South African Garth Mulroy is hoping his affinity with Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club will help him win a second European Tour title in this week’s Joburg Open.
Mulroy was runner-up in 2008 after losing a play-off to compatriot Richard Sterne, and again had to settle for second place three years later behind runaway winner Charl Schwartzel, the 2011 Masters Tournament champion.
The 34 year old has a record of performing well on home soil too, his sole European Tour victory coming in the Alfred Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek Country Club in November 2011. He then produced a superb defence of the title to finish tied third in late 2012, when it was the second event of the 2013 International Schedule.
“I love going back to Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club,” said Mulroy ahead of the €1.3million event played over the East and West courses.
“The East course is my second favourite course in South Africa and to go back there to play in one of the country’s biggest tournaments is a lot of fun.
“You’ve got to hit the ball well there; you have to drive it well and hit it pretty long. If you’re not then you’re hitting good iron shots into the greens.
“It’s got that famous kikuyu rough so if you hit in that stuff around the greens you’re going to have a hard time. It just tangles around the club head so you just have to swat it and hope.
“A few years ago Charl got the better of us, and in 2008 I was in a play-off with Richard Sterne, and he hit one of the best shots I’ve ever seen out of a fairway bunker, so he deserved that one.
“When you have a chance you want to take advantage of it and win, but that year against Richard he hit that unbelievable long bunker shot and beat me.
“I always like playing in South Africa – there’s a different, more relaxed feel. It almost feels as if it doesn’t matter that much when you’ve got family and friends around. You get decent crowds there, and if you play well you’ll have a lot of people watching, so that’s always key.”