Monday, 09 January 2017
The Sun rises over the ninth green ahead of the second round of The BMW SA Open hosted by City of Ekurhuleni  (Getty Images)
The Sun rises over the ninth green ahead of the second round of The BMW SA Open hosted by City of Ekurhuleni (Getty Images)

World Number Two Rory McIlroy will compete at the first tournament of the calendar year, as the 2017 Race to Dubai presented by Rolex continues with the BMW SA Open hosted by City of Ekurhuleni.

REWIND

Brandon Stone did it the hard way to claim an emotional first European Tour win at Glendower Golf Club in 2016.

The home favourite made it 13 South African wins in 20 events since the second oldest national Open Championship in the world joined the European Tour International Schedule in 1997, and he was in tears on the 18th green as he finished his round on a dramatic final day.

Stone

The 22 year old established a two-shot third round lead and then moved five shots clear before being pegged back and eventually finishing 14 under to beat countryman Christiaan Bezuidenhout by two shots.

Stone closed with a remarkable 71, which contained seven birdies and six bogeys but was good enough to make him the youngest winner of the event since it joined the European Tour.

After sealing his dramatic victory, Stone said: "It's too good to be true. I'm overcome with emotions at the moment. There was a lot of ups and downs in that final round but to come out on top at the end is incredible."

BITE-SIZED HISTORY 

The SA Open is the second oldest National Open Championship in the world - the first ever tournament was played as an exhibition in Port Elizabeth in 1893 - and only The Open Championship, which started in 1860, is older.

The tournament became part of the European Tour International Schedule in 1997, and is co-sanctioned with the Sunshine Tour.

The legendary Gary Player has secured the most wins at the event, taking 13 titles between 1956 and 1981.

Since 1997, South Africans have won 13 of the 20 editions, with Ernie Els, David Frost, Mark McNulty, Tim Clark, Trevor Immelman, Retief Goosen, James Kingston, Richard Sterne, Hennie Otto and Stone all tasting victory in front of a home crowd.

Els

Els has been the most successful player at the tournament since it became part of the European Tour, securing a trio of wins in 1998, 2007 and 2011, but Immelman is the only player to have successfully defended the title during that period, with back-to-back wins in 2003 and 2004.

THE FIELD

Rory McIlroy has made good on a promise to Els by confirming his attendance at this year’s event.

The Big Easy, who is the player-host, extracted the commitment when he played in the 2015 Irish Open, hosted by The Rory Foundation.

This will be a third appearance at the tournament for the four-time Major Champion and the first time since the 2009 season, when he finished in a tie for third place with Els.

McIlroy

Six-time Major Champion Sir Nick Faldo is making his first appearance in a regular European Tour event since the 2014 Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.

Faldo and Els are bringing together teams from their respective foundations, the Faldo Series and the Ernie Els & Fancourt Foundation, together with a team from the South African Golf Development Board, to compete in a unique event ahead of the tournament to promote junior golf globally.

Defending champion Brandon Stone and Retief Goosen, the two-time US Open winner who won the SA Open in 1995 and 2005, are amongst a field made up of an equal number of professionals from the European Tour and Sunshine Tour.

THE COURSE

Glendower Golf Club is a parkland golf course in Johannesburg, which is hosting the tournament for the seventh time since 1989.

The par 72 course boasts kikuyu grass fairways with 64 bunkers - 27 on the front nine and 37 on the back nine - and water hazards on 11 of the 18 holes.

McIlroy

In 1935, English golf architect Charles Hugh Alison was employed to plan the course and South African professional golfer A.F. Tomsett was assigned the task of the construction, with the club opening two years later.

During the 1980s the course underwent a major upgrade. All 18 greens were reshaped and rebuilt, new tee positions were added, existing water hazards were cleared and extended, and new water features added at a number of holes. 

Now measuring just over 7594 yards, the feature hole on the course is the 477-yard par four tenth, which requires a long approach over a wide lake to a green that has two bunkers on either side of the putting surface.

DID YOU KNOW?

• The SA Open is the second oldest National Open Championship in the world, dating back to 1893, only The Open Championship, which started in 1860, is older.

• Defending champion Brandon Stone will try to become only the second player following Trevor Immelman (2003 and 2004) to make a successful defence of the title since the tournament became part of the European Tour International Schedule in 1997. 

• In 2015 Andy Sullivan became the first English winner since Tommy Horton in 1970.

• Rory McIlroy is playing in South Africa’s national open for the third time. In the 2008 season he missed the cut but was tied third with Ernie Els in the 2009 season.

• Six-time Major Champion Sir Nick Faldo is making his first appearance in a regular European Tour event since the 2014 Alfred Dunhill Links Championship. His only previous appearance in this event since the tournament became part of the European Tour in 1997, was in 1999 when he tied 43rd.

• Ernie Els will be looking to win his national title for the sixth time, the last being in 2011 season (played in December 2010). Should he win again he would move into fourth in the list of most prolific winners of the event. Gary Player has 13, Bobby Locke nine and Sid Brews has eight. Els is currently level with George Fotheringham on five.

• Glendower Golf Club staged the Championship the first time the event was co-sanctioned with the European Tour in 1997 and won by Vijay Singh. Since then the Johannesburg venue hosted the 2014, 2015 and 2016 event.

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1STORM, GraemeENG18-18
2MCILROY, RoryNIR18-18
3SMITH, Jordan LENG18-17
4BURMESTER, DeanRSA18-15
T5AIKEN, ThomasRSA18-14
T5FISHER JNR, TrevorRSA18-14

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