Wallace can maintain that England streak
SOUTH AFRICAN OPEN
WHO would bet against an Englishman winning this week’s South African Open when one of the oldest national championships returns to the Randpark Golf Club in the north-west suburbs of Johannesburg?
And what price Matt Wallace being that Englishman by continuing a run of success with three victories in 2018 following his maiden European Tour win in the 2017 Open de Portugal?
Wallace’s sensational sequence represents a stupendous chapter in the ‘Glory, Glory England’ story on the European Tour with Chris Paisley, Tommy Fleetwood, Eddie Pepperell (twice), Richard McEvoy, Paul Waring, Matt Fitzpatrick, Tom Lewis, Justin Rose, Lee Westwood and Danny Willett all winning last season.
Then last Sunday Wolverhampton’s Aaron Rai launched the new season by capturing the Honma Hong Kong Open – celebrating the ninth English win in the last 15 European Tour events.
So Wallace is primed to extend that extraordinary cycle as, coincidentally, Hexham-born Paisley defends a title won three times in the last four years by Englishmen – Andy Sullivan and Graeme Storm were the champions in 2015 and 2017 respectively.
Brandon Stone, the 2016 winner, is one of many fancied South African contenders chasing this prestigious title – Gary Player won it a record 13 times – with Ernie Els bidding for his sixth success and Louis Oosthuizen, Charl Schwartzel and Branden Grace, beaten by Paisley 12 months ago, among those in the field.
Three of Wallace’s four European Tour wins have been achieved on first time visits so he should relish this latest challenge.
He looks a stand-out selection with Oosthuizen and Grace, third and 11th at the recent Nedbank Challenge, his biggest dangers and Tyrone Ferreira, the leading South African amateur in 2007, could surprise – he was the last professional to win at Randpark in the 2010 SA Pro-Am Invitational on the Sunshine Tour.