Els, Retief commit to SAA Open

Both Ernie Els and Retief Goosen have committed themselves to play at this year’s South African Airways Open which will take place at The Links at Fancourt in George from December 15 to 18.

In addition, the prize purse for the co-sanctioned Sunshine Tour and European Tour event has increased by about 35%.

Previously worth £500 000 (about R5,8-million), this season’s tournament will carry prize money of one million euros (about R7,82-million).

Knee surgery following an injury has kept Els out of action since July but he is hoping to be back in competition around the end of November and expects to be fully recovered in time for the Open.

Joining Els and Goosen will be defending champion Tim Clark, as well as 2003 and 2004 champion Trevor Immelman. Already confirmed from the European Tour are Ryder Cup player Ian Poulter and Justin Rose.

Last season the tournament was played in January but now it has been moved to December where it will follow the Nedbank Challenge at Sun City and the Dunhill Championsips—also a co-sanctioned event—to be played at Leopard Creek.

South Africans have always performed well at the SA Open, the second oldest “Open” after the British Open, with Gary Player holding the record for the most number of wins—13. Bobby Locke was the youngest winner of the event when he first captured the title at the age 17 in 1935.
He went on to win it another eight times, including five on the trot from 1937 to 1940 and 1946 (tournament was not played between 1941 and 1945 due to World War II).

Player continues to make his presence felt at this tournament as he designed The Links which has quickly established itself as one of the toughest tests of golf. - Sapa