Simon Dyson (Getty Images)
Simon Dyson admits the European contingent face a tough challenge trying to get the better of the South Africans in the field at this week’s Tshwane Open.
The event at Copperleaf Golf & Country Estate represents the sixth co-sanctioned tournament between The European Tour and Sunshine Tour, and home players have won four of the five so far this season.
Six-time European Tour winner Dyson believes the chances of another South African winning on home soil are good, but the Englishman is aiming to gatecrash the party come Sunday evening.
“They seem to come off the conveyor belt every year and you’ve got some really, really good talent,” Dyson said of the likes of Charl Schwartzel, Louis Oosthuizen, Darren Fichardt and Richard Sterne – all of whom have recorded European Tour victories so far this season.
“They all hit it an absolute mile, which sickens me. Every single one of them seems to bomb it, and you look at Sterne and he must be five foot one, and Schwartzel could hide behind the pin, and they all hit it 300 plus. It’s just ridiculous, must be something in the water. Or the biltong!
“There are some good world ranking pints this week, and you would be a very happy winner if you lifted the trophy this week.”
It is not only the home contingent Dyson has to overcome this week – the 685 yard par five fourth on the Ernie Els-designed course will become the longest hole in European Tour history – on a lay-out that boasts three holes over 600 yards.
“This was always one of my favourite places to come and play, was South Africa, and I haven’t been back for while, so it won’t be as long before I come back again,” added Dyson.
“It’s long! I feel like I’ve played 36 holes today. You have to get up on the tee and hit the drive as far as you can, which doesn’t play into my favour. It’s a nice course and there are some really nice holes out there, and it was a lot better than I thought it would be.
“The front nine is a good test of golf. The first five or six holes, if you can get through them level or one under then you’ve got a good chance after that.”
Former Open Champion Darren Clarke is another expecting to be fully tested by the player who succeeded him in lifting the Claret Jug.
“It’s brutally long in places, but some of the short holes are typical Ernie – lots of run-offs,” said the Northern Irishman.
“A good short game is going to come to the fore if you do miss the short holes. It’s going to be a tough test, because every par five feels like 650 yards, so it’s not the usual where everyone is going to be hammering it in two. The course is good and it’s in great condition.”
Clark has not had a top-15 finish since his emotional triumph at Royal St George’s, but the Ryder Cup Vice-captain is determined to turn his form around.
“It’s been a very frustrating period for me, but one of these weeks things are going to fall back into place again,” he added. “The weather at home has been minus one, minus two degrees, but I’ve been out every day beating balls, chipping, putting. It’s a bit different to this sort of temperature, but it’s good.”