ST LOUIS – South Africa’s bid for a second PGA Championship winner takes centre stage at Bellerive Country Club from Thursday with six players looking to join Gary Player in the history of the year’s final Major.
Player won the second of his PGA titles in 1972 at Oakland Hills but the wait for a follow-up act has been paved in hardship.
Ironically Player won the US Open at Bellerive in 1965 after beating Kel Nagle in a play-off.
Since then only Louis Oosthuizen, last year at Quail Hollow and Branden Grace back in 2015 at Whistling Straits, have come reasonably close to a PGA title although both occasions the win was probably never within touching distance.
Bellerive plays host to the 100th playing of the championship in just its second time on the rotation with South Africans now hoping that some good omens can be drawn from the 1992 winner.
On that occasion, it was Zimbabwe neighbour Nick Price who prevailed as he controlled his game around the tight, traditional parkland layout.
That’s as far as the positives regarding the course history go with the par 70 course not a regular feature on tour; it lasted host a significant event a decade ago when Camilo Villegas won the BMW Championship ahead of unheralded American Dudley Hart.
Oosthuizen will once again look to continue his habit of peaking at the right time as he looks to get over his American hoodoo.
The 34-year-old is still without a win on US soil and would love nothing more than to add a second major to his name on such a grand stage.
Charl Schwartzel and Branden Grace complete the trio of South Africans expected to contend with the former a regular on PGA weekend with nine cuts made in his last 10 starts in this event.
Justin Harding, prolific in South Africa and a two-time Asian Tour winner, joins recent Scottish Open winner Brandon Stone and US-educated Dylan Frittelli as the remaining South Africans in the lineup where there’s a storyline wherever one looks.
Jordan Spieth can complete the career Slam this week with Dustin Johnson looking to add his second major title to his collection.
Tiger Woods continues to thrill the galleries on his comeback tour while Rory McIlroy is building up a head of steam after undergoing a little drought of his own.
McIlroy has just one win worldwide in two years and last tasted major glory at this same event back in 2014.
South African tee times on Thursday:
Louis Oosthuizen at 8:59pm with Thomas Pieters and Bill Haas
Branden Grace at 3:45pm with Stewart Cink and Ryan Moore
Charl Schwartzel at 8:32pm with Thorbjorn Olesen and Patrick Cantlay
Dylan Frittelli at 3:29pm with Paul Dunne and JB Holmes
Justin Harding at 9:21pm with Omar Uresti and Andrew Landry
Brandon Stone at 7:20pm with Johan Kok and Kim Whee.
Africa News Agency (ANA)