Sterne fi­nally back in the swing of things

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - SPORT - GRANT WIN­TER

RICHARD STERNE makes a ten­ta­tive re­turn to golf to­day and tomorrow in the char­i­ty­driven Gary Player In­vi­ta­tional af­ter what he de­scribes as the “worst sea­son of my ca­reer.”

The win­ner of six tour­na­ments on the Euro­pean Tour, Sterne had a hip op­er­a­tion in March of last year to re­pair a torn labrum.

He then was fourth in the WGC-Cadil­lac Cham­pi­onship at Doral but sub­se­quently strug­gled on tour, al­though he did fin­ish sec­ond in the Na­tion­wide Chil­dren’s Hos­pi­tal Cham­pi­onship to­wards the end of 2014. That earned him a spot in the Web.comTour Fi­nals where he placed ninth to earn a cov­eted PGA Tour card for 2015.

The fu­ture looked bright but it turned out to be a dis­as­trous cam­paign for the now 34-yearold, who missed 16 cuts in 18 starts in Amer­ica this year. Since the op­er­a­tion, he says, he’s been favour­ing his right side which has thrown his swing out of bal­ance,

The three- times South African World Cup player and Pres­i­dents Cup team mem­ber in 2013 – the year he won the Joburg Open with a record­break­ing 260 ag­gre­gate af­ter rounds of 63, 65, 68 and 64 at Royal Johannesburg – was just not hit­ting the same shots he used to.

“It’s been very frus­trat­ing but hope­fully things are com­ing right. I’ve worked hard but I was ad­vised just to step away from golf for a while and I haven’t played in eight weeks,” Sterne said. “I’ll try and ease back into it this week­end, and then I’ll play the Cape Town Open (at Royal Cape) and the Al­fred Dun­hill Cham­pi­onship (at Leop­ard Creek) and see how it goes.”

Blessed with im­mense tal­ent, Sterne’s ca­reer has been plagued by in­jury in­clud­ing a four-year spell with a dodgy back. Hope­fully, now he’s well and truly on the mend and ready to start rolling in the birdies again.

Sterne, Gary Player and his son Wayne, as well as Thomas Levet and fel­low French­man Jean van de Velde, are the male pro­fes­sion­als tak­ing part in the GPI, along­side Carly Booth, Danielle Mont­gomery and Emma Cabr­era-Bello from the Ladies Euro­pean Tour.

Also in at­ten­dance will ne for­mer Proteas cap­tain Graeme Smith and vice-cap­tain Mark Boucher, ex- Bafana Bafana skip­per Aaron Mokoena, Olympic swim­ming star Roland Schoe­man, and pop­stars Ro­nan Keat­ing and Brian McFad­den.

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