Friday, 19 March 2010
Ian Woosnam, whose last victory in South Africa came in the Million Dollar Challenge at Sun City twelve years ago, and two-time Masters champion, Bernhard Langer, head a high class field for the first co-sanctioned tournament of the new millennium, the Alfred Dunhill Championship.

Houghton Golf Club in Johannesburg will stage the historic opening event of the century, with many of South Africa's leading names joining forces with the top players on the European Tour to produce a quality start to the new season.

Woosnam, who starts his 2000 campaign with back-to-back events in South Africa, won the Zambian and Kenyan Opens in 1985 and 1986 respectively, followed by the biggest cheque of his successful career in the 1988 Million Dollar Classic.

However, the popular Welshman has never won the Alfred Dunhill Championship, nor the Mercedes-Benz South African Open Championship, which he will attempt to capture next week at Randpark Club.

Langer's 37 European Tour victories do not include a South African success, although he, too, is a former winner of the Million Dollar Challenge. Both major champions will be keen to add to their CV in the first month of the millennium.

There are two former champions in the field - Germany's Sven Strüver, who won over a curtailed 54 holes in 1996, and Tony Johnstone, who reckoned that his 1998 victory effectively rescued his career.

The Zimbabwean, who edged out Ernie Els, Nick Price and Retief Goosen, insisted: "That was a huge win. I was seriously thinking of finding some other golf-related work after the way I played that year."

It was an emotional 21st victory world-wide for Johnstone, who won by two strokes with a 17 under par total of 271. He had built up a five stroke lead over Els with one round to play and was three ahead after ten holes when play resumed on Monday morning after severe thunderstorms. Johnstone eventually won by two.

Strüver made his European Tour breakthrough two years earlier, shooting a ten under par 63 on Sunday afternoon - then waiting until Monday morning to know if it was good enough.

Cut to 54 holes by the heaviest rains for 20 years in the Johannesburg area, the event was won comfortably in the end by the powerful German as Ernie Els was unable to make the three birdies he needed in seven holes on Monday to catch Strüver.

David Frost, winner of the Mercedes-Benz South African Open last year at Stellenbosch, attempts to win the Alfred Dunhill Championship for the first time. Last season, he made a bold bid for victory but had to settle for a share of third place with Jeev Milkha Singh, Stephen Leaney and Steve Webster, seven strokes behind Ernie Els.

Many of the notable European players have emerged early from winter hibernation, including four 1999 tournament winners in David Howell, Jean-Francois Remesy, Jarmo Sandelin, and Warren Bennett.

Jean Van de Velde of France, who came so close to landing the Open Championship at Carnoustie last summer, makes

the trip to South Africa along with other Ryder Cup players, Peter Baker, Ignacio Garrido and Paul Broadhurst.

The tournament is the start of an exciting adventure of incentive and opportunity for several newcomers to the European Tour from the successful Challenge Tour and Qualifying School routes.

Alastair Forsyth of Scotland, who won the Qualifying School at San Roque last November, makes his Tour debut. Ian Pyman, second to Carl Suneson on the Challenge Tour last year, returns to the main Tour while there is a warm welcome to one of the first Austrians to graduate to the Tour, Markus Brier.

Houghton is one of the well-established Johannesburg suburban courses which has hosted many tournaments, including the South African Open. It is regarded as a long, testing course with a selection of interesting holes on an attractive tract of land containing old trees and flowering shrubs.

The practice area at Houghton was upgraded for the 1996 Alfred Dunhill South African PGA Championship, constructed by the club and widened to accommodate a full field of players with ease.

The course itself was improved for 1999, with several changes to the teeing areas and bunkering. A number of alterations were made to the closing holes to help add to the excitement of an anticipated close finish.

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1FROST, DavidRSA18-8
T2LANGER, BernhardGER18-6
4RILEY, WayneAUS18-1
5WALL, AnthonyENG--12
T6ORR, GarySCO--10
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