Van der Walt targets another Tshwane triumph

2/24/2014 12:00:00 AM
Dawie Van Der Walt  (Getty Images)
Dawie Van Der Walt (Getty Images)

Defending champion Dawie Van der Walt and recent European Tour winners George Coetzee and Thomas Aiken will lead a strong home presence at the second edition of the Tshwane Open, the eighth and final tournament on The 2014 European Tour Schedule to be held on South African soil. 

South Africans have won five of the seven events held there so far this season, with Aiken (Africa Open), Coetzee (Joburg Open) and Van der Walt (Nelson Mandela Championship hosted by ISPS Handa) being joined in the winners’ enclosure by Major Champions Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel, who successfully defended their titles at the Volvo Golf Champions and Alfred Dunhill Championship, respectively.

Van der Walt will now aim to emulate the achievements of his illustrious compatriots by winning the Tshwane Open for a second successive season, having captured his debut European Tour title by two shots from fellow South African Darren Fichardt 12 months ago.  

The 31 year old is also bidding to become the first South African to win his first three European Tour titles on home soil, and the Ernie Els-designed Copperleaf Golf & Country Estate – which at 7,964 yards is the longest course in European Tour history – is again sure to provide a stern test.  

Coetzee, meanwhile, is the highest-ranked player in the field at 53rd in the Official World Golf Ranking, and the 27 year old arrives in Centurion fresh from reaching the last 16 in last week’s WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship in Arizona.

Having threatened to make his European Tour breakthrough on countless occasions since joining the top tier in 2010, Coetzee finally ended his drought with victory in Johannesburg three weeks ago.

Should Coetzee’s compatriot Aiken triumph in the Tshwane Open, he would become the first player to win in successive European Tour appearances since Phil Mickelson, who won the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open and The 142nd Open Championship last year.     

Of the ‘foreign’ contingent, South Africa Open Champion Mortum Ørum Madsen will also have one eye on the history books, as the Dane attempts to become the first European to win two events co-sanctioned by the Sunshine Tour in the same season.

Madsen will be joined in Tshwane by Simon Dyson of England and Sweden’s Niclas Fasth, who between them have won 12 times on The European Tour; whilst the experienced quartet of Grégory Bourdy, Ross Fisher, Michael Hoey and David Howell will all be aiming to add to their impressive tally of titles.

Els designed the Copperleaf course on the ground where his grandfather, Ernie Vermaak, used to live. The venue will be the first European Tour course to have four par fives all measuring over 600 yards in length, and the 685-yard par five fourth hole is the longest in European Tour history.