Ernie Els’ finish at the Fiji International was the outstanding achievement of the week in what was a profitable one despite little else to cheer in terms of results, writes WADE PRETORIUS.
The Bridgestone Invitational proved to be every bit as lucrative for the Saffas who managed to play their way into the no-cut WGC event. While Louis Oosthuizen finished as the top Saffa, he was unable to make any strides on Sunday after a 74 saw him tumble out of the top 10.
- Dylan Frittelli was the only player to show a rankings improvement in the top 20 South Africans
World No 1 Dustin Johnson, with five birdies in his first six holes, and in-form Dane Thorbjorn Olesen fired closing 64s to jump 19 places to share third place. The form of Johnson will serve as a reminder of his class as he heads to Bellerive for the PGA Championship after a win two weeks ago and then a solid display around Firestone.
The round of the day belonged to Charl Schwartzel, a good sign heading into the final Major week of the year. His game from the tee box still needs to be addressed but his putter helped him earn R995,864, second only to Oosthuizen’s R1,162,394.
The power of the WGC event is evident in the fact that Brandon Stone earned more than Els despite the young South African finishing in a share of 53rd place. Stone heads to Bellerive some R731,083 richer with Els earning R691,572 as well as a rankings boost of 218 places. The Big Easy will be looking to finish the season strong as he sits 579th in the world.
Branden Grace’s quiet week in Akron still saw him pocket a whopping R662,805 with Jaco Ahlers bringing back R619,501 from his first start on the PGA TOUR. A bright start from Ahlers was derailed by injury but he was never going to withdraw with a big cheque on the line and some invaluable experience in the US.
Justin Harding will fly to his first Major championship with R114,849 in the bank after a T25 finish in Fiji. The test in Missouri offers Harding the chance to reclaim his place inside the top 100 after slipping to No 101 this week.
Top 10 South African rankings:
Louis Oosthuizen – 34
Branden Grace – 36
Charl Schwartzel – 52
Dylan Frittelli – 62
Justin Harding – 101
Brandon Stone – 110
Dean Burmester – 119
George Coetzee – 127
Erik van Rooyen – 128
Shaun Norris – 132