The European Tour returns to idyllic Indian Ocean surroundings this week for the fifth edition of the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open.
Here are some of the key facts about the island event, which is tri-sanctioned with the Asian Tour and the Sunshine Tour.
Bring on the Belgians
Belgian stars Nicolas Colsaerts, Thomas Detry and Thomas Pieters will be aiming to take their fine 2019 form into the new season when they tee it up at Heritage Golf Club this week. While Detry and Pieters are making their debuts in the event, Colsaerts is no stranger to the paradise island – as an ambassador for Anahita Golf Club Mauritius, he has teed it up in three of the four previous editions, finishing third in 2016.
Ryder Cup players Colsaerts and Pieters both returned to winning ways in 2019, triumphing in the Amundi Open de France and D+D Real Czech Masters respectively, while Detry is still seeking his maiden European Tour title. But, with four top tens last season – including third place in the prestigious Nedbank Golf Challenge hosted by Gary Player – he could be walking on sunshine by the end of the week.
Another man making his debut in the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open is Scottish Major winner Paul Lawrie. After turning 50 in January, the 1999 Open Champion and two-time Ryder Cup player announced his arrival on the senior circuit in style by winning the Scottish Senior Open in August. He’ll be aiming for more glory over the next fortnight as he follows up his appearance at Heritage Golf Club by playing in the Staysure Tour’s season-ending MCB Tour Championship - Mauritius next week.
More double dreams
Three of the four previous winners of the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open have enjoyed double delight by triumphing twice in the same season. George Coetzee, who won the first edition in 2015, also took home the Tshwane Open title in the same campaign. In 2016 Jeunghun Wang was victorious in Mauritius the week after winning the Trophee Hassan II, and 2019 winner Kurt Kitayama also went on to take the Oman Open title.
Dylan Frittelli, the 2018 champion, also won twice in the same calendar year, with his maiden European Tour title coming at the Lyoness Open powered by ORGANIC+ in June 2017, while his December win in Mauritius was part of the 2018 season.
South Africa's Coetzee is also aiming to make this the second European Tour event he has won twice, following his 2015 Mauritius victory. The 33-year-old previously won the Tshwane Open in 2015 and 2018.
The AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open has entered the history books on a number of occasions since 2015, not least when the inaugural edition became the first event to be tri-sanctioned by the European Tour, Asian Tour and Sunshine Tour.
That same year, Javier Colomo achieved the first ever hole-in-one on a par four on the European Tour. His albatross came at the 329-yard ninth hole during the second round.
In 2016 South Korea’s Wang became the first Asian to win back-to-back European Tour events with his victories at the Trophée Hassan II and AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open. Aged 20 years and 251 days he also became the youngest player to win consecutive European Tour events, beating the previous record of Seve Ballesteros, who was 21 years and 119 days old when he achieved the feat in 1978.
Rich golfing Heritage
Since the tournament’s first appearance on the European Tour’s International Schedule in 2015, it has alternated between Heritage Golf Club and Four Seasons Golf Club Mauritius at Anahita.
This week will be the third time the former has performed hosting duties, after witnessing victories by South Africans Coetzee and Frittelli in the 2015 and 2018 seasons.
Located in Bel Ombre in the south of the island, Heritage Golf Club is set on an idyllic piece of land between rolling mountains and the turquoise lagoon of the Indian Ocean.
The 27-hole tropical golf complex was designed by Peter Matkovich and opened in 2004. It boasts an 18-hole championship course and a nine-hole par three course as well as exceptional practice facilities and a golf academy.