Lowdown:
The European Tour returns to South Africa this week for the Tshwane Open at Copperleaf Golf & Country Estate. The home nation will be well represented and Dawie Van der Walt plays as defending champion.

This will be the second running of the Tshwane Open and the event returns to Copperleaf. Last year it was Dawie Van der Walt who came out on top here. He produced four superb rounds in the 60s to see off his countryman Darren Fichardt by two strokes.

Van der Walt will be joined on the start sheet this week by a strong South African contingent that includes Thomas Aiken and George Coetzee. Both have already picked up European Tour titles in South Africa this season – Aiken in the Africa Open and Coetzee in the Joburg Open. Coetzee comes into this week on the back of making the last 16 at the Accenture Match Play and will start this event as a strong favourite.

With the Accenture Match Play last week and the Cadillac Championship next, many of the European Tour’s best have remained in the USA this week. As such, this tournament provides an opportunity for some of the circuit’s lesser lights to shine. There’s also an opportunity for players from South Africa’s Sunshine Tour to make an impact.

The course at Copperleaf Golf and Country Estate was designed by Ernie Els and, at almost 8,000 yards, is one of the longest on the European Tour schedule. Built on land owned by Els’ grandfather, the layout is a fine example of a “Highveld grassland” layout.

Venue: Copperleaf Golf & Country Estate, Centurion, South Africa
Date: Feb 27 – Mar 2
Course stats: par 72, 7,964 yards
Purse: €1,500,000
Defending Champion: Dawie Van der Walt (-21)

TV Coverage:
Thursday 27 – Sky Sports 4 from 8.30am
Friday 28 – Sky Sports 4 from 8.30am
Saturday 1 – Sky Sports 4 from 10.30am
Sunday 2 – Sky Sports 4 from 10.30am

Player Watch:
Edoardo Molinari – The Italian is just showing signs of the type of form that helped him win twice in 2010 and make that year’s Ryder Cup team. He played well for 36 holes in the Joburg Open but faded over the weekend. If he can string four good ones together he can contend.

Gregory Bourdy – Yet to miss a cut on the 2014 European Tour, Bourdy was tied 16th in the Joburg Open then tied 20th in the Africa Open. He’s playing extremely consistently and just needs a little spark this week to climb right to the top of the leaderboard.

Ricardo Santos – Another man looking to make a return to his top form. He almost managed it at Joburg – right up there at the halfway mark, only to drop down the leaderboard on Saturday and Sunday.

Key hole: 4th. At 685 yards, this is the longest hole on the European Tour. Last year, Dawie Van der Walt managed to eagle it during his final round.

Where next?
PGA Tour –
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