Other high scores

CityPress - - Sport -

ill Richard Sterne’s high­est-scor­ing record of un­der-par 27, which he set at the Joburg Open in 2013, be equalled or bro­ken?

This will be the key ques­tion when the Sun­shine-Euro­pean tour­sanc­tioned tour­na­ment tees off at the Royal Jo­han­nes­burg & Kens­ing­ton Golf Club on Thurs­day.

It is con­tested over the west and east cour­ses for the first two rounds, en­abling a large field of 200 com­peti­tors, with the fi­nal two rounds be­ing played over the east af­ter a cut to the top 65.

The Pre­to­ria-based Sterne set the big­gest mar­gin so far at the Open, post­ing the most num­ber of un­der-pars to win the showdown by seven strokes – the high­est card­ing since the com­pe­ti­tion was first staged at the venue in 2007.

Sterne also lifted the trophy in 2008 by post­ing -13 af­ter a play-off.

Clos­est to his tally is Charl Schwartzel, who set the pace in 2010 by post­ing -23 to win by six strokes (see graphic).

The Open, which car­ries a R16.5 mil­lion prize, has seen Al­fred Dun­hill Championship Mar­cel Siem (Ger­many) -22 (2004) SA Open Championship

Ernie Els (SA) -25 (2010)

Tsh­wane Open

Dawie van der Walt (SA) -21 (2014)

Ned­bank Golf Chal­lenge Thomas Bjørn (Den­mark) -20 (2013)

Bold in­di­cates South African play­ers a dom­i­na­tion of South Africans who reg­is­tered big scores on the leader board. But Sterne’s card is yet to be matched or over­taken.

Last year’s edi­tion saw Haydn Por­te­ous win by -18 af­ter beat­ing fel­low South African Zan­der Lombard by two strokes in a closely con­tested match. A blem­ish-free 69 on the east course en­sured that Por­te­ous fin­ished well and out­classed Lombard as both men earned places at The Bri­tish Open Championship at Royal Troon.

Por­te­ous will be out to give Sterne a run for his money by mak­ing a suc­cess­ful ti­tle de­fence and post the event’s big­gest score. The vic­tor and run­ner-up will qual­ify for the Open Championship at Royal Birk­dale Golf Club in South­port, Mer­sy­side, in the UK from July 20 to 23. This will de­pend on whether they are ex­empted al­ready.

What makes the Joburg Open such a high un­der-par scor­ing com­pe­ti­tion com­pared with four other big co-sanc­tioned events (see box), are the broad fair­ways and greens that are easy to reach.

But Theo Manyama, who has of­fi­ci­ated at the event many times as Sun­shine Tour tour­na­ment di­rec­tor, says the west course is usu­ally the eas­i­est for play­ers.

“Most of them score lots of birdies on the west course, which makes it easy for them to ac­cu­mu­late high un­der-pars. The east course is tough, with plenty of wa­ter and green side bunkers,” he said.

Among other over­seas play­ers ex­pected to im­press are Graeme Storm and Ross McGowan (both from Eng­land); Dar­ren Clarke (North­ern Ire­land) and Ál­varo Quirós (Spain).

Storm won the BMW SA Open by beat­ing pre­tour­na­ment favourite Rory McIl­roy in a play-off at Glen­dower Golf Club last month.

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