South Africa’s Richard Sterne is returning to form as back injuries that plagued him for the last five years are beginning to subside. Evidence was apparent at this week’s Dubai Duty Free Irish Open, where he shot rounds of 72, 68, 71, 73 to finish at four-under par and tied for 10th place.
The 34-year-old encountered tricky conditions throughout the tournament and will be optimistic after doing well. Sterne campaigned on the PGA Tour last year, where he missed the cut in all but one start when he tied for 39th at the AT&T Byron Nelson.
The 2016 season has been a lot kinder to the six-time European Tour winner, although he has been confined to the Sunshine Tour and medical exemption appearances on the European Tour. In addition to his Irish performance, Sterne has collected two other top-ten finishes at the Joburg and Tshwane Opens.
Another strong sign that he is on the right track is the fact that he has made six out of seven cuts on the European Tour this season. Playing the weekend is crucial on a limited schedule, as the Pretoria-born golfer has extra pressure to do well when he is healthy.
Sterne once ranked inside the world’s top 50 and has played enough World Golf Championship events to feel comfortable under pressure, going as far as tied-fourth at the 2014 WGC-Cadillac Championship.
This week sees Sterne teeing it up at Wentworth Club on a medical exemption for the BMW PGA Championship, where history is on his side. The 2009 SA Open Champion was tied third in 2007 and sole sixth in 2012.
The two-time Joburg Open champion will aim to secure his biggest cheque of the season and rise up the Race to Dubai standings, where he currently sits in 81st position.