South African golfers continued to make their mark internationally in 2021, with eight of them finishing the year in the top 100 of the world rankings.
Louis Oosthuizen was once again in the forefront of the local effort, finishing in the top three at three of the four Majors.
Having been the runner-up at both the PGA Championship and the US Open, the 39-year-old then finished tied-third at the Open. It left him ranked 10th in the world.
This continued his incredible run at the Majors, where he now has 11 top-10 finishes, including his victory at the 2010 Open Championship at St Andrew’s.
Far from being downcast at being pipped to the post so often, Oosthuizen instead said his record inspired him because it proved he could still compete in the Majors.
South Africa’s next highest ranked golfer at the close of the year was Christiaan Bezuidenhout (47th) and he also enjoyed a good 2021 campaign in the Majors, making the cut in all four of them, an inspirational performance on its own.
There were good years too for Garrick Higgo (60th), who enjoyed a phenomenal stretch in which he won three times in eight weeks, including at the Palmetto Championships in just his second start on the US PGA Tour. The fact that the youngster’s good friend, Gary Player, gave him a motivational phone call on the morning of the final round created much excitement in America.
Branden Grace staged a good revival in 2021, winning the Puerto Rico Open and finishing the year back in the top-100 at 67th, while Dean Burmester enjoyed an even more astonishing rise to reach 66th.
Burmester was 182nd at the end of last year, but his consistency in Europe – winning the Tenerife Open and having six other top-10 finishes as he finished 18th in the Race to Dubai – saw him claim his career-best ranking. He also won South Africa’s PGA Championship at the St Francis Links in November.
Shaun Norris (74th) proved his mettle on the Japanese Tour, winning twice and finishing fourth on their points rankings.
Of the home-based golfers, Daniel van Tonder enjoyed the most success. Having dominated locally in 2020, he gained his European Tour card by winning the Kenya Classic and did well enough overseas to retain his privileges by finishing 77th on their order of merit.
Van Tonder made the cut in the two Majors he played – the Open and the PGA Championship – and completed another very pleasing year for the 30-year-old by winning the South African Open at Sun City.