The sixth and final South African event of the 2015 European Tour season takes place this week. England’s Ross Fisher defends the title in the Tshwane Open at Pretoria Country Club.
As with last week’s Africa Open, this event is co-sanctioned by the European Tour and the South African Sunshine Tour. As such, it features a strong contingent of home players, many of whom will be looking to emulate the exploits of Trevor Fisher Jnr last week at East London Golf Club.
By claiming victory in the Africa Open, Fisher Jnr secured playing rights on the European Tour to the end of 2016. The same prize is potentially available this week. For many, victory in this event could be life changing.
This will be only the third running of the Tshwane Open. Home player Dawie Van Der Walt claimed the inaugural event and England’s Ross Fisher was victorious last year.
With many of the European Tour’s top golfers taking a week off after the WGC – Cadillac Championship, this tournament provides a great opportunity for the lesser-known players to take a step-up.
Four things to watch for at the Tshwane Open this week:
1. The English. A number of English players come into this week with strong credentials for taking the victory. Ross Fisher, a Ryder Cup player in 2010, is the defending champion and he arrives in Pretoria fresh off a rejuvenating break. Andy Sullivan has already won twice in South Africa this year – the Joburg Open and the South African Open Championship. Another former Ryder Cupper, David Howell has been playing steadily of late while Matt Ford, runner-up last week, will be hoping to go one better this time out.
2. The venue. There’s been a change of venue for this year’s competition. The tournament has moved from the Copperleaf Golf and Country Estate to Pretoria Country Club in the attractive Pretoria suburb of Waterkloof. The club has a history dating back to 1910 and the golf course was redesigned by Gary Player in 2004. Pretoria has hosted several tournaments on the Sunshine Tour, but this will be the biggest event it has staged.
3. The form players. For most of the European Tour regulars, this will be a first visit to Pretoria Country Club. So it’s tough to predict the contenders. A good guide is recent form and the three men who tied for third in last week’s Africa Open might well be a factor in this event. All three of those players closed out with rounds of 66, so will head to Pretoria full of confidence. They are – Denmark’s Morten Orum Madsen and Spaniards Jorge Campillo and Eduardo De La Riva.
4. Darren Clarke. The 2016 European Ryder Cup captain will, once again, be a star attraction at a South African European Tour event. He’s desperately trying to find some form at the moment and there was a glimmer of home for the Northern Irishman last week in Eastern Cape. He made his first cut of the 2015 season at the Africa Open and, although he faded on the weekend, he should be able to take some confidence into this event.