the 10th tee in round two, the 14-time Sunshine Tour winner didn’t make a single birdie on that stretch, making a bogey on the 13th, his fourth hole, instead. “I got off to a slow start this morning,” he admitted, “and I didn’t really get anything going. But I managed to get it back to even-par and then I got on a nice little birdie-run and it swung the momentum a little bit.” After turning in 37, Van Zyl knew he had to dig deep and produce something special if he had any chance of contending for a win in Sun City, and he did so in some style. He was happy to take par on his 10th hole, the first of the golf course, before going birdie-eagle-birdie to get himself in the mix. He was not finished, however, because after the bogey he made on his 15th hole, he made further gains, birdieing the 16th and the last holes to sign for a 68. “The game has been there for a while,” he said of the state of his game at present. “I’m just trying to stay patient, work hard on it. There are tell-tale signs of it coming back. I’ve only been at it for seven months, and considering 14 months not playing this game is a really long time. But it’s coming together nicely.” Hot on his heels and a shot adrift is the defending champion, Neil Schietekat. His blemish-free 69 took his total to five-under for the week and within a real chance of defending the title that ended his half a decade winless run. He is followed by JC Ritchie who has been in scintillating form, along with exciting rookie, Garrick Higgo at four-under-par and two shots off Van Zyl’s lead. After his impressive 66 in round one, Kyle Barker, a rookie himself, struggled properly in round two, shooting a 75 and dropping his total to three-under for the tournament and lies fifth on the leaderboard.  
Barker takes round one lead at Sun CityBarker takes round one lead at Sun CityBarker takes round one lead at Sun City Kyle Barker carded a near-perfect six-under-par 66 to take to the summit of the leaderboard after the opening round of this year’s Sun City Challenge at the Gary Player Country Club. Coming into the tournament with zero expectations, by his own admission, and at the back of the 80 he shot during the practice round earlier in the week, Barker needed to pick himself up and did just that on Wednesday. He was two-under-par and bogey-free on the front nine but then he went on a healthy birdie-run on the homeward stretch, picking up birdies on the 11th, 12th and the par-five 14th, before making his only bogey of the day on the 15th. “It was an unbelievable day, really,” Barker said after his round. “It was nice to make a few putts. I’m known as a good ball-striker so if I make the putts, then I’m going to have a low score.” He steadied himself after the dropped shot on the 15th, taking a par on the 16th, before closing his round with back-to-back birdies to take a two-stroke lead going into the second round. “I am happy with any score under-par on this course,” he said of this challenging golf course. “I’ve been coming here since I was two years old for the Nedbank Golf Challenge and I’ve always dreamed of shooting a low score here but to actually do it feels pretty good.” Jaco Ahlers signed for a 68 – and admitted that it’s his first score in the sixties on this course –  and shares the second spot on the leaderboard with Jacques de Villiers, veteran Titch Moore and JC Ritchie. A shot further and sixth on the leaderboard, rookie Garrick Higgo continued with his great form, carding a three-under 69 on day one. David McIntyre, James Allan, Jaco van Zyl, the defending Neil Schietekat, Jacques Blaauw, Toto Thimba, Rhys West and Jason Froneman share the seventh spot after they all shot two-under-par 70 to kick start things in Sun City.  
Sun City Challenge: What’s what 1Sun City Challenge: What’s whatSun City Challenge: What’s what The Sun City Challenge is going back to Gary Player Country Club and tees off on Wednesday 5 June and finishes on Friday 7 June. The prize fund for this year is increased to R1-million from R800,000 last year. The tournament was a first played in 2016, but it has a predecessor called the Nashua Golf Challenge which was played from 2007 up until 2011 and was held at the Gary Player Country Club, although from 2007 to 2009 the second round of the Nashua Golf Challenge was played at Lost City Golf Course. From 2012 to 2015, the Sun City Challenge was held at Lost City, before returning to Gary Player Country Club from 2016. Keith Horne and Adilson da Silva are the only players who have won the title twice. Horne won in 2008 and 2015 while Da Silva, the Brazilian who has made his home in South Africa, won in 2011 and 2013. Da Silva also holds the lowest winning score of 14-under in 2011 with a brilliant closing 63 on Gary Player Country Club. Horne carded 13-under for his 2015 victory. Out of 10 previous winners of the title, four are in the field this week: Neil Schietekat who is defending, Horne, Doug McGuigan and Jaco van Zyl. The title is yet to be successfully defended. There are three wins that were decided after play-offs: Horne (2008), Bryce Easton (2012) and Peter Karmis (2017). The format: 54 holes of stroke play. After 36 holes there will be a cut to the leading 40 professionals and ties. The field: 108 professionals Defending champion: Neil Schietekat (six-under-par 210). He will be attempting to defend his title. The course: The Gary Player Country Club situated at Sun City has been acknowledged as South African’s premier championship test of golf since it was opened in 1979. It is a difficult and demanding course. The course requires stamina and accuracy from players. Off the back markers, the course measures over 7,000 metres which makes it one of the longest on which the Tour plays. But a variety of tees makes it possible to shorten the course and render it playable for all levels of golfers. A distinguishing feature of the course is its greens complexes, with strategically placed bunkers, swales and mounds that protect the super slick clover-shaped greens. With pristine kikuyu fairways and excellent bent grass greens, the course is kept in perfect condition all year round. Form player: Thriston Lawrence has not finished lower than 21st in his four starts this season, and that includes his runner-up finish at the Lombard Insurance Classic. Lawrence wrapped up the 2018-19 season on a good note as he finished not lower than 15th in his last five starts early in the year. That included his fourth spot at the Eye of Africa PGA Championship and runner-up at the Tour Championship ahead of the new season. The results are a good indication that the Nelspruit Golf Club player is on a mission to register his maiden win and so far, he is showing no signs of letting up in that chase. Sentimental pick: Louis de Jager was a runner-up at last year’s tournament. After that, he went on to share third at the Sun Royal Spa Swazi Challenge and then he claimed two wins at the Sun Sibaya Challenge and the Eye of Africa PGA Championship. De Jager has not finished lower than 22nd in his five starts at Sun City, except for missing the cut once in the 2015 edition, and he will want to keep up his good record. The five-time Sunshine Tour winner who also plays on the European Tour will want to continue his good run on home soil following an extended run in Europe during which his best showing was a share of second at the Magical Kenya Open. The bolter: Andre Nel missed the cut once in four starts this season – in his last outing at the Lombard Insurance Classic. He had three top-10 finishes last season and the same number in his rookie season in 2017. The Kingswood Golf Estate representative is no stranger to the Gary Player Country Club course as he finished T37 in last year’s edition of the tournament and, while a win would be unexpected, it would not be entirely surprising.    
Winning on Tour – hot putter is keyWinning on Tour – hot putter is keyWinning on Tour – hot putter is key The debate around which aspects of one’s game – putting, approach game, driving etc – should be on point to win a golf tournament remains a hot subject, so we look at the winning statistics from the first four tournaments this season. Departing from Paul Waring’s tweet this weekend about having led the field in strokes gained; driving, approach, short game and only to tie 18th and not win the Made in Denmark event, we scrutinise stats from the Zanaco Masters, the Mopani Redpath Greendoor Logistics and the Lombard Insurance Classic to note similarities in trends. “So, I’ve led the field this week in: Strokes gained Driving Strokes gained Approach Strokes gained short-game. Finished tied 18th. Kids, if anybody says it’s not a putting competition they’re lying,” tweeted Waring. In the opening event of the season, the Mopani Redpath Zambia Open, the eventual winner Daniel van Tonder’s driving accuracy was at 51.79% which meant he left himself some work to do in order to get to the greens. Despite that, he was able to reach 65.28 per cent of the greens in regulation, averaging 1.57 putts while averaging 1.68 putts on greens reached in regulation. The following week’s winner at the Zanaco Masters, JC Ritchie’s accuracy off the tee left a lot to be desired. With a driving accuracy of 44.64 %, Ritchie managed to hit 66% of greens in regulation and made an average 1.54 putts per greens in regulation, while runner-up, Rhys Enoch, and Merrick Bremner were the closest, each making 1.56 putts per greens in regulation that week. On the occasion of his maiden Tour victory, at the Lombard Insurance Classic, Jake Redman put in a fine performance to break his duck and his numbers attest to this. Similar to Ritchie in a way, Redman’s accuracy off the tee was not as he would have liked – but rather decent – and he landed at the desired spot on 54.76 % of the times. His scrambling, however, proved pivotal in securing his maiden win because he reached 75% of the greens in regulation, enabling him to make 1.5 putts per greens in regulation. While it is true that most aspects of one’s game must be sharp in order to even contend for a win in a professional golf tournament, it goes without saying that putting is key. The other aspects such as driving accuracy, distance and what not, are critical indeed, but ultimately, it is the putter which must be on song and the winners up to this point have shown this to be true.
On target: accurate drivers so far 1On target: accurate drivers so farOn target: accurate drivers so far While it isn’t the only requirement for good scores in any round of golf, accuracy off the tee, however, is certainly a major aspect of one’s game which should always be on point. While member of the Gary Player Class, Yubin Jung, is perched at the summit of the standings with an 85.71 per cent accuracy off the tee, he has started a single event this season – the Lombard Insurance Classic where he missed the cut. Second after Jung, and with two events played up to now, veteran Adilson Da Silva is the most accurate player this season so far, with 78.57 per cent of his drives landing on the desired spots. Da Silva has history, as he is world-renowned for his accuracy off the tee, having topped the logs many times on the European Tour and the Asian Tour. The closest player to being as accurate as Da Silva, and having played two events or more is another member of the Gary Player Class, Thanda Mavundla, who sits third on 69.64 per cent while rookie and former Wigan Athletic youth football player Ryan O’Neill follows in fourth position. Known to be straight off the tee, another veteran, Wallie Coetsee, takes the fifth spot after his efforts in the Mopani Redpath Greendoor Logistic Zambia Open, Zanaco Masters and the Lombard Insurance Classic. His accuracy measured 68.75 per cent with Sweden’s Jonathan Agren closely following in sixth position with a driving accuracy of 64.94 per cent after the three tournaments he has played. Tied for the seventh spot is the trio of Ryan Cairns, Theunis Bezuidenhout and Nigeria’s Andrew Odoh at 64.29 per cent while the defending champion of the Sun City Challenge, Neil Schietekat at 62.70 per cent, makes up the top 10 of the standings.
Redman breaks title duck with Swazi victoryRedman breaks title duck with Swazi victoryIt took Jake Redman nearly 10 years to get his maiden Sunshine Tour victory, and he pulled it off in a thriller with a one-stroke win on Sunday in the Lombard Insurance Classic at Royal Swazi Spa Country Club. He carded a final round of five-under-par 67, with a nervy closing nine which included his only bogey of the round, on his way to the win over the charging pair of Toto Thimba and Thriston Lawrence. They each signed for seven-under 65, which left them on 19-under for the tournament and just one shot adrift. “I don’t really have many words,” said Redman. “I’m over the moon. It’s taken a hell of a long time. I’ve had a few seconds along the way, a few heartache moments and to eventually come out and win really feels great. “There’s been a lot of hard work, endless support from my wife and my mom and dad. It’s unbelievable what I’ve gone through. I almost gave up, and now I got here to win.” It was a win which improved on his runner-up finish in the 2014 edition of the tournament, and it was one which was achieved with and enormous amount of pressure being applied by a lot of the players around him – there was a 63 from Keenan Davidse who finished fifth, a pair of early 64s from Jake Roos and Daniel van Tonder, and the 66 from Ruan Conradie who finished fourth. “With the pressure, it helped playing with Doug Mcguigan,” said Redman of his playing partner who finished in a share of sixth. “He’s such a relaxed character and I just tried to keep myself calm, because sometimes you can get stuck in the moment and put a lot more pressure on yourself.” The pressure showed during his homeward nine, as he made three consecutive pars and then dropped a shot to fall back into the clutches of his pursuers. “I made a silly bogey on 13, and I thought to myself that I needed to get it to 20-under coming in to have a good chance,” he said. “I hit some good shots coming in and I hit some good putts that didn’t go in, but I made some that did go in. To finish with a great drive on 17 which set up a birdie and to close it off with a par on 18 – I’m just really happy.” In a week where he carded rounds of seven-under and eight-under in the lead up to his final round, there was clearly a lot bout his game that was working well. But his putting stood out. “I made a lot of good putts, a lot of clutch putts, especially coming in,” he said. “I made a real clutch putt on 15 for birdie. I made a lot of nice lengthy putts outside 15 feet. I was really solid on the greens. “Everything else was solid, apart from my driving. So it was really nice to get that one away on 17. I just thought, if I am going to hit a good one, it needs to be here, because it really sets up the hole. I could see the leaderboard was really tight and I needed a birdie. I absolutely cracked one down the middle.” He made the birdie there with two putts, and then another two on the par-three 18th set up the win that was so long in coming. “I’m really happy to get the money off my back, just to prove that I can do it with guys on this tour that are really good,” he said.  
Redman’s 64 moves him into Lombard leadRedman’s 64 moves him into Lombard leadHe has only had three top-10 finishes in the last three-and-a-half years, but Jake Redman took a two-stroke lead after the second round on Saturday of the 54-hole Lombard Insurance Classic at the Royal Swazi Spa Country Club. He carded eight-under-par 64 to move to 15-under-par ahead of the final round, giving him a two-shot edge over Doug McGuigan. There were five players a further shot back on 12-under-par – Keith Horne, Ruan Conradie, Clinton Grobler, Thriston Lawrence and Toto Thimba. Redman added his 64 to an opening 65, making 11 birdies along the way. “It’s been a very long time since I’ve been at the top of the leaderboard, so I’m very happy about the way the last two days have gone,” he said. “Obviously, I’m very happy with the round, and I’m looking forward to tomorrow. “I’m not really thinking of a number tomorrow. I’m going to need to make birdies because the other guys are also going to make birdies on this course. I reckon by the time I tee off, I’m already going to be behind. I’ve just got to keep pressing and keep doing my thing.” Interspersed between that rush of birdies were three bogeys, only one of which came on a par-five – the 17th. “Birdies on the par-fives certainly do play a big role in a decent score here, especially if you can pick up the big birdies – eagles,” he said. “But I don’t think I know of a course where it’s not important to pick up shots on the par-fives.” The low scores have been something that he has battled to put together in consecutive rounds, but hard work is paying off. “I think all-round, my game has been pretty consistent,” said Redman. “The short game has been good, the putting has been beautiful, the iron-play has been solid as has been the wedge-play… driving – I’ve hit one or two sort of iffy drives. That hasn’t really been anything in between. It’s either been not great or it’s been perfect. I maybe just need to get the driver a bit straighter tomorrow and that would obviously help a lot.” McGuigan also signed for a 64 – one of four players to do so in the second round. His was a bogey-free effort, and a result of going back to a putter he used in his last victory on the Sunshine Tour in September 2017. Horne was one of the other players to make 64, while Conradie, Grobler and Thimba each signed for a 67. Lawrence, who shared the lead after the first round at nine-under, carded a three-under 69 in the second round. They are all going to have to chase Redman in the final round on a course that can deliver low scores. He’s looking forward to the challenge. “I’m excited for tomorrow, but I’m feeling it a bit because I haven’t been in this position for a long time,” he said. “I’m certainly looking forward to the day and I’ve just got to keep doing what I’m doing.”  
Lawrence’s best is good for Lombard leadLawrence’s best is good for Lombard leadIt was his best round on the Sunshine Tour, and Thriston Lawrence’s nine-under-par 63 on Friday was good enough to give him a share of the first-round lead of the 54-hole Lombard Insurance Classic at the Royal Swazi Spa Country Club. He made five birdies in a row on his homeward nine after starting his round on the 10th to close in 29 and put the cap on his 63 – one better than a 2018 Dimension Data Pro-Am round, and a total which was later matched by Jacques Blaauw as the pair shared a one-stroke edge over Aubrey Beckley and Jaco Ahlers who each carded eight-under-par 64s. “I’m very happy to close with a 29, and quite surprised,” said Lawrence. “I started off quite slowly. I didn’t hit it great but I was always there or thereabouts. The putter wasn’t too warm on my front nine. I got a chip-in on 18 and that gave me momentum. I was thinking I had to do a good job to make par there, and I made birdie! “And then I found some rhythm on the third hole where I hit a good eight-iron to three foot to make birdie. Everything worked out very nicely from there. I made every putt I looked at. My putter surprised me. I made 25 putts. I’ve been struggling with the putter for a long time now, so I’m very pleased.” He had just 25 putts in his round, the same number as Blaauw, who closed with an extraordinary run of seven consecutive birdies. Blaauw had started his round on the 10th, too, and had made just one birdie at his turn. He raced home in 28, making eight birdies, and just a single par – on the second – on his homeward nine. “It’s my best-ever birdie run,” said Blaauw. “It came after I drive the green on the first – something I’ve never done – and I just missed an eight-footer for eagle. I made the birdie, and I thought if I could go four or five-under on the homeward nine, I’d be happy. “Clearly, I’m more than happy with what I got out of the round.” For Lawrence, a good start was important for him as he goes in search of a maiden Sunshine Tour win after his share of second in last season’s Tour Championship, and his share of sixth in the Investec Royal Swazi Open at the same course a fortnight ago. “My weakness has always been that I don’t start really well,” he said. “I’ve always been on the cut line, so starting quite hot might give me a good chance on Sunday. “This course, if you hit it straight off the tee and your iron play is good – it’s not a long golf course – you can be very attacking on it. I hit a lot of drivers, so if that goes to plan, you have a lot of wedge shots in. I made it quite easy for myself today. “The modified stableford scoring of a couple of weeks ago helps. You have less fear and you have a more aggressive mental approach for the round. It’s the same course, so I’ll do more of the same for the rest of the tournament.”  
South Africans under the radar in PGA ChampionshipSouth Africans under the radar in PGA ChampionshipHe won it twice and was runner-up twice, and, so far, Gary Player is the only South African to have won what used to be the final major championship of the season – the PGA Championship. It was nicknamed ‘Glory’s Last Shot’, but for the eight South Africans in the field, it’s a chance now to set up a run at the big international events coming up in the latter half of the world golf season, which include the two major championships which perhaps most capture the imagination. That’s because the US Open and The Open are truly ‘open’ championships. And with the PGA Championship featuring 99 of the world’s top 100 players according to the Official World Golf Ranking – it would have been all 100 of them, but for the late withdrawal of Justin Thomas – it’s going to be no easy task for Louis Oosthuizen, Justin Harding, Branden Grace, Shaun Norris, Dylan Frittelli, Brandon Stone, Richard Sterne and Erik van Rooyen to get into contention. It will be made no easier because the course – Bethpage Black in New York – is perhaps as tough as any they will encounter this year, and the conditions so far have been wintery, and that is hardly conducive to a stirring performance from a South African used to playing his golf on sun-soaked courses. Of course, all of the South Africans in the field have experience playing in conditions like that as they all campaign abroad, and all of them have shown they can hold their own in the pressure cooker situations brought on by a major championship. Oosthuizen has won one and been runner-up in all of them, Grace has five top-five finishes, Harding was a revelation in last month’s Masters, and the rest all have records of which they can be justifiably proud. So, in this most ‘American’ of all the major championships, perhaps it is worth taking a step back from the preview coverage which can see very little further than Brooks Koepka and Tiger Woods as possible winners. Oh, there are 15 non-US players amongst the 30 with odds of 60-1 or better, but Webb Simpson at 60-1 together with Oosthuizen? Really? Here’s what we know about the South African players in the field: They will be smart in accepting that the course will hurt them if they are wayward off the tee, inaccurate in approach and sloppy on the greens. So they will spend their time during the opening two rounds being none of the above. That’s not to say they will all get it spot on – no-one will, and there will be some surprising casualties ahead of the cut. And some of the South Africans will miss the cut. But so compelling has been the rise of Harding over the last year – and it’s emblematic of the way South African players can be the most surprising of players on the biggest stages – that it’s difficult to look forward to the week at Bethpage Black without believing that at least one South African will make his presence felt. It’s easy to think there may be more than one, too.  

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