The European Tour heads to South Africa this week for the historic South African Open hosted by the City of Johannesburg. Chris Paisley is defending champion.

South African Open Leaderboard, Preview, TV Times

England’s Chris Paisley is defending champion in the South African Open hosted by the City of Johannesburg at Randpark GC

As you would expect, a strong home contingent will tee it up at Randpark. Ernie Els starts as do his fellow Major champions Louis Oosthuizen, Trevor Immelman and Charl Schwartzel. Other home favourites include Richard Sterne, Branden Grace and Brandon Stone.

From outside South Africa, England’s Matt Wallace will be amongst the favourites, together with Bernd Wiesberger of Austria and Spaniards Pablo Larrazabal and Gonzalo Fernandez Castano.

The event has shifted in the schedule for this season. Usually contested after the New Year, this instalment will be played before the Christmas break.

This is one of the oldest events to feature on the European Tour. The first South African Open was contested as an exhibition tournament in 1893 and 2010 saw the 100th staging of the great competition. This year will be the 108th edition.

The great South African golfers of the last 80 years have made this tournament their own. Bobby Locke won nine times between 1935 and 1955 before Gary Player took over, winning 13 times from 1956 to 1981. Other South African Major winners – Ernie Els, Retief Goosen and Trevor Immelman have all lifted the trophy.

Trevor Immelman won in 2003 and 2004

Trevor Immelman won in 2003 and 2004

Last season at Glendower, England’s Chris Paisley took the title. He did enough to hold off home favourite Branden Grace by three shots. Grace will be back this season hoping to get his hands on his home title.

Randpark was host to the South African opens of 1995 and 2000, won by Retief Goosen and Mathias Gronberg respectively. The Firethorn course has been revamped since then and should prove to be a fitting host for this famous tournament.

The weather forecast isn’t too great. Rain looks likely throughout the tournament with thunderstorms predicted for the weekend. Look out for some delays to play.

Venue: Randpark GC, Johannesburg, South Africa
Date: Dec 6-9
Course stats: par 72, 7,594 yards
Purse: €1,130,000
Defending champion: Chris Paisley (-21)

How to watch the South African Open

TV Coverage:
Thursday 6 – Sky Sports Golf and Sky Sports Main Event from 10am
Friday 7 – Sky Sports Golf and Sky Sports Main Event from 10am
Saturday 8 – Sky Sports Golf from 9.30am
Sunday 9 – Sky Sports Golf and Sky Sports Main Event from 9.30am

Not a Sky Sports customer and want to watch the South African Open?

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Players to watch:

Matt Wallace

Matt Wallace

Matt Wallace – He’s becoming one of the most consistent players on the European Tour with a strong will to win. He was tied second in the DP World Tour Championship.

Dylan Frittelli – He’s been playing solidly and put in a great defence of his title last week in the Mauritius Open, finishing tied fifth.

Dean Burmester – A highly talented player who played some excellent golf at the end of last season. The South African was tied fourth in Dubai.

Key holes: The last three are extremely demanding and that should make for an exciting finale to this tournament. The 16th is a testing, long, dog-leg par-4, the 17th a long par-3 with water looming large while the home hole is an uphill brute that used to be a par-5. Any player looking for three pars to close out victory will have his work cut out.