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Louis for SA Open

by | Dec 18, 2019

DEFENDING champion Louis Oosthuizen’s name is among the over 500 entries for the South African Open hosted by the City of Joburg here at Randpark from January 9-12.

Because both Firethorn and Bushwillow are being used for the R17 500 000 tournament which is co-sanctioned by the European Tour, the starting field is 240 players – bigger than the normal 156 – and those players who are not exempt will battle it out for coveted spots in the main draw at 18-hole qualifiers to be held at Parkview, Modderfontein and CMR.

Aside from Oosthuizen,  the South African entry list is an extremely strong one – with Charl Schwartzel (who made his comeback from injury earlier this month at Leopard Creek), Branden Grace, Christiaan Bezuidenhout, Erik van Rooyen, Justin Harding, Richard Sterne, Brandon Stone, Zander Lombard, George Coetzee, Shaun Norris, Darren Fichardt, big-hitting Dean Burmester  and Justin Walters all scheduled to tee it up.

Like Oosthuizen, Bezuidenhout, Van Rooyen and Harding – the man who swings fast, plays fast and talks fast – all won on the 2019 European Tour.

There is also a strong contingent from England which includes past SA Open champions Andy Sullivan and Chris Paisley, big, tall Chris Wood and Eddie Pepperell who infamously walked off the course in November’s Turkish Open after running out of golf balls following a surreal “Tin Cup” scenario at the par-5 fourth hole. In a futile attempt to hit across the long stretch of water between the fairway and the green Eddie found the dreaded drink six or seven times – he couldn’t quite remember – and that was that. No more balls in his golf bag!  And he had no option but to walk in.

Oosthuizen had a pretty successful 2019 season on the fairways of the world and is currently 20th in the world rankings. And although the Internationals ultimately lost the Presidents Cup to the USA, Louis had a good week – with two wins, a half and one loss. In the fourballs on day one he and Mexico’s Abraham Ancer took down Dustin Johnson  and Gary Woodland 4 and 3, and on day two in foursomes he and Adam Scott dispatched Johnson and Matt Kuchar 3 and 2. Finally, in the singles, Oosthuizen halved his game with Kuchar.

Louis won last year’s SA Open on 18-under-par 266 with both courses playing to par-71.

One big name missing from the Randpark entry list is that of Ernie Els. This could be because the Big Easy turned 50 in October and is set to make his PGA Tour Champions debut in America in January, although the first event there is the week after the SA Open.

Twenty spots in the SA Open are being reserved for Asian Tour players, adding to the broad international flavor of this country’s flagship event.

Written by Randpark member Grant Winter.

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