The European Tour returns to action this week, with three straight events in South Africa beginning with the Joburg Open. Here is all you need to know.
DEFENDING CHAMPION: The Joburg Open was not contested in either 2018 or 2019, with India’s Shubhankar Sharma the last man to win the event in 2017. Sharma defeated Erik van Rooyen by three shots to claim the then tri-sanctioned tournament.
COURSE: Host of the South African Open earlier this year, Randpark Golf Club’s Firethorn course welcomes the Joburg Open this week.
Originally built in the 1960s as the club’s second 18-hole layout, the course was redesigned in 2015 by Sean Quinn, with seven new holes built and every green reconstructed. Comprising a 446 metre par-4, 204 metre par-3 and a 464 metre par-4 with water in play on all three, the final three-hole stretch is sure to provide some drama late in the tournament.
PRIZEMONEY: ZAR 19,500,000.
PLAYERS TO WATCH …
Local Brandon Stone enters this week with the aim of claiming the missing piece of a South African tournament hat-trick, having previously won the South African Open and Alfred Dunhill Championship.
The 2018 Scottish Open winner arrives back in his homeland in good form, the 27-year-old sharing 16th in his last European Tour start at the Scottish Championship.
Having fallen outside of the top-200 on the world rankings, Stone will be hoping to finish his year strongly in South Africa.
RIGHT: Joost Luiten is one of the favourites this week in South Africa. PHOTO: Stuart Franklin/Getty Images.
Queenslander Scott Hend will play the next few weeks in South Africa without regular caddie Tony Carolan due to the expense associated with the former Tour pro returning to Australia for quarantine, but that shouldn’t rule out the lone Aussie in the field as a chance.
Hend finished in the top-10 at Wentworth last month before a disappointing missed cut the following week in Scotland and will be freshened up after a few weeks at home in Florida to recharge.
Six-time European Tour winner Joost Luiten has been surprisingly inconsistent throughout 2020, but with some solid play of late and a reputation as a straight driver and strong ball striker, one would expect the Dutchman will find Randpark to his liking.
Luiten last won in 2018 in Oman and a win here would continue his streak dating back to 2014 of claiming a European Tour event every two years.
72-HOLE RECORD: South African Richard Sterne reached 27-under (260) in 2013 when he defeated compatriot Charl Schwartzel by seven shots.
PAST AUSSIE WINNERS: No previous Australian winners.
AUSTRALIANS IN THE FIELD: Scott Hend.
Round 1: Thursday (Fox Sports 503 LIVE 6pm – 9pm & 12am-2am)
Round 2: Friday (Fox Sports 503 LIVE 9pm – 2am)
Round 3: Saturday (Fox Sports 503 LIVE 9pm – 1:30am)
Round 4: Sunday (Fox Sports 503 LIVE 9pm – 1:30am)
*AEDT, check local guides