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Star trio desperate for more home glory in South Africa

Star trio desperate for more home glory in South Africa

Defending champion Louis Oosthuizen would love to make a successful defence of his South African Open hosted by the City of Johannesburg title but he will have some serious competition from two more home favourites desperate to lift the trophy.

Louis Oosthuizen

Oosthuizen has been at the very top of the game ever since winning The Open Championship in 2010 and achieved another long held ambition when winning his national open for the first time in 2019.

With Ernie Els reaching eligibility for senior golf last season, Oosthuizen will now become the flagbearer for a proud golfing nation at the age of just 37, but he will have plenty of support.

While 20-somethings like Christiaan Bezuidenhout, Brandon Stone and Erik van Rooyen are making big names for themselves at the start of their careers, experienced heads like Branden Grace and Charl Schwartzel continue to compete at the very top in their 30s.

Grace and Schwartzel have 19 European Tour wins between them including a Major Championship and a Rolex Series win, but have yet to lift the trophy at the second oldest open in golf.

And Oosthuizen knows all too well how special ending the long wait for that victory is.

"It means a lot," he said. "I was wanting to win it for a long time. It's always nice coming back and just playing it, defending it is very special.

Charl Schwartzel

"It was a tournament I was really trying to get to win with all the great champions on there: Ernie, Retief (Goosen), Mr (Gary) Player, all of them. I wanted to have my name on the trophy.

"It was nice having a big lead at the end there so I could take it all in."

Schwartzel - the 2011 Masters Tournament winner - secured his seventh top five at this event last season but saw the rest of his 2019 campaign derailed by a wrist injury.

A top three on his return at the Alfred Dunhill Championship before Christmas showed he is close to a full recovery and he is aching to get over the line at Randpark Golf Club for a ninth European Tour win in South Africa.

"It's been a quest of mine for quite some time," he said. "I've come real close a lot of times, I've thrown one or two away but at least I've been up there quite a few times.

"Hopefully I'll break through. It'll be a dream come true. As a South African, it's definitely high on the list."

Grace won his first European Tour title at the 2012 Joburg Open and has since added the biggest titles in South African golf with the Alfred Dunhill Championship, the Dimension Data Pro-Am and the Nedbank Golf Challenge hosted by Gary Player.

Branden Grace

And the 31-year-old feels a win this week can complete his set on home soil.

"This is the one that I'm missing," he said. "This is the one that I need, this is the one that is short for me to win it all in South Africa.

"I've been close a few times now so hopefully the time is ticking on for me to put my hands on this one.

"It would mean the world."

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