The European Tour celebrates its 200th co-sanctioned event this week by joining forces with the Sunshine Tour again for the BMW SA Open hosted by City of Ekurhuleni.
Fittingly, the milestone occurs on South African soil, where the first co-sanctioned event also took place 21 years ago, when Ernie Els triumphed in the 1995 South African PGA Championship.
Eight former winners of the SA Open, including Els and defending champion Andy Sullivan – who is returning to the scene of his breakthrough European Tour victory – will be teeing off their 2016 campaign at Glendower Golf Club, Johannesburg.
Sullivan dramatically overhauled local favourite Charl Schwartzel on the final afternoon 12 months ago, making up four shots in the final five holes to take it to a play-off which the Englishman then won with a birdie on the first additional hole.
That was the start of a seminal year for the 28 year old, who went on to claim the Joburg Open and the Portugal Masters before narrowly being edged out by Rory McIlroy at the DP World Tour Championship, and he will be hoping to become the first player to successfully defend the SA Open title since Trevor Immelman in 2003-04.
The SA Open dates back to 1893, making it the second oldest National Open Championship in the world behind only The Open Championship, and this year is the 20th consecutive time the tournament has been co-sanctioned by The European Tour – more than any other event.
Other notable faces in a strong field include Immelman alongside former winners and compatriots Retief Goosen, Hennie Otto and Richard Sterne, plus Trevor Dodds and Morten Ørum Madsen – both past champions.
Lee Slattery and Gary Stal, both winners on the 2015 Race to Dubai, will be looking to start the new year in perfect fashion, as will the clutch of Frenchmen – Grégory Bourdy, Sebastien Gros and Thomas Linard – who made up the top five behind winner Charl Schwartzel at the Alfred Dunhill Championship towards the end of 2015.