The European Tour remains in South Africa this week for the Joburg Open at Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club. Home player Charl Schwartzel defends the title and he’s looking it to make it three victories in a row in this event.
The Joburg Open was first played on the European Tour back in 2007 when Ariel Canete took the title. Richard Sterne, Anders Hansen and Charl Schwartzel have been winners since then. Last year Schwartzel stamped his authority on the tournament with a superb second round of 61. He ended the week four clear of his countryman Garth Mulroy.
This is a tournament where the home nation is strongly represented. In fact the bulk of the field is made up of South African players.
Two-time US Open champion Retief Goosen will start, together with Schwartzel, Richard Sterne, George Coetzee and a host of others.
It’s one of the biggest fields on the European Tour schedule owing to the fact two courses are being used. It means some of those without full playing privileges on the European Tour are given the chance of a start on the main circuit.
Players will complete one round on both the East and West courses at Royal Johannesburg and Kensington before those who make the cut contest the third and fourth rounds over the East.
Venue: Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club, South Africa
Date: Jan 12-15
Course stats: East Course – par 71, 7,592 yards; West Course – par 71, 7,237 yards
Purse: €1,300,000 Winner: €206,050
Defending Champion: Charl Schwartzel (-19)
Thursday 12 – Live on Sky Sports 1 from 8am
Friday 13 – Live on Sky Sports 2 from 8am
Saturday 14 – Live on Sky Sports 1 from 10am
Sunday 15 – Live on Sky Sports 3 from 10am
It’s very difficult to look past the defending champion Charl Schwartzel, but who else might make an impact this week?
Retief Goosen – Third in last week’s Africa Open, Goosen is always a threat and he looks to be coming back into form. He hasn’t won on the European Tour since 2007 and he’ll be looking to end the drought this week.
Jaco Van Zyl – Another man currently on solid form, Van Zyl has picked up three top-10s in his last six European Tour starts including a fourth place finish last week. He finished just outside the top-10 in this event in both 2009 and 2010.
Gregory Havret – The Frenchman makes his first start since the Dubai World Championship, but he was in great form just before the Christmas break. He’ll be looking to kick-start his 2012 campaign with a good result here.
Key hole: 11th (East Course.) It’s a 500-yard par four and the length alone makes it a challenge. But it also requires a straight tee shot then a precise approach over water. It’s a great spectator hole and one where large scores can be racked up.
Skills required: Power hitting. At 7,590 yards, the East Course is one of the longest to feature on this year’s European Tour. Long, straight drivers are at a distinct advantage here.
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