ST ANDREWS – South African golf looks in good shape on the eve of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship which takes place over three courses in Scotland starting on Thursday.
Three South Africans are currently in the top 10 on the European Tour's 2019 Race to Dubai suggests that at least something is going well with our golf heading into this week's $5-m (R345-m) tournament.
Erik van Rooyen, in his first full season on the main tour, is seventh, the fast-improving Christiaan Bezuidenhout is eighth and Louis Oosthuizen, who won the South African Open at Randpark in December last year (which formed part of the 2019 season) is 10th.
And the money has been rolling in for them. Van Rooyen (29), who describes himself as "Dream Chaser, Birdie Maker", has bagged 1 360 395 Euros (R22,242-m), Bezuidenhout 1 315 535 Euros (R21,493-m), and Oosthuizen 1 513 273 Euros (R24,727-m).
Bezuidenhout, in the Andalucia Masters, and Van Rooyen, in the Scandinavian Invitation, both scored maiden victories on the European Tour this season as did Justin Harding in the Qatar Masters.
Harding is 19th in the Race to Dubai and has earned over 1-million Euros (R16,339-m) this season as has Richard Sterne, who is 30th in the Race.
These are the only South Africans currently in the top 50 and the top 50 will qualify for the end-of-season World Tour Championship in Dubai from November 21-24.
Bezuidenhout was an encouraging third in the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth last week, Van Rooyen tied for 14th and Sterne shared 31st place.
But Branden Grace, Ernie Els, Trevor Immelman and George Coetzee all made the cut but faded over the weekend.
Thomas Aiken, Brandon Stone, Darren Fichardt, Justin Walters, Harding, Haydn Porteous, Dean Burmester and Jacques Kruyswijk all missed the cut – not a particularly good sign going into this week.
However, no less than 27 South Africans (Oosthuizen not among them) are in Scotland for the Dunhill Links played over the Old Course at St Andrews, Carnoustie and Kingsbarns.
So maybe there's a champion in there somewhere as no South African has won the tournament since its inception in 2001.
The Old Course is looking greener and softer – and even more delightful – than normal due to recent good rain.