Branden Grace certainly is a Major champion-in-waiting and there are a few of us behind him in the World Ranking who can come through if all the cards fall together
It’s been four years since a South African won a golfing Major and it’s time we did so again. The Open Championship holds a special place in my heart – and not only because I won at St Andrews in 2010, but because of the long history of the tournament.
It remains my only Major victory, although I still reflect on two opportunities when I could have added to that total had the ball bounced for me. At the 2012 Masters I was beaten by Bubba Watson in a playoff and at the Old Course at St Andrews last year I again lost in a playoff, beaten by Zach Johnson. It’s a hard pill to swallow when you know you still have a chance to win a Major even after the 72 holes of regulation have been played, and then come up short!
Ernie Els won his fourth Major, at Muirfield in 2012, and before that Charl Schwartzel won The Masters in 2011, a year after I won The Open in 2010. Trevor Immelmann was before that, the 2008 Masters and Retief Goosen won his second US Open in 2004. Before then it was Ernie at the 2002 Open and Retief at the 2001 US Open.
So, as you can see, South Africans have a good record at the Majors and The Open and PGA Championships are coming up, which gives us our last opportunities for 2016. The last time South Africa had to wait more than four years between Majors was the period up to 1994, so let’s hope recent history allows someone to come through in this year’s remaining Majors.
I think it can happen. Branden Grace certainly is a Major champion-in-waiting and there are a few of us behind him in the World Ranking who can come through if all the cards fall together in the particular week. A lot of us are performing well, so let’s see what happens.
I don’t have the fondest memories of the 2004 Open, also staged at Royal Troon, where I missed the cut after shooting 74 and 82. Ernie did a lot better and came so close, eventually losing in the playoff to Todd Hamilton, while Retief also ended up in the top 10, in a tie for seventh, so he also had a good week.
It’s a challenging course and, as always, if the weather gets up it makes it even tougher. I feel good about my game, though, so let’s hope for the best!.