Nick Gordon
1 minute read
21 Nov 2013
6:00 am

It’s wide Open at Glendower

Nick Gordon

Many people were still rubbing the sleep out of their eyes when the field for this year's South African Open Championship teed off at Glendower Golf Club this morning.

FILE PICTURE: Charl Schwartzel during the preview day of the South African Open Championship at Glendower Golf Club on November 20, 2013 in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Photo by Luke Walker/Sunshine Tour/Gallo Images)

A strong field of 156 players has descended on the parklands course on Johannesburg’s East Rand with the cast headlined by Major winners Retief Goosen and Charl Schwartzel and previous winners Hennie Otto and James Kingston.

The €1.1-million event also has a host of European Tour players making an appearance with the likes of next year’s Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley, England’s Ross Fisher and Italy’s Edoardo Molinari in the field.

The fact that defending champion Henrik Stenson has withdrawn may have made several of the entrants breathe a sigh of relief with the tournament now literally thrown wide open.

Stenson had been favoured to defend his title, especially considering his current run of form, and his absence changes the complexion of the first event of the European Tour season.

Given the nature of the layout at Glendower, a premium will be placed on course management over the next four days and it’s something that tournament favourite Schwartzel admits will be key.

“The course is very similar to a lot of Johannesburg courses, but I really think this one is the best. It has the risk and reward factor, more so than any other golf course,” he said ahead of the opening round.

“There’s a big variety of golf shots that you can use around here, and it’s not just a course where you can pull the driver all of the time. You’ve got to think a bit, otherwise you’ll run into quite a bit of trouble.”