JOHANNESBURG - It seems like every flippin’ week a South African-born golfer who has made a new home abroad is winning on the PGA Tour in America. Okay, forgive me, maybe I’m getting a little ahead of myself.
But this past Sunday, Justin Rose - who was born in Joburg but moved to England when he was five - won the Fort Worth Invitational.
And seven days prior to that Aaron Wise, who came into this world in Cape Town but relocated to the US with his mama and papa when he was just three, captured the Byron Nelson event in Texas, playing with a poise far beyond his 21 years in only his 26th start on tour, and naming Ernie Els as his inspiration in his bid to conquer the world.
Okay, so that’s not every single week but it is two on the trot for the SA-born emigrants.
We can’t read too much into this, but it’s always nice to be able to identify some sort of South African connection to a sporting champion, even if they don’t live here anymore and have taken out citizenship of other countries.
And as far as Rose goes, what whets the appetite for me this week - and perhaps for you - is the Memorial Tournament starting Thursday at Muirfield Village.
It is of course one of the more high-profile stops on tour and Rose (who still has a soft spot for the Rainbow Nation, and has family here who he visits regularly) has been drawn with defending champion Jason Dufner and that man very much on the comeback trail, Tiger Woods. Late-night viewing of that group on TV should be a blast.
I was lucky enough to be alongside the warm waters of the Mediterranean coast last November to see Rose win the Turkish Airlines Open, outgunning our own Dylan Frittelli into second place.
Justin, now ranked third in the world behind namesake Justin Thomas and Dustin Johnson, is a genuinely friendly, humble guy and I liked what I read this week on the TaylorMade website about the relationship between him and his caddie Mark “Fooch” Fulcher (they’ve been together for nine years).
The bagman clearly has a lot of respect for his man: “First and foremost, he’s my boss - I never lose sight of that,” says “Fooch”.
“The quality of his work is outstanding, and he expects the same from the people around him which is ‘Team Rose’.
When you spend a long time with somebody and you go through some battles on and off the course, you develop a bond.
“The reality is that I’d walk through fire for Rosie. He’s been a good man to me.
“He’s enabled me to see things, do things, and achieve things that I never could’ve imagined.”
Well, that’s enough about SA-born golfers who have emigrated and are enjoying success in their new homelands. But what chances of a true-blue South African going through fire and winning The Memorial this week?
It definitely could happen with upbeat new dad Branden Grace (superb these last two weeks in the Byron Nelson where he was second and the BMW British PGA where he was fifth), Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel all running into form and rolling in birdies from all over the place.