There will be a determined European Tour Challenge to wrest the Tshwane Open title from the hands of defending champion Dawie van der Walt when the tournament gets under way at the Els Club Copperleaf golf course in Centurion from February 27 to March 2.
South African professionals George Coetzee, Thomas Aiken, Hennie Otto, Darren Fichardt and Jbe' Kruger add 11 European Tour titles to Van der Walt's tally of two, but the top six European Tour players in the tournament co-sanctioned by the Sunshine Tour and the European Tour have 30 European Tour victories between them.
Van der Walt will return to defend his title in what is the last of a run of seven co-sanctioned tournaments in South Africa over this summer swing when the City of Tshwane hosts the second Tshwane Open.
Of the seven, only two were won by foreigners, namely Morton Madsen's victory in the South African Open Championship and Thomas Bjørn's victory in the Nedbank Golf Challenge.
Between them, Simon Dyson of England and Niclas Fasth of Sweden have won 12 European Tour titles with six each, and that gives an indication of the strength of the challenge the top South Africans will face if they are to keep the trophy in Tshwane.
The experienced David Howell of England and Northern Ireland's Michael Hoey have won five times each, while Frenchman Gregory Bourdy and England's Ross Fisher have four titles apiece.
But they will have to contend with South African stars, all of whom have shown recent good form, notably Coetzee and Aiken, who won the last two co-sanctioned events in South Africa, taking the Joburg Open and the Africa Open respectively. – Sapa