In honour of the European Tour returning to South Africa for the Nedbank Golf Challenge hosted by Gary Player – the seventh Rolex Series event of the season – we’ve tasked golf statistics experts 15th Club with creating the country’s perfect player.
Driving: Louis Oosthuizen
He is consistently one of the best in the game with his driver – and with that golf swing, it’s easy to see why. Oosthuizen has ranked in the top 30 on the European Tour in driving distance in ten of the last 14 seasons. From 2010 through to 2014, Louis averaged nearly a full stroke gained per round on the field on tee shots on the PGA tour. And in his crowning moment in golf, the 2010 Open Championship win at St Andrews, he led the field in total driving and driving accuracy.
Approach play: Ernie Els
When ‘The Big Easy’ has been at his best, his smooth swing delivered impeccable iron play. In his four major championship wins, Els hit more than 75 percent of his greens in regulation combined, including leading the field in the statistic in three of those victories. Since 2000, Els has ranked in the top 25 on the European Tour in greens in regulation nine times. In the first eight seasons that strokes gained approach was tracked in the United States, Els ranked in the top 12 of that statistic seven times. It’s tough to go wrong with Ernie’s approach performance.
Around the green: Trevor Immelman
Over the last 25 years, only one Masters champion has scrambled at 80 percent or better en route to victory: Trevor Immelman in 2008. Any player who can navigate those closely mown areas that deftly should certainly be part of this experiment. Trevor is one of just three South African players to win the Green Jacket, along with Gary Player and Charl Schwartzel.
Putting: Bobby Locke
A true genius on the green, Bobby Locke used an atypical, closed stance to become one of the greatest putters of his, or any, era. The four-time Open champion was able to ‘hook’ or ‘slice’ putts, much like full shots, in any desired direction he wanted. During a time when greens weren’t nearly as tightly maintained as today, Locke’s stated goal was 28 putts per round – a total he dipped under frequently. The legend wound up with more than 70 wins, including a 16-shot victory on the PGA Tour in 1948 whose margin has not been matched since.
Mentality: Gary Player
Nicknamed ‘Mr. Fitness’ more than sixty years ago, Gary Player used a holistic approach to self-betterment that fuelled not just a legendary playing career, but a shining business resume, as well. Player’s ferocity for life is an enviable mentality for all people: with the career grand slam, well over 100 victories and architecture projects all over the world, the 84-year-old still emanates a hunger for more. One cannot imagine a mentality that better couples with success than that of Gary Player.
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