Michael Campbell and Darren Clarke will hope to make their Major presence felt when they tee up in this week’s inaugural Tshwane Open.
The illustrious duo, the respective winners of the 2005 US Open Championship and The 140th Open Championship in 2011, have won a total of 22 European Tour titles across the globe, but neither man has yet tasted success in an event co-sanctioned by The European and Sunshine Tours.
Clarke did win the Dimension Data Pro-Am in South Africa 12 years ago, and the Northern Irishman will be seeking a first victory since lifting the Claret Jug at Royal St George’s two years ago.
Meanwhile, Campbell’s form has been showing signs of improvement recently, with the New Zealander in contention going into the final round of last year’s UBS Hong Kong Open and the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters last month.
Copperleaf Golf & Country Estate, in Centurion, will host the €1.5million tournament, which is the sixth and final event to be held in South Africa this season.
Four of the previous five tournaments have been won by South Africans, with Charl Schwartzel (at the Alfred Dunhill Championship), Louis Oosthuizen (Volvo Golf Champions), Richard Sterne (Joburg Open) and, most recently, Darren Fichardt (Africa Open) all triumphing in their homeland.
Fichardt, currently 17th in The Race to Dubai, will be bidding to capture his fifth European Tour title over the 7,791 yards, par 72 course at Copperleaf Golf and Country Estate, which was designed by four-time Major Champion Ernie Els, whose grandfather, Ernie Vermaak, used to live on the land.
Fellow South African Jaco Van Zyl, one of the players Fichardt beat into second place at the Africa Open, heads to Centurion in fine fettle, having secured his 11th Sunshine Tour title at last week’s Dimension Data Pro-Am.
Speaking after his one-shot win over England’s Daniel Brooks, Van Zyl said: “I’ve been getting better every week, and now I’m really looking forward to the Tshwane Open. To go there on the back of a win gives me great confidence that I can get my first victory on The European Tour.”
Trevor Fisher Jnr, tied sixth behind Sterne in the Joburg Open, and European Tour champion Hennie Otto should also be leading contenders to take the title, having finished joint third in the Dimension Date Pro-Am.
Other notable names in the field include Europe’s victorious 2012 Ryder Cup Captain and Major Champion José María Olazábal, who tees up for the first time since finishing in the top 20 at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic at the start of the month.
The inaugural Tshwane Open, which carries a first prize of €237,750, will be co-sanctioned by The European and Sunshine Tours.