Root­ing for the home­boys

The Citizen (Gauteng) - - LETTERS - Trevor Stevens

Awalk down the cor­ri­dor from the re­cep­tion area of the Gary Player Coun­try Club at Sun City evokes so many mem­o­ries. Along both walls there are pho­tographs of all the win­ners, from Johnny Miller in 1981 to Ernie Els’ first of three wins in 1999 – where his 25-un­der-par is still the record – to the back-to-back tri­umphs of the late Seve Balles­teros in the Eight­ies.

Els, David Frost and Nick Price have all won the tour­na­ment on three oc­ca­sions, while there’s a hand­ful of play­ers that have achieved two vic­to­ries.

And the lat­est player to etch his name in the tour­na­ment’s his­tory is our own Bran­den Grace, who broke a 10-year South African ti­tle drought when he won by one stroke over Scot­land’s Scott Jamieson last year.

He’ll be back to de­fend his ti­tle in just less than a month, and he’ll be joined by Ry­der Cup he­roes Ser­gio Gar­cia – him­self a twotime win­ner – Rory McIl­roy and cap­tain Thomas Bjorn, plus a host of big names.

I was for­tu­nate to par­tic­i­pate in the fi­nal round this week be­fore they close the course to make sure it is in im­mac­u­late con­di­tion come Novem­ber 8. It’s all sys­tems go for “Africa’s Ma­jor”.

Lo­cal sports fans de­mand plenty from their South African sports­men. They want a South African win­ner, week-in, week­out. South Africans have en­joyed a solid record at Sun City over the years, while we have a num­ber of lo­cals in the mix to win a ti­tle on both the Euro­pean and PGA Tours.

How­ever, in terms of ti­tles, the coun­try isn’t ex­actly en­joy­ing its best run. Louis Oostzhuizen, at 36, is our high­est ranked golfer, while you would have to go back as far as 2012 at the Open Cham­pi­onship to find our last Ma­jor win­ner when Els won at Royal Lytham & St Annes Golf Club.

On the Euro­pean Tour only Dy­lan Frit­telli (Mau­ri­tius Open), Ge­orge Coet­zee (Tsh­wane Open) and Bran­don Stone (Scot­tish Open) won last sea­son, while our last win­ner on the PGA Tour was Grace at the Her­itage Clas­sic in April 2016.

Here’s hop­ing South African golfers’ for­tunes will change for the bet­ter at Sun City next month.

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