Aussie pro is no nine-day won­der

Day has bright fu­ture; Sten­son and McIl­roy’s is even brighter, while SA’s golfers should have stel­lar 2017

CityPress - - Sport - PULE MOKHINE pmokhine@city­press.co.za

All eyes will be glued on Hen­rik Sten­son next year as he is ex­pected to have an­other bril­liant sea­son. The 40-year-old Swede was named the European Tour golfer of the year af­ter an im­pres­sive cam­paign this year. It was the sec­ond time he won the pres­ti­gious golf award.

Sten­son claimed a big scalp at the Bri­tish Open at Royal Birk­dale Golf Club in South­port, Eng­land, in July af­ter beat­ing Amer­i­can Phil Mick­el­son by three strokes. Sten­son was the first Swede to win a ma­jor.

This came af­ter he had lifted the BMW In­ter­na­tional Open in Ger­many a month ear­lier.

As if that was not enough, he lifted the Road to Dubai tro­phy for the sec­ond time af­ter a bril­liant fi­nal round at Jumeirah Golf Es­tates in Dubai con­firmed his sta­tus as the European Tour’s num­ber one.

He wrapped up his sea­son with a seven un­der-par 65 in the DP World Tour Cham­pi­onship last month.

The Road to Dubai af­fords golfers an op­por­tu­nity to amass points dur­ing the tour sea­son, with the player who fin­ishes the year with the most points be­ing de­clared the vic­tor.

Sten­son’s star is ex­pected to con­tinue shin­ing brightly on the fair­ways next year as his form is re­mark­able. But he will not sparkle alone on the golf cir­cuit next sea­son as there are a num­ber of good play­ers from var­i­ous tours who gave a good ac­count of them­selves this year.

They are ex­pected to con­tinue prov­ing their met­tle next year (see graphic).

Aus­tralian Ja­son Day is not the world’s num­ber one golfer for noth­ing, and he’s con­tin­ued to con­quer the greens with aplomb.

His de­meanour while ex­e­cut­ing bunker shots stood him in good stead, re­sult­ing in his win­ning three events. He should main­tain his top spot and cap­ture more tour­na­ments next year.

North­ern Ire­land’s Rory McIl­roy re­cov­ered fully from an an­kle in­jury sus­tained last year to win the Dubai Duty Free Ir­ish Open, which he hosted in March.

He later won the Deutsche Bank Cham­pi­onship and the Tour Cham­pi­onship in Septem­ber. With the siz­zling form that has made him num­ber two in the world, McIl­roy should have a great golf­ing run next year.

But South African golf play­ers will also en­joy scin­til­lat­ing golf next year, given their im­pres­sive show­ing on the Sun­shine Tour this past year.

Bran­don Stone set the pace with a breath­tak­ing dis­play to reign supreme at the South African Open at Glen­dower Golf Club in Jan­uary.

Stone closed the cal­en­dar in style by lift­ing the Al­fred Dun­hill Cham­pi­onship at Leop­ard Creek in Male­lane two weeks ago to col­lect his sec­ond European Tour sil­ver­ware this year. With such re­mark­able long drive and putting, he will be a draw­card on in­ter­na­tional and home cour­ses next year. His fu­ture in global golf looks rosy and he is the man to watch.

Ge­orge Coet­zee has been con­sis­tent, as his long drives proved dur­ing big events lo­cally.

Jac­ques Blaauw has had a good year in South Africa. His iron play has been con­sis­tent and, if that is any­thing to go by, he should have a good year on the greens next sea­son.

Jaco Ah­lers looks set to have a won­der­ful year by virtue of hav­ing ac­quit­ted him­self well at home last sea­son. He was con­sis­tent in all the Sun­shine Tour matches.

Renowned overseas-based stars Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel will look to next year as the year that will bring them glory and help them win some ma­jors, as they have done pre­vi­ously.

Both these golfers won a sin­gle tour­na­ment apiece abroad this year. Next year will also usher in top events lo­cally and abroad.

Open­ing the cal­en­dar at home will be the South African Open Cham­pi­onship at Glen­dower Golf Club on Jan­uary 12.

The first ma­jor that will be played is the US Masters, which will be con­tested at the Au­gusta National Golf Club in Ge­or­gia dur­ing the first full week of April, and it is the first of the ma­jors to be played each year.

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