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Monday, 12 December 2005

Ernie Els will be targeting a victorious homecoming this week as he heads to The Links at Fancourt in his quest to add the South African Airways Open title to last weekend’s dunhill championship victory and complete his return from injury with a South African double.

 

Els, whose South African residence is in the neighbouring town of George, returned to the winners’ enclosure last week in only his second tournament back since a five month injury break. And having blown the cobwebs away in style the two-time European Tour Order of Merit winner has his sights set on the second oldest national Open in golf.

 

The three-time Major Champion has won the title three times, the last being in 1998, and this week will be chasing his 23rd European Tour title.

 

Els is part of a world-class field that includes double US Open Champion Retief Goosen, defending champion Tim Clark and past winner Trevor Immelman.

 

Goosen makes his return to the championship he won in 1995. Since then he has gone on to win the US Open twice – in 2001 and 2004 – and like Els, topped The European Tour Order of Merit on two occasions – in 2001 and 2002.

 

Clark won the title by six strokes at Durban Country Club last year, before going on to win The Barclays Scottish Open at Loch Lomond. He also won the title in 2002 while Immelman is another double champion having secured back-to-back victories in 2003 and 2004.

 

The South African Airways Open also sees another Englishman Justin Rose return to The European Tour fold. Rose, who was born in South Africa, has played the last two seasons on the US PGA Tour, finishing 62nd and 55th on the Money List, but has re-joined The European Tour from the start of the 2006 season.

 

The Links course at the Fancourt Hotel and Country Club on South Africa’s picturesque Western Cape offers a demanding test for the South African Airways Open. Designed by Gary Player, the Links has established itself as one of the toughest tests in golf, hosting the Presidents Cup in 2003 and the inaugural Women’s World Cup of Golf earlier this year.

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