SA golfers vie for Morocco glory

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

Seven years have gone by since a South African golfer cap­tured the elu­sive Has­san II Golf Tro­phy, but six lo­cals are ready to fight for the prize when the tour­na­ment tees off at Royal Golf Dar Es Salam in Ra­bat, Morocco, on Thurs­day.

The play­ers are Dean Burmester, Bran­don Stone, Haydn Por­te­ous, Richard Sterne, Jaco van Zyl and Hen­nie Otto.

In 2008, Ernie Els was the last lo­cal player to win this event be­fore it was sanc­tioned by the Euro­pean Tour in 2010.

Mzansi’s play­ers will com­pete against some of the world’s finest to win the ti­tle at the event, which car­ries a €2.5 mil­lion (R36.5 mil­lion) prize.

Last year’s tour­na­ment was cap­tured by South Korea’s Wang Je­ung-hun who beat Na­cho Elvira of Spain in a play-off to card an un­der-par five for 283.

Be­sides Els, no lo­cal com­peti­tor has been on the podium.

In 2011, Van Zyl fin­ished as run­ner-up with Welsh­man Rhys Davies in the con­test, which was won by Eng­land’s David Horsey, who fin­ished -13 for 274.

In 2010, former Bri­tish Open win­ner Louis Oosthuizen trailed win­ner Davies, who posted -25 for 255.

But South Africans are poised to make a mark on the im­pos­ing course.

Mzansi will pin its hopes on Burmester to turn the fair­ways up­side down and win the event, which is hosted by Prince Moulay Rachid of Morocco. Burmester cap­tured the Tsh­wane Open by card­ing a six-un­der­par 65 at Pre­to­ria Coun­try Club last month as he marched to a com­mand­ing three-stroke vic­tory in the event, which was co-sanc­tioned by the Sun­shine and the Euro­pean tours.

The Free State player is en­joy­ing the best golf of his ca­reer on the lo­cal cir­cuit and he will be aim­ing to gain his sec­ond Euro­pean Tour ti­tle.

But Stone made his pres­ence felt by win­ning two ti­tles on the Euro­pean stage last year.

The first was in the SA Open with a two-stroke at Ekurhu­leni’s Eden­vale Golf Course in Jan­uary.

He re­peated his con­quest by lift­ing the Al­fred Dunhill Cham­pi­onship sil­ver­ware with an em­phatic six-stroke vic­tory at Mpumalanga’s Male­lane Golf Club in Novem­ber.

Sterne, Van Zyl and Otto are also brim­ming with con­fi­dence and be­lieve they will make a mark in Morocco.

But it re­mains to be seen how the 6 846m par-72 course will drain the play­ers as it is one of the best on the con­ti­nent.

PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES

IN FORM Dean Burmester is one of six lo­cals play­ing for the Has­san II Tro­phy

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