The Star Late Edition

Stern test for Sterne – finally back on the tee


EAST LONDON: Five-time European Tour winner Richard Sterne hopes his decision to take a relaxed approach to the Africa Open this week will pay some handsome dividends.

Sterne makes a long-awaited comeback from injury at the

1-million (about R10,5-million) European and Sunshine Tour co-sanctioned event at East London GC starting tomorrow. “My last competitiv­e round was at the Telkom PGA in February last year, so I don’t mind admitting I’m a little nervous,” said Sterne after a practice round here yesterday.

“I’ve played five lots of nine holes in the last three weeks, but today was the first time I played 18 holes in nearly a year. It went surprising­ly well, so I’m cautiously optimistic for the week ahead.”

The 30-year-old reached a record high 29th in the world rankings after winning the 2008 Joburg Open, Alfred Dunhill Championsh­ip and SA Open, but recurring back injuries forced him out of the game completely last year. “I have three bulging discs in various places in my back and I was diagnosed with ankylosing spondyliti­s, a form of arthritis,” Sterne explained. “There is no overnight and the recovery process is a long one. At the start I wasn’t patient enough and within a week or two I’d be on crutches again. But I’ve stuck out the therapy and gym for the last 11 months and am on medication for the ankylosing spondyliti­s and I’m ready to compete.”


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