Grace and Oosthuizen head SA challenge

The chances of a South African winning the Open Championship at St Andrews in Scotland on Sunday are high with Louis Oosthuizen and Branden Grace spearheading the eight-man assault.


Oosthuizen won the Open at the same venue in 2010 by a whopping seven shots, and after a strong showing in the US Open in June where he finished in a tie for second behind American winner Jordan Spieth his odds have shot up once again.

King Louis as he was known after his Open win, also holds the course record at the layout when he shot a 62 at the Dunhill Links held at the home of golf last year.

Oosthuizen, a former world number four, at 17th in the rankings after starting 2014 just inside the top 50 is back on the rise.

Grace, meanwhile, has also won on the course in the Dunhill Links in 2012. That breakthrough season on the European Tour yielded four wins for the South African.

In the US Open, Grace was tied for the lead going into the final round. He was still tied with Spieth with three holes to play, before the South African hit his tee shot out of bounds resulting in a double bogey. Grace ended settling for fourth, but did not dwell on his poor finish. Instead he immediately set his sights on the Open crown.

“I’ve handled myself well and played some great golf under the pressure. Knowing that I can take that into the next big ones coming, there’s another big one coming up, the British, which is pretty similar. Hopefully, I can contend there and learn a little bit from this week,” said Grace after that final round of the US Open.

The other hopes of the nation are carried by two-time Open champion Ernie Els. The Big Easy is also the last South African to have tasted Major success when he won at Royal Lytham and St. Annes in 2012.

Retief Goosen, Charl Schwartzel, Jaco Van Zyl, Thomas Aiken and George Coetzee complete the South Africans in the field.

Tim Clark could have been the ninth South African in the field as he received a special invite to the event, but could not sort out his Visa in time to make the trip.

Thursday tee-times (local time) and pairings for the SA players:

08h49 Shane Lowry, Retief Goosen, Kevin Streelman

08h33 Ernie Els, Brandt Snedeker, Tom Watson

09h00 Bubba Watson, Ian Poulter, Charl Schwartzel

09h55 Louis Oosthuizen, Jason Day, Tiger Woods

11h33 Marcel Siem, Jaco Van Zyl, Mark Calcavecchia

11h44 Thomas Aiken, Jonas Blixt, David Lipsky

12h28 George Coetzee, Anirban Lahiri, Rafael Cabrera Bello

14h56 Branden Grace, Jim Furyk, Paul Casey


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