Rory McIlroy headlines the BMW South African Open this week as Brandon Stone defends at Glendower Golf Club

McIlroy In Field As Stone Defends BMW South African Open

The European Tour is back this week at Glendower GC in Johannesburg for the BMW South African Open – the world’s second-oldest national Open after The Open Championship.

The tournament begun over 120 years ago in 1893, 33 years after the first ever Open Championship.

South African Brandon Stone won his maiden European Tour title at this event last year, and was very emotional in doing so.

He posted a topsy-turvy final round of one-under 71, which included six bogeys and seven birdies, to beat compatriot Christiaan Bezuidenhout by two strokes.

The tournament has been part of the European Tour schedule since 1997, and since then 13 out of the 20 winners have been South African.

stone defends bmw south african open

Ernie Els won his fifth South African Open in 2010 at Durban Country Club

Gary Player holds the record of most South African Open titles with 13, whilst Bobby Locke has nine and Ernie Els, who is in competing this week, has five.

Thoughts will be with 1988 and 1991 South African Open champion Wayne Westner after the 55-year-old committed suicide last week.

The headline news this week is that world number two Rory McIlroy makes his first start of 2017 in a tournament he has only played in twice before.

The four-time major winner missed the cut in 2008 before a tie for third place in 2009.

The event is co-sanctioned with the Sunshine Tour and there is an equal number of European and Sunshine Tour pros.

Also in the field this week in Sir Nick Faldo who makes his first European Tour start since the 2014 Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.

Venue: Glendower Golf Club, City of Ekurhuleni, Gauteng, South Africa
Date: Jan 12 – 15
Course stats: par 72, 7,594 yards
Winner’s cheque: €164,409
Defending Champion: Brandon Stone (-14)

TV Coverage:
Thursday 5 – Sky Sports 4 HD from 8am, Sky Sports 4 HD 12pm
Friday 6 – Sky Sports 4 HD from 8am, Sky Sports 4 HD from 12pm
Saturday 7 – Sky Sports 4 HD from 10am
Sunday 8 – Sky Sports 4 HD from 10am

Player Watch:

Rory McIlroy – The world number two will be the overwhelming favourite for the title this week. Rory makes his first start since the DP World Tour Championship in November where he finished in a tie for ninth.

Andy Sullivan – The Englishman won this title in 2015 at Glendower and is coming into this tournament with two top three finishes in his last four starts.

George Coetzee – Yet to win his national Open and coming off of a good end to 2016, Coetzee should feature on the leaderboard this week.

Key hole: 15th. This reachable par-5 of 547 yards will provide a good birdie or eagle chance, but it’s not without danger. Bunkers at driving distance on the right side of the fairway cause players to veer left, but a stream waits just off the fairway on that flank. The key then to this hole is getting a good drive away. It’s one that could see some big swings in fortune on Sunday afternoon.