WATCH: Last chance saloon for SA players at The Open as LIV ban looms

South African golfer Louis Oosthuizen on his follow-through

Not quite a veteran yet, but possibly playing in his last Open Championship will be 39-year-old Louis Oosthuizen. Photo: Hugo Philpott/UPI/Shutterstock

Published Jul 12, 2022


Cape Town — Since Ernie Els won his first US Open in 1994 and his last in 2012, the longest South Africans had to wait for another major golf victory was four years, and as the 150th Open Championship begins at St Andrews on Thursday it’s now been a 10-year gap.

That wait is set to grow, unless one of the 12-strong SA contingent can do something about it this week in Scotland. Of that dozen, nine players would be considered genuine shock victors were they to lift the Claret Jug.

Amateur Aldrich Potgieter will consider it job done if he is to make the weekend, and Els — now aged 52 — will probably feel the same. Potgieter qualified for The Open with his triumph in the 127th Amateur Championship at Royal Lytham and St Annes.

For the Big Easy, however, it’s worth keeping in mind that his victories in The Open came 10 years apart — with his triumphs in 2002 and 2012 and it would be quite miraculous if he continued that trend in 2022. Nostalgia and a hard and fast layout at St Andrews this week may just mean the advantage of some of the younger and longer hitters is somewhat negated. Of course, who can forget how close a 59-year-old Tom Watson came to winning The Open in 2009.

Strong and steady winds (between 18 and 23 km per hour) are also predicted for the rest of the week, and some of the experienced veterans may just be licking their lips.

Not quite a veteran yet, but possibly playing in his last Open Championship will be 39-year-old Louis Oosthuizen. He has committed to the Saudi-funded LIV Golf tour and there’s every chance players like him will be barred from future major championships from next year.

The PGA Tour and DP World Tour (DPWT) seem to be on the same page about the breakaway tour, which has been labelled as shameless sports washing as the Saudi regime is guilty of a number of human rights abuses.

As for Oosthuizen’s chances, it seems the winner and runner-up respectively the last time the tournament was held at St Andrews may battle to contend this week. Oosthuizen withdrew mid-tournament at The Masters due to injury, finished 60th at the PGA Championship and missed the cut at The US Open. Like Els, Oosthuizen may need to bank on nostalgia and experience as he has little form to suggest he will win a second major come Sunday.

SA’s hopes therefore may lie with two of the less-fancied players in the field in Justin Harding and Dylan Frittelli.

Harding, 36, may also be playing his last Open due to his LIV commitment. However, Harding has five top-10s in 2022 which included a fourth place on the Asian tour last month. He too is good in the wind and could be a factor in the difficult conditions.

For Frittelli, it will be his 15th major and arrives at ‘The home of golf’ having finished fifth at The Open last year. He also boasts a scoring average of 68.67 around St Andrews in the Dunhill Links.

Garrick Higgo, Thriston Lawrence, and Zander Lombard, Dean Burmester, Christiaan Bezuidenhout, Shaun Norris and Erik van Rooyen make up the rest of the SA field.

The trio of Burmester, Bezuidenhout and Van Rooyen are probably the next best hopes for SA, but it would be quite unexpected to see any of them pull off a victory for the ages.


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